Named and Keyed Services

Autofac provides three typical ways to identify services. The most common is to identify by type:


This example associates the IDeviceState typed service with the OnlineState component. Instances of the component can be retrieved using the service type with the Resolve() method:

var r = container.Resolve<IDeviceState>();

However, you can also identify services by a string name or by an object key.

Named Services

Services can be further identified using a service name. Using this technique, the Named() registration method replaces As().


To retrieve a named service, the ResolveNamed() method is used:

var r = container.ResolveNamed<IDeviceState>("online");

Named services are simply keyed services that use a string as a key, so the techniques described in the next section apply equally to named services.

Keyed Services

Using strings as component names is convenient in some cases, but in others we may wish to use keys of other types. Keyed services provide this ability.

For example, an enum may describe the different device states in our example:

public enum DeviceState { Online, Offline }

Each enum value corresponds to an implementation of the service:

public class OnlineState : IDeviceState { }

The enum values can then be registered as keys for the implementations as shown below.

 var builder = new ContainerBuilder();
// Register other components here

Resolving Explicitly

The implementation can be resolved explicitly with ResolveKeyed():

var r = container.ResolveKeyed<IDeviceState>(DeviceState.Online);

This does however result in using the container as a Service Locator, which is discouraged. As an alternative to this pattern, the IIndex type is provided.

Resolving with an Index

Autofac.Features.Indexed.IIndex<K,V> is a relationship type that Autofac implements automatically. Components that need to choose between service implementations based on a key can do so by taking a constructor parameter of type IIndex<K,V>.

public class Modem : IHardwareDevice
  IIndex<DeviceState, IDeviceState> _states;
  IDeviceState _currentState;

  public Modem(IIndex<DeviceState, IDeviceState> states)
     _states = states;

  void SwitchOn()
     _currentState = _states[DeviceState.Online];

In the SwitchOn() method, the index is used to find the implementation of IDeviceState that was registered with the DeviceState.Online key.

Resolving with Attributes

The metadata feature of Autofac provides a KeyFilterAttribute that allows you to mark constructor parameters with an attribute specifying which keyed service should be used. The attribute usage looks like this:

public class ArtDisplay : IDisplay
  public ArtDisplay([KeyFilter("Painting")] IArtwork art) { ... }

When you register a component that needs attribute filtering, you need to make sure to opt in. There’s a minor but non-zero performance hit to query for the attributes and do the filtering so it doesn’t just automatically happen.

var builder = new ContainerBuilder();

See the metadata documentation for more info on working with attributes and filtering.