StackExchange.Redis

Basic Usage

The central object in StackExchange.Redis is the ConnectionMultiplexer class in the StackExchange.Redis namespace; this is the object that hides away the details of multiple servers. Because the ConnectionMultiplexer does a lot, it is designed to be shared and reused between callers. You should not create a ConnectionMultiplexer per operation. It is fully thread-safe and ready for this usage. In all the subsequent examples it will be assumed that you have a ConnectionMultiplexer instance stored away for re-use. But for now, let’s create one. This is done using ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect or ConnectionMultiplexer.ConnectAsync, passing in either a configuration string or a ConfigurationOptions object. The configuration string can take the form of a comma-delimited series of nodes, so let’s just connect to an instance on the local machine on the default port (6379):

using StackExchange.Redis;
...
ConnectionMultiplexer redis = ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect("localhost");
// ^^^ store and re-use this!!!

Note that ConnectionMultiplexer implements IDisposable and can be disposed when no longer required. This is deliberately not showing using statement usage, because it is exceptionally rare that you would want to use a ConnectionMultiplexer briefly, as the idea is to re-use this object.

A more complicated scenario might involve a master/slave setup; for this usage, simply specify all the desired nodes that make up that logical redis tier (it will automatically identify the master):

ConnectionMultiplexer redis = ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect("server1:6379,server2:6379");

If it finds both nodes are masters, a tie-breaker key can optionally be specified that can be used to resolve the issue, however such a condition is fortunately very rare.

Once you have a ConnectionMultiplexer, there are 3 main things you might want to do:

Using a redis database

Accessing a redis database is as simple as:

IDatabase db = redis.GetDatabase();

The object returned from GetDatabase is a cheap pass-thru object, and does not need to be stored. Note that redis supports multiple databases (although this is not supported on “cluster”); this can be optionally specified in the call to GetDatabase. Additionally, if you plan to make use of the asynchronous API and you require the Task.AsyncState to have a value, this can also be specified:

int databaseNumber = ...
object asyncState = ...
IDatabase db = redis.GetDatabase(databaseNumber, asyncState);

Once you have the IDatabase, it is simply a case of using the redis API. Note that all methods have both synchronous and asynchronous implementations. In line with Microsoft’s naming guidance, the asynchronous methods all end ...Async(...), and are fully await-able etc.

The simplest operation would be to store and retrieve a value:

string value = "abcdefg";
db.StringSet("mykey", value);
...
string value = db.StringGet("mykey");
Console.WriteLine(value); // writes: "abcdefg"

Note that the String... prefix here denotes the String redis type, and is largely separate to the .NET String type, although both can store text data. However, redis allows raw binary data for both keys and values - the usage is identical:

byte[] key = ..., value = ...;
db.StringSet(key, value);
...
byte[] value = db.StringGet(key);

The entire range of redis database commands covering all redis data types is available for use.

Using redis pub/sub

Another common use of redis is as a pub/sub message distribution tool; this is also simple, and in the event of connection failure, the ConnectionMultiplexer will handle all the details of re-subscribing to the requested channels.

ISubscriber sub = redis.GetSubscriber();

Again, the object returned from GetSubscriber is a cheap pass-thru object that does not need to be stored. The pub/sub API has no concept of databases, but as before we can optionally provide an async-state. Note that all subscriptions are global: they are not scoped to the lifetime of the ISubscriber instance. The pub/sub features in redis use named “channels”; channels do not need to be defined in advance on the server (an interesting use here is things like per-user notification channels, which is what drives parts of the realtime updates on Stack Overflow). As is common in .NET, subscriptions take the form of callback delegates which accept the channel-name and the message:

sub.Subscribe("messages", (channel, message) => {
    Console.WriteLine((string)message);
});

Separately (and often in a separate process on a separate machine) you can publish to this channel:

sub.Publish("messages", "hello");

This will (virtually instantaneously) write "hello" to the console of the subscribed process. As before, both channel-names and messages can be binary.

Please also see Pub / Sub Message Order for guidance on sequential versus concurrent message processing.

Accessing individual servers

For maintenance purposes, it is sometimes necessary to issue server-specific commands:

IServer server = redis.GetServer("localhost", 6379);

The GetServer method will accept an EndPoint or the name/value pair that uniquely identify the server. As before, the object returned from GetServer is a cheap pass-thru object that does not need to be stored, and async-state can be optionally specified. Note that the set of available endpoints is also available:

EndPoint[] endpoints = redis.GetEndPoints();

From the IServer instance, the Server commands are available; for example:

DateTime lastSave = server.LastSave();
ClientInfo[] clients = server.ClientList();

Sync vs Async vs Fire-and-Forget

There are 3 primary usage mechanisms with StackExchange.Redis:

The synchronous usage is already shown in the examples above. This is the simplest usage, and does not involve the TPL.

For asynchronous usage, the key difference is the Async suffix on methods, and (typically) the use of the await language feature. For example:

string value = "abcdefg";
await db.StringSetAsync("mykey", value);
...
string value = await db.StringGetAsync("mykey");
Console.WriteLine(value); // writes: "abcdefg"

The fire-and-forget usage is accessed by the optional CommandFlags flags parameter on all methods (defaults to none). In this usage, the method returns the default value immediately (so a method that normally returns a String will always return null, and a method that normally returns an Int64 will always return 0). The operation will continue in the background. A typical use-case of this might be to increment page-view counts:

db.StringIncrement(pageKey, flags: CommandFlags.FireAndForget);