The Circuit Breaker pattern with Polly

Full source code available here.

This post on the Polly circuit breaker is part of a larger series of post on the Polly Resilience Framework, see here for the others, or check out my Pluralsight course.

The circuit breaker controls the flow of requests from a source to one or more downstream system and cuts the connection when some failure condition is met and resumes the connection after a period. This lets us fail quickly when we know that some remote endpoint or host is not responding as we expect to requests. In this post I am only dealing with the basic circuit breaker, I’ll post another about the advanced circuit breaker later.

Benefits of a circuit breaker

  • Stops requests to the downstream system
  • Reduces load on a failing downstream system, giving it a chance to recover
  • The circuit breaker immediately returns an an error informing the source system that the circuit is open, the source system doesn’t have to wait for a timeout to occur
  • The application with the circuit breaker does not resource like memory, ports and threads when

Background and Terminology
The name, circuit breaker, comes from electrical circuit breakers in your home or office, in some countries these are referred to as trip switches. If the electrical system is working correctly, the circuit is closed and electricity flows to outlets and appliances. But if something goes wrong, the circuit opens, preventing electricity from flowing, thus protecting people and appliances.

The Polly circuit breaker has the corresponding closed and open positions. When closed, the circuit breaker allows requests to be sent, when open, nothing can be sent and an exception is immediately thrown if a request is send to the circuit breaker.

The Polly circuit breaker has one more status, half-open. When in this state Polly will allow the next request to be sent, and if it succeeds the circuit is closed (and normal operation resumes), but if it fails the circuit returns to open (preventing requests from being sent).
The circuit transitions from closed to open when the failure condition is met, from open to half-open when the specified break time is reached.

Here is the full set of possible transitions:
Closed to open – when the failure condition occurs
Open to half-open – when the duration of break is reached
Half-open to closed – when the first request is a success
Half-open to open – when the first request is a failure

The Policy
When creating a circuit breaker policy you specify the condition under which the circuit opens (breaks) and for how long. To be of any use the same instance of the policy must be used across multiple requests, so you cannot just instantiate it inside a controller.

This has implications, if you use the same circuit breaker policy when calling multiple downstream systems, if the circuit breaks for one, it breaks for all.
On the other hand, if you use a circuit breaker on just one downstream system, it can only break the circuit for that one.

I recommend passing policies into the controllers with dependency injection, in the example below I add the policy directly to the DI container, but you should consider using the Polly registry.

As mentioned above the circuit breaker opens when a specified failure condition is met. In the example policy the condition is two consecutive failure responses, the policy also specifies the duration of the break, in this case 10 seconds.

CircuitBreakerPolicy<HttpResponseMessage> breakerPolicy = Policy
    .HandleResult<HttpResponseMessage>(r => !r.IsSuccessStatusCode)
    .CircuitBreakerAsync(2, TimeSpan.FromSeconds(10), OnBreak, OnReset, OnHalfOpen);

The policy is passed into the DI container this way –

In the controller, assign the circuit breaker to a local variable.

private readonly CircuitBreakerPolicy<HttpResponseMessage> _breakerPolicy;

public CatalogController(HttpClient httpClient, CircuitBreakerPolicy<HttpResponseMessage> breakerPolicy)
    _breakerPolicy = breakerPolicy;
    _httpClient = httpClient;

Then use it to make calls to the downstream systems, here –

public async Task<IActionResult> Get(int catalogId)
    string inventoryEndpoint = $"inventory/{catalogId}";

    HttpResponseMessage inventoryResponse = await _breakerPolicy.ExecuteAsync(
             () => _httpClient.GetAsync(inventoryEndpoint));


And here –

public async Task<IActionResult> GetPrice(int catalogId)
    string requestEndpoint = $"price/{catalogId}";

    HttpResponseMessage pricingResponse = await _breakerPolicy.ExecuteAsync(
            () => _httpClient.GetAsync(requestEndpoint));


Full source code available here.

How to install .NET Framework 4.7 in Visual Studio 2017

Microsoft just released .NET Framework 4.7, but surprisingly it is not the easiest to install.

Here are the steps for Windows 10, as of this writing, it is not available for earlier versions for of Windows.

