Scott Hanselman

Using Flurl to easily build URLs and make testable HttpClient calls in .NET

June 23, '18 Comments [12] Posted in ASP.NET | DotNetCore | Open Source
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FlurlI posted about using Refit along with ASP.NET Core 2.1's HttpClientFactory earlier this week. Several times when exploring this space (both on Twitter, googling around, and in my own blog comments) I come upon Flurl as in, "Fluent URL."

Not only is that a killer name for an open source project, Flurl is very active, very complete, and very interesting. By the way, take a look at the https://flurl.io/ site for a great example of a good home page for a well-run open source library. Clear, crisp, unambiguous, with links on how to Get It, Learn It, and Contribute. Not to mention extensive docs. Kudos!

Flurl is a modern, fluent, asynchronous, testable, portable, buzzword-laden URL builder and HTTP client library for .NET.

You had me at buzzword-laden! Flurl embraces the .NET Standard and works on .NET Framework, .NET Core, Xamarin, and UWP - so, everywhere.

To use just the Url Builder by installing Flurl. For the kitchen sink (recommended) you'll install Flurl.Http. In fact, Todd Menier was kind enough to share what a Flurl implementation of my SimpleCastClient would look like! Just to refresh you, my podcast site uses the SimpleCast podcast hosting API as its back-end.

My super basic typed implementation that "has a" HttpClient looks like this. To be clear this sample is WITHOUT FLURL.

public class SimpleCastClient
{
private HttpClient _client;
private ILogger<SimpleCastClient> _logger;
private readonly string _apiKey;

public SimpleCastClient(HttpClient client, ILogger<SimpleCastClient> logger, IConfiguration config)
{
_client = client;
_client.BaseAddress = new Uri($"https://api.simplecast.com"); //Could also be set in Startup.cs
_logger = logger;
_apiKey = config["SimpleCastAPIKey"];
}

public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows()
{
try
{
var episodesUrl = new Uri($"/v1/podcasts/shownum/episodes.json?api_key={_apiKey}", UriKind.Relative);
_logger.LogWarning($"HttpClient: Loading {episodesUrl}");
var res = await _client.GetAsync(episodesUrl);
res.EnsureSuccessStatusCode();
return await res.Content.ReadAsAsync<List<Show>>();
}
catch (HttpRequestException ex)
{
_logger.LogError($"An error occurred connecting to SimpleCast API {ex.ToString()}");
throw;
}
}
}

Let's explore Tim's expression of the same client using the Flurl library!

Not we set up a client in Startup.cs, use the same configuration, and also put in some nice aspect-oriented events for logging the befores and afters. This is VERY nice and you'll note it pulls my cluttered logging code right out of the client!

// Do this in Startup. All calls to SimpleCast will use the same HttpClient instance.
FlurlHttp.ConfigureClient(Configuration["SimpleCastServiceUri"], cli => cli
.Configure(settings =>
{
// keeps logging & error handling out of SimpleCastClient
settings.BeforeCall = call => logger.LogWarning($"Calling {call.Request.RequestUri}");
settings.OnError = call => logger.LogError($"Call to SimpleCast failed: {call.Exception}");
})
// adds default headers to send with every call
.WithHeaders(new
{
Accept = "application/json",
User_Agent = "MyCustomUserAgent" // Flurl will convert that underscore to a hyphen
}));

Again, this set up code lives in Startup.cs and is a one-time thing. The Headers, User Agent all are dealt with once there and in a one-line chained "fluent" manner.

Here's the new SimpleCastClient with Flurl.

using Flurl;
using Flurl.Http;

public class SimpleCastClient
{
// look ma, no client!
private readonly string _baseUrl;
private readonly string _apiKey;

public SimpleCastClient(IConfiguration config)
{
_baseUrl = config["SimpleCastServiceUri"];
_apiKey = config["SimpleCastAPIKey"];
}

public Task<List<Show>> GetShows()
{
return _baseUrl
.AppendPathSegment("v1/podcasts/shownum/episodes.json")
.SetQueryParam("api_key", _apiKey)
.GetJsonAsync<List<Show>>();
}
}

See in GetShows() how we're also using the Url Builder fluent extensions in the Flurl library. See that _baseUrl is actually a string? We all know that we're supposed to use System.Uri but it's such a hassle. Flurl adds extension methods to strings so that you can seamlessly transition from the strings (that we all use) representations of Urls/Uris and build up a Query String, and in this case, a GET that returns JSON.

