P3.NET

A Smarter WCF Service Client, Part 1

WCF is a great way to implement service-based APIs but the standard approach to consuming a service lacks a lot to be desired. In this series of articles I will discuss the approach that I’ve used in commercial applications to make consuming WCF services much cleaner and simpler. We will start with the standard approach and identify its flaws. From there we will work toward a solution that has minimal impact on consumers while providing maximal benefit. The solution itself is large but not overly complex. More importantly, once finished, you never need to worry about it again.

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Adding Dates to C#

UPDATE: A bug was recently found when determining the difference between 2 dates across a year boundary. A corrected version has been uploaded to the site.

In .NET the DateTime type represents both a date and a time. .NET doesn’t really have a pure date type. Ironically it does have a pure time type in the form of TimeSpan. In general this isn’t an issue but when you really just need a date (i.e. the end of a grading period) then you have to be aware of the time. For example when comparing 2 date/time values the time is included in the comparison even if it does not matter. To eliminate time from the comparison you would need to set both to the same value (i.e. 00:00:00). Another example is conversion to a string. A date/time value will include the time so you have to use a format string to eliminate it. Yet another issue is that creating specific dates using DateTime isn’t exactly readable (i.e. July 4th, 2000 is new DateTime(2000, 4, 4)).

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Entity Framework 6 Conventions

I was incredibly excited when conventions were finally made public in EF6. A convention allows you to set up a policy that a model will follow. For example EF comes with a convention that tables are plural by entities are singular. EF has supported conventions for a while but the necessary public interface was not exposed until EF6. In this post I’m going to walk through creating a simple convention.

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Language Friendly Type Names

.NET uses Type everywhere to represent type information.Not surprisingly Type is language-agnostic. In many cases it is useful to get the friendly (aka language-specific) name for a Type object. .NET does not provide this easily. There are several different approaches but none of them work really well if you want the name that would have been used in your favorite language. This post will discuss some of the options available and then provide a more general solution to the problem that doesn’t actually require much effort.

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Entity Framework and User Context

Auditing is generally important in most databases because it is important to know who changed data and when. How auditing data is stored depends upon the system requirements but in general the date/time and user who made a change is important. SQL Server already provides the infrastructure to identify the who and what.  Setting up EF to provide this information is straightforward once you know how EF works.  In this post I’ll illustrate a simple approach we’ve been using in web applications for over a year with no issues and very little effort.  

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Environmental Transforms/AppSettings Transforms for Visual Studio 2013 Preview

In a recent series of articles I discussed how to create an environmental tranform template that could be run on each build.  I also posted a series of articles on how to generate a template to generate a strongly typed class to back appsettings in a configuration file.  Alas shortly thereafter VS2013 Preview was released and changes to VS have broken the code.  This post will discuss the minor changes that need to be made to get everything to work.

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Windows 8.1 Preview

Note: This is strictly my opinion and in no way should be conveyed as the opinion of anyone else.

Now that the Win 8.1 Preview is out I can give my personal opinion on it. First we should discuss some of the new features and then whether it is a mandatory upgrade or not. Note that I’m ignoring all the new features around corporate environments and Windows Store apps.

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Environmental Config Transforms, Part 2

In the previous article we updated the build process to support environmental config transforms in projects and to have the transforms run on any build. In this article we are going to package up the implementation to make it very easy to add to any project. There are a couple of things we want to wrap up.

  • Place the .targets file into a shared location
  • Add an import into the current project to the .targets file
  • Add environmental config transforms into the project
  • Remove the default config transforms generated by Visual Studio
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Environmental Config Transforms, Part 1

Configuration file transforms have been around for quite a while and most companies use them to generate different config files for each environment but Visual Studio does not really support the functionality most companies need.In this article I’m going to talk about why the existing Visual Studio implementation is flawed and how to fix it so that you can have true environmental transforms that are actually useful.

For purposes of this article we will assume a simple web application (although it applies to any application) that will be deployed to 2 different environments – test and production. We will also assume that developers debug the application on their local machine and therefore should not have to do any special tasks to debug the application locally. As such we’ll have a 3th, default, environment – debug.

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Using T4 to Create an AppSettings Wrapper, Part 7

In this final article in the series we’re finishing up the deployment projects started last time. When we’re complete we’ll have a set up projects that can be used to build and deploy T4 templates where needed. The projects will be able to support any number of templates so maintenance will be simple even as more templates are added. In the previous article we moved the core template functionality into a library that we can expand upon. We also set up an item template project to store the root T4 template that someone would use. In this article we’re going to create the project to store the nested templates (we’ll discuss why later) along with the Visual Studio Extension (vsix) file that will be used to install everything.

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