Fun with constructor arguments Part 2.1: Anonymous overrides revisited

After publishing the post on Anonymous overrides I thought about the topic again. In the end it didn’t make sense to put that functionality in a separate class.

The SmartConstructor already does most of the heavy lifting and matching the properties of an anonymous object to constructor parameters can easily be encapsulated in a new ParameterMatchingConvention.

As a result the SmartConstructor grew by a few lines of code (reading the properties of the anonymous object and converting them to ConstructorParameters) and I created a new convention called StringAsMappingNameMatchingConvention.

Get the overhauled source code for the SmartConstructor here (project TecX.Unity folder Injection and the test suite that shows how to use it in TecX.Unity.Test).

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Fun with constructor arguments Part 3: Named registrations

A while ago there was a question on StackOverflow: If I have multiple implementations of an interface registered as named mappings and a constructor that should consume such a named mapping how can I tell Unity to automatically match the argument name to the mapping name?

E.g. if you have the following class definitions:

public interface ICommand { }

public class LoadCommand : ICommand { }

public class SaveCommand : ICommand { }

public class Consumer
{
  public Consumer(ICommand loadCommand, ICommand saveCommand)
  {
    // ...
  }
}

Now you setup your container and register both command implementations:

container.RegisterType<ICommand, LoadCommand>("loadCommand");
container.RegisterType<ICommand, SaveCommand>("saveCommand");

And when you resolve the Consumer the LoadCommand should be used for the parameter named loadCommand and the SaveCommand should be used for the parameter named saveCommand.

This is what you would have to do using Unity as is:

container.RegisterType<Consumer>(  new InjectionConstructor(
  new ResolvedParameter(typeof(ICommand), "loadCommand"),
  new ResolvedParameter(typeof(ICommand), "saveCommand")));

And this is a “slightly” enhanced version:

container.RegisterType<Consumer>(new MapParameterNamesToRegistrationNames());

The class MapParameterNamesToRegistrationNames is derived from InjectionMember. It places a marker policy in Unity’s build pipeline. When an object is resolved by the container a custom BuilderStrategy looks for that marker. If the marker is found the strategy will replace the dependency resolvers (implementations of IDependencyResolverPolicy) that Unity puts into the pipeline by default with NamedTypeDependencyResolvers using the name of the constructor argument as name of the mapping.

public class MapParameterNamesToRegistrationNamesStrategy : BuilderStrategy
{
  public override void PreBuildUp(IBuilderContext context)
  {
    if (context.Policies.Get(
      context.BuildKey) == null)
    {
      return;
    }
    IPolicyList resolverPolicyDestination;
    IConstructorSelectorPolicy selector =
      context.Policies.Get(
        context.BuildKey, out resolverPolicyDestination);
    if (selector == null)
    {
      return;
    }
    var selectedConstructor = selector.SelectConstructor(context, resolverPolicyDestination);
    if (selectedConstructor == null)
    {
      return;
    }
    ParameterInfo[] parameters = selectedConstructor.Constructor.GetParameters();
    string[] parameterKeys = selectedConstructor.GetParameterKeys();
    for (int i = 0; i < parameters.Length; i++)
    {
      Type parameterType = parameters[i].ParameterType;
      if (parameterType.IsAbstract ||
          parameterType.IsInterface ||
          (parameterType.IsClass && parameterType != typeof(string)))
      {
        IDependencyResolverPolicy resolverPolicy =
          new NamedTypeDependencyResolverPolicy(parameterType, parameters[i].Name);
        context.Policies.Set(resolverPolicy, parameterKeys[i]);
      }
    }
    resolverPolicyDestination.Set(
      new SelectedConstructorCache(selectedConstructor), context.BuildKey);
  }
}

The registration code tells you exactly what you expect from the container. No confusing setup of InjectionConstructors and ResolvedParameters. Just another simple convention that can make your life a lot easier.

Get the source code for MapParameterNamesToRegistrationNames here (project TecX.Unity folder Injection and the test suite that shows how to use it in TecX.Unity.Test).

