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.Net5 Application Query Tracing Using MiniProfiler

In this article, we are going to explore the usage of MiniProfiler in the .Net5 application.

MiniProfiler:

MiniProfiler helps us to optimize the performance of our dotnet application. Its capabilities are like:
  • Traces the queries and their execution in an application.
  • It displays the time taken by each query.
  • Able to determine the time taken to execute a block of code using customizing time.
  • Provides UI report of an application per page or per request.
  • It supports .NetFramework, .NetCore, .Net5, Dapper, EntityFrame, etc.

Targets To Accomplish:

MiniProfiler will work on any of the .Net Applications like MVC, RazorPages, WebAPI. To understand the usage of MiniProfiler, I'm going to use it in my existing .Net5 MVC application. 

Here my MVC application structure is like this:
  • My application contains 3 pages 'Home', 'Todo', 'Album'.
  • My 'Home' page have 2 database call's, those calls are done by entity framework.
  • My 'Todo' page has 1 database call which will use dapper to communicate with the database.
  • My 'Album' page consumes external API data using HttpClient
  • On each page, my application has an action filter registered which logs the user visits into the database.
Now using MiniProfiler, our goals to achieve are:
  • Need to track the entity framework queries and time take to fetch results on the 'Home' page.
  • Need to track the dapper queries and time taken to fetch results on the 'Todo' page.
  • By using the MiniProfiler time customization technique we need to determine the time taken by the HttpClient in the 'Album' page.
  • Our MiniProfiler should able to track the queries inside of the action filter.

Install MiniProfiler Package:

Package Manager Command:
Install-Package MiniProfiler.AspNetCore
.Net CLI Command
dotnet add package MiniProfiler.AspNetCore

Configure Profiler Service And Middleware:

Now the first step is to configure the MiniProfiler Service method.
Startup.cs:(ConfigureServices Method)
services.AddMiniProfiler()
Now we need to configure Profiler middleware, it must be registered top of route middleware and the best place to register this middleware as the first middleware if possible.
Startup.cs:(Configure Method)
app.UseMiniProfiler();
app.UseHttpsRedirection();
app.UseStaticFiles();
app.UseRouting();
app.UseAuthorization();
app.UseEndpoints(endpoints =>
{
	endpoints.MapControllerRoute(
		name: "default",
		pattern: "{controller=Home}/{action=Index}/{id?}");
});
As per MiniProfiler rules, it should be registered above the route middleware. If possible register it as the first middleware like added above.

Track EntityFrameWork Queries:

Now we have to install the MiniProfiler extension library for the entity framework.
Nuget Package
Install-Package MiniProfiler.EntityFrameworkCore
.NET CLI
dotnet add package MiniProfiler.EntityFrameworkCore
Now we have to register the entity framework MiniProfiler library extension method in our startup services.
Startup.cs:
services.AddMiniProfiler().AddEntityFramework();
Now our MiniProfiler can trace the entity framework queries on our application. The default route path to view the MiniProfiler report is "{yourdomain.com}/mini-profiler-resources/results". 

Now let's first run our 'Home' page which has 2 entity framework database calls, so that MiniProfiler will trace them.
Now let's access the MiniProfiler report on my 'Home' page. Now I will display the report here by splitting them into small images for better understanding.
Image-Part:1
Observation From Image:
  • Default URL to access the MiniProfiler report.
  • Heading for which page of application this report belongs and the total time is taken by the page displayed.
  • Along with the page URL, it all shows an overview of each module execution time and also the time of each entity framework queries inside of them.
Image-Part:2
Observation From Image:
  • This image trace is about the MVC action filter where I'm logging the page views into the database.
  • Reports are able to display the name of the action filter.
  • MiniProfiler also generates the raw SQL query based on entity framework query expression.
  • We can also observe the time taken for the query execution.
  • We can also observe the time taken to open and close the database connection.
Image-Part:3
Image-Part:4

Track Dapper Queries:

I have mentioned that the 'Todo' page in my application uses the Dapper to communicate with the database.
Now if we try to access the MiniProfiler report path we can observe it contains only the MVC action filter log page views query. It won't report the main query for 'Todo' because it uses dapper for query execution.

