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Implement A Custom Configuration Provider In .NET Web App

In last article, we have seen how to use the MemoryConfigurationProvider to load configurations from in-memory collections.

You can also create the custom configuration provider to load the configuration settings from any data source you want. In this article, let’s try to create the configuration provider to load data from database using Entity Framework Core.

What is the plan?

We are going to keep the configuration settings in the database. The database will contain a single table, ConfigurationSetting, with two columns, key and value.

We are going to use entity framework for accessing the settings from this database, so, we will create a DbContext implementation, CustomConfigurationProviderDbContext.

Then there are two interfaces are required to be implemented.

Lastly, we will create a new extension method AddCustomConfiguration, which will apply configurations from database for the use in application.

So, let’s get started !

Let’s Code !

As stated above, let’s start setup by step on the implementation. Create a .NET Core Web Application (MVC) using Visual Studio. Then perform below steps.

You would need to add references to two nuget packages:

Database Table

As we already know, the configuration in .NET is internally managed as a collection of key value pairs. So the ConfigurationSetting table should have three columns, ID, Key and Value as shown in the code snippet given below:

The DbContext

Simple DbContext implementation, which defines a DbSet (i.e. the table) for ConfigurationSetting, as shown below.

Implement IConfigurationSource

As described earlier, this interface needs to be implemented and it will have responsibility to build the ConfigurationProvider instance.

The class CustomConfigurationSource below returning the instance of CustomConfigurationProvider instance. Note that the class CustomConfigurationProvider is not created yet, it will be created in the next step.

Implement IConfigurationProvider

This class will use the DbContext we created to read the configuration settings from the database.

For keeping the demo simple, we have hardcoded the configuration settings here in the same class. But in real world applications, you can create the tables and then get the data populated via some other process (like from the scheduled job, or from the admin application).

Extension Method

This extension method AddCustomDatabaseConfiguration can be used while bootstrapping the application to tell runtime to use custom configuration source ( EF Core database in our case) to populate the key-value pair collection.

Note, we are going to use In memory database for this demo.

App Configurations

For using this new custom configuration source, we need to call the above extension method to apply the custom configuration settings.

For using the configurations, we just need to inject IConfiguration to the classes where we want to use the settings from custom configuration provider. You can run the application to debug and verify that the correct value is being fetched.

Where can we use this?

So, we just created a custom configuration provider, which reads the data from the database. But next question is, where should we use this feature.

For typical applications, appsettings.json may be sufficient for most of the cases. But for things like feature toggles, or the settings which change periodically (e.g. premium subscription charges of a site), they may change to time, so you may want to keep them in the database so that you can enable or disable features or apply new rates whenever required by business team.

Did you use this feature ? Are there any other scenarios where this feature can be used ? Let me know your thoughts.

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