Dapr reference application


This content is an excerpt from the eBook, Dapr for .NET Developers, available on .NET Docs or as a free downloadable PDF that can be read offline.

Dapr for .NET Developers eBook cover thumbnail.

Over the course of this book, you've learned about the foundational benefits of Dapr. You saw how Dapr can help you and your team construct distributed applications while reducing architectural and operational complexity. Along the way, you've had the opportunity to build some small Dapr apps. Now, it's time to explore how a more complex application can benefit from Dapr.

But, first a little history.


Several years ago, Microsoft, in partnership with leading community experts, released a popular guidance book, entitled .NET Microservices for Containerized .NET Applications. Figure 12-1 shows the book:

Architecting containerized microservice .NET applications.

Figure 12-1. .NET Microservices: Architecture for Containerized .NET Applications.

The book dove deep into the principles, patterns, and best practices for building distributed applications. It included a full-featured microservice reference application that showcased the architectural concepts. Entitled, eShopOnContainers, the application hosts an e-Commerce storefront that sells various items, including clothing and coffee mugs. Built in .NET, the application is cross-platform and can run in either Linux or Windows containers. Figure 12-2 shows the original eShop architecture.

eShopOnContainers reference application architecture.

Figure 12-2. Original ShopOnContainers reference application.

As you can see, eShopOnContainers includes many moving parts:

  1. Three different frontend clients.
  2. An application gateway to abstract backend services from the frontend.
  3. Several backend core microservices.
  4. An event bus component that enables asynchronous pub/sub messaging.

The eShopOnContainers reference application has been widely accepted across the .NET community and used to model many large commercial microservice applications.


An updated version of eShop accompanies this book. It's called eShopOnDapr. The update evolves the earlier eShopOnContainers application by integrating Dapr building blocks. Figure 12-3 shows the new solution architecture:

eShopOnDapr reference application architecture.

Figure 12-3. eShopOnDapr reference application architecture.

While eShopOnDapr focuses on Dapr, the architecture has also been streamlined and simplified.

  1. A Single Page Application running on Blazor WebAssembly sends user requests to an API gateway.

  2. The API gateway abstracts the backend core microservices from the frontend client. It's implemented using Envoy, a high performant, open-source service proxy. Envoy routes incoming requests to backend microservices. Most requests are simple CRUD operations (for example, get the list of brands from the catalog) and handled by a direct call to a backend microservice.

  3. Other requests are more logically complex and require multiple microservice calls to work together. For these cases, eShopOnDapr implements an aggregator microservice that orchestrates a workflow across those microservices needed to complete the operation.

  4. The core backend microservices implement the required functionality for an e-Commerce store. Each is self-contained and independent of the others. Following widely accepted domain decomposition patterns, each microservice isolates a specific business capability:

    • The basket service manages the customer's shopping basket experience.
    • The catalog service manages product items available for sale.
    • The identity service manages authentication and identity.
    • The ordering service handles all aspects of placing and managing orders.
    • The payment service transacts the customer's payment.
  5. Adhering to best practices, each microservice maintains its own persistent storage. The application doesn't share a single datastore.

  6. Finally, the event bus wraps the Dapr publish/subscribe components. It enables asynchronous publish/subscribe messaging across microservices. Developers can plug in any Dapr-supported message broker component.

Application of Dapr building blocks

In eShopOnDapr, Dapr building blocks replace a large amount of complex, error-prone plumbing code.

Figure 12-4 shows the Dapr integration in the application.

eShopOnDapr reference application architecture

Figure 12-4. Dapr integration in eShopOnDapr.

The above figure shows the Dapr building blocks (represented as green numbered boxes) that each eShopOnDapr service consumes.

  1. The API gateway and web shopping aggregator services use the service invocation building block to invoke methods on the backend services.
  2. The backend services communicate asynchronously using the publish & subscribe building block.
  3. The basket service uses the state management building block to store the state of the customer's shopping basket.
  4. The original eShopOnContainers demonstrates DDD concepts and patterns in the ordering service. eShopOnDapr uses the actor building block as an alternative implementation. The turn-based access model of actors makes it easy to implement a stateful ordering process with support for cancellation.
  5. The ordering service sends order confirmation e-mails using the bindings building block.
  6. Secret management is done by the secrets building block.

The following sections provide more detail on how the Dapr building blocks are applied in eShopOnDapr.

State management

In eShopOnDapr, the Basket service uses the state management building block to persist the contents of the customer's shopping basket. The original eShopOnContainers architecture used an IBasketRepository interface to read and write data for the basket service. The RedisBasketRepository class provided the implementation using Redis as the underlying data store. To compare and contrast, the original eShopOnContainers implementation is presented below:

public class RedisBasketRepository : IBasketRepository
    private readonly ConnectionMultiplexer _redis;
    private readonly IDatabase _database;

    public RedisBasketRepository(ConnectionMultiplexer redis)
        _redis = redis;
        _database = redis.GetDatabase();

    public async Task<CustomerBasket> GetBasketAsync(string customerId)
        var data = await _database.StringGetAsync(customerId);

        if (data.IsNullOrEmpty)
            return null;

        return JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<CustomerBasket>(data);

    // ...