1. Install Windows 10 Creators Update

Go here, download and install. This will take a while and will reboot your computer a few times.

2. Install Visual Studio 2017 Updates

In Visual Studio, go to Tools -> Extensions and Updates, install any available updates.

(You might have the option here to install 4.7, see the image below in step 4.)

3. Open Visual Studio 2017 Installer

Use the Start Menu to search for the Visual Studio Installer.

In the installer, click Modify on the version of Visual Studio you have installed.

4. Install .NET framework 4.7

Click .NET desktop development.

On the right select .NET Framework 4.7 and finally install.

A simple Polly example with WebApi 2

Download full source code.

If you are calling APIs and you haven’t heard about The Polly Project, you should check it out. It helps take care of many common problems like unreliable connections, retries and circuit breaking. It can also be used to wrap code where other forms of transient exception may occur.

In this blog post I’m going to show the wait and retry policy when calling an unreliable Web Api endpoint.

When using Polly there are two pieces that need you need to code – the policy and the execution of code wrapped by the policy.

In this example the policy is created in the constructor of the controller, this is NOT what you should do in a real application. For an example using DI to share policies see “Reusing Polly Policies with Dependency Injection”.

readonly RetryPolicy<HttpResponseMessage> _httpRequestPolicy;

public ValuesController()
    _httpRequestPolicy = Policy.HandleResult<HttpResponseMessage>(
            r => r.StatusCode == HttpStatusCode.InternalServerError)
            retryAttempt => TimeSpan.FromSeconds(retryAttempt));

This policy states that in the event that a HttpResponseMessage has a of InternalServerError, the request should be tried up to three times with a back off increasing by one second each time.

That’s the policy in place, now we need to call the web service endpoint.

public async Task<IHttpActionResult> Get()
   var httpClient = GetHttpClient();
   string requestEndpoint = "numbers/"; // numbers is the name of the controller being called

   HttpResponseMessage httpResponse = await _httpRequestPolicy.ExecuteAsync(() => httpClient.GetAsync(requestEndpoint));

   IEnumerable<int> numbers = await httpResponse.Content.ReadAsAsync<IEnumerable<int>>();
   return Ok(numbers);

If you execute the code it makes a GET request to http://localhost:2351/api/values, despite two failures when calling the NumbersController you will get a 200 response and a list of numbers.

If you want to verify this, step through the provided solution with the debugger. You’ll see that the first two requests to the NumbersContoller return 500 errors and that the third succeeds and returns an array of ints.

With just a few lines of code Polly provided us with a robust wait and retry mechanism for web requests.

In another blog I’ll show a better way of defining policies so they can be used in any controller.

Download full source code.

Locating and checking an executing DLL on a running web server or other application

Edit – even though the steps described below related to an example with IIS, you can use this technique for any running process, it’s just a matter of identifying the process id. In some cases you will not even need the process id, e.g. if all processes are using the same version of a DLL.


Figuring out what dll is actually executing on a running web server is no easy task; it’s not as simple as looking in the bin directory of the deployed application as the dlls are copied from there to a set of temporary directories within the windows systemroot.

I know of two ways of figuring this out, the first requires some code changes and the second does not.

I wrote some time ago about how to find which dll is really executing when running an application, it works just fine if you can alter the source code to include the snippet I proposed.

Clearly that is not a lot of use in a deployed application when you cannot change the code or even redeploy.

No code change needed

Here is the alternative, no code changes needed. The application I am interested in is called MyFancyApp, there are other applications running on the server too. Let’s say that the dll I am interested in is AutoMapper.dll, I need to verify that the running dll is really the version I expect.

1. Open a command prompt and navigate to %systemroot%\System32\inetsrv.
2. Execute appcmd list wp, this will show all the running application pools and the associated process ids. The output will look something like this –
find dll appcmd

You can see that MyFancyApp is running with process id of 1224.

Now switch to Process Explorer.

