Orleans Smart Cache Pattern

Orleans Smart Cache PatternI discovered the Orleans Smart Cache Pattern by listening to a talk by John Azariah and Sergey Bykov.  The idea is that you can use Orleans as a distributed cache in front of (permanent) storage.  This is really ideal if you have a read heavy system, which most are.  You could optionally also choose to buffer your writes when you make state changes.  Ultimately you will reduce load on your storage by accessing data/state from memory.

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State Holder Grain

The idea is we are going to create a Grain that will be used for holding/containing our state.  There are just two methods, setting and getting our state as defined in IStateHolderGrain<T>


For this example, I’m creating a POCO CustomerState to hold some customer data.

Then create a ICustomerGrain that just extends IStateHolderGrain where T is our POCO CustomerState.

Our concrete class CustomerGrain that implements that new ICustomerGrain.

Lastly I created a CustomerStateService which just contains some static methods that create and retrieve our POCO.


As per my previous post, I’m using ASP.NET Core with Botwin Middleware for a route endpoint.  From here I can use the CustomerStateService to create and fetch out our data.


One of the benefits is abstraction as we can have a POCO for our state that can be persisted to permanent storage.  There’s no dependency of Orleans in our POCO or Botwin Module.

Also we have an immediate consistent cache.  If we were to expose methods to modify the state, our grain would persist those to permanent storage when it decides and we are always returning the most up to date state.


If you want to try the demo, all the source is available on my PracticalOrleans GitHub Repo.

Do you have any questions or comments? Are you using Orleans?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments or on Twitter.

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Creating a custom ASP.NET Core Output Formatter

ASP.NET Core Output FormatterIf you follow my blog, you may also know that I’ve blogged a bit about Hypermedia.  Because I’m a fan, I’ve decided to start creating an custom ASP.NET Core Output Formatter to handle the Siren hypermedia specification (application/vnd.siren+json).

All the code samples in this blog post are pulled from a sample application of the game Hangman.   I’m creating it in ASP.NET Core.  I will eventually pull out the Output Formatter and create a repo on GitHub and a Nuget.

Output Formatter

Since I’m handling Text, I’m going to be deriving from the TextOutputFormatter.  This requires you to implement two methods:

bool CanWriteType(Type type)

This method determines if your output formatter can handle the type returned from your controller action.

Task WriteResponseBodyAsync(OutputFormatterWriteContext context, Encoding selectedEncoding)

Handle how yo want to transform the object returned from your controller action.

Lastly, you also need to define which media types your output formatter will handle.  In other words, when the client sends an Accept: header, which values apply to your output formatter.

In my case, Siren uses application/vnd.siren+json

MVC Options

Finally, in our startup, we need to add our new Output Formatter in the AddMVC extension method.


Here are two different outputs.  The first is with an Accept: application/json and the second is requestion Siren with Accept: application/vnd.siren+json

Stay Tuned

If you’re interested in supporting Siren in your ASP.NET Core MVC applications, I plan on publishing my small library soon to GitHub as well as Nuget.

Have you created a custom output formatter? I’d love to hear what your creating!  Let me know on Twitter or in the comments.

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LiteDB: Embedded .NET NoSQL Database

I was recently in the need for a simple NoSQL database that I could use for an app I was creating for a ASP.NET Core Workshop.

What I was really after was something similar to SQLite.   A single package I could pull into my application that did not require any external service and data stored in a single file.

It didn’t take long to find LiteDB.  After using it for my demo application, I had write a quick post about it.  Just to shed some light for anyone in need.  The project is actually really popular on GitHub, so it seems I might just be late to the party about finding out about it.


LiteDB is serverless database delivered in a single DLL (less than 350kb) fully written in .NET C# managed code (compatible with .NET 3.5, 4.x, NETStandard 1.3 and 2.0).

Install via NuGet or just copy DLL to your bin project folder.


Similar to MongoDB

One thing to note is how the API is similar to the Mongo DB .NET driver.

You also can store files like you can in GridFS.

Use Cases

I would think the use cases would be similar in terms of need for something like SQLite.  Because it supports .NET Standard, I would think Xamarin apps would be an excellent fit.

Again, my application was a small local application, which was also ideal.

Are you using LiteDB? Using something different? I’d love to hear what your using and your workloads which you’re using it in.  Let me know on Twitter or in the comments.

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