This code uses the third party StackExchange.Redis NuGet package. The following steps are required to load the shopping basket for a given customer:

  1. Inject a Redis ConnectionMultiplexer into the constructor. The ConnectionMultiplexer is registered with the dependency injection framework in the Program.cs file:

    services.AddSingleton<ConnectionMultiplexer>(sp =>
        var settings = sp.GetRequiredService<IOptions<BasketSettings>>().Value;
        var configuration = ConfigurationOptions.Parse(settings.ConnectionString, true);
        configuration.ResolveDns = true;
        return ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect(configuration);
  2. Use the ConnectionMultiplexer to create an IDatabase instance in each consuming class.

  3. Use the IDatabase instance to execute a Redis StringGet call using the given customerId as the key.

  4. Check if data is loaded from Redis; if not, return null.

  5. Deserialize the data from Redis to a CustomerBasket object and return the result.

In the updated eShopOnDapr reference application, a new DaprBasketRepository class replaces the RedisBasketRepository class:

public class DaprBasketRepository : IBasketRepository
    private const string StoreName = "eshop-statestore";

    private readonly DaprClient _daprClient;

    public DaprBasketRepository(DaprClient daprClient)
        _daprClient = daprClient;

    public Task<CustomerBasket> GetBasketAsync(string customerId) =>
        _daprClient.GetStateAsync<CustomerBasket>(StoreName, customerId);

    // ...

The updated code uses the Dapr .NET SDK to read and write data using the state management building block. The new steps to load the basket for a customer are dramatically simplified:

  1. Inject a DaprClient into the constructor. The DaprClient is registered with the dependency injection framework in the Program.cs`_ file.
  2. Use the DaprClient.GetStateAsync method to load the customer's shopping basket items from the configured state store and return the result.

The updated implementation still uses Redis as the underlying data store. But, note how Dapr abstracts the StackExchange.Redis references and complexity from the application. The application no longer requires a direct dependency on Redis. A Dapr configuration file is all that's needed:

apiVersion: dapr.io/v1alpha1
kind: Component
  name: eshop-statestore
  namespace: eshop
  type: state.redis
  version: v1
  - name: redisHost
    value: redis:6379
  - name: redisPassword
      name: redisPassword
  secretStore: eshop-secretstore

The Dapr implementation also simplifies changing the underlying data store. Switching to Azure Table Storage, for example, requires only changing the contents of the configuration file. No code changes are necessary.

Service invocation

The original eShopOnContainers used a mix of HTTP/REST and gRPC services. The use of gRPC was limited to communication between an aggregator service and core backend services. Figure 12-5 shows the original architecture:

gRPC and HTTP/REST calls in eShopOnContainers.

Figure 12-5. gRPC and HTTP/REST calls in eShopOnContainers.

Note the steps from the previous figure:

  1. The frontend calls the API gateway using HTTP/REST.

  2. The API gateway forwards simple CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) requests directly to a core backend service using HTTP/REST.

  3. The API gateway forwards complex requests that involve coordinated backend service calls to the web shopping aggregator service.

  4. The aggregator service uses gRPC to call core backend services.

In the updated eShopOnDapr implementation, Dapr sidecars are added to the services and API gateway. Figure 12-6 show the updated architecture:

gRPC and HTTP/REST calls with sidecars in eShopOnContainers.

Figure 12-6. Updated eShop architecture using Dapr.

Note the updated steps from the previous figure:

  1. The frontend still uses HTTP/REST to call the API gateway.

  2. The API gateway forwards HTTP requests to its Dapr sidecar.

  3. The API gateway sidecar sends the request to the sidecar of the aggregator or backend service.

  4. The aggregator service uses the Dapr .NET SDK to call backend services through their sidecar architecture.

Dapr implements calls between sidecars with gRPC. So even if you're invoking a remote service with HTTP/REST semantics, a part of the transport is implemented using gRPC.

The eShopOnDapr reference application benefits from the Dapr service invocation building block. The benefits also include service discovery, automatic mTLS, and built-in observability.

Forward HTTP requests using Envoy and Dapr

Both the original and updated eShop application leverage the Envoy proxy as an API gateway. Envoy is an open-source proxy and communication bus that is popular across modern distributed applications. Originating from Lyft, Envoy is owned and maintained by the Cloud-Native Computing Foundation.

In the original eShopOnContainers implementation, the Envoy API gateway forwarded incoming HTTP requests directly to aggregator or backend services. In the new eShopOnDapr, the Envoy proxy forwards the request to a Dapr sidecar.

