A Symfony2 inspired depdendency injection container for node

npm install service-container
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Service Container

A Symfony2-style dependency injection library for Node.js


Inspired by the Symfony2 Service Container

A service container increases the usability of classes by allowing a configuration file to specify which classes should be used to construct a class. The container will construct an instance of the class for you using the parameters that you specify, allowing you to specify different classes to use in different situations or different environments.

For example, if you have a class that makes HTTP requests. In your production environment you would want this to be a real http client. In your unit test environment, there is significant complication and overhead in using a real HTTP client, so you would probably want to use a mock class instead that delivers canned and predictable responses.

With a service container, you can reconfigure your class through a configuration file without actually touching your code.

The Symfony 2 Guide Book provides a great explanation


npm install service-container

Or add to your package.json dependencies.


There are two pieces to using the service container, the container itself and the services.json configuration files.

The services.json file specifies 3 types of dependency injection:

  • Constructor Injection
  • Setter Injection
  • Property Injection

Constructor injection allows you to specify JSON literal parameters as arguments for your class instances or it will allow you to specify another service as an argument (be careful about circular dependencies!).

Setter injection will attempt to call the method that you specify with the arguments (either parameters or other services) that you define. This is useful for adding dependency injection for existing libraries that do not conform to Constructor Injection.

Property injection will directly attempt to set the property on the object with the argument that you specify, either another service or a JSON literal parameter.

Initializing and using the container

Create a container like:

var ServiceContainer = require('service-container');

// Create an instance of the container with the environment option set
// This will include both services.json and services_[ENV].json files to override
// any environment-specific parameters
var options = {
  env: 'test',
  ignoreNodeModulesDirectory: true
var container = ServiceContainer.buildContainer(__dirname, options);

There are two available options:

  • env - Which will cause the builder to search for services_[ENV].json files
  • ignoreNodeModulesDirectory - Which will prevent a recursive search through your dependent modules

Get an instance of a service like:

// Get an example mailer service
var mailer = container.get('mailer');

// Get a parameter
var maxcount = container.getParameter('mailer.maxcount');

The section below goes over how to configure and construct services.


When initializing the container, you'll pass it the root directory for it to search for the services.json files. The Builder will recursively search through directories below the root directory to search for services.json files. If the env option is specified then files named services_[ENV].json will also be parsed. Allowing you to override any parameters setup earlier.

The hierarchy of services and parameters are as follows:

  • services.json files at lower folder levels are overridden by those at higher levels
  • services.json files are overriden by services_[ENV].json files
  • parameters are loaded and overriden by any parameters in the parameters.json file (see below)

This allows you to override the specifics of a module from the application level and allows you to override any parameter based on whether this is your dev, test, qa or production environment.

  "parameters": {
    "dependency_service.file":"./CoolClass",   // File paths are relative to the services.json file
    "my_service.example_param":"yes",          // Parameter names are arbitrary
    "my_service.obj_param":{isExample: true}   // Can use literals as parameters
  "services": {
    "dependency_service": {
      "arguments":[]  // No Arguments
    "dependency2_service": {
    "my_service": {
      "class":"%my_service.file%" // Parameters use % symbols, services use @
      "arguments": ["@dependency_service", "%my_service.example_param%", "@?optional_service"] // Optional services have @? at the beginning
      "calls": [
        ["setSecondDependency", ["@dependency2_service"]] // Method calls have the method name and an array of arguments
      "properties": {

Other Service Options

  • "constructorMethod" - A specific constructor function if including a library that serves as a namespace for many constructors. For example: mylibrary.SomeClass the constructorMethod would be "SomeClass".
  • "isObject" - When including a service that is an object and not a constructor like the node module fs
  • "isSingleton" - Create only one of these objects as a service which will be passed around everytime the service is called. The default behavior is that new objects will be created everytime the user requests this service from the container.


The service container will also load its configurations through files named paramters.json. Only the parameters block is loaded from these files and they override any previously seen parameters. This file is specifically meant to be out of version control and maintain deployment-specific details such as a DB user and password, or the log level of a specific environment, etc. These are details that should be configured on the server level manually or through your configuration manager.

Importing Other JSON Service Configuration Files

To support more complex service.json file organizations, the "imports" key allows any JSON file to be parsed like a services.json file. In terms of service and parameter hierarchy, the imports are at the same level as the file that they are found in. The imports are parsed top to bottom, and are all overridden by whatever content is in the services.json file.

  "imports": [
  "parameters": {
    // ...
  "services": {
    // ...


In addition to imports, another key feature for a complex application is the use of namespaces. Within any of your services.json files, you can apply a namespace which will be prefixed to all of the paramters and services defined in that file. In addition, the namespace will be prepended to any files that are imported via a name-spaced file and if they have their own namespace, it will be applied after the namespace from the importing file.

All of the references within a services.json file using a namespace will prefer parameters and services using that namespace and if no matching parameter or service can be found, it will graduate to the non-namespaced version of the service or parameter name.

So for example:

  "namespace": "api_models.v2",
  "parameters": {
    "user.class": "./User.js"
  "services": {
    "user": {"class": "%user.class%"}

In the example above, you would actually retrieve the user service from the container by including the namespace:

var User = container.get('api_models.v2.user');

And although the user class is specified by user.class, it will actually look up the parameter named api_models.v2.user.class first, and if that is not found, it will use the parameter user.class.


Check out the example directory to see some of the more common use cases for a service container.


  • Basic usage
  • Overriding/Using mocks with the environment option
  • Using an argument as a service


  • tags
  • scoped services

Run the Tests

make unittest

Create Unit Test Coverage

make coverage

Open the file coverage.html that gets generated in the root directory

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