Microsoft MVC5 + ASP.NET Identity with Telerik OpenAccess Awesomeness

Microsoft’s new membership system ASP.NET Identity is (IMHO) absolutely fantastic! The system itself comes installed as the default provider in Visual Studio 2013 for ASP.NET templates and can be downloaded for use within Visual Studio 2012.

ASP.NET Identity is the next step in the evolution to what was previously known as the SimpleMembership and Membership providers. Previous versions have been extremely brittle; this new approach simplifies and segments the membership provider in such a way that it makes it incredibly easy to plug-in and remove the components as you require and more importantly simplifies development when implementing a separation of concerns in a Service Oriented Architecture. Anyone who has attempted to achieve this with WCF and the previous membership providers will know the difficulties and lack of clear process through which to accomplish this. Another major benefit is that the framework implements all the .NET Async goodness by default. While you could always create your own Async wrappers in the older providers it makes things easier to see this functionality implemented for you.

The problems with the original ASP.NET Membership provider were:

  1. Designed for SQL Server and you can’t change it. You can add profile information, but the additional data is packed into a different table, which makes it difficult to access by any means except through the Profile Provider API.

  2. The provider system enables you to change the backing data store, but the system is designed around assumptions appropriate for a relational database.

  3. Since the log-in/log-out functionality is based on Forms Authentication, the membership system can’t use OWIN.

As the Introduction to ASP.NET identity article goes on to say

Simple Membership did make it easier to customize user profile information, but it still shares the other problems with ASP.NET Membership, and it has some limitations such as:

  • It was hard to persist membership system data in a non-relational store.
  • You can’t use it with OWIN.
  • It doesn’t work well with existing ASP.NET Membership providers, and it’s not extensible.

So, how is ASP.NET Identity different? Well…..

1. Storage backend is completely separate

Complete and total separation of the storage mechanism used within the provider. For example implement your own storage back-end but use something other than the entity framework? Or you want to use some type of NoSQL implementation (such as Azure Tables) or even just an Xml file? Well all you need to do¹ is implement the IUser and the IUserStore interfaces, inject it into your UserManager and you’ve got your own custom storage provider.


protected void CreateUserManager()
    //Create a new user manager based on your User model, inject your UserStore and finally your ORM context
    UserManager<AspNetUser> Manager = new UserManager<AspNetUser>(new OpenAccessUserStore(new EntitiesModel()));

    //Now inject the validator
    Manager.UserValidator = new UserValidator<AspNetUser>(Manager)
        AllowOnlyAlphanumericUserNames = false

    //And set a property so you can use the UserManager when required
    this.UserManager = Manager;

//Public property to access your UserManager instance.
public UserManager<AspNetUser> UserManager { get; private set; }

Note that all you need to do to create a basic IUserStore and IUser is implement this.

public interface IUserStore<TUser> : System.IDisposable where TUser : Microsoft.AspNet.Identity.IUser
    System.Threading.Tasks.Task CreateAsync(TUser user);
    System.Threading.Tasks.Task UpdateAsync(TUser user);
    System.Threading.Tasks.Task DeleteAsync(TUser user);
    System.Threading.Tasks.Task<TUser> FindByIdAsync(string userId);
    System.Threading.Tasks.Task<TUser> FindByNameAsync(string userName);


public interface IUser
    string Id { get; }
    string UserName { get; set; }

2. General decoupling

Previously the provider implementation was extremely closely coupled between its various ‘bits’. The result would often cause confusion about which methods to invoke and under what circumstances (at least for me). Sometimes all you’d want to do is authenticate, sometimes you want to authenticate and sign in and sometimes you want to go straight to the database and just retrieve some bit of User info. Because of this change of implementation it’s been significantly easier to build a project using this provider and integrate it with WCF cleanly. In part this is because it’s now much easier to say, “Give me all claims for this user.” then “Authenticate the following claims.”. They are completely different subsystems and have no direct inter-dependencies.

3. Unit Testing

Clear interface based contracts between the various components of the framework make dependency injection and unit testing much simpler.

4. Claims based

While roles still exist within ASP.NET Identity the emphasis to a claims based authentication seams clear. Claims are useful because they abstract the individual elements of identity and access control into two parts. Unless you’ve got a reason not to, I suggest it makes sense to use claims rather than roles.