Very clean!

Flurl also prides itself on making HttpClient testing easier as well. Here's a more sophisticated example of a library from their site:

// Flurl will use 1 HttpClient instance per host
var person = await "https://api.com"
.AppendPathSegment("person")
.SetQueryParams(new { a = 1, b = 2 })
.WithOAuthBearerToken("my_oauth_token")
.PostJsonAsync(new
{
first_name = "Claire",
last_name = "Underwood"
})
.ReceiveJson<Person>();

This example is doing a post with an anonymous object that will automatically turn into JSON when it hits the wire. It also receives JSON as the response. Even the query params are created with a C# POCO (Plain Old CLR Object) and turned into name=value strings automatically.

Here's a test Flurl-style!

// fake & record all http calls in the test subject
using (var httpTest = new HttpTest()) {
// arrange
httpTest.RespondWith(200, "OK");
// act
await sut.CreatePersonAsync();
// assert
httpTest.ShouldHaveCalled("https://api.com/*")
.WithVerb(HttpMethod.Post)
.WithContentType("application/json");
}

Flurl.Http includes a set of features to easily fake and record HTTP activity. You can make a whole series of assertions about your APIs:

httpTest.ShouldHaveCalled("http://some-api.com/*")
.WithVerb(HttpMethd.Post)
.WithContentType("application/json")
.WithRequestBody("{\"a\":*,\"b\":*}") // supports wildcards
.Times(1)

All in all, it's an impressive set of tools that I hope you explore and consider for your toolbox! There's a ton of great open source like this with .NET Core and I'm thrilled to do a small part to spread the word. You should to!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Using ASP.NET Core 2.1's HttpClientFactory with Refit's REST library

June 20, '18 Comments [11] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET Web API | DotNetCore | Open Source
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Strong by Lucyb_22 used under Creative Commons from FlickrWhen I moved my podcast site over to ASP.NET Core 2.1 I also started using HttpClientFactory and wrote up my experience. It's a nice clean way to centralize both settings and policy for your HttpClients, especially if you're using a lot of them to talk to a lot of small services.

Last year I explored Refit, an automatic type-safe REST library for .NET Standard. It makes it super easy to just declare the shape of a client and its associated REST API with a C# interface:

public interface IGitHubApi
{
[Get("/users/{user}")]
Task<User> GetUser(string user);
}

and then ask for an HttpClient that speaks that API's shape, then call it. Fabulous.

var gitHubApi = RestService.For<IGitHubApi>("https://api.github.com");

var octocat = await gitHubApi.GetUser("octocat");

But! What does Refit look like and how does it work in an HttpClientFactory-enabled world? Refit has recently been updated with first class support for ASP.NET Core 2.1's HttpClientFactory with the Refit.HttpClientFactory package.

Since you'll want to centralize all your HttpClient configuration in your ConfigureServices method in Startup, Refit adds a nice extension method hanging off of Services.

You add a RefitClient of a type, then add whatever other IHttpClientBuilder methods you want afterwards:

services.AddRefitClient<IWebApi>()
.ConfigureHttpClient(c => c.BaseAddress = new Uri("https://api.example.com"));
// Add additional IHttpClientBuilder chained methods as required here:
// .AddHttpMessageHandler<MyHandler>()
// .SetHandlerLifetime(TimeSpan.FromMinutes(2));

Of course, then you can just have your HttpClient automatically created and passed into the constructor. You'll see in this sample from their GitHub that you get an IWebAPI (that is, whatever type you want, like my IGitHubApi) and just go to town with a strongly typed interfaces of an HttpClient with autocomplete.

public class HomeController : Controller
{
public HomeController(IWebApi webApi)
{
_webApi = webApi;
}

private readonly IWebApi _webApi;

public async Task<IActionResult> Index(CancellationToken cancellationToken)
{
var thing = await _webApi.GetSomethingWeNeed(cancellationToken);

return View(thing);
}
}

Refit is easy to use, and even better with ASP.NET Core 2.1. Go get Refit and try it today!