Envoy is configured using a YAML definition file to control the proxy's behavior. To enable Envoy to forward HTTP requests to a Dapr sidecar container, a dapr cluster is added to the configuration. The cluster configuration contains a host that points to the HTTP port on which the Dapr sidecar is listening:

- name: dapr
  connect_timeout: 0.25s
  type: strict_dns
  - socket_address:
    port_value: 3500

The Envoy route configuration is updated to rewrite incoming requests as calls to the Dapr sidecar (pay close attention to the prefix_rewrite key/value pair):

- name: "c-short"
    prefix: "/c/"
    auto_host_rewrite: true
    prefix_rewrite: "/v1.0/invoke/catalog-api/method/"
    cluster: dapr

Consider a scenario where the frontend client wants to retrieve a list of catalog items. The Catalog API provides an endpoint for getting the catalog items:

public class CatalogController : ControllerBase

    [ProducesResponseType(typeof(PaginatedItemsViewModel), (int)HttpStatusCode.OK)]
    public async Task<PaginatedItemsViewModel> ItemsAsync(
        [FromQuery] int typeId = -1,
        [FromQuery] int brandId = -1,
        [FromQuery] int pageSize = 10,
        [FromQuery] int pageIndex = 0)
        // ...

First, the frontend makes a direct HTTP call to the Envoy API gateway.

GET http://<api-gateway>/c/api/v1/catalog/items

The Envoy proxy matches the route, rewrites the HTTP request, and forwards it to the invoke API of its Dapr sidecar:


The sidecar handles service discovery and routes the request to the Catalog API sidecar. Finally, the sidecar calls the Catalog API to execute the request, fetch catalog items, and return a response:

GET http://localhost/api/v1/catalog/items

Make aggregated service calls using the .NET SDK

Most calls from the eShop frontend are simple CRUD calls. The API gateway forwards them to a single service for processing. Some scenarios, however, require multiple backend services to work together to complete a request. For the more complex calls, the web shopping aggregator service mediates the cross service workflow. Figure 12-7 show the processing sequence of adding an item to your shopping basket:

Backend call requiring multiple services.

Figure 12-7. Backend call requiring multiple services.

The aggregator service first retrieves catalog items from the Catalog API. It then validates item availability and pricing. Finally, the aggregator service updates the shopping basket by calling the Basket API.

The aggregator service contains a BasketController that provides an endpoint for updating the shopping basket:

public class BasketController : ControllerBase
    private readonly ICatalogService _catalog;
    private readonly IBasketService _basket;

    [ProducesResponseType(typeof(BasketData), (int)HttpStatusCode.OK)]
    public async Task<ActionResult<BasketData>> UpdateAllBasketAsync(
        [FromBody] UpdateBasketRequest data,
        [FromHeader] string authorization)
        BasketData basket;

        if (data.Items is null || !data.Items.Any())
            basket = new();
            // Get the item details from the catalog API.
            var catalogItems = await _catalog.GetCatalogItemsAsync(
                data.Items.Select(x => x.ProductId));

            if (catalogItems == null)
                return BadRequest(
                    "Catalog items were not available for the specified items in the basket.");

            // Check item availability and prices; store results in basket object.
            basket = CreateValidatedBasket(data.Items, catalogItems);

        // Save the updated shopping basket.
        await _basket.UpdateAsync(basket, authorization.Substring("Bearer ".Length));

        return basket;

    // ...

The UpdateAllBasketAsync method gets the Authorization header of the incoming request using a FromHeader attribute. The Authorization header contains the access token that is needed to call protected backend services.

After receiving a request to update the basket, the aggregator service calls the Catalog API to get the item details. The Basket controller uses an injected ICatalogService object to make that call and communicate with the Catalog API. The original implementation of the interface used gRPC to make the call. The updated implementation uses Dapr service invocation with HttpClient support:

public class CatalogService : ICatalogService
    private readonly HttpClient _httpClient;

    public CatalogService(HttpClient httpClient)
        _httpClient = httpClient;

    public Task<IEnumerable<CatalogItem>> GetCatalogItemsAsync(IEnumerable<int> ids)
        var requestUri = $"api/v1/catalog/items/by_ids?ids={string.Join(",", ids)}";

        return _httpClient.GetFromJsonAsync<IEnumerable<CatalogItem>>(requestUri);

    // ...

Notice how no Dapr-specific code is required to make the service invocation call. All communication is done using the standard HttpClient object.

The Dapr HttpClient is configured for the CatalogService class on program startup:

builder.Services.AddSingleton<ICatalogService, CatalogService>(
    _ => new CatalogService(DaprClient.CreateInvokeHttpClient("catalog-api")));

The other call made by the aggregator service is to the Basket API. It only allows authorized requests. The access token is passed along in an Authorization request header to ensure the call succeeds:

public class BasketService : IBasketService
    public Task UpdateAsync(BasketData currentBasket, string accessToken)
        var request = new HttpRequestMessage(HttpMethod.Post, "api/v1/basket")
            Content = JsonContent.Create(currentBasket)
        request.Headers.Authorization = new AuthenticationHeaderValue("Bearer", accessToken);

        var response = await _httpClient.SendAsync(request);

    // ...

In this example too, only standard HttpClient functionality is used to call the service. This allows developers who are already familiar with HttpClient to reuse their existing skills. It even enables existing HttpClient code to use Dapr service invocation without making any changes.

Publish & subscribe

Both eShopOnContainers and eShopOnDapr use the pub/sub pattern for communicating integration events across microservices. Integration events include:

  • When a user checks-out a shopping basket.
  • When a payment for an order has succeeded.
  • When the grace-period of a purchase has expired.


