Posts tagged with t4

Multiple outputs from T4 made easy – revisited

My multiple outputs from t4 made easy post contained a class making it easy to produce multiple files from Visual Studio’s text templating engine (T4).

While useful it had a few issues:

  • Getting start/end blocks mixed up resulted in unpredictable behavior
  • Files were rewritten even when content did not change
  • Did not play well with source control
  • Files not always deleted in VS
  • Failed in Visual Studio’s project-less Web Sites

This helper class forms the basis of multiple file output for Entity Framework templates in .NET 4.0 and the LINQ to SQL templates on CodePlex so we (Jeff Reed, Andrew Peters and myself) made the following changes.

Improvements

Simpler block handling

The header, footer and file blocks can now be completed with EndBlock (EndHeader and EndFooter are gone), although it will automatically end the previous block when it hits a new one or the final Process method.

Skip unchanged files

Files are now only written to disk if the contents are different with the exception of the original T4 output file (we can’t stop that, sorry).

There is additional overhead reading and comparing files we believe unmodified files keeping their dates and source control status are worth it.

Automatic checkout

When the template detects it is running in Visual Studio and that the file it needs to write to is currently in source control but not checked out it will check the file out for you.

Predictable clean-up

All files that were not part of the generation process but are nested under the project item will now be deleted when running inside Visual Studio.

Outside of Visual Studio files are no longer deleted – this was destructive and it couldn’t know which files it generated on a previous run to clean-up correctly anyway.

Website projects fall back to single file generation

Visual Studio has both web sites and web applications with the former being project-less leading to very messy multi-file generation so it forces single file generation.

Internal improvements

Source is now simpler to read and understand with less public visibility and faster and more robust VS interop by batching the files & deletes to a single invoke at the end to avoid conflicts with other add-ins that might be triggered by the changes.

Usage

Initialization

You’ll need to get the code into your template – either copy the code in or reference it with an include directive. Then declare an instance of the Manager class passing in some environmental options such as the desired default output path. (For Visual Studio 2010 remove the #v3.5 portion from the language attribute)

<#@ template language="C#v3.5" hostspecific="True"
#><#@include file="Manager.ttinclude"
#><# var manager = Manager.Create(Host, GenerationEnvironment); #>

File blocks

Then add one line before and one line after each block which could be split out into it’s own file passing in what the filename would be if split. The EndBlock is optional if you want it to carry through to the next one :)

<# manager.StartNewFile("Employee.generated.cs"); #>
public class Employee {  }
<# manager.EndBlock(); #>

Headers & footers

Many templates need to share a common header/footer for such things as comments or using/import statements or turning on/off warnings. Simply use StartHeader and StartFooter and the blocks will be emitted to the start and end of all split files as well as being left in the original output file.

<# manager.StartHeader(); #>
// Code generated by a template
using System;

<# manager.EndBlock(); #>

Process

At the end of the template call Process to handle splitting the files (true) or not (false). Anything not included in a specific StartNewFile block will remain in the original output file.

<# manager.Process(true); #>

Revised Manager class

Latest source available at GitHub
<#@ assembly name="System.Core"
#><#@ assembly name="System.Data.Linq"
#><#@ assembly name="EnvDTE"
#><#@ assembly name="System.Xml"
#><#@ assembly name="System.Xml.Linq"
#><#@ import namespace="System"
#><#@ import namespace="System.CodeDom"
#><#@ import namespace="System.CodeDom.Compiler"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Collections.Generic"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Data.Linq"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Data.Linq.Mapping"
#><#@ import namespace="System.IO"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Linq"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Reflection"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Text"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Xml.Linq"
#><#@ import namespace="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TextTemplating"
#><#+

