Exploring dependency injection in .NET

• 6 minutes read C#.NET


Microsoft provides a nifty set of dependency injection framework abstractions, as well as a default service container (IoC) implementation. Because of this architecture, it does however allow you to plug in your favorite dependency framework, like Autofac.

We will cover the ServiceCollection, ServiceProvider, service lifetimes, and scopes.

For the code to run in a Console application, you need to add a package reference:

<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection" Version="7.0.0" />

Though, ASP.NET Core already references that packages.


  1. What is dependency injection?
  2. What is inversion of control?
  3. ServiceCollection
    1. Adding services
    2. Registering unbound generic types
    3. Assert that a service is added just once
    4. Manipulating the service collection
    5. Service lifetimes
  4. ServiceProvider
    1. Resolving an instance of a service
    2. Resolving all instances of a service type
    3. Disposing services
    4. Service scopes
    5. Keyed services
  5. Dependency injection in ASP.NET Core
  6. Using Autofac as service container
  7. Conclusion

What is Dependency injection?

Dependency injection simply means that we inject a service (or dependency) into another class, like via constructors, or parameters.

This is constructor injection, in which a dependency is injected as a parameter in the constructor:

var todoService = new TodoService();
var todoController = new TodoController(todoService);

There are several types of dependency injection:

  • Constructor injection - as demonstrated above
  • Field or Property injection - into a field, or a property
  • Method parameter injection - as a parameter into a method

The framework that is covered only supports constructor injection. But there are places like in Blazor, where services can be injected into properties. That is not ultimately handled by this framework, although it uses it.

Unit testing

Dependency injection is especially useful when doing unit testing. Since you can pass mock instances into the class.

What is Inversion of control?

The default way of creating ("newing up") an object in a class would be like this:

class Foo 
    Bar bar = new Bar();

This has its downsides. The object is created inside the class, and you have no easy way of controlling what type you are instantiating. What if you need to switch that type and its implementation out for another type when doing testing, or perhaps when running on another platform?

What if we instead could hand over that control of creating the object to an external service, that is inverting the control.

The "How" gets clear when you combine it with dependency injection:

class Foo(Bar bar)
    Bar bar = bar;

And you will be injecting the service Bar like this:

var bar = new Bar();
var foo = new Foo(bar);

Of course, you might inject types by interface.

We may get a service instance from a service provider - a so called IoC container.

As demonstrated below, you request an instance of a service from the service container, and it creates the object, resolves the service dependencies that are to be passed into it as parameters.

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();


var serviceProvider = services.BuildServiceProvider();

var foo = serviceProvider.GetService<Foo>();

var bar = foo.Bar;

var foo2 = serviceProvider.GetService<Foo>();

var bar2 = foo2.Bar;

Console.WriteLine($"Same Foo: {foo == foo2}");
Console.WriteLine($"Same Boo: {bar == bar2}");

// Same Foo: false
// Same Bar: true

As you can see, Bar has a singleton lifetime, so there will only be one instance of it within the container.

While Foo is transient, and a new instance is created each time when being requested.

We will go through service lifetimes.


Let's dig into the service collection, what it is, and how to use it.

Adding services

In its simplest form you call a method:

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();

// Service type

There are 4 essential ways of registering a service, and it will decide the way it is being created.

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();

// Service type


// Service type and implementation type
services.AddTransient(typeof(IFoo), typeof(Foo));

services.AddTransient<IFoo, Foo>();

// Factory
services.AddTransient(serviceProvider => new Foo());

// Instance
services.AddTransient(new Foo());

// The above are aliases for inserting a ServiceDescriptor
services.Insert(0, new ServiceDescriptor(typeof(Foo), typeof(Foo), ServiceLifetime.Scoped));

The factory overload makes it possible to control service creation. It is a delegate that receives the actual IServiceProvider as an argument so you can resolve services, and return the created service.

Registering unbound generic types

You can register unbound (or open) generic types, and resolve a instance with type parameter.

This is ideal for repositories, and factory types. The standard ILogger<T> interface has been registered this way.

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();

services.AddScoped(typeof(IRepository<>), typeof(Repository<>));

var serviceProvider = services.BuildServiceProvider();

var fooRepository = serviceProvider.GetService<IRepository<Foo>>();

class Foo {}

interface IRepository<T> {}

class Repository<T> : IRepository<T> {}

Assert that a service is added just once

The order you add dependencies will matter if you register the same service type twice.

To prevent problems with double-registration you can use the TryAdd overloads that tries to add a service, and returns a boolean value telling whether the service was added, or not.

bool added = services.TryAddTransient<Foo>(); // True
bool added2 = services.TryAddTransient<Foo>(); // False

If you want to register and resolve multiple instances of the same service type, you can. We will talk about that down below.

