Friday, 23 December 2011

WSDL and SOAP: Test and Invoke WSDL online!

Really good website for service discovery

They also have a WSDL tester and invoker... displays the SOAP messages and response. It also builds the HTML forms dynamically. Great stuff!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Perl: SOAP::Lite - 500 Can't connect to (Invalid argument) https

I had a problem recently with trying to call a HTTPS Web Service using Perl's SOAP::Lite library, and I was receiving this error:
"500 Can't connect to (Invalid argument)"...

Note: Port 443 ssl. This is the default port for HTTPS/SSL. This is the encrypted form of HTTP that normally runs over port 80.

Okay, so problem identified... Cannot communicate with service over 443... What next?

We use cpan to install another library called "Crypt::SSLeay"... sounds spooky! But don't worry, it simply provides support for the HTTPS protocol in LWP (Library for WWW in Perl).

cpan - what the heck? View my previous post on cpan here

Simply issue this command, and cpan will do the rest...
Code Snippet
  1. sudo perl -MCPAN -e "install Crypt::SSLeay"
End of Code Snippet

Perl: SOAP::Lite Simple .NET Service Call

Ever wondered how to call a .NET web service using the SOAP::Lite library?
I didn't think so, but just incase you did!....

Code Snippet
  1. #!/usr/bin/perl
  2. use SOAP::Lite 'trace', 'debug'; # adds debug and tracing to view SOAP msgs
  3. use SOAP::WSDL;
  4. use strict;
  5. use warnings;
  7. my $soap = SOAP::Lite
  8. -> uri('')
  9. -> on_action( sub {sprintf '%s/%s', @_} )
  10. -> proxy('');
  13. print $soap->ServerInfo()->result;
End of Code Snippet

Key Points to note
1. Use the tracing and debugging options, this will tell you what is wrong (trust me, it will happen!)
2. URI - This is a reference to the NAMESPACE.... Simple view your WSDL or ASMX service, and view the 'targetNamespace' attribute for the base node.... This references the namespace... This is required when making SOAP calls.
3. PROXY - This is the actual URL to the service or WSDL.
4. on_action - What to do when the action is raised.... similar to an event.... In the example, its simply printing the response. I am also manually printing the response in the code... so you will see output twice.

For reference, there is a really good post here that troubleshoots these issues further.
Microsoft also did a good post here

Perl: Can't locate [Library Here] in @INC - (CPAN Usage)

So i've been looking into Perl this week and I came across an error... quite simple when you know how... this post explains in !English! the options you can take to tackle this... CPAN is utilised and explained in this post.

The Error
SeanMAC:tmp localhome$ perl
Can't locate SOAP/ in @INC (@INC contains: /Library/Perl/Updates/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level /Library/Perl/Updates/5.8.8 /System/Library/Perl/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level /System/Library/Perl/5.8.8 /Library/Perl/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level /Library/Perl/5.8.8 /Library/Perl /Network/Library/Perl/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level /Network/Library/Perl/5.8.8 /Network/Library/Perl /System/Library/Perl/Extras/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level /System/Library/Perl/Extras/5.8.8 /Library/Perl/5.8.6 /Library/Perl/5.8.1 .) at line 17.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at line 17.

So I created a test script and attempted to execute it. It threw up an error at Line 17 complaining that I didn't have the SOAP::Lite library. I.e. "Can't locate SOAP/"

In .NET we would probably either Google the library or use NuGet ( - NuGet is a Visual Studio extension that makes it easy to install and update open source libraries).

If we would ever try to compare Perl to the .NET world, we could relate CPAN to NuGet in terms of what it does for us. That is, gets third party libraries, unpacks them and installs them for us.

CPAN, the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network, is an archive of over 100,000 modules of software written in Perl, as well as documentation for it.

To use cpan, open up a terminal or command window, and use the following command. This will run cpan as ROOT user. This is sometimes necessary as it requires access to shared library directories.
Code Snippet
  1. perl -MCPAN -e 'shell'
End of Code Snippet

You will then be in the cpan shell. Type 'h' for help....

a,b,d,mWORD or /REGEXP/ about authors, bundles, distributions, modules
iWORD or /REGEXP/ about anything of above
rNONEreinstall recommendations
lsAUTHORabout files in the author's directory
makemake (implies get)
testMODULESmake test (implies make)
installDISTS, BUNDLESmake install (implies test)
cleanmake clean
lookopen subshell in these dists' directories
readmedisplay these dists' README files

If we wish to install our library (This includes get/download, make, test and install) then we simply issue the command....
Code Snippet
  1. install [Library Name]
End of Code Snippet

with example
Code Snippet
  1. install SOAP::Lite
End of Code Snippet

You will be asked a few options, mostly regarding ideal location to download from, connection timeouts etc... You can simply keep hitting enter to use the defaults.

If all is successful, your library will be installed and included within the @INC array (Containing paths to libraries used by Perl).

Happy Scripting!

Friday, 9 December 2011

iOS - Viewing hidden files and directories

Write the following into a terminal window....

