Entity Framework Core

Entity Framework Core is a powerful object-relational mapping framework that has become a staple when working with SQL-based Databases in .NET Core applications.

When working with Entity Framework Core's DbContext, it is most commonly registered as a scoped service.

C#
var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder(args);
builder.Services.AddDbContext<ApplicationDbContext>(
options => options.UseSqlServer("YOUR_CONNECTION_STRING"));

If you have read our guidance on dependency injection you might be inclined to simply inject your DbContext using the HotChocolate.ServiceAttribute.

C#
public Foo GetFoo([Service] ApplicationDbContext dbContext)
=> // Omitted code for brevity

While this is usually the correct way to inject services and it may appear to work initially, it has a fatal flaw: Entity Framework Core doesn't support multiple parallel operations being run on the same context instance.

Lets take a look at an example to understand why this can lead to issues. Both the foo and bar field in the below query are backed by a resolver that injects a scoped DbContext instance and performs a database query using it.

GraphQL
{
foo
bar
}

Since Hot Chocolate parallelizes the execution of query fields, and both of the resolvers will receive the same scoped DbContext instance, two database queries are likely to be ran through this scoped DbContext instance in parallel. This will then lead to one of the following exceptions being thrown:

  • A second operation started on this context before a previous operation completed.
  • Cannot access a disposed object.

Resolver injection of a DbContext

In order to ensure that resolvers do not access the same scoped DbContext instance in parallel, you can inject it using the ServiceKind.Synchronized.

C#
public Foo GetFoo(
[Service(ServiceKind.Synchronized)] ApplicationDbContext dbContext)
=> // Omitted code for brevity

Learn more about ServiceKind.Synchronized

Since this is a lot of code to write, just to inject a DbContext, you can use RegisterDbContext<T> to simplify the injection.

RegisterDbContext

In order to simplify the injection of a DbContext we have introduced a method called RegisterDbContext<T>, similar to the RegisterService<T> method for regular services. This method is part of the HotChocolate.Data.EntityFramework package, which you'll have to install.

Bash
dotnet add package HotChocolate.Data.EntityFramework
Warning
All HotChocolate.* packages need to have the same version.

Once installed you can simply call the RegisterDbContext<T> method on the IRequestExecutorBuilder. The Hot Chocolate Resolver Compiler will then take care of correctly injecting your scoped DbContext instance into your resolvers and also ensuring that the resolvers using it are never run in parallel.

C#
var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder(args);
builder.Services.AddDbContext<ApplicationDbContext>(
options => options.UseSqlServer("YOUR_CONNECTION_STRING"));
builder.Services
.AddGraphQLServer()
.RegisterDbContext<ApplicationDbContext>()
.AddQueryType<Query>();
public class Query
{
public Foo GetFoo(ApplicationDbContext dbContext)
=> // Omitted code for brevity
}
Warning

You still have to register your DbContext in the actual dependency injection container, by calling services.AddDbContext<T>. RegisterDbContext<T> on its own is not enough.

You can also specify a DbContextKind as argument to the RegisterDbContext<T> method, to change how the DbContext should be injected.

C#
builder.Services
.AddGraphQLServer()
.RegisterDbContext<ApplicationDbContext>(DbContextKind.Pooled)

DbContextKind

When registering a DbContext you can specify a DbContextKind to instruct Hot Chocolate to use a certain strategy when injecting the DbContext. For the most part the DbContextKind is really similar to the ServiceKind, with the exception of the DbContextKind.Pooled.

DbContextKind.Synchronized

This injection mechanism ensures that resolvers injecting the specified DbContext are never run in parallel. It is the default for the RegisterDbContext<T> method and behaves in the same fashion as ServiceKind.Synchronized does for regular services.

DbContextKind.Resolver

This injection mechanism will resolve the scoped DbContext from a resolver-scoped IServiceScope. It behaves in the same fashion as ServiceKind.Resolver does for regular services. Since a different DbContext instance is resolved for each resolver invocation, Hot Chocolate can parallelize the execution of resolvers using this DbContext.