// Manager class records the various blocks so it can split them up
class Manager {
    private class Block {
        public String Name;
        public int Start, Length;
    }

    private Block currentBlock;
    private List<Block> files = new List<Block>();
    private Block footer = new Block();
    private Block header = new Block();
    private ITextTemplatingEngineHost host;
    private StringBuilder template;
    protected List<String> generatedFileNames = new List<String>();

    public static Manager Create(ITextTemplatingEngineHost host, StringBuilder template) {
        return (host is IServiceProvider) ? new VSManager(host, template) : new Manager(host, template);
    }

    public void StartNewFile(String name) {
        if (name == null)
            throw new ArgumentNullException("name");
        CurrentBlock = new Block { Name = name };
    }

    public void StartFooter() {
        CurrentBlock = footer;
    }

    public void StartHeader() {
        CurrentBlock = header;
    }

    public void EndBlock() {
        if (CurrentBlock == null)
            return;
        CurrentBlock.Length = template.Length - CurrentBlock.Start;
        if (CurrentBlock != header && CurrentBlock != footer)
            files.Add(CurrentBlock);
        currentBlock = null;
    }

    public virtual void Process(bool split) {
        if (split) {
            EndBlock();
            String headerText = template.ToString(header.Start, header.Length);
            String footerText = template.ToString(footer.Start, footer.Length);
            String outputPath = Path.GetDirectoryName(host.TemplateFile);
            files.Reverse();
            foreach(Block block in files) {
                String fileName = Path.Combine(outputPath, block.Name);
                String content = headerText + template.ToString(block.Start, block.Length) + footerText;
                generatedFileNames.Add(fileName);
                CreateFile(fileName, content);
                template.Remove(block.Start, block.Length);
            }
        }
    }

    protected virtual void CreateFile(String fileName, String content) {
        if (IsFileContentDifferent(fileName, content))
            File.WriteAllText(fileName, content);
    }

    public virtual String GetCustomToolNamespace(String fileName) {
        return null;
    }

    public virtual String DefaultProjectNamespace {
        get { return null; }
    }

    protected bool IsFileContentDifferent(String fileName, String newContent) {
        return !(File.Exists(fileName) && File.ReadAllText(fileName) == newContent);
    }

    private Manager(ITextTemplatingEngineHost host, StringBuilder template) {
        this.host = host;
        this.template = template;
    }

    private Block CurrentBlock {
        get { return currentBlock; }
        set {
            if (CurrentBlock != null)
                EndBlock();
            if (value != null)
                value.Start = template.Length;
            currentBlock = value;
        }
    }

    private class VSManager: Manager {
        private EnvDTE.ProjectItem templateProjectItem;
        private EnvDTE.DTE dte;
        private Action<String> checkOutAction;
        private Action<IEnumerable<String>> projectSyncAction;

        public override String DefaultProjectNamespace {
            get {
                return templateProjectItem.ContainingProject.Properties.Item("DefaultNamespace").Value.ToString();
            }
        }

        public override String GetCustomToolNamespace(string fileName) {
            return dte.Solution.FindProjectItem(fileName).Properties.Item("CustomToolNamespace").Value.ToString();
        }

        public override void Process(bool split) {
            if (templateProjectItem.ProjectItems == null)
                return;
            base.Process(split);
            projectSyncAction.EndInvoke(projectSyncAction.BeginInvoke(generatedFileNames, null, null));
        }

        protected override void CreateFile(String fileName, String content) {
            if (IsFileContentDifferent(fileName, content)) {
                CheckoutFileIfRequired(fileName);
                File.WriteAllText(fileName, content);
            }
        }

        internal VSManager(ITextTemplatingEngineHost host, StringBuilder template)
            : base(host, template) {
            var hostServiceProvider = (IServiceProvider) host;
            if (hostServiceProvider == null)
                throw new ArgumentNullException("Could not obtain IServiceProvider");
            dte = (EnvDTE.DTE) hostServiceProvider.GetService(typeof(EnvDTE.DTE));
            if (dte == null)
                throw new ArgumentNullException("Could not obtain DTE from host");
            templateProjectItem = dte.Solution.FindProjectItem(host.TemplateFile);
            checkOutAction = (String fileName) => dte.SourceControl.CheckOutItem(fileName);
            projectSyncAction = (IEnumerable<String> keepFileNames) => ProjectSync(templateProjectItem, keepFileNames);
        }

        private static void ProjectSync(EnvDTE.ProjectItem templateProjectItem, IEnumerable<String> keepFileNames) {
            var keepFileNameSet = new HashSet<String>(keepFileNames);
            var projectFiles = new Dictionary<String, EnvDTE.ProjectItem>();
            var originalFilePrefix = Path.GetFileNameWithoutExtension(templateProjectItem.get_FileNames(0)) + ".";
            foreach(EnvDTE.ProjectItem projectItem in templateProjectItem.ProjectItems)
                projectFiles.Add(projectItem.get_FileNames(0), projectItem);