Code Snippet
  1. defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
  2. killall Finder
End of Code Snippet

This will show you all of the hidden files and folders on your operating system. If you want to reverse the command replace TRUE with FALSE.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

REST Web Services

Good article on RESTful Web Service Architecture

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

LINQ to SQL vs. ADO.NET Entity Framework

LINQ to SQL and the Entity Framework have a lot in common, but each have features targeting different scenarios in the Orcas timeframe.

LINQ to SQL has features targeting “Rapid Development” against a Microsoft SQL Server database. Think of LINQ to SQL as allowing you to have a strongly-typed view of your existing database schema. LINQ to SQL supports a direct, 1:1 mapping of your existing database schema to classes; a single table can be mapped to a single inheritance hierarchy (i.e. , a table can contain persons, customers, and employees) and foreign keys can be exposed as strongly-typed relationships. You can build LINQ queries over tables/views/table valued functions and return results as strongly typed objects, and call stored procedures that return strongly typed results through strongly typed methods.

A key design principle of LINQ to SQL is that it “just work” for the common cases; so, for example, if you access a collection of orders through the Orders property of a customer, and that customer’s orders have not previously been retrieved, LINQ to SQL will automatically get them for you.

LINQ to SQL relies on convention, for example default insert, update, and delete logic through generated DML can be overwritten by exposing appropriately named methods (for example, “InsertCustomer“, “UpdateCustomer“, “DeleteCustomer“). These methods may invoke stored procedures or perform other logic in order to process changes.

The Entity Framework has features targeting “Enterprise Scenarios“. In an enterprise, the database is typically controlled by a DBA, the schema is generally optimized for storage considerations (performance, consistency, partitioning) rather than exposing a good application model, and may change over time as usage data and usage patterns evolve. With this in mind, the Entity Framework is designed around exposing an application-oriented data model that is loosely coupled, and may differ significantly, from your existing database schema. For example, you can map a single class (or “entity”) to multiple tables/views, or map multiple classes to the same table/view. You can map an inheritance hierarchy to a single table/view (as
in LINQ to SQL) or to multiple tables/views (for example, persons, customers, and employees could each be separate tables, where customers and employees contain only the additional columns not present in persons, or repeat the columns from the persons table). You can group properties into complex (or “composite”) types (for example, a Customer type may have an “Address” property that is an Address type with Street, City, Region, Country and Postal code properties).

The Entity Framework lets you optionally represent many:many relationships directly, without representing the join table as an entity in your data model, and has a new feature called “Defining Query” that lets you expose any native query against the store as a “table” that can be mapped just as any other table (except that updates must be performed through stored procedures). This flexible mapping, including the option to use stored procedures to process changes, is specified declaratively in order to account for the schema of the database evolving over time without having to recompile the application.

The Entity Framework includes LINQ to Entities which exposes many of the same features as LINQ to SQL over your conceptual application data model; you can build queries in LINQ (or in “Entity SQL”, a canonical version of SQL extended to support concepts like strong typing, polymorphism, relationship navigation and complex types), return results as strongly typed CLR objects, execute stored procedures or table valued functions through strongly-typed methods, and process changes by calling a single save method.

However, the Entity Framework is more than LINQ to Entities; it includes a “Storage Layer” that lets you use the same conceptual application model through low-level ADO.NET Data Provider interfaces using Entity SQL, and efficiently stream results as possibly hierarchical/polymorphic DataReaders, saving the overhead of materializing objects for read-only scenarios where there is no additional business logic.

The Entity Framework works with Microsoft SQL Server and 3rd party databases through extended ADO.NET Data Providers, providing a common query language against different relational databases through either LINQ to Entities or Entity SQL.

So while there is a lot of overlap, LINQ to SQL is targeted more toward rapidly developing applications against your existing Microsoft SQL Server schema, while the Entity Framework provides object- and storage-layer access to Microsoft SQL Server and 3rd party databases through a loosely coupled, flexible mapping to existing relational schema.

I know this is a confusing area, and we’re trying to figure out how best to describe these differences to help customers make the appropriate choices. Please let me know if this helps, or if there are still areas of confusion…

Michael Pizzo
Principal Architect
Microsoft Data Programmability

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I want SQL Management Studio Express (The GUI!!) After installing VS 2010

So I re-installed VS 2010 the other day and as usual, it installs about 50 versions of SQL Server with it (urgh!)... after seeing copious amount of SQL Server names in "Add/Remove Programs", I still didn't have the nice GUI to work with (SQL Management Studio Express)... gees!

So I found a link where a few people have had the same issue, check it here

If anybody knows of a minimal version or a better suggestion, please comment!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

How To: Unlock and Activate iPhone on iOS 5 [teathered]

So i spent some time the other day trying to unlock and activate an iPhone 3GS (also works for other models and iPad)... So rather than letting this be forgotten forever (because it took a while!) I'd thought i'd make a blog about my findings.

- Latest version of iTunes
- Redsn0w [Which version?]
- Tiny Umbrella (Used to find out the firmware version)
- The Target Firmware [Files here]

!!Things to note!!

