Posts tagged with asp.net - page 4

LINQ in C# Web Applications

I’m a big fan of the Web Application type that was previously available as an add-on to Visual Studio 2005 but thankfully got promoted to a standard citizen with Service Pack 1.

So with a little more time on my hands lately I’ve been delving into the wonder that is LINQ – part of the forthcoming Orcas release of technologies.

For those who’ve been living under a rock LINQ is a set of extensions to .NET that let you perform queries on objects in much the same way you would do on a database with SQL (except the syntax is backwards by comparison).

Now while the LINQ Preview CTP installs LINQ projects for C# Class Libraries, Windows Applications and Console Applications it inconveniently misses-out Web Applications!

You can drop this ZIP file in your %UserProfile%\My Documents\Visual Studio 2005\Templates\ProjectTemplates\Visual C# to gain a new ASP.NET LINQ Web Application project type for you to start with as often as you like as shown:

Window of the LINQ To SQL templates available

Or if you want to modify an existing Web Application simply:

  1. Open up the .csproj file in Notepad and replace <Import Project=”$(MSBuildBinPath)\Microsoft.CSharp.targets” /> with <Import Project=”$(ProgramFiles)\LINQ Preview\Misc\Linq.targets” />
  2. Add project references to:

     System.Data.DLinq
     System.Query
     System.Xml.XLinq
    

Hopefully more LINQ related posts as I get to grips with it.

[)amien

Localizing .NET web applications

It seems that globalization often makes the wish list of many a web site until the client realizes professional quality translations require a significant investment of time and money.

On occasion however smaller web applications with their limited vocabulary are prime targets for localization globalization and it can be quite feasible to translate the couple of hundred strings involved.

Here’s a very brief whirlwind overview of what’s involved.

Create the default language resource file

Create a new folder inside your App_GlobalResources folder to contain your language resource files. Then create a new resource file (e.g. Localization\Language.resx) to use when no translation exists for the user’s preferred language.

Detect the user’s browser settings and switch

In .NET 1.1 this required a couple of lines of code in your global.asa.cs:

public void Application_BeginRequest(object sender, EventArgs e) {
    Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentCulture = CultureInfo.CreateSpecificCulture(Request.UserLanguages[0]);
    Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentUICulture = new CultureInfo(Request.UserLanguages[0]);
}

Update

Sander Rijken points out that .NET 2.0 lets you do this with a line in your web.config <system.web> section instead:

<globalization culture="auto" uiCulture="auto" />

or indeed at individual page level with:

<@ Page ... Culture="auto" UICulture="auto">

Localize the classes

For every bit of code that sets a string that will end up on the user’s display you now have to move that into the language resource file and replace the code with a reference to it. So if for example you had;

if (name.Length == 0) error.Text = "Please enter a name";

Then you move “Please enter a name” into the resource file and give it a sensible key such as NameBlankError and modify the above line to read;

if (name.Length == 0) error.Text = Resources.Language.NameBlankError;

There is a Resource Refactoring Tool to do this for you now! Just right-click the string, choose Extract to resource and fill in the blanks.

Localize the pages

Unlike the WinForms designer the WebForms one doesn’t support multi-language so you’re instead forced to do it by hand. One way is to remove all the text from the page and place it into the resource language file.

Then create a private void Localize() method in each page that simply looks something like;

public void Localize() {
    Title = Resources.Language.LoginPageTitle;
    loginButton.Text = Resources.Language.LoginPageLoginButton;
    reminderButton.Text = Resources.Language.LoginPageReminderButton;
}

Obviously you need to call this from the page, I find that calling it from Page_PreRender works a treat.

One disadvantage to this technique is your page itself ends up looking very blank in the designer or duplicates text that soon gets out of date. You could avoid this by leaving the default-language text in the page and not calling localize if you are running in that language. Be sure to put “\***” or something in the default language resource file for it though so that if it’s missing for other languages you immediately spot the missing text during testing.

Don’t treat types as strings

If you have a number, treat it as a number and pass it around as a number. The same applies to dates etc.

If you need to pass over to SQL etc. then use a parameterized query, they’re fast and will take care of all the regionalization stuff for you!

To get those pesky strings in and out of the correct types see the following extra steps!

Always use .ToString() to format output

Almost all basic .NET types include locale-aware formatting and so keep an eye on the ToString methods. Remember even numbers are formatted differently across the globe. 1,234.00 in England and the US becomes 1.234,00 in various parts of Europe.

Be very careful of outputting currencies. .NET won’t convert the amount for you but you could easily find yourself with the wrong currency symbol and therefore a totally different price!

