Using DbContext in EF 4.1 Part 8: Working with Proxies


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Version 4.1 of the Entity Framework contains both the Code First approach and the new DbContext API. This API provides a more productive surface for working with the Entity Framework and can be used with the Code First, Database First, and Model First approaches. This is the eighth post of a twelve part series containing collections of patterns and code fragments showing how features of the new API can be used.

The posts in this series do not contain complete walkthroughs. If you haven’t used EF 4.1 before then you should read Part 1 of this series and also Code First Walkthrough or Model and Database First with DbContext before tackling this post.

Working with proxies

When creating instances of POCO entity types, the Entity Framework often creates instances of a dynamically generated derived type that acts as a proxy for the entity. This proxy overrides some virtual properties of the entity to insert hooks for performing actions automatically when the property is accessed. For example, this mechanism is used to support lazy loading of relationships—see Part 6 of this series.

Disabling proxy creation

Sometimes it is useful to prevent the Entity Framework from creating proxy instances. For example, serializing non-proxy instances is considerably easier than serializing proxy instances. Proxy creation can be turned off by clearing the ProxyCreationEnabled flag. One place you could do this is in the constructor of your context. For example:

 public class UnicornsContext : DbContext
    public UnicornsContext()
        this.Configuration.ProxyCreationEnabled = false;

    public DbSet<Unicorn> Unicorns { get; set; }
    public DbSet<Princess> Princesses { get; set; }

Note that the EF will not create proxies for types where there is nothing for the proxy to do.  This means that you can also avoid proxies by having types that are sealed and/or have no virtual properties.

Explicitly creating an instance of a proxy

A proxy instance will not be created if you create an instance of an entity using the new operator. This may not be a problem, but if you need to create a proxy instance (for example, so that lazy loading or proxy change tracking will work) then you can do so using the Create method of DbSet. For example:

 using (var context = new UnicornsContext())
    var unicorn = context.Unicorns.Create();

The generic version of Create can be used if you want to create an instance of a derived entity type. For example:

 using (var context = new NorthwindContext())
    var discontinuedProduct = context.Products.Create<DiscontinuedProduct>();

Note that the Create method does not add or attach the created entity to the context.

Note that the Create method will just create an instance of the entity type itself if creating a proxy type for the entity would have no value because it would not do anything. For example, if the entity type is sealed and/or has no virtual properties then Create will just create an instance of the entity type.

Getting the actual entity type from a proxy type

Proxy types have names that look something like this:



You can find the entity type for this proxy type using the GetObjectType method from ObjectContext. For example:

 using (var context = new UnicornsContext())
    var unicorn = context.Unicorns.Find(1);
    var entityType = ObjectContext.GetObjectType(unicorn.GetType());

Note that if the type passed to GetObjectType is an instance of an entity type that is not a proxy type then the type of entity is still returned. This means you can always use this method to get the actual entity type without any other checking to see if the type is a proxy type or not.


In this part of the series we looked at how to switch off proxy creation, how to explicitly create a proxy instance, and how to get the actual entity type from a proxy type.

As always we would love to hear any feedback you have by commenting on this blog post.

For support please use the Entity Framework Forum.

Arthur Vickers


ADO.NET Entity Framework