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Custom Endpoints, System.Text.Json and IConfiguration

4 minutes
March 21, 2020
[ dotnet ]

Recently I’ve been doing a fair bit with “microservices”. I will leave the discussion of what that term actually means <sigh> I’ll leave that to those that would rather discuss dogma than getting sh*t done.

In practical terms there are a lot of small processes, maybe with an api, maybe an event consumer/producer, whatever… A practical problem is that, with all these processes (maybe running as containers in a k8s cluster) it can be difficult to confirm if they are configured correctly. You may be sure that one of these is setup right. But is can be very reasuring to see what the process sees rather than making assumptions.

So, I will generally have some version of an http endpoint that just displays the contents of the IConfiguration as it has been loaded by the process. So, assuming you can get kubectl proxy to find your process, you can browse to /config and it will display the current IConfiguration as json.

I’ve usually done this with Newtonsoft.Json but I thought I’d try to get it to work with System.Text.Json and Endpoint Routing

First, to use it, simply add to the UseEndpoints section of Startup (or via the fluent builder style in Program). Here’s a much abreviated Startup

    public class Startup
        // ...

        // This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to configure the HTTP request pipeline.
        public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IWebHostEnvironment env)
            // ...

            app.UseEndpoints(endpoints =>
                // ...

I have been playing with conventions and naming. I like the idea of putting this type of helper in the Microsoft namespace that is required for the AspNet framework feature. If you “goto definition” on something like MapControllers() or MapRazorPages() you’ll that MS uses the same idea. It greatly enhances discoverability as you don’t need to know some special namespace to find what you need. Just dot your way to glory because it is already in scope.

The first new thing for me was the technique for adding an Endpoint route. Turns out it’s pretty easy, see MapConfig. It’s just a different way of mapping your existing Middleware.

The second was custom serialization using System.Text.Json. Because IConfiguration is actually a collection of Sources (ie Json, Environment, etc), you get a better result if you walk the sections, see WriteJson. The previous version using Newtonsoft.Json was a bit more consise but this turned out ok and it removes a dependency and some versioning hell.

Also, note the use of await using. Writing to the response body stream must be done with async. If not then it will throw an exception, complaining that sync is not allowed. Without async using it will use the “old” IDisposable.Dispose() which uses Flush rather than FlushAsync.

namespace Microsoft.AspNetCore.Builder
    public static class ConfigurationEndpoint
        public const string DefaultPath = "/config";

        /// <summary>
        /// expose current configuration via an endpoint
        /// </summary>
        public static IEndpointConventionBuilder MapConfig(this IEndpointRouteBuilder endpoints, string pattern = DefaultPath)
            if (endpoints.ServiceProvider.GetService(typeof(IConfiguration)) == null)
                throw new InvalidOperationException($"Unable to find {nameof(IConfiguration)}");

            var pipeline = endpoints.CreateApplicationBuilder()

            return endpoints.Map(pattern, pipeline).WithDisplayName("Configuration");

        private class ConfigurationMiddleware
            private readonly IConfiguration config;

            public ConfigurationMiddleware(RequestDelegate next, IConfiguration config)
                this.config = config ?? throw new ArgumentNullException(nameof(config));

            public async Task Invoke(HttpContext context)
                context.Response.StatusCode = 200;

                if (context.Request.ContentType == "text/plain")
                    await WriteAsText(context.Response);
                    await WriteAsJson(context.Response);

            private async Task WriteAsText(HttpResponse response)
                response.ContentType = "text/plain";
                foreach (var kvp in config.AsEnumerable())
                    await response.WriteAsync($"{kvp.Key} = {kvp.Value}\n");

            private async ValueTask WriteAsJson(HttpResponse response)
                response.ContentType = "text/json";
                await using (var writer = new Utf8JsonWriter(response.Body))
                    Write(writer, config, new JsonSerializerOptions { WriteIndented = true });

                void Write(Utf8JsonWriter writer, IConfiguration value, JsonSerializerOptions options)
                    if (value is IConfigurationSection section)
                        if (section.Value is null)
                            writer.WriteString(section.Key, section.Value);

                    foreach (var child in value.GetChildren())
                        Write(writer, child, options);


I have similar endpoints for Environment which shows some underlying info like versions, host name and os, environment variables, and lists version of our assemblies. Something like…

    Environment: "development",
    EntryAssemblyName: "EventHubService",
    EntryAssemblyVersion: "0.3.29+d57ddbd12b",
    FrameworkDescription: ".NETCoreApp,Version=v3.1",
    LocalTime: "2020-03-21T17:51:32.5289499Z",
    MachineName: "flintstone",
    OperatingSystemArchitecture: "X64",
    OperatingSystemPlatform: "WINDOWS",
    OperatingSystemVersion: "Microsoft Windows 10.0.18363",
    ProcessArchitecture: "X64",
    ProcessorCount: "24",
    Env: {
        ASPNETCORE_URLS: "https://localhost:5001;http://localhost:5000",
        ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT: "Development",
    Versions: {
        MyCompany.SignalR: "0.3.29+d57ddbd12b",
        MyCompany.Hosting: "0.3.27+1a64bae350",
        MyCompany.Feature: "0.3.27+1a64bae350",
        MyCompany.Events: "0.3.23+5f1a1ba42d",
        MyCompany.Domain: "0.3.27+1a64bae350"

Super useful to prove that the enironemtn is actually running what you think is running. But that’s for another day.