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ORM Choices in .NET Core

Choosing the right Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) tool in .NET Core can be a pivotal decision in the development lifecycle. The selected ORM influences the performance, maintainability, and scalability of your application. In this article, we’ll conduct an in-depth analysis of three prominent ORM choices: Entity Framework Core, Dapper, and NHibernate. Each ORM has its strengths and weaknesses, and we’ll explore them through practical code examples.

1. Entity Framework Core

Entity Framework Core (EF Core), the official ORM by Microsoft, is known for its simplicity and integration with other Microsoft technologies. It supports various database providers and follows a convention-over-configuration approach. Let’s delve into a detailed example:

Model Definition

public class Product
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public decimal Price { get; set; }

Database Context

public class AppDbContext : DbContext
    public DbSet<Product> Products { get; set; }

    protected override void OnConfiguring(DbContextOptionsBuilder optionsBuilder)

Querying Data

using (var context = new AppDbContext())
    var expensiveProducts = context.Products.Where(p => p.Price > 100).ToList();

EF Core simplifies database interactions, making it suitable for projects that prioritize rapid development and ease of use. It also supports migrations for smooth database schema changes.

2. Dapper

Dapper is a micro-ORM that emphasizes performance and control over simplicity. It allows developers to write raw SQL queries and provides fast data access with minimal overhead. Let’s examine a detailed example:

Service Implementation

public class ProductService
    private readonly IDbConnection _dbConnection;

    public ProductService(IDbConnection dbConnection)
        _dbConnection = dbConnection;

    public IEnumerable<Product> GetExpensiveProducts()
        return _dbConnection.Query<Product>("SELECT * FROM Products WHERE Price > @Price", new { Price = 100 });

Dapper is an excellent choice for scenarios where precise control over SQL queries and high-performance data access are crucial. It’s particularly beneficial for read-heavy applications.

3. NHibernate

NHibernate is a mature and feature-rich ORM inspired by Hibernate for Java. It provides extensive features, including caching, lazy loading, and multi-tier support. Let’s explore a detailed NHibernate example:


public class ProductMap : ClassMap<Product>
    public ProductMap()
        Id(x => x.Id);
        Map(x => x.Name);
        Map(x => x.Price);

Querying Data

using (var session = sessionFactory.OpenSession())
    var expensiveProducts = session.Query<Product>().Where(p => p.Price > 100).ToList();

NHibernate is a robust choice for complex enterprise-level applications requiring advanced ORM features. It supports various databases and offers a high degree of customization.


Choosing an ORM in .NET Core involves assessing the project’s specific needs and trade-offs. Entity Framework Core excels in simplicity and convention-based development, Dapper is optimal for performance-sensitive scenarios, and NHibernate offers extensive features for complex applications. Make an informed decision based on your project’s requirements, and you’ll be on the path to efficient and maintainable database interactions in your .NET Core application. Happy coding!


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Entity Framework Core
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