Advise needed: Asp.Net app architecture (centralising assemblies)
Posted on 2008-10-17
I'd really appreciate any advice from anyone experienced in the field of online application architecture (with Asp.Net apps) as Im a bit stumped on which way to go...
First, some background: We've developed an Asp.Net application that serves many clients. When a client purchases the application, they get their own website set-up with bespoke files (their own web.config, master pages, css etc). In an attempt to centralize this application, we have a directory of shared files 'CoreCode'. Each client website gets a virtual directory that will point to this shared folder.
Our method works well for centralizing the UI layer. The problem is in centralising the business logic layer for our application (app.BLL), which is contained in a separate project. We are constantly developing this application, adding new features and fixing bugs. At the moment, every time we make updates the BLL, we have to manually copy the .dll assembly file to the bin directory of every clients website, we 40+ clients so far and we make updates every week, as you can imagine, this is getting annoying. It has to be done of course because the shared CoreCode files often access the new updates to the BLL.
I need to figure out a better way of doing this, the problem Im having is that none of my options seem very viable...
The obvious solution, which Im sure youre thinking of now, is to put the BLL assembly in the GAC. There are some initial problems here in that the BLL references third party assemblies that are not strongly named so I get an error when I try and add the BLL to the GAC. I could probably get round this one though. The other problem is that Ill have to add a strongly named reference (with version) in the web.config of every client website, so wont that mean that every week when we update the BLL, Ill have to go through every web.config and update that reference?
Another solution would be to somehow have a shared bin folder (via a symbolic link of something). What are the ramifications of doing this? I can imagine wed end up with a pretty huge bin folder somewhere... Is this even possible?
Failing the above, my backup plan is to write a windows app to physically replace the assembly in all the bin files. Id really like to avoid this if at all possible.
Can anyone offer any advice on which route to take here? Any help will be greatly appreciated.