Asked  7 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   31 times

I understand the concept behind DI, but I'm just learning what different IoC containers can do. It seems that most people advocate using IoC containers to wire up stateless services, but what about using them for stateful objects like entities?

Whether it's right or wrong, I normally stuff my entities with behavior, even if that behavior requires an outside class. Example:

public class Order : IOrder

    private string _ShipAddress;
    private IShipQuoter _ShipQuoter;

    public Order(IOrderData OrderData, IShipQuoter ShipQuoter)
        // OrderData comes from a repository and has the data needed 
        // to construct order
        _ShipAddress = OrderData.ShipAddress;  // etc.
        _ShipQuoter = ShipQuoter;


    private decimal GetShippingRate()
        return _ShipQuoter.GetRate(this);

As you can see, the dependencies are Constructor Injected. Now for a couple of questions.

  1. Is it considered bad practice to have your entities depend on outside classes such as the ShipQuoter? Eliminating these dependencies seems to lead me towards an anemic domain, if I understand the definition correctly.

  2. Is it bad practice to use an IoC container to resolve these dependencies and construct an entity when needed? Is it possible to do this?

Thanks for any insight.



The first question is the most difficult to answer. Is it bad practice to have Entities depend on outside classes? It's certainly not the most common thing to do.

If, for example, you inject a Repository into your Entities you effectively have an implementation of the Active Record pattern. Some people like this pattern for the convenience it provides, while others (like me) consider it a code smell or anti-pattern because it violates the Single Responsibility Principle (SRP).

You could argue that injecting other dependencies into Entities would pull you in the same direction (away from SRP). On the other hand you are certainly correct that if you don't do this, the pull is towards an Anemic Domain Model.

I struggled with all of this for a long time until I came across Greg Young's (abandonded) paper on DDDD where he explains why the stereotypical n-tier/n-layer architecture will always be CRUDy (and thus rather anemic).

Moving our focus to modeling Domain objects as Commands and Events instead of Nouns seems to enable us to build a proper object-oriented domain model.

The second question is easier to answer. You can always use an Abstract Factory to create instances at run-time. With Castle Windsor you can even use the Typed Factory Facility, relieving you of the burden of implementing the factories manually.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

If I wasn't using a DI container, I wouldn't have to reference EntityFramework library in my MVC3 app, only my business layer which would reference my DAL/Repo layer.

Yes, that's exactly the situation DI works so hard to avoid :)

With tightly coupled code, each library may only have a few references, but these again have other references, creating a deep graph of dependencies, like this:

Deep Graph

Because the dependency graph is deep, it means that most libraries drag along a lot of other dependencies - e.g. in the diagram, Library C drags along Library H, Library E, Library J, Library M, Library K and Library N. This makes it harder to reuse each library independently from the rest - for example in unit testing.

However, in a loosely coupled application, by moving all the references to the Composition Root, the dependency graph is severely flattened:

Shallow Graph

As illustrated by the green color, it's now possible to reuse Library C without dragging along any unwanted dependencies.

However, all that said, with many DI Containers, you don't have to add hard references to all required libraries. Instead, you can use late binding either in the form of convention-based assembly-scanning (preferred) or XML configuration.

When you do that, however, you must remember to copy the assemblies to the application's bin folder, because that no longer happens automatically. Personally, I rarely find it worth that extra effort.

A more elaborate version of this answer can be found in this excerpt from my book Dependency Injection, Principles, Practices, Patterns.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

Wow, can't believe that Joel would favor this:

var svc = new ShippingService(new ProductLocator(), 
   new PricingService(), new InventoryService(), 
   new TrackingRepository(new ConfigProvider()), 
   new Logger(new EmailLogger(new ConfigProvider())));

over this:

var svc = IoC.Resolve<IShippingService>();

Many folks don't realize that your dependencies chain can become nested, and it quickly becomes unwieldy to wire them up manually. Even with factories, the duplication of your code is just not worth it.

IoC containers can be complex, yes. But for this simple case I've shown it's incredibly easy.

Okay, let's justify this even more. Let's say you have some entities or model objects that you want to bind to a smart UI. This smart UI (we'll call it Shindows Morms) wants you to implement INotifyPropertyChanged so that it can do change tracking & update the UI accordingly.

"OK, that doesn't sound so hard" so you start writing.

