Welcome in 2020, I wish you a happy new year! You found my first post of this year. In the last weeks of 2019 I was very busy, so I took the opportunity of the holidays to learn a bit more about a system called gRPC. Now I want to share my first impressions and my starter demo, called GrpcGeo on GitHub.

Remote Procedures

There is a long history of technologies to access external apps. As a student I worked with CORBA to establish communication between Java apps or implemented sockets with C++. I lost focus on these technologies but back in those days it felt complicated somehow. Lateron I worked alot with WCF or REST-APIs. The last one is technically HTTP + Json which is widely used worldwide. When it comes to machine-to-machine communication, I experimented with MQTT and OPC UA. I’m sure there are tons of other technologies out there, so if you want to mention your experiences, don’t hesitate and leave a comment.

To sum things up:

There are good reasons fo being for the most technologies, but I see some advantages on gRPC for my upcomming projects.

What gRPC can do for you

If you want to read a “Getting Started” or what gRPC is about, I recommend the official website. To get a little impression, here is an (uncomplete) list of attributes:

  • service contracts: are describd with protobuf.
  • bi-directional calls: for single and streaming data.
  • language neutral: C/C++, C#, Java, Go, PHP, Python, and so on.
  • automatic code generation: for server and client implementations.
  • highly efficient: because of binary data transmission on the HTTP/2 protocol.
  • authentication: with SSL/TLS, Token-based authentication or an external authentication API.

It sounds nice so far to have a cross-platform (and cross-language) technology that is efficient and where you can use code generators to build your code. This leads to my favourite characteristic:

The service definitions are contract-based and typesafe.

That fact is, in comparison to REST-APIs, a major difference, because the HTTP + Json transfer is always content-based and the receiver has to deserialize and standardize the json structures manually. So when a HTTP endpoint changes, the error appears at runtime. When you change the service-definition in gRPC-based apps you see the change at compile time.

The Demo

Like I mentioned before, I wrote a .NET demo for gRPC, called GrpcGeo on GitHub. The gRPC client app sends an IP address to a server and receives geo information back. So the idea behind the communication is slightly more suitable for daily use, compared to a hello world demo. In terms of simplicity, the backend of the server just calls a REST-API, but this is not the point of the demo.

The repository consists of two .NET Core console applications, the GrpcGeo.Server and the GrpcGeo.Client assembly. The .NET Standard project named GrpcGeo.Domain owns the protobuf service definitions and references to three Nuget packages, which are listed below.

graph LR A[GrpcGeo.Server] --> D[GrpcGeo.Domain] B[GrpcGeo.Client] --> D
Nuget references:

These Nuget packages bring (among other things) a compiler to generate C# classes. When you build the .NET Standard assembly, a server stub, the client code and the data models are compiled. The following example shows the protobuf service, called IpLocator with a Find method. The parameters of the function and the return values are also defined. The data models LocationRequest and LocationDetails are containing typed properties. The numbers on the right side of the equal sign are indices, needed for the binary transmission.

// the service definition
service IpLocator {
  // a remote procedure call
  rpc Find (LocationRequest) returns (LocationDetails) {}

// the data model of the caller
message LocationRequest {
  string ip = 1;
  string app = 2;

// the response data
message LocationDetails {
  string country = 1;
  string city = 2;
  double longitude = 3;
  double latitude = 4;
The gRPC Server

The implementation of the server code is really straight foward. You can find the IpGeoServer.cs as full working source code on GitHub. I created a separate server class that implements the generated base class IpLocatorBase of the service definition. The server class encapsulates the gRPC logic, so its usage looks really simple, like seen in the Program.cs. This separation is important to apply a clean architecture approach.

The gRPC Client

The client code is even simpler, because there is only the Program.cs file. You just have to instanciate a ready-to-go IpLocatorClient and hand over a Channel object. Since that point you can call the Find method with the necessary parameters. The respond is the data object of type LocationDetails. So a gRPC function call could also have been a local one, from the perspective of the client application.


In a more and more connected world, easy to use and easy maintainable technologies are very important for data exchange. In my opinion, the gRPC framework is a very promising candidate for that requirement. In a real world szenario a security or authentication mechanism is recommended.

The gRPC framework is quite new to me, but I guess, I will continue to work with that technology and share my further experiences. Lastly, I would recommend to install protobuf-plugins for Visual Studio or VS Code to get syntax highlighting and things like that.

Writing this post was powered with music from System Of A Down - Aerials.
Have a nice day!

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