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  • IE9 not rendering box-shadow Elements inside of Table Cells

    - by Rick Strahl
    Ran into an annoying problem today with IE 9. Slowly updating some older sites with CSS 3 tags and for the most part IE9 does a reasonably decent job of working with the new CSS 3 features. Not all by a long shot but at least some of the more useful ones like border-radius and box-shadow are supported. Until today I was happy to see that IE supported box-shadow just fine, but I ran into a problem with some old markup that uses tables for its main layout sections. I found that inside of a table cell IE fails to render a box-shadow. Below are images from Chrome (left) and IE 9 (right) of the same content: The download and purchase images are rendered with: <a href="download.asp" style="display:block;margin: 10px;"><img src="../images/download.gif" class="boxshadow roundbox" /></a> where the .boxshadow and .roundbox styles look like this:.boxshadow { -moz-box-shadow: 3px 3px 5px #535353; -webkit-box-shadow: 3px 3px 5px #535353; box-shadow: 3px 3px 5px #535353; } .roundbox { -moz-border-radius: 6px 6px 6px 6px; -webkit-border-radius: 6px; border-radius: 6px 6px 6px 6px; } And the Problem is… collapsed Table Borders Now normally these two styles work just fine in IE 9 when applied to elements. But the box-shadow doesn't work inside of this markup - because the parent container is a table cell.<td class="sidebar" style="border-collapse: collapse"> … <a href="download.asp" style="display:block;margin: 10px;"><img src="../images/download.gif" class="boxshadow roundbox" /></a> …</td> This HTML causes the image to not show a shadow. In actuality I'm not styling inline, but as part of my browser Reset I have the following in my master .css file:table { border-collapse: collapse; border-spacing: 0; } which has the same effect as the inline style. border-collapse by default inherits from the parent and so the TD inherits from table and tr - so TD tags are effectively collapsed. You can check out a test document that demonstrates this behavior here in this CodePaste.net snippet or run it here. How to work around this Issue To get IE9 to render the shadows inside of the TD tag correctly, I can just change the style explicitly NOT to use border-collapse:<td class="sidebar" style="border-collapse: separate; border-width: 0;"> Or better yet (thanks to David's comment below), you can add the border-collapse: separate to the .boxshadow style like this:.boxshadow { -moz-box-shadow: 3px 3px 5px #535353; -webkit-box-shadow: 3px 3px 5px #535353; box-shadow: 3px 3px 5px #535353; border-collapse: separate; } With either of these approaches IE renders the shadows correctly. Do you really need border-collapse? Should you bother with border-collapse? I think so! Collapsed borders render flat as a single fat line if a border-width and border-color are assigned, while separated borders render a thin line with a bunch of weird white space around it or worse render a old skool 3D raised border which is terribly ugly as well. So as a matter of course in any app my browser Reset includes the above code to make sure all tables with borders render the same flat borders. As you probably know, IE has all sorts of rendering issues in tables and on backgrounds (opacity backgrounds or image backgrounds) most of which is caused by the way that IE internally uses ActiveX filters to apply these effects. Apparently collapsed borders are yet one more item that causes problems with rendering. There you have it. Another crappy failure in IE we have to check for now, just one more reason to hate Internet Explorer. Luckily this one has a reasonably easy workaround. I hope this helps out somebody and saves them the hour I spent trying to figure out what caused this problem in the first place. Resources Sample HTML document that demonstrates the behavior Run the Sample© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in HTML  Internet Explorer   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Problems with opening CHM Help files from Network or Internet

