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Dotnet Core Application Hosting And Debugging Using Local IIS Server


Dotnet core application can run by using hosting servers like
1. IIS EXPRESS(built-in  server in visual studio)
and so on many other servers.

The most commonly used server at development time is IIS EXPRESS. But we can do debugging the application by hosting it on Local IIS Server also. Using Local IIS helps to test any server-level configuration locally before going to the production server.

About Platform:

The platform using for this sample below
1. IIS Server 7 or above,
2. Dotnet Core Framework 2.2v+
3. Dotnet Core MVC
4. Visual Studio 2017 or above (editor)

Getting Started: 

Now we are going host a sample ASP.NET Core MVC application in our local IIS Server and then we are going debug our application in visual studio using Local IIS Server.

Download And Install DOTNET Core SDK And Runtime:

Go to the Microsft Dotnet Core downloads and download and install dotnet core SDK and Runtime.
SDK is the Software Development Kit, provides libraries to develop ASP.NET Core Applications and Runtime used by hosting servers.

Verify AspNetCoreModuleV2 Installation:

Now opens your local IIS server, goto Sites => Default Web Site select it. On the right side, pannel go to IIS => Modules select

"AspNetCoreModuleV2" displays, it says we successfully install Dotnet core 2.2  runtimes. If your not able to see that module once restart your pc and check.

Create ASP.NET Core MVC Application:

Now create core MVC application. Click here create MVC project

Creating And Configuring Web.config:

By default in the dotnet core web application, we don't get web.config. Add web.config file as follows
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

  <!-- To customize the core module uncomment and edit the following section. 
  For more info see -->
      <remove name="aspNetCore"/>
      <add name="aspNetCore" path="*" verb="*" modules="AspNetCoreModuleV2" resourceType="Unspecified"/>
    <aspNetCore processPath="dotnet" arguments=".\bin\Debug\netcoreapp3.0\IISHostingTest.MVC.dll" stdoutLogEnabled="true" stdoutLogFile=".\logs\stdout" />

  • 'AspNetCoreModuleV2' specifying the server needs to target the Dotnet Core Runtime version 2.2 plus. So in the config section, we specified explicitly to run on 'AspNetCoreModuleV2'.
  • Now observe the 'aspNetCore' XML tag, its attributes are commands to startup the application. We need to pass  'arguments' value ".\bin\Debug\netcoreapp2.2\your_mvc_application_name.dll"(specifying our startup project dll location)
  • 'stdoutLogEnabled' gives access to log the application level errors at the path provided in 'stdoutLogFile'.

Configure Application And Domain Binding:

Now open the IIS server. Goto Sies => Add WebSite opens a popup as shown below

  • SiteName => CoreApp (hosted application name in IIS Server)
  • PhysicalPath => "D:\exmples\AspCoreWithLocalIISSetup\LocalIISSetupSample\LocalIISSetupSample"(my sample Path)
  • HostName => "corewithlocaliis" (your site name, adding to the iis server)

Domain Binding In Host File:

Now we need to register our domain like "corewithlocaliis" in the local host file. Now got to "C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc" open local host file and add "      corewithlocaliis" in that file.

Test Application:

Now search your domain "corewithlocaliis" in browser your able to see the output as below

now we successfully configured our application, local IIS.

Visual Studio Build Issue (Could Not Copy DLL Files):

Now while accessing the application from IIS, change code in visual studio and build project we get the following build issue.

This issue because while DLL files are used by IIS, the visual studio tries to delete existing DLLs to recreate them on build command.

Resolve Build Issue:

In your application now add file name a "app_offline.htm" (note: don't use .html) in wwwroot folder. Now click on edit option on yourapplication_name.cproj add the following code.

  • Target => Name => PreBuild means this tag gets run before building the project. Inside it, we are copying the "app_offline.htm" file from the wwwroot folder to the main folder. After copied the "app_offline.htm" file, IIS goes offline until the file deleted. Now build starts since IIS in offline mode build will get success.
  • Target => Name => PostBuild means this tag gets run after building the project. Inside it, we are deleting "app_offline.htm" from the root folder, so that the IIS server gets active.
  • If we carefully observe this only executes in debug mode nothing but development time. In release mode, there won't any effect of the tags in the image above.
  • Now build the project build issue fixed.
Note Click here to copy the event tags

Debugging Using 'dotnet.exe' Command:

Now go to visual studio, select break pointer to debug code. Now click "Ctrl+Alt+p" opens Attach to process popup as below

Select the donet.exe process, so the debugger gets activated. That's it we are good to debug our dotnet core application with our local IIS server.

SetUp OverView:


Asp.Net Core Sample application has been created, hosted in local IIS Server and debugging the project from Visual Studio. Discussed about pre and post build events helps in creating and deleting app_offline.htm file. Discussed Web.config configurations.


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