Posts tagged with c - page 2

Differences between Azure Functions v1 and v2 in C#

I’ve been messing around in the .NET ecosystem again, jumping back in with Azure Functions (similar to AWS Lambda) to get my blog onto 99% static hosting. I immediately ran into the API changes between v1 and v2 (currently in beta).

These changes are because v1 was based around .NET 4.6 using WebAPI 2 while v2 is based on ASP.NET Core which uses MVC 6. There are some guides around conversion, but none in the context of Azure Functions.

I’ll illustrate with a PageViewCount sample that uses Table Storage to retrieve and update a simple page count.

v1 (.NET 4.61 / WebAPI 2)

public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run(
    [HttpTrigger(AuthorizationLevel.Anonymous, "get")]HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log) {
    var page = req.MessageUri.ParseQueryString()["page"];
    if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(page))
        return req.CreateErrorResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest, "'page' parameter missing.");

    var table = Helpers.GetTableReference("PageViewCounts");
    var pageView = await table.RetrieveAsync<PageViewCount>("", page)
        ?? new PageViewCount(page) { ViewCount = 0 };
    var operation = pageView.ViewCount == 0
        ? TableOperation.Insert(pageView)
        : TableOperation.Replace(pageView);
    await table.ExecuteAsync(operation);

    return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, new { viewCount = pageView.ViewCount });

v2 (ASP.NET Core / MVC 6)

public static async Task<IActionResult> Run(
    [HttpTrigger(AuthorizationLevel.Anonymous, "get")]HttpRequest req, TraceWriter log) {
    var page = req.Query["page"];
    if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(page))
       return new BadRequestObjectResult("'page' parameter missing.");

    var table = Helpers.GetTableReference("PageViewCounts");
    var pageView = await table.RetrieveAsync<PageViewCount>("", page)
        ?? new PageViewCount(page) { ViewCount = 0 };
    var operation = pageView.ViewCount == 0
        ? TableOperation.Insert(pageView)
        : TableOperation.Replace(pageView);
    await table.ExecuteAsync(operation);

    return new OkObjectResult(new { viewCount = pageView.ViewCount });


The main differences are that:

  1. Return types are IActionResult/ObjectResult objects rather than extension methods against HttpRequestMessage (easier to mock/create custom ones)
  2. Input is the HttpRequest object rather than HttpResponseMessage (easier to get query parameters)

The error Can not create abstract class when executing your function means you are trying to use the wrong tech for that environment.


Both classes above utilise a small helper class to take care of Table Storage which doesn’t have the nicest to use API. A data-context like wrapper that ensures the right types go to the right table might be an even better option.

static class Helpers {
    public static CloudStorageAccount GetCloudStorageAccount() {
        var connection = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["DamienGTableStorage"];
        return connection == null ? CloudStorageAccount.DevelopmentStorageAccount : CloudStorageAccount.Parse(connection);

    public static CloudTable GetTableReference(string name) {
        return GetCloudStorageAccount().CreateCloudTableClient().GetTableReference(name);

    public static async Task<T> RetrieveAsync<T>(this CloudTable cloudTable, string partitionKey, string rowKey)
        where T:TableEntity {
        var tableResult = await cloudTable.ExecuteAsync(TableOperation.Retrieve<T>(partitionKey, rowKey));
        return (T)tableResult.Result;

To compile

If you want to compile this, or Google led you here looking for code to do a simple page counter, here’s the missing TableEntity class;

public class PageViewCount : TableEntity
    public PageViewCount(string pageName)
        PartitionKey = "";
        RowKey = pageName;

    public PageViewCount() { }
    public int ViewCount { get; set; }


Sequence averages in Scala

I’ve been learning Scala and decided to put together a C# to Scala cheat sheet. All is going pretty well but then I got stuck on the equivalent of Average.

Enumerable.Average in .NET calculates a mean average from your sequence by summing up all the values and counting them in a single pass then returning the sum divided by the count in a floating point format (or decimal).