DbContextKind.Pooled

This injection mechanism will require your DbContext to be registered as a pooled IDbContextFactory<T>.

C#
var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder(args);
builder.Services.AddPooledDbContextFactory<ApplicationDbContext>(
options => options.UseSqlServer("YOUR_CONNECTION_STRING"));
builder.Services
.AddGraphQLServer()
.RegisterDbContext<ApplicationDbContext>(DbContextKind.Pooled)
.AddQueryType<Query>();
public class Query
{
public Foo GetFoo(ApplicationDbContext dbContext)
=> // Omitted code for brevity
}

When injecting a DbContext using the DbContextKind.Pool, Hot Chocolate will retrieve one DbContext instance from the pool for each invocation of a resolver. Once the resolver has finished executing, the instance will be returned to the pool.

Since each resolver invocation is therefore working with a "transient" DbContext instance, Hot Chocolate can parallelize the execution of resolvers using this DbContext.

Working with a pooled DbContext

If you have registered your DbContext using DbContextKind.Pooled you are on your way to squeeze the most performance out of your GraphQL server, but unfortunately it also changes how you have to use the DbContext.

For example you need to move all of the configuration from the OnConfiguring method inside your DbContext into the configuration action on the AddPooledDbContextFactory call.

You also need to access your DbContext differently. In the following chapters we will take a look at some of the changes you have to make.

DataLoaders

When creating DataLoaders that need access to your DbContext, you need to inject the IDbContextFactory<T> using the constructor.

The DbContext should only be created and disposed in the LoadBatchAsync method.

C#
public class FooByIdDataLoader : BatchDataLoader<string, Foo>
{
private readonly IDbContextFactory<ApplicationDbContext> _dbContextFactory;
public FooByIdDataLoader(
IDbContextFactory<ApplicationDbContext> dbContextFactory,
IBatchScheduler batchScheduler, DataLoaderOptions options)
: base(batchScheduler, options)
{
_dbContextFactory = dbContextFactory;
}
protected override async Task<IReadOnlyDictionary<string, Foo>>
LoadBatchAsync(IReadOnlyList<string> keys, CancellationToken ct)
{
await using ApplicationDbContext dbContext =
_dbContextFactory.CreateDbContext();
return await dbContext.Foos
.Where(s => keys.Contains(s.Id))
.ToDictionaryAsync(t => t.Id, ct);
}
}
Warning

It is important that you dispose the DbContext to return it to the pool. In the above example we are using await using to dispose the DbContext after it is no longer required.

Services

When creating services, they now need to inject the IDbContextFactory<T> instead of the DbContext directly. Your services also need be of a transient lifetime. Otherwise you could be faced with the DbContext concurrency issue again, if the same DbContext instance is accessed by two resolvers through our service in parallel.

C#
var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder(args);
builder.Services.AddPooledDbContextFactory<ApplicationDbContext>(
options => options.UseSqlServer("YOUR_CONNECTION_STRING"));
builder.Services.AddTransient<FooService>()
builder.Services
.AddGraphQLServer()
.RegisterService<FooService>()
.AddQueryType<Query>();
public class Query
{
public Foo GetFoo(FooService FooService)
=> // Omitted code for brevity
}
public class FooService : IAsyncDisposable
{
private readonly ApplicationDbContext _dbContext;
public FooService(IDbContextFactory<ApplicationDbContext> dbContextFactory)
{
_dbContext = dbContextFactory.CreateDbContext();
}
public Foo GetFoo()
=> _dbContext.Foos.FirstOrDefault();
public ValueTask DisposeAsync()
{
return _dbContext.DisposeAsync();
}
}
Warning

It is important that you dispose the DbContext to return it to the pool, once your transient service is being disposed. In the above example we are implementing IAsyncDisposable and disposing the created DbContext in the DisposeAsync method. This method will be invoked by the dependency injection system.