Getting started with OrmLite

After installing OrmLite we now need to configure OrmLite's DB Connection Factory containing the RDBMS Dialect you want to use and the primary DB connection string you wish to connect to. Most NuGet OrmLite packages only contain a single provider listed below:

SqlServerDialect.Provider      // SQL Server Version 2012+
SqliteDialect.Provider         // Sqlite
PostgreSqlDialect.Provider     // PostgreSQL 
MySqlDialect.Provider          // MySql
OracleDialect.Provider         // Oracle
FirebirdDialect.Provider       // Firebird

SQL Server Dialects

Except for SQL Server which has a number of different dialects to take advantage of features available in each version, please use the best matching version closest to your SQL Server version:

SqlServer2008Dialect.Provider  // SQL Server <= 2008
SqlServer2012Dialect.Provider  // SQL Server 2012
SqlServer2014Dialect.Provider  // SQL Server 2014
SqlServer2016Dialect.Provider  // SQL Server 2016
SqlServer2017Dialect.Provider  // SQL Server 2017+

OrmLite Connection Factory

To configure OrmLite you'll need your App's DB Connection string along the above RDBMS Dialect Provider, e.g:

var dbFactory = new OrmLiteConnectionFactory(

If you're using an IOC register OrmLiteConnectionFactory as a singleton:

    new OrmLiteConnectionFactory(":memory:", SqliteDialect.Provider)); //InMemory Sqlite DB

Which can then be used to open DB Connections to your RDBMS.

Creating Table and Seed Data Example

If connecting to an empty database you can use OrmLite's Create Table APIs to create any missing tables you need, which OrmLite creates based solely on the Schema definition of your POCO data models.

CreateTableIfNotExists returns true if the table didn't exist and OrmLite created it, where it can be further populated with any initial seed data it should have, e.g:

using var db = dbFactory.Open();

if (db.CreateTableIfNotExists<Poco>())
    db.Insert(new Poco { Id = 1, Name = "Seed Data"});

var result = db.SingleById<Poco>(1);
result.PrintDump(); //= {Id: 1, Name:Seed Data}

Multiple database connections

Any number of named RDBMS connections can be registered OrmLite's DbFactory RegisterConnection, e.g:

// SqlServer with a named "Reporting" PostgreSQL connection as a part of the same `dbFactory`
var dbFactory = new OrmLiteConnectionFactory(connString, SqlServer2012Dialect.Provider);

dbFactory.RegisterConnection("Reporting", pgConnString, PostgreSqlDialect.Provider);

Named connections can be opened by its name:

using var db = dbFactory.Open("Reporting");

If using ServiceStack the [NamedConnection] attribute can be used to configure Services base.Db connection with the named connection RDBMS, e.g:

public class QueryReports {}

public class ReportServices : Service
    public object Any(QueryReports request) => Db.Select<Reports>();

Or if using AutoQuery it can be used to associate Data Models with the named connection:

public class Reports { ... }

public class QueryReports : QueryDb<Reports> {}

Otherwise for other Services the [ConnectionInfo] attribute can be used to change the base.Db to use the registered named connection for all APIs in a Service class, e.g:

[ConnectionInfo(NamedConnection = "Reporting")]
public class ReportingServices : Service
    public object Any(Sales request)
        return new SalesResponse { Results = Db.Select<Sales>() };

More examples available in Multitenancy docs.

Detailed Walkthrough

OrmLite is a lightweight, convention-based Object-Relational Mapper (ORM) offered within the ServiceStack suite of libraries. This tutorial aims to guide you through the basic functionality of OrmLite, covering its usage both as a standalone library and as an integrated part of a ServiceStack service. You will learn how to set up OrmLite, create data models, perform standard CRUD operations, and utilize the library's unique query functionalities. This tutorial provides a comprehensive starting point for developers looking to understand and effectively use OrmLite in their .NET projects.

Setup and Installation

To begin using OrmLite, you'll need to install it in your project. For a basic Console application, you'll want to add the OrmLite NuGet package for the database you're planning to use. This tutorial will use SQLite as an example. So, within your Package Manager Console, input Install-Package ServiceStack.OrmLite.Sqlite or use `dotnet .

dotnet add package ServiceStack.OrmLite.SqlServer   // SQLServer 2012+
dotnet add package ServiceStack.OrmLite.Sqlite      // Sqlite
dotnet add package ServiceStack.OrmLite.PostgreSQL  // PostgreSQL 
dotnet add package ServiceStack.OrmLite.MySql       // MySql

Or you can add the following to your csproj file.