The problem

Given that Scala has nothing built-in there are more than a few suggestions online that boil down to:

val average = seq.sum / seq.length

This has a few problems:

  1. Visiting a sequence twice can be inefficient
  2. Sum can overflow as it is the same type as the sequence
  3. Applied to an integer without casting it returns an integer average

A solution

Scala provides a useful high-order function called foldLeft. Its job is to take an initial state and a function then keep applying the function with each value to the state. So one more efficient solution to the problem is:

val average = seq.foldLeft((0.0, 1)) ((acc, i) => ((acc._1 + (i - acc._1) / acc._2), acc._2 + 1))._1

How does this work?

What we do here is calculate an average as we go, adding the new weighted average each time.

It achieves this by setting up a tuple to contain our initial state with (0.0, 1). This specifies our starting average of 0.0 and our starting position of 1.

The next part specifies the function that takes that state as acc (for accumulator) and the next value in the sequence as i and calculates our rolling average for each value and increases the position as it goes along.

Finally at the end of our call we specify ._1 which tells the compiler we want the first value from the tuple – the average – as we no longer care about the position.

If you wanted to make this function more reusable you could do this:

def average(s: Seq[Int]): Double = s.foldLeft((0.0, 1)) ((acc, i) => ((acc._1 + (i - acc._1) / acc._2), acc._2 + 1))._1

Be aware you might need multiple overloads for each numeric sequence type you want to be able to average given the lack of a common numeric trait that allows for the subtraction and division.

Precision and rounding

There is some slight variance in results between this approach and the total / count due to rounding precision. If you wanted to preserve that you could always add and then divide at the end still in a single pass much like .NET does but with Scala’s foldLeft rather than a foreach.

def average(s: Seq[Int]): Double = { val t = s.foldLeft((0.0, 0)) ((acc, i) => (acc._1 + i, acc._2 + 1)); t._1 / t._2 }


Optimizing Sum, Count, Min, Max and Average with LINQ

LINQ is a great tool for C# programmers letting you use familiar syntax with a variety of back-end systems without having to learn another language or paradigm for many query operations.

Ensuring that the queries still perform well can be a bit of a chore and one set that fails quite badly are the aggregate operations when you want more than one.

Multiple sequential queries (bad)

var count = db.Invoices.Count();
var total = db.Invoices.Sum(i => i.Paid);
var average = db.Invoices.Average(i => i.Paid);

Will issue three separate requests. There is nothing a LINQ provider can do to optimize that pattern as they are three discrete statements.


If we wanted these values by country we could do this in LINQ:

var a = db.Invoices.GroupBy(i => i.Country)
      .Select(g => new { Country = g.Key,
           Count = g.Count(),
           Total = g.Sum(i => i.Paid),
           Average = g.Average(i => i.Paid) });

Which gets us everything in a single statement broken down by country. In SQL this is:

SELECT Country, Count(*), Sum(Paid), Average(Paid)
    FROM Invoices GROUP BY Country

Many data sources including SQL are happy to provide aggregate values without a group by so how do we generate that from LINQ?

In the absence of a Group method that doesn’t take a property we need to fake it and because of the way many LINQ providers optimize out parts of the tree we can:

Single optimized query (good)

Replacing the property in a GroupBy with a constant value gives us an optimized single query:

var a = db.Invoices.GroupBy(i => 1)
    .Select(g => new { Count = g.Count(),
               Total = g.Sum(i => i.Paid),
               Average = g.Average(i => i.Paid) });

Here are the providers I’ve tried:

  • LINQ to Objects (Works although constant is likely evaluated)
  • LINQ to SQL (Works although passes 1 parameter to SQL)
  • Entity Framework 6 (Works although query is a little obscure)
  • ElasticLINQ (Works and optimizes out totally)

Count+Where optimizations

If we are performing counts with a predicate or against a where we can also optimize these.

var high = db.Invoices.Count(i => i.Paid >= 1000);
var low = db.Invoices.Where(i => i.Paid < 1000).Count();
var sum = db.Invoices.Sum(i => i.Paid);

Then we can express this as:

var a = db.Invoices.GroupBy(g => 1)
    .Select(g => new { High = g.Count(i => i.Paid >= 1000),
                   Low = g.Count(i => i.Paid < 1000),
                   Sum = g.Sum(i => i.Paid) });


8 Visual Studio debugging tips – debug like a boss

There are so many useful debugging features built into Visual Studio that aren’t well-known. Here are a few of my favourites, including some recent finds in VS 2013.