* Strong image by Lucyb_22 used under Creative Commons from Flickr


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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ASP.NET Core Architect David Fowler's hidden gems in 2.1

June 11, '18 Comments [10] Posted in ASP.NET | DotNetCore
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ASP.NET Architect David FowlerOpen source ASP.NET Core 2.1 is out, and Architect David Fowler took to twitter to share some hidden gems that not everyone knows about. Sure, it's faster, builds faster, runs faster, but there's a number of details and fun advanced techniques that are worth a closer look at.

.NET Generic Host

ASP.NET Core introduced a new hosting model. .NET apps configure and launch a host.

The host is responsible for app startup and lifetime management. The goal of the Generic Host is to decouple the HTTP pipeline from the Web Host API to enable a wider array of host scenarios. Messaging, background tasks, and other non-HTTP workloads based on the Generic Host benefit from cross-cutting capabilities, such as configuration, dependency injection (DI), and logging.

This means that there's not just a WebHost anymore, there's a Generic Host for non-web-hosting scenarios. You get the same feeling as with ASP.NET Core and all the cool features like DI, logging, and config. The sample code for a Generic Host is up on GitHub.

IHostedService

A way to run long running background operations in both the generic host and in your web hosted applications. ASP.NET Core 2.1 added support for a BackgroundService base class that makes it trivial to write a long running async loop. The sample code for a Hosted Service is also up on GitHub.

Check out a simple Timed Background Task:

public Task StartAsync(CancellationToken cancellationToken)
{
_logger.LogInformation("Timed Background Service is starting.");

_timer = new Timer(DoWork, null, TimeSpan.Zero,
TimeSpan.FromSeconds(5));

return Task.CompletedTask;
}

Fun!

Windows Services on .NET Core

You can now host ASP.NET Core inside a Windows Service! Lots of people have been asking for this. Again, no need for IIS, and you can host whatever makes you happy. Check out Microsoft.AspNetCore.Hosting.WindowsServices on NuGet and extensive docs on how to host your own ASP.NET Core app without IIS on Windows as a Windows Service.

public static void Main(string[] args)
{
var pathToExe = Process.GetCurrentProcess().MainModule.FileName;
var pathToContentRoot = Path.GetDirectoryName(pathToExe);

var host = WebHost.CreateDefaultBuilder(args)
.UseContentRoot(pathToContentRoot)
.UseStartup<Startup>()
.Build();

host.RunAsService();
}

IHostingStartup - Configure IWebHostBuilder with an Assembly Attribute

Simple and clean with source on GitHub as always.

[assembly: HostingStartup(typeof(SampleStartups.StartupInjection))]

Shared Source Packages

This is an interesting one you should definitely take a moment and pay attention to. It's possible to build packages that are used as helpers to share source code. We internally call these "shared source packages." These are used all over ASP.NET Core for things that should be shared BUT shouldn't be public APIs. These get used but won't end up as actual dependencies of your resulting package.

They are consumed like this in a CSPROJ. Notice the PrivateAssets attribute.

<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.ClosedGenericMatcher.Sources" PrivateAssets="All" Version="" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.ObjectMethodExecutor.Sources" PrivateAssets="All" Version="" />

ObjectMethodExecutor

If you ever need to invoke a method on a type via reflection and that method could be async, we have a helper that we use everywhere in the ASP.NET Core code base that is highly optimized and flexible called the ObjectMethodExecutor.

The team uses this code in MVC to invoke your controller methods. They use this code in SignalR to invoke your hub methods. It handles async and sync methods. It also handles custom awaitables and F# async workflows

SuppressStatusMessages

A small and commonly requested one. If you hate the output that dotnet run gives when you host a web application (printing out the binding information) you can use the new SuppressStatusMessages extension method.

