Breaking change in Entity Framework Core provider for PostgreSQL 3.0

Published on 22 March 2020

Beware when upgrading form Npgsql.EntityFrameworkCore.PostgreSQL 2.2 and running PostgreSQL 9.6 or earlier.


Recently I wanted to add ASP.NET Core Identity to an application using PostgreSQL as a data storage. Since I prefer to manage database schema and migrations separately from the application (currently using DbUp) I decided to use Entity Framework Core migrations to generate the SQL script for it.

Generating the migration SQL script

Using the Entity Framework Core tools 3.x is straight-froward. (Given that you have added the necessary dependencies and defined your application's IdentityDbContext)

First make sure it is installed:

dotnet tool install --global dotnet-ef

Initialize the migrations in the project where your DbContext is:

dotnet ef migrations add init

Then generate the SQL script for the DbContext (called ApplicationDbContext in my case):

dotnet ef migrations script -c ApplicationDbContext -o migration_script.sql

Removed the SQL related to __EFMigrationsHistory and my migration script was ready. Then removed the migrations folder from my project and was ready to go.

Ran the SQL script and... it failed!

The issue

I was quite surprized to see that the error was in the SQL:

ERROR: syntax error at or near "GENERATED"

And the offending statement was:

CREATE TABLE "AspNetRoleClaims" (

which on further research made perfect sense because this is a new syntax GENERATED AS IDENTITY for creating auto-incremented column available in PostgreSQL 10 and I was running version 9.6.

I was using Npgsql.EntityFrameworkCore.PostgreSQL 3.1.1 and going through it I found a documented breaking change in 3.0.0:

The default value generation strategy has changed from the older SERIAL columns to the newer IDENTITY columns, introduced in PostgreSQL 10.

You can look for details here: 3.0 Release Notes

Fortunately the fix was easy - just had to specify the PostgreSQL version I was targeting:

public class ApplicationDbContext : IdentityDbContext
    public ApplicationDbContext(DbContextOptions options) : base(options)

    protected override void OnConfiguring(DbContextOptionsBuilder optionsBuilder)
        optionsBuilder.UseNpgsql("DefaultConnection", o => o.SetPostgresVersion(9, 6));

After re-generating the migrations the older SERIAL statement was used:

CREATE TABLE "AspNetRoleClaims" (
    "Id" serial NOT NULL,

and everything went fine.


PostgreSQL 10 introduced GENERATED AS IDENTITY syntax aiming to replace SERIAL for automatic assignment of unique value to a column. Npgsql.EntityFrameworkCore.PostgreSQL 3.0.0 takes advantage of it and uses it as a default when generating SQL migrations. Upgrading dependencies caught me off guard this time but the breaking change was well documented and my problem easily fixed.

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