codetoast codetoast - 4 days ago 4
ASP.NET (C#) Question

Should I use OwinContext's Environment to hold application specific data per request

I need a way to store a logging object per request. With HttpContext I would add this to the items Dictionary. I don't want to bring HttpContext into this if I can help it.
The below code is what I propose for a Unity LifeTimeManager that will store objects in OwinContext's Environment property, which I have access to with my Owin middleware.

public class OwinContextLifetimeManager : LifetimeManager
private string key = (new Guid()).ToString();
private IDictionary<string, object> environment;

public OwinContextLifetimeManager(IDictionary<string, object> environment)
this.environment = environment;

public override object GetValue()
if (environment != null && environment.ContainsKey(key))
return environment[key];
return null;

public override void RemoveValue()
if (environment != null)

public override void SetValue(object newValue)
if (environment != null)
environment[key] = newValue;

Then I can use it like this from my middleware:

container.RegisterType<IRequestLog, RequestLog>(new OwinContextLifetimeManager(environment));

It occurs to me that I can choose whatever key I want except those that already are reserved by Owin.
Is there any reason I should not be using the OwinContext.Environment for this purpose? The MSDN documentation is vague on the best practices of this.

Darrel Miller's response here: How should I store per request data when using OWIN to Self-Host ASP.NET Web API leads me to believe the properties collection on the request object is the way to go. How can I access this object from middleware?


OWIN environment dictionary can be used to store per-request data. Properties collection of the request object can be used to do the same.

The main difference is OWIN environment dictionary is an OWIN concept and is applicable to any middleware running in a OWIN host. Properties collection of the request object is an ASP.NET Web API concept and is applicable only to that specific framework.

BTW, ASP.NET Web API itself runs as a middleware in OWIN pipeline. So, to answer your question, you cannot access the request properties collection of Web API from your middleware because it is applicable only to Web API middleware (or that specific framework).

If you want to write your cross-cutting concern stuff as OWIN middleware you have to use OWIN environment dictionary. If Web API extension points like a filter or a message handler is okay, then you can use the properties collection.

Obviously, anything you write leveraging Web API extension points is applicable only to Web API whereas OWIN middleware is applicable to any kind of app running in OWIN pipeline and that includes Web API.