You start with this:

public class Customer
    public string FirstName { get; set; }
    public string LastName { get; set; }
    public DateTime CustomerSince { get; set; }
    public string Status { get; set; }

..and end up with this:

public class UglyCustomer : INotifyPropertyChanged
    private string _firstName;
    public string FirstName
        get { return _firstName; }
            string oldValue = _firstName;
            _firstName = value;
            if(oldValue != value)

    private string _lastName;
    public string LastName
        get { return _lastName; }
            string oldValue = _lastName;
            _lastName = value;
            if(oldValue != value)

    private DateTime _customerSince;
    public DateTime CustomerSince
        get { return _customerSince; }
            DateTime oldValue = _customerSince;
            _customerSince = value;
            if(oldValue != value)

    private string _status;
    public string Status
        get { return _status; }
            string oldValue = _status;
            _status = value;
            if(oldValue != value)

    protected virtual void OnPropertyChanged(string property)
        var propertyChanged = PropertyChanged;

        if(propertyChanged != null)
            propertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(property));

    public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;

That's disgusting plumbing code, and I maintain that if you're writing code like that by hand you're stealing from your client. There are better, smarter way of working.

Ever hear that term, work smarter, not harder?

Well imagine some smart guy on your team came up and said: "Here's an easier way"

If you make your properties virtual (calm down, it's not that big of a deal) then we can weave in that property behavior automatically. (This is called AOP, but don't worry about the name, focus on what it's going to do for you)

Depending on which IoC tool you're using, you could do something that looks like this:

var bindingFriendlyInstance = IoC.Resolve<Customer>(new NotifyPropertyChangedWrapper());

Poof! All of that manual INotifyPropertyChanged BS is now automatically generated for you, on every virtual property setter of the object in question.

Is this magic? YES! If you can trust the fact that this code does its job, then you can safely skip all of that property wrapping mumbo-jumbo. You've got business problems to solve.

Some other interesting uses of an IoC tool to do AOP:

  • Declarative & nested database transactions
  • Declarative & nested Unit of work
  • Logging
  • Pre/Post conditions (Design by Contract)
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

The main benefit of Dependency Injection, at least in my applications, is the ability to write code that is context agnostic. From that perspective, your second solution seems like it really subverts the benefit DI could be giving you. If the 'god object' exposes different interfaces to each class that references it, it might not be too evil. But if you went that far I don't see why you don't take it all the way to the hoop.

Example: Your God object has a getFoo() method and a getBar() method. Object A needs a Foo, object B needs a Bar. If A just needs one Foo, Foo should be injected directly into A and A should not be aware of God at all. But if A needs to keep creating Foos, giving A a reference to God is pretty much inevitable. But you can protect yourself from the damage done by passing God around by narrowing the type of the reference to God. If you make God implement FooFactory and give A a reference to the FooFactory implemented by God, you can still write the code in A in a context-neutral way. That improves the opportunities for code reuse, and it increases your confidence that a change to God will not cause unexpected side-effects. For example, you can be certain when removing getBar() from God that class A won't break.

BUT ... if you're going to have all those interfaces anyway, you're probably better off writing purpose-built factory classes and wiring all your objects together, factories included, within the container, rather than wrapping the container at all. The container can still configure the factories.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021
answered 4 Months ago

The important thing to realize here is that you can (and should) write your code in a DI-friendly, but container-agnostic manner.

This means that you should always push the composition of dependencies to a point where you can't possibly defer it any longer. This is called the Composition Root and is often placed in near the application's entry point.

If you design your application in this way, your choice of DI Container (or no DI Container) revolves around a single place in your application, and you can quickly change strategy.

You can choose to use Poor Man's DI if you only have a few dependencies, or you can choose to use a full-blown DI Container. Used in this fashion, you will have no dependency on any particular DI Container, so the choice becomes less crucial in terms of maintainability.

A DI Container helps you manage complextity, including object lifetime. Used like described here, it doesn't do anything you couldn't write in hand, but it does it better and more succinctly. As such, my threshold for when to start using a DI Container would be pretty low.

I would start using a DI Container once I get past a few dependencies. Most of them are pretty easy to get started with anyway.

Update: My November 2012 answer to that question.

Sunday, September 12, 2021
answered 3 Months ago
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