Teathered vs. Unteathered?
This simply means, weather you need a computer to start your phone. If a release of redsn0w offers a Teathered solution, then !everytime! your phone turns off (out of battery, new app install etc.) you will need to plug it into your computer and use redsn0w to boot the phone! The batteries are pretty decent, so you probably don't even care or it's no big deal.

Which firmware shall I get?
Currently, if you want an UNTEATHERED solution (basically the phone can boot by itself) then firmware 4.3.3 is what you need. Currently there is no unteathered solution for the latest firmware (including: 4.3.4, 4.3.5 and 5).

I want UNTEATHERED, but, I have later than 4.3.3 on my iPhone!?
Most website will tell you that you need SHSH Blobs in order to do this. If you don't know what they are or you didn't upgrade your iPhone before, chances are you won't have them. Check my Blog post on what SHSH blobs are HERE
Apparently there IS solution to do this, I have not tried it personally. You can find it here

OK enough preliminaries, lets do it!....

1. Ok this guide is for iOS 5 and TEATHERED, so lets get iOS 5 on the iPhone. If your not sure weather you have it already, connect the iPhone to the computer and open TinyUmbrella. This will tell you your current firmware version. If you already have iOS 5, skip steps 3-5.

2. Put iPhone in DFU mode HOWTO VIDEO HERE

3. Connect iPhone to computer, and use 'Restore', this will prompt you to install the latest firmware (iOS 5).

4. You now have the latest and greatest firmware!

5. Ok, now, lets jailbreak.... download firmware for iOS 5 (links above or here). If you already did an update through iTunes, this will already be in your downloaded directory. See below to find this...

On Windows XP :
Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates

On Windows Vista/Windows 7:
Users\\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates

On Mac:
~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Software Updates

6. Now you have the firmware handy, open redsn0w for your current firmware version. Currently, 0.9.9b4 for windows or 0.9.9b5 for mac.

7. Click extras and specify firmware manually. Point to the iOS 5 firmware (*.ispw).

8. Go back and hit the jailbreak button. Select 'Install Cydia', continue to next dialog which will ask you to put the phone into DFU mode. HOWTO VIDEO HERE

9. Redsn0w will do all its business, don't touch the iPhone until it finishes, it stops on the spinner (which has probably stopped spinning).

10. Ok the jailbreak is done, but like I said, its teathered. So open redsn0w, click extras, and we just want to boot the iPhone. Click the button, and prepare to enter DFU mode again. This is a bit trickier with a phone that won't turn off.

Note: If your jailbreak left you on the crashed spinner, don't worry its fine. Simply hold the power and home buttons for 10secs until the phone does a hard reset. Once the phone resets, proceed with the DFU instructions!

11. Ok you should see a pineapple logo on the iPhone if done correctly, and the iPhone will boot up. You should be able to use the iPhone to its full extent, unless you need to unlock your iPhone to any network, then only your calls will not work. If you need to unlock as well, follow the rest of this guide....

12. Next step (for the unlock), you need a WIFI connection! It'll probably say 'No Service' in the top left corner.

13. Open Cydia (now on dashboard) and search for ultrasn0w. Download and install this and it will ask you to reboot when you are done. (Don't forget you need to boot using redsn0w as its teathered!)

14. When you re-boot, your iPhone should is unlocked and ready to party!

OK i've done all of this, but still 'No Service'!?

1. Ok first, disabled 3G (general settings > Network > Enable 3G)
2. Toggle airplane mode (this will refresh the signal).

If this does not work, then you may need to update your base band (basically a firmware update for your inbuilt modem). We will update this to match the iPad's baseband (currently v06.15.00), works just as well. There are somethings you should be aware of before doing this though!! - Personally, I needed to do this myself!

OK i've decided to update my base band, how do I do this?!

1. First, double check you actually don't already have v06. (Settings > General > About > Modem Firmware).
2. Re-run the jailbreak process again, but when you check 'Install Cydia', also check 'Install iPad base band'... this will do the jailbreak, but also update your modem firmware.
3. Check on iPhone that the modem firmware was updated to v06.
4. Repeat the process above to unlock the phone with ultrasn0w.
5. Awesome!


1. Plug into Computer via. USB.
2. Put phone in DFU mode.
3. Click 'Restore' in iTunes.
4. Sorted!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

MVC3/Razor - Global Error Handling

Here is a technique you can use within your MVC application to control global error handling. The technique is quite similar to aspx pages where you populate the Application_Error function within Global.asax, however, the routing is completely new!

Code Snippet
  1. /// <summary>
  2. /// Handle application error on a global level.
  3. /// Passes handling off to the ErrorController
  4. /// </summary>
  5. protected void Application_Error()
  6. {
  7.     var exception = Server.GetLastError();
  8.     var httpException = exception as HttpException;
  9.     Response.Clear();
  10.     Server.ClearError();
  11.     var routeData = new RouteData();
  12.     routeData.Values["controller"] = "Errors";
  13.     routeData.Values["action"] = "General";
  14.     routeData.Values["exception"] = exception;
  15.     Response.StatusCode = 500;
  17.     if (httpException != null)
  18.     {
  19.         Response.StatusCode = httpException.GetHttpCode();
  21.         switch (Response.StatusCode)
  22.         {
  23.             case 403:
  24.                 routeData.Values["action"] = "Http403";
  25.                 break;
  27.             case 404:
  28.                 routeData.Values["action"] = "Http404";
  29.                 break;
  30.         }
  31.     }
  33.     IController errorsController = new ErrorController();
  34.     var rc = new RequestContext(new HttpContextWrapper(Context), routeData);
  35.     errorsController.Execute(rc);
  36. }
End of Code Snippet

Note: This will route our errors to the ErrorController. Lets take a look at the error controller...

