Using Microsoft.FeatureManagement.AspNetCore to filter actions and HTML

4 minute read

In our previous post, we introduced Microsoft.FeatureManagement as a way to manage feature flag functionality in your .NET applications. As mentioned in the post, this library is compatible with any .NET Standard application.

In this post, we’ll kick things up a notch and show how you can pair this with an ASP.NET Core-only library, Microsoft.FeatureManagement.AspNetCore, to perform the following tasks with minimal required configuration:

  • Filter out controller action methods and classes
  • Conditionally filter out HTML in your views

This is part 2 in a four-part series on .NET native feature flags:

This post contains the following content.

Set up the sample application

If you wish to follow along, refer to the previous post for details on how we set up our sample application. In addition, you’ll need to add the Microsoft.FeatureManagement.AspNetCore library by performing one of the following two steps:

  • From the NuGet Package Manager (easiest way is to right-click your solution in Visual Studio, then clicking Manage NuGet Packages), search for and install Microsoft.FeatureManagement.AspNetCore
  • From the dotnet CLI, you can execute the dotnet add package Microsoft.FeatureManagement.AspNetCore command

Here is what the project file looks like now:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Web">
  <PropertyGroup>
    <TargetFramework>netcoreapp3.1</TargetFramework>
  </PropertyGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.FeatureManagement" Version="2.0.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.FeatureManagement.AspNetCore" Version="2.0.0" />
  </ItemGroup>
</Project>

Filter out controller action methods and classes

To better manage your feature flags, you can filter from the level of an action method, or even a class, using the FeatureGate attribute.

Before we get to the fun bits, let’s set up another feature flag in our configuration. As we did in the previous post, add a new feature flag in appsettings.json. Let’s call it FlagController. Here’s what our configuration looks like now:

{
  "Logging": {
    "LogLevel": {
      "Default": "Information",
      "Microsoft": "Warning",
      "Microsoft.Hosting.Lifetime": "Information"
    }
  },
  "FeatureManagement": {
    "WelcomeText": true,
    "FlagController": true 
  },
  "AllowedHosts": "*"
}

Note that, by default, we will set this one true for a cleaner demo. Then, let’s go to our FeatureFlags.cs file and define what we created. A look at the updated file:

public static class FeatureFlags
{
    public const string WelcomeText = "WelcomeText";
    public const string FlagController = "FlagController";
}

Finally, add a new controller called FlagController and make sure it implements the Controller interface. The file should look like this:

using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;
using Microsoft.FeatureManagement.Mvc;

namespace FeatureFlags.Controllers
{
    public class FlagController : Controller
    {
        public IActionResult Index()
        {
            return View();
        }
    }
}

Finally, in your Views folder, create a Flag folder, and then a Flag.cshtml file with the following content. (You could have scaffolded this, but since we aren’t using Entity Framework, this is probably faster.)

<div class="text-center">
    <h1 class="display-4">The controller flag is enabled!</h1>
    <p>Learn about <a href="https://docs.microsoft.com/aspnet/core">building Web apps with ASP.NET Core</a>.</p>
</div>

To better manage your feature flags, you can filter from the level of an action method, or even a class, using the FeatureGate attribute. This attribute is super flexible: you can pass in multiple features and decide to gate actions if any or all of the features are enabled. Take a look at the FeatureGateAttribute documentation for details.

For our example, we will annotate [FeatureGate(FeatureFlags.FlagController)] to our controller class. Any action methods in this class will only be accessible if this flag is set to true. Here’s the latest FlagController.cs.

using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;
using Microsoft.FeatureManagement.Mvc;

namespace FeatureFlags.Controllers
{
    [FeatureGate(FeatureFlags.FlagController)]
    public class FlagController : Controller
    {
        public IActionResult Index()
        {
            return View();
        }
    }
}

If you run your app, and navigate to http://localhost:<port>, you will see the new view rendered appropriately.

Now, if you go to your appsettings.json and set the flag to false, then reload the page you’ll get an ugly 404 page. It’s ugly, but it means it works—great!

Of course, if you want to provide a better experience for your users, you can add something like UseStatusCodePages middleware to render something friendlier.

Conditionally render HTML in your views

Let’s say you want to only render a component on your site if a certain condition applies: for example, that someone is viewing a beta environment. You could definitely mimic what we did in our controllers, right in your razor view, with something like this:

@if (_featureManager.IsEnabled(FeatureFlags.Beta))
{
  <div class="beta">We are in beta!</div>
}

To make it easier on your life, you can use a specialized tag helper for this, the FeatureTagHelper.

So, instead, you can try something like this:

<feature name="@FeatureFlags.Beta">
    <div class="beta">We are in beta!</div>
</feature>

You can definitely take it further than this as well—the tag helpers allow you to have alternate content displayed in the feature is disabled (using the Negate property), and you can also require ANY or ALL from a feature set (using the Requirement property). Take a look at the documentation for details.

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