    - by Rick Strahl
    As a publisher of a Help Creation tool called Html Help Help Builder, I’ve seen a lot of problems with help files that won't properly display actual topic content and displays an error message for topics instead. Here’s the scenario: You go ahead and happily build your fancy, schmanzy Help File for your application and deploy it to your customer. Or alternately you've created a help file and you let your customers download them off the Internet directly or in a zip file. The customer downloads the file, opens the zip file and copies the help file contained in the zip file to disk. She then opens the help file and finds the following unfortunate result:     The help file  comes up with all topics in the tree on the left, but a Navigation to the WebPage was cancelled or Operation Aborted error in the Help Viewer's content window whenever you try to open a topic. The CHM file obviously opened since the topic list is there, but the Help Viewer refuses to display the content. Looks like a broken help file, right? But it's not - it's merely a Windows security 'feature' that tries to be overly helpful in protecting you. The reason this happens is because files downloaded off the Internet - including ZIP files and CHM files contained in those zip files - are marked as as coming from the Internet and so can potentially be malicious, so do not get browsing rights on the local machine – they can’t access local Web content, which is exactly what help topics are. If you look at the URL of a help topic you see something like this:   mk:@MSITStore:C:\wwapps\wwIPStuff\wwipstuff.chm::/indexpage.htm which points at a special Microsoft Url Moniker that in turn points the CHM file and a relative path within that HTML help file. Try pasting a URL like this into Internet Explorer and you'll see the help topic pop up in your browser (along with a warning most likely). Although the URL looks weird this still equates to a call to the local computer zone, the same as if you had navigated to a local file in IE which by default is not allowed.  Unfortunately, unlike Internet Explorer where you have the option of clicking a security toolbar, the CHM viewer simply refuses to load the page and you get an error page as shown above. How to Fix This - Unblock the Help File There's a workaround that lets you explicitly 'unblock' a CHM help file. To do this: Open Windows Explorer Find your CHM file Right click and select Properties Click the Unblock button on the General tab Here's what the dialog looks like:   Clicking the Unblock button basically, tells Windows that you approve this Help File and allows topics to be viewed.   Is this insecure? Not unless you're running a really old Version of Windows (XP pre-SP1). In recent versions of Windows Internet Explorer pops up various security dialogs or fires script errors when potentially malicious operations are accessed (like loading Active Controls), so it's relatively safe to run local content in the CHM viewer. Since most help files don't contain script or only load script that runs pure JavaScript access web resources this works fine without issues. How to avoid this Problem As an application developer there's a simple solution around this problem: Always install your Help Files with an Installer. The above security warning pop up because Windows can't validate the source of the CHM file. However, if the help file is installed as part of an installation the installation and all files associated with that installation including the help file are trusted. A fully installed Help File of an application works just fine because it is trusted by Windows. Summary It's annoying as all hell that this sort of obtrusive marking is necessary, but it's admittedly a necessary evil because of Microsoft's use of the insecure Internet Explorer engine that drives the CHM Html Engine's topic viewer. Because help files are viewing local content and script is allowed to execute in CHM files there's potential for malicious code hiding in CHM files and the above precautions are supposed to avoid any issues. © Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012 Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • XmlWriter and lower ASCII characters

    - by Rick Strahl
    Ran into an interesting problem today on my CodePaste.net site: The main RSS and ATOM feeds on the site were broken because one code snippet on the site contained a lower ASCII character (CHR(3)). I don't think this was done on purpose but it was enough to make the feeds fail. After quite a bit of debugging and throwing in a custom error handler into my actual feed generation code that just spit out the raw error instead of running it through the ASP.NET MVC and my own error pipeline I found the actual error. The lovely base exception and error trace I got looked like this: Error: '', hexadecimal value 0x03, is an invalid character. at System.Xml.XmlUtf8RawTextWriter.InvalidXmlChar(Int32 ch, Byte* pDst, Boolean entitize)at System.Xml.XmlUtf8RawTextWriter.WriteElementTextBlock(Char* pSrc, Char* pSrcEnd)at System.Xml.XmlUtf8RawTextWriter.WriteString(String text)at System.Xml.XmlWellFormedWriter.WriteString(String text)at System.Xml.XmlWriter.WriteElementString(String localName, String ns, String value)at System.ServiceModel.Syndication.Rss20FeedFormatter.WriteItemContents(XmlWriter writer, SyndicationItem item, Uri feedBaseUri)at System.ServiceModel.Syndication.Rss20FeedFormatter.WriteItem(XmlWriter writer, SyndicationItem item, Uri feedBaseUri)at System.ServiceModel.Syndication.Rss20FeedFormatter.WriteItems(XmlWriter writer, IEnumerable`1 items, Uri feedBaseUri)at System.ServiceModel.Syndication.Rss20FeedFormatter.WriteFeed(XmlWriter writer)at System.ServiceModel.Syndication.Rss20FeedFormatter.WriteTo(XmlWriter writer)at CodePasteMvc.Controllers.ApiControllerBase.GetFeed(Object instance) in C:\Projects2010\CodePaste\CodePasteMvc\Controllers\ApiControllerBase.cs:line 131 XML doesn't like extended ASCII Characters It turns out the issue is that XML in general does not deal well with lower ASCII characters. According to the XML spec it looks like any characters below 0x09 are invalid. If you generate an XML document in .NET with an embedded &#x3; entity (as mine did to create the error above), you tend to get an XML document error when displaying it in a viewer. For example, here's what the result of my  feed output looks like with the invalid character embedded inside of Chrome which displays RSS feeds as raw XML by default: Other browsers show similar error messages. The nice thing about Chrome is that you can actually view source and jump down to see the line that causes the error which allowed me to track down the actual message that failed. If you create an XML document that contains a 0x03 character the XML writer fails outright with the error: '', hexadecimal value 0x03, is an invalid character. The good news is that this behavior is overridable so XML output can at least be created by using the XmlSettings object when configuring the XmlWriter instance. In my RSS configuration code this looks something like this:MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(); var settings = new XmlWriterSettings() { CheckCharacters = false }; XmlWriter writer = XmlWriter.Create(ms,settings); and voila the feed now generates. Now generally this is probably NOT a good idea, because as mentioned above these characters are illegal and if you view a raw XML document you'll get validation errors. Luckily though most RSS feed readers however don't care and happily accept and display the feed correctly, which is good because it got me over an embarrassing hump until I figured out a better solution. How to handle extended Characters? I was glad to get the feed fixed for the time being, but now I was still stuck with an interesting dilemma. CodePaste.net accepts user input for code snippets and those code snippets can contain just about anything. This means that ASP.NET's standard request filtering cannot be applied to this content. The code content displayed is encoded before display so for the HTML end the CHR(3) input is not really an issue. While invisible characters are hardly useful in user input it's not uncommon that odd characters show up in code snippets. You know the old fat fingering that happens when you're in the middle of a coding session and those invisible characters do end up sometimes in code editors and then end up pasted into the HTML textbox for pasting as a Codepaste.net snippet. The question is how to filter this text? Looking back at the XML Charset Spec it looks like all characters below 0x20 (space) except for 0x09 (tab), 0x0A (LF), 0x0D (CR) are illegal. So applying the following filter with a RegEx should work to remove invalid characters:string code = Regex.Replace(item.Code, @"[\u0000-\u0008,\u000B,\u000C,\u000E-\u001F]", ""); Applying this RegEx to the code snippet (and title) eliminates the problems and the feed renders cleanly.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in .NET  XML   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Postfix unable to create lock file, permission denied

