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Entity Framework Core Type Discrimination

Do you need to consolidate multiple derivatives of a base type to a single database table?


There have been times when I needed concrete definitions of object models which are incredibly similar to one another.

Often, these concrete definitions would end up in their own database tables creating clutter and appearing disorganized.

Entity Framework Core includes some useful tools to allow for the consolidation of these object models as long as they are deriving from the same base types.

Without further ado...


In order to discriminate between types, an enum is required.

I am defining this enum with two models in mind; A default and primary asset.


namespace shared.Models.Enums;

public enum AssetType


Here, I am creating an interface for our abstraction to derive from.


using shared.Models.Enums;

namespace shared.Models.Interfaces;

public interface IAsset
    string Id { get; set; }
    AssetType AssetType { get; set; }


Here, I am creating an abstract asset model.

This abstract asset model derives from the asset interface which was created previously.

Notice how I am attributing the abstraction a json converter definition as well as a json constructor definition.

These will be defined after I am done defining the rest of the models.


using System.Text.Json.Serialization;
using shared.Converters;
using shared.Models.Enums;
using shared.Models.Interfaces;

namespace shared.Models.Abstractions;

public abstract class Asset : IAsset
    public Asset() { }

    public AssetType AssetType { get; set; }


This default asset model derives from the abstract asset model which was created previously.


using shared.Models.Abstractions;

namespace shared.Models;

public sealed class DefaultAsset : Asset { }

To illustrate this full concept, I am creating a primary asset model as well which also derives from the abstract asset model.


using shared.Models.Abstractions;

namespace shared.Models;

public sealed class PrimaryAsset : Asset { }


Here is where the heavy lifting occurs.

Remember when those attributes were defined on the abstract asset model?

This is the logic that allows for the type discrimination.

What happens here is an abstract asset model is read and the enum type value is utilized to determine concrete type json deserialization behavior.


using shared.Models.Abstractions;
using shared.Models.Enums;
using shared.Models;
using System.Text.Json;
using System.Text.Json.Serialization;

namespace shared.Converters;

public sealed class AssetConverter : JsonConverter<Asset>
    public override bool CanConvert(Type typeToConvert) =>

    public override Asset? Read(
        ref Utf8JsonReader reader,
        Type typeToConvert,
        JsonSerializerOptions options
        var clone = reader;
        while (clone.Read())
            if (clone.TokenType == JsonTokenType.PropertyName)
                var name = clone.GetString();
                if (name != null)
                    if (name.ToLower() == nameof(AssetType).ToLower())
        var type = (AssetType)clone.GetInt32();
        return type switch
            AssetType.Default => JsonSerializer.Deserialize<DefaultAsset>(ref reader, options),
            AssetType.Primary => JsonSerializer.Deserialize<PrimaryAsset>(ref reader, options),
            _ => null,

    public override void Write(Utf8JsonWriter writer, Asset value, JsonSerializerOptions options) =>
        JsonSerializer.Serialize(writer, value, value.GetType(), options);


So all of this has been leading up to here where I am now defining the entity framework core database context behavior for an api.

The asset type enum is utilized to discriminate between the default and primary asset models.

As long as those converter attributes are defined on the abstract asset model, the deserialization behavior will occur and whichever concrete type is defined will be returned.


using shared.Models;
using shared.Models.Abstractions;
using shared.Models.Enums;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Identity.EntityFrameworkCore;
using Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore;
using Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Metadata;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Identity;

namespace api.Contexts;

public class DefaultDbContext : DbContext
    public DefaultDbContext(DbContextOptions<DefaultDbContext> options)
        : base(options) { }

    public DbSet<Asset>? Assets { get; set; }

    protected override void OnModelCreating(ModelBuilder modelBuilder)

        var keysProperties = modelBuilder.Model
            .Select(x => x.FindPrimaryKey())
            .SelectMany(x => x!.Properties);

        foreach (var property in keysProperties)
            property.ValueGenerated = ValueGenerated.OnAdd;


In this post, I have defined an enum which will allow discrimination between multiple similar concrete object models, an interface, an abstract base type, some concrete derivatives, a json converter as well as the database context model behavior.

This post outlined how to consolidate multiple derivatives of a base type into one database table as to reduce clutter and increase organization.

Following this content, you should be able to utilize Entity Framework Core to serialize and deserialize data to and from a single database table.