            // Remove unused items from the project
            foreach(var pair in projectFiles)
                if (!keepFileNames.Contains(pair.Key) && !(Path.GetFileNameWithoutExtension(pair.Key) + ".").StartsWith(originalFilePrefix))
                    pair.Value.Delete();

            // Add missing files to the project
            foreach(String fileName in keepFileNameSet)
                if (!projectFiles.ContainsKey(fileName))
                    templateProjectItem.ProjectItems.AddFromFile(fileName);
        }

        private void CheckoutFileIfRequired(String fileName) {
            var sc = dte.SourceControl;
            if (sc != null && sc.IsItemUnderSCC(fileName) && !sc.IsItemCheckedOut(fileName))
                checkOutAction.EndInvoke(checkOutAction.BeginInvoke(fileName, null, null));
        }
    }
} #>

[)amien

LINQ to SQL resources

A quick round-up of some useful LINQ to SQL related resources that are available for developers. I’ve not used everything on this list myself so don’t take this as personal endorsement.

Templates

  • Entity Developer Add-in for Visual Studio that provides a replacement designer with code templates. Commercial ($99.95)
  • LLBLGen Pro This ORM templating and design tool has a set of LINQ to SQL templates available for generating C# code including file per entity that can be used in conjunction with their designer. Templates are free but require LLBLGen Pro license (€179-249).
  • L2ST4 My templates use Visual Studio’s built in T4 engine and provide a great starting point to customizing the code generation process. Everything that SQL Metal/LINQ to SQL designer can generate is handled including C# and VB.NET generation and are freely licensed under the MS-PL.
  • PLINQO These templates for Eric Smith’s ever-popular CodeSmith templating environment include a whole host of extra functionality beyond the standard generation including entity clone & detach, enum’s from tables, data annotations, batching, auditing and more. Templates are free but require CodeSmith license ($79-$299).
  • T4 Toolbox Oleg Sych has put together a suite of useful T4 templates including ones for producing LINQ to SQL entities, data contexts as well as SQL scripts for altering the schema to reflect changes. C# only, MS-RL.

Note: While the T4 templating language is built-in to Visual Studio 2008/2010 it does not come with syntax highlighting or IntelliSense. Check out either:

  • Clarius Visual T4 Basic ‘community’ version available for free, commercial ‘pro’ version with IntelliSense, sub-templates, preview, user preferences etc. is $99.
  • Tangible T4 Free version available with limited IntelliSense, commercial ‘pro’ version with UML modeling etc. available for $99.

Blogs

  • David DeWinter David is a dev in test who recently joined our team and hit the ground running with testing, blogging and helping out on the forums.
  • Roger Jennings Roger over at OakLeaf Systems publishes regular articles and roundups of some of the best .NET data access content from around the web including LINQ to SQL.
  • Scott Guthrie Our Corporate Vice President for the .NET Developer Platform takes a very active role in getting his hands dirty and publishes a series of useful LINQ to SQL articles.
  • Sidar Ok Sidar is a regular forum helper and has written a number of great posts on LINQ to SQL including some good POCO coverage.

Tools

  • Devart dotConnect Devart’s dotConnect family are database providers for Oracle, MySQL, Postgres and SQLite that also include LINQ support to enable LINQ to SQL like functionality on other platforms. Some database basic versions are free, professional versions are commercial and vary in price (~$99-$209).
  • Hugati DBML/EDMX Tools Add-in for Visual Studio that provides comparison/update facilities between the database and the DBML as well as standardizing names and generating interfaces. Commercial ($49-$119, free 30 day trial).
  • Hugati LINQ to SQL Profiler Profiling tool to help optimize your LINQ to SQL based applications. Commercial ($49-$119, free 45 day trial).
  • LINQpad This invaluable tool helps you write and visualize your LINQ queries in a test-bench without compilation and includes a version for the .NET 4.0 beta. Free to use, auto-completion add-on available ($19).
  • LINQ to SQL Cheat Sheet PDF download of the most popular query and update syntax for C# and VB.NET.

