Using MediatR Request Handlers in ASP.NET Core to Decouple Code

Using MediatR Request Handlers in ASP.NET Core to Decouple Code

By Steven McLintock on

MediatR, by it’s definition, is a simple, unambitious mediator implementation in .NET. It was released in 2014 by Jimmy Bogard and is a useful package that can be used to implement the popular mediator pattern in .NET projects. It’s available on NuGet and is also open-source on GitHub.

This article isn’t meant to be an in-depth explanation of the mediator pattern, for that I’d recommend the series of articles over at .NET Core Tutorials beginning with The Mediator Pattern In .NET Core – Part 1 – What’s A Mediator?. Instead, I thought I’d demonstrate the advantages of using the MediatR package within a web application built using ASP.NET Core and C#, using request handlers to decouple code.

ASP.NET Core Web Application Without MediatR

In this article I’ll be using a demo ASP.NET Core web application (available on GitHub) that was originally built without using MediatR. This is to demonstrate the benefits of adding the mediator pattern into an existing project and how implementing MediatR request handlers can help decouple the code.

The demo ASP.NET Core web application contains the following projects:

  • MediatRApi (the API used for accepting GET, POST and PUT requests)
  • MediatRApi.Repositories (the repositories used for interacting with the database)
  • MediatRApi.Services (the services used throughout the application, such as the validation service)
ASP.NET Core web application without MediatR
ASP.NET Core web application without MediatR

In the controller that doesn’t use MediatR, you’ll notice the constructor is being injected with 4 dependencies; 1 validation service as well as 3 repositories. However, if you notice in each of the action methods, only one repository is being used by each of them. Without using MediatR, this constructor is already a code smell:

WithoutMediatRController.cs

[ApiController]
[Route("[controller]")]
public class WithoutMediatRController : ControllerBase
{
    private readonly IValidationService _validationService;
    private readonly IArtistRepository _artistRepository;
    private readonly IAlbumRepository _albumRepository;
    private readonly ISongRepository _songRepository;

    public WithoutMediatRController(
        IValidationService validationService,
        IArtistRepository artistRepository,
        IAlbumRepository albumRepository,
        ISongRepository songRepository)
    {
        _validationService = validationService;
        _artistRepository = artistRepository;
        _albumRepository = albumRepository;
        _songRepository = songRepository;
    }

    [HttpGet("get-artist/{artistId:guid}")]
    public async Task<Artist> GetArtist(Guid artistId)
    {
        _validationService.Validate<Guid>(artistId);

        return await _artistRepository.GetArtist(artistId);
    }

    [HttpPost("create-album")]
    public async Task<Guid> CreateAlbum(Album album)
    {
        _validationService.Validate<Album>(album);

        return await _albumRepository.CreateAlbum(album);
    }

    [HttpPut("set-rating")]
    public async Task SetRating(SetRating setRating)
    {
        _validationService.Validate<SetRating>(setRating);

        await _songRepository.SetRating(setRating);
    }
}

ASP.NET Core Web Application With MediatR

Ideally, we want one dependency in the constructor of the controller: MediatR.

We’ll use the mediator pattern to decouple the code, creating separate “requests” that will store instructions for executing code in associated “request handlers”, with each request handler having it’s own set of dependencies.

I’ve added the new project MediatRApi.Handlers into the solution to store all our MediatR requests and request handlers that will be used to implement the mediator pattern in our ASP.NET Core web application:

ASP.NET Core Project using MediatR
ASP.NET Core Project using MediatR

You’ll need to add the MediatR NuGet package into your project to use the MediatR namespace:

MediatR package on Nuget
MediatR package on Nuget

Requests and Request Handlers

Let’s explore each request and it’s associated request handler in this new project.

GetArtistRequest and GetArtistHandler

GetArtistRequest inherits from MediatR.IRequest and it’s response will be an Artist. The GetArtistHandler class inherits from MediatR.IRequestHandler and the dependencies being injected into it’s constructor are only used for retrieving an artist. The Handle method is used to execute the code and return the artist:

public class GetArtistRequest : IRequest<Artist>
{
    public Guid ArtistId { get; set; }
}

public class GetArtistHandler : IRequestHandler<GetArtistRequest, Artist>
{
    private readonly IValidationService _validationService;
    private readonly IArtistRepository _artistRepository;

    public GetArtistHandler(
        IValidationService validationService,
        IArtistRepository artistRepository)
    {
        _validationService = validationService;
        _artistRepository = artistRepository;
    }

    public async Task<Artist> Handle(
        GetArtistRequest request,
        CancellationToken cancellationToken = default)
    {
        _validationService.Validate<Guid>(request.ArtistId);

        return await _artistRepository.GetArtist(request.ArtistId);
    }
}

CreateAlbumRequest and CreateAlbumHandler

Similar to GetArtistRequest, the CreateAlbumRequest and CreateAlbumHandler inherit from MediatR.IRequest and MediatR.IRequestHandler and are responsible for creating an album and returning a guid:

public class CreateAlbumRequest : IRequest<Guid>
{
    public Album Album { get; set; }
}

public class CreateAlbumHandler : IRequestHandler<CreateAlbumRequest, Guid>
{
    private readonly IValidationService _validationService;
    private readonly IAlbumRepository _albumRepository;

    public CreateAlbumHandler(
        IValidationService validationService,
        IAlbumRepository albumRepository)
    {
        _validationService = validationService;
        _albumRepository = albumRepository;
    }

    public async Task<Guid> Handle(CreateAlbumRequest request,
        CancellationToken cancellationToken = default)
    {
        _validationService.Validate<Album>(request.Album);

        return await _albumRepository.CreateAlbum(request.Album);
    }
}

SetRatingRequest and SetRatingHandler

Last but not least, SetRatingRequest and SetRatingHandler will set a rating for a song and return MediatR.Unit. MediatR.Unit represents a void type, since void isn’t a valid return type in C#:

public class SetRatingRequest : IRequest<Unit>
{
    public Guid SongId { get; set; }

    public int Rating { get; set; }
}

public class SetRatingHandler : IRequestHandler<SetRatingRequest, Unit>
{
    private readonly IValidationService _validationService;
    private readonly ISongRepository _songRepository;

    public SetRatingHandler(
        IValidationService validationService,
        ISongRepository songRepository)
    {
        _validationService = validationService;
        _songRepository = songRepository;
    }

    public async Task<Unit> Handle(
        SetRatingRequest request,
        CancellationToken cancellationToken = default)
    {
        SetRating setRating = new SetRating
        {
            SongId = request.SongId,
            Rating = request.Rating
        };

        _validationService.Validate<SetRating>(setRating);

        await _songRepository.SetRating(setRating);

        return Unit.Value;
    }
}

Add MediatR to Startup.cs

To add MediatR as a dependency throughout our web application (i.e in the constructor of the controller), we’ll need to register MediatR in the ‘ConfigureServices’ method within Startup.cs. To accomplish this we first need to add the Nuget package MediatR.Extensions.Microsoft.DependencyInjection into the project:

MediatR.Extensions.Microsoft.DependencyInjection package on Nuget
MediatR.Extensions.Microsoft.DependencyInjection package on Nuget

I’ve created a ‘Dependencies’ class with the one method ‘RegisterRequestHandlers’ that will be called from the ‘ConfigureServices’ method within the Startup.cs file of the web application:

Dependencies.cs

public static class Dependencies
{
    public static IServiceCollection RegisterRequestHandlers(
        this IServiceCollection services)
    {
        return services
            .AddMediatR(typeof(Dependencies).Assembly);
    }
}

Within the ‘ConfigureServices’ method of Startup.cs, ‘RegisterRequestHandlers’ is being called to inject MediatR into the web application and register the request handlers:

ConfigureServices (in Startup.cs)

// This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to add services to the container.
public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
{
    // Register the services and repositories
    services.AddSingleton<IValidationService, ValidationService>();
    services.AddSingleton<IArtistRepository, ArtistRepository>();
    services.AddSingleton<IAlbumRepository, AlbumRepository>();
    services.AddSingleton<ISongRepository, SongRepository>();
    
    // Register the MediatR request handlers
    services.RegisterRequestHandlers();

    services.AddControllers();
    services.AddSwaggerGen(c =>
    {
        c.SwaggerDoc("v1", new OpenApiInfo { Title = "MediatRApi", Version = "v1" });
    });
}

Let’s now see how this has helped to decouple our code in the web application!

In the new controller, there is now only one dependency: MediatR. Each of the action methods will initialize a new request and send it off to MediatR to be handled by it’s associated request handler:

WithMediatRController.cs

[ApiController]
[Route("[controller]")]
public class WithMediatRController : Controller
{
    private readonly IMediator _mediator;

    public WithMediatRController(
        IMediator mediator) =>
        _mediator = mediator;

    [HttpGet("get-artist/{artistId:guid}")]
    public Task<Artist> GetArtist(Guid artistId) =>
        _mediator.Send(new GetArtistRequest { ArtistId = artistId });

    [HttpPost("create-album")]
    public Task<Guid> CreateAlbum(Album album) =>
        _mediator.Send(new CreateAlbumRequest { Album = album });

    [HttpPut("set-rating")]
    public void SetRating(SetRating setRating) =>
        _mediator.Send(new SetRatingRequest
        {
            SongId = setRating.SongId, Rating = setRating.Rating
        });
}

GitHub Repository

Thank you for reading this article! The full solution used in this guide is available at github.com/kiltandcode/mediatr-demo

Steven McLintock
About the Author

Kilt and Code is a blog written by Steven McLintock, a Scottish software developer living in Stratford, Ontario. Steven primarily uses Microsoft's .NET platform and has been working as a developer since 2006.