Code Snippet
  1. // <copyright file="ErrorController.cs" company="">
  2. // Copyright (c) 2011 All Right Reserved
  3. // </copyright>
  4. // <author>Sean Greasley</author>
  5. // <email></email>
  6. // <summary>Controller for handling errors within the application.</summary>
  7. namespace MVCEmailExample.Controllers
  8. {
  9.     using System;
  10.     using System.Collections.Generic;
  11.     using System.Linq;
  12.     using System.Web;
  13.     using System.Web.Mvc;
  14.     using MVCEmailExample.Models;
  16.     /// <summary>
  17.     /// Controller for handling errors within the application.
  18.     /// </summary>
  19.     public class ErrorController : Controller
  20.     {
  21.         public ActionResult General(Exception exception)
  22.         {
  23.             return View("Error", new ErrorModel() { ErrorTitle = "General Error", ExceptionDetail = exception });
  24.         }
  26.         public ActionResult Http404()
  27.         {
  28.             return View("Error", new ErrorModel() { ErrorTitle = "Not found" });
  29.         }
  31.         public ActionResult Http403()
  32.         {
  33.             return View("Error", new ErrorModel() { ErrorTitle = "Forbidden" });
  34.         }
  35.     }
  36. }
End of Code Snippet

So now were handling our errors and throwing them out to the Error View (in Views/Shared!). However, were now using a strongly typed view and passing a custom class into it. This custom class contains details of our error!

ErrorModel.cs (Our custom error class!)
Code Snippet
  1. using System;
  2. using System.Collections.Generic;
  3. using System.Linq;
  4. using System.Web;
  6. namespace MVCEmailExample.Models
  7. {
  8.     public class ErrorModel
  9.     {
  10.         public string ErrorTitle { get; set; }
  11.         public Exception ExceptionDetail { get; set; }
  12.     }
  13. }
End of Code Snippet

Very simple! All it does it holds information really.
Now lets take a look at our error view...

Error View (This will already exist with a new MVC3 application) P.s. I'm using Razor syntax!
Code Snippet
  1. @using MVCEmailExample.Models
  2. @model ErrorModel
  3. @{
  4.     Layout = "~/Views/Shared/_Layout.cshtml";
  5. }
  8. <h2>@Model.ErrorTitle</h2>
  10. Sorry, an error occurred while processing your request.
  12. <br />
  14. @if (Model.ExceptionDetail != null)
  15. {
  16.       @Model.ExceptionDetail.Message
  17. }
End of Code Snippet

This is our strongly typed view (Hint: @model ErrorModel). We simply extract the error info here and display it in a very (unstylish) form!

This sample below is for a sample email application. This uses the code described above. Just hit the button without entering any information and (assuming you don't have local mail server) u'll see some errors appearing!

MVC3 Razor - Global Error Handling

C# - Sending HTML Email template with linked resources and plain text fallback

Hi all,

If your reading this, then chances are you've looked how to create a simple email with C# and added some HTML in there. You might have then looked for including images and the documentation on the internet for this is kinda poor/bad/doesn't work. Well here's how!!

In this example, I have created a class library that can be used with any C# application. So it doesn't matter what kinda application you have (MVC, ASPX Web App, Client App, Command Line etc...).

Lets let on with it!! I've created this project in .NET 4.0 at time of writing and included a VS2010 MVC3 Web App with it for full example. I have also included some global MVC3 error handling!

