So I made a socket communication library. And a part of it is IConnection

public enum ConnectionState
    NotConnected, Connecting, Connected, Authenticated, Disconnecting, Disconnected

public interface IConnection
    ConnectionState State { get; }

    event Action Connected;
    event Action Disconnected;
    event Action Authenticated;
    event Action AuthenticationFailed;

    // this two methods are the core of my question
    void OnAuthenticated();
    void OnAuthenticationFailed();

    bool Send(byte[] data);
    void Connect();
    void Close();

Of course IConnection provides information about connection state and is able to fire Connected/Disconnected events as it holds Socket. There is no doubt.

Now, users of IConnection would also like to know when it becomes authenticated. For example, server might listen to that events, and once connection is authenticated - send client's initial configuration data. Or client might listen to that events and decide to start communication or retry authentication process.

But. The problem is, authentication process exists in the protocol layer. IConnection has no idea such layer even exists. Protocol layer actually uses IConnection to send serialized to byte[] message to the other party. And for this one particular message kind, protocol layer is able to send data upon connection in ConnectionState.Connected state.

So, for IConnection to be able to change it's state and inform subscribers on auth process i had to implement this two methods

void OnAuthenticated();
void OnAuthenticationFailed();

Which are, obviously called from protocol layer authentication process code.

I feel like I'm doing something wrong here. And since i work alone, any thoughts will be much appreciated.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe the class that works with the connection (the one that represents protocol layer) should expose the Authenticated event? \$\endgroup\$ – svick Feb 13 '13 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @svick This is one of the ways, but i like it less then current because other services will have to be aware of this Authentication Service, and it will have to be single instance per connection. \$\endgroup\$ – Anri Feb 14 '13 at 0:21

You're not quite correct saying that IConnection has no ideas about protocol layer - in your defininition IConnection provides events about authentication process. So your code should have some connections between IConnection and protocol layer. I have no clue about entire relationships between layers in your application, but I can suggest some method:

  • provide function for calling events (like you suggested)

  • implement IConnection in protocol layer

  • realization of IConnection listens what happens in protocol layer (i.e. AssignAuthentificationService function)

  • implement IAuthentifiedConnection that knows about protocol layer

  • \$\begingroup\$ So you find normal situation when one class calls IConnection.OnAuthenticated() and then IConnection itself fires the Authenticated event? \$\endgroup\$ – Anri Feb 14 '13 at 10:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually i like the last idea, IConnection implementation, or to be precise extension of default implementation might exist in Protocol layer / business logic \$\endgroup\$ – Anri Feb 14 '13 at 12:47

Remember that interfaces are usage contracts. They do not define how a class should be implemented.

Hence it's up to the implementation to handle the authentication process. So if we look at the contract only, the OnXxx methods do not belong in it.

If we are looking at implementations there is nothing that says that all future implementations of the class would required a third party to handle the authentication.

However, your current implementation do. So what you could do to allow third party to interact with the connection is to create a second interface which only targets that: IRequireThirdPartyAuthentication which has those to methods.

Your implementation should have the following layout:

public class MyConnection : IConnection, IRequireThirdPartyAuthentication

Are you sure that all connections will require authentication? If not: Create interface inheritance as ivn suggested.


I ended up moving the core part of the protocol like authentication, keep-alive service and basic message types that will be most likely used everywhere to the Communication assembly.

So now IConnection does auth process itself as it is aware of core protocol.


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