.NET Aspire orchestration overview

.NET Aspire provides APIs for expressing resources and dependencies within your distributed application. In addition to these APIs, there's tooling that enables some compelling scenarios.

Before continuing, consider some common terminology used in .NET Aspire:

  • App model: A collection of resources that make up your distributed application (DistributedApplication). For a more formal definition, see Define the app model.
  • App host/Orchestrator project: The .NET project that orchestrates the app model, named with the *.AppHost suffix (by convention).
  • Resource: A resource represents a part of an application whether it be a .NET project, container, or executable, or some other resource like a database, cache, or cloud service (such as a storage service).
  • Reference: A reference defines a connection between resources, expressed as a dependency. For more information, see Reference resources.

Define the app model

.NET Aspire empowers you to seamlessly build, provision, deploy, configure, test, run, and observe your cloud application. This is achieved through the utilization of an app model that outlines the resources in your app and their relationships. These resources encompass projects, executables, containers, as well as external services and cloud resources that your app depends on. Within every .NET Aspire app, there is a designated App host project, where the app model is precisely defined using methods available on the IDistributedApplicationBuilder. This builder is obtained by invoking DistributedApplication.CreateBuilder.

App host project

The app host project handles running all of the projects that are part of the .NET Aspire application. In other words, it's responsible for orchestrating all apps within the app model. The following code describes an application with two projects and a Redis cache:

var builder = DistributedApplication.CreateBuilder(args);

var cache = builder.AddRedisContainer("cache");

var apiservice = builder.AddProject<Projects.AspireApp_ApiService>("apiservice");



To help visualize the relationship between the app host project and the resources it describes, consider the following diagram:

The relationship between the projects in the .NET Aspire Starter Application template.

Each resource must be uniquely named. This diagram shows each resource and the relationships between them. The container resource is named "cache" and the project resources are named "apiservice" and "webfrontend". The web frontend project references the cache and API service projects. By expressing a reference in this way, the web frontend project is saying that it depends on these two resources.

Built-in resource types

.NET Aspire apps are made up of a set of resources. There are three base types of compute resources:

Method Resource type Description
AddProject ProjectResource A .NET project, for example ASP.NET Core web apps.
AddContainer ContainerResource A container image, such as a Docker image.
AddExecutable ExecutableResource An executable file.

Project resources are .NET projects that are part of the app model. When you add a project reference to the app host project, the app host generates a type in the Projects namespace for each referenced project.

To add a project to the app model, use the AddProject method:

// Adds the project "apiservice" of type "Projects.AspireApp_ApiService".
var apiservice = builder.AddProject<Projects.AspireApp_ApiService>("apiservice");

Reference resources

A reference represents a dependency between resources. Consider the following:

var cache = builder.AddRedisContainer("cache");


The "webfrontend" project resource uses WithReference to add a dependency on the "cache" container resource. These dependencies can represent connection strings or service discovery information. In the preceding example, an environment variable is injected into the "webfronend" resource with the name ConnectionStrings__cache. This environment variable contains a connection string that the webfrontend can use to connect to redis via the .NET Aspire Redis component, for example, ConnectionStrings__cache="localhost:6379".

Connection string and endpoint references

It's also possible to have dependencies between project resources. Consider the following example code:

var cache = builder.AddRedisContainer("cache");

var apiservice = builder.AddProject<Projects.AspireApp_ApiService>("apiservice");


Project-to-project references are handled differently than resources that have well defined connection strings. Instead of connection string being injected into the "webfrontend" resource, environment variables to support service discovery are injected.

Method Environment variable
WithReference(cache) ConnectionStrings__cache="localhost:6379"
WithReference(apiservice) services__apiservice__0="http://_http.localhost:8034"

Adding a reference to the "apiservice" project results in service discovery environment variables being added to the front-end. This is because typically, project to project communication occurs over HTTP/gRPC. For more information, see .NET Aspire service discovery.

It's possible to get specific endpoints from a container or executable using the WithServiceBinding and calling the GetEndpoint:

var customContainer = builder.AddContainer("myapp", "mycustomcontainer")
                             .WithServiceBinding(containerPort: 9043, name: "endpoint");

var endpoint = customContainer.GetEndpoint("endpoint");

var apiservice = builder.AddProject<Projects.AspireApp_ApiService>("apiservice")
Method Environment variable
WithReference(endpoint) services__myapp__0=http://_http.localhost:8034

APIs for adding and expressing resources

Beyond the base resource types, ProjectResource, ContainerResource, and ExecutableResource, .NET Aspire provides extension methods to add common resources to your app model. The following table lists the methods and their corresponding resource types:

Cloud-agnostic resources available in the 📦 Aspire.Hosting NuGet package (available by default in .NET Aspire templates with the AppHost project):

Method Resource type Description
AddPostgresConnection PostgresConnectionResource Adds a Postgres connection resource.
AddPostgresContainer PostgresContainerResource Adds a Postgres container resource.
AddPostgresContainer(...).AddDatabase PostgresDatabaseResource Adds a Postgres database resource.
AddRabbitMQConnection RabbitMQConnectionResource Adds a RabbitMQ connection resource.
AddRabbitMQContainer RabbitMQContainerResource Adds a RabbitMQ container resource.
AddRedisContainer RedisContainerResource Adds a Redis container resource.
AddSqlServerConnection SqlServerConnectionResource Adds a SQL Server connection resource.
AddSqlServerContainer SqlServerContainerResource Adds a SQL Server container resource.
AddSqlServerContainer(...).AddDatabase SqlServerDatabaseResource Adds a SQL Server database resource.

Azure specific resources available in the 📦 Aspire.Hosting.Azure NuGet package:

Method Resource type Description
AddAzureStorage AzureStorageResource Adds an Azure Storage resource.
AddAzureStorage(...).AddBlobs AzureBlobStorageResource Adds an Azure Blob Storage resource.
AddAzureStorage(...).AddQueues AzureQueueStorageResource Adds an Azure Queue Storage resource.
AddAzureStorage(...).AddTables AzureTableStorageResource Adds an Azure Table Storage resource.
AddAzureCosmosDB AzureCosmosDBResource Adds an Azure Cosmos DB resource.
AddAzureKeyVault AzureKeyVaultResource Adds an Azure Key Vault resource.
AddAzureRedis AzureRedisResource Adds an Azure Redis resource.
AddAzureServiceBus AzureServiceBusResource Adds an Azure Service Bus resource.

See also