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Intro to LiteDB for .NET Developers. Sample WebApp Included

This article will look closely at LiteDB, a .NET NoSQL Document Store in a single data file. We will discover the advantages of LiteDB and why it is a viable candidate for your next project.

We will also explore the differences between a NoSQL and a classical SQL database and what this has to do with the reminiscent SQL CE or the more modern SQLite database.

Lastly, we will develop a sample .NET WebApp using Uno Platform and LiteDB.


LiteDB is a document store that gets saved into a single file. That means that all your data resides in a single file. If you remember the good old times’ citation needed, you might remember SQL Server Compact, a single file database based on the SQL Server. A modern version would be SQLite, which is also a single-file database. All of them are serverless, meaning you don’t need to install anything additional, which runs in a background thread and does all the work. This simplicity enables a wide variety of scenarios (especially for rapid prototyping).

Some more points, which are listed on their GitHub page:

  • Serverless NoSQL Document Store

  • Simple API, similar to MongoDB

  • 100% C# code for .NET 4.5 / NETStandard 1.3/2.0 in a single DLL (less than 450kb)

  • Thread-safe

  • ACID with full transaction support

  • Data recovery after write failure (WAL log file)

  • Datafile encryption using DES (AES) cryptography

  • Map your POCO classes to BsonDocument using attributes or fluent mapper API

  • Store files and stream data (like GridFS in MongoDB)

  • Single data file storage (like SQLite)

  • Index document fields for fast search

  • LINQ support for queries

  • SQL-Like commands to access/transform data

  • LiteDB Studio – Nice UI for data access

  • Open source (❤️)and free for everyone – including commercial use

These are perfect preconditions to try it out and use it right away because we don’t have to set up anything. So now you might ask yourself, What would be typical use cases for this?

  • Mobile Apps (Xamarin ready)

  • Desktop/local applications

  • Application file format

  • Smaller web applications

  • One database per account/user data store

If you checked out the LiteDB website, you often see NoSQL, which almost sounds like SQL, so before deep diving into code, we should clarify what these two terms mean.

To SQL or to NoSQL - that is the question

NoSQL stands for not only SQL. That means, in contrast to SQL, which stands for structured query language, NoSQL stores in a more dynamic way. It not only means that we can also use SQL language to ask for data, but there are also other ways. Traditionally SQL databases store data in a relational structure, mainly in tables with columns, which then can refer to other tables. In the case of LiteDB, we store the data in documents. Documents are roughly JSON objects. Each document contains pairs of keys and their corresponding values.

So if we have a C# object like this:

					public class BlogPost
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public string Content { get; set; }
    public bool IsPublished { get; set; }
    public string List<string> Tags { get; set; }

Then a typical document representing that data in a document database could look like this:

  "Title": "LiteDB - A .NET embedded NoSQL database",
  "Content": "This article contains a lot of information.",
  "IsPublished": true,
  "Tags": [

Now the same in a traditional table and column-based SQL database wouldn’t be that easy to model. Every 1 to n relationship has to be modified with a new table and foreign key relations. As the document database are “loose” in terms of structure we had no trouble modelling this, plus the structure mirrors our “real C#” entity.

Of course we simplify here a bit. On top we most probable have a unique identifier and some metadata about the object in question, but these are more details than we need right now. Hopefully you can see that it’s super easy to get hierarchical data we have in our application. Everything is concise together in one object.

LiteDB and Uno Platform

We can now use this power to build Uno Platform apps. You might remember that we already could do something similar with SQLite: Working with SQLite and WebAssembly for .NET Developers. This article describes how to use SQLite with the Uno Platform. And guess what: We can do something similar with LiteDB as well. So let’s do it. If you did not set up Uno Platform on your developer machine, head to the Get Started guide. Yes, you read right, we can also use LiteDB inside the browser, giving the user an easy possibility to persist state! That is awesome! Here is what we are going for:

So let’s create a new Uno Platform app. I am a big fan of the command line arguments, but you can also take the Visual Studio Project templates. To create a new app you can simply type: dotnet new unoapp-uwp-net6 -o LiteDBSample (the template allows also for optionally removing some Uno Platform heads: dotnet new unoapp-uwp-net6 -o LiteDBSample -M=false -skia-wpf=false -skia-gtk=false -skia-linux-fb=false. With this you are only running the WASM head). Don’t worry you can also take other templates if you wish, as the code will work everywhere. Now if we want to use LiteDB, we have to reference the nuget package in your Uno HeadWhat is a Head? projects:

					dotnet add package LiteDB --version 5.0.12

Or alternatively just copy and paste this part into your csproj:

  <PackageReference Include="LiteDB" Version="5.0.12" />

With that out of the way, we are only working in the Shared project, and more specific in the MainPage-component, from now on. The full source code is at the end, so I will only show some key elements. The small app, as shown in the picutre, can hold some todo items for you. So we need a way to insert those items from the users point of view:

					<TextBlock Grid.Row="0" Grid.Column="0" Text="Title:" Margin="0,10,0,0" />
<TextBox Grid.Row="0" Grid.Column="2" x:Name="todoText" />
<Button Grid.Row="0" Grid.Column="4" Click="AddTodoItem">Add</Button>

The important bit here is the AddTodoItem function. This will add the todo item to our LiteDB:

					private void AddTodoItem(object sender, RoutedEventArgs args)
    // Create the domain object from the text box
    var todoItem = new TodoItem
        Text = todoText.Text

    // Clear the model for the user
    todoText.Text = string.Empty;

    // Create a new LiteDb and insert the item
    var liteDatabase = new LiteDatabase(DbPath);
    var liteCollection = liteDatabase.GetCollection<TodoItem>();

A bit more explanation: var liteDatabase = new LiteDatabase(DbPath); will either create and open a file with the given path (in this case DbPath which is just Path.Combine(ApplicationData.Current.LocalFolder.Path, "save.db");) or just read the file if it already exists. So we don’t have to take care of much here. liteDatabase.GetCollection<TodoItem>(); will give us the collection of objects, which are represented in our database. If you ever worked with Entity Framework the LiteDatabase object is your DbContext and GetCollection<TodoItem> represents your DbSet<TodoItem> on said DbContext. After that we insert the record and commit the transaction. Commit would translate to SaveChanges in Entity Framework. The last line adds the Todo-item in our in memory representation (an observable list) so the user directly sees a result.

Another small aspect I want to show in the application is this part:

					<Button Click="LoadFromDatabase" Grid.Row="0" Grid.Column="0">Load from database</Button>

Here we load those entries from the database into the in memory collection.

					private void LoadFromDatabase(object sender, RoutedEventArgs args)
    var liteDatabase = new LiteDatabase(DbPath);
    var liteCollection = liteDatabase.GetCollection<TodoItem>();
    var todoItems = liteCollection
    todoItems.ForEach(t => _todoItems.Add(t));

FindAll is basically a ToList on the whole collection. That is very basic. The neat thing is that we can use also LINQ with LiteDB.

					var todoItems = liteDatabase.GetCollection<TodoItems>().Query();
var itemsWhichShouldBeDoneByToday =
    (from item in todoItems
    where !item.IsDone && item.DeadLine <= DateTime.Now
    select item).ToList();

Of course you can also use the method chaining instead of the query language. The core idea is, that Query() returns you a IQueryable, which let’s you use all the power of LINQ and friends. And there you have it, the easy and rapid power of LiteDB paired with the easiness and power of the Uno Platform.

LiteDB async

One thing you might have noticed until now: All the methods I used are synchrnous. There is no await liteDatabase.GetCollection<TodoItem>().ToListAsync() or friends. You should consider the asynchrnous paradigm. If you have a regular desktop application or even the WASM head, async makes sense, as it doesn’t block the UI thread. LiteDB itself doesn’t offer asynchrnous operations, but there is a community project, which does that: litedb-async.

LiteDB Studio

As initially said, there is also a LiteDB Studio. With this UI tool, you can submit queries to your “database.” If you come from a SQL world, you can use all your well-known SQL queries, and they are still working with LiteDB. Unfortunately, there is one significant disadvantage at the moment: The studio runs only under Windows. The reason is simple: First, it runs under the .NET Framework 4.7.2, which is only supported by Windows, and second, it is a WinForms application.

About Uno Platform

For those new to Uno Platform – it allows for creation of pixel-perfect, single-source C# and XAML apps which run natively on Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, Linux and Web via WebAssembly. Uno Platform is free and Open Source (Apache 2.0) and available on GitHub.


I hope I could give you a nice introduction to LiteDB and why it is a viable candidate for your next project.


Next Steps

To upgrade to the latest release of Uno Platform, please update your packages to 4.6 via your Visual Studio NuGet package manager! If you are new to Uno Platform, following our official getting started guide is the best way to get started. (5 min to complete)

Authored by Steven Giesel


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