WebHost.CreateDefaultBuilder(args)
.SuppressStatusMessages(true)
.UseStartup<Startup>();

AddOptions

They made it easier in 2.1 to configure options that require services. Previously, you would have had to create a type that derived from IConfigureOptions<TOptions>, now you can do it all in ConfigureServices via AddOptions<TOptions>

public void ConfigureServicdes(IServiceCollection services)
{
services.AddOptions<MyOptions>()
.Configure<IHostingEnvironment>((o,env) =>
{
o.Path = env.WebRootPath;
});
}

IHttpContext via AddHttpContextAccessor

You likely shouldn't be digging around for IHttpContext, but lots of folks ask how to get to it and some feel it should be automatic. It's not registered by default since having it has a performance cost. However, in ASP.NET Core 2.1 a PR was put in for an extension method that makes it easy IF you want it.

services.AddHttpContextAccessor();

So ASP.NET Core 2.1 is out and ready to go

New features in this release include:

Check out What's New in ASP.NET Core 2.1 in the ASP.NET Core docs to learn more about these features. For a complete list of all the changes in this release, see the release notes.

Go give it a try. Follow this QuickStart and you can have a basic Web App up in 10 minutes.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Real Browser Integration Testing with Selenium Standalone, Chrome, and ASP.NET Core 2.1

May 23, '18 Comments [15] Posted in ASP.NET | DotNetCore | Open Source
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I find your lack of tests disturbingBuckle up kids, this is nuts and I'm probably doing it wrong. ;) And it's 2am and I wrote this fast. I'll come back tomorrow and fix the spelling.

I want to have lots of tests to make sure my new podcast site is working well. As mentioned before, I've been updating the site to ASP.NET Core 2.1.

Here's some posts if you want to catch up:

I've been doing my testing with XUnit and I want to test in layers.

Basic Unit Testing

Simply create a Razor Page's Model in memory and call OnGet or WhateverMethod. At this point you are NOT calling Http, there is no WebServer.

public IndexModel pageModel;

public IndexPageTests()
{
var testShowDb = new TestShowDatabase();
pageModel = new IndexModel(testShowDb);
}

[Fact]
public async void MainPageTest()
{
// FAKE HTTP GET "/"
IActionResult result = await pageModel.OnGetAsync(null, null);

Assert.NotNull(result);
Assert.True(pageModel.OnHomePage); //we are on the home page, because "/"
Assert.Equal(16, pageModel.Shows.Count()); //home page has 16 shows showing
Assert.Equal(620, pageModel.LastShow.ShowNumber); //last test show is #620
}

Moving out a layer...

In-Memory Testing with both Client and Server using WebApplicationFactory

Here we are starting up the app and calling it with a client, but the "HTTP" of it all is happening in memory/in process. There are no open ports, there's no localhost:5000. We can still test HTTP semantics though.

public class TestingFunctionalTests : IClassFixture<WebApplicationFactory<Startup>>
{
public HttpClient Client { get; }
public ServerFactory<Startup> Server { get; }

public TestingFunctionalTests(ServerFactory<Startup> server)
{
Client = server.CreateClient();
Server = server;
}

[Fact]
public async Task GetHomePage()
{
// Arrange & Act
var response = await Client.GetAsync("/");

// Assert
Assert.Equal(HttpStatusCode.OK, response.StatusCode);
}
...
}

Testing with a real Browser and real HTTP using Selenium Standalone and Chrome

THIS is where it gets interesting with ASP.NET Core 2.1 as we are going to fire up both the complete web app, talking to the real back end (although it could talk to a local test DB if you want) as well as a real headless version of Chrome being managed by Selenium Standalone and talked to with the WebDriver. It sounds complex, but it's actually awesome and super useful.