Finally I’ve gone ahead and built a generic Visual Studio project template extension which shows how to integrate MVC5 with ASP.NET Identity behind WCF webservices and utilizing Telerik OpenAccess ORM for the storage provider (Because OpenAccess kicks ass…) and deployed it to the Visual Studio Gallery for everyone to use or if you prefer just a straight download of the files.

The project itself demonstrates a number of things including:

  1. How to create a NetTCP WCF service without autogenerated proxy classes.
  2. How to use ASP.NET Identity in a WCF service
  3. How to use a different ORM as an alternative to the entity framework
  4. How to include System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations in a portable class library for your Views.
    1. Which allows the ability to use them across your MVC, WCF, Windows Phone and Xamarin applications.

Hopefully someone else will find the template and source code useful!

  1. It’s not quite that simple (you might need to implement between 1 and like 10,000,000 interfaces), but almost!

Microsoft Windows Azure Storage BlockBlob Intro

I just wanted to show a quick example of how to save a basic item in Microsoft Windows Azure Storage using BlockBlob storage.

Basically using the simplest process it takes about 8 steps to successfully save an item in Azure Storage.

  1. Get the CloudStorageAccount
  2. Get a CloudBlobContainer
  3. If container doesn’t exist create it
  4. Get a CloudBlockBlob from the CloudBlobContainer
  5. Create a MemoryStream for your byte array
  6. Set the permissions
  7. Set the content-type
  8. Upload the stream

In code this looks like this


and click here to download a simple little Azure BlockBlob storage manager that I created to help with the process.

Always use ChannelFactory when referencing WCF services (particularly for Azure)

Given the indeterminate nature of the IP addresses of Azure web roles (There are a number of exceptions to this but in general) you end up in a real pickle if you you use the Service Reference functionality built into Visual Studio that most of us regularly do.

(This thing)


Truthfully, the way the proxy service references have always worked had its flaws despite its convenience.

The problem boils down to two things. First, if you’re correctly using WCF services you should be binding to DataContracts and Interfaces rather than any concrete implementations anyway. Secondly, you’re stuck with hard-coded values that live in your web.config, with what is inherently dynamic and often not known at compile time (ip addresses).

So how do you solve it?

Remarkably simply, it takes the form of the channel factory and provided you have both your datacontracts and your service interfaces referenced you can then do this.


Download the example.


Implementing WCF Net.Tcp binding/activation in Azure Web Role

I’ve been spending a significant amount of time recently working with the Azure platform and all I can say is WOW! Congratulations to Microsoft for creating an awesome cloud computing platform. The power, scalability, robustness and small learning curve of Azure is a godsend.

Niceties aside, working out how to get WCF Net.Tcp bindings working in an Azure web role has been far from a trivial process so I figure its time to share the magic.

Step 1 (Configure the internal endpoint):


Step 2 (Configure the WebRole to run in elevated execution context in the ServiceDefinition.csdef file):


Step 3 (In the WebRole OnStart() method add code that installs NonHttp Activation and configures the site bindings to support net.tcp):

Note that this code requires a reference to Microsoft.Web.Administration which is located in C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\

private void InstallWCFNonHTTPActivation()
    using (Process installer = new Process())

        installer.StartInfo.UseShellExecute = false;
        installer.StartInfo.RedirectStandardOutput = true;
        installer.StartInfo.FileName = Path.Combine(Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.System), "dism.exe");
        installer.StartInfo.Arguments = " /online /enable-feature /featurename:WCF-NonHTTP-Activation";
        installer.StartInfo.CreateNoWindow = true;
        //string output = installer.StandardOutput.ReadToEnd();

private void ConfigureSite()

        ServerManager manager = new ServerManager();
        Site CurrentSite = manager.Sites.FirstOrDefault();

        if (CurrentSite != null)
            Application app = CurrentSite.Applications.FirstOrDefault();

            if (app != null)
                app.EnabledProtocols = "http, net.tcp";

            CurrentSite.Bindings.Add("123:" + CurrentSite.Bindings.First().EndPoint.Address, "net.tcp");

    catch (Exception ex)
        System.IO.File.WriteAllText(Path.Combine(Directory.GetCurrentDirectory(), "ConfigureSiteException.txt"), ex.Message);


And there you have it, your Azure Web Role will now Install Non-Http Activation, configure bindings and automatically start without any intervention. Simple as that, only took me 3 days to work out! :-p