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Posted 24 Jan 2023

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Matching Services with the Blazor Component Scope

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24 Jan 2023CPOL3 min read
An article describing how to create services that have the same scope as a Blazor Page/Form
There's no DotNetCore service scope or container that matches the scope of a Blazor component. This articles explores the issue and how to solve it.

Introduction

Apply the Single Responsibility Principle and you have two classes:

  1. WeatherForcastListForm - a component that displays a list of WeatherForecasts
  2. WeatherForecastListPresenter - an object that interfaces with the data pipeline to manage the list of WeatherForecasts

Image 1

Take those same design principles further, and you inject an instance of WeatherForecastListPresenter into WeatherForcastListForm from DI with the same lifecycle scope as the form.

In the DotNetCore framework that presents a dilemma:

  1. Scoped is too wide: It's scoped for the duration of the SPA session. It works if used in one place and you want to persist state for the duration of the SPA session.

  2. Transient is too narrow.

    2.1. Sub-components in the Form can't use DI to access the same instance of WeatherForecastListPresenter.

    2.2. Any class implementing IDisposable or IAsyncDisposable should never be scoped as Transient. The DI service container maintains a reference to the instance to Dispose it when the container itself is Disposed. You create a "memory leak" in your application as copies of WeatherForecastListPresenter build up every time you visit the form. They are only disposed when you close down or refresh your session with the application.

There's no a clean fit.

Step forward OwningComponentBase. It creates its own scoped service container which it disposes when the component is disposed. It has the same scope as the component.

Unfortunately, there's a fatal flaw: any scoped service your service depends on is also created in the same container. It is after all just a Scoped container.

Consider AuthenticationService. The instance in the SPA scoped container is the one your service needs, but it gets a new vanilla one with no user information. Same with any Notification services, the NavigationManager and many others.

It's Ok for services with no dependencies, but.... we don't code many of those!

Solving the Conundrum

The fact is, we have a DotNetCore service container configuration designed around the old MVC server side model. We have no scope or container that matches the scope of a component. Until Microsoft gives us one, we need a workaround.

My solution is described below.

The Repo

The repo and latest version of this article can be found here Blazr.ComponentServiceProvider.

The Demo Timer Service

A simple Timer service defined by an interface.

C#
public interface ITimeService
{
    public string Message { get;}
    public event EventHandler? TimeChanged;
    public void UpdateTime();
}

The concrete service, with debug code to monitor instances created and disposed correctly.

C#
public class TimeService : ITimeService, IDisposable, IAsyncDisposable
{
    public readonly Guid InstanceId = Guid.NewGuid();
    private bool asyncdisposedValue;
    private bool disposedValue;

    public string Message { get; private set; } = DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString();
    public event EventHandler? TimeChanged;

    public TimeService()
        => Debug.WriteLine($"TimeService - instance {InstanceId} created");

    public void UpdateTime()
    {
        Message = DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString();
        TimeChanged?.Invoke(this, EventArgs.Empty);
    }

    public ValueTask DisposeAsync()
    {
        if (!asyncdisposedValue)
            Debug.WriteLine($"TimeService - instance {InstanceId} async disposed");

        asyncdisposedValue = true;
        return ValueTask.CompletedTask;
    }

    protected virtual void Dispose(bool disposing)
    {
        if (!disposedValue)
        {
            if (disposing)
                Debug.WriteLine($"TimeService - instance {InstanceId} disposed");

            disposedValue = true;
        }
    }

    public void Dispose()
    {
        Dispose(disposing: true);
        GC.SuppressFinalize(this);
    }
}

TimeStamp

A component to display and update the TimeService. Note the capture of a cascaded ITimeService. It has debug code to show when its parameters are updated by a parent render.

C#
@namespace Blazr.UI
@implements IHandleAfterRender
@implements IHandleEvent

<div class="bg-light p-2 m-2">

    <h3>TimeStamp Component</h3>

    <div class="m-2">
        <button class="btn btn-primary" @onclick=Clicked>Update Timestamp</button>
    </div>

    <div>
        @(this.TimeService?.Message ?? "No message set.")
    </div>

    <div class="mt-2 bg-dark text-white">
        Parameters Set at at @this.ParametersChangedTimeStamp
    </div>

</div>

@code {
    [CascadingParameter] private ITimeService? TimeService { get; set; } = default!;

    private string ParametersChangedTimeStamp = "Not Set";

    protected override void OnInitialized()
    {
        if (this.TimeService is null)
            throw new NullReferenceException($"The {this.GetType().FullName} 
                  required a cascaded ITimeService");
    }

    protected override void OnParametersSet()
    {
        Debug.WriteLine("TimeStamp - Parameter Change");
        this.ParametersChangedTimeStamp = DateTime.Now.ToLongTimeString();
        base.OnParametersSet();
    }

    private void Clicked()
      => TimeService?.UpdateTime();

    // Saving CPU Cycles - No AfterRender Handling
    Task IHandleAfterRender.OnAfterRenderAsync()
        => Task.CompletedTask;

    // Saving CPU Cycles - shortcut the UI event handling code. One render per UI event
    async Task HandleEventAsync(EventCallbackWorkItem callback, object? arg)
    {
        await callback.InvokeAsync(arg);
        StateHasChanged();
    }
}

We need code to create our service. It needs to create an instance of TService which:

  1. may or may not have DI dependencies
  2. may or may not implement IDisposable and/or IAsyncDisposable
  3. may be an interface or base class service definition in the Service Container

ActivatorUtilities is a little known utility we can use to address these requirements.