Manipulating the service collection

It happens sometimes that you need to remove, replace, or reorder dependencies, during the registration. For that you can query for the service descriptor, and then remove the descriptor.


var serviceDescriptor = services.FirstOrDefault(descriptor => descriptor.ServiceType == typeof(Foo));

Service lifetimes

There are 3 service lifetimes that each determine the creation and lifetime of a requested service:

  • Singleton - there will be one shared instance of a service
  • Transient - get a new service each time requested
  • Scoped - the instance is bound to a scope (explained later)

These are the specific methods that can be used to register services with the lifetimes:

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();




The overloads mentioned above are available for all variants.

In order to be able to resolve instances, the lifetimes must be compatible. You can't resolve scoped services from singletons, for obvious reasons.


The actual instances are created and managed by the ServiceProvider. You have already seen this is previous examples, but let's dive deeper into this.

Resolving an instance of a service

Here are the methods that can be used when resolving services:

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();


var serviceProvider = services.BuildServiceProvider();

// GetService (Non-generic)
var foo = (Foo)serviceProvider.GetService(typeof(Foo));

// GetService (Generic)
var foo2 = serviceProvider.GetService<Foo>();

// This will throw an exception if service type has not been registered
var foo3 = serviceProvider.GetRequiredService<Foo>();

You can't add or register new services to an existing service provider.

Resolving all instances of a service type

Sometimes you might have multiple services that are deriving from the same class, or implementing the same interface. So you register the implementing classes as having the same service type:

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();

services.AddTransient<IEndpoint, FooEndpoint>();
services.AddTransient<IEndpoint, BarEndpoint>();

var serviceProvider = services.BuildServiceProvider();

In order for you to obtain all the instances you can resolve them in a collection, like so:

var endpoints = serviceProvider.GetService<IEnumerable<IEndpoint>>();

This is a common pattern in many frameworks. You might multiple handler classes or provider classes that participate in dependency injection.

We can distinguish multiple instances with keyed services.

Disposing services

The framework will handle the disposal of any services, by calling Dispose on services that implement IDisposable.

There is one exception though:

When you provide an already instantiated object (Instance) that implements IDisposable, the container will not call the Dispose method. You just have to deal with it yourself, or register it as a factory.

Service scopes

You can limit a service's lifetime to scopes that you open in your app.

In ASP.NET Core, each request has its own scope, to which certain services are bound. Meaning they get created when the request starts, and disposed when the request has finished. HttpContext is an example of such a service.

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();


var serviceProvider = services.BuildServiceProvider();

// Create a scope

using(var scope = serviceProvider.CreateScope()) 
    var foo = scope.ServiceProvider.GetService<Foo>();

// New scope

using(var scope = serviceProvider.CreateScope()) 
    // New instance
    var foo2 = scope.ServiceProvider.GetService<Foo>();

As mentioned, you can't resolve scoped services from singletons.

Keyed services

From .NET 8 and on, you can register services with keys. Meaning that you can register multiple instances of the same service type with different keys.

The keys themselves can be of any type of object, or value, not just strings.

using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;

ServiceCollection services = new ();


services.AddKeyedSingleton<IFoo, Foo1>("foo1");

services.AddKeyedSingleton<IFoo, Foo2>("foo2");

var serviceProvider = services.BuildServiceProvider();

var foo1 = serviceProvider.GetKeyedService<IFoo>("foo1");

var foo2 = serviceProvider.GetKeyedService<IFoo>("foo2");

Console.WriteLine($"Equal: {foo1 == foo2}"); // False

You can use the FromKeyedServices attribute to specify what instance to inject as parameter in constructors.

// Uses the key "foo1" to select the IFoo specifically
public class Consumer([FromKeyedServices("foo1")] IFoo foo)

Dependency injection in ASP.NET Core

ASP.NET Core has dependency injection and IoC built in. The WebApplicationBuilder has its own ServiceCollection, and the built app will have its own ServiceProvider.

The framework will try to resolve endpoint parameters with the service provider.

var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder(args);


var app = builder.Build();

// Retrieve the ServiceProvider.
// var services = app.Services;

app.MapGet("/foo", (Foo foo) => foo.Name);


There is also a generic app builder, without ASP.NET Core. It has a similar interface, but for console apps, and services.

Using Autofac as service container

With the introduction of keyed services, there is not as much of need to choose another service container - except for preferences. But the option to use, for instance, Autofac is there:

var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder(args);

builder.Host.UseServiceProviderFactory(new AutofacServiceProviderFactory());

// Register services directly with Autofac here. Don't
// call builder.Populate(), that happens in AutofacServiceProviderFactory.
builder.Host.ConfigureContainer<ContainerBuilder>(builder => builder.RegisterModule(new MyApplicationModule()));

var app = builder.Build();

public class MyApplicationModule : Module
  public bool ObeySpeedLimit { get; set; }

  protected override void Load(ContainerBuilder builder)
    builder.Register(c => new Car(c.Resolve<IDriver>())).As<IVehicle>();

    if (ObeySpeedLimit)

This will allow you to use the IServiceProviderabstraction with Autofac.


This was an introduction of dependency injection in .NET.

Do you have any thoughts, or questions? Please, leave them below. :)

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