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

Buckle 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 …

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 [email protected]

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, bare 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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Building, Running, and Testing .NET Core and ASP.NET Core 2.1 in Docker on a Raspberry Pi (ARM32)

I love me some Raspberry Pi. They are great little learning machines and are super fun for kids to play with. Even if those kids are adults and they build a 6 node Kubernetes Raspberry Pi Cluster. Open source .NET Core runs basically everywhere – Windo…

I love me some Raspberry Pi. They are great little learning machines and are super fun for kids to play with. Even if those kids are adults and they build a 6 node Kubernetes Raspberry Pi Cluster.

Open source .NET Core runs basically everywhere - Windows, Mac, and a dozen Linuxes. However, there is an SDK (that compiles and builds) and a Runtime (that does the actual running of your app). In the past, the .NET Core SDK (to be clear, the ability to "dotnet build") wasn't supported on ARMv7/ARMv8 chips like the Raspberry Pi. Now it is.

.NET Core is now supported on Linux ARM32 distros, like Raspbian and Ubuntu!

Note: .NET Core 2.1 is supported on Raspberry Pi 2+. It isn’t supported on the Pi Zero or other devices that use an ARMv6 chip. .NET Core requires ARMv7 or ARMv8 chips, like the ARM Cortex-A53. Folks on the Azure IoT Edge team use the .NET Core Bionic ARM32 Docker images to support developers writing C# with Edge devices.

There's two ways to run .NET Core on a Raspberry Pi.

One, use Docker. This is literally the fastest and easiest way to get .NET Core up and running on a Pi. It sounds crazy but Raspberry Pis are brilliant little Docker container capable systems. You can do it in minutes, truly. You can install Docker quickly on a Raspberry Pi with just:

curl -sSL https://get.docker.com | sh

sudo usermod -aG docker pi

After installing Docker you'll want to log in and out. You might want to try a quick sample to make sure .NET Core runs! You can explore the available Docker tags at https://hub.docker.com/r/microsoft/dotnet/tags/ and you can read about the .NET Core Docker samples here https://github.com/dotnet/dotnet-docker/tree/master/samples/dotnetapp

Now I can just docker run and then pass in "dotnet --info" to find out about dotnet on my Pi.

[email protected]:~ $ docker run --rm -it microsoft/dotnet:2.1-sdk dotnet --info

.NET Core SDK (reflecting any global.json):
Version: 2.1.300-rc1-008673
Commit: f5e3ddbe73

Runtime Environment:
OS Name: debian
OS Version: 9
OS Platform: Linux
RID: debian.9-x86
Base Path: /usr/share/dotnet/sdk/2.1.300-rc1-008673/

Host (useful for support):
Version: 2.1.0-rc1
Commit: eb9bc92051

.NET Core SDKs installed:
2.1.300-rc1-008673 [/usr/share/dotnet/sdk]

.NET Core runtimes installed:
Microsoft.NETCore.App 2.1.0-rc1 [/usr/share/dotnet/shared/Microsoft.NETCore.App]

To install additional .NET Core runtimes or SDKs:
https://aka.ms/dotnet-download

This is super cool. There I'm on the Raspberry Pi (RPi) and I just ask for the dotnet:2.1-sdk and because they are using "multiarch" docker files, Docker does the right thing and it just works. If you want to use .NET Core on ARM32 with Docker, you can use any of the following tags.

Note: The first three tags are multi-arch and bionic is Ubuntu 18.04. The codename stretch is Debian 9. So I'm using 2.1-sdk and it's working on my RPi, but I can be specific if I'd prefer.

  • 2.1-sdk
  • 2.1-runtime
  • 2.1-aspnetcore-runtime
  • 2.1-sdk-stretch-arm32v7
  • 2.1-runtime-stretch-slim-arm32v7
  • 2.1-aspnetcore-runtime-stretch-slim-arm32v7
  • 2.1-sdk-bionic-arm32v7
  • 2.1-runtime-bionic-arm32v7
  • 2.1-aspnetcore-runtime-bionic-arm32v7

Try one in minutes like this:

docker run --rm microsoft/dotnet-samples:dotnetapp

Here it is downloading the images...

Docker on a Raspberry Pi

In previous versions of .NET Core's Dockerfiles it would fail if you were running an x64 image on ARM:

standard_init_linux.go:190: exec user process caused "exec format error"

Different processors! But with multiarch per https://github.com/dotnet/announcements/issues/14 Kendra from Microsoft it just works with 2.1.

Docker has a multi-arch feature that microsoft/dotnet-nightly recently started utilizing. The plan is to port this to the official microsoft/dotnet repo shortly. The multi-arch feature allows a single tag to be used across multiple machine configurations. Without this feature each architecture/OS/platform requires a unique tag. For example, the microsoft/dotnet:1.0-runtime tag is based on Debian and microsoft/dotnet:1.0-runtime-nanoserver if based on Nano Server. With multi-arch there will be one common microsoft/dotnet:1.0-runtime tag. If you pull that tag from a Linux container environment you will get the Debian based image whereas if you pull that tag from a Windows container environment you will get the Nano Server based image. This helps provide tag uniformity across Docker environments thus eliminating confusion.

In these examples above I can:

  • Run a preconfigured app within a Docker image like:
    • docker run --rm microsoft/dotnet-samples:dotnetapp
  • Run dotnet commands within the SDK image like:
    • docker run --rm -it microsoft/dotnet:2.1-sdk dotnet --info
  • Run an interactive terminal within the SDK image like:
    • docker run --rm -it microsoft/dotnet:2.1-sdk

As a quick example, here I'll jump into a container and new up a quick console app and run it, just to prove I can. This work will be thrown away when I exit the container.

[email protected]:~ $ docker run --rm -it microsoft/dotnet:2.1-sdk

[email protected]:/# ls
bin boot dev etc home lib media mnt opt proc root run sbin srv sys tmp usr var
[email protected]:/# cd ~
[email protected]:~# mkdir mytest
[email protected]:~# cd mytest/
[email protected]:~/mytest# dotnet new console
The template "Console Application" was created successfully.

Processing post-creation actions...
Running 'dotnet restore' on /root/mytest/mytest.csproj...
Restoring packages for /root/mytest/mytest.csproj...
Installing Microsoft.NETCore.DotNetAppHost 2.1.0-rc1.
Installing Microsoft.NETCore.DotNetHostResolver 2.1.0-rc1.
Installing NETStandard.Library 2.0.3.
Installing Microsoft.NETCore.DotNetHostPolicy 2.1.0-rc1.
Installing Microsoft.NETCore.App 2.1.0-rc1.
Installing Microsoft.NETCore.Platforms 2.1.0-rc1.
Installing Microsoft.NETCore.Targets 2.1.0-rc1.
Generating MSBuild file /root/mytest/obj/mytest.csproj.nuget.g.props.
Generating MSBuild file /root/mytest/obj/mytest.csproj.nuget.g.targets.
Restore completed in 15.8 sec for /root/mytest/mytest.csproj.

Restore succeeded.
[email protected]:~/mytest# dotnet run
Hello World!
[email protected]:~/mytest# dotnet exec bin/Debug/netcoreapp2.1/mytest.dll
Hello World!

If you try it yourself, you'll note that "dotnet run" isn't very fast. That's because it does a restore, build, and run. Compilation isn't super quick on these tiny devices. You'll want to do as little work as possible. Rather than a "dotnet run" all the time, I'll do a "dotnet build" then a "dotnet exec" which is very fast.

If you're doing to do Docker and .NET Core, I can't stress enough how useful the resources are over at https://github.com/dotnet/dotnet-docker.

