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Implementing the decorator pattern using System. Reflection.DispatchProxy

If you are new to the decorator pattern, let me start with a short explanation:

Decorator is a structural design pattern that lets you attach new behaviors to objects by placing these objects inside special wrapper objects that contain the behaviors.

A common use case for decorators is to implement Aspect Oriented Programming(AOP) which allows you to implement cross-cutting concerns like logging, caching, …

There are multiple ways to implement this pattern, you can manually implement it, use your DI container, use a source generator to write the boilerplate code or use a dynamic proxy that wraps call to the original class.

It’s this last approach I want to focus on in this blog post. You could use the great  Castle.DynamicProxy library but for simpler use cases, there is a built-in alternative through the System.Reflection.DispatchProxy class.

Let’s have a look at a small code example on how to use this class.

First we need to create a Decorator class that implements DispatchProxy:

Remark: Be aware that we cannot use constructor injection to inject parameters(like the logger in the example above).

We could now use the DispatchProxy.Create() method but I typically create a static method that allows me to wrap an existing class instance

Let's create an interface, corresponding class and apply the decorator:

If we now run this code, the result looks like this:



There are some pros and cons when using this approach:

  • Pros
    • Works with .NET Standard 1.3+ (so it works with both .NET Framework 4.6+ and .NET Core/.NET 5).
    • No 3th party libraries needed.
    • Proxies by wrapping the target object, so a proxy can be created around an already existing object.
  • Cons
    • Proxies interfaces, not classes, so proxied types must implement an interface and access to any members not in the interface (like fields) is complicated.
    • Uses reflection, so not usable with AOT.
    • No support for async methods/functions.

More information

DispatchProxy Class (System.Reflection) | Microsoft Learn

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