First I add references to Selenium.Support and Selenium.WebDriver to my Test project:

dotnet add reference "Selenium.Support"
dotnet add reference "Selenium.WebDriver"

Make sure you have node and npm then you can get Selenium Standalone like this:

npm install -g selenium-standalone@latest
selenium-standalone install

Chrome is being controlled by automated test softwareSelenium, to be clear, puts your browser on a puppet's strings. Even Chrome knows it's being controlled! It's using the (soon to be standard, but clearly defacto standard) WebDriver protocol. Imagine if your browser had a localhost REST protocol where you could interrogate it and click stuff! I've been using Selenium for over 11 years. You can even test actual Windows apps (not in the browser) with WinAppDriver/Appium but that's for another post.

Now for this part, bear with me because my ServerFactory class I'm about to make is doing two things. It's setting up my ASP.NET Core 2. 1 app and actually running it so it's listening on https://localhost:5001. It's assuming a few things that I'll point out. It also (perhaps questionable) is launching Selenium Standalone from within its constructor. Questionable, to be clear, and there's others ways to do this, but this is VERY simple.

If it offends you, remembering that you do need to start Selenium Standalone with "selenium-standalone start" you could do it OUTSIDE your test in a script.

Perhaps do the startup/teardown work in a PowerShell or Shell script. Start it up, save the process id, then stop it when you're done. Note I'm also doing checking code coverage here with Coverlet but that's not related to Selenium - I could just "dotnet test."

#!/usr/local/bin/powershell
$SeleniumProcess = Start-Process "selenium-standalone" -ArgumentList "start" -PassThru
dotnet test /p:CollectCoverage=true /p:CoverletOutputFormat=lcov /p:CoverletOutput=./lcov .\hanselminutes.core.tests
Stop-Process -Id $SeleniumProcess.Id

Here my SeleniumServerFactory is getting my Browser and Server ready.

SIDEBAR NOTE: I want to point out that this is NOT perfect and it's literally the simplest thing possible to get things working. It's my belief, though, that there are some problems here and that I shouldn't have to fake out the "new TestServer" in CreateServer there. While the new WebApplicationFactory is great for in-memory unit testing, it should be just as easy to fire up your app and use a real port for things like Selenium testing. Here I'm building and starting the IWebHostBuilder myself (!) and then making a fake TestServer only to satisfy the CreateServer method, which I think should not have a concrete class return type. For testing, ideally I could easily get either an "InMemoryWebApplicationFactory" and a "PortUsingWebApplicationFactory" (naming is hard). Hopefully this is somewhat clear and something that can be easily adjusted for ASP.NET Core 2.1.x.

My app is configured to listen on both http://localhost:5000 and https://localhost:5001, so you'll note where I'm getting that last value (in an attempt to avoid hard-coding it). We also are sure to stop both Server and Brower in Dispose() at the bottom.

public class SeleniumServerFactory<TStartup> : WebApplicationFactory<Startup> where TStartup : class
{
public string RootUri { get; set; } //Save this use by tests

Process _process;
IWebHost _host;

public SeleniumServerFactory()
{
ClientOptions.BaseAddress = new Uri("https://localhost"); //will follow redirects by default

_process = new Process() {
StartInfo = new ProcessStartInfo {
FileName = "selenium-standalone",
Arguments = "start",
UseShellExecute = true
}
};
_process.Start();
}

protected override TestServer CreateServer(IWebHostBuilder builder)
{
//Real TCP port
_host = builder.Build();
_host.Start();
RootUri = _host.ServerFeatures.Get<IServerAddressesFeature>().Addresses.LastOrDefault(); //Last is https://localhost:5001!

//Fake Server we won't use...this is lame. Should be cleaner, or a utility class
return new TestServer(new WebHostBuilder().UseStartup<TStartup>());
}

protected override void Dispose(bool disposing)
{
        base.Dispose(disposing);
        if (disposing) {
            _host.Dispose();
_process.CloseMainWindow(); //Be sure to stop Selenium Standalone
        }
    }
}

But what does a complete series of tests look like? I have a Server, a Browser, and an (theoretically optional) HttpClient. Focus on the Browser and Server.

