[Solved] Entity framework linq query Include() multiple children entities

This may be a really elementry question but whats a nice way to include multiple children entities when writing a query that spans THREE levels (or more)?

i.e. I have 4 tables: Company, Employee, Employee_Car and Employee_Country

Company has a 1:m relationship with Employee.

Employee has a 1:m relationship with both Employee_Car and Employee_Country.

If i want to write a query that returns the data from all 4 the tables, I am currently writing:

Company company = context.Companies
                         .FirstOrDefault(c => c.Id == companyID);

There has to be a more elegant way! This is long winded and generates horrendous SQL

I am using EF4 with VS 2010

Solution #1:

Use extension methods.
Replace NameOfContext with the name of your object context.

public static class Extensions{
   public static IQueryable<Company> CompleteCompanies(this NameOfContext context){
         return context.Companies
             .Include("Employee.Employee_Country") ;

     public static Company CompanyById(this NameOfContext context, int companyID){
         return context.Companies
             .FirstOrDefault(c => c.Id == companyID) ;


Then your code becomes

     Company company = 
          context.CompleteCompanies().FirstOrDefault(c => c.Id == companyID);

     //or if you want even more
     Company company = 
Respondent: Nix

Solution #2:

EF 4.1 to EF 6

There is a strongly typed .Include which allows the required depth of eager loading to be specified by providing Select expressions to the appropriate depth:

using System.Data.Entity; // NB!

var company = context.Companies
                     .Include(co => co.Employees.Select(emp => emp.Employee_Car))
                     .Include(co => co.Employees.Select(emp => emp.Employee_Country))
                     .FirstOrDefault(co => co.companyID == companyID);

The Sql generated is by no means intuitive, but seems performant enough. I’ve put a small example on GitHub here

EF Core

EF Core has a new extension method, .ThenInclude(), although the syntax is slightly different:

var company = context.Companies
                     .Include(co => co.Employees)
                           .ThenInclude(emp => emp.Employee_Car)
                     .Include(co => co.Employees)
                           .ThenInclude(emp => emp.Employee_Country)

With some notes

  • As per above (Employees.Employee_Car and Employees.Employee_Country), if you need to include 2 or more child properties of an intermediate child collection, you’ll need to repeat the .Include navigation for the collection for each child of the collection.
  • As per the docs, I would keep the extra ‘indent’ in the .ThenInclude to preserve your sanity.
Respondent: StuartLC

Solution #3:

You might find this article of interest which is available at codeplex.com.

The article presents a new way of expressing queries that span multiple tables in the form of declarative graph shapes.

Moreover, the article contains a thorough performance comparison of this new approach with EF queries. This analysis shows that GBQ quickly outperforms EF queries.

Respondent: Merijn

Solution #4:

How do you construct a LINQ to Entities query to load child objects directly, instead of calling a Reference property or Load()

There is no other way – except implementing lazy loading.

Or manual loading….

myobj = context.MyObjects.First();
Respondent: Andreas Rehm

Solution #5:

Might be it will help someone, 4 level and 2 child’s on each level

Library.Include(a => a.Library.Select(b => b.Library.Select(c => c.Library)))
            .Include(g => g.Library.Select(h=>g.Book))
            .Include(j => j.Library.Select(k => k.Library.Select(l=>l.Book)))
Respondent: Shahid Islam

The answers/resolutions are collected from stackoverflow, are licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0 .

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