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Announcing: TinyIoC – An Easy to Use, Hassle Free, Inversion of Control Container


Whenever I start a new “pet” project I usually *want* to use IoC, but I don’t really want the hassle of taking a dependency on a container, or adding another binary to my project. Usually this leaves me using “poor man’s IoC”, whereby I define dependencies in my constructors, but I pass them in manually or construct them using constructor chaining.

I’ve thought for some time that it would be useful to put together a container that fits the bill for that scenario, but also attempts to “lower the barrier of entry” for developers that are new to IoC, and may be scared off by the “big boys”. A couple of weeks ago @DotNetWill posted his simplified container, and that gave me the kick up the backside I needed to create my own :-)

Introducing TinyIoC

Now you might ask “do we really need *another* IoC container?” – and it’s a reasonable question. We already have Unity, Ninject, StructureMap, AutoFac.. the list goes on. TinyIoC makes no attempt to go “head to head” with any of these other containers, instead TinyIoC has been designed to fulfil a single key requirement:

To lower the “level of entry” for using an IoC container; both for small projects, and developers who are new to IoC.

To that end, TinyIoC attempts to stick the following core principals:

  • Simplified Inclusion. No assembly to reference, no binary to worry about, just a single cs file you can include in your project and you’re good to go. It also works on Mono, and on MonoTouch for the iPhone / iPad.
  • Simplified Setup. With auto-resolving of concrete types and an “auto registration” option for interfaces, setup is a piece of cake. It can be reduced to 0 lines for concrete types, or 1 line if you have any interface dependencies.
  • Simple, “Fluent” API. Just because it’s Tiny, doesn’t mean it has no features. A simple “fluent” API gives you access to the more advanced features, like specifying singleton/multi-instance, strong or weak references or forcing a particular constructor.

The following snippet gives an example of the simplified setup:

// TinyIoC provides a lazyily constructed singleton
// version of itself if you want to use it.
var container = TinyIoCContainer.Current;

// By default we can resolve concrete types without
// registration
var instance = container.Resolve<MyConcreteType>();

// We can automatically register all concrete types
// and interfaces with a single call.
var implementation = container.Resolve<IMyInterface>();

So Where Now?

If you want to grab the source, read the tests, or take a look at some more complex examples of the API, wander on over to the homepage on bitbucket. I’m happy to take comments and suggestions – just grab me on Twitter or ping me an email from the contact form.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting a series of “beginners” articles on the hows and whys of IoC. I will be using TinyIoC specifically, but the majority of concepts and content can equally apply to other containers. I may even do a “File, New” screencast to show how “un-scary” this stuff is, and how it doesn’t really add any extra development effort,

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