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what is HTTP Handlers and HTTP Modules
March 11, 2010
what is HTTP Handlers and HTTP Modules in .net framework? How to create and use in our application?
Posted Date: March 11, 2010 Points: 5
HTTP modules are executed before and after the handler and provide a method for interacting with the request. Custom modules must implement the System.Web.IHttpModule interface. Modules are typically synchronized with events of the System.Web.IHttpModule class (implemented within the Global.asax.cs or .vb file). The following consists of a list of events that should be considered when implementing your module:
The events identified by an asterisk (*) can occur at any time within the request; all others are listed in their calling order.
HTTP handlers proces the request and are generally responsible for initiating necessary business logic tied to the request. Custom handlers must implement the System.Web.IHttpHandler interface. Additionally, a handler factory can be created which will analyze a request to determine what HTTP handler is appropriate. Custom handler factories implement the System.Web.IHttpHandlerFactory interface.
When to use Modules and Handlers
With all of the options available in ASP.NET, it is sometimes hard to determine what solution best fits your needs. Of course, it's always best to keep things simple; but, you still need to take evolutionary considerations and experience levels of current and future team members who have a potential of working on teh project into account. Both modules and handlers add a layer of indirection that can be daunting to beginners and/or programmers who are not used to implementing quality designs (read: design patterns).
First, consider what it is that you want to do within your module or handler. Some functions, such as authentication and intstrumentation can be added within modules. Modules should be considered only when there is a need for pass-through and/or intercepting interaction with the request. Alternatively, handlers should be put in place when there is a need to direct functional actions to one or more parts of an application. Probably the most noted use of HTTP handlers is to the FrontController pattern, which allows requests to be refactored and assigned to different components within your application without implementing such changes in every page.
Second, is it worth it? Most applications do not require this level of indirection, which can be hard to understand and/or implement when not documented properly. Some methods, such as the PageController pattern, allow for common functionality to be reused across multiple pages by including this logic in a base System.Web.UI.Page object, and inheriting from this for every web page. When reviewing the PageController implementation, you should know and understand the appropriate use of inheritence. Although certain things can be done this way (i.e. authorization and instrumentation), this is not always the correct means. You should fully understand the pros/cons of utilizing both modules and handlers before deciding on one implementation over the other.
With each of these considerations, and more, the decision to implement modules and/or handlers can be a daunting one. Such decisions should be led by an experienced .NET architect. In the absense of a skilled architect, you will be looking at a lot of leg-work to determine the best solution.
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