<PackageReference Include="ServiceStack.OrmLite.SqlServer" Version="8.*" />

<PackageReference Include="ServiceStack.OrmLite.Sqlite" Version="8.*" />

<PackageReference Include="ServiceStack.OrmLite.PostgreSQL" Version="8.*" />

<PackageReference Include="ServiceStack.OrmLite.MySql" Version="8.*" />

The next step is creating a connection to your database. Here's how you do it for SQLite:

var dbFactory = new OrmLiteConnectionFactory(":memory:", SqliteDialect.Provider);

This snippet establishes an in-memory SQLite database connection. In a real-world application, you'd replace ":memory:" with your SQLite database's connection string.

OrmLite supports multiple database types, including MS SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. To use these, simply install the corresponding NuGet package and replace SqliteDialect.Provider with the appropriate provider (i.e., SqlServerDialect.Provider, MySqlDialect.Provider, or PostgreSqlDialect.Provider).

If you're planning on using OrmLite within a ServiceStack project, you can streamline the setup process with the ServiceStack .NET tool x and the command x mix <database technology>. For SQLite, use x mix sqlite.

# Create new project
x new web MyApp
# Navigate into new project
cd MyApp
# Mix in OrmLite SQLite support
x mix sqlite

After setup, you're now ready to establish a database connection and execute queries from your project.

Basic Usage (Standalone)

OrmLite is designed for simplicity and efficiency, enabling you to perform CRUD operations directly from your .NET classes. Here's an example of how you can utilize OrmLite in a standalone context.


Creating a Connection

Creating a connection with your database is as simple as calling OpenDbConnection on your IDbConnectionFactory instance.

using var db = dbFactory.OpenDbConnection();

This line establishes a connection to your database and ensures it is correctly disposed of once you're finished.

Creating a Model

OrmLite maps C# classes to database tables. Here's an example model class Order:

public class Order
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public string Customer { get; set; }
    public DateTime OrderDate { get; set; }

In this class, the Id property is annotated with [AutoIncrement], telling OrmLite to auto-increment this field for new records.


Creating a Table

Once your model is defined, you can use it to create a new table:


This method creates a new Order table if it doesn't already exist in your database.

Inserting Data

To insert data, use the Insert method:

var order = new Order
    Customer = "John Doe",
    OrderDate = DateTime.UtcNow


The Insert method adds a new record to the Order table. If you want to retrieve the auto-incremented Id after the insert, use Insert and selectIdentity together:

var orderId = db.Insert(order, selectIdentity: true);

Updating Data

Updating records is just as easy. Make sure your instance includes the primary key value:

order.Customer = "Jane Doe";

This updates the Order record that has the same Id as order.

Deleting Data

Finally, deleting a record is a simple call to Delete:


This deletes the Order record with the same Id as order. To delete a records based on a condition, use Delete<T>(predicate):

db.Delete<Order>(x => x.Customer == "Jane Doe");

Usage from a ServiceStack Service

Utilizing OrmLite from a ServiceStack service is straightforward, due to ServiceStack's built-in integration with OrmLite. ServiceStack services can access a Db property from the base Service class, which provides access to an OrmLite database connection.

Registering the Database Connection Factory

Before you can use the Db property, you need to register an IDbConnectionFactory instance with ServiceStack's IoC container. This is usually done in your ConfigureDb.cs file:

public class ConfigureDb : IHostingStartup
    public void Configure(IWebHostBuilder builder) => builder
        .ConfigureServices((context, services) => {
            services.AddSingleton<IDbConnectionFactory>(new OrmLiteConnectionFactory(
                ?? ":memory:",

In this code, an OrmLiteConnectionFactory is created and registered as a singleton service. This factory will create database connections when needed, using the provided connection string and dialect provider.

Creating a ServiceStack Service

Here's an example of a ServiceStack service that performs basic CRUD operations on an Order:

public class OrderService : Service
    public object Any(GetOrder request)
        return Db.SingleById<Order>(request.Id);

    public object Any(CreateOrder request)
        var order = new Order
            Customer = request.Customer,
            OrderDate = DateTime.UtcNow

        var orderId = Db.Insert(order, selectIdentity: true);
        return new CreateOrderResponse { Id = orderId };

    public void Any(UpdateOrder request)
        var order = Db.SingleById<Order>(request.Id);
        order.Customer = request.Customer;

    public void Any(DeleteOrder request)

In this service, we're utilizing the Db property, which gives us a handle to the database connection. We can then use this handle to perform CRUD operations in the same way we did in a standalone context.

The service methods match HTTP verbs based on their prefix: Any methods can respond to any HTTP verb, Get methods respond to GET requests, Post methods respond to POST requests, and so on.