Code Snippet
  1. // <copyright file="EmailHelper.cs" company="">
  2. // Copyright (c) 2011 All Right Reserved
  3. // </copyright>
  4. // <author>Sean Greasley</author>
  5. // <email></email>
  6. // <summary>Email helper class. Allows sending of html and plain text emails to a target email address.</summary>
  7. namespace MVCEmailExample.Helpers
  8. {
  9.     using System;
  10.     using System.Collections.Generic;
  11.     using System.Collections.Specialized;
  12.     using System.Configuration;
  13.     using System.Linq;
  14.     using System.Net.Mail;
  15.     using System.Net.Mime;
  16.     using System.Web;
  17.     using System.Web.UI;
  18.     using System.Web.UI.WebControls;
  19.     using MVCEmailExample.Exceptions;
  20.     using MVCEmailExample.Models;
  22.     /// <summary>
  23.     /// Email helper class.
  24.     /// Allows sending of html and plain text emails to a target email address.
  25.     /// </summary>
  26.     public class EmailHelper
  27.     {
  28.         /// <summary>
  29.         /// Sends an email to a recipient. Provides HTML and plain text views.
  30.         /// The recipient will receive which one their client supports.
  31.         /// </summary>
  32.         /// <param name="templateDir">Directory of where the HTML email template is stored.</param>
  33.         /// <param name="recipient">Receipient information</param>
  34.         public static void SendEmail(string templateDir, Recipient recipient)
  35.         {
  36.             try
  37.             {
  38.                 // Build message
  39.                 MailMessage message = new MailMessage();
  40.                 message.To.Add(new MailAddress(recipient.Email));
  41.                 message.Subject = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["EmailSubject"];
  43.                 // Create plain text mode for alternative view
  44.                 AlternateView plainView = AlternateView.CreateAlternateViewFromString(ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["PlainTextEmail"], null, "text/plain");
  45.                 message.AlternateViews.Add(plainView);
  47.                 // Create HTML email version
  48.                 MailDefinition mailDef = new MailDefinition();
  49.                 mailDef.BodyFileName = string.Format(@"{0}\{1}", templateDir, @"Email.html");
  50.                 mailDef.IsBodyHtml = true;
  51.                 mailDef.Subject = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["EmailSubject"];
  53.                 // Build replacement collection to replace fields in Email.htm file
  54.                 // Use fields anywhere in the template file. I.e.   <%FRIENDNAME%>
  55.                 ListDictionary replacements = new ListDictionary();
  56.                 replacements.Add("<%NAME%>", recipient.Name);
  58.                 // Use dummy control as owner (I.e. new System.Web.UI.Control()) as were in a class library.
  59.                 // It's only use to determine where the access templates from as a relative base.
  60.                 MailMessage msgHtml = mailDef.CreateMailMessage(recipient.Email, replacements, new System.Web.UI.Control());
  62.                 AlternateView htmlView = AlternateView.CreateAlternateViewFromString(msgHtml.Body, null, "text/html");
  64.                 // Add linked resources
  65.                 AddLinkedResources(templateDir, ref htmlView);
  67.                 // Add HTML view
  68.                 message.AlternateViews.Add(htmlView);
  70.                 // Send message
  71.                 SmtpClient client = new SmtpClient();
  72.                 client.Send(message);
  73.             }
  74.             catch (Exception mailEx) { throw new MailerException("Error sending email.", mailEx); }
  75.         }
  77.         /// <summary>
  78.         /// Adds linked resources to the email
  79.         /// Email template must contain the resource IDs in the following format: <img src="cid:CONTENTID" />
  80.         /// </summary>
  81.         /// <param name="templateDir">Directory of where the HTML email template images are stored.</param>
  82.         /// <param name="htmlView">A reference to the HTML view.</param>
  83.         private static void AddLinkedResources(string templateDir, ref AlternateView htmlView)
  84.         {
  85.             LinkedResource logo1 = new LinkedResource(string.Format(@"{0}\{1}", templateDir, @"Images\email.jpg"), MediaTypeNames.Image.Jpeg);
  86.             logo1.ContentId = "email";
  87.             htmlView.LinkedResources.Add(logo1);
  88.         }
  89.     }
  90. }
End of Code Snippet

Note: This will attempt to send a HTML email with an embedded image (linked resource). If the client does not support HTML, then a plain text email will be used as backup. boom! (I've defined this in the application settings, as well as the email subject and "from" email address).

Configuration - App Settings (Optional, just didn't want to hard code them) [Web/App.config]
Code Snippet
  1. <appSettings>
  2.     <!-- Email App Settings -->
  3.     <add key="EmailSubject" value=" Email Example"/>
  4.     <add key="PlainTextEmail" value="Hi There, You currently don't support HTML emails, but thats ok! I'm just saying hello anyway!"/>
  5. </appSettings>
End of Code Snippet

Configuration - Email server [App/Web.config]
Code Snippet
  1. <>
  2.     <mailSettings>
  3.         <smtp from="Admin &lt;;">
  4.             <network host="localhost" port="25"  />
  5.         </smtp>
  6.     </mailSettings>
  7. </>
End of Code Snippet

Note: This won't work unless you have a local email server. Please provide the details to an SMTP email server here.

Create a sample recipient class (Just for storing recipient details)
Code Snippet
  1. public class Recipient
  2. {
  3.     public string Name { get; set; }
  4.     public string Email { get; set; }
  5. }
End of Code Snippet

Invoke the email static class
Code Snippet
  1. // Construct recipient from form
  2. Recipient recipient = new Recipient() { Name = FriendName, Email = FriendEmail };
  4. // Send email
  5. EmailHelper.SendEmail(Server.MapPath("~/EmailTemplate"), recipient);
End of Code Snippet

Note: I have added an email template path as a parameter. This is so that if you execute the email helper from a web application, it knows where to find the templates!

Sample HTML Template File
Code Snippet
  1. <body style="background: #000000;">
  2. Hello <%NAME%>,
  3. <br /><br />
  4. I thought i'd send you a picture of some guy holding an envelope.
  5. <br /><br />
  6. <img src="cid:email" />
  7. <br /><br />
  8. I have no idea why though!
  9. <br /><br />
  10. Thanks!
  11. </body>
End of Code Snippet

Notice the cid prefix for the images. This indicates a contentID for a linked resource. If you look in the code for the email helper, you will notice that I am created 1 linked resource and setting the contentID to 'email'. This will simply embed the image.
Again, in this template, you will notice I have used a custom tag for the friend's name called NAME. This is replaced within the email helper when we construct a ListDictionary and add our replacements to it.

and thats it!!

