More than 4 years after the last release of Entity Framework (version 6.4), a new version 6.5 is currently in preview, planned for release in May/June 2024.

Given that it is stated on the GitHub project page, that "EF6 is no longer being actively developed" and "New features will not be implemented", let's have a closer look at actual the changes in Entity Framework 6.5.

New SQL Server provider: Microsoft.EntityFramework.SqlServer

TL;DR: This new provider gives you a stepping stone in a gradual migration from .NET Framework to .NET 6 or later.

A new provider for SQL Server has been published. This is essentially a port of my unofficial package ErikEJ.EntityFramework.SqlServer.

This provider depends on the modern Microsoft.Data.SqlClient ADO.NET provider, which includes the following advantages over the currently used driver:

  • Current client receiving full support in contrast to System.Data.SqlClient, which is in maintenance mode
  • Suports new SQL Server features, including support for the SQL Server 2022 enchanced client protocol (TDS8)
  • Support new ADO.NET features like SqlBatch
  • Supports most Azure Active Directory / Microsoft Entra ID authentication methods.
  • Supports Always Encrypted with .NET.

Notice that this provider is a runtime only update, and will likely not work with the existing Visual Studio tooling.

You can read more about why and how in the package readme

Other minor changes and updates

The Entity Framework team has kept it's promise not to make any changes to the Entity Framework source code! But a few tooling and dependency updates have taken place.

Tooling updates

The team created a cross platform command line tool ef6 to support tooling commands on other platforms and with the new CPS project format. This tool is poorly documented, but replaces migrate.exe which was a .NET Framework only tool.

In Entity Framework 6.5 the ef6 tool was updated to only support .NET 6 and newer. The ef6 tool was also updated to support reading from app.config files, and support for Windows ARM64 was added.

Update of System.Data.SqlClient

The EntityFramework package includes a SQL Server provider. This provider uses the legacy System.Data.SqlClient driver. This has been updated from version 4.8.1 to version 4.8.6 in EF 6.5.