Exercise - Create grains and silos


Your new project is configured correctly and you're ready to begin working with Orleans. In this step, you'll create and configure the grains and silo of your application.

You'll create a grain to manage each shortened URL redirect. The grain will store essential data for this process, such as a shortened hash and the original URL to redirect to.

You'll also perform Orleans startup configurations and create a silo to store the grains. Grains can be retrieved from the silo using their identifying key. In this case, the shortened URL hash will double as the grain identifier.

Create the URL shortener grain

Orleans grains should utilize an interface to define their methods and properties. The URL shortener grain interface should define two methods to create and retrieve the shortened URL.

  1. Inside of the Program class, add the following interface definition to the bottom of the file. Grains can implement different interfaces that define the type of key used to identify the grain. In this case, you'll implement the IGrainWithStringKey interface because strings are a logical choice for working with URL values.

    public interface IUrlShortenerGrain : IGrainWithStringKey
        Task SetUrl(string shortenedRouteSegment, string fullUrl);
        Task<string> GetUrl();
  2. Create a UrlShortenerGrain class using the following code. This class inherits from the Grain class provided by Orleans and implements the IUrlShortenerGrain interface you created. The Grain base class provides essential functionality for the internal behaviors of Orleans.

    public class UrlShortenerGrain : Grain, IUrlShortenerGrain
        private KeyValuePair<string, string> _cache;
        public Task SetUrl(string shortenedRouteSegment, string fullUrl)
            _cache = new KeyValuePair<string, string>(shortenedRouteSegment, fullUrl);
            return Task.CompletedTask;
        public Task<string?> GetUrl()
            return Task.FromResult(_cache.Value);

    The SetUrl method stores the shortened route segment and the full URL in a field on the class. When the grain is retrieved using the shortened identifier, the GetUrl method then returns the full URL. The full URL can be used by the app to redirect the user to the desired location.

Create and configure the silo

You've defined a grain class and interface in your app. However, in order to implement the grain successfully, you still need to configure your app to use Orleans.

  1. At the top of the Program class, refactor the builder code to use Orleans. The completed code should look like the following example:

    var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder();
    builder.Host.UseOrleans(siloBuilder =>
    var app = builder.Build();

    The code uses a SiloBuilder class to create a silo that can store your grains. In this scenario, you'll use a localhost cluster, but in a production app you can configure more robust options. Remember, a cluster is the collection of silos for your app.

  2. Next, you need to retrieve an instance of a grain factory. Orleans provides a default grain factory that manages the creation and retrieval of grains using their identifier. After calling var app = builder.Build();, add the following line of code to get the grain factory and store it in a variable called grainFactory:

    var grainFactory = app.Services.GetRequiredService<IGrainFactory>();

Your application is now set up to configure Orleans during startup and create a silo to store your grains. You've also created a grain class to manage the data for your app. In the next step, you'll see how to put these elements to work by creating the endpoints to create and retrieve shortened URLs.