Fun with constructor arguments Part 2: Anonymous overrides

An interesting feature of Castle Windsor is the ability to specify parameter overrides for a constructor using anonymous objects.

You define an anonymous object with properties named like the parameter you want to override and assign some value to it. You can either directly provide a value for that parameter or the name of a mapping you registered for the type of that parameter.

That means if you have a class with a dependency like this one:

public class MyService : IMyService
{
  public IFoo SomeFoo { get; set; }
  public MyService(IFoo someFoo)
  {
    this.SomeFoo = someFoo;
  }
}

and two classes that implement IFoo called Foo and Bar. Foo is registered as the default mapping (without a name) and Bar is registered as an additional mapping for IFoo with the name “Bar”:

container.RegisterType<IFoo, Foo>();
container.RegisterType<IFoo, Bar>("Bar");

You can use the AnonymousParameterOverride to specify that you want to use the named mapping instead of the default one:

container.RegisterType<IMyService, MyService>(new AnonymousParameterOverride(new  { foo = "Bar" });

Now this looks a little bit better than the default way Unity offers you to do this which is something like this:

container.RegisterType<IMyService, MyService>(
  new InjectionConstructor(new ResolvedParameter(typeof(IFoo), "Bar"));

But still not quite as fluent as I would like to see it. Unity does not really have a fluent configuration API but I took the liberty to write one.
The ConfigurationBuilder will be the subject of a series of posts on its own so for now let me just show you a glimpse at what is possible with it:

ConfigurationBuilder builder = new ConfigurationBuilder();
builder.For<IMyService>().Use<MyService>().Ctor(new { foo = "Bar" });

Much better isn’t it?

Get the source code for the AnonymousParameterOverride here (project TecX.Unity folder Injection and the test suite that shows how to use it in TecX.Unity.Test).

Fun with constructor arguments Part 1: Pick & Choose

One of Unity’s weaknesses is the verbosity of its configuration. While other containers support developers with various built-in conventions to keep the necessary setup code as compact as possible Unity requires you to state everything you want explicitely.

Consider the following skeleton of a class definition:

public class CustomerRepository
{
  public CustomerRepository(string connectionString, ILog log, ISomethingElse else) { ... }
}

Specifying the connectionString parameter for that constructor using Unity’s standard API looks like this:

container.RegisterType<ICustomerRepository, CustomerRepository>(
  new InjectionConstructor("I'mAConnectionString", typeof(ILog), typeof(ISomethingElse)));

There are a couple of things I don’t like about this approach:

  • Why do I have to write so much code to specify a single parameter?
  • Why do I have to specify all parameters although I care about only one?
  • Why does their order matter? Refactoring could break my registration code!
  • Why do I have to find out on my own that I can provide placeholders for parameters I don’t care about by providing their type?
  • Why do I have to provide those placeholders at all?

It’s all about verbosity. I don’t like to write unnecessary code. That is code I will have to write, test and maintain. The more effort I can save on that the better.

Conventions are a great means to not have to write code. They will get you 80% of the way most of the time at virtually no cost. And for the last 20% you can use the verbose API or define custom conventions that fit the special needs of your environment.

Providing a single parameter for the constructor of CustomerRepository can be as simple as this:

container.RegisterType<ICustomerRepository, CustomerRepository>(
  new SmartConstructor("I'mAConnectionString"));

What do you have to do to get that convenience? Not that much actually. SmartConstructor uses a couple of conventions to select a constructor from a set of candidates:

  • Only consider constructors that accept all provided parameters
  • Don’t consider constructors that have primitive parameters (like strings or integers) that are not satisfied by the provided parameters
  • If the parameter you specified is a string try to match it with parameters whose names contain connectionString, file or path.
  • Try to match specified parameters by parts of their type name. E.g. if you specified a parameter of type SomeTypeName a convention will look for parameters named someTypeName, typeName and name.
  • From the candidates that are left take the one with the most parameters (most greedy constructor).