At the point when a single test starts, my site is up (the Server) and an invisible headless Chrome (the Browser) is actually being puppeted with local calls via WebDriver. All this is hidden from to you - if you want. You can certainly see Chrome (or other browsers) get automated, but what's nice about Selenium Standalone with hidden/headless Browser testing is that my unit tests now also include these complete Integration Tests and can run as part of my Continuous Integration Build.

Again, layers. I test classes, then move out and test Http Request/Response interactions, and finally the site is up and I'm making sure I can navigate, that data is loading. I'm automating the "smoke tests" that I used to do myself! And I can make as many of this a I'd like now that the scaffolding work is done.

public class SeleniumTests : IClassFixture<SeleniumServerFactory<Startup>>, IDisposable
{
public SeleniumServerFactory<Startup> Server { get; }
public IWebDriver Browser { get; }
public HttpClient Client { get; }
public ILogs Logs { get; }

public SeleniumTests(SeleniumServerFactory<Startup> server)
{
Server = server;
Client = server.CreateClient(); //weird side effecty thing here. This call shouldn't be required for setup, but it is.

var opts = new ChromeOptions();
opts.AddArgument("--headless"); //Optional, comment this out if you want to SEE the browser window
opts.SetLoggingPreference(OpenQA.Selenium.LogType.Browser, LogLevel.All);

var driver = new RemoteWebDriver(opts);
Browser = driver;
Logs = new RemoteLogs(driver); //TODO: Still not bringing the logs over yet
}

[Fact]
public void LoadTheMainPageAndCheckTitle()
{
Browser.Navigate().GoToUrl(Server.RootUri);
Assert.StartsWith("Hanselminutes Technology Podcast - Fresh Air and Fresh Perspectives for Developers", Browser.Title);
}

[Fact]
public void ThereIsAnH1()
{
Browser.Navigate().GoToUrl(Server.RootUri);

var headerSelector = By.TagName("h1");
Assert.Equal("HANSELMINUTES PODCAST\r\nby Scott Hanselman", Browser.FindElement(headerSelector).Text);
}

[Fact]
public void KevinScottTestThenGoHome()
{
Browser.Navigate().GoToUrl(Server.RootUri + "/631/how-do-you-become-a-cto-with-microsofts-cto-kevin-scott");

var headerSelector = By.TagName("h1");
var link = Browser.FindElement(headerSelector);
link.Click();
Assert.Equal(Browser.Url.TrimEnd('/'),Server.RootUri); //WTF
}

public void Dispose()
{
Browser.Dispose();
}
}

Here's a build, unit test/selenium test with code coverage actually running. I started running it from PowerShell. The black window in the back is Selenium Standalone doing its thing (again, could be hidden).

Two consoles, one with PowerShell running XUnit and one running Selenium

If I comment out the "--headless" line, I'll see this as Chrome is automated. Cool.

Chrome is loading my site and being automated

Of course, I can also run these in the .NET Core Test Explorer in either Visual Studio Code, or Visual Studio.

image

Great fun. What are your thoughts?


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Using LazyCache for clean and simple .NET Core in-memory caching

May 12, '18 Comments [18] Posted in ASP.NET | DotNetCore | Open Source
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Tai Chi by Luisen Rodrigo - Used under CCI'm continuing to use .NET Core 2.1 to power my Podcast Site, and I've done a series of posts on some of the experiments I've been doing. I also upgraded to .NET Core 2.1 RC that came out this week. Here's some posts if you want to catch up:

Having a blast, if I may say so.

I've been trying a number of ways to cache locally. I have an expensive call to a backend (7-8 seconds or more, without deserialization) so I want to cache it locally for a few hours until it expires. I have a way that work very well using a SemaphoreSlim. There's some issues to be aware of but it has been rock solid. However, in the comments of the last caching post a number of people suggested I use "LazyCache."