Building .NET Core Apps with Docker

Develop .NET Core Apps in a Container

  • Develop .NET Core Applications - This sample shows how to develop, build and test .NET Core applications with Docker without the need to install the .NET Core SDK.
  • Develop ASP.NET Core Applications - This sample shows how to develop and test ASP.NET Core applications with Docker without the need to install the .NET Core SDK.

Optimizing Container Size

ARM32 / Raspberry Pi

I found the samples to be super useful...be sure to dig into the Dockerfiles themselves as it'll give you a ton of insight into how to structure your own files. Being able to do Multistage Dockerfiles is crucial when building on a small device like a RPi. You want to do as little work as possible and let Docker cache as many layers with its internal "smarts." If you're not thoughtful about this, you'll end up wasting 10x the time building image layers every build.

Dockerizing a real ASP.NET Core Site with tests!

Can I take my podcast site and Dockerize it and build/test/run it on a Raspberry Pi? YES.

FROM microsoft/dotnet:2.1-sdk AS build

WORKDIR /app

# copy csproj and restore as distinct layers
COPY *.sln .
COPY hanselminutes.core/*.csproj ./hanselminutes.core/
COPY hanselminutes.core.tests/*.csproj ./hanselminutes.core.tests/
RUN dotnet restore

# copy everything else and build app
COPY . .
WORKDIR /app/hanselminutes.core
RUN dotnet build


FROM build AS testrunner
WORKDIR /app/hanselminutes.core.tests
ENTRYPOINT ["dotnet", "test", "--logger:trx"]


FROM build AS test
WORKDIR /app/hanselminutes.core.tests
RUN dotnet test


FROM build AS publish
WORKDIR /app/hanselminutes.core
RUN dotnet publish -c Release -o out


FROM microsoft/dotnet:2.1-aspnetcore-runtime AS runtime
WORKDIR /app
COPY --from=publish /app/hanselminutes.core/out ./
ENTRYPOINT ["dotnet", "hanselminutes.core.dll"]

Love it. Now I can "docker build ." on my Raspberry Pi. It will restore, test, and build. If the tests fail, the Docker build will fail.

See how there's an extra section up there called "testrunner" and then after it is "test?" That testrunner section is a no-op. It sets an ENTRYPOINT but it is never used...yet. The ENTRYPOINT is an implicit run if it is the last line in the Dockerfile. That's there so I can "Run up to it" if I want to.

I can just build and run like this:

docker build -t podcast .

docker run --rm -it -p 8000:80 podcast

NOTE/GOTCHA: Note that the "runtime" image is microsoft/dotnet:2.1-aspnetcore-runtime, not microsoft/dotnet:2.1-runtime. That aspnetcore one pre-includes the binaries I need for running an ASP.NET app, that way I can just include a single reference to "<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.App" Version="2.1.0-rc1-final" />" in my csproj. If didn't use the aspnetcore-runtime base image, I'd need to manually pull in all the ASP.NET Core packages that I want. Using the base image might make the resulting image files larger, but it's a balance between convenience and size. It's up to you. You can manually include just the packages you need, or pull in the "Microsoft.AspNetCore.App" meta-package for convenience. My resulting "podcast" image ended up 205megs, so not to bad, but of course if I wanted I could trim in a number of ways.

Or, if I JUST want test results from Docker, I can do this! That means I can run the tests in the Docker container, mount a volume between the Linux container and (theoretical) Window host, and then open the .trx resulting file in Visual Studio!

docker build --pull --target testrunner -t podcast:test .

docker run --rm -v D:\github\hanselminutes-core\TestResults:/app/hanselminutes.core.tests/TestResults podcast:test

Check it out! These are the test results from the tests that ran within the Linux Container:

XUnit Tests from within a Docker Container on Linux viewed within Visual Studio on Windows

Here's the result. I've now got my Podcast website running in Docker on an ARM32 Raspberry Pi 3 with just an hours' work (writing the Dockerfile)!

It's my podcast site running under Docker on .NET Core 2.1 on a Raspberry Pi

Cross-platform for the win!


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

I’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: Eyes wide…

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 = 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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Announcing .NET Core 2.1 RC 1 Go Live AND .NET Core 3.0 Futures

I just got back from the Microsoft BUILD Conference where Scott Hunter and I announced both .NET Core 2.1 RC1 AND talked about .NET Core 3.0 in the future. .NET Core 2.1 RC1 First, .NET Core 2.1’s Release Candidate is out. This one has a Go Live licen…

I just got back from the Microsoft BUILD Conference where Scott Hunter and I announced both .NET Core 2.1 RC1 AND talked about .NET Core 3.0 in the future.

.NET Core 2.1 RC1

First, .NET Core 2.1's Release Candidate is out. This one has a Go Live license and it's very close to release.

You can download and get started with .NET Core 2.1 RC 1, on Windows, macOS, and Linux:

You can see complete details of the release in the .NET Core 2.1 RC 1 release notes. Related instructions, known issues, and workarounds are included in releases notes. Please report any issues you find in the comments or at dotnet/core #1506. ASP.NET Core 2.1 RC 1 and Entity Framework 2.1 RC 1 are also releasing today. You can develop .NET Core 2.1 apps with Visual Studio 2017 15.7, Visual Studio for Mac 7.5, or Visual Studio Code.

Here's a deep dive on the performance benefits which are SIGNIFICANT. It's also worth noting that you can get 2x+ speed improvements for your builds/compiles, but and to adopt the .NET Core 2.1 RC SDK while continuing to target earlier .NET Core releases, like 2.0 for the Runtime.

  • Go Live - You can put this version in production and get support.
  • Alpine Support - There are docker images at 2.1-sdk-alpine and 2.1-runtime-alpine.
  • ARM Support - We can compile on Raspberry Pi now! .NET Core 2.1 is supported on Raspberry Pi 2+. It isn’t supported on the Pi Zero or other devices that use an ARMv6 chip. .NET Core requires ARMv7 or ARMv8 chips, like the ARM Cortex-A53. There are even Docker images for ARM32
  • Brotli Support - new lossless compression algo for the web.
  • Tons of new Crypto Support.
  • Source Debugging from NuGet Packages (finally!) called "SourceLink."
  • .NET Core Global Tools:
  • dotnet tool install -g dotnetsay
    dotnetsay

In fact, if you have Docker installed go try an ASP.NET Sample:

docker pull microsoft/dotnet-samples:aspnetapp
docker run --rm -it -p 8000:80 --name aspnetcore_sample microsoft/dotnet-samples:aspnetapp

.NET Core 3.0

This is huge. You'll soon be able to take your existing WinForms and WPF app (I did this with a 12 year old WPF app!) and swap out the underlying runtime. That means you can run WinForms and WPF on .NET Core 3 on Windows.

Why is this cool?

  • WinForms/WPF apps can but self-contained and run in a single folder.

No need to install anything, just xcopy deploy. WinFormsApp1 can't affect WPFApp2 because they can each target their own .NET Core 3 version. Updates to the .NET Framework on Windows are system-wide and can sometimes cause problems with legacy apps. You'll now have total control and update apps one at at time and they can't affect each other. C#, F# and VB already work with .NET Core 2.0. You will be able to build desktop applications with any of those three languages with .NET Core 3.

Secondly, you'll get to use all the new C# 7.x+ (and beyond) features sooner than ever. .NET Core moves fast but you can pick and choose the language features and libraries you want. For example, I can update BabySmash (my .NET 3.5 WPF app) to .NET Core 3.0 and use new C# features AND bring in UWP Controls that didn't exist when BabySmash was first written! WinForms and WPF apps will also get the new lightweight csproj format. More details here and a full video below.

