Package Description

Install-Package TimeSliceEntityFrameWorkExtensions -Version 0.0.12



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TimeSlice.NET is a C# based .NET package to model time slices ("𝘡𝘦𝘪𝘵𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘯") in an easily serializable and persistable way. We know and appreciate the Itenso TimePeriodLibrary library which is great f.e. to calculate overlaps and intersections of multiple time periods. However the focus of TimeSlice.NET is slightly different:

  • TimeSlice.NET focuses on modeling time-dependent relationships between entities (think of ownership or assignments).
  • TimeSlice.NET brings easy to use serialization (System.Text.Json) and persistence (Entity Framework) features for said time-dependent relationships.
  • However TimeSlice.NET does not support as many different kinds of time periods or time period chains/ranges/collections as Itenso TimePeriodLibrary.


  • The code is designed with time zones in mind. They exist and will cause problems if ignored.
  • All end date times are, if set to a finite value other than MaxValue, meant and treated as exclusive (here's why)
  • All sub second times (milliseconds and ticks) are ignored because they tend to cause trouble on the database/ORM level and there's barely a business case that requires them

Code Quality / Production Readiness

  • The code has at least a 95% unit test coverage. ✔️
  • The bare TimeSlice.NET package has no extra dependencies. ✔️
  • The only dependency of the TimeSlice.NET Entity Framework Extensions package is EF Core itself. ✔️

Nuget Packages

This repository contains two package.

  1. TimeSlice for the core time slice functionalities
    • Nuget Package
    • Nuget Prerelease
  2. TimeSliceEntityFrameWorkExtensions for the Entity Framework extensions
    • Nuget Package
    • Nuget Prerelease

Release Workflow

To create a pre-release nuget package, create a tag of the form prerelease-vx.y.z where x.y.z is the semantic version of the pre-release. This will create and push nuget packages with the specified version x.y.z and a -betaYYYYMMDDHHmmss suffix.

To create a release nuget package, create a tag of the form vx.y.z where x.y.z is the semantic version of the release. This will create and push nuget packages with the specified version x.y.z.


Plain Time Slices

The easiest way to think of a time slice is something that just has a start and (maybe also) an end.

var plainTimeSlice = new PlainTimeSlice
    Start = DateTimeOffset.UtcNow,
    End = new DateTimeOffset(2030, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, TimeSpan.Zero)

"Open" Time Slices

Time slices are called "open", if their end is either not set or infinity.

var openTimeSlice = new PlainTimeSlice
    Start = DateTimeOffset.UtcNow,
    End = null
Assert.IsTrue(openTimeSlice.IsOpen()); // no end set => "open"
openTimeSlice.End = DateTimeOffset.MaxValue;
Assert.IsTrue(openTimeSlice.IsOpen()); // end is infinity => "open"


A relation describes that a single "parent" has a single "child" assigned for a specific time range. For a minimal, easy to understand example on relations, see the gasoline pump ⬌ car relation tests.

Relations that vary over time = Collections

In many business cases these relations vary over time; children are assigned and unassigned to/from parents at specific points in time. We call these assignments "time dependent collection". There are two main kinds:

  • overlaps are allowed = any number of children per point in time (easy to handle)
  • overlaps are forbidden = max. 1 child per point in time (harder to handle)

For a minimal, easy to understand example of collections with overlapping children see the concert tests.

For a minimal, easy to understand example of collections of non-overlapping children see the gasoline pump ⬌ car (non overlapping) collection tests.

Storing the Collections on a Database using Entity Framework Core

In the TimeSliceEntityFrameworkExtensions package you'll find extension classes that make your time slices, relations and collections of relations easily persistable using EF Core.

To make a relation persistable, simply change the interfaces known from above minimal working examples to:

Simple Interface/ Base Class Interface/Base Class to Persist using EF Core
no constraints Parents and Children used in relations have to implement IHasKey<TPrimaryKey>
IRelation IPersistableRelation
TimeDependentRelation PersistableTimeDependentReleation
TimeDependentCollection PersistableTimeDependentCollection

The generics used may look a bit overcomplicated to simply define a primary key (which you can "normally" do by using the [Key] attribute) but the real advantage is, that all the primary and foreign key relations for the collection are then automatically set up using

protected override void OnModelCreating(ModelBuilder modelBuilder)
    modelBuilder.SetupCollectionAndRelations<MyCollectionType, MyRelationType, MyParent, MyParentsKey, MyChild, MyChildsKey>(collection=>collection.YourKey);
    // that's all.

See the ExampleWebApplication 🠒 TimeSliceContext class for a working (and unit tested) example.

From Scratch: Defining a Persistable Time Dependent 1:n and 1:1 Relations and Collections

There's a festival in town. The persons attending the festival are either Musicians or Listeners. For simplicity we model both of those types in separate, easily distinguishable classes. Both Musician and Listener have a name that is, in both cases also used as primary key to store them on a database.

public class Musician : IHasKey<string>
    public string Name { get; set; } // e.g. Freddie Mercury
    string IHasKey<string>.Id => Name; // <-- used a PK in musician table

public class Listener : IHasKey<string>
    public string Name { get; set; } // e.g. John Doe
    string IHasKey<string>.Id => Name; // <-- used a PK in listener table

If a Listener attends a concert, this is modelled as a relation where the Musician is a parent to which the Listener is assigned as a child.

public class ConcertVisit : PersistableTimeDependentRelation<Musician, string, Listener, string>
    // no class body needed, everything we need is already inherited from the base class

At a concert there is usually 1 Musician playing for n listeners. This 1:n cardinality explains why the type Musician is referred to as "parent" and the type Listener is referred to as "child". In the names used in this library the "1" side of a cardinality is always named "parent".

The entire Concert, that consists of multiple n Listener listening to the same 1 Musician at (possibly but not necessarily) the same time is defined as a Collection of n ConcertVisits.

public class Concert : PersistableTimeDependentCollection<ConcertVisit, Musician, string, Listener, string>
    // each collection has to define if the children involved in it
    // at a concert the visits of listeners may overlaps
    public override TimeDependentCollectionType CollectionType => TimeDependentCollectionType.AllowOverlaps;

    // the key of a collection is not enforced using generics, because it's not necessary.
    // so we could use anything else as a key but choosing a Guid is definitly not a bad idea at all.
    public Guid ConcertId { get; set; } // unique ID of the concert

To store concerts on a database we simply have to add one line to the OnModelCreating method:

protected override void OnModelCreating(ModelBuilder modelBuilder)
    // ...
    modelBuilder.SetupCollectionAndRelations<Concert, ConcertVisit, Musician, string, Listener, string>(concert=>concert.ConcertId);
    // This will set up:
    // * the Primary Keys for Musicians and Listeners
    // * the 1:n cardinality and unique constraints for the musician<->listener relation
    // * the table and keys for the concerts

Now we can filling the concert hall:

var freddy = new Musician { Name = "Freddie Mercury" };
var liveAtWembley = new Concert(freddy, new List<ConcertVisit>
        Start = DateTimeOffset.Parse("1986-07-12T19:00:00+00:00"),
        End = DateTimeOffset.Parse("1986-07-12T22:00:00+00:00"),
        Child = new Listener { Name = "John Doe" };,
        Parent = freddy
        Start = DateTimeOffset.Parse("1986-07-12T19:30:00+00:00"),
        End = DateTimeOffset.Parse("1986-07-12T21:35:00+00:00"),
        Child = new Listener { Name = "Erika Musterfrau" },
        Parent = freddy
    // ... many more
// add to context and save on database
await context.Concerts.AddAsync(liveAtWembley);
await context.SaveChangesAsync();