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Dapr actor .NET usage guide

Learn all about using the actor client with the .NET SDK

Using the IActorProxyFactory

Inside of an Actor class or otherwisde inside of an ASP.NET Core project you should use the IActorProxyFactory interface to create actor clients.

The AddActors(...) method will register actor services with ASP.NET Core dependency injection.

  • Outside of an actor instance, the IActorProxyFactory instance is available through dependency injection as a singleton service.
  • Inside an actor instance, the IActorProxyFactory instance is available as a property (this.ProxyFactory).

The following is an example of creating a proxy inside an actor:

public Task<MyData> GetDataAsync()
{
    var proxy = this.ProxyFactory.CreateActorProxy<IOtherActor>(ActorId.CreateRandom(), "OtherActor");
    await proxy.DoSomethingGreat();

    return this.StateManager.GetStateAsync<MyData>("my_data");
}

💡 For a non-dependency-injected application you can use the static methods on ActorProxy. These methods are error prone when you need to configure custom settings, and should be avoided when possible.

The guidance in this document will focus on IActorProxyFactory. ActorProxy's static method functionality is identical except for the ability to manage configuration centrally.

Identifying an actor

In order to communicate with an actor, you will need to know its type and id, and for a strongly-typed client one of its interfaces. All of the APIs on IActorProxyFactory will require an actor type and actor id.

  • The actor type uniquely identifies the actor implementation across the whole application.
  • The actor id uniquely identifies an instance of that type.

If you do not have an actor id and want to communicate with a new instance, you can use ActorId.CreateRandom() to create a randomized id. Since the random id is a cryptographically strong identifier, the runtime will create a new actor instance when you interact with it.

You can use the type ActorReference to exchange an actor type and actor id with other actors as part of messages.

Two styles of actor client

The actor client supports two different styles of invocation: strongly-typed clients that use .NET interfaces and weakly-typed clients that use the ActorProxy class.

Since strongly-typed clients are based on .NET interfaces provide the typical benefits of strong-typing, however they do not work with non-.NET actors. You should use the weakly-typed client only when required for interop or other advanced reasons.

Using a strongly-typed client

Use the CreateActorProxy<> method to create a strongly-typed client like the following example. CreateActorProxy<> requires an actor interface type, and will return an instance of that interface.

// Create a proxy for IOtherActor to type OtherActor with a random id
var proxy = this.ProxyFactory.CreateActorProxy<IOtherActor>(ActorId.CreateRandom(), "OtherActor");

// Invoke a method defined by the interface to invoke the actor
//
// proxy is an implementation of IOtherActor so we can invoke its methods directly
await proxy.DoSomethingGreat();

Using a weakly-typed client

Use the Create method to create a weakly-typed client like the following example. Create returns an instance of ActorProxy.

// Create a proxy for type OtherActor with a random id
var proxy = this.ProxyFactory.Create(ActorId.CreateRandom(), "OtherActor");

// Invoke a method by name to invoke the actor
//
// proxy is an instance of ActorProxy.
await proxy.InvokeMethodAsync("DoSomethingGreat");

Since ActorProxy is a weakly-typed proxy you need to pass in the actor method name as a string.

You can also use ActorProxy to invoke methods with a request message and response message. Request and response messages will be serialized using the System.Text.Json serializer.

// Create a proxy for type OtherActor with a random id
var proxy = this.ProxyFactory.Create(ActorId.CreateRandom(), "OtherActor");

// Invoke a method on the proxy to invoke the actor
//
// proxy is an instance of ActorProxy.
var request = new MyRequest() { Message = "Hi, it's me.", };
var response = await proxy.InvokeMethodAsync<MyRequest, MyResponse>("DoSomethingGreat", request);

When using a weakly-typed proxy, it is your responsbility to define the correct actor method names and message types. This is done for you when using a strongly-typed proxy since the names and types are part of the interface definition.