  • Compile to a single EXE

Even more, why not compile the whole app into a single EXE. I can make BabySmash.exe and it'll just work. No install, everything self-contained.

.NET Core 3 will still be cross platform, but WinForms and WPF remain "W is for Windows" - the runtime is swappable, but they still P/Invoke into the Windows APIs. You can look elsewhere for .NET Core cross-platform UI apps with frameworks like Avalonia, Ooui, and Blazor.

Diagram showing that .NET Core will support Windows UI Frameworks

You can check out the video from BUILD here. We show 2.1, 3.0, and some amazing demos like compiling a .NET app into a single exe and running it on a computer from the audience, as well as taking the 12 year old BabySmash WPF app and running it on .NET Core 3.0 PLUS adding a UWP Touch Ink Control!

Lots of cool stuff coming today AND tomorrow with open source .NET Core!


Sponsor: Check out JetBrains Rider: a cross-platform .NET IDE. Edit, refactor, test and debug ASP.NET, .NET Framework, .NET Core, Xamarin or Unity applications. Learn more and download a 30-day trial!



© 2018 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
     

Eyes wide open – Correct Caching is always hard

Image from Pixabay used under Creative CommonsIn my last post I talked about Caching and some of the stuff I’ve been doing to cache the results of a VERY expensive call to the backend that hosts my podcast.

As always, the comments are better than the post! Thanks to you, Dear Reader.

The code is below. Note that the MemoryCache is a singleton, but within the process. It is not (yet) a DistributedCache. Also note that Caching is Complex(tm) and that thousands of pages have been written about caching by smart people. This is a blog post as part of a series, so use your head and do your research. Don’t take anyone’s word for it.

Bill Kempf had an excellent comment on that post. Thanks Bill! He said:

The SemaphoreSlim is a bad idea. This “mutex” has visibility different from the state it’s trying to protect. You may get away with it here if this is the only code that accesses that particular key in the cache, but work or not, it’s a bad practice.
As suggested, GetOrCreate (or more appropriate for this use case, GetOrCreateAsync) should handle the synchronization for you.

My first reaction was, “bad idea?! Nonsense!” It took me a minute to parse his words and absorb. Ok, it took a few hours of background processing plus I had lunch.

Again, here’s the code in question. I’ve removed logging for brevity. I’m also deeply not interested in your emotional investment in my brackets/braces style. It changes with my mood. 😉

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

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

static SemaphoreSlim semaphoreSlim = new SemaphoreSlim(1);

public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows() {
Func<Show, bool> whereClause = c => c.PublishedAt < DateTime.UtcNow;

var cacheKey = "showsList";
List<Show> shows = null;

//CHECK and BAIL - optimistic
if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
{
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
}

await semaphoreSlim.WaitAsync();
try
{
//RARE BUT NEEDED DOUBLE PARANOID CHECK - pessimistic
if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
{
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
}

shows = await _client.GetShows();

var cacheExpirationOptions = new MemoryCacheEntryOptions();
cacheExpirationOptions.AbsoluteExpiration = DateTime.Now.AddHours(4);
cacheExpirationOptions.Priority = CacheItemPriority.Normal;

_cache.Set(cacheKey, shows, cacheExpirationOptions);
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList(); ;
}
catch (Exception e) {
throw;
}
finally {
semaphoreSlim.Release();
}
}
}

public interface IShowDatabase {
Task<List<Show>> GetShows();
}

SemaphoreSlim IS very useful. From the docs:

The System.Threading.Semaphore class represents a named (systemwide) or local semaphore. It is a thin wrapper around the Win32 semaphore object. Win32 semaphores are counting semaphores, which can be used to control access to a pool of resources.

The SemaphoreSlim class represents a lightweight, fast semaphore that can be used for waiting within a single process when wait times are expected to be very short. SemaphoreSlim relies as much as possible on synchronization primitives provided by the common language runtime (CLR). However, it also provides lazily initialized, kernel-based wait handles as necessary to support waiting on multiple semaphores. SemaphoreSlim also supports the use of cancellation tokens, but it does not support named semaphores or the use of a wait handle for synchronization.

And my use of a Semaphore here is correct…for some definitions of the word “correct.” 😉 Back to Bill’s wise words:

You may get away with it here if this is the only code that accesses that particular key in the cache, but work or not, it’s a bad practice.

Ah! In this case, my cacheKey is “showsList” and I’m “protecting” it with a lock and double-check. That lock/check is fine and appropriate HOWEVER I have no guarantee (other than I wrote the whole app) that some other thread is also accessing the same IMemoryCache (remember, process-scoped singleton) at the same time. It’s protected only within this function!

Here’s where it gets even more interesting.

  • I could make my own IMemoryCache, wrap things up, and then protect inside with my own TryGetValues…but then I’m back to checking/doublechecking etc.
  • However, while I could lock/protect on a key…what about the semantics of other cached values that may depend on my key. There are none, but you could see a world where there are.

Yes, we are getting close to making our own implementation of Redis here, but bear with me. You have to know when to stop and say it’s correct enough for this site or project BUT as Bill and the commenters point out, you also have to be Eyes Wide Open about the limitations and gotchas so they don’t bite you as your app expands!

The suggestion was made to use the GetOrCreateAsync() extension method for MemoryCache. Bill and other commenters said:

As suggested, GetOrCreate (or more appropriate for this use case, GetOrCreateAsync) should handle the synchronization for you.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. There’s no guarantee (via locking like I was doing) that the factory method (the thing that populates the cache) won’t get called twice. That is, someone could TryGetValue, get nothing, and continue on, while another thread is already in line to call the factory again.

public static async Task<TItem> GetOrCreateAsync<TItem>(this IMemoryCache cache, object key, Func<ICacheEntry, Task<TItem>> factory)
{
if (!cache.TryGetValue(key, out object result))
{
var entry = cache.CreateEntry(key);
result = await factory(entry);
entry.SetValue(result);
// need to manually call dispose instead of having a using
// in case the factory passed in throws, in which case we
// do not want to add the entry to the cache
entry.Dispose();
}

return (TItem)result;
}

Is this the end of the world? Not at all. Again, what is your project’s definition of correct? Computer science correct? Guaranteed to always work correct? Spec correct? Mostly works and doesn’t crash all the time correct?

Do I want to:

  • Actively and aggressively avoid making my expensive backend call at the risk of in fact having another part of the app make that call anyway?
    • What I am doing with my cacheKey is clearly not a “best practice” although it works today.
  • Accept that my backend call could happen twice in short succession and the last caller’s thread would ultimately populate the cache.
    • My code would become a dozen lines simpler, have no process-wide locking, but also work adequately. However, it would be naïve caching at best. Even ConcurrentDictionary has no guarantees“it is always possible for one thread to retrieve a value, and another thread to immediately update the collection by giving the same key a new value.”

What a fun discussion. What are your thoughts?


Sponsor: SparkPost’s cloud email APIs and C# library make it easy for you to add email messaging to your .NET applications and help ensure your messages reach your user’s inbox on time. Get a free developer account and a head start on your integration today!


© 2018 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
     

Image from Pixabay used under Creative CommonsIn my last post I talked about Caching and some of the stuff I've been doing to cache the results of a VERY expensive call to the backend that hosts my podcast.

As always, the comments are better than the post! Thanks to you, Dear Reader.

The code is below. Note that the MemoryCache is a singleton, but within the process. It is not (yet) a DistributedCache. Also note that Caching is Complex(tm) and that thousands of pages have been written about caching by smart people. This is a blog post as part of a series, so use your head and do your research. Don't take anyone's word for it.

