How To: Use EntityFramework Core In-Memory Database For Unit Testing

How To: Use EntityFramework Core In-Memory Database For Unit Testing

In this post you will learn how to use entityframework in memory database.

You can download this article project on GitHub.

In this post, I’ll show how to use the in-memory feature of Entity Framework core to create unit tests involving the database. Let’s jump right in!

Create unit tests using a real DbContext is a pain because we have to mock the entire context to achieve this. Entity Framework core makes unit tests easier to write by providing us with an in-memory database provider. It creates an in-memory representation of our DbContext, for this reason, we don’t have to worry about mocking the database.

Setup your context

First, the database configuration must be done in the Startup.cs class, as it usually is in ASP.NET core projects. To illustrate:

public class Startup
    //Other Stuff

    // This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to add services to the container.
    public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
            options =>

        //Other Configurations

    //Other Stuff

Next, the context should accept multiple database providers. We need a constructor which receives a DbContextOptions object:

public ToDoDbContext(DbContextOptions options) : base(options) { }

Finally, we can create the context with different configurations.

Create First Unit Test

We will add a new NuGet package to our unit test project. Open the package manager console and use the following command:

PM> Install-Package Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.InMemory

Now we can start to use the in-memory database feature.

Create a new unit test class for which functionality you want to test. In my case, it will be for the ToDoListRepository.cs.

public class ToDoListRepositoryTests
    public void CreateToDoList_WithValidObject_NewListIdIsNotEqualsToZero()
        var newToDoList = new List
            Name = "Unit Test"

        var sut = CreateSUT();

        Assert.True(newToDoList.ListId != 0);

    private ToDoListRepository CreateSUT()
        var dbOptions = new DbContextOptionsBuilder<ToDoDbContext>()
                            .UseInMemoryDatabase(databaseName: "ToDoDb")

        var context = new ToDoDbContext(dbOptions);

        return new ToDoListRepository(context);

In this example, the unit test is validating if the database saved the to-do list. The magic happens in the CreateSUT() method. It isolates the system under test (sut) creation, helping avoid code duplication, as a result.

Inside the method, we use DbContextOptionsBuilder to create dbOptions object. DbContextOptionsBuilder  gives us the option to use an in-memory database, with the method UseInMemoryDatabase(). Now we send dbOptions as a parameter to create the context.

After the arrange phase in the unit test, we save the list in the database with sut.CreateToDoList(newToDoList);.

Finally, we validate if the ListId is different than zero, in the assertion phase. If the assertion is true, the database saved the register.

Wrap up

This concludes the post, you can use this sample code as an example to create your own unit test using the in-memory database feature from Entity Framework core.

References and Further Reading

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