Middleware And Request Pipeline in ASP.NET Core

In this, article, we will learn what is Middleware is and how the Request Pipeline works in ASP.NET Core application.

Request PipeLine

The Request Pipeline is the mechanism by which requests are processed beginning with a Request and ending with a Response.

The pipeline specifies how the application should respond to the HTTP request. The Request arriving from the browser goes through the pipeline and back

The individual components that make up the pipeline are called Middleware.

What is Middleware

Middleware is a software component that hooks into the request pipeline to handle web requests and generate responses.

Each middleware Process and manipulates the request as it is received from the previous middleware.

It may decide to call the next middleware in the pipeline or send the response back to the previous middleware ( terminating the pipeline )

How it Works

The image below shows us how the Request pipelines combines with the Middleware works in ASP.NET Core application

Middleware and Request Pipeline

First, the Http Request arrives (directly or via External web server) at the Application

The Kestrel Web server picks up the Request and creates the httpContext and passes it to the First Middleware in the request pipeline

The First Middleware then takes over, process the request and passes it to the next Middleware. This goes on until it reaches the last middleware

The last middleware returns the request back to the previous middleware, effectively terminating the request pipeline.

Each middleware in the sequence gets a second chance to inspect the request and modify the response on its way back

Finally, the response reaches kestrel, which returns the response back to the client

Any of the middleware in the request pipeline can terminate the request pipeline by simply not passing the request to the next middleware

Configuring the Request Pipeline

To start using any Middleware, we need to add it to the Request pipeline.

This is done in the Configure method of the startup class.

The Configure method gets the instance of IApplicationBuilder, using which we can register our Middleware.

Open the HelloWorld project, which we created in the Getting Started with ASP.NET Core tutorial

Or You can create a new  ASP.NET Core Application. In the Project Template select the Empty project template and choose .NET Core and ASP.NET Core 2.0.

Open the Startup class and locate the Configure method and change the code to the following

We used the app.Run method to register our first middleware, which displays the “Hello world from Middleware 1”, when executed.

The app.Run method gets the instance of the Httpcontext. You can use the Response object from HttpContext to write out some message to HTTP Response

Configure Middleware with Use and Run

The Use and Run method extensions allow us to register the Inline Middlewares to the Request pipeline

The Run method adds the terminating middleware

The Use method adds the middleware, which may call the next middleware in the pipeline

Now let us add one more middleware using the app.Run

The app.Use gets two arguments. One is HttpContext and the second one is a RequestDelegate, which is basically the reference to the next middleware.

Now, run the code again.

The message “Hello world from the middleware 1” appears on the browser. The message from the second middleware does not appear

That is because it is the responsibility of the middleware to invoke the next middleware

We can invoke the next middleware by calling the invoke method of the next middleware, reference to which given to us in the constructor. Modify the code to do that

Now, run the code and you should able to see both the messages

Now, let us add one more middleware and add a message after invoking the next middleware

You will notice that Middlewares gets a second chance to look at the Request on the way back

Order Matters

Middleware is executed in the same order in which they are added in the pipeline.

Custom Middleware

In the above section, we created inline middlewares using the app.Use and the app.Run

The other way of creating the Middleware is by using classes.

The middleware class is not required to implement any interface or inherit from any class. However, there are two specific rules that you must follow.

1. The middleware class must declare a non-static public constructor with at least one parameter of type RequestDelegate 

What actually you get here is the reference to the next middleware in the pipeline. When you invoke this RequestDelegate you are actually invoking the next middleware in the pipeline

2. The middleware class must define a public method named Invoke that takes an HttpContext and returns a Task.This is the method that gets invoked when the request arrives at the middleware

Creating the Custom Middleware

Now, let us a create a simple class to demonstrate this. We name our Middleware as SimpleMiddleware

First, in the constructor, we will get the reference to the next middleware in the pipeline. We store it in local variable _next

Next, we must declare an Invoke method, which gets the reference to the HttpContext.

We write out some message to the response and then invoke the next Middleware using await _next(context)  Passing it the HttpContext.

Next, we need to register the middleware in the request pipeline.

We can do that using the UseMiddleware method of the app as shown below

Copy the above code in the Configure method

Run the code and you will see the message from our SimpleMiddleware is displayed in the browser.

Extension method

We can create an extension method to simplify the registration of Middleware.

Create another class SomeMiddlewarerExtensions and create a UseSimpleMiddleware as shown below.

Now instead of

You can use

to register the middleware.

Summary

The Middleware is software code, which processes the incoming requests. These Middlewares are chained together to form a request pipeline. We create Middleware and register in the configure method of the startup class.

1 thought on “Middleware And Request Pipeline in ASP.NET Core”

  1. Hi, i have tried custom middleware. I am not able to work with it. When i used “await _next(context);” application broke and throw “StatusCode cannot be set because the response has already started.” issue. Kindly revert it.

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