The matching conventions are easy to write. They derive from ParameterMatchingConvention

public abstract class ParameterMatchingConvention
{
  public bool Matches(ConstructorParameter argument, ParameterInfo parameter)
  {
    ResolvedParameter rp = argument.Value as ResolvedParameter;
    Type argumentValueType = rp != null ? rp.ParameterType : argument.Value.GetType();
    if (argument.Value != null &&
        parameter.ParameterType.IsAssignableFrom(argumentValueType))
    {
      return this.MatchesCore(argument, parameter);
    }
    return false;
  }
  protected abstract bool MatchesCore(ConstructorParameter argument, ParameterInfo parameter);
}

That base class does some validation of the input values (which is omitted for brevity in the sample) and checks wether the type of the specified parameter matches the type of the parameter it is compared against. If that’s the case it hands over to the actual implementation of the convention. The ConnectionStringMatchingConvention for example looks as simple as that:

public class ConnectionStringMatchingConvention : ParameterMatchingConvention
{
  protected override bool MatchesCore(ConstructorParameter argument, ParameterInfo parameter)
  {
    if (parameter.ParameterType == typeof(string))
    {
      return parameter.Name.Contains("connectionString", StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase);
    }
    return false;
  }
}

Done. To add a custom convention to the selection process you can call an extension method of IUnityContainer:

container.WithConstructorArgumentMatchingConvention(new MyCustomConvention());

Get the source code for the SmartConstructor here (project TecX.Unity folder Injection and the test suite that shows how to use it in TecX.Unity.Test).

Register mappings as group

A while ago there was a question on the Unity discussion forum on how to handle a set of mappings as a logical group.

By the time I was neither happy with the implementation nor the API of my proof-of-concept but recently I found some time to improve it.

Consider having interfaces IVehicle, IEngine and IWheel and implementations thereof like Car, MotorCycleWheel and the like. You want to use the MotorCycle* implementations when you ask the container for a motorcycle (via container.Resolve<IVehicle>(“Motorcycle”)). But you don’t want so setup InjectionConstructors or ResolverOverrides.

var container = new UnityContainer();
container.RegisterGroup(c =>
  {
    c.RegisterType<IVehicle, Car>("Car");
    c.RegisterType<IWheel, CarWheel>();
    c.RegisterType<IEngine, CarEngine>();
  });
container.RegisterGroup(c =>
  {
    c.RegisterType<IVehicle, Motorcycle>("Motorcycle");
    c.RegisterType<IWheel, MotorcycleWheel>();
    c.RegisterType<IEngine, MotorcycleEngine>();
  });

var car = container.Resolve<IVehicle>("Car");
Assert.IsInstanceOfType(car.Wheel, typeof(CarWheel));
Assert.IsInstanceOfType(car.Engine, typeof(CarEngine));

var motorcycle = container.Resolve<IVehicle>("Motorcycle");
Assert.IsInstanceOfType(motorcycle.Wheel, typeof(MotorcycleWheel));
Assert.IsInstanceOfType(motorcycle.Engine, typeof(MotorcycleEngine));

The RegisterGroup extension method takes an Action<IUnityContainer> where you can setup the mappings that belong together. The first mapping needs to be named so that the rest of the mappings in the group can be identified properly. After that the mappings are resolved as a whole.

Get the source code for grouped mappings here (project TecX.Unity folder Groups and the test suite that shows how to use it in TecX.Unity.Test).

Inject Primitive Dependencies by Convention

Mark Seemann, author of the book Dependency Injection in .NET, has a nice article about the injection of Primitive Dependencies.

From a technical perspective I find the part where he configures Castle Windsor to use his custom conventions most interesting. When I come across such a feature that exists in another DI container but is not present in Unity I try to port that feature. And I have yet to find some piece of functionality that cannot be implemented easily with a few lines of code. Adding support for parameter conventions takes about ~250 LoC. Due to the differences in their respective architecture the Unity implementation is two-part: The core part of the convention implements the custom interface IDependencyResolverConvention the part that performs the actual work implements IDependencyResolverPolicy which comes as part of the Unity infrastructure.

