ASP.NET Tutorial: Using Transforms in Your ASP.NET Project Part Two

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ASP.NET Tutorial: Using Transforms in Your ASP.NET Project Part Two

Control different environments in an ASP.NET Core web application.

· Web Dev Zone ·
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In the last post, we discuss how configuration files are important in your ASP.NET projects and how they can help other teams in knowing what parameters to use in your application.

In this final post, I discuss the different settings in an ASP.NET Core web application.

What About AppSettings in ASP.NET Core?

With the latest ASP.NET Core, things have changed...a little.

While there isn't a ConfigurationManager any more, configuration settings are used through appsettings.json files now. Instead of XML, we are now using JSON. I hear JSON is an up-and-coming thing, don'tcha know? 

They function the same way, but instead of an XML Transform, your JSON configuration files will replace the properties in the same hierarchy.

For example, in the appsettings.json file,

  "Logging": {
    "LogLevel": {
      "Default": "Warning"
  "AllowedHosts": "*"

Your appsettings.development.json file looks like this:

  "Logging": {
    "LogLevel": {
      "Default": "Debug",
      "System": "Information",
      "Microsoft": "Information"

However, transforms don't occur with the MSBuild.exe. They occur in code.

Startup.cs is where everything takes place for your ASP.NET Core application. A default Startup method in the Startup.cs looks like this:

public Startup(IConfiguration configuration)
    Configuration = configuration;

To introduce specific app settings to your application, modify your Startup method to look like this:

public Startup(IConfiguration configuration, IHostingEnvironment env)
    var builder = new ConfigurationBuilder()
        .AddJsonFile("appsettings.json", false, true)
        .AddJsonFile($"appsettings.{env.EnvironmentName}.json", optional: true, reloadOnChange: true)

    Configuration = builder.Build();

If you notice, we added an IHostingEnvironment parameter because of dependency injection. We automatically get the IHostingEnvironment injected because it contains the environment variable for the project...and we need it.

After we set the BasePath, we add a "base" JSON file called appsettings.json. Anything after the appsettings.json line will be applied by adding or overwriting a name/value pair in subsequent .json files.

Using the example above, the "LogLevel.Default" will be replaced with "Debug" when we use the development settings.

Changing the Environment Variable

The setting you want to change is located in your project's profile.

Right-click on the project and select Properties. Click on Debug to find the ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT  variable.


Each profile can contain your ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT variable. These can be custom to however you want to set up your environments.

As mentioned in the docs, there are extension methods to assist with your configuration in the Startup method.

  • env.IsDevelopment() — Checks to see if the ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT variable is Development.
  • env.IsStaging() — Checks for Staging.
  • env.IsProduction() — Checks for Production.
  • env.IsEnvironment("QA") — Checks if the environment is QA (or whatever environment name you want to use).

That covers the different environments in code.

What About DevOps?

I can hear the DevOps people screaming, "But I don't have control over the different environments when building the project."

Yes, you do.

With the "dotnet build," you can specify the configuration for the build. If I wanted to run the Debug version to build my project in my DevOps Pipeline, the command line would look like this:

dotnet build --configuration Debug

As with Visual Studio, you can also add custom environments. The following dotnet build command line creates a QA version of the build as well.

dotnet build --configuration QA

There are many options for performing a build on a different servers with various configurations.

While I've touched on a few ways to use ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT variables, I also wanted to mention Andrew Locke's awesome post about How to Set The Hosting Environment in ASP.NET Core.


Configuration files are especially important to centralize the settings for your application and especially important as to what environment your application is pointing to.

There was a time when a new dev performed a transform, checked code in, automatically deployed, and our project on QA was pointing to a production server. He got confused when all of the configuration settings were in one large file.

As you can see, having them in separate environment files is absolutely helpful in the long run.

I hope these two posts provided enough evidence as to why configuration files are important in ASP.NET and ASP.NET Core.

Do you use configuration files? How do you DevOps ASP.NET Core projects? Post your comments below and let's discuss.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about ASP.NET, check out this collection of tutorials and articles on all things ASP.NET.

web dev ,transforms ,.net ,c# ,json ,tutorial

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