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Apr 3

ORM wars: Dapper vs EF Core

ORM wars: Dapper vs EF Core
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Dapper and EF Core are popular .NET libraries for data access and management. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and the choice will depend on the project's specific requirements. In this article, we'll compare Dapper and EF Core in terms of their architecture, performance, and features.

Architecture

Dapper is a simple and lightweight micro-ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) library that provides fast and efficient data access to relational databases. It generates dynamic SQL at runtime and maps the result set to a set of objects. On the other hand, EF Core is a full-fledged ORM that provides a higher level of abstraction and includes features such as LINQ (Language Integrated Query), change tracking, and a rich set of APIs for working with data.

Performance

Dapper is widely known for its fast performance and low overhead, making it a popular choice for high-performance applications. It can achieve this by generating SQL statements dynamically and executing them directly against the database. In contrast, EF Core has a higher overhead due to its higher level of abstraction and the need to manage change tracking and other features. However, EF Core provides several performance optimization techniques that can be used to improve its performance in specific scenarios.

Features

Dapper is a simple and straightforward library that provides basic CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations and does not come with many features out of the box. On the other hand, EF Core provides a rich set of features, including LINQ support, change tracking, lazy loading, and more. This makes it an ideal choice for applications that require a high level of abstraction and ease of use.

Time taken for basic CRUD operations

The performance comparison between Dapper and Entity Framework Core (EF Core) for CRUD operations can vary significantly based on several factors, including the data size, the database schema’s complexity, the number of concurrent requests, and the hardware specifications of the system. Regarding simple CRUD operations, Dapper may offer faster performance due to its minimalistic approach and lack of features like change tracking found in EF Core. However, as the complexity of the operations and the database schema increases, the performance difference between the two may be less noticeable.
It’s essential to remember that performance is only one aspect to consider when deciding between Dapper and EF Core. Other factors, such as ease of use, maintainability, and scalability, should also be considered.

The most accurate way to determine which option is faster for your particular use case is to conduct performance benchmark tests using your data and environment.

Example code in C#:

Example of how you perform a simple SELECT operation in Dapper and EF Core.

Dapper

using (IDbConnection db = new SqlConnection(connectionString))
{
    var result = db.Query<Product>("SELECT * FROM Products WHERE ProductID = @id", new { id = 1 }).FirstOrDefault();
    Console.WriteLine(result.ProductName);
}

EF Core

using (var context = new ProductContext(connectionString))
{
    var result = context.Products.Where(p => p.ProductID == 1).FirstOrDefault();
    Console.WriteLine(result.ProductName);
}

In this example, the Dapper code directly creates an instance of the IDbConnection interface creates a SQL string and uses the Query method to execute the query and return the results as a Product object.

On the other hand, the EF Core code uses a context object that was created from the ProductContext class and uses LINQ to execute the query and return the results.

Dapper provides more control over the SQL that's executed, allowing you to write raw SQL statements, but you have to write more code to manage the mapping between the database and the object returned. EF Core provides more abstraction, allowing you to work with entities and properties instead of raw SQL. Still, it can add more overhead, as it must perform more operations to manage the entities.

One of the main advantages of EF Core is its ability to handle complex database operations, such as relationships and transactions, without requiring a lot of code. EF Core also supports LINQ, making writing complex database queries easier. EF Core is ideal for applications that require a high level of abstraction, making it easier to maintain the database schema over time.

Dapper, on the other hand, is designed to be fast and lightweight. It's ideal for applications that require low overhead and high performance, such as web applications, where every millisecond counts. Dapper also supports multiple database systems, including SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL, making it easier to switch between databases without having to rewrite a lot of code.

Conclusion

Dapper and EF Core are full data access and management libraries. The choice between the two will depend on the project's specific requirements. Dapper is a good choice for high-performance applications requiring basic CRUD operations. On the other hand, for applications that require a higher level of abstraction and a rich set of features, EF Core is a better option, as EF Core has improved significantly in performance in recent years. With features like lazy loading, automatic caching, and improved LINQ support, EF Core can perform as well as, or even better than, Dapper in many cases.

Both libraries have strengths and weaknesses, and the right choice will depend on the project's specific needs.

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