Skip to content
Permalink
main
Switch branches/tags
Go to file
 
 
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time

Service Discovery

Service discovery is a general term that describes the process by which one service figures out the address of another service. Put another way...

If I need to talk to the backend... how do I figure out the right URI? In production? In my staging environment? In my local development?

There are lots of possible different ways that service discovery could be done, with varying levels of complexity.

Tye's philosophy for service discovery

Tye aims to provide a solution that:

  • Works the same way in local development and cloud environments
  • Is based on simple primitives
  • Avoids the need for external infrastructure

Using Tye's service discovery features is optional. If you already have a scheme you like, or if you are using a programming model that solves service discovery in a different way then you can feel free to ignore it 👍.


Tye uses environment variables for specifying connection strings and URIs of services.

Our philosophy is that automating something you could do yourself is better than doing magic or requiring external services.

It is our recommendation you avoid any hardcoding of URIs/addresses of other services in application code. Use service discovery via configuration so that deploying to different environments is easy.

How to do service discovery in .NET Applications

The simple way to use Tye's service discovery is through the Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration system - available by default in ASP.NET Core or .NET Core Worker projects. In addition to this we provide the Microsoft.Tye.Extensions.Configuration package with some Tye-specific extensions layered on top of the configuration system.


To access URIs use the GetServiceUri() extension method and provide the service name.

// Get the URI of the 'backend' service and create an HttpClient.
var uri = Configuration.GetServiceUri("backend");
var httpClient = new HttpClient()
{
    BaseAddress = uri
};

If the service provides multiple bindings, provide the binding name as well.

// Get the URI of the 'backend' service and create an HttpClient.
var uri = Configuration.GetServiceUri(service: "backend", binding: "myBinding");
var httpClient = new HttpClient()
{
    BaseAddress = uri
};

URIs are available by default for all of your services and bindings. A URI will not be available through the service discovery system for bindings that provide a connectionString in config.


To access a connection string, use the GetConnectionString() method and provide the service name.

// Get the connection string of the 'postgres' service and open a database connection.
var connectionString = Configuration.GetConnectionString("postgres");
using (var connection = new NpgsqlConnection(connectionString))
{
    ...
}

To get the connection string for a named binding, pass the binding name as well.

// Get the connection string of the 'postgres' service and open a database connection.
var connectionString = Configuration.GetConnectionString(service: "postgres", binding: "myBinding");
using (var connection = new NpgsqlConnection(connectionString))
{
    ...
}

Connection strings will be available for bindings that use the connectionString property in configuration.


Specifying a connection string in tye.yaml will usually involve the use of templating to fill in values that are provided by Tye.

Example: Redis

services:
- name: redis
  image: redis
  bindings:
  - port: 6379
    connectionString: ${host}:${port}

This fragment will launch redis when used with tye run on port 6379 (the typical listening port for Redis) and will provide a connection string to other services with the value of localhost:6379.

💡 It's preferrable to use ${host} over hardcoding the string localhost - for instance localhost will not work inside a container. You'll usually see localhost as the names of services, but Tye has features that will replace this with hostname values that work from containers.


Templating of connection strings can be used to avoid duplication.

Example: Postgres

services:
- name: postgres
  image:  postgres
  env:
  - name: POSTGRES_PASSWORD
    value: "pass@word1"
  bindings:
  - port: 5432
    connectionString: Server=${host};Port=${port};User Id=postgres;Password=${env:POSTGRES_PASSWORD};

In this case a postgres container is being passed its password via the POSTGRES_PASSWORD value. The token ${env:POSTGRES_PASSWORD} will be replaced with the value from POSTGRES_PASSWORD to avoid repetition.

Currently replacement of environment variables using this mechanism is limited to environment variables defined in tye.yaml.

This is a typical pattern for initializing a database for local development - initializing the password and passing it to the application in the same place.

💡 Avoid generating connection strings, or hardcoding connection string parameters in application code. Tye allows you to configure connection strings differently between local development and deployed apps. The connectionString property in tye.yaml is not used in deployed applications, it's only for development.

How it works: URIs in development

For URIs, the Tye infrastructure will generate a set of environment variables using a well-known pattern. These environment variables will be available through the configuration system and used by GetServiceUri().

These are normal environment variables and can be read directly or through the configuration system.

The pattern for a default binding on the backend service:

Environment Variable Configuration Key
Protocol SERVICE__BACKEND__PROTOCOL service:backend:protocol
Host SERVICE__BACKEND__HOST service:backend:host
Port SERVICE__BACKEND__PORT service:backend:port

The pattern for a named binding called myBinding on the backend service:

Environment Variable Configuration Key
Protocol SERVICE__BACKEND__MYBINDING__PROTOCOL service:backend:mybinding:protocol
Host SERVICE__BACKEND__MYBINDING__HOST service:backend:mybinding:host
Port SERVICE__BACKEND__MYBINDING__PORT service:backend:mybinding:port

💡 That's a double-underscore (__) in the environment variables. The Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration system uses double-underscore as a separator because single underscores are already common in environment variables.


