eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley

Ramblings of Matt

MEF + Factories

November 27, 2008 13:47 by matthaw

Lately I've been really digging into MEF and have been looking at it's pros & cons, ease of use, extensibility, and the simple DI container that it can provide. I'm not going to give an overview of MEF, as others have done so already. What I am here to show off is a concept that may prove useful for some applications. Many of us use a DI container in very simplistic ways, as well as registering injection strategies during type resolution. If you have no needs of this latter, MEF is very simple and easily fits into your current architecture by not having to change anything but decorating things. For example:

   1:  public interface IUserService { }
   3:  [Export(typeof(IUserService))]
   4:  [CompositionOptions(CreationPolicy = CreationPolicy.Factory)]
   5:  public class UserService : IUserService { }
   7:  [Export]
   8:  public class UserController {
   9:     [ImportingConstructor]
  10:     public UserController(IUserService userService) { }
  11:  }

At MEF's simplistic nature, you see that during construction, our exported services are being imported for us, but only because we don't care about it's construction and assume that generic construction will work. So when we call resolve UserController using MEF, it'll create and inject a new instance of UserService for us.


Now, say we have a need where the construction of IUserService needs to go through a factory. For instance, maybe IUserService is a WCF endpoint, and you have custom logic built into properly constructing the proxy endpoint. Well, MEF can solve this issue for you by exporting methods, but what you have to do is ultimately change your code and have 2 constructors.

   1:  public interface IUserService { }
   3:  // in your application
   4:  [Export(typeof(IUserService))]
   5:  public IUserService ConstructUserService() { return ... }
   7:  [Export]
   8:  public class UserController {
   9:     [ImportingConstructor]
  10:     public UserController([Import(typeof(IUserService))] Func<IUserService> serviceMethod)
  11:         : this(serviceMethod())
  12:     { }
  14:     public UserController(IUserService userService) { }
  15:  }

As you can see, it's not that nice. We need both constructors because one is used in production and one is used for testability. It ultimately leads to a lot of confusion as to why we need it. So, with that in mind, I set out to determine how this pattern could be achieved using MEF, but also provide a seamless transition from a DI world to MEF. Enter, FactoryPartCatalog:

   1:  public class FactoryPartCatalog<T> : ComposablePartCatalog {
   2:     public FactoryPartCatalog(Func<Type, T> resolutionMethod) { }
   3:     public FactoryPartCatalog(Assembly assembly, Func<Type, T> resolutionMethod) { }
   4:     public FactoryPartCatalog(IEnumerable<Type> types, Func<Type, T> resolutionMethod) { }
   6:     public override IQueryable<ComposableDefinition> Parts { get { return ... } }
   7:  }

When we use this in our application, it brings back the simplicity of MEF. What it's doing during construction is looking through the assembly (first two constructors) to find all interfaces that implement type T. The interfaces that it finds will be created into ComposablePart's for MEF's container to utilize. Ultimately, when GetExportedObject<T> is called, it'll execute the resolution method you specified passing in the Type that was requested.


As you can see below, we're using a AggregatingComposablePartCatalog adding our new FactoryPartCatalog and AttributedAssemblyPartCatalog. We've told FactoryPartCatalog to look through the current assembly for all interfaces that derive from IService. Upon construction injection by MEF, it'll find that it's requesting an export of IUserService, find it in the FactoryPartCatalog, and call GetService(Type) to get it's instance.

   1:  public interface IService { }
   2:  public interface IUserService : IService { }
   4:  [Export]
   5:  public class UserController {
   6:     [ImportingConstructor]
   7:     public UserController(IUserService userService) { }
   8:  }
  10:  // in your application
  11:  private void Compose() {
  12:     var catalog = AggregatingComposablePartCatalog();
  13:     catalog.Catalogs.Add(new AttributedAssemblyPartCatalog(Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly()));
  14:     catalog.Catalogs.Add(new FactoryPartCatalog<IService>(GetService);
  15:     var container = new CompositionContainer(catalog);
  16:     container.AddPart(this);
  17:     container.Compose();
  18:  }
  20:  public IService GetService(Type type) { return ... }

Now, there's a lot more code behind the scenes that is required to get a new Part Catalog up and running, but I'll leave that for you to check out in the downloadable source. As this is purely a proof of concept, I'm sure there's more simplifications or additions that can be added, but for getting this running out of the box in this manner, it works great!


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Categories: .NET | Development | MEF
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November 30. 2008 10:13

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