Official guides

  • Samples The official samples includes a whopping 101 snippets showing how to use many of the features and syntax.
  • Programming Guide Includes steps on how to get started, querying, making changes, debugging and background information.
  • Whitepaper Single document describing the architecture, query capabilities, change tracking and life-cycle, multi-tier entities, external mapping etc.
  • Changes in .NET 4.0 List of the changes made to LINQ to SQL to .NET 4.0 including some possible breaking changes

Books

Support

  • Official MSDN forums Great way to get access to the product team directly as well as knowledgeable and experienced users if you have a question or a problem.
  • Official LINQ to SQL FAQ Coverage is a little thin on the ground but it has some useful tips.
  • StackOverflow’s LINQ to SQL tag StackOverflow has rapidly become a leader in questions and answers for a wide variety of developer topics and covers LINQ to SQL (which the site uses for it’s data access too!)

[)amien

Multiple outputs from T4 made easy

An improved version is now available.

One of the things I wanted my LINQ to SQL T4 templates to do was be able to split the output into a file-per-entity. Existing solutions used either a separate set of templates with duplicate code or intrusive handling code throughout the template. Here’s my helper class to abstract the problem away from what is already complicated enough template code.

Using the Manager class

Setup

You’ll need to get the code into your template – either copy the code in or reference it with an include directive. Then declare an instance of the Manager class passing in some environmental options such as the desired default output path.

<#@ template language="C#v3.5" hostspecific="True"
#><#@ include file="Manager.ttinclude"
#><# var manager = new Manager(Host, GenerationEnvironment, true) { OutputPath = Path.GetDirectoryName(Host.TemplateFile) }; #>

Define a block

Then add one line before and one line after each block which could be split out into it’s own file passing in what the filename would be if split.

<# manager.StartBlock("Employee.generated.cs"); #>
public class Employee {  }
<# manager.EndBlock(); #>

Headers and footers

Many templates need to share a common header/footer for such things as comments or using/import statements or turning on/off warnings. Simply use StartHeader/EndHeader and StartFooter/EndFooter. The resulting blocks will be emitted into all split files and left in the original output too.

<# manager.StartHeader(); #>
// Code generated template
using System;

<# manager.EndHeader(); #>

Process

At the end of the template call Process to handle splitting the files (true) or not (false). Anything not included in a specific start/end block will remain in the original output file.

<# manager.Process(true); #>

When processing each block name in the Output path will either be overwritten or deleted to enable proper clean-up. It will also add and remove the files from Visual Studio so make sure your generated names aren’t going to collide with hand-written ones!

Manager classes

Here is the Manger class itself as well as the small ManagementStrategy classes that determines what to do with the files within Visual Studio (add/remove project items) and outside of Visual Studio (create/delete files).

Download Manager.ttinclude (4KB)

<#@ assembly name="System.Core"
#><#@ assembly name="EnvDTE"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Collections.Generic"
#><#@ import namespace="System.IO"
#><#@ import namespace="System.Text"
#><#@ import namespace="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TextTemplating"
#><#+

// T4 Template Block manager for handling multiple file outputs more easily.
// Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.
// This source code is made available under the terms of the Microsoft Public License (MS-PL)

// Manager class records the various blocks so it can split them up
class Manager
{
	private struct Block {
		public String Name;
		public int Start, Length;
	}

	private List<Block> blocks = new List<Block>();
	private Block currentBlock;
	private Block footerBlock = new Block();
	private Block headerBlock = new Block();
	private ITextTemplatingEngineHost host;
	private ManagementStrategy strategy;
	private StringBuilder template;
	public String OutputPath { get; set; }

	public Manager(ITextTemplatingEngineHost host, StringBuilder template, bool commonHeader) {
		this.host = host;
		this.template = template;
		OutputPath = String.Empty;
		strategy = ManagementStrategy.Create(host);
	}