These are the interfaces:

public interface IDependencyResolverConvention
{
  bool CanCreateResolver(IBuilderContext context, DependencyInfo dependency);
  IDependencyResolverPolicy CreateResolver(IBuilderContext context, DependencyInfo dependency);
}

public interface IDependencyResolverPolicy : IBuilderPolicy
{
  object Resolve(IBuilderContext context);
}

Using that newly created infrastructure (and a second convention that works like the ConnectionStringConvention described in the article) you can resolve classes that look like these:

public class TakesPrimitiveParameter
{
  public int Abc { get; set; }
  public TakesPrimitiveParameter(int abc)
  {
    this.Abc = abc;
  }
}
public class TakesConnectionStringParameter
{
  public string AbcConnectionString { get; set; }
  public TakesConnectionStringParameter(string abcConnectionString)
  {
    this.AbcConnectionString = abcConnectionString;
  }
}

The integer value abc will be read from the appSettings section of your config file. The ConnectionString abc will be read from the connectionStrings section.

public class AppSettingsConvention : IDependencyResolverConvention
{
  public bool CanCreateResolver(IBuilderContext context, DependencyInfo dependency)
  {
    return dependency.DependencyType == typeof(int);
  }
  public IDependencyResolverPolicy CreateResolver(IBuilderContext context, DependencyInfo dependency)
  {
    return new AppSettingsResolverPolicy(dependency.DependencyName, dependency.DependencyType);
  }
}

public class AppSettingsResolverPolicy : IDependencyResolverPolicy
{
  private readonly string name;
  private readonly Type targetType;
  public AppSettingsResolverPolicy(string name, Type targetType)
  {
    this.name = name;
    this.targetType = targetType;
  }
  public object Resolve(IBuilderContext context)
  {
    string setting = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings[this.name];
    return Convert.ChangeType(setting, this.targetType);
  }
}

Setting up the registrations is as easy as this:

var container = new UnityContainer().WithDefaultConventionsForLiteralParameters();
var foo = container.Resolve<TakesPrimitiveParameter>();

Or if you prefer to have more fine granular control over the used conventions you can add them one by one:

var container = new UnityContainer()
                 .WithConventionsForLiteralParameters(
                   new ConnectionStringConvention(),
                   new AppSettingsConvention());
var foo = container.Resolve<TakesPrimitiveParameter>();

Neat and as Mark puts it: If you stick to your conventions it will just keep working when your code base grows.

Get the source code for the convention based injection here (project TecX.Unity folder Literals and the test suite that shows how to use it in TecX.Unity.Test).

Auto-generated Factories with Unity

If you need to create objects after the initialization of your object graph by the container injecting factories is the way to go.

But defining factory interfaces and/or abstract base classes, implementing them and duplicating the knowledge your container already has does not make sense. For these scenarios Castle Windsor has it’s Typed Factory Facilities.

Define just the factory interface. Register it with the container and tell the container to generate an implementation for you. After all the implementation does not matter. Its a detail the consumers should not have to care about. If you need to forward runtime parameters like ConnectionStrings or file names the container takes care of that too.

With TecX.Unity.Factories you get the same set of features for Unity as well. All of a sudden using factories becomes as easy as this:

public interface IMyFactory
{
 IFoo Create(string name);
}
public interface IFoo
{
 string Name { get; }
}
public class Foo : IFoo
{
 public string Name { get; set; }
 public Foo(string name)
 {
 this.Name = name;
 }
}
var container = new UnityContainer();
container.RegisterType<IMyFactory>(new TypedFactory());
container.RegisterType<IFoo, Foo>();
var factory = container.Resolve<IMyFactory>();
var foo = factory.Create("some name");
Assert.AreEqual("some name", foo.Name);

This also works for property injection as long as you mark the property for injection by the container.

container.RegisterType<IFoo, Foo>(new InjectionProperty("Name"));

After a major overhaul of its internals the TypedFactory no longer relies on Castle DynamicProxy for the generation of the interface implementation. Unity brings its own powerful block for interception. It just insists that there has to be a target object for the interception pipeline. After integrating the technique used to generate lazy proxies auto-generating factories is now a Unity-only implementation.

Get the source code for the factory generation here (project TecX.Unity folder Factories and the test suite that shows how to use it in TecX.Unity.Factories.Test).