Posts in category .net - page 26

Microsoft announces XNA for homebrew, score 1 for my prediction skills

Over the last few months I’ve pieced together various snippets and hints from the web to come to the conclusion that Microsoft’s forthcoming XNA platform, specifically the XNA Framework version, would be available to home-brew developers and let them develop on the Xbox 360 – the first official home-brew since the PlayStation 1’s Net Yaroze!

Indeed I’ve been telling people in IRC and on forums that I believe this to be true. One friend, after messing with Managed DirectX2, told me if I was wrong about this I was in trouble. I went as so far to claim that it’s already tested and GarageGames Marble Blast Ultra was an XNA Framework title.

Today Microsoft announced at their Gamefest conference the XNA Game Studio Express – a free download due this “holiday season” (a beta is out 30th August) – that lets anyone create XNA Framework based games on their PC which other people can run, on their PC.

The real icing on the cake however is that for $99 USD a year you can join the “creators club” and run home-brew XNA titles on your 360 – your own or other peoples.

Check out Microsoft’s XNA Developer Center and their XNA FAQ for the low-down.

Phew, seems my reputation is in tact.


Calculating CRC-32 in C# and .NET

Just a few days ago I found myself needing to calculate a CRC-32 in .NET. With so many facilities available I was a little shocked that there was nothing built-in to do it so knocked up something myself.

GitHub has the latest version of Crc32

Because unsigned ints aren’t CLS compliant it won’t play well with VB.NET and implementing the HashAlgorithm might lead people to believe it’s suitable for signing – it isn’t. CRC-32’s are only any good for check-sums along the lines of WinZIP, RAR etc. and certainly shouldn’t come near a password and instead consider SHA-512 or similar.

As well as using it as a HashAlgorithm with block processing you can also access the static method Compute although there is an overhead with every call building the table with that. If neither option suits you needs cut ‘n splice it to something that does.

If using the Compute methods multiple times for the same hash you must XOR (~) the current hash when passing it in to the next subsequent call’s seed parameter.

To compute the hash for a file simply:

var crc32 = new Crc32();
var hash = String.Empty;

using (var fs = File.Open("c:\\myfile.txt", FileMode.Open))
  foreach (byte b in crc32.ComputeHash(fs)) hash += b.ToString("x2").ToLower();

Console.WriteLine("CRC-32 is {0}", hash);


Implementing a generic WeakReference in C#

Check out the replacement EquatableWeakReference class</a> </p> A [weak reference]( lets you hold a reference to an object that will not prevent it from being garbage collected. There are a few scenarios where this might be important – such as listening for events, caching, various [MVC patterns]( .NET and Java supports weak references with the aptly named [WeakReference]( class. In .NET it exposes a .Target property of type object that weakly points to whatever you like. Java also sports a generic WeakReference to give you a strongly typed version so it’s somewhat puzzling why .NET doesn’t. Here is my attempt at a WeakReference for .NET. It works fine in the scenarios I’ve used and performance is close to the non-generic version but a quick glance at the SSCLI code for WeakReference reveals that the standard version is a little more complicated and it’s possible there is a reason for that – most likely due to finalizer issues. ```csharp using System; using System.Runtime.InteropServices; public class WeakReference : IDisposable { private GCHandle handle; private bool trackResurrection; public WeakReference(T target) : this(target, false) { } public WeakReference(T target, bool trackResurrection) { this.trackResurrection = trackResurrection; this.Target = target; } ~WeakReference() { Dispose(); } public void Dispose() { handle.Free(); GC.SuppressFinalize(this); } public virtual bool IsAlive { get { return (handle.Target != null); } } public virtual bool TrackResurrection { get { return this.trackResurrection; } } public virtual T Target { get { object o = handle.Target; if ((o == null) || (!(o is T))) return default(T); else return (T)o; } set { handle = GCHandle.Alloc(value, this.trackResurrection ? GCHandleType.WeakTrackResurrection : GCHandleType.Weak); } } } ```

I’ve allowed Target to be settable against my better judgment to bring it more in like with WeakReference. It’s still not serializable though unlike WeakReference.


Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

While a big fan of patterns I found the original Gang of Four (GoF) book a little dry and so had left the pattern books alone until Martin Fowler’s Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture (PEAA), got referenced so many times on-line I gave in and purchased a copy. I’m glad I did – even if the examples are mostly in Java with the very occasional one in C#.

The patterns in the original GoF were really about the interactions between the objects themselves and whilst PEAA has some object-to-object interactions it concentrates on problems encountered in “Enterprise Applications”. This includes database mappings, transactions, web pages and concurrency.

The first half of the book provides a readable narrative and discussion of the various patterns with recommendations for when to use each and when to avoid. Part two explains each pattern in detail providing an essential reference to the patterns themselves. This mix of half-narrative and half-reference works very well and is certainly something other programming books would do well to steal.

As somebody who has been writing ‘Enterprise’ applications for some time it is interesting to see many of the problems described in neutral terms as well as the road-not-travelled alternatives and a rationale for their existence. Even if you came up with something similar yourself (and I’m sure you’ll find a few) giving it a meaningful common name makes life easier when discussing the solution with others.

A fair chunk of the book covers object-relational mapping (ORM) and it addresses most all the issues including whether to go full domain model/data mapper, active record, record set as well as the more intricate issues such as lazy loading, locking, identity map and approaches for how many tables to use for a given object.

There are a couple of issues I have with some of the patterns that don’t seem to be addressed so I’ll throw them out here:

Identity Map

The identify map’s description is

“Ensures that each object gets loaded only once by keeping every loaded object in a map. Looks up objects using the map when referring to them.”

There are two problems here;

  1. Objects become stale as other users perform updates that your browser/user can never see until your session terminates and thus looses your map. “Log out to see changes” is not acceptable.
  2. Resource consumption is heavy as your identity map effectively holds every object loaded in memory regardless of whether it’s used any more. Those objects may reference other objects too – combine this with a web server and you’re looking at a recipe for disaster as resources dry up.

One approach would be use develop your map using some form of weak reference mechanism. This would mean that once your code looses the last reference the object will be eligible for garbage collection and subsequent reloading from the database. This effectively kills off the secondary role as a cache but better than a web site running out of memory showing lots of old data.


Martin puts forward his discussion of the Money class and while the rounding is useful in my experience a monetary amount and a currency isn’t much use without some way of getting an exchange rate to the base currency.

Lazy Load

The samples Martin provides here are not thread safe and you could easily find yourself with two different objects where you expect one. For a section on lazy loading for enterprise apps not having a double-check lock is a bit sloppy. To correct the sample on page 203 would be (I’ve also converted it to C# 2.0);

public List<Products> GetProducts() {
  if (products == null)
      if (products == null)
        products = Product.FindForSupplier(GetID());
  return products;

Overall a very good book – I really need to get to grips with the patterns Foreign Key Mapping and Class Table Inheritance now.