    - by John Bowlinger
    I thought I had my postfix configuration all set up on my Amazon Ubuntu server but I guess not. I'm trying to set up an admin email account for 3 virtually hosted Apache websites. Here's my postfix main.cf file: myhostname = ip-XX-XXX-XX-XXX.us-west-2.compute.internal alias_maps = hash:/etc/aliases alias_database = hash:/etc/aliases myorigin = /etc/mailname mydestination = ip-XX-XXX-XX-XXX.us-west-2.compute.internal, localhost.us-west-2.compute.internal, , localhost relayhost = mynetworks = 127.0.0.0/8 [::ffff:127.0.0.0]/104 [::1]/128 mailbox_size_limit = 0 recipient_delimiter = + inet_interfaces = all virtual_mailbox_domains = example1.com, example2.com, example3.com virtual_mailbox_base = /var/mail/vhosts virtual_mailbox_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/vmailbox virtual_minimum_uid = 100 virtual_uid_maps = static:115 virtual_gid_maps = static:115 virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual Here's my vmailbox file: [email protected] example1.com/admin [email protected] example2.com/admin [email protected] example3.com/admin @example1.com example1.com/catchall @example2.com example2.com/catchall @example3.com example3.com/catchall And finally my virtual file: [email protected] postmaster [email protected] postmaster [email protected] postmaster When I try to send an email to through netcat to my one of my domains, I get: unable to create lock file /var/mail/vhosts/example1.com/admin.lock: Permission denied This is despite the fact that I set example1.com group to postfix and also my virtual_uid_maps and virtual_gid_maps are both set to Postfix group id of 115.

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  • Cisco ASA 5505: Force NAT before IPsec?

    - by WuckaChucka
    I'm trying to route public-to-public IPs over an IPSec tunnel. However, the src IP is not "interesting" to the Cisco's IPSec engine because it doesn't appear to be getting translated to the outside IP before being evaluated by the Cisco's IPSec engine. From WEST to EAST, my public-to-public IPSec works fine: I can make a request from 192.168.0.5:any to 200.200.200.200:80 because the Vyatta does the NAT translation before the IPSec tunnel inspects the traffic, so the remote-subnet and local-subnet matches (see below). However from EAST to WEST, I see a deny in my Cisco logging buffer for Deny tcp src inside:192.168.1.5/59195 dst outside:100.100.100.100/80 which leads me to believe that the IPSec engine is not matching the encrypt_acl because the address has not been translated yet. Any ideas? WEST (Vyatta): inside: 192.168.0.0/24 inside host: 192.168.0.5/24 outside: 100.100.100.100 IPSec local-subnet: 100.100.100.100/32 IPSec remote-subnet: 200.200.200.200/32 EAST (Cisco): inside: 192.168.1.0/24 inside host: 192.168.1.5/24 (DNAT'ed on port 80 to outside) outside: 200.200.200.200 IPSec local-subnet: 200.200.200.200/32 IPSec remote-subnet: 100.100.100.100/32

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  • Allow incoming connections on Windows Server 2008 R2