Now our main goal is to track the dapper queries. So let's check my existing code that uses dapper for query execution.
Controllers/Home.cs:(Todos Action Method-Existing Code)
[Mvc.Root.Profiler.Filters.PageViewActionFilter(pageName: "todo")]
public IActionResult Todo()
{
	DbConnection Connection = new SqlConnection("Your_database_connection");
	using (IDbConnection conn = Connection)
	{
		var todos = conn.Query<Todo>("Select * FROM Todo").ToList();
		return View(new TodoModel { AllTodos = todos });

	}
}
Now we have to install on more MiniProfiler extension library that supports dapper tracking.
Package Manager Command:
Install-Package MiniProfiler.Providers.SqlServer
.NET CLI Command
dotnet add package MiniProfiler.Providers.SqlServer
Now update the 'Todo' action method with MiniProfiler code.
Controllers/Home.cs:(Todos Action Method-Updated Code)
[Mvc.Root.Profiler.Filters.PageViewActionFilter(pageName: "todo")]
public IActionResult Todo()
{
	System.Data.Common.DbConnection Connection = 
	new StackExchange.Profiling.Data.ProfiledDbConnection( 
		new SqlConnection("Your_DB_Connection"), StackExchange.Profiling.MiniProfiler.Current);
	using (System.Data.IDbConnection conn = Connection)
	{
		var todos = conn.Query<Todo>("Select * FROM Todo").ToList();
		return View(new TodoModel { AllTodos = todos });

	}
}
  • (Line: 4-6) Here we are initializing the 'SqlConnection' object inside of the 'StackExchange.Profiling.Data.ProfiledDbConnection' that will enable query tracking.
Compiler Issue:
Now if you build or compile we will get the following issue of  ambiguous methods:

 The call is ambiguous between the following methods or properties: 'Dapper.SqlMapper.Query<T>(System.Data.IDbConnection, string, object, System.Data.IDbTransaction, bool, int?, System.Data.CommandType?)' and 'Dapper.SqlMapper.Query<T>(System.Data.IDbConnection, string, object, System.Data.IDbTransaction, bool, int?, System.Data.CommandType?)'

Reason For Issue:
This issue happens because of our installed libraries like 'Dapper' and 'MiniProfiler.Provider.SqlServer'. So here our 'MiniProfiler.Provider.SqlServer' by default comes with the in-build dapper features.

Solution-1:
In a real-time application, we are going to definitely with multiple layers of projects. So most probably in multi-layered projects, this issue won't occur because of 'MiniProfiler.Provider.SqlServer' will be installed only in the UI project library, and in all remaining libraries like data layer library, we will use 'Dapper'.

Solution-2:
If your application single-layered application means database access code everything in UI project, in that case, we don't need to install 'Dapper' separately.

My sample is a single project sample so to resolve the issue I'm going to uninstall 'Dapper'.

Now let's check the 'Todo' page profiler report
Image-Part:1
Image-Part:2
Image-Part:3
Observation:
  • Here we can see now dapper query has been tracked by the MiniProfiler.

Track Any Block Of Code Execution:

MiniProfiler has the capability to track blocks of code in .net. So to track execution time of block of code provides the following methods:
  • MiniProfiler.Current.Step(string name): It will show simple data like time taken by the code to execute and the input parameter 'name' will be shown as a heading in the profiler report.
  • MiniProfiler.Current.StepIf(string name, decimal minSaveMs, bool includeChildren = false): The first parameter 'name' used to show as heading in report, the 'minSaveMs' to specify the seconds this parameter will be used if the block of code executed before the time specified in the 'minSaveMs' then the track will not have appeared in the report because the method is good and it doesn't have any code smell. The last parameter 'inCludeChildren' whether to include child method time execution.
  • MiniProfiler.Current.CustomTiming(string category, string commandString, string executeType = null): This will show more track information when compared to the 'MiniProfiler.Current.Step'.
  • MiniProfiler.Current.CustomTimingIf(string category, string commandString, decimal minSaveMs, string executeType = null): If the time is taken to execute the block of code below the time specified in 'minSaveMs' then report for this block of code will not appear. 

Track Code Using MiniProfiler.Current.Step() Method:

In my application, I have an 'album' page that fetched data from the external API using HttpClient. But if you try to check the MiniProfiler report we don't see any report about our external API call.

So let's check my existing code of my action 'Album'.
Controllers/Home.cs:(Album Action Method-Existing Code)
[Mvc.Root.Profiler.Filters.PageViewActionFilter(pageName: "album")]
public async Task<IActionResult> Album()
{
	var client = _httpClientFactory.CreateClient("JSONPlaceHolder");
	var response = await client.GetFromJsonAsync<List<AlbumDto>>("/albums");
	return View(new AlbumModel { AllAlbums = response });
}
To track the above code that contains the 'HttpClient' call we have to use 'MiniProfiler.Current.Step'.
So let's update of 'Album' action method to enable code tracking.
Controllers/Home.cs:(Album Action Method-Updated Code)
[Mvc.Root.Profiler.Filters.PageViewActionFilter(pageName: "album")]
public async Task<IActionResult> Album()
{
	using (MiniProfiler.Current.Step("External API Call"))
	{
		var client = _httpClientFactory.CreateClient("JSONPlaceHolder");
		var response = await client.GetFromJsonAsync<List<AlbumDto>>("/albums");
		return View(new AlbumModel { AllAlbums = response });
	}
}
  • Here we wrapped the entire code inside of the 'using' state by using the 'MiniProfiler.Current.Step'. The input parameter value "External API Call" will be displayed as a heading in the MiniProfiler report.
Now once access the 'Albums' page, then check the MiniProfiler report of it.
  • Here from the image, we can observe in our reports we have very minimum information like time to execute a method and its heading.