Here's a walkthrough of how this works in practice, using the following example application:

name: frontend-backend
services:
- name: backend
  project: backend/backend.csproj
- name: frontend
  project: frontend/frontend.csproj

These services are ASP.NET Core projects. The following set of steps takes place in development when doing tye run.

  1. Since these are ASP.NET Core projects, Tye infers an http default binding, and an https named binding (called https) for each project. Since these bindings don't have any explicit configuration, ports will be automatically assigned by the host.

  2. Tye will assign each binding an available port (avoiding conflicts).

  3. Tye will generate a set of environment variables for each binding based on the assigned ports. The protocol of each binding was inferred (http or https) and the host will be localhost since this is local development.

  4. Each service is given access to the environment variables that contain the bindings of the other services in the application. So frontend has access to the bindings of backend and vice-versa. These environment variables are passed when launching the process by the Tye host.

  5. On startup, the environment variable configuration source reads all environment variables and translates them to the config key format (see table above).

  6. When the application calls GetServiceUri("backend"), the method will read the service:backend:protocol, service:backend:host, service:backend:port variables and combine them into a URI.

How it works: Connection Strings in development

When a binding element in tye.yaml sets the connectionString property, then Tye will not set the environment variables used for URIs (previous section). Tye will instead build a connection string and make that available.

Connection strings are typically used when a URI is not the right solution. For example, databases often have many configurable parameters beyond the hostname and port of the server.

Use the GetConnectionString() method to read connection strings.

These are normal environment variables and can be read directly or through the configuration system.

The pattern for a default binding on the postgres service:

Environment Variable Configuration Key
Connection String CONNECTIONSTRINGS__POSTGRES connectionstrings:postgres

The pattern for a named binding called myBinding on the postgres service:

Environment Variable Configuration Key
Connection String CONNECTIONSTRINGS__POSTGRES__MYBINDING connectionstrings:postgres:mybinding

💡 That's a double-underscore (__) in the environment variables. The Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration system uses double-underscore as a separator because single underscores are already common in environment variables.

Here's a walkthrough of how this works in practice, using the following example application:

services:
- name: backend
  project: backend/backend.csproj
- name: frontend
  project: frontend/frontend.csproj
- name: postgres
  image:  postgres
  env:
  - name: POSTGRES_PASSWORD
    value: "pass@word1"
  bindings:
  - port: 5432
    connectionString: Server=${host};Port=${port};User Id=postgres;Password=${env:POSTGRES_PASSWORD};

We'll follow the example of the connection string for postgres is generated and made available to frontend and backend. The following set of steps takes place in development when doing tye run.

  1. The postgres service has a single binding with a hardcoded port. If the port was unspecified then Tye will assign each binding an available port (avoiding conflicts).

  2. Tye will substitute the values of ${host} and ${port} from the binding. Tye will substitue the value of POSTGRES_PASSWORD for ${env:POSTGRES_PASSWORD}. The result is generated as the CONNECTIONSTRINGS__POSTGRES environment variable.

  3. Each service is given access to the environment variables that contain the bindings of the other services in the application. So frontend and backend both have access to each-other's bindings as well as the environment variable CONNECTIONSTRINGS__POSTGRES. The Tye host will provide these environment variables when launching application processes.

  4. On startup, the environment variable configuration source reads all environment variables and translates them to the config key format (see table above).

  5. When the application calls GetConnectionString("postgres"), the method will read the connectionstrings:postgres key and return the value. For the case of the named binding, if the application calls GetConnectionString("postgres:mybinding"), the method will read the connectionstrings:postgres:mybinding key and return the value.

How it works: Deployed applications

When deploying an application, Tye will deploy all of the containers built from your .NET projects. However, Tye is not able to deploy your application's dependencies - since Tye is orchestrating things, it needs to know what values (URIs and connection strings) to provide to application code.


When deploying your .NET projects, Tye will use the environment variable format described above to set environment variables on your pods and containers.

To avoid hardcoding ephemeral details like pod names, Tye relies on Kubernetes Services. Each project gets its own Service, and the environment variables can refer to the hostname mapped to the service.

This allows service discovery for URIs to work very simply in a deployed application.


When an application contains a dependency (like Redis, or a Database), Tye will use Kubernetes Secret objects to store the connection string or URI.

Tye will look for an existing secret based on the service and binding names. If the secret already exists, then deployment will proceed.

If the secret does not exist, then Tye will prompt (in interactive mode) for the connection string or URI value. Based on whether it's a connection string or URI, Tye will create a secret like one of the following.

Example secret for a URI:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
metadata:
  name: binding-production-rabbit-secret
type: Opaque
stringData:
  protocol: amqp
  host: rabbitmq
  port: 5672

Example secret for a connection string:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
metadata:
  name: binding-production-redis-secret
type: Opaque
stringData:
  connectionstring: <redacted>

Creating the secret is a one-time operation, and Tye will only prompt for it if it does not already exist. If desired, you can use standard kubectl commands to update values or delete the secret and force it to be recreated.

To get these values into the application, Tye will use environment variables that reference the Kubernetes secrets described above and will use the environment-variable naming scheme described above.