1. Breakpoint inside a lambda

Clicking the left gutter to set breakpoints, you could easily believe breakpoints happen at line level.

Breakpoints, though, can be set inside parts of the line, such as inside a lambda in your LINQ expression. Just right-click the part of the code and choose Breakpoint > Insert Breakpoint from the context menu.

2. Usable output window

Visual Studio output window filtering optionsThe output window is useful for debugging where breakpoints would be too invasive or interrupt flow but for the noise.

Just right-click in the output window (make sure output is set to debug) and turn off the Module Load, Module Unload, Process Exit and Thread Exit to leave you with information you care about. Now Debug.WriteLine to your heart’s content.

You can also press CtrlS in the output window to save the contents.

3. Attach debugger to client and server (VS 2012)

It’s useful to have both server and client projects in a single solution so that you only need one copy of Visual Studio running. It’s all too easy to get lost alt-tabbing back and forth - especially when they share code such as a data model project.

One disadvantage is that the startup project is the only one to get a debugger attached. If you encounter an exception, it shows in your client, not your server project.

That’s easily solved now. Right-click on the solution, choose properties and choose Multiple startup projects then select the Start action for the projects you need to attach to.

Visual Studio Solution properties dialog

4. Create a repro project template

If you’re responsible for a SDK or API create a simple application that uses your stuff in a small self-contained way. Then use File > Export template… to save it.

Now you can create a new project from your template whenever you need it with a few clicks. Even better, make it available to users and testers so they can send you minimal repros.

5. Use the DebuggerDisplay attribute

By default, the debugger uses ToString() for watch and auto windows which output the class name. Even if you override ToString it’s probably not what somebody debugging wants to see at a glance.

Add DebuggerDisplay to your class with a simple expression to evaluate properties instead. e.g.:

[DebuggerDisplay("Order {ID,nq}")
class Order {
    public string ID { get { return id; } }

The nq prevents double-quotes from being emitted. You can also use methods here too, but don’t do anything with subtle side-effects; otherwise, your observation of the subject changes its behaviour and can cause weird hard-to-track-down issues.

6. Manage breakpoints

You set-up some interesting breakpoints. Now you need to switch one off as it’s getting hit too often but you’ll need it again in a minute. If you remove the breakpoint, you’ll have to come back and find it again.

Enter the much-overlooked Breakpoints window CtrlAltB. This will show all breakpoints you have set but crucially lets you disable them without unsetting them by simply removing the check-mark. Check it again to re-enable it.

Visual Studio breakpoints window

This window also provides the ability to quickly:

  • Condition when a breakpoint should occur
  • Hit count to see how often it is hit, and to break only on that count
  • Label a breakpoint to allow toggling on and off in batches
  • When Hit to put a message in the output window instead of actually breaking

7. Break on or output the caller information (.NET 4.5/Windows 8 Store)

There isn’t a global variable for the current method of the caller. Getting the current stack is a slow operation.

One quick and simple trick is to add an extra optional string parameter to the method with the CallerMemberName attribute. e.g.

void MyFunction(string someValue, [CallerMemberName] string caller = null) {

Because it is an optional value, you don’t need to modify any callers, but you can now:

  1. Set a breakpoint condition inside DoSomething based on the caller variable
  2. Output the contents of the caller to a log or output window

You can also use CallerLineNumber and CallerFilePath. Also remember that constructors, finalizers and operator overloads will display their underlying method names (.ctor, op_Equals etc).</a>

8. See the value returned by a function (VS 2013, .NET 4.5.1/Windows 8.1 Store)

Visual Studio autos windowSometimes you want to see what a function returned, but you can’t easily because you didn’t store the value because it was the input to another function.

Support was added in VS 2013 but is incredibly easy to miss as you have to be in the right place at the right time. The right place is the Autos window, and the right time is exactly the step that returned you to where the function was called from. You won’t see this before you call the function or while in the function. It’s there for a single step and looks like this:

The arrow icon indicates it’s a return value, and it lets you know the name of the function alongside it.

Wrap up

I also can’t stress enough how useful having logs are for troubleshooting once the software leaves your machine. But that’s a much bigger discussion than this one.

Am I missing some great debugging tips? Feel free to let me know below :)

PS: Michael Parshin has some great tips on debugging too.