Code-First Models

OrmLite uses a code-first approach to data modeling, which means you define your data model using C# classes, and OrmLite will take care of creating the corresponding database schema. This includes creating tables, defining columns and their types, and setting up relationships between tables.

In OrmLite, you can add various attributes to your class and property definitions that control how they're treated by OrmLite when generating schema or performing database operations. Here's an example Order class with some of these attributes:

public class Order
    public int Id { get; set; }
    [Index(Unique = true)]
    public string OrderNumber { get; set; }

    public List<OrderLine> OrderLines { get; set; }

In this class definition:

  • The [Alias] attribute changes the name of the generated table to Orders, can be used on properties as well for columns.
  • The [AutoIncrement] attribute specifies that the Id column should automatically increment its value.
  • The [PrimaryKey] attribute designates Id as the primary key for the Order table.
  • The [Required] attribute indicates that the OrderNumber property must have a value before an order can be inserted or updated in the database.
  • The [Index] attribute creates an index on the OrderNumber column and the Unique = true property ensures that the OrderNumber value is unique across all orders.
  • The [Reference] attribute enables us to use features like LoadSelect<T> to pull data from related tables.

The corresponding OrderLine class may look something like this:

public class OrderLine
    public int Id { get; set; }

    public int OrderId { get; set; }

    public string Product { get; set; }

    public int Quantity { get; set; }

In this OrderLine class definition:

  • The [ForeignKey] attribute defines a foreign key relationship from OrderLine to Order. The OrderId property in OrderLine corresponds to the Id property in Order.

Different ways to Query

OrmLite offers several ways to query your database, catering to different levels of complexity and customization needs. Here, we will explore three methods: lambda expressions, the From<T> method, and plain SQL queries.

Let's use our Order and OrderLine models and assume we already have some data in our database.

Lambda Expressions

Lambda expressions are the simplest way to query your database using OrmLite. You can use them directly within OrmLite's Select<T> method:

var orders = db.Select<Order>(x => x.OrderNumber == "1234");

This line will fetch all orders where OrderNumber equals "1234".

From<T> Method

The From<T> method provides more flexibility than simple lambda expressions. It enables you to build more complex queries involving multiple tables and conditions:

var q = db.From<Order>()
          .Join<Order, OrderLine>()
          .Where<Order>(x => x.OrderNumber == "1234");
var orders = db.Select<Order>(q);

This query fetches all orders, and joins their corresponding OrderLine entries, where OrderNumber equals "1234".

Plain SQL

While OrmLite's query API is robust and handles a wide variety of query scenarios, there are times when you might need to drop down to raw SQL for the utmost control:

var orders = db.Select<Order>("SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE OrderNumber = @orderNumber", new { orderNumber = "1234" });

This is a basic query but demonstrates that you can write and execute raw SQL queries in OrmLite, and map back to your model classes.

Inserting data

Inserting data into your database using OrmLite is as straightforward as querying. Let's dive into some examples using our Order and OrderLine models.

Basic Insert

The simplest way to insert a new record into your database is by using the Insert method. You just need to create an instance of your model and pass it to the Insert method:

var newOrder = new Order
    OrderNumber = "5678",
    OrderDate = DateTime.UtcNow


Inserting with SelectIdentity

If your model has an [AutoIncrement] attribute on its primary key, you can retrieve the generated id during the insertion:

var newOrder = new Order
    OrderNumber = "5678",
    OrderDate = DateTime.UtcNow

var newId = db.Insert(newOrder, selectIdentity: true);

Inserting Multiple Records

OrmLite also allows you to insert multiple records at once when passing a List<T> to InsertAll:

var orderLines = new List<OrderLine>
    new OrderLine { OrderId = newId, ProductName = "Product 1", Quantity = 2 },
    new OrderLine { OrderId = newId, ProductName = "Product 2", Quantity = 3 }


Updating data

Let's use our Order and OrderLine models for demonstration of updating.

Basic Update

The most straightforward way to update a record in your database is by using the Update method. You need to create an instance of your model with the desired changes and pass it to the Update method:

var orderToUpdate = db.Single<Order>(x => x.OrderNumber == "5678");
orderToUpdate.OrderDate = DateTime.UtcNow;


In this example, the Update method uses the Id property (which is treated as the primary key by default) to identify the record to update.

Conditional Update

In case you need to update multiple records based on a condition, you can use the UpdateOnly method. This method is powerful as it allows you to specify which properties to update and the condition for the records to be updated:

db.UpdateOnly(() => new Order { OrderDate = DateTime.UtcNow },
    where: x => x.OrderNumber == "5678");

In this example, only the OrderDate property is updated for all Order records that have "5678" as their OrderNumber.