If you stuck, or can't get it to compile, then download the full sample here

MVC3 Web Application - Full Email Example with Fallback

Friday, 22 July 2011

MVC3 JQuery Client Validation using Entity Model Framework 4.1 auto generated classes

Hi all,

This is a quick tutorial on how to perform client validation using the MVC framework with auto generated classes in the backend. You might have these auto-generated classes by using a data modelling framework such as: Entity Framework or Linq-To-Sql.

Creating an MVC 3 Web Application with the Razor View Engine, HTML5 and IIS Express 7.5

Creating an entity model using EMF 4.1
1. Create a new Entity Data Model (.edmx) file within your Modules folder. Right click Modules and add a "ADO.NET Entity Data Model" item. Call this "MembershipModel.edmx"
2. If you have a database already, seelct "Generate from database". This will automatically create entities based on your tables. If not, select "Empty model".
3. Open the entity designer file (.edmx).
4. If you selected "Empty model", Right click the designer > Add > Entity...
5. Name the entity "User"
6. OK to create!
7. Right click the new entity > Add > Scalar Property
8. Call the property "Name"
9. Right click the new entity > Add > Scalar Property
10. Call the property "Email"
11. You can generate your database from your model. Once you have created your entities, right click the designer and select "Generate Database from Model". Don't worry if you need to update these at a later date, EMF does a good job of syncing these later.
12. Setup a new connection to your database
13. You will be presented with an SQL script for your entities, cool huh?
14. Execute this against your datastore.

Note: If you open the designer oce behind file (MembershipModel.Designer.cs), you can see that the classes have been created for us (one per entity), aswell as some properties and a method to create a new user (in our example). By default, the designer uses a code generater called T4 (Text Template Transformation Toolkit). You will notice that all classes using the default template implement the EntityObject base class. These classes provide a lot of functionality, but are quite cumbersome to work with. So we are going to use a different generator! (DbContext Generator)

Using the DbContext Generator
1. Right click the Entity Model .edmx designer > "Add Code generation"
2. Select "ADO.NET DbContext Generator" from the dialog and name it "".
3. OK to create!
4. You will receive a warning because template can potentially contain harmful content. Just click ok!

Note: You will notice that two files have been created under the Models folder: and Underneath the file, you will be a custom class representing your entity "User.cs". This is the class you will be using throughout this sample application to represent users! If you don't see this class here, then you have created your database!

ok, im a master at EMF, show me the validation already!

With MVC, a simple way to perform validation is to use the [Required] atrribute for properties of our class. Now the problem lies with the way our classes are generated by the code generator (We cannot change the designer fiels because we'll lose our changes, plus its stupid!). An easy way around this is to use Metadatatype!

Metadatatype and T4 class validation
1. Right click the Models folder > Add > Class..
2. Call it "UserValidation.cs"
3. Enter the following code...

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;
using System.Web;
namespace MvcApplication1.Models
    public partial class User
    public class UserValidation
        [Required(ErrorMessage = "Your Full Name is required")]
        public string Name { get; set; }
        [Required(ErrorMessage = "Your Email Address is required")]
        [RegularExpression(@"^[\w-]+(\.[\w-]+)*@([a-z0-9-]+(\.[a-z0-9-]+)*?\.[a-z]{2,6}|(\d{1,3}\.){3}\d{1,3})(:\d{4})?$", ErrorMessage = "Your Email Address is invalid")]
        public string Email { get; set; }

Note: You will notice that Metadatatype allows us to specify another class on behalf of an existing partial class, to append attribues to. These attributes will be our validation attributes! I have chosen the Name and the Email properties of our user entity to apply validation to.

Configuring the Controller
1. Add a new controller. I.e. HomeController
2. In the Index method, return the view with a new copy of the EMF generated User class.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.Mvc;
using MvcApplication1.Models;
namespace MvcApplication1.Controllers
    public class HomeController : Controller
        // GET: /Home/
        public ActionResult Index()
            return View(new User());

Creating the configuring the view
1. Right click the Index method in the controller and add the view.
2. Make this strongly typed, or we will have a problem with the dynamic operations we will be using in the view (Example error: CS1963: An expression tree may not contain a dynamic operation)
3. Enter the following form information into the view...

@using MvcApplication1.Models
@model User
    ViewBag.Title = "Index";
    Layout = "~/Views/Shared/_Layout.cshtml";
<h2>Sample EMF Class Validation</h2>
@using (Html.BeginForm())
        @Html.LabelFor(Model => Model.Name)
        @Html.TextBoxFor(Model => Model.Name)
        @Html.ValidationMessageFor(Model => Model.Name)
        @Html.LabelFor(Model => Model.Email)
        @Html.TextBoxFor(Model => Model.Email)
        @Html.ValidationMessageFor(Model => Model.Email)
        <input type="submit" value="Submit" />

We are almost there, but one more thing!! We need to add a reference to the jquery validation libraries. You can either do this in your view (using sections from the main layout page) or simply add the following into the head on the _Layout.cshtml page...

