EF Releases & Versioning – Call for Feedback


The information in this post is out of date.

Visit msdn.com/data/ef for the latest information on current and past releases of EF.


The EF team has been working toward being more agile and having a higher release frequency. We are also releasing more previews and making them available earlier in the release cycle so that your feedback can help shape the product. This effort has seen us publishing a much higher number of releases.

In the last 6 months we have released; EF 4.1 Release Candidate, EF 4.1, EF Power Tools CTP1, EF June 2011 CTP, EF 4.1 Language Packs, EF 4.1 Update 1 and Code First Migrations August 2011 CTP. That is a pretty confusing list of releases, especially given there are some incompatibilities and dependencies within the list. Just to add to the confusion each release is available in one or more places including Microsoft Download Center, NuGet & Visual Studio Gallery.

It’s become clear that we need to rationalize how we name, distribute and talk about releases. This problem isn’t just affecting our team, Scott Hanselman recently posted about the need for better versioning across all our products.

This post will walk you through the changes we are planning to make. Nothing is locked in yet so we welcome your feedback.


What We Ship

There are two logical parts to the Entity Framework, the core components that ship inside the .NET Framework and Visual Studio and the ‘out of band’ components that we can update on a much more frequent schedule. We are currently looking at how we can update the core components on a more frequent cadence as well. The ‘EF June 2011 CTP’ was our first attempt at shipping the core components more frequently and it’s become clear we’re just not technically ready to do this yet.

Core components include:

  • Core EF Runtime (System.Data.Entity.dll & System.Web.Entity.dll)
  • EF Designer

Out of band components include:
(We will likely ship more out of band components in the future)

  • The DbContext API & Code First (EntityFramework.dll)
  • T4 Templates for using DbContext API with Model First & Database First
  • EF Power Tools
  • Code First Migrations


Where We Ship

As mentioned above, the core components will remain part of the .NET Framework and Visual Studio.

The out of band components will be primarily available via NuGet and Visual Studio Gallery.

  • The DbContext API & Code First will continue to be available as the EntityFramework NuGet package. We no longer plan to provide a stand-alone installer for these components. If you want to GAC or distribute the EntityFramework assembly it can easily be taken from the NuGet package.
  • T4 Templates for DbContext API will become available on Visual Studio Gallery. In the past we have distributed other T4 templates, such as our POCO templates, using this mechanism.
  • EF Power Tools will continue to be available on Visual Studio Gallery.
  • Code First Migrations will continue to be available via NuGet. We will likely also release via another mechanism to support team build and deployment scenarios, we are still working through the logistics of this.

NuGet will eventually have built-in support for pre-release versions of packages but in the meantime we will introduce a .Preview version of each package. For example the EntityFramework package will be the latest fully supported runtime, EntityFramework.Preview will be the latest preview. For the period between an RTM release and the next preview both packages will include the same build. We will ensure that the non-preview packages always work together (i.e. EntityFramework will always be compatible with EntityFramework.Migrations etc.). We will try to ensure that the latest pre-release versions work together but this may not always be possible.


Version Numbers

The version numbers of the core components will be governed by the .NET Framework & Visual Studio release that they are part of.

For our out of band components we will version using principles from Semantic Versioning.

  • The DbContext API & Code First is currently at 4.1.10715.0 and is called ‘EF 4.1 Update 1’. The next update to this package will bump the version number to 4.2.0 and be called EF 4.2, we will follow semantic versioning from that point forwards. At this stage EF 4.2 will just include some bug fixes. This is the primary out of band component and we will use its version number to describe what version of EF is the latest (i.e the next release will be EF 4.2).
  • T4 Templates for DbContext API are currently included in the EF 4.1 installer. We will move these to Visual Studio Gallery with a version number of 1.0.0 and follow semantic versioning from that point forwards.
  • EF Power Tools are currently in preview mode and available on Visual Studio Gallery with a version number of 0.5.0. We will continue to follow semantic versioning with this component.
  • Code First Migrations was initially released on NuGet with a version number of 0.5.10727.0. The next preview will be 0.6.0 and then we will continue to follow semantic versioning with this component.

Once a component has had an RTM release (i.e. reached version 1.0.0) all subsequent previews will use the target final release number with an ‘alpha’, ‘beta’, etc. special version. For example we will release EntityFramework.Preview package with a version number of ‘4.2.0beta1’ before releasing EntityFramework with a version number of 4.2.0.


Please let us know what you like and what you think we should do differently.

Rowan Miller
Program Manager
ADO.NET Entity Framework