3. Open Process Explorer and hit CTRL-F, type in AutoMapper.dll. In the results PID 1224 is shown, in fact it will be there a few times. At this point the file location of the dll is visible.
find dll search

4. Double click one of the entries for PID 1224 where the Type is DLL.

5. In the lower pane of Process Explorer the AutoMapper.dll is selected and the version is shown, I had to right click on the lower pane and the version column to make it visible.

find dll results

That’s it. No redeploy, no code editing, no remote debugging. You now know for sure which dll is running and where to find it. If the dll is your own and you are concerned about what might be in the code you can open the file in dotpeek to decompile it.

Getting Web API Exception Details from a HttpResponseMessage

The Problem

It’s hard to get the details of an exception from a Web Api response when calling Web Api from a C# program. (Skip to the solution if you don’t care about the background), it even handles inner exceptions!

Some background

If you are working on a Web Api project and testing with a web browser you get a wonderful error page when an exception occurs. It gives you the message, exception message, exception type and the stack trace. Pretty much all you need to get started figuring out what has gone wrong.
Exception in browser

Same thing with fiddler, get a 500 back and you’ll even be treated to a Json version of the above.

Exception in fiddler

What about calling the action method from inside a c# program? Should be easy, you just create a client, setup the query, let it rip and examine the response for a success status and then read the content to get the returned values. Great, works fine.

What if the server threw an exception like the ones shown above, I thought it would be a simple thing to call response.Exception or the like and get all the details. But easy it is not.
I rooted around in the response for a while but found nothing that was simple to use.

The Solution

Instead I have added an extension method to HttpResponseMessage to parse the details of the exception from the Json in the response.Content.

using System.Net.Http;
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using Newtonsoft.Json;

namespace SimpleWebApiClient
    public static class HttpResponseMessageExtension
        public static async Task<ExceptionResponse> ExceptionResponse(this HttpResponseMessage httpResponseMessage)
            string responseContent = await httpResponseMessage.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();
            ExceptionResponse exceptionResponse = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<ExceptionResponse>(responseContent);
            return exceptionResponse;

    public class ExceptionResponse
        public string Message { get; set; }
        public string ExceptionMessage { get; set; }
        public string ExceptionType { get; set; }
        public string StackTrace { get; set; }
        public ExceptionResponse InnerException { get; set; }

Usage is simple.

    HttpResponseMessage response = await httpClient.GetAsync(query).ConfigureAwait(false);
    if (response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
        // return the value
    // But if an error occurred read the details           
    ExceptionResponse exceptionResponse = response.ExceptionResponse();



Why you should use IDictionary, IList, etc

When returning objects from a method try to use IList, IDictionary, etc instead of List and Dictionary. This is especially important when the method is inside a class library which you distribute.

I had to edit a method that was returning a Dictionary. Inside of which some complex work was being done to populate the dictionary.
The changes needed were going to be much easier if I could use and return a ConcurrentDictionary. See here for what I was doing.

But because the method was returning a simple Dictionary it was not as straight forward as I hoped. More work needed to be done and I had the choice of:

  1. Doing the processing in a more difficult way, not involving a ConcurrentDictionary.
  2. Moving the entries from the new ConcurrentDictionary to a simple Dictionary just before calling return.
  3. Changing the return type of the method (and the associated interface).

I went with option three, this happened to be the easiest, but it was also the best. If the code had initially been written to return IDictionary I would only have had to concern myself with required logic changes inside the method.

Here is a quick, but contrived, example of the flexibility gained by using IDictionary.

The class has a single public method which returns an IDictionary. Depending on the boolean value of getConcurrentDictionary it does its work using either as a simple Dictionary or a ConcurrentDictionary, but the caller does not need be aware of this. This gives great flexibility, the method GetDataDictionary can change its internal implementation and even the type of dictionary it returns without any negative impact on the caller.