Always use .TryParse to read input

When accepting information from users hand over that string to TryParse for it to try and work out what’s going on. It will helpfully return a boolean indicating if it did the job okay – if not time to use that localized error-message.

Auf wiedersehen!

[)amien

Extending GridView to access generated columns

ASP.NET’s GridView is a useful control and one of it’s best features is it’s ability to generate the columns automatically from the data source given.

The problem however is that these generated columns are not exposed as part of the Columns collection or indeed available at all so you can’t hide or manipulate the selected columns.

One simple scenario might be that you want the first column to be a “View” link to drill down into the row displayed. Whilst you can add the column to the GridView before data binding you can’t actually pull out the information needed from another columns to construct the URL.

By sub-classing GridView you can obtain this functionality with some caveats.

Version 1: Auto generated columns added to the Columns collection… with caveats.

using System;
using System.Data;
using System.Collections;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;

public class GridViewEx1 : GridView
{
    private DataControlFieldCollection originalColumns;

    public GridViewEx1() : base() {
    }

    public void RecordColumns() {
        originalColumns = new DataControlFieldCollection();
        foreach(DataControlField column in Columns)
            originalColumns.Add(column as DataControlField);
    }

    public void ResetColumns() {
        if (originalColumns == null)
            RecordColumns();
        else {
            Columns.Clear();
            foreach(DataControlField column in originalColumns)
                Columns.Add(column as DataControlField);
        }
    }

    protected override ICollection CreateColumns(PagedDataSource dataSource, bool useDataSource) {
        ResetColumns();
        ICollection generatedColumns = base.CreateColumns(dataSource, useDataSource);
        foreach(DataControlField column in generatedColumns)
            if (!originalColumns.Contains(column))
                Columns.Add(column as DataControlField);
        return Columns;
    }
}

This version provides some compatibility with existing code/expectations in that the auto-generated columns are part of the Columns collection after the DataBind.

Should you call DataBind again however as well as wiping out the changes to the generated columns (they are, after all re-generated) any additional columns added to the collection after the first DataBind will also be lost as it does not track which are added by the programmer and which automatically.

Version 2: All bound columns exposed as BoundColumns, user ones as Columns.

using System;
using System.Data;
using System.Collections;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;

public class GridViewEx2 : GridView
{
    private DataControlFieldCollection boundColumns = new DataControlFieldCollection();

    public GridViewEx2() : base() {
    }

    public DataControlFieldCollection BoundColumns {
        get { return boundColumns; }
    }

    protected override ICollection CreateColumns(PagedDataSource dataSource, bool useDataSource) {
        ICollection generatedColumns = base.CreateColumns(dataSource, useDataSource);
        BoundColumns.Clear();
        foreach (DataControlField column in generatedColumns)
            BoundColumns.Add(column as DataControlField);
        return BoundColumns;
    }
}

After the DataBind you will have full access to the generated columns as part of the BoundColumns collection.

[)amien

Extend HttpApplication with session counts and uptime

It’s sometimes useful to know or display how many people are currently using your web application and how long it’s been up for.

As web applications normally inherit from System.Web.HttpApplication we can extend this class with a common re-usable class to add the required functionality.

public class WebApplication : System.Web.HttpApplication {
    private static readonlyDateTime pStartedAt = DateTime.Now;
    private static long pSessionCount = 0;

    public WebApplication() : base() { }

    public override void Init () {
        base.Init();
        HookEventHandlers();
    }

    public static long SessionCount {
        get { return pSessionCount; }
    }

    public static DateTime StartedAt {
        get { return pStartedAt; }
    }
    public static TimeSpan Uptime {
        get { return DateTime.Now.Subtract(pStartedAt); }
    }

    private void HookEventHandlers () {
        IHttpModule httpModule = Modules["Session"];
        if (httpModule is SessionStateModule) {
            SessionStateModule sessionStateModule = ((SessionStateModule) httpModule);
            sessionStateModule.Start += new System.EventHandler(SessionStart);
            sessionStateModule.End += new System.EventHandler(SessionEnd);
        }
    }

    private void SessionStart (object sender, EventArgs e) {
        Interlocked.Increment(ref pSessionCount);
    }

    private void SessionEnd (object sender, EventArgs e) {
        Interlocked.Decrement(ref pSessionCount);
    }
}

The next step is to ensure your web application’s class – as defined by global.asax – is of the new WebApplication type. A good approach is to have your own Global.asax.cs file inherit directly from the new WebApplication;

public class App : WebApplication { ... }

Now those sessions and uptime are being tracked how do you get at them?

lblCurrentSessions.Text = WebApplication.SessionCount.ToString();
lblUptime.Text = WebApplication.Uptime.ToString();

This approach is only suitable for sites operating on a single web server.

[)amien