Bill Kempf had an excellent comment on that post. Thanks Bill! He said:

The SemaphoreSlim is a bad idea. This "mutex" has visibility different from the state it's trying to protect. You may get away with it here if this is the only code that accesses that particular key in the cache, but work or not, it's a bad practice.
As suggested, GetOrCreate (or more appropriate for this use case, GetOrCreateAsync) should handle the synchronization for you.

My first reaction was, "bad idea?! Nonsense!" It took me a minute to parse his words and absorb. Ok, it took a few hours of background processing plus I had lunch.

Again, here's the code in question. I've removed logging for brevity. I'm also deeply not interested in your emotional investment in my brackets/braces style. It changes with my mood. ;)

public class ShowDatabase : IShowDatabase

{
private readonly IMemoryCache _cache;
private readonly ILogger _logger;
private SimpleCastClient _client;

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

static SemaphoreSlim semaphoreSlim = new SemaphoreSlim(1);

public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows() {
Func<Show, bool> whereClause = c => c.PublishedAt < DateTime.UtcNow;

var cacheKey = "showsList";
List<Show> shows = null;

//CHECK and BAIL - optimistic
if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
{
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
}

await semaphoreSlim.WaitAsync();
try
{
//RARE BUT NEEDED DOUBLE PARANOID CHECK - pessimistic
if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
{
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
}

shows = await _client.GetShows();

var cacheExpirationOptions = new MemoryCacheEntryOptions();
cacheExpirationOptions.AbsoluteExpiration = DateTime.Now.AddHours(4);
cacheExpirationOptions.Priority = CacheItemPriority.Normal;

_cache.Set(cacheKey, shows, cacheExpirationOptions);
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList(); ;
}
catch (Exception e) {
throw;
}
finally {
semaphoreSlim.Release();
}
}
}

public interface IShowDatabase {
Task<List<Show>> GetShows();
}

SemaphoreSlim IS very useful. From the docs:

The System.Threading.Semaphore class represents a named (systemwide) or local semaphore. It is a thin wrapper around the Win32 semaphore object. Win32 semaphores are counting semaphores, which can be used to control access to a pool of resources.

The SemaphoreSlim class represents a lightweight, fast semaphore that can be used for waiting within a single process when wait times are expected to be very short. SemaphoreSlim relies as much as possible on synchronization primitives provided by the common language runtime (CLR). However, it also provides lazily initialized, kernel-based wait handles as necessary to support waiting on multiple semaphores. SemaphoreSlim also supports the use of cancellation tokens, but it does not support named semaphores or the use of a wait handle for synchronization.

And my use of a Semaphore here is correct...for some definitions of the word "correct." ;) Back to Bill's wise words:

You may get away with it here if this is the only code that accesses that particular key in the cache, but work or not, it's a bad practice.

Ah! In this case, my cacheKey is "showsList" and I'm "protecting" it with a lock and double-check. That lock/check is fine and appropriate HOWEVER I have no guarantee (other than I wrote the whole app) that some other thread is also accessing the same IMemoryCache (remember, process-scoped singleton) at the same time. It's protected only within this function!

Here's where it gets even more interesting.

  • I could make my own IMemoryCache, wrap things up, and then protect inside with my own TryGetValues...but then I'm back to checking/doublechecking etc.
  • However, while I could lock/protect on a key...what about the semantics of other cached values that may depend on my key. There are none, but you could see a world where there are.

Yes, we are getting close to making our own implementation of Redis here, but bear with me. You have to know when to stop and say it's correct enough for this site or project BUT as Bill and the commenters point out, you also have to be Eyes Wide Open about the limitations and gotchas so they don't bite you as your app expands!

The suggestion was made to use the GetOrCreateAsync() extension method for MemoryCache. Bill and other commenters said:

As suggested, GetOrCreate (or more appropriate for this use case, GetOrCreateAsync) should handle the synchronization for you.

Sadly, it doesn't work that way. There's no guarantee (via locking like I was doing) that the factory method (the thing that populates the cache) won't get called twice. That is, someone could TryGetValue, get nothing, and continue on, while another thread is already in line to call the factory again.

public static async Task<TItem> GetOrCreateAsync<TItem>(this IMemoryCache cache, object key, Func<ICacheEntry, Task<TItem>> factory)

{
if (!cache.TryGetValue(key, out object result))
{
var entry = cache.CreateEntry(key);
result = await factory(entry);
entry.SetValue(result);
// need to manually call dispose instead of having a using
// in case the factory passed in throws, in which case we
// do not want to add the entry to the cache
entry.Dispose();
}

return (TItem)result;
}

Is this the end of the world? Not at all. Again, what is your project's definition of correct? Computer science correct? Guaranteed to always work correct? Spec correct? Mostly works and doesn't crash all the time correct?

Do I want to:

  • Actively and aggressively avoid making my expensive backend call at the risk of in fact having another part of the app make that call anyway?
    • What I am doing with my cacheKey is clearly not a "best practice" although it works today.
  • Accept that my backend call could happen twice in short succession and the last caller's thread would ultimately populate the cache.
    • My code would become a dozen lines simpler, have no process-wide locking, but also work adequately. However, it would be naïve caching at best. Even ConcurrentDictionary has no guarantees - "it is always possible for one thread to retrieve a value, and another thread to immediately update the collection by giving the same key a new value."

What a fun discussion. What are your thoughts?


Sponsor: SparkPost’s cloud email APIs and C# library make it easy for you to add email messaging to your .NET applications and help ensure your messages reach your user’s inbox on time. Get a free developer account and a head start on your integration today!



© 2018 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
     

The Programmer’s Hindsight – Caching with HttpClientFactory and Polly Part 2

In my last blog post Adding Cross-Cutting Memory Caching to an HttpClientFactory in ASP.NET Core with Polly I actually failed to complete my mission. I talked to a few people (thanks Dylan and Damian and friends) and I think my initial goal may have be…

Hindsight - by Nate Steiner - Public DomainIn my last blog post Adding Cross-Cutting Memory Caching to an HttpClientFactory in ASP.NET Core with Polly I actually failed to complete my mission. I talked to a few people (thanks Dylan and Damian and friends) and I think my initial goal may have been wrong.

I thought I wanted "magic add this policy and get free caching" for HttpClients that come out of the new .NET Core 2.1 HttpClientFactory, but first, nothing is free, and second, everything (in computer science) is layered. Am I caching the right thing at the right layer?

The good thing that come out of explorations and discussions like this is Better Software. Given that I'm running Previews/Daily Builds of both .NET Core 2.1 (in preview as of the time of this writing) and Polly (always under active development) I realize I'm on some kind of cutting edge. The bad news (and it's not really bad) is that everything I want to do is possible it's just not always easy. For example, a lot of "hooking up" happens when one make a C# Extension Method and adds in into the ASP.NET Middleware Pipeline with "services.AddSomeStuffThatIsTediousButUseful()."

Polly and ASP.NET Core are insanely configurable, but I'm personally interested in the 80% or even the 90% case. The 10% will definitely require you/me to learn more about the internals of the system, while the 90% will ideally be abstracted away from the average developer (me).

I've had a Skype with Dylan from Polly and he's been updating the excellent Polly docs as we walk around how caching should work in an HttpClientFactory world. Fantastic stuff, go read it. I'll steal some here:

ASPNET Core 2.1 - What is HttpClient factory?

