gRPC services with ASP.NET Core

This document shows how to get started with gRPC services using ASP.NET Core.

Warning

ASP.NET Core gRPC has extra requirements for being used with Azure App Service or IIS. For more information on where gRPC can be used, see gRPC on .NET supported platforms.

Prerequisites

Get started with gRPC service in ASP.NET Core

View or download sample code (how to download).

See Get started with gRPC services for detailed instructions on how to create a gRPC project.

Add gRPC services to an ASP.NET Core app

gRPC requires the Grpc.AspNetCore package.

Configure gRPC

In Startup.cs:

  • gRPC is enabled with the AddGrpc method.
  • Each gRPC service is added to the routing pipeline through the MapGrpcService method.
public class Startup
{
    // This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to add services to the container.
    // For more information on how to configure your application, visit https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=398940
    public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
    {
        services.AddGrpc();
    }

    // This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to configure the HTTP request pipeline.
    public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IWebHostEnvironment env)
    {
        if (env.IsDevelopment())
        {
            app.UseDeveloperExceptionPage();
        }

        app.UseRouting();

        app.UseEndpoints(endpoints =>
        {
            // Communication with gRPC endpoints must be made through a gRPC client.
            // To learn how to create a client, visit: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2086909
            endpoints.MapGrpcService<GreeterService>();
        });
    }
}

If you would like to see code comments translated to languages other than English, let us know in this GitHub discussion issue.

ASP.NET Core middleware and features share the routing pipeline, therefore an app can be configured to serve additional request handlers. The additional request handlers, such as MVC controllers, work in parallel with the configured gRPC services.

Server options

gRPC services can be hosted by all built-in ASP.NET Core servers.

  • Kestrel
  • TestServer
  • IIS†
  • HTTP.sys‡

†IIS requires .NET 5 and Windows 10 Build 20300.1000 or later.
‡HTTP.sys requires .NET 5 and Windows 10 Build 19529 or later.

The preceding Windows 10 Build versions may require the use of a Windows Insider build.

For more information about choosing the right server for an ASP.NET Core app, see Web server implementations in ASP.NET Core.

Kestrel

Kestrel is a cross-platform web server for ASP.NET Core. Kestrel provides the best performance and memory utilization, but it doesn't have some of the advanced features in HTTP.sys such as port sharing.

Kestrel gRPC endpoints:

HTTP/2

gRPC requires HTTP/2. gRPC for ASP.NET Core validates HttpRequest.Protocol is HTTP/2.

Kestrel supports HTTP/2 on most modern operating systems. Kestrel endpoints are configured to support HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2 connections by default.

TLS

Kestrel endpoints used for gRPC should be secured with TLS. In development, an endpoint secured with TLS is automatically created at https://localhost:5001 when the ASP.NET Core development certificate is present. No configuration is required. An https prefix verifies the Kestrel endpoint is using TLS.

In production, TLS must be explicitly configured. In the following appsettings.json example, an HTTP/2 endpoint secured with TLS is provided:

{
  "Kestrel": {
    "Endpoints": {
      "HttpsInlineCertFile": {
        "Url": "https://localhost:5001",
        "Protocols": "Http2",
        "Certificate": {
          "Path": "<path to .pfx file>",
          "Password": "<certificate password>"
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Alternatively, Kestrel endpoints can be configured in Program.cs:

public static IHostBuilder CreateHostBuilder(string[] args) =>
    Host.CreateDefaultBuilder(args)
        .ConfigureWebHostDefaults(webBuilder =>
        {
            webBuilder.ConfigureKestrel(options =>
            {
                options.Listen(IPAddress.Any, 5001, listenOptions =>
                {
                    listenOptions.Protocols = HttpProtocols.Http2;
                    listenOptions.UseHttps("<path to .pfx file>", 
                        "<certificate password>");
                });
            });
            webBuilder.UseStartup<Startup>();
        });

For more information on enabling TLS with Kestrel, see Kestrel HTTPS endpoint configuration.

Protocol negotiation

TLS is used for more than securing communication. The TLS Application-Layer Protocol Negotiation (ALPN) handshake is used to negotiate the connection protocol between the client and the server when an endpoint supports multiple protocols. This negotiation determines whether the connection uses HTTP/1.1 or HTTP/2.

If an HTTP/2 endpoint is configured without TLS, the endpoint's ListenOptions.Protocols must be set to HttpProtocols.Http2. An endpoint with multiple protocols (for example, HttpProtocols.Http1AndHttp2) can't be used without TLS because there's no negotiation. All connections to the unsecured endpoint default to HTTP/1.1, and gRPC calls fail.

For more information on enabling HTTP/2 and TLS with Kestrel, see Kestrel endpoint configuration.

Note

macOS doesn't support ASP.NET Core gRPC with TLS. Additional configuration is required to successfully run gRPC services on macOS. For more information, see Unable to start ASP.NET Core gRPC app on macOS.