Alastair from the LazyCache team said this in the comments:

LazyCache wraps your "build stuff I want to cache" func in a Lazy<> or an AsyncLazy<> before passing it into MemoryCache to ensure the delegate only gets executed once as you retrieve it from the cache. It also allows you to swap between sync and async for the same cached thing. It is just a very thin wrapper around MemoryCache to save you the hassle of doing the locking yourself. A netstandard 2 version is in pre-release.
Since you asked the implementation is in CachingService.cs#L119 and proof it works is in CachingServiceTests.cs#L343

Nice! Sounds like it's worth trying out. Most importantly, it'll allow me to "refactor via subtraction."

I want to have my "GetShows()" method go off and call the backend "database" which is a REST API over HTTP living at SimpleCast.com. That backend call is expensive and doesn't change often. I publish new shows every Thursday, so ideally SimpleCast would have a standard WebHook and I'd cache the result forever until they called me back. For now I will just cache it for 8 hours - a long but mostly arbitrary number. Really want that WebHook as that's the correct model, IMHO.

LazyCache was added on my Configure in Startup.cs:

services.AddLazyCache();

Kind of anticlimactic. ;)

Then I just make a method that knows how to populate my cache. That's just a "Func" that returns a Task of List of Shows as you can see below. Then I call IAppCache's "GetOrAddAsync" from LazyCache that either GETS the List of Shows out of the Cache OR it calls my Func, does the actual work, then returns the results. The results are cached for 8 hours. Compare this to my previous code and it's a lot cleaner.

public class ShowDatabase : IShowDatabase
{
    private readonly IAppCache _cache;
    private readonly ILogger _logger;
    private SimpleCastClient _client;

    public ShowDatabase(IAppCache appCache,
            ILogger<ShowDatabase> logger,
            SimpleCastClient client)
    {
        _client = client;
        _logger = logger;
        _cache = appCache;
    }

    public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows()
    {    
        Func<Task<List<Show>>> showObjectFactory = () => PopulateShowsCache();
        var retVal = await _cache.GetOrAddAsync("shows", showObjectFactory, DateTimeOffset.Now.AddHours(8));
        return retVal;
    }
 
    private async Task<List<Show>> PopulateShowsCache()
    {
        List<Show> shows = await _client.GetShows();
        _logger.LogInformation($"Loaded {shows.Count} shows");
        return shows.Where(c => c.PublishedAt < DateTime.UtcNow).ToList();
    }
}

It's always important to point out there's a dozen or more ways to do this. I'm not selling a prescription here or The One True Way, but rather exploring the options and edges and examining the trade-offs.

  • As mentioned before, me using "shows" as a magic string for the key here makes no guarantees that another co-worker isn't also using "shows" as the key.
    • Solution? Depends. I could have a function-specific unique key but that only ensures this function is fast twice. If someone else is calling the backend themselves I'm losing the benefits of a centralized (albeit process-local - not distributed like Redis) cache.
  • I'm also caching the full list and then doing a where/filter every time.
    • A little sloppiness on my part, but also because I'm still feeling this area out. Do I want to cache the whole thing and then let the callers filter? Or do I want to have GetShows() and GetActiveShows()? Dunno yet. But worth pointing out.
  • There's layers to caching. Do I cache the HttpResponse but not the deserialization? Here I'm caching the List<Shows>, complete. I like caching List<T> because a caller can query it, although I'm sending back just active shows (see above).
    • Another perspective is to use the <cache> TagHelper in Razor and cache Razor's resulting rendered HTML. There is value in caching the object graph, but I need to think about perhaps caching both List<T> AND the rendered HTML.
    • I'll explore this next.

I'm enjoying myself though. ;)

Go explore LazyCache! I'm using beta2 but there's a whole number of releases going back years and it's quite stable so far.

Lazy cache is a simple in-memory caching service. It has a developer friendly generics based API, and provides a thread safe cache implementation that guarantees to only execute your cachable delegates once (it's lazy!). Under the hood it leverages ObjectCache and Lazy to provide performance and reliability in heavy load scenarios.

For ASP.NET Core it's quick to experiment with LazyCache and get it set up. Give it a try, and share your favorite caching techniques in the comments.

Tai Chi photo by Luisen Rodrigo used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), thanks!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.