From ASPNET Core 2.1, Polly integrates with IHttpClientFactory. HttpClient factory is a factory that simplifies the management and usage of HttpClient in four ways. It:

  • allows you to name and configure logical HttpClients. For instance, you may configure a client that is pre-configured to access the github API;

  • manages the lifetime of HttpClientMessageHandlers to avoid some of the pitfalls associated with managing HttpClient yourself (the dont-dispose-it-too-often but also dont-use-only-a-singleton aspects);

  • provides configurable logging (via ILogger) for all requests and responses performed by clients created with the factory;

  • provides a simple API for adding middleware to outgoing calls, be that for logging, authorisation, service discovery, or resilience with Polly.

The Microsoft early announcement speaks more to these topics, and Steve Gordon's pair of blog posts (1; 2) are also an excellent read for deeper background and some great worked examples.

Polly and Polly policies work great with ASP.NET Core 2.1 and integrated nicely. I'm sure it will integrate even more conveniently with a few smart Extension Methods to abstract away the hard parts so we can fall into the "pit of success."

Caching with Polly and HttpClient

Here's where it gets interesting. To me. Or, you, I suppose, Dear Reader, if you made it this far into a blog post (and sentence) with too many commas.

This is a salient and important point:

Polly is generic (not tied to Http requests)

Now, this is where I got in trouble:

Caching with Polly CachePolicy in a DelegatingHandler caches at the HttpResponseMessage level

I ended up caching an HttpResponseMessage...but it has a "stream" inside it at HttpResponseMessage.Content. It's meant to be read once. Not cached. I wasn't caching a string, or some JSON, or some deserialized JSON objects, I ended up caching what's (effectively) an ephemeral one-time object and then de-serializing it every time. I mean, it's cached, but why am I paying the deserialization cost on every Page View?

The Programmer's Hindsight: This is such a classic programming/coding experience. Yesterday this was opaque and confusing. I didn't understand what was happening or why it was happening. Today - with The Programmer's Hindsight - I know exactly where I went wrong and why. Like, how did I ever think this was gonna work? ;)

As Dylan from Polly so wisely points out:

It may be more appropriate to cache at a level higher-up. For example, cache the results of stream-reading and deserializing to the local type your app uses. Which, ironically, I was already doing in my original code. It just felt heavy. Too much caching and too little business. I am trying to refactor it away and make it more generic!

This is my "ShowDatabase" (just a JSON file) that wraps my httpClient

public class ShowDatabase : IShowDatabase
{
    private readonly IMemoryCache _cache;
    private readonly ILogger _logger;
    private SimpleCastClient _client;
 
    public ShowDatabase(IMemoryCache memoryCache,
            ILogger<ShowDatabase> logger,
            SimpleCastClient client)
    {
        _client = client;
        _logger = logger;
        _cache = memoryCache;
    }
 
    static SemaphoreSlim semaphoreSlim = new SemaphoreSlim(1);
  
    public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows()
    {
        Func<Show, bool> whereClause = c => c.PublishedAt < DateTime.UtcNow;
 
        var cacheKey = "showsList";
        List<Show> shows = null;
 
        //CHECK and BAIL - optimistic
        if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
        {
            _logger.LogDebug($"Cache HIT: Found {cacheKey}");
            return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
        }
 
        await semaphoreSlim.WaitAsync();
        try
        {
            //RARE BUT NEEDED DOUBLE PARANOID CHECK - pessimistic
            if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
            {
                _logger.LogDebug($"Amazing Speed Cache HIT: Found {cacheKey}");
                return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
            }
 
            _logger.LogWarning($"Cache MISS: Loading new shows");
            shows = await _client.GetShows();
            _logger.LogWarning($"Cache MISS: Loaded {shows.Count} shows");
            _logger.LogWarning($"Cache MISS: Loaded {shows.Where(whereClause).ToList().Count} PUBLISHED shows");
 
            var cacheExpirationOptions = new MemoryCacheEntryOptions();
            cacheExpirationOptions.AbsoluteExpiration = DateTime.Now.AddHours(4);
            cacheExpirationOptions.Priority = CacheItemPriority.Normal;
 
            _cache.Set(cacheKey, shows, cacheExpirationOptions);
            return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList(); ;
        }
        catch (Exception e)
        {
            _logger.LogCritical("Error getting episodes!");
            _logger.LogCritical(e.ToString());
            _logger.LogCritical(e?.InnerException?.ToString());
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            semaphoreSlim.Release();
        }
    }
}
 
public interface IShowDatabase
{
    Task<List<Show>> GetShows();
}

I'll move a bunch of this into some generic helpers for myself, or I'll use Akavache, or I'll try another Polly Cache Policy implemented farther up the call stack! Thanks for reading my ramblings!


Sponsor: SparkPost’s cloud email APIs and C# library make it easy for you to add email messaging to your .NET applications and help ensure your messages reach your user’s inbox on time. Get a free developer account and a head start on your integration today!



© 2018 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
     

Adding Cross-Cutting Memory Caching to an HttpClientFactory in ASP.NET Core with Polly

Couple days ago I Added Resilience and Transient Fault handling to your .NET Core HttpClient with Polly. Polly provides a way to pre-configure instances of HttpClient which apply Polly policies to every outgoing call. That means I can say things like “…

5480805977_27d92598ca_oCouple days ago I Added Resilience and Transient Fault handling to your .NET Core HttpClient with Polly. Polly provides a way to pre-configure instances of HttpClient which apply Polly policies to every outgoing call. That means I can say things like "Call this API and try 3 times if there's any issues before you panic," as an example. It lets me move the cross-cutting concerns - the policies - out of the business part of the code and over to a central location or module, or even configuration if I wanted.

I've been upgrading my podcast of late at https://www.hanselminutes.com to ASP.NET Core 2.1 and Razor Pages with SimpleCast for the back end. Since I've removed SQL Server as my previous data store and I'm now sitting entirely on top of a third party API I want to think about how often I call this API. As a rule, there's no reason to call it any more often that a change might occur.

I publish a new show every Thursday at 5pm PST, so I suppose I could cache the feed for 7 days, but sometimes I make description changes, add links, update titles, etc. The show gets many tens of thousands of hits per episode so I definitely don't want to abuse the SimpleCast API, so I decided that caching for 4 hours seemed reasonable.

I went and wrote a bunch of caching code on my own. This is fine and it works and has been in production for a few months without any issues.

A few random notes:

  • Stuff is being passed into the Constructor by the IoC system built into ASP.NET Core
    • That means the HttpClient, Logger, and MemoryCache are handed to this little abstraction. I don't new them up myself
  • All my "Show Database" is, is a GetShows()
    • That means I have TestDatabase that implements IShowDatabase that I use for some Unit Tests. And I could have multiple implementations if I liked.
  • Caching here is interesting.
    • Sure I could do the caching in just a line or two, but a caching double check is more needed that one often realizes.
    • I check the cache, and if I hit it, I am done and I bail. Yay!
    • If not, Let's wait on a semaphoreSlim. This a great, simple way to manage waiting around a limited resource. I don't want to accidentally have two threads call out to the SimpleCast API if I'm literally in the middle of doing it already.
      • "The SemaphoreSlim class represents a lightweight, fast semaphore that can be used for waiting within a single process when wait times are expected to be very short."
    • So I check again inside that block to see if it showed up in the cache in the space between there and the previous check. Doesn't hurt to be paranoid.
    • Got it? Cool. Store it away and release as we finally the try.