IIS

Internet Information Services (IIS) is a flexible, secure and manageable Web Server for hosting web apps, including ASP.NET Core. .NET 5 and Windows 10 Build 20300.1000 or later are required to host gRPC services with IIS, which may require the use of a Windows Insider build.

IIS must be configured to use TLS and HTTP/2. For more information, see Use ASP.NET Core with HTTP/2 on IIS.

HTTP.sys

HTTP.sys is a web server for ASP.NET Core that only runs on Windows. .NET 5 and Windows 10 Build 19529 or later are required to host gRPC services with HTTP.sys, which may require the use of a Windows Insider build.

HTTP.sys must be configured to use TLS and HTTP/2. For more information, see HTTP.sys web server HTTP/2 support.

Kestrel

Kestrel is a cross-platform web server for ASP.NET Core. Kestrel provides the best performance and memory utilization, but it doesn't have some of the advanced features in HTTP.sys such as port sharing.

Kestrel gRPC endpoints:

HTTP/2

gRPC requires HTTP/2. gRPC for ASP.NET Core validates HttpRequest.Protocol is HTTP/2.

Kestrel supports HTTP/2 on most modern operating systems. Kestrel endpoints are configured to support HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2 connections by default.

TLS

Kestrel endpoints used for gRPC should be secured with TLS. In development, an endpoint secured with TLS is automatically created at https://localhost:5001 when the ASP.NET Core development certificate is present. No configuration is required. An https prefix verifies the Kestrel endpoint is using TLS.

In production, TLS must be explicitly configured. In the following appsettings.json example, an HTTP/2 endpoint secured with TLS is provided:

{
  "Kestrel": {
    "Endpoints": {
      "HttpsInlineCertFile": {
        "Url": "https://localhost:5001",
        "Protocols": "Http2",
        "Certificate": {
          "Path": "<path to .pfx file>",
          "Password": "<certificate password>"
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Alternatively, Kestrel endpoints can be configured in Program.cs:

public static IHostBuilder CreateHostBuilder(string[] args) =>
    Host.CreateDefaultBuilder(args)
        .ConfigureWebHostDefaults(webBuilder =>
        {
            webBuilder.ConfigureKestrel(options =>
            {
                options.Listen(IPAddress.Any, 5001, listenOptions =>
                {
                    listenOptions.Protocols = HttpProtocols.Http2;
                    listenOptions.UseHttps("<path to .pfx file>", 
                        "<certificate password>");
                });
            });
            webBuilder.UseStartup<Startup>();
        });

For more information on enabling TLS with Kestrel, see Kestrel HTTPS endpoint configuration.

Protocol negotiation

TLS is used for more than securing communication. The TLS Application-Layer Protocol Negotiation (ALPN) handshake is used to negotiate the connection protocol between the client and the server when an endpoint supports multiple protocols. This negotiation determines whether the connection uses HTTP/1.1 or HTTP/2.

If an HTTP/2 endpoint is configured without TLS, the endpoint's ListenOptions.Protocols must be set to HttpProtocols.Http2. An endpoint with multiple protocols (for example, HttpProtocols.Http1AndHttp2) can't be used without TLS because there's no negotiation. All connections to the unsecured endpoint default to HTTP/1.1, and gRPC calls fail.

For more information on enabling HTTP/2 and TLS with Kestrel, see Kestrel endpoint configuration.

Note

macOS doesn't support ASP.NET Core gRPC with TLS. Additional configuration is required to successfully run gRPC services on macOS. For more information, see Unable to start ASP.NET Core gRPC app on macOS.

Integration with ASP.NET Core APIs

gRPC services have full access to the ASP.NET Core features such as Dependency Injection (DI) and Logging. For example, the service implementation can resolve a logger service from the DI container via the constructor:

public class GreeterService : Greeter.GreeterBase
{
    public GreeterService(ILogger<GreeterService> logger)
    {
    }
}

By default, the gRPC service implementation can resolve other DI services with any lifetime (Singleton, Scoped, or Transient).

Resolve HttpContext in gRPC methods

The gRPC API provides access to some HTTP/2 message data, such as the method, host, header, and trailers. Access is through the ServerCallContext argument passed to each gRPC method:

public class GreeterService : Greeter.GreeterBase
{
    public override Task<HelloReply> SayHello(
        HelloRequest request, ServerCallContext context)
    {
        return Task.FromResult(new HelloReply
        {
            Message = "Hello " + request.Name
        });
    }
}

ServerCallContext doesn't provide full access to HttpContext in all ASP.NET APIs. The GetHttpContext extension method provides full access to the HttpContext representing the underlying HTTP/2 message in ASP.NET APIs:

public class GreeterService : Greeter.GreeterBase
{
    public override Task<HelloReply> SayHello(
        HelloRequest request, ServerCallContext context)
    {
        var httpContext = context.GetHttpContext();
        var clientCertificate = httpContext.Connection.ClientCertificate;

        return Task.FromResult(new HelloReply
        {
            Message = "Hello " + request.Name + " from " + clientCertificate.Issuer
        });
    }
}

Additional resources