Write a custom lifecycle for castle windsor

In another post I spoke about castle Windsor and lifecycle of objects, now I want to show how to write a custom lifecycle. First of all the class must inherit from AbstractLifestyleManager class, then we must choose where to store the instance of the object that are created by the container. Since I want to build a lifecycle that can be used both from winform code and from web code I choose to use System.Runtime.Remoting.Messaging.CallContext class, this class is used internally to implement the HttpContext so it can be used to store object for a HttpCall. But I need another behavior, I need to programmatically manage the lifecycle from calling code, this is especially useful for testing purpose. The result is a class called ManageableLifeCycle used to implement a custom lifecycle that can be managed from called code.

The final result should be a lifecycle that is transient by default, but that can become singleton when the caller needs it, and only for a small amount of time. First step is making our custom lifecycle overrides the *Resolve()*method, that is called by castle when he need to resolve an object. This is the code.

publicoverrideobject Resolve(global::Castle.MicroKernel.CreationContext context) {
if (contextBag != null) {
//We are in a context
if (_instance == null) {
_instance = base.Resolve(context);
return _instance;
} else {
//We are not in a context

First of all you should know that castle creates a lifecycle manager for each defined components. Our lifecycle defines an arraylist called contextBag that contains all the instance that are created in a context, the context is defined from calling code, so if the calling code does not create a context the lifecycle of the object is the same as transient. As you can see the code first checks if the contextBag is null, if is null it simply returns base.Resolve() actually creating a new entity for each call. If the contextBag is not null we are inside a context, so we create the object and store it into a inner field called _instance. This means that our context works like a singleton inside a context and as transient outside the context. Please note that the instance created is also stored inside the arraylist stored in the CallContext. Now the lifecycle must also override the Release() method, called when the client code calls Release() on an instance created through the container.

publicoverridevoid Release(object instance) {
if (contextBag == null) {
} else {
if (!contextBag.Contains(instance))

If we are not in a context (contextBag != null) the lifecycle calls the base version of Release, but if we are in a managed cycle we release the object only if it is not contained in the contextBag, this is needed to mimic the same behavior of the singleton lifecycle, this means that calling Release inside a Contex does not release anything. Ok, now the goals it to make this test pass.

publicvoid TestInsideContext() {
using (IoC.OverrideGlobalConfiguration(@”Castle\Windsor\ManageableLifeCycle\WindsorConfig.xml”)) {
ITest dt1, dt2;
using (ManageableLifeCycle.BeginThreadContext()) {
dt1 = IoC.GetObject<ITest>();
dt2 = IoC.GetObject<ITest>();
Assert.AreSame(dt1, dt2);
//Context is ended now all requested object are new.
Assert.AreNotSame(dt1, IoC.GetObject<ITest>());
//Check that object are really disposed when we are outside of a context
Assert.IsTrue(dt1.IsDisposed, “object gets not disposed correctly at the end of the context”);

When we call static method BeginThreadContext() we are actually asking to our lifecycle manager to go in singleton mode beginning a contet, but when the using block is ended the behavior is reverted to singleton. This is not enough because all objects created inside the context should be disposed if they implement the IDisposable interface. First of all let’s see the code to begin a context

publicstaticDisposableAction BeginThreadContext() {
if (contextBag != null)
thrownewInvalidOperationException(“Another thread context was already begun”);
CallContext.SetData(dataId, newArrayList());
returnnewDisposableAction(delegate() {

We simply store a new arraylist in System.Runtime.Remoting.Messaging.CallContext class using a guid as key identifier, then we create a disposable action that simply call EndThreadContext.

publicstaticvoid EndThreadContext() {
if (contextBag == null)
thrownewInvalidOperationException(“No thread context is begun.”);
foreach (object obj in contextBag) {
IDisposable d = obj asIDisposable;
if (d != null)

The EndThreadContext simply iterate through the list of created objects, and if an object implements IDisposable it simply calls the Dispose Method. Now if you create a simple httpModule that calls BeginThreadContext at the beginning of a request and calls EndThreadContext at the end of the same request you have singleton behavior only for the scope of the WebRequest, and you can use the BeginThreadContext in your test to create a simple scope where the lifecycle of managed object are really singleton object but gets disposed and released when the scope ends.

Relating to an older post of mine where I spoke about the importance to call Container.Release, please note that this custom lifecycle manager, does not store any reference to the object when there is no context, so it does not calls Dispose when the container is disposed nor it risk to have leak if you forget to call Container.Release.


P.S If you are interested in the code you can checkout with subversion at http://nablasoft.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/, please excuse the messy of the code, since this repository is only a place where I do various experiments.