	public void StartBlock(String name) {
		currentBlock = new Block { Name = name, Start = template.Length };
	}

	public void StartFooter() {
		footerBlock.Start = template.Length;
	}

	public void EndFooter() {
		footerBlock.Length = template.Length - footerBlock.Start;
	}

	public void StartHeader() {
		headerBlock.Start = template.Length;
	}

	public void EndHeader() {
		headerBlock.Length = template.Length - headerBlock.Start;
	}

	public void EndBlock() {
		currentBlock.Length = template.Length - currentBlock.Start;
		blocks.Add(currentBlock);
	}

	public void Process(bool split) {
		String header = template.ToString(headerBlock.Start, headerBlock.Length);
		String footer = template.ToString(footerBlock.Start, footerBlock.Length);
		blocks.Reverse();
		foreach(Block block in blocks) {
			String fileName = Path.Combine(OutputPath, block.Name);
			if (split) {
				String content = header + template.ToString(block.Start, block.Length) + footer;
				strategy.CreateFile(fileName, content);
				template.Remove(block.Start, block.Length);
			} else {
				strategy.DeleteFile(fileName);
			}
		}
	}
}

class ManagementStrategy
{
	internal static ManagementStrategy Create(ITextTemplatingEngineHost host) {
		return (host is IServiceProvider) ? new VSManagementStrategy(host) : new ManagementStrategy(host);
	}

	internal ManagementStrategy(ITextTemplatingEngineHost host) { }

	internal virtual void CreateFile(String fileName, String content) {
		File.WriteAllText(fileName, content);
	}

	internal virtual void DeleteFile(String fileName) {
		if (File.Exists(fileName))
			File.Delete(fileName);
	}
}

class VSManagementStrategy : ManagementStrategy
{
	private EnvDTE.ProjectItem templateProjectItem;

	internal VSManagementStrategy(ITextTemplatingEngineHost host) : base(host) {
		IServiceProvider hostServiceProvider = (IServiceProvider)host;
		if (hostServiceProvider == null)
			throw new ArgumentNullException("Could not obtain hostServiceProvider");

		EnvDTE.DTE dte = (EnvDTE.DTE)hostServiceProvider.GetService(typeof(EnvDTE.DTE));
		if (dte == null)
			throw new ArgumentNullException("Could not obtain DTE from host");

		templateProjectItem = dte.Solution.FindProjectItem(host.TemplateFile);
	}

	internal override void CreateFile(String fileName, String content) {
		base.CreateFile(fileName, content);
		((EventHandler)delegate { templateProjectItem.ProjectItems.AddFromFile(fileName); }).BeginInvoke(null, null, null, null);
	}

	internal override void DeleteFile(String fileName) {
		((EventHandler)delegate { FindAndDeleteFile(fileName); }).BeginInvoke(null, null, null, null);
	}

	private void FindAndDeleteFile(String fileName) {
		foreach(EnvDTE.ProjectItem projectItem in templateProjectItem.ProjectItems) {
			if (projectItem.get_FileNames(0) == fileName) {
				projectItem.Delete();
				return;
			}
		}
	}
}#>

[)amien

LINQ to SQL templates updated, now on CodePlex

My templates that allow you to customize the LINQ to SQL code-generation process (normally performed by SQLMetal/LINQ to SQL classes designer) have been updated once again.

Updates

  • Now licensed under the Microsoft Public License and hosted at CodePlex
  • User options specified with a var options block at the start of the template
  • Option for each class to be a separate file that is reflected in the VS project EntityPerFile=true
  • Detection and support of IsComposable functions
  • General code clean-up and better error handling such as missing DBML file

CodePlex

CodePlex makes it easier for people to be able to see and merge updates in with their own modified versions as well as report issues via the issue tracker etc. There is also an RSS feed that lets you keep track of releases, source updates or whatever else you are interested in.

For now it is a grab-the-source style release but I hope to publish downloadable tested releases wrapped up in a Visual Studio Installer (VSI) package to make getting started easier soon.  Feel free to grab the sources directly via TFS/Subversion to be able to diff them with your own modified versions.

Enjoy!

[)amien