Think of an Integration Event as an event that takes place across multiple services.

Eventing in eShopOnContainers is based on the following IEventBus interface:

public interface IEventBus
    void Publish(IntegrationEvent integrationEvent);

    void Subscribe<T, THandler>()
        where TEvent : IntegrationEvent
        where THandler : IIntegrationEventHandler<T>;

Concrete implementations of this interface for both RabbitMQ and Azure Service Bus are found in eShopOnContainers. Each implementation included a large amount of custom plumbing code that was complex to understand and difficult to maintain.

The newer eShopOnDapr significantly simplifies pub/sub behavior by using Dapr. To start, the IEventBus interface was reduced to a single method:

public interface IEventBus
    Task PublishAsync(IntegrationEvent integrationEvent);

Publish events

In eShopOnDapr, a single DaprEventBus implementation can support any Dapr-supported message broker. The following code block shows the simplified Publish method. Note how the PublishAsync method uses the Dapr client to publish an event:

public class DaprEventBus : IEventBus
    private const string DAPR_PUBSUB_NAME = "pubsub";

    private readonly DaprClient _dapr;
    private readonly ILogger _logger;

    public DaprEventBus(DaprClient dapr, ILogger<DaprEventBus> logger)
        _dapr = dapr;
        _logger = logger;

    public async Task PublishAsync(IntegrationEvent integrationEvent)
        var topicName = integrationEvent.GetType().Name;

            "Publishing event {@Event} to {PubsubName}.{TopicName}",

        // We need to make sure that we pass the concrete type to PublishEventAsync,
        // which can be accomplished by casting the event to dynamic. This ensures
        // that all event fields are properly serialized.
        await _dapr.PublishEventAsync(DAPR_PUBSUB_NAME, topicName, (object)integrationEvent);

As you can see in the code snippet, the topic name is derived from event type's name. Because all eShop services use the IEventBus abstraction, retrofitting Dapr required absolutely no change to the mainline application code.


The Dapr SDK uses System.Text.Json to serialize/deserialize messages. However, System.Text.Json doesn't serialize properties of derived classes by default. In the eShop code, an event is sometimes explicitly declared as an IntegrationEvent, the base class for integration events. This construct allows the concrete event type to be determined dynamically at run time based on business logic. As a result, the event is serialized using the type information of the base class and not the derived class. To force System.Text.Json to serialize the properties of both the base and derived class, the code uses object as the generic type parameter. For more information, see the .NET documentation.

With Dapr, pub/sub infrastructure code is dramatically simplified. The application doesn't need to distinguish between message brokers. Dapr provides this abstraction for you. If needed, you can easily swap out message brokers or configure multiple message broker components with no code changes.

Subscribe to events

The earlier eShopOnContainers app contains SubscriptionManagers to handle the subscription implementation for each message broker. Each manager contains complex message broker-specific code for handling subscription events. To receive events, each service has to explicitly register a handler for each event-type.

eShopOnDapr streamlines the plumbing for event subscriptions by using Dapr ASP.NET Core integration. Each event is handled by an action method in a controller. A Topic attribute decorates the action method with the name of the corresponding topic. Here's a code snippet taken from the PaymentService:

public class IntegrationEventController : ControllerBase
    private const string DAPR_PUBSUB_NAME = "pubsub";

    [Topic(DAPR_PUBSUB_NAME, nameof(OrderStatusChangedToValidatedIntegrationEvent))]
    public Task HandleAsync(
        OrderStatusChangedToValidatedIntegrationEvent integrationEvent,
        [FromServices] OrderStatusChangedToValidatedIntegrationEventHandler handler) =>

In the Topic attribute, the name of the .NET type of the event is used as the topic name. For handling the event, an event handler that already existed in the earlier eShopOnContainers code base is resolved using dependency injection and invoked. In the previous example, messages received from the OrderStatusChangedToValidatedIntegrationEvent topic invoke the existing OrderStatusChangedToValidatedIntegrationEventHandler event handler. Because Dapr implements the underlying plumbing for subscriptions and message brokers, a large amount of original code became obsolete and was removed from the code-base. Much of this code was complex to understand and challenging to maintain.

Use pub/sub components

Within the eShopOnDapr repository, a deployment folder contains files for deploying the application using different deployment modes: Docker Compose and Kubernetes. A dapr folder exists within each of these folders that holds a components folder. This folder holds a file eshop-pubsub.yaml. It specifies the Dapr pub/sub component that the application will use for pub/sub behavior. As you saw in the earlier code snippets, the name of the pub/sub component used is pubsub. Here's the content of the eshop-pubsub.yaml file in the deployment/compose/dapr/components folder:

apiVersion: dapr.io/v1alpha1
kind: Component
  name: pubsub
  namespace: eshop
  type: pubsub.rabbitmq
  version: v1
  - name: host
    value: "amqp://rabbitmq:5672"

The configuration specifies RabbitMQ as the underlying infrastructure. To change message brokers, you need only to configure a different message broker, such as NATS or Azure Service Bus and update the yaml file. With Dapr, there are no changes to your mainline service code when switching message brokers.