The caller also has the flexibility to cast the IDictionary to a ConcurrentDictionary as needed.

    class GetDataWithInterfaceCollections : IGetDataWithInterfaceCollections
        public IDictionary<int, int> GetDataDictionary(int start, int end, bool getConcurrentDictionary)
            IDictionary<int, int> dictionaryToReturn;

            if (getConcurrentDictionary)
                dictionaryToReturn = GetConcurrentDictionary(start, end);
                dictionaryToReturn = GetDictionary(start, end);

            return dictionaryToReturn;

        private IDictionary<int, int> GetConcurrentDictionary(int start, int end)
            //ConcurrentDictionary offers a lot of features not available in Dictionary
            ConcurrentDictionary<int, int> dictionary = new ConcurrentDictionary<int, int>();
            for (int loop = start; loop <= end; loop++)
                dictionary.AddOrUpdate(loop, loop*10, (i, i1) => loop * 10 ); // AddOrUpdate is specific to a ConcurrentDictionary

            return dictionary;

        private IDictionary<int, int> GetDictionary(int start, int end)
            IDictionary<int, int> dictionary = new Dictionary<int, int>();
            for (int loop = start; loop <= end; loop++)
                dictionary.Add(loop, loop * 10);

            return dictionary;

Here is how to call the method shown above.

            IDictionary<int, int> concurrentDictionary = _getDataWithInterfaceCollections.GetDataDictionary(1, 10, true);

            IDictionary<int, int> simpleDictionary = _getDataWithInterfaceCollections.GetDataDictionary(11, 20, false);

            ConcurrentDictionary<int, int> explicitConcurrentDictionary = _getDataWithInterfaceCollections.GetDataDictionary(21, 30, true) as ConcurrentDictionary<int, int>; 

Using the Watch window in Visual Studio we can see more info.

Dictionary Types

Entity Framework Migrations with an existing database


If you read my post on Entity Framework migrations, you might be saying, “that’s amazing, but that’s all very well for new projects, but we’ve got eighty tables in place already and that code first migration ship has sailed”.
But no, you can still make use of Entity Framework migrations, it takes a some extra work, but it is well worth the effort.

If you already have POCOs that represent your databases tables and they really match your tables, you might be able to skip this step.

Reversing the Database

If your POCOs don’t match the database you can use the database tables to generate POCOs for you.

There are plenty of tutorials on Entity Framework’s reverse engineering tool. So I won’t go into too much detail.

Create a new solution with a console application as the startup project.
Set the connection string in your app.config to point to the your reference database (this is the one that has the all the tables you are currently using).

Grab the Entity Framework Power Tools Beta 4 ( Use this to reverse engineer the tables to POCOs. Review the outputted classes, mappings and context to make sure that they were generated the way you expect.

Notice that there is nothing on the POCOs to suggest where there should be indexes. Inferred primary key and foreign keys will be added in by the migration by default. But others will not.

First Migration

Go to the package manager and Enable-Migrations.

Then add the first migration, Add-Migration InitalCreate, this is the migration that can be used to generate the tables.

But, it is probably not complete, it’s going to be missing indexes as mentioned above, stored procs and more.

For example the Vehicle table looks like this
Table Layout

And has an indexes on VehicleID, TyreTypeIDa and Name, but the migration did not pick up the Name index.

Testing the migration

Change the connection string to point to new database.
And run Update-Database

You now have a new database based on the migration.
Open your SQL Server Management Studio, right click on the reference database and click Tasks, then Generate Scripts…
Generate-Script A

Click next and the choose the tables to script out.
6.Generate-Script B

Click next and then Advanced, scroll to the bottom of the list and turn on Script Indexes and any other feature you may need (eg, triggers).

7.Generate-Script C
Save the output to single file named ReferenceDB.sql

Follow the same steps to generate a script based on the new database.

Compare the files in a text comparison tool and you’ll see differences like this

The index on the Name column is missing in the new database.

No problem. Go back to the migration and add it in.

Now you have two choices here, you can add a new migration to alter the existing table, or you can change the initial migration.
I suggest changing the InitalCreate migration, because you should try to get the this first migration to be as close as possible to the existing database.

Adding an index to a CreateTable call is as simple as adding one line at the end.

			c => new 
					VehicleID = c.Int(nullable: false, identity: true), 
					Name = c.String(nullable: false, maxLength: 50), 
					Description = c.String(maxLength: 200), 
					MSRP = c.Double(nullable: false), 
					TyreTypeID = c.Int(nullable: false), 
			.PrimaryKey(t => t.VehicleID) 
			.ForeignKey("dbo.TyreType", t => t.TyreTypeID, cascadeDelete: true) 
			.Index(t => t.TyreTypeID) 
                         // this last line is the index I added by hand. 
			.Index(t => t.Name, name: "IX_Name");

Drop the new database the run Update-Database.