    <script src="@Url.Content("~/Scripts/jquery.validate.min.js")" type="text/javascript"></script>
    <script src="@Url.Content("~/Scripts/jquery.validate.unobtrusive.min.js")" type="text/javascript"></script>

Download Sample Files Here


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Creating an MVC 3 Web Application with the Razor View Engine, HTML5 and IIS Express 7.5

This was originally going to be a few simple steps, but I decided to go the whole hog. Good first read if your getting started with MVC3! (Rough knowledge required, when I say rough, I mean VS, aspx and O-O knowledge)

Creating new MVC 3 Web Application in VS 2010
1. Create a new MVC 3 Web Application
2. Select an Empty template from the templates dialog (the others ship with authentication that were not goign to use).
3. View engine, select Razor (This will allow us to use the Razor view engine which has slightly different markup and uses .cshtml files rather than .aspx pages). Note: Razor view can be rendered inside unit tests, something that aspx pages cannot.
4. Use HTML5 semantic markup, check it!
5. OK to create.

Note: You can see that quite a lot of libraries are included by default. You will also notice that JQuery (JS and CSS) is included as standard and we have a good base setup to begin developing our web application.

WHAT IS MVC and Order of execution

Within an MVC application, you have a list of routes and filters defined when the application starts. These are defined the the Global.asax.cs file (yes it still exists!). The routes are referenced everytime a page is requested (URL is entered that is associated with the application). The routes describe which Controller will serve the view's content.

The Controller is responsible for all the business logic. This is the "C" part of MVC. The Controller may utilise the Model ("M" in MVC) to manipulate the datastore is some way (basically ask the database to grab something). The Controller may do some casting or validation on the data, then render the View (may also pass data to the view when rendering).

The Model is all about the database and the database layer. Usually you will have a framework here for managing access and control to your database. In this example, we are using the entity framework. So we will have our .edmx files and our template files here. Our classes will also be defined here as they will be generated automatically from our database content!

The "V" in MVC. View's should know nothing about how the data is constructed and how the data works internally. The view should be essentially be dumb and told nothing about the data, other than anything required to display the data to the user. The reason for this aides the seperation of concerns principle of O-O programming. This allows us to clearly seperate are busienss logic. The rewards consist of: Unit testable busienss layer, designers can work with views without worrying about learning C#/VB etc.

Razor View Engine
I don't want to explain everything in this post or were gonna be writing a novel. Here is a good link by ScottGu on the Razor view engine. Either than, or you can just trust me that it's great!

Note about Razor 'master' pages and entry points
_ViewStart.cshtml - Does what it says! This is executed first and initialises the view.
_Layout.cshtml - Razor's answer to aspx master pages.

Creating a Controller
1. Right click the Controllers directory.
2. Add > Controller.
3. Name the controller HomeController (We already have a route defined in the Global.asax as default that points to a Home Controller - So there is no extra work required to link it up yet).
4. Set the template as an empty template
5. OK to create!
6. You will notice that you controller contains an Index method. Will will be executed by default when the user hits the 'Home' directory for your application. I.e. http://localhost/Home

Creating a View based off the Controller
1. Each method in our controller can map to its own view page. This is what we will be doing in this example. Once the controller is created, then creating a view is simple!
2. Open the HomeController, and right click on the Index method.
3. Select 'Add View...'
4. The view name will be Index by default. This is fine...
5. THe view engine will be Razor, this again is fine...
6. Creating a strongly typed view just means that this view will only accept classes of a single type. So if you are ALWAYS passing a TEST class to this view, then it should be strongly typed.
7. Partial view can be compared to an aspx user control. It's a partial view, not a complete one! This can be re-used throughout the web application. We are not creatign one of these now...
8. "Use layout or master page". We are using this (as describes before). Set this as the _Layout.cshtml file. It will reside in the Shared folder within Views (~/Views/Shared/_Layout.cshtml).
9. OK to create!

Setting up test server and launching application

Note: I recommend using IIS Express (7.5 latest at time of writing) or something different to the visual studio server for this application. MVC uses URL Routing (aka URL rewriting before MVC), so sometimes the routing gets a little confusing with the visual studio development server. IIS7 handles URL routing out of the box (Whereas more steps were requried for IIS 6, and you can't install IIS7 on windows XP). However, IIS Express 7.5 solves all of these problems becaue it performs both nicely!

Setting up IIS Express 7.5
1. If you don't have it, its a lightweight seperate install. Simply get it via the web platform intaller
2. Right click the web application in Visual Studio > Properties.
3. Web tab
4. Use local IIS Web server
5. Check "Use IIS Express".
6. Click create virtual directory button
7. OK to execute application!

Now, simply execute the application and you'll be presented with a very blank dull webpage. Congratulations, you did it! It's the start of something good, trust me!