You can also easily use multiple message brokers in a single application. Many times a system will handle workloads with different characteristics. One event may occur 10 times a day, but another event occurs 5,000 times per second. You may benefit by partitioning messaging traffic to different message brokers. With Dapr, you can add multiple pub/sub component configurations, each with a different name.


eShopOnDapr uses the bindings building block for sending e-mails. When a user places an order, the application sends an order confirmation e-mail using the SMTP output binding. You can find this binding in the eshop-email.yaml file in the components folder:

apiVersion: dapr.io/v1alpha1
kind: Component
  name: sendmail
  namespace: eshop
  type: bindings.smtp
  version: v1
  - name: host
    value: maildev
  - name: port
    value: 25
  - name: user
      name: Smtp.User
      key: Smtp.User
  - name: password
      name: Smtp.Password
      key: Smtp.Password
  - name: skipTLSVerify
    value: true
  secretStore: eshop-secretstore
- ordering-api

Dapr gets the username and password for connecting to the SMTP server from a secret reference. This approach keeps secrets outside of the configuration file. To learn more about Dapr secrets, read the secrets building block chapter.

The binding configuration specifies a binding component that can be invoked using the /sendmail endpoint on the Dapr sidecar. Here's a code snippet in which an email is sent whenever an order is started:

public Task Handle(OrderStartedDomainEvent notification, CancellationToken cancellationToken)
    var message = CreateEmailBody(notification);
    var metadata = new Dictionary<string, string>
        ["emailFrom"] = "eShopOn@dapr.io",
        ["emailTo" = notification.UserName,
        ["subject"] = $"Your eShopOnDapr order #{notification.Order.Id}"
    return _daprClient.InvokeBindingAsync("sendmail", "create", message, metadata, cancellationToken);

public Task SendOrderConfirmationAsync(Order order)
    var message = CreateEmailBody(order);

    return _daprClient.InvokeBindingAsync(
        new Dictionary<string, string>
            ["emailFrom"] = "eshopondapr@example.com",
            ["emailTo"] = order.BuyerEmail,
            ["subject"] = $"Your eShopOnDapr Order #{order.OrderNumber}"

As you can see in this example, message contains the message body. The CreateEmailBody method simply formats a string with the body text. The name of the binding to invoke is sendmail and the operation is create. The metadata specifies the email sender, recipient, and subject for the email message. If these values are static, they can also be included in the metadata fields in the configuration file.


In the original eShopOnContainers solution, the Ordering service provides a great example of how to use DDD design patterns in a .NET microservice. As the updated eShopOnDapr focuses on Dapr, the Ordering service now uses the actors building block to implement its business logic.

The ordering process consists of the following steps:

  1. The customer submits the order. There's a grace period before any further processing occurs. During the grace period, the customer can cancel the order.
  2. The system checks that there's available stock.
  3. The system processes the payment.
  4. The system ships the order.

The process is implemented using a single OrderingProcessActor actor type. Here's the interface for the actor:

public interface IOrderingProcessActor : IActor
    Task SubmitAsync(
        string userId, string userName, string street, string city,
        string zipCode, string state, string country, CustomerBasket basket);

    Task NotifyStockConfirmedAsync();

    Task NotifyStockRejectedAsync(List<int> rejectedProductIds);

    Task NotifyPaymentSucceededAsync();

    Task NotifyPaymentFailedAsync();

    Task<bool> CancelAsync();

    Task<bool> ShipAsync();

    Task<Order> GetOrderDetailsAsync();

The process is started when a customer checks out some products. Upon checkout, the Basket service publishes a UserCheckoutAcceptedIntegrationEvent message using the Dapr pub/sub building block. The Ordering service handles the message in the OrderingProcessEventController class and calls the SubmitAsync method of the actor:

[Topic(DaprPubSubName, "UserCheckoutAcceptedIntegrationEvent")]
public async Task HandleAsync(UserCheckoutAcceptedIntegrationEvent integrationEvent)
    if (integrationEvent.RequestId != Guid.Empty)
        var actorId = new ActorId(integrationEvent.RequestId.ToString());
        var orderingProcess = _actorProxyFactory.CreateActorProxy<IOrderingProcessActor>(

        await orderingProcess.SubmitAsync(integrationEvent.UserId, integrationEvent.UserName,
            integrationEvent.Street, integrationEvent.City, integrationEvent.ZipCode,
            integrationEvent.State, integrationEvent.Country, integrationEvent.Basket);
            "Invalid IntegrationEvent - RequestId is missing - {@IntegrationEvent}",