Don't copy paste this. My GOAL is to NOT have to do any of this, even though it's valid.

public class ShowDatabase : IShowDatabase

{
private readonly IMemoryCache _cache;
private readonly ILogger _logger;
private SimpleCastClient _client;

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

static SemaphoreSlim semaphoreSlim = new SemaphoreSlim(1);

static HttpClient client = new HttpClient();

public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows()
{
Func<Show, bool> whereClause = c => c.PublishedAt < DateTime.UtcNow;

var cacheKey = "showsList";
List<Show> shows = null;

//CHECK and BAIL - optimistic
if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
{
_logger.LogDebug($"Cache HIT: Found {cacheKey}");
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
}

await semaphoreSlim.WaitAsync();
try
{
//RARE BUT NEEDED DOUBLE PARANOID CHECK - pessimistic
if (_cache.TryGetValue(cacheKey, out shows))
{
_logger.LogDebug($"Amazing Speed Cache HIT: Found {cacheKey}");
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList();
}

_logger.LogWarning($"Cache MISS: Loading new shows");
shows = await _client.GetShows();
_logger.LogWarning($"Cache MISS: Loaded {shows.Count} shows");
_logger.LogWarning($"Cache MISS: Loaded {shows.Where(whereClause).ToList().Count} PUBLISHED shows");

var cacheExpirationOptions = new MemoryCacheEntryOptions();
cacheExpirationOptions.AbsoluteExpiration = DateTime.Now.AddHours(4);
cacheExpirationOptions.Priority = CacheItemPriority.Normal;

_cache.Set(cacheKey, shows, cacheExpirationOptions);
return shows.Where(whereClause).ToList(); ;
}
catch (Exception e)
{
_logger.LogCritical("Error getting episodes!");
_logger.LogCritical(e.ToString());
_logger.LogCritical(e?.InnerException?.ToString());
throw;
}
finally
{
semaphoreSlim.Release();
}
}
}

public interface IShowDatabase
{
Task<List<Show>> GetShows();
}

Again, this is great and it works fine. But the BUSINESS is in _client.GetShows() and the rest is all CEREMONY. Can this be broken up? Sure, I could put stuff in a base class, or make an extension method and bury it in there, so use Akavache or make a GetOrFetch and start passing around Funcs of "do this but check here first":

IObservable<T> GetOrFetchObject<T>(string key, Func<Task<T>> fetchFunc, DateTimeOffset? absoluteExpiration = null);

Could I use Polly and refactor via subtraction?

Per the Polly docs:

The Polly CachePolicy is an implementation of read-through cache, also known as the cache-aside pattern. Providing results from cache where possible reduces overall call duration and can reduce network traffic.

First, I'll remove all my own caching code and just make the call on every page view. Yes, I could write the Linq a few ways. Yes, this could all be one line. Yes, I like Logging.

public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows()

{
_logger.LogInformation($"Loading new shows");
List<Show> shows = await _client.GetShows();
_logger.LogInformation($"Loaded {shows.Count} shows");
return shows.Where(c => c.PublishedAt < DateTime.UtcNow).ToList(); ;
}

No caching, I'm doing The Least.

Polly supports both the .NET MemoryCache that is per process/per node, an also .NET Core's IDistributedCache for having one cache that lives somewhere shared like Redis or SQL Server. Since my podcast is just one node, one web server, and it's low-CPU, I'm not super worried about it. If Azure WebSites does end up auto-scaling it, sure, this cache strategy will happen n times. I'll switch to Distributed if that becomes a problem.

I'll add a reference to Polly.Caching.MemoryCache in my project.

I ensure I have the .NET Memory Cache in my list of services in ConfigureServices in Startup.cs:

services.AddMemoryCache();

STUCK...for now!

AND...here is where I'm stuck. I got this far into the process and now I'm either confused OR I'm in a Chicken and the Egg Situation.

Forgive me, friends, and Polly authors, as this Blog Post will temporarily turn into a GitHub Issue. Once I work through it, I'll update this so others can benefit. And I still love you; no disrespect intended.

The Polly.Caching.MemoryCache stuff is several months old, and existed (and worked) well before the new HttpClientFactory stuff I blogged about earlier.

I would LIKE to add my Polly Caching Policy chained after my Transient Error Policy:

services.AddHttpClient<SimpleCastClient>().

AddTransientHttpErrorPolicy(policyBuilder => policyBuilder.CircuitBreakerAsync(
handledEventsAllowedBeforeBreaking: 2,
durationOfBreak: TimeSpan.FromMinutes(1)
)).
AddPolicyHandlerFromRegistry("myCachingPolicy"); //WHAT I WANT?

However, that policy hasn't been added to the Policy Registry yet. It doesn't exist! This makes me feel like some of the work that is happening in ConfigureServices() is a little premature. ConfigureServices() is READY, AIM and Configure() is FIRE/DO-IT, in my mind.

If I set up a Memory Cache in Configure, I need to use the Dependency System to get the stuff I want, like the .NET Core IMemoryCache that I put in services just now.

public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IPolicyRegistry<string> policyRegistry, IMemoryCache memoryCache)

{
MemoryCacheProvider memoryCacheProvider = new MemoryCacheProvider(memoryCache);
var cachePolicy = Policy.CacheAsync(memoryCacheProvider, TimeSpan.FromMinutes(5));
policyRegistry.Add("cachePolicy", cachePolicy);
...

But at this point, it's too late! I need this policy up earlier...or I need to figure a way to tell the HttpClientFactory to use this policy...but I've been using extension methods in ConfigureServices to do that so far. Perhaps some exception methods are needed like AddCachingPolicy(). However, from what I can see:

  • This code can't work with the ASP.NET Core 2.1's HttpClientFactory pattern...yet. https://github.com/App-vNext/Polly.Caching.MemoryCache
  • I could manually new things up, but I'm already deep into Dependency Injection...I don't want to start newing things and get into scoping issues.
  • There appear to be changes between  v5.4.0 and 5.8.0. Still looking at this.
  • Bringing in the Microsoft.Extensions.Http.Polly package brings in Polly-Signed 5.8.0...

I'm likely bumping into a point in time thing. I will head to bed and return to this post in a day and see if I (or you, Dear Reader) have solved the problem in my sleep.

"code making and code breaking" by earthlightbooks - Licensed under CC-BY 2.0 - Original source via Flickr


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Adding Resilience and Transient Fault handling to your .NET Core HttpClient with Polly

Last week while upgrading my podcast site to ASP.NET Core 2.1 and .NET. Core 2.1 I moved my Http Client instances over to be created by the new HttpClientFactory. Now I have a single central place where my HttpClient objects are created and managed, an…

b30f5128-181e-11e6-8780-bc9e5b17685eLast week while upgrading my podcast site to ASP.NET Core 2.1 and .NET. Core 2.1 I moved my Http Client instances over to be created by the new HttpClientFactory. Now I have a single central place where my HttpClient objects are created and managed, and I can set policies as I like on each named client.

It really can't be overstated how useful a resilience framework for .NET Core like Polly is.

Take some code like this that calls a backend REST API:

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");
_logger = logger;
_apiKey = config["SimpleCastAPIKey"];
}

public async Task<List<Show>> GetShows()
{
var episodesUrl = new Uri($"/v1/podcasts/shownum/episodes.json?api_key={_apiKey}", UriKind.Relative);
var res = await _client.GetAsync(episodesUrl);
return await res.Content.ReadAsAsync<List<Show>>();
}
}

Now consider what it takes to add things like

  • Retry n times - maybe it's a network blip
  • Circuit-breaker - Try a few times but stop so you don't overload the system.
  • Timeout - Try, but give up after n seconds/minutes
  • Cache - You asked before!
    • I'm going to do a separate blog post on this because I wrote a WHOLE caching system and I may be able to "refactor via subtraction."