The Vehicle will now be created with the new index.
You could add the index to the POCOs, but you might want to consider how this would affect any move away from Entity Framework. See Code First Data Annotations for more.

For a full list of what you can do with migrations see DbMigration Methods.

Remember that you can run arbitrary sql with the Sql method or even from the SqlFile method. This gives you full flexibility when using Entity Framework migrations.

Entity Framework non null foreign key migration


This post gives a quick overview of how to use Entity Framework migrations and a detailed example of how to handle the addition of a new non null foreign keyed column to an existing table with data in it. Not a trivial process as you will see.
Full source code is provided, there are three versions of the same solution, one for each of the phases described below.


Having source control over your SQL database has been a challenge for a while, I've seen companies with the attitude - the database is the source control, and they were not joking! I've seen a few companies use a dedicated SQL directory within their source code for table creation, stored proc and seeding scripts and this worked ok, but it seemed to put up a barrier between development and dbeng.

You can also go down the route of a dedicated piece of software that is supposed to manage it all for you but they are expensive, and in my experience, buggy.

Entity Framework Migrations

Enter Entity Migrations to fill the gap! It allows you to use your source code as the source control for your database! If you haven’t already worked with EF code first, you should probably stop here and review that topic. I've been using EF migrations for a while, there are plenty of tutorials out there but none deal with the scenario I’m handling.

The Problem

I have a Vehicle class, and a TyreType class. This is my starting structure, after my first migration I will have tables like those shown here. Assume that the application has been used for a while and there will be data in both tables.

Initial DB layout

Now I want to add a TyreColor class which will be referenced by the TyreType class.

public class TyreType
        public int TyreTypeID { get; set; }


        public int TyreColorId { get; set; }
        public virtual TyreColor TyreColor { get; set; }

    public class TyreColor
        public TyreColor()
            this.TyreTypes = new List();
        public int TyreColorId { get; set; }
        public string Name { get; set; }
        public string Description { get; set; }

        public virtual ICollection TyreTypes { get; set; }

There is also some plumbing in the context, you can see that in the source code provided.

This is a pretty standard one to many relationship. In the database it would look like -

DB layout after addition

The tricky part is dealing with the existing data in TyreType. I want to add a non null column, but I can’t because there are already rows of data.

The Solution

The quick answer is - firstly add a nullable TyreColorId column, then set some default value in all existing rows, then set the column to non null for future inserts. If that is enough to help you, good, if not, see the detailed explanation below.

Phase 1 - standard EF Migration creating the first two tables.

Step 1

Create the app, add the models, the context etc.

Go to the package manager console and type -


Enable Migrations

This creates Migrations/Configuration.cs file, I'll come back to this shortly.

Step 2

Add a migration for the models in your project.

Back in the package manager type -

Add-Migration InitialCreate

This adds a file named something like - 201504280200272_InitialCreate.cs to the Migrations directory. Inside this file are Up() and Down() methods. The Up() will create the tables, set the primary key, create the foreign key and create an index.

And Down() drops the foreign key, index and tables.

Step 3

Before I push these changes to the database I will add some seeding code in Configuration.cs

        protected override void Seed(DataAccess.AutomobileContext context)
            context.TyreType.AddOrUpdate(tt => new { tt.Name },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Very Fast Tyre", Material = "Very Fast Rubber" },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Fast Tyre", Material = "Fast Rubber" },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Very Slow Tyre", Material = "Very Slow Rubber" },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Slow Tyre", Material = "Slow Rubber" }

Back in the package manager call -


The db and tables are created and the seeder run.

Tyre Type Table

Phase 2 – Adding the new table and foreign key fields

After creating this initial schema I added a TyreColor to the TyreType.

I want to make TyreColorId a required filed on TyreType and this is where everything starts to get complicated.
I’ve already seeded the TyreType with four rows and now I want to add a new column that is non null and will act as a foreign key. This is a problem, the existing four rows will have empty TyreColorId columns and SQL server won’t allow this.