In the example above, the Ordering service first uses the original request ID from the UserCheckoutAcceptedIntegrationEvent message as the actor ID. The handler uses the ActorId to create an actor proxy and invokes the SubmitAsync method. The following snippet shows the implementation of the SubmitAsync method:

public async Task SubmitAsync(
    string buyerId,
    string buyerEmail,
    string street,
    string city,
    string state,
    string country,
    CustomerBasket basket)
    var orderState = new OrderState
        OrderDate = DateTime.UtcNow,
        OrderStatus = OrderStatus.Submitted,
        Description = "Submitted",
        Address = new OrderAddressState
            Street = street,
            City = city,
            State = state,
            Country = country
        BuyerId = buyerId,
        BuyerEmail = buyerEmail,
        OrderItems = basket.Items
            .Select(item => new OrderItemState
                ProductId = item.ProductId,
                ProductName = item.ProductName,
                UnitPrice = item.UnitPrice,
                Units = item.Quantity,
                PictureFileName = item.PictureFileName

    await StateManager.SetStateAsync(OrderDetailsStateName, orderState);
    await StateManager.SetStateAsync(OrderStatusStateName, OrderStatus.Submitted);

    await RegisterReminderAsync(

    await _eventBus.PublishAsync(new OrderStatusChangedToSubmittedIntegrationEvent(

There's a lot going on in the Submit method:

  1. The method takes the given arguments to create an OrderState object and saves it in the actor state.
  2. The method saves the current status of the process (OrderStatus.Submitted) in the actor state.
  3. The method registers a reminder to signal the end of the grace period. Order processing is delayed until the end of the grace period to deal with customers changing their mind.
  4. Lastly, the method publishes an OrderStatusChangedToSubmittedIntegrationEvent to notify other services of the status change.

When the reminder for the grace period ending fires, the actor runtime calls the ReceiveReminderAsync method:

public Task ReceiveReminderAsync(
    string reminderName, byte[] state, TimeSpan dueTime, TimeSpan period)
    return reminderName switch
        GracePeriodElapsedReminder => OnGracePeriodElapsedAsync(),
        StockConfirmedReminder => OnStockConfirmedSimulatedWorkDoneAsync(),
        StockRejectedReminder => OnStockRejectedSimulatedWorkDoneAsync(
        PaymentSucceededReminder => OnPaymentSucceededSimulatedWorkDoneAsync(),
        PaymentFailedReminder => OnPaymentFailedSimulatedWorkDoneAsync(),
        _ => Task.CompletedTask

As shown in the snippet above, the ReceiveReminderAsync method handles not just the grace period reminder. The actor also uses reminders to simulate background work and introduce some delays in the ordering process. This makes the process easier to follow in the eShopOnDapr UI where notifications are shown for each status update. The ReceiveReminderAsync method uses the reminder name to determine which method handles the reminder. The grace period reminder is handled by the OnGracePeriodElapsedAsync method:

public async Task OnGracePeriodElapsedAsync()
    var statusChanged = await TryUpdateOrderStatusAsync(
        OrderStatus.Submitted, OrderStatus.AwaitingStockValidation);
    if (statusChanged)
        var order = await StateManager.GetStateAsync<Order>(OrderDetailsStateName);

        await _eventBus.PublishAsync(new OrderStatusChangedToAwaitingStockValidationIntegrationEvent(
            "Grace period elapsed; waiting for stock validation.",
                .Select(orderItem => new OrderStockItem(orderItem.ProductId, orderItem.Units))));

The OnGracePeriodElapsedAsync method first tries to update the order status to the new AwaitingStockValidation status. If that succeeds, it retrieves the order details from state and publishes an OrderStatusChangedToAwaitingStockValidationIntegrationEvent to inform other service of the status change. For example, the Category service subscribes to this event to check the available stock.

Let's look at the TryUpdateOrderStatusAsync method to see under which circumstances it may fail to update the order status:

private async Task<bool> TryUpdateOrderStatusAsync(OrderStatus expectedOrderStatus, OrderStatus newOrderStatus)
    var orderStatus = await StateManager.TryGetStateAsync<OrderStatus>(OrderStatusStateName);
    if (!orderStatus.HasValue)
            "Order with Id: {OrderId} cannot be updated because it doesn't exist",

        return false;

    if (orderStatus.Value.Id != expectedOrderStatus.Id)
            "Order with Id: {OrderId} is in status {Status} instead of expected status {ExpectedStatus}",
            OrderId, orderStatus.Value.Name, expectedOrderStatus.Name);

        return false;

    await StateManager.SetStateAsync(OrderStatusStateName, newOrderStatus);

    return true;

First, the TryUpdateOrderStatusAsync method checks whether there even is a current order status. If there isn't, the order doesn't exist. This is a fail-safe that should not happen with normal application usage. Then, the method checks whether the current order status is the status that we expected. Remember that the ordering process is driven by events using the Dapr pub/sub building block. Event delivery uses at-least-once semantics, so a single message could be received multiple times. The order status check ensures that even when the same message is received multiple times, it is only processed once.

The other steps in the ordering process are all implemented in a very similar way to the grace period step. In the next sections, we'll look at some other aspects of the ordering process, namely cancellation and viewing order details.