If I want features like Retry and Timeout, I could end up littering my code. OR, I could put it in a base class and build a series of HttpClient utilities. However, I don't think I should have to do those things because while they are behaviors, they are really cross-cutting policies. I'd like a central way to manage HttpClient policy!

Enter Polly. Polly is an OSS library with a lovely Microsoft.Extensions.Http.Polly package that you can use to combine the goodness of Polly with ASP.NET Core 2.1.

As Dylan from the Polly Project says:

HttpClientFactory in ASPNET Core 2.1 provides a way to pre-configure instances of HttpClient which apply Polly policies to every outgoing call.

I just went into my Startup.cs and changed this

services.AddHttpClient<SimpleCastClient>();

to this (after adding "using Polly;" as a namespace)

services.AddHttpClient<SimpleCastClient>().

AddTransientHttpErrorPolicy(policyBuilder => policyBuilder.RetryAsync(2));

and now I've got Retries. Change it to this:

services.AddHttpClient<SimpleCastClient>().

AddTransientHttpErrorPolicy(policyBuilder => policyBuilder.CircuitBreakerAsync(
handledEventsAllowedBeforeBreaking: 2,
durationOfBreak: TimeSpan.FromMinutes(1)
));

And now I've got CircuitBreaker where it backs off for a minute if it's broken (hit a handled fault) twice!

I like AddTransientHttpErrorPolicy because it automatically handles Http5xx's and Http408s as well as the occasional System.Net.Http.HttpRequestException. I can have as many named or typed HttpClients as I like and they can have all kinds of specific policies with VERY sophisticated behaviors. If those behaviors aren't actual Business Logic (tm) then why not get them out of your code?

Go read up on Polly at https://githaub.com/App-vNext/Polly and check out the extensive samples at https://github.com/App-vNext/Polly-Samples/tree/master/PollyTestClient/Samples.

Even though it works great with ASP.NET Core 2.1 (best, IMHO) you can use Polly with .NET 4, .NET 4.5, or anything that's compliant with .NET Standard 1.1.

Gotchas

A few things to remember. If you are POSTing to an endpoint and applying retries, you want that operation to be idempotent.

"From a RESTful service standpoint, for an operation (or service call) to be idempotent, clients can make that same call repeatedly while producing the same result."

But everyone's API is different. What would happen if you applied a Polly Retry Policy to an HttpClient and it POSTed twice? Is that backend behavior compatible with your policies? Know what the behavior you expect is and plan for it. You may want to have a GET policy and a post one and use different HttpClients. Just be conscious.

Next, think about Timeouts. HttpClient's have a Timeout which is "all tries overall timeout" while a TimeoutPolicy inside a Retry is "timeout per try." Again, be aware.

Thanks to Dylan Reisenberger for his help on this post, along with Joel Hulen! Also read more about HttpClientFactory on Steve Gordon's blog and learn more about HttpClientFactory and Polly on the Polly project site.


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HttpClientFactory for typed HttpClient instances in ASP.NET Core 2.1

I’m continuing to upgrade my podcast site https://www.hanselminutes.com to .NET Core 2.1 running ASP.NET Core 2.1. I’m using Razor Pages having converted my old Web Matrix Site (like 8 years old) and it’s gone very smoothly. I’ve got a ton of blog post…

THE HANSELMINUTES PODCASTI'm continuing to upgrade my podcast site https://www.hanselminutes.com to .NET Core 2.1 running ASP.NET Core 2.1. I'm using Razor Pages having converted my old Web Matrix Site (like 8 years old) and it's gone very smoothly. I've got a ton of blog posts queued up as I'm learning a ton. I've added Unit Testing for the Razor Pages as well as more complete Integration Testing for checking things "from the outside" like URL redirects.

My podcast has recently switched away from a custom database over to using SimpleCast and their REST API for the back end. There's a number of ways to abstract that API away as well as the HttpClient that will ultimately make the call to the SimpleCast backend. I am a fan of the Refit library for typed REST Clients and there are ways to integrate these two things but for now I'm going to use the new HttpClientFactory introduced in ASP.NET Core 2.1 by itself.

Next I'll look at implementing a Polly Handler for resilience policies to be used like Retry, WaitAndRetry, and CircuitBreaker, etc. (I blogged about Polly in 2015 - you should check it out) as it's just way to useful to not use.

HttpClient Factory lets you preconfigure named HttpClients with base addresses and default headers so you can just ask for them later by name.

public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)

{
services.AddHttpClient("SomeCustomAPI", client =>
{
client.BaseAddress = new Uri("https://someapiurl/");
client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Accept", "application/json");
client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("User-Agent", "MyCustomUserAgent");
});
services.AddMvc();
}

Then later you ask for it and you've got less to worry about.

using System.Threading.Tasks;

using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;

namespace MyApp.Controllers
{
public class HomeController : Controller
{
private readonly IHttpClientFactory _httpClientFactory;

public HomeController(IHttpClientFactory httpClientFactory)
{
_httpClientFactory = httpClientFactory;
}

public Task<IActionResult> Index()
{
var client = _httpClientFactory.CreateClient("SomeCustomAPI");
return Ok(await client.GetStringAsync("/api"));
}
}
}

I prefer a TypedClient and I just add it by type in Startup.cs...just like above except:

services.AddHttpClient<SimpleCastClient>();

Note that I could put the BaseAddress in multiple places depending on if I'm calling my own API, a 3rd party, or some dev/test/staging version. I could also pull it from config:

services.AddHttpClient<SimpleCastClient>(client => client.BaseAddress = new Uri(Configuration["SimpleCastServiceUri"]));

Again, I'll look at ways to make this even simpler AND more robust (it has no retries, etc) with Polly soon.

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;
}
}
}

Once I have the client I can use it from another layer, or just inject it with [FromServices] whenever I have a method that needs one:

public class IndexModel : PageModel

{
public async Task OnGetAsync([FromServices]SimpleCastClient client)
{
var shows = await client.GetShows();
}
}

Or in the constructor:

public class IndexModel : PageModel

{
private SimpleCastClient _client;

public IndexModel(SimpleCastClient Client)
{
_client = Client;
}
public async Task OnGetAsync()
{
var shows = await _client.GetShows();
}
}

Another nice side effect is that HttpClients that are created from the HttpClientFactory give me free logging:

info: System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.LogicalHandler[100]

Start processing HTTP request GET https://api.simplecast.com/v1/podcasts/shownum/episodes.json?api_key=
System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.LogicalHandler:Information: Start processing HTTP request GET https://api.simplecast.com/v1/podcasts/shownum/episodes.json?api_key=
info: System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.ClientHandler[100]
Sending HTTP request GET https://api.simplecast.com/v1/podcasts/shownum/episodes.json?api_key=
System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.ClientHandler:Information: Sending HTTP request GET https://api.simplecast.com/v1/podcasts/shownum/episodes.json?api_key=
info: System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.ClientHandler[101]
Received HTTP response after 882.8487ms - OK
System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.ClientHandler:Information: Received HTTP response after 882.8487ms - OK
info: System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.LogicalHandler[101]
End processing HTTP request after 895.3685ms - OK
System.Net.Http.ShowsClient.LogicalHandler:Information: End processing HTTP request after 895.3685ms - OK

It was super easy to move my existing code over to this model, and I'll keep simplifying AND adding other features as I learn more.


