Dynamically Updating the Request Header of a HttpClientFactory Generated HttpClient, Part 1

Full source code here.

There are some subtle issues in the way I use DI in this post, see here for an alternative if you don’t want to follow this approach

While using the HttpClientFactory I hit a scenario where I needed to update the value of a token passed in the header of requests, the token changed frequently, so I had to repeatedly update it throughout the lifetime of my application.

You have a couple of options for this, the first is to do it after you have taken a HttpClient from the factory at the point where you make your outbound request, this is straightforward, but now everywhere use a HttpClient you have to be able to get a new token. For some this might be fine, and you can use –

    httpClient.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Token", _tokenGenerator.GetToken());

Doing it with HttpClientFactory
The better approach is to put all this logic in the Startup.cs and update the header when the factory returns a new HttpClient, now everywhere you use the HttpClient gets the updated token without any work for you.

In my example case I have a token generator and memory cache. If there is a token in the cache, that one is used, if not the token generator generates and stores the new token in the cache for specified period.

In my Startup.cs all I need is this –

services.AddHttpClient("RemoteServer", client =>
    client.BaseAddress = new Uri("http://localhost:5000/api/");
    client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Accept", "application/json");
    client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Token", TokenGenerator.GetToken());

Read on to see how to wire everything up.

A little known feature of .NET Core is the ability to DI from Program.cs into Startup.cs, I have written about this before in Using Dependency Injection with Startup.cs in ASP.NET Core and am using it again here.

In Program.cs I add a memory cache and a token generator to the service collection.

Adding to the service collection this way can have some unexpected side effects, check this post for an alternative approach.

public static IWebHostBuilder CreateWebHostBuilder(string[] args) =>
    .ConfigureServices(cs => cs.AddMemoryCache())
    .ConfigureServices(cs => cs.AddSingleton<ITokenGenerator, TokenGenerator>())

In Startup.cs I pass a ITokenGenerator to the constructor.

public Startup(IConfiguration configuration, ITokenGenerator tokenGenerator)
    Configuration = configuration;
    TokenGenerator = tokenGenerator;
    string token = tokenGenerator.GetToken(); // do something with the token

private ITokenGenerator TokenGenerator { get; }
// snip

Then a simple call the TokenGenerator.GetToken() updates the header of the client the factory returns to callers.

For completeness, here is the implementation of the TokenGenerator.cs

public class TokenGenerator : ITokenGenerator
    private readonly IMemoryCache _memoryCache;
    public TokenGenerator(IMemoryCache memoryCache)
        _memoryCache = memoryCache;

    public string GetToken()
        string token;
        if (_memoryCache.TryGetValue("Token", out token))
            return token;
            // here you would have a more realistic way of generating a new token
            token = Guid.NewGuid().ToString();
            _memoryCache.Set("Token", token, TimeSpan.FromSeconds(10));

            return token;

Full source code here.

5 thoughts on “Dynamically Updating the Request Header of a HttpClientFactory Generated HttpClient, Part 1

  1. This is a great approach to the token-refresh problem that can avoid some of the complications of responding to an expired-token when the request is placed.

    You would have to code it up to check, but it may be possible to avoid the extra step of DI from Program.cs into StartUp.cs. There are some overloads within HttpClientFactory like:

    IHttpClientBuilder ConfigureHttpClient(this IHttpClientBuilder builder, Action configureClient)


    IHttpClientBuilder AddTypedClient(this IHttpClientBuilder builder, Func factory)

    which should allow configuring HttpClient instances based on anything configured on the standard DI in StartUp.cs, using IServiceProvider.GetRequiredService(...)

  2. Pingback: Dynamically Updating the Request Header of a HttpClientFactory Generated HttpClient, Part 2 | no dogma blog

  3. I believe this has the vulnerably of a token going stale during the time it is created and the time that it is executed. For example, what if it creates the token a few milliseconds before its set to expire, attaches it to the newly created HttpClient from the factory, and then does a bunch of “stuff”. Then it does _client.Get(), but the token is now expired.

    • Hi Bret,

      Maybe I’m not quite following, but “if it creates the token a few milliseconds before its set to expire” I think that is likely to cause a problem in almost an scenario. Maybe I don’t understand the issue you are referring to. Could you provide a example?


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