Order cancellation

Customers are allowed to cancel any order that has not been paid or shipped yet. The OrdersController class handles incoming order cancellations. It invokes the CancelAsync method on the OrderingProcessActor instance for the given order.

public async Task<bool> CancelAsync()
    var orderStatus = await StateManager.TryGetStateAsync<OrderStatus>(OrderStatusStateName);
    if (!orderStatus.HasValue)
           "Order with Id: {OrderId} cannot be cancelled because it doesn't exist",

        return false;

    if (orderStatus.Value.Id == OrderStatus.Paid.Id || orderStatus.Value.Id == OrderStatus.Shipped.Id)
           "Order with Id: {OrderId} cannot be cancelled because it's in status {Status}",
            OrderId, orderStatus.Value.Name);

        return false;

    await StateManager.SetStateAsync(OrderStatusStateName, OrderStatus.Cancelled);

    var order = await StateManager.GetStateAsync<Order>(OrderDetailsStateName);

    await _eventBus.PublishAsync(new OrderStatusChangedToCancelledIntegrationEvent(
        $"The order was cancelled by buyer.",

    return true;

The CancelAsync method consists of the following steps:

  1. First, the method ensures that the order exists by retrieving the current order status.
  2. If the order exists, the method checks whether it's eligible for cancellation. Any order not in the Paid or Shipped state can be cancelled.
  3. If the order can be cancelled, the order status is changed to Cancelled.
  4. Lastly, the order details are retrieved from state and used to publish an OrderStatusChangedToCancelledIntegrationEvent to inform the other services.

The CancelAsync method is a great example of the usefulness of the turn-based access model of actors. Nowhere in the method do we need to worry about multiple threads running at the same time. Therefore, the method does not require any explicit locking mechanisms to be correct.

Order details

Customers can check the status and details of their order in the eShopOnDapr UI. They can also view a complete history of past orders. Directly querying actor instances for this information is a bad idea because of two reasons:

  1. Low-latency reads cannot be guaranteed because actor operations execute serially.
  2. Querying across actors is inefficient because each actor's state needs to be read individually and can introduce more unpredictable latencies.

To fix this issue, eShopOnDapr uses a separate read model for any queries on order data. The read model is stored in a separate SQL database. An ASP.NET Core controller class named UpdateOrderStatusEventController subscribes to the order status events and builds up the view model. The same UpdateOrderStatusEventController class also sends push notifications to the UI to inform the customer of order status updates.

The following snippet shows the code for handling the OrderStatusChangedToSubmittedIntegrationEvent message:

[Topic(DaprPubSubName, nameof(OrderStatusChangedToSubmittedIntegrationEvent))]
public async Task HandleAsync(
    OrderStatusChangedToSubmittedIntegrationEvent integrationEvent,
    [FromServices] IOptions<OrderingSettings> settings,
    [FromServices] IEmailService emailService)
    // Gets the order details from Actor state.
    var actorId = new ActorId(integrationEvent.OrderId.ToString());
    var orderingProcess = _actorProxyFactory.CreateActorProxy<IOrderingProcessActor>(
    var actorOrder = await orderingProcess.GetOrderDetailsAsync();
    var readModelOrder = new Order(integrationEvent.OrderId, actorOrder);

    // Add the order to the read model so it can be queried from the API.
    // It may already exist if this event has been handled before (at-least-once semantics).
    readModelOrder = await _orderRepository.AddOrGetOrderAsync(readModelOrder);

    // Send a SignalR notification to the client.
    await SendNotificationAsync(readModelOrder.OrderNumber, integrationEvent.OrderStatus,

    // Send a confirmation e-mail if enabled.
    if (settings.Value.SendConfirmationEmail)
        await emailService.SendOrderConfirmationAsync(readModelOrder);

The handler contains the code for all the actions that must occur after an order is submitted successfully. Because the events originate from the OrderingProcessActor, we can be sure that any validations performed by the actor have succeeded.

The handler performs the following steps:

  1. First, the method creates an actor proxy and uses it to retrieve the order details from the actor instance.
  2. The method maps the order details to the read model and stores it in the database. Due to the at-least-once semantics of the Dapr pub/sub building block, the order may already exist in the database. In that case, it will not be overwritten.
  3. The method publishes a push notification for the status update using SignalR.
  4. Lastly, if enabled, the method sends a confirmation e-mail to the customer.

Subsequent order status updates are all handled equally to each other. The following snippet shows what happens when the order status is updated to AwaitingStockValidation:

[Topic(DaprPubSubName, nameof(OrderStatusChangedToAwaitingStockValidationIntegrationEvent))]
public Task HandleAsync(
    OrderStatusChangedToAwaitingStockValidationIntegrationEvent integrationEvent)
    // Save the updated status in the read model and notify the client via SignalR.
    return UpdateReadModelAndSendNotificationAsync(integrationEvent.OrderId,
        integrationEvent.OrderStatus, integrationEvent.Description, integrationEvent.BuyerId);

private async Task UpdateReadModelAndSendNotificationAsync(
    Guid orderId, string orderStatus, string description, string buyerId)
    var order = await _orderRepository.GetOrderByIdAsync(orderId);
    if (order is not null)
        order.OrderStatus = orderStatus;
        order.Description = description;

        await _orderRepository.UpdateOrderAsync(order);
        await SendNotificationAsync(order.OrderNumber, orderStatus, buyerId);

In the snippet, the handler calls the UpdateReadModelAndSendNotificationAsync helper method to handle the status update:

  1. The helper method first loads the current order from the database.
  2. If that succeeds, it updates the OrderStatus and Description fields and saves the updated model back to the database.
  3. Lastly, it sends a push notification to notify the client UI.


eShopOnDapr uses Zipkin to visualize distributed traces collected by Dapr. Seq aggregates the eShopOnDapr application logs. The various services emit structured logging using the SeriLog logging library. Serilog publishes log events to a construct called a sink. A sink is simply a target platform to which Serilog writes its logging events. Many Serilog sinks are available, including one for Seq. Seq is the Serilog sink used in eShopOnDapr.

eShopOnDapr also includes a custom health dashboard that gives insight into the health of the eShop services. This dashboard uses the built-in health checks mechanism of ASP.NET Core. The dashboard not only provides the health status of the services, but also the health of the dependencies of the services, including the Dapr sidecars.


The eShopOnDapr reference application uses the secrets building block for various secrets:

  • The password for connecting to the Redis cache.
  • The username and password for the SMTP server.
  • The connection strings for the SQL databases.

When running the application using Docker Compose, the local file secret store is used. The component configuration file eshop-secretstore.yaml is found in the dapr/components folder of the eShopOnDapr repository:

apiVersion: dapr.io/v1alpha1
kind: Component
  name: eshop-secretstore
  namespace: eshop
  type: secretstores.local.file
  version: v1
  - name: secretsFile
    value: ./components/eshop-secretstore.json
  - name: nestedSeparator
    value: "."

The configuration file references the local store file eshop-secretstore.json located in the same folder:

  "ConnectionStrings": {
    "CatalogDB": "**********",
    "IdentityDB": "**********",
    "OrderingDB": "**********"
  "Smtp": {
    "User": "**********",
    "Password": "**********"
  "State": {
    "RedisPassword": "**********"

The components folder is specified in the command-line and mounted as a local folder inside the Dapr sidecar container. Here's a snippet from the docker-compose.override.yml file in the repository root that specifies the volume mount:

  command: ["./daprd",
    "-app-id", "catalog-api",
    "-app-port", "80",
    "-components-path", "/components",
    "-config", "/configuration/eshop-config.yaml"
    - "./dapr/components/:/components"
    - "./dapr/configuration/:/configuration"

The /components volume mount and --components-path command-line argument are passed into the daprd startup command.

Once configured, other component configuration files can also reference the secrets. Here's an example of the state store component configuration consuming secrets:

apiVersion: dapr.io/v1alpha1
kind: Component
  name: eshop-statestore
  namespace: eshop
  type: state.redis
  version: v1
  - name: redisHost
    value: redis:6379
  - name: redisPassword
      name: State.RedisPassword
      key: State.RedisPassword
  - name: actorStateStore
    value: "true"
  secretStore: eshop-secretstore
- basket-api
- ordering-api

Benefits of applying Dapr to eShop

In general, the use of Dapr building blocks adds observability and flexibility to the application:

  1. Observability: By using the Dapr building blocks, you gain rich distributed tracing for calls between services and to Dapr components without having to write any code. In eShopOnContainers, a large amount of custom logging is used to provide insight.
  2. Flexibility: You can now swap out infrastructure simply by changing a component configuration file. No code changes are necessary.

Here are some more examples of benefits offered by specific building blocks:

  • Service Invocation

    • With Dapr's support for mTLS, services now communicate through encrypted channels.
    • When transient errors occur, service calls are automatically retried.
    • Automatic service discovery reduces the amount of configuration needed for services to find each other.
  • Publish/Subscribe

    • eShopOnContainers included a large amount of custom code to support both Azure Service Bus and RabbitMQ. Developers used Azure Service Bus for production and RabbitMQ for local development and testing. An IEventBus abstraction layer was created to enable swapping between these message brokers. This layer consisted of approximately 700 lines of error-prone code. The updated implementation with Dapr requires only 35 lines of code. That's 5% of the original lines of code! More importantly, the implementation is straightforward and easy to understand.
    • eShopOnDapr uses Dapr's rich ASP.NET Core integration to use pub/sub. You add Topic attributes to ASP.NET Core controller methods to subscribe to messages. Therefore, there's no need to write a separate message handler loop for each message broker.
    • Messages routed to the service as HTTP calls enable the use of ASP.NET Core middleware to add functionality, without introducing new concepts or SDKs to learn.
  • Bindings

    • The eShopOnContainers solution contained a to-do item for e-mailing an order confirmation to the customer. With Dapr, implementing email notification was as easy as configuring a resource binding.
  • Actors

    • The actors building block makes it easy to create long running, stateful workflows. Thanks to the turn-based access model, there's no need for explicit locking mechanisms.
    • The complexity of the grace period implementation is greatly reduced by using actor reminders instead of polling on the database.


In this chapter, you're introduced to the eShopOnDapr reference application. It's an evolution of the widely popular eShopOnContainers microservice reference application. eShopOnDapr replaces a large amount of custom functionality with Dapr building blocks and components, dramatically simplifying the complexities required to build a microservices application.