The solution implements this functionality as extension methods to IServiceContainer. The code is deceptively simple:

C#
public static class ServiceUtilities
{
    public static TService? GetComponentService<TService>
    (this IServiceProvider serviceProvider) where TService : class
    {
        var serviceType = serviceProvider.GetService<TService>()?.GetType();

        if (serviceType is null)
            return ActivatorUtilities.CreateInstance<TService>(serviceProvider);

        return ActivatorUtilities.CreateInstance
               (serviceProvider, serviceType) as TService;
    }
}

serviceType is either the concrete registered object for TService or null. If TService is an interface or base class, TService and serviceType will be different types.

If ServiceType is null, there's no definition for TService in the service container: we need to activate it directly.

If service type is a type, we activate it as the supplied concrete type.

In either case, we may return a null if CreateInstance can't create and instance. We leave dealing with a null return to the requester.

There's a second Try wrapper method.

C#
public static bool TryGetComponentService<TService>
       (this IServiceProvider serviceProvider,[NotNullWhen(true)] 
        out TService? service) where TService : class
{
    service = serviceProvider.GetComponentService<TService>();
    return service != null;
}

CascadingComponentService

We also need a component wrapper to encapsulate service creation and disposal.

The main code is implemented in SetParametersAsync. Everything needs to happen before any render event occurs. AsyncDisposable is implemented to dispose TService correctly.

C#
@namespace Blazr.UI
@typeparam TService where TService: class
@implements IAsyncDisposable
@implements IHandleAfterRender
@implements IHandleEvent

<CascadingValue Value="this.ComponentService" IsFixed>
    @this.ChildContent
</CascadingValue>

@code {
    [Parameter] public RenderFragment? ChildContent { get; set; }

    [Inject] private IServiceProvider serviceProvider { get; set; } = default!;

    public TService? ComponentService { get; set; } = default!;

    private bool _firstRender = true;
    private IDisposable? _disposable;
    private IAsyncDisposable? _asyncDisposable;

    public override Task SetParametersAsync(ParameterView parameters)
    {
        parameters.SetParameterProperties(this);

        if (_firstRender)
        {
            this.ComponentService = serviceProvider.GetComponentService<TService>();

            if (this.ComponentService is null)
                throw new NullReferenceException
                ($"No {typeof(TService).FullName} cound be created.");

            _disposable = this.ComponentService as IDisposable;
            _firstRender = false;
        }
        // Saving CPU Cycles - No Initialized/OnParametersSet run
        this.StateHasChanged();
        return Task.CompletedTask;
    }

    public async ValueTask DisposeAsync()
    {
        _disposable?.Dispose();

        if (this.ComponentService is IAsyncDisposable asyncDisposable)
            await asyncDisposable.DisposeAsync();
    }

    // Saving CPU Cycles - No AfterRender Handling
    Task IHandleAfterRender.OnAfterRenderAsync()
        => Task.CompletedTask;

    // Saving CPU Cycles - No automatic rendering
    Task IHandleEvent.HandleEventAsync(EventCallbackWorkItem callback, object? arg)
        => callback.InvokeAsync(arg);
}

Demo Page

The display page demonstrates using CascadingComponentService and how to capture its service to use in its own UI.

C#
@page "/"
@implements IDisposable
@implements IHandleAfterRender
@implements IHandleEvent

<PageTitle>Index</PageTitle>

<CascadingComponentService TService="ITimeService" @ref=_service >
    <TimeStamp />
</CascadingComponentService>

<div class="alert alert-info">
    @(_service?.ComponentService?.Message ?? "No message set.")
</div>

@code {
    private CascadingComponentService<ITimeService>? _service;

    protected async override Task OnInitializedAsync()
    {
        await Task.Yield();
        // Yields to let the UI do a first render and ensure _service is assigned
        if (_service is not null && _service.ComponentService is not null)
            _service.ComponentService.TimeChanged += this.OnTimeChanged;
    }

    private void OnTimeChanged(object? sender, EventArgs e)
        => StateHasChanged();

    public void Dispose()
    {
        if (_service is not null && _service.ComponentService is not null)
            _service.ComponentService.TimeChanged -= this.OnTimeChanged;
    }

    // Saving CPU Cycles - No AfterRender Handling
    Task IHandleAfterRender.OnAfterRenderAsync()
        => Task.CompletedTask;
}

You can unwrap the cascade and do it yourself within the root component.

Wrapping Up

That's it, not rocket science or very original. Comments on improvements/things I've got wrong gratefully received.

History

  • 24th January, 2023: Initial version

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


Written By
Retired Cold Elm
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Ex Geologist, Project Manager, Web Hoster, Business Owner and IT Consultant. Now, a traveller to places less travelled. And part time developer trying to keep up!

If you feel like saying thanks, the next time you see a charity request, DONATE. No matter how small, no matter who, it'll count. If you have a choice in the UK, Barnados.

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