Scaffolding DB layer from DB

Posted on February 14, 2021 in Develop
Updated: March 21, 2021


ASP.NET MVC has build-in scaffolding enabling you to generate a frontend from a DB with a snap, so you can browse your DB. This has been a feature since around 2010.

It is a great feature to use for PoCs and demos.

In this blog I'll use Northwind DB and scaffold a view of customers - and later on other views.



  • SMSS
  • Visual Studio

Install Northwind SQL DB

# Bash:
# full clone
git clone
cd sql-server-samples/samples/databases/northwind-pubs
  • Open SMSS
  • Connect to the target SQL Server
    • In my case I connect to localhost\SQLEXPRESS
  • Open instnwnd.sql in SMSS
  • Execute instnwnd.sql
-- check if we got some data
SELECT * FROM orders
-- gives 830 rows


Create a webapp

# Bash:
mkdir CsScaffoldNorthwind
cd CsScaffoldNorthwind

# We need a c# web template - what is its name?
dotnet new -l
# dotnet gitignore file                             gitignore                                  Config
# ASP.NET Core Web App (Model-View-Controller)      mvc                      [C#], F#          Web/MVC
# Solution File                                     sln                                        Solution
dotnet new mvc
# We need a solution file
dotnet new sln
# We need a gitignore file
dotnet new gitignore

# Test build and run
dotnet build
dotnet run

Open the web in a browser on either

  • https://localhost:5001/ or
  • http://localhost:5000/
  • Press Ctrl-C to stop the webserver

Testing the webapp from VS

  • Open the sln file in VS
  • In Sln Explorer right-click sln and add existing project - select CsScaffoldNorthwind.csproj
  • In the Run-dropdown select CsScaffoldNorthwind
  • Press F5. Now VS will run dotnet run in the background and start a browser for you.

Above code is V.0.0.1

Add EF to dotnet

# In project folder add Nuget Package for your code
dotnet add package Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer
# info : PackageReference for package 'Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer' version '5.0.3' added to file \CsScaffoldNorthwind.csproj'.

# Install the EF Tool
dotnet ef -help
# Could not execute because the specified command or file was not found.
dotnet tool install --global dotnet-ef
# You can invoke the tool using the following command: dotnet-ef
# Tool 'dotnet-ef' (version '5.0.3') was successfully installed.
dotnet ef --version
# Entity Framework Core .NET Command-line Tools
# 5.0.3

# When you need to update do:
dotnet tool update

# Add yet a Nuget package
dotnet add package Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design
# info : PackageReference for package 'Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design' version '5.0.3' added to file \CsScaffoldNorthwind.csproj'.

Scaffold using EF

dotnet ef dbcontext scaffold "Server=localhost\SQLEXPRESS;Database=Northwind;Trusted_Connection=True;" Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer --output-dir Models

This added approx 25 models from the DB.

Above code is V.0.0.2

  • In VS Right click on Controller folder - Add - New scaffolding Item
    • Select MVC Controller with views, using EF
    • Select model (customers) and DB
      Scaffold Controller and View
  • Run (F5)
  • Browse to https://localhost:5001/customers
    • Gives you InvalidOperationException: Unable to resolve service for type 'CsScaffoldNorthwind.Models.NorthwindContext'
  • Add to appsettings.Development.json:
// appsettings.Development.json
  "ConnectionStrings": {
    "DefaultConnection": "Server=localhost\\SQLEXPRESS;Database=Northwind;Trusted_Connection=True;"
  • Add to startup.cs:
// startup.cs
        public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)

            // Add this:
            var connectionString = Configuration.GetConnectionString("DefaultConnection");
            services.AddDbContext<NorthwindContext>(options => options.UseSqlServer(connectionString));
  • Run (F5)
  • Browse to https://localhost:5001/customers

Above code is V.0.0.3


The End.