To overcome this I first add the new column as a nullable, set a default value in the existing rows, and finally set the column to non null.

Step 1

Add TyreColorId and TyreColor to TyreType

  public class TyreType
        public int TyreColorId { get; set; }

        public virtual TyreColor TyreColor { get; set; }

In the package manger run -

Add-Migration AddingTyreColor

This adds a new migration, but I’m going to alter the Up() and Down() methods –

        public override void Up()
                c => new
                        TyreColorId = c.Int(nullable: false, identity: true),
                        Name = c.String(),
                        Description = c.String(),
                .PrimaryKey(t => t.TyreColorId);

            AddColumn("dbo.TyreType", "TyreColorId", c => c.Int(nullable: true));
            //Insert a default TyreColor
            Sql("Insert INTO dbo.TyreColor (Name, Description) VALUES ('Black', 'Very black')"); 
            //Set all null TyreType.TyreColorId to the default
            Sql("UPDATE dbo.TyreType SET TyreColorId = 1 WHERE TyreColorId IS NULL"); 

            AddForeignKey("dbo.TyreType", "TyreColorId", "dbo.TyreColor", "TyreColorId", cascadeDelete: true);

        public override void Down()
            DropForeignKey("dbo.TyreType", "TyreColorId", "dbo.TyreColor");
            DropColumn("dbo.TyreType", "TyreColorId");

See the inline notes for details.

I also updated the seed method

        protected override void Seed(DataAccess.AutomobileContext context)
            context.TyreColor.AddOrUpdate(tc => tc.Name,
                 new TyreColor { Name = "Black", Description = "Black" },
                 new TyreColor { Name = "Gray", Description = "A little black" },
                 new TyreColor { Name = "White", Description = "Very white" },
                 new TyreColor { Name = "Black/White", Description = "A mix of black and white" }

            // grab the one that was added
            TyreColor firstTyreColor = context.TyreColor.First();  
            context.TyreType.AddOrUpdate(tt => new { tt.Name, tt.TyreColorId },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Very Fast Tyre", Material = "Very Fast Rubber", TyreColorId = firstTyreColor.TyreColorId },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Fast Tyre", Material = "Fast Rubber", TyreColorId = firstTyreColor.TyreColorId },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Very Slow Tyre", Material = "Very Slow Rubber", TyreColorId = firstTyreColor.TyreColorId },
                 new TyreType { Name = "Slow Tyre", Material = "Slow Rubber", TyreColorId = firstTyreColor.TyreColorId }

In the package manager run,


The changes are applied and the seed method is called (I’ve changed the seed method a little, you can see that in the source code).

I now have very close to the table structure I want, I just need to set the TyreColorId column in TryeType to non nullable and add an index.

Phase 3 – Making the new column non null

In the package manger run -

Add-Migration AlterTyreColorToNonNull

This will create a new migration with empty Up() and Down() methods.
Add the following

        public override void Up()
            AlterColumn("dbo.TyreType", "TyreColorId", c => c.Int(nullable: false));
            CreateIndex("dbo.TyreType", "TyreColorId"); 
        public override void Down()
            DropIndex("dbo.TyreType", new[] { "TyreColorId" });
            AlterColumn("dbo.TyreType", "TyreColorId", c => c.Int(nullable: true));

Now I have the structure I want

Data In Tables

And the data I want

Final Table Structure

Full source code is provided.

Using JSON to store application preferences and configuration

Download full source code.

Storing configuration preferences in the database is not a hard task. It usually involves storing the name of the preference, the value and the type in the database. Then when retrieving the data you perform some sort of cast.

The casts tend to be a bit painful, but it works.

This is the call –

bool displayWidget = (bool) Convert.ChangeType(_preferenceManager.BadWayToCastToGetPreference("DisplayWidget"), typeof(bool));

And this is the called method –

        public object BadWayToCastToGetPreference<T>(string name)
            var preference = Convert.ChangeType(_context.Preferences.SingleOrDefault(p => p.Name == name).Value, typeof(T));
            return preference;

But this quickly falls apart when you want to store a list of something, this requires a custom way of generating a string that represents the list. A common way I’ve seen is to store the values as a pipe delimited list.