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Easier functional and integration testing of ASP.NET Core applications

In ASP.NET 2.1 (now in preview) there’s apparently a new package called Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc.Testing that’s meant to help streamline in-memory end-to-end testing of applications that use the MVC pattern. I’ve been re-writing my podcast site at http…

.NET Test ExplorerIn ASP.NET 2.1 (now in preview) there's apparently a new package called Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc.Testing that's meant to help streamline in-memory end-to-end testing of applications that use the MVC pattern. I've been re-writing my podcast site at https://hanselminutes.com in ASP.NET Core 2.1 lately, and recently added some unit testing and automatic unit testing with code coverage. Here's a couple of basic tests. Note that these call the Razor Pages directly and call their OnGet() methods directly. This shows how ASP.NET Core is nicely factored for Unit Testing but it doesn't do a "real" HTTP GET or perform true end-to-end testing.

These tests are testing if visiting URLs like /620 will automatically redirect to the correct full canonical path as they should.

[Fact]

public async void ShowDetailsPageIncompleteTitleUrlTest()
{
// FAKE HTTP GET "/620"
IActionResult result = await pageModel.OnGetAsync(id:620, path:"");

RedirectResult r = Assert.IsType<RedirectResult>(result);
Assert.NotNull(r);
Assert.True(r.Permanent); //HTTP 301?
Assert.Equal("/620/jessica-rose-and-the-worst-advice-ever",r.Url);
}

[Fact]
public async void SuperOldShowTest()
{
// FAKE HTTP GET "/default.aspx?showId=18602"
IActionResult result = await pageModel.OnGetOldShowId(18602);

RedirectResult r = Assert.IsType<RedirectResult>(result);
Assert.NotNull(r);
Assert.True(r.Permanent); //HTTP 301?
Assert.StartsWith("/615/developing-on-not-for-a-nokia-feature",r.Url);
}

I wanted to see how quickly and easily I could do these same two tests, except "from the outside" with an HTTP GET, thereby testing more of the stack.

I added a reference to Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc.Testing in my testing assembly using the command-line equivalanet of "Right Click | Add NuGet Package" in Visual Studio. This CLI command does the same thing as the UI and adds the package to the csproj file.

dotnet add package Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc.Testing -v 2.1.0-preview1-final

It includes a new WebApplicationTestFixture that I point to my app's Startup class. Note that I can take store the HttpClient the TestFixture makes for me.

public class TestingMvcFunctionalTests : IClassFixture<WebApplicationTestFixture<Startup>>

{
public HttpClient Client { get; }

public TestingMvcFunctionalTests(WebApplicationTestFixture<Startup> fixture)
{
Client = fixture.Client;
}
}

No tests yet, just setup. I'm using SSL redirection so I'll make sure the client knows that, and add a test:

public TestingMvcFunctionalTests(WebApplicationTestFixture<Startup> fixture)

{
Client = fixture.Client;
Client.BaseAddress = new Uri("https://localhost");
}

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

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

This will fail, in fact. Because I have an API Key that is needed to call out to my backend system, and I store it in .NET's User Secrets system. My test will get an InternalServerError instead of OK.

Starting test execution, please wait...

[xUnit.net 00:00:01.2110048] Discovering: hanselminutes.core.tests
[xUnit.net 00:00:01.2690390] Discovered: hanselminutes.core.tests
[xUnit.net 00:00:01.2749018] Starting: hanselminutes.core.tests
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1088832] hanselminutes_core_tests.TestingMvcFunctionalTests.GetHomePage [FAIL]
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1102884] Assert.Equal() Failure
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1103719] Expected: OK
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1104377] Actual: InternalServerError
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1114432] Stack Trace:
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1124268] D:\github\hanselminutes-core\hanselminutes.core.tests\FunctionalTests.cs(29,0): at hanselminutes_core_tests.TestingMvcFunctionalTests.<GetHomePage>d__4.MoveNext()
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1126872] --- End of stack trace from previous location where exception was thrown ---
[xUnit.net 00:00:08.1158250] Finished: hanselminutes.core.tests
Failed hanselminutes_core_tests.TestingMvcFunctionalTests.GetHomePage
Error Message:
Assert.Equal() Failure
Expected: OK
Actual: InternalServerError

Where do these secrets come from? In Development they come from user secrets.

public Startup(IHostingEnvironment env)

{
this.env = env;
var builder = new ConfigurationBuilder();

if (env.IsDevelopment())
{
builder.AddUserSecrets<Startup>();
}
Configuration = builder.Build();
}

But in Production they come from the ENVIRONMENT. Are these tests Development or Production...I must ask myself.  They are Production unless told otherwise. I can override the Fixture and tell it to use another Environment, like "Development." Here is a way (given this preview) to make my own TestFixture by deriving and grabbing and override to change the Environment. I think it's too hard and should be easier.

Either way, the real question here is for me - do I want my tests to be integration tests in development or in "production." Likely I need to make a new environment for myself - "testing."

public class MyOwnTextFixture<TStartup> : WebApplicationTestFixture<Startup> where TStartup : class

{
public MyOwnTextFixture() { }

protected override void ConfigureWebHost(IWebHostBuilder builder)
{
builder.UseEnvironment("Development");
}
}

However, my User Secrets still aren't loading, and that's where the API Key is that I need.

BUG?: There is either a bug here, or I don't know what I'm doing. I'm loading User Secrets in builder.AddUserSecrets<Startup> and later injecting the IConfiguration instance from builder.Build() and going "_apiKey = config["SimpleCastAPIKey"];" but it's null. The config that's injected later in the app isn't the same one that's created in Startup.cs. It's empty. Not sure if this is an ASP.NE Core 2.0 thing or 2.1 thing but I'm going to bring it up with the team and update this blog post later. It might be a Razor Pages subtlety I'm missing.
For now, I'm going to put in a check and manually fix up my Config. However, when this is fixed (or I discover my error) this whole thing will be a pretty nice little set up for integration testing.

I will add another test, similar to the redirect Unit Test but a fuller integration test that actually uses HTTP and tests the result.

[Fact]

public async Task GetAShow()
{
// Arrange & Act
var response = await Client.GetAsync("/620");

// Assert
Assert.Equal(HttpStatusCode.MovedPermanently, response.StatusCode);
Assert.Equal("/620/jessica-rose-and-the-worst-advice-ever",response.Headers.Location.ToString());
}

There's another issue here that I don't understand. Because have to set Client.BaseAddress to https://localhost (because https) and the Client is passed into fixture.Client, I can't set the Base address twice or I'll get an exception, as the Test's Constructor runs twice, but the HttpClient that's passed in as a lifecycler that's longer. It's being reused, and it fails when setting its BaseAddress twice.

Error Message:

System.InvalidOperationException : This instance has already started one or more requests. Properties can only be modified before sending the first request.

BUG? So to work around it I check to see if I've done it before. Which is gross. I want to set the BaseAddress once, but I am not in charge of the creation of this HttpClient as it's passed in by the Fixture.

public TestingMvcFunctionalTests(MyOwnTextFixture<Startup> fixture)

{
Client = fixture.Client;
if (Client.BaseAddress.ToString().StartsWith("https://") == false)
Client.BaseAddress = new Uri("https://localhost");
}

Another option is that I create a new client every time, which is less efficient and perhaps a better idea as it avoids any side effects from other tests, but also feels weird that I should have to do this, as the new standard for ASP.NET Core sites is to be SSL/HTTPS by default..

public TestingMvcFunctionalTests(MyOwnTextFixture<Startup> fixture)

{
Client = fixture.CreateClient(new Uri(https://localhost));
}

I'm still learning about how it all fits together, but later I plan to add in Selenium tests to have a full, complete, test suite that includes the browser, CSS, JavaScript, end-to-end integration tests, and unit tests.

Let me know if you think I'm doing something wrong. This is preview stuff, so it's early days!


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