Let's say you want to update the ProductName for a specific OrderLine associated with an Order. Here's how you can do it:

var orderLineToUpdate = db.Single<OrderLine>(x => x.OrderId == 1 && x.ProductName == "Product 1");
orderLineToUpdate.ProductName = "Updated Product Name";


Deleting data

Once again, we'll use our Order and OrderLine models for demonstration of Delete.

Basic Deletion

The simplest way to delete a record is by using the Delete method. You just need to pass an instance of your model with the Id of the record you want to delete:

var orderToDelete = db.Single<Order>(x => x.OrderNumber == "5678");

In this example, the Delete method uses the Id property (which is treated as the primary key by default) to identify the record to delete.

Conditional Deletion

If you need to delete multiple records based on a condition, you can also use the Delete method, but with a predicate:

db.Delete<Order>(x => x.OrderNumber == "5678");

In this example, all Order records that have "5678" as their OrderNumber will be deleted.

In real-world applications, it's quite common to deal with relationships between tables, like one-to-many relationships. OrmLite provides a set of Load prefixed methods to make loading related data with relationships easier. These methods return the primary entity and populate its related entities.

For instance, to load an Order with its related OrderLines, you can use the LoadSelect method:

var orderWithLines = db.LoadSelect<Order>(x => x.Id == 1);

In this case, LoadSelect returns an Order object that also contains all the OrderLines related to it. The relationship between Order and OrderLine is defined by the ForeignKey attribute:

public class OrderLine
    public int Id { get; set; }

    public int OrderId { get; set; }

    public string ProductName { get; set; }
    public decimal Price { get; set; }

And the Order class has a List<OrderLine> applied with a [Reference] attribute:

public class Order
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public string OrderNumber { get; set; }

    public List<OrderLine> OrderLines { get; set; }

The ForeignKey attribute in the OrderLine class establishes that the OrderId property is a foreign key that relates to the Order table. The [Reference] attribute is used by LoadSelect to populate the related data on the Order class.

High-Level Features When Integrated with ServiceStack

While ServiceStack.OrmLite works effectively as a standalone micro ORM, it offers even more when integrated within the ServiceStack ecosystem. In this context, OrmLite can be leveraged to facilitate high-level features of ServiceStack such as AutoQuery, Locode, and code-first model generation.

AutoQuery and Code First Models

In a typical ServiceStack application, OrmLite is commonly used to create code-first models that form the basis for database operations. One key advantage of this is the seamless integration with AutoQuery, a ServiceStack feature that enables automated generation of optimized, queryable services for defined models.


Here's an example of defining a model and an AutoQuery request DTO:

public class Order
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public string Customer { get; set; }

public class QueryOrders : QueryDb<Order>

AutoQuery and Database First Approach

ServiceStack also supports a database-first approach, especially useful when working with an existing database. In this scenario, you can leverage AutoQuery's GeneratedServices feature. It allows you to create ready-to-use services based on your database schema.

appHost.Plugins.Add(new AutoQueryFeature {
    MaxLimit = 1000,
    GenerateCrudServices = new GenerateCrudServices
        AutoRegister = true


Locode is a built-in ServiceStack UI that provides an easy way to visualize, interact with your database and manage your data. When using OrmLite with AutoQuery, Locode can generate interfaces for your tables, enabling you to browse and manage your data.


Code Generation with ServiceStack 'x' Tool

If you start with a database-first approach using GeneratedServices, ServiceStack provides a smooth transition to a code-first approach when you're ready. Using the x dotnet tool, you can generate all POCO model classes, as well as AutoQuery CRUD Request DTOs, all from an existing database schema. The command for this is:

x csharp https://localhost:5001 -path /crud/all/csharp


This will create a C# file that contain classes representing each table in your database, as well as the CRUD Request DTOs. From there, you can start to manipulate these models in a code-first manner while still leveraging all the powerful features of ServiceStack and OrmLite.


We've journeyed through an introduction to ServiceStack.OrmLite, discussing its setup, basic usage, and how it can be used within a ServiceStack service. We've explored the power of code-first models, various ways of querying, inserting, updating, and deleting data using OrmLite, and how to leverage LoadSelect to handle related model data.

We also touched on some high-level features provided by OrmLite when integrated with ServiceStack, including AutoQuery, Locode, and transitioning from a database-first to a code-first approach using the 'x' dotnet tool.

The aim of this tutorial was to give you an understanding of the core concepts and capabilities of OrmLite and to demonstrate its potential as a reliable and efficient Micro ORM for your .NET projects. Whether used in a standalone context or as part of a wider ServiceStack application, OrmLite provides a lightweight, intuitive, and feature-rich data access solution.

Feedback welcome

Think we are missing something in OrmLite to make it better? Let us know in!