ASP.NET Self Host Static File Server

Continuing in my Owin and Katana series of blog posts, I’m going to demo an ASP.NET Self Host Static File Server. If you have not seen my previous posts in this series, I’ve covered how to self host a Web Api application and how to use Topshelf to debug and run as a windows service.

The wonderful thing about the shift to Owin and Katana with ASP.NET is middleware.

Katana has a file server implementation that you can plugin to your application startup pipeline in order to serve static files either on a filesystem or from embedded resources.


The first thing we will do with our demo application is install the Owin StaticFiles middlware into our project.

Install-Package Microsoft.Owin.StaticFiles

The simplest possible configuration is to call IAppBuilder.UseFileServer(true).  This will enable directory browsing of files from the current location of the executable.

When running our demo application, this results in showing us the directory listing when we pass thru our Web API routes without a match.


Now this isn’t very useful but it displays the simplicity of different Owin middlewares that are available.

UseFileServer has several different overloads:


Enable all static file middleware (except directory browsing) for the current request path in the current directory.

System_CAPS_pubmethodSystem_CAPS_staticUseFileServer(IAppBuilder, Boolean)

Enable all static file middleware on for the current request path in the current directory.

System_CAPS_pubmethodSystem_CAPS_staticUseFileServer(IAppBuilder, FileServerOptions)

Enable all static file middleware with the given options

System_CAPS_pubmethodSystem_CAPS_staticUseFileServer(IAppBuilder, String)

Enables all static file middleware (except directory browsing) for the given request path from the directory of the same name

For our demo application, we are going to create our File Server to serve files from an Assets directory that lives in the same location as our executable.

Now when we browse we see the files within the Assets directory.


Content Type Provider

The Katana FileServer only serves known content types.  If you try and browse to a file that is not a known content type, it will return a 404.

In my example above, I’ve added a data.json file.  Odd to me was that a json file is not a known content type.  In order to serve json files, we must create our own content type provider and add our mappings.

Now we need to specify our CustomContentProvider in our FileServerOptions.

Source Code

GithubThe source code for this demo is available on Github.

8 thoughts to “ASP.NET Self Host Static File Server”

  1. Great article, well described and great layout.

    One thing I discovered is that the config.Routes.MapHttpRoute (gistfile1.cs Lines 7-11) is not required because it will never use the path /api/{controller}/{id} that path when serving files statically.

    I found this misleading because I tried to use the path in that route with no success, until I noticed that the url used in your example had no path.

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