Track Code Using MiniProfiler.Current.CustomTiming Method:

MiniProfiler.Current.CustomTiming works similar to MiniProfiler.Current.Setp but it gives more information in the profiler report.

Now let's update our 'Album' action method to use the MiniProfiler.Current.Custom.
Controllers/Home.cs:(Album Action Method-Updated Code)
[Mvc.Root.Profiler.Filters.PageViewActionFilter(pageName: "album")]
public async Task<IActionResult> Album()
{
	using (MiniProfiler.Current.CustomTiming("External API Call", "https://jsonplaceholder.typicode.com/albums"))
	{
		var client = _httpClientFactory.CreateClient("JSONPlaceHolder");
		var response = await client.GetFromJsonAsync<List<AlbumDto>>("/albums");
		return View(new AlbumModel { AllAlbums = response });
	}
}
  • Here we encapsulate entire our code into the 'MiniProfiler.Current.CustomTiming'. The first parameter is 'External API Call' will be displayed left side column name in the report, The second parameter gives an overview of what kind of code executing since I'm invoking external API, so I have given it as a URL. So input parameters can be given at our own choice. 
Now let's access the 'Album' page and check the MiniProfiler report.
  • In this approach, we have more tracking information like where this code block executing, what it is executing, and the time is taken to complete the execution.

Enable Profiler On Demand:

For production applications, it won't be good for the profiler to run always because it always tracks the queries in the application might leads to performance issues. So for this purpose, MiniProfiler provides a configuration like 'ShouldProfile' which of type delegate like Func<HttpReques, bool> means it can accept a delegate with the request as input parameter and boolean return type. I this delegate returns true then only the profiler will execute for request else it will not track any code of the request.

So to return a boolean value to the 'ShouldProfile' configuration can be done in many ways like app settings configuration or as a column in database or query parameter etc. My recommended way is to use the query parameter approach.

Now update our service configuration to enable delegate for the  'ShouldProfile' configuration.
Starutp.cs:
services.AddMiniProfiler(optisons =>
{
	optisons.ShouldProfile = (HttpRequest request) =>
	{
		return request.Query["enableProfiler"].ToString() != string.Empty &&
		 Convert.ToBoolean(request.Query["enableProfiler"].ToString());
	};
}).AddEntityFramework();
  • Here we are configuring a delegate method and inside if it checking for an 'enableProfiler' query parameter and if it returns true then profiler will be enabled for the request else if it returns false profiler will be disabled for the request
Now add a query parameter 'eanbleProfiler' with true value and access any of our application pages.
Now you can check the MiniProfiler report.
Now if we try to access our pages with query parameter or with boolean value false then profiler will be disabled for that request.

Override RouteBasePath:

For MiniProfiler the default path is '/mini-profiler-resources/results', but we have an option to override 'mini-profiler-resources' part of the path using the 'RouteBasePath' configuration property.
Startup.cs:
services.AddMiniProfiler(optisons =>
{
	optisons.RouteBasePath = "/profiler";
	optisons.ShouldProfile = (HttpRequest request) =>
	{
		return request.Query["enableProfiler"].ToString() != string.Empty &&
		 Convert.ToBoolean(request.Query["enableProfiler"].ToString());
	};
}).AddEntityFramework();
  • (Line: 3) Here we are setting the 'RouteBasePath' to the custom path like 'profiler'.

MVC Profiler Helper Tag:

MiniProfiler also provides us built-in tag helper which will show the profiler reports as a popup on our application page.

Let's import a few namespaces that are related to the MVC profiler tag helper.
Views/_ViewImports.cshtml: 
@using StackExchange.Profiling
@addTagHelper *, MiniProfiler.AspNetCore.Mvc
Views/_ViewStart.cshtml:
<mini-profiler />

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Wrapping Up:

Hopefully, I think this article delivered some useful information on integrating the MiniProfiler into the DotNet5 application. I love to have your feedback, suggestions, and better techniques in the comment section below.

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