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The Service Locator Pattern

Developers keep referring to Service Locator as an anti-pattern. If that is the case then ASP.NET MVC and every IoC container I’ve ever seen must be wrong because they use it.

The interface for accessing an IoC container is an implementation of the Service Locator pattern. You’re asking for some particular interface (aka a service) and its giving you back an instance (if it can).

Under the hood ASP.NET MVC uses a service locator (which almost always happens to be an IoC container) to new-up Controllers for handling incoming HTTP requests.

Service Locators can certainly be used incorrectly or where they should not, but they are not an anti-pattern. They are a specific tool in what should be an immense toolbox for solving certain types of problems. Sometimes they are the best choice. Sometimes they are a terrible choice. But the pattern itself is not at fault.

For more read Service Locator vs Dependency-Injection which goes into more detail and is also a very fun read. I’d mention the author’s name, but I can’t seen to find a name associated with the blog.

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