For example if you wanted to store three cities
Boston, New York and Seattle
they would become “Boston|New York|Seattle” when stored in the database.

Now you need a write code to turn that back into a list of strings.

The problem gets worse when you want to store some custom types, for example an emergency contact shaped like –

    public class EmergencyContact
        public int Priority { get; set; }
        public string EmailAddress { get; set; }

Or worse if you want to store a list of emergency contacts.

Rather than suffering all that pain, just use Json to serialize and deserialize the values. This makes life a lot easier.

I have a simple method to create the preference object that gets store in the database –

        private Preference CreatePreference(string name, string value, string type)
            var preference = new Preference
                Name = name,
                Value = value,
                Type = type,
                PreferenceID = Guid.NewGuid()
            return preference;

CreatePreference gets called like this for a simple string –

            string defaultEmail = "";
            Preference preference1 = CreatePreference("DefaultEmail", JsonConvert.SerializeObject(defaultEmail), defaultEmail.GetType().ToString());

And it’s the same when storing a more complex type.

            EmergencyContact[] secondaryEmergencyContacts = new[]
                new EmergencyContact{ EmailAddress = "", Priority = 1},
                new EmergencyContact{ EmailAddress = "", Priority = 2},
                new EmergencyContact{ EmailAddress = "", Priority = 3},
            Preference preference6 = CreatePreference("SecondaryEmergencyContacts",
                JsonConvert.SerializeObject(secondaryEmergencyContacts), secondaryEmergencyContacts.GetType().ToString());

To store these preferences in the database, its just simple Entity Framework.


And then to get the preferences back out of the database you call –

        public T GetPreference<T>(string name)
            var preference =
                JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<T>(_context.Preferences.SingleOrDefault(p => p.Name == name).Value);
            return preference;

Some might complain that it is slower than direct casts, and yes, it probably is. But if you haven’t measured it you shouldn’t optimize it. You can cache always cache preferences. And it is a lot neater than the alternative.

Download full source code.

CastleWindsor chained dependency

Source code is available here.

I recently had a problem where I wanted an MVC controller to use constructor injection of specified dependency and have that dependency load another specified dependency using Windsor.

For example, I have a message of the day controller and it can get messages from either a file or from a database. To support this I have a message of the day service which formats the text it retrieves from a message of the day loader.

But as I said I have two ways of loading the message, so for the sake of this demo I have two services and two loaders.

Controller, service and loader dependencies

Controller, service and loader dependencies

I don’t want my controller to request a named instance, I just want to register the implementations in the installers and let Windsor do the rest.

If the controller is using the database service, I want the database service to use the database loader; if the controller is using the file service, I want the file service to use the file loader.

To support this I added a ContractInstaller as shown here.

    public class ContractInstaller : IWindsorInstaller
        public void Install(IWindsorContainer container, IConfigurationStore store)

                    .DependsOn(Dependency.OnComponent<IMessageLoader, MessageLoaderDatabase>())

                    .DependsOn(Dependency.OnComponent<IMessageLoader, MessageLoaderFile>())

                    .DependsOn(Dependency.OnComponent<IMessageOfTheDayService, MessageOfTheDayServiceFile>())

In lines 6 and 7 I register the loaders (IMessageLoader), and in lines 9 and 12 I register the the services (IMessageOfTheDayService) and they in turn depend on the registered loaders.
In line 15 I register the controller (MessageOfTheDayController) and its dependency on IMessageOfTheDayService, in this case it is using MessageOfTheDayServiceFile.
To use the MessageOfTheDayServiceDatabase, change the dependency on line 16.

Be sure to load this before the ControllersInstaller provided by the Windsor nuget or you will get a clash between the MessageOfTheDayController loaded by both installers. To make sure this happens I alter the default Bootstrap method in ContainerBootstrapper to the following.

        public static ContainerBootstrapper Bootstrap()
            var container = new WindsorContainer().Install(
                new ContractInstaller(),
                new ControllersInstaller()

            return new ContainerBootstrapper(container);

Now when you run the app, the controller will be instantiated with the MessageOfTheDayServiceDatabase which in turn will be instantiated with MessageLoaderDatabase.