First Steps with Unity

I use Castle.Windsor for IoC, and sometimes I used Spring; those two are really enough to cover all IoC problems I had in the past. I do no like very much Enterprise Library but in some situation customers does not like open source code, and ask you to use only MS product, so it is worth to give a look at unity that is shipped as part of the enterprise library, but also distributed in stand alone form.

My first step is to look at configuration file, it is basically an XML file and you can embed the configuration in app.config or in a loose xml file, I prefer the second option, since xml file tends to grow bigger and complex, I prefer to have a dedicated file for IoC configuration,  so I created this configuration file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> <configuration> <configSections> <section name="unity" type="Microsoft.Practices.Unity.Configuration.UnityConfigurationSection, Microsoft.Practices.Unity.Configuration, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35" /> </configSections> <unity> <typeAliases> <typeAlias alias="ITest" type="PolicyInjection.ITest, PolicyInjection" /> <typeAlias alias="TestA" type="PolicyInjection.TestA, PolicyInjection" /> <typeAlias alias="TestB" type="PolicyInjection.TestB, PolicyInjection" /> </typeAliases> <containers> <container name="DefContainer"> <types> <type type="ITest" mapTo="TestA" name=""> </type> <type type="ITest" mapTo="TestB" name="OtherTest"> </type> </types> </container> </containers> </unity> </configuration>

The file is really simple, the unity section has a typealiases section where you can give aliases to your type, this helps to keep the configuration file more readable. Then you can configure more than one container, and inside each container you map interfaces to concrete types. Here is the code to build the container from stand alone configuration file and resolve the default instance for the ITest interface.

IUnityContainer container = new UnityContainer(); ExeConfigurationFileMap map = new ExeConfigurationFileMap(); map.ExeConfigFilename = "UnityConfiguration.xml"; System.Configuration.Configuration config = ConfigurationManager.OpenMappedExeConfiguration(map, ConfigurationUserLevel.None); UnityConfigurationSection section = (UnityConfigurationSection)config.GetSection("unity"); section.Containers["DefContainer"].Configure(container); ITest test = container.Resolve<ITest>();

This first snippet shows that the UnityContainer is similar to other containers, it consists simply of a configuration file (or you can configure at runtime) then you create the container and resolve objects. If you test the code you can verify that each time you call Resolve, the container gives you a new object, if you need a singleton lifecycle you need two modification to configuration file. The first is register an alias.

<typeAlias alias="singleton" type="Microsoft.Practices.Unity.ContainerControlledLifetimeManager, Microsoft.Practices.Unity" />

Since ContainerControlledLifetimeManager is the lifecycle that is bound to the life of the container, as explained here. To make the code more readable it is useful to create an alias named singleton, now you can specify the lifecycle

<containers> <container name="DefContainer"> <types> <type type="ITest" mapTo="TestA" name=""> <lifetime type="singleton" /> </type>

This is the very basic of an IoC container, now I need to verify how unity behave in more complex situation.



Published by

Ricci Gian Maria

.Net programmer, User group and community enthusiast, programmer - aspiring architect - and guitar player :). Visual Studio ALM MVP

6 thoughts on “First Steps with Unity”

  1. Can you say why you prefer Castle Windsor IoC or Spring over the Unity Application Block? Do they have features missing from Unity or are they easier to use?

    I am looking at Castle Windsor, Structure Map, and Unity and trying to decide if I need an IoC and if so, which one to use.

  2. Unity come into play later, when I begin using .net the first IoC library was Spring, then came Castle, and I liked it much than spring, so I moved to Castle. When Unity comes out I already have a lot of project using Castle, so I decided to remain on castle.


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