Reference Links
Building an MVC 3 App with Database First and Entity Framework 4.1
Creating an MVC3 Application with Razor and JS

Monday, 11 July 2011

Deploying an MVC application on IIS 6

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Visual Studio/SQL Server - Script schema and data in Visual Studio 2008 and onwards

Friday, 24 June 2011

C#/XSLT - Adding custom xml namespaces / extension objects

Today I had a bit of a ball ache trying to capture errors that were failing within my XSLT. Whenever I called the document() function with an invalid file path, the document will fail to transform and nothing will be displayed.

Initially I looked at trying to capture the error using when/otherwise by passing the result of the document() function into a test attribute. This simply does not work, even if you convert the result to a boolean. So after wading through crappy advice, I thought as I'm using C# to do my transformations, I will simply add a custom namespace.

The following example explains how to check if a file exists using a custom namespace in C#.

1. Add a custom xmlns reference to your XSL file. The format is as follows: xmlns:<tag name>="<namespace>"

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="" xmlns:file="urn:schemas-file">

This will allow me to prefix functions within my urn:schemas-file namespace with the prefix: file

2. Now the XSL has access to this custom library of functions (which we haven't yet coded yet)... we need to actually call one of our functions within the XSL.

<!-- Sample variable holding a location to a file -->
<xsl:variable name="filePath" select="../root/xml/testdocument.xml" />
<!-- Check to see if the file exists -->
<xsl:when test="file:fileExists($filePath)">
    File exists... process the file here and output some stuff!
    File does not exist. perform fallback operation!

3. Now the XSL knows out our functions and were consuming one of them, we just need to write the namespace itself and apply to to the transformation! Create a class in C# and add some functionality that you wish to make available to your XSL file.

// <copyright file="XSLFileHelper.cs" company="Ginko Solutions">
// Copyright (c) 2011 All Right Reserved
// </copyright>
// <author>Sean Greasley</author>
// <email></email>
// <summary>Provides file functionality to support XSL processing</summary>
namespace RegulationExplorerWebHTML.Helpers
    using System;
    using System.IO;
    using System.Web;
    /// <summary>
    /// Provides file functionality to support XSL processing
    /// </summary>
    public class XSLFileHelper
        public bool fileExists(string file)
            // Get path
            string path = HttpContext.Current.Server.MapPath(file);
            // Exists<?>
            return File.Exists(path);

4. The final step is to apply this class to the transformation process! To do this, will use the AddExtensionObject method of the XsltArgumentList class.

Note: Please see my previous post about how to do an XML/XSL transformation in C# with parameters and settings.

XsltArgumentList xslArgs = new XsltArgumentList();
xslArgs.AddExtensionObject("urn:schemas-file", new XSLFileHelper());

5. and thats it!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Serializing LINQ-to-SQL classes example with deep cloning

Serializing Linq-To-Sql classes isn't as straight forward as you might imagine. You may have got as far as attempting to serialize a class and found an error stating Linq.EntityRef cannot be serialized. This post explains to to serialize Linq-To-Sql entities using a cloning example.

For this example, I will be taking a deep clone of a Linq-To-Sql object and all of its associated properties. To do this, I will use serialization and utilise the ICloneable interface.

This example assumes you already have a Linq-To-Sql classes file (.dbml) with some tables/class information within the designer...

1. Open the Linq-To-Sql designer (.dbml) and view the main properties. Change the 'Serialzation Mode' to Unidirectional. This decorates our Linq-To-Sql entities with serialization capabilities.

2. Create a partial class for the Linq-To-Sql class you wish to clone. This allows you to extend the functionality of a Linq-To-Sql class as all classes are partial.

3. Add the [Serializable] attribute to the header of the class. This marks the class as serializable.

4. Implement the ICloneable inteferface. We can now override the Clone() method. When this method is called, we need to apply the serialization process to the object we wish to clone.

5. When serializing a Linq-To-Sql class, we cannot use the BinaryFormatter. Linq-To-Sql classes simply do not support this. Instead, we can utilise the NetDataContractSerializer. This will suit out requirements for the serialization of Linq-To-Sql entities.

6. and your done!

Serialzation code snippet
/// <summary>
/// Linq-To-Sql partial class, extends the 'Event' entity/class.
/// Note: Also changed Serialzation mode in designer to Unidirectional
/// </summary>
public partial class Event : ICloneable
    /// <summary>
    /// Overrides the Clone method within the IClonable interface
    /// to performing object cloning
    /// </summary>
    /// <returns>A clone of the incoming object</returns>
    public object Clone()
        return CloningFunctions.CloneObject(this);
/// <summary>
/// Provides functions aiding object cloning
/// </summary>
public class CloningFunctions
    /// <summary>
    /// Clones an  object using the NetDataContractSerializer
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="obj">Incoming object to clone</param>
    /// <returns>A clone of the incoming object</returns>
    public static object CloneObject(object obj)
        using (MemoryStream memStream = new MemoryStream())
            NetDataContractSerializer formatter = new NetDataContractSerializer(new StreamingContext(StreamingContextStates.Clone));
            formatter.Serialize(memStream, obj);
            memStream.Seek(0, SeekOrigin.Begin);
            return formatter.Deserialize(memStream);