    - by Richard-MX
    Good day people. First, im new to Windows Server. I've always used Linux/Apache combo, but, my client has and AWS EC2 Windows Server 2008 R2 instance and he wants everything in there. Im working with IIS and PHP enabled as Fast-CGI and everything is working, but, i cant see the websites stored in it from internet. The public DNS that AWS gave us for that instance is: http://ec2-XX-XXX-XXX-121.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com/ But, if i copy paste that address, i get nothing, no IIS logo or something like that. My common sense tells me that maybe the firewall could be blocking the access. Can anyone help me and tell where to enable some rules to get this thing working? I don't wanna start enabling rules at random and make the system insecure. If you need any additional info, you can ask me and i will provide it. Thanks in advance. UPDATE: Amazon EC2 display this: Public DNS: ec2-XX-XXX-XXX-121.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com Private DNS: ip-XX-XXX-XX-252.us-west-2.compute.internal Private IPs: XX.XXX.XX.25 In my test microinstance, i just to use the Public DNS address (the one that starts with "ec2") and it works like a charm (of course, the micro instance have its own Public DNS im not assuming same address for both instances...) However, for the large instance, i tried to do the same. Set up everything as in the micro instance but if i use the Public DNS, it doesnt load anything. Im suspicious about the Windows Firewall, but, the HTTP related stuff is enabled. What should i do to get access to the large instance? I don't want to set up the domain yet, i want access from an amazon url. 2ND EDIT: all fixed. Charles pointed that maybe Security Groups was not properly set up for the instance. He was right. Just added HTTP service to the rules and all works good.

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  • Network latency and speed of light

    - by James
    This was kinda of covered by the following Is minimum latency fixed by the speed of light? , but i would like to add the follow up a bit. The scenario is as follows; we have two opposing sites one on the West Coast of the US and one in Ireland. The customer is in central Europe, and has requested a latency test. Ireland gives responses of ~65-70ms. However the West Coast guys claim to be faster with a response of 60ms. Now a quick check says that light in fiber would take about 42ms to make the trip to the States and 8.5ms to Ireland. So obviously this is a single hop and does not include routers, switches, firewalls, protocol overhead etc. Would I be right to call BS on their figures? As a final note I tested a ping to Google IP address that was allegedly on the west coast from a site that covered a similar distance and was amazed to get a response time of 20ms. Suggesting ICMP packets that travel twice the speed of light. So A) what am I missing B) Am I right to suspect shenanigans? UPDATE: Guys thanks so far for your help and I have been reading various previous questions on this. About 5 years I had an issue where the hop from the UK to Ireland added 10ms of latency no matter what we did. In the end I moved the servers; So imagine my surprise when I have guys that claim they are 5ms faster with a transatlantic trip. So again should I call BS? Oh and assume both sites are normal mortals that don't have access to Google magical routing, warp dives or flux capacitors. :)

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  • Error on 64 Bit Install of IIS &ndash; LoadLibraryEx failed on aspnet_filter.dll

    - by Rick Strahl
    I’ve been having a few problems with my Windows 7 install and trying to get IIS applications to run properly in 64 bit. After installing IIS and creating virtual directories for several of my applications and firing them up I was left with the following error message from IIS: Calling LoadLibraryEx on ISAPI filter “c:\windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\aspnet_filter.dll” failed This is on Windows 7 64 bit and running on an ASP.NET 4.0 Application configured for running 64 bit (32 bit disabled). It’s also on what is essentially a brand new installation of IIS and Windows 7. So it failed right out of the box. The problem here is that IIS is trying to loading this ISAPI filter from the 32 bit folder – it should be loading from Framework64 folder note the Framework folder. The aspnet_filter.dll component is a small Win32 ISAPI filter used to back up the cookieless session state for ASP.NET on IIS 7 applications. It’s not terribly important because of this focus, but it’s a default loaded component. After a lot of fiddling I ended up with two solutions (with the help and support of some Twitter folks): Switch IIS to run in 32 bit mode Fix the filter listing in ApplicationHost.config Switching IIS to allow 32 Bit Code This is a quick fix for the problem above which enables 32 bit code in the Application Pool. The problem above is that IIS is trying to load a 32 bit ISAPI filter and enabling 32 bit code gets you around this problem. To configure your Application Pool, open the Application Pool in IIS Manager bring up Advanced Options and Enable 32 Bit Applications: And voila the error message above goes away. Fix Filters Enabling 32 bit code is a quick fix solution to this problem, but not an ideal one. If you’re running a pure .NET application that doesn’t need to do COM or pInvoke Interop with 32 bit apps there’s usually no need for enabling 32 bit code in an Application Pool as you can run in native 64 bit code. So trying to get 64 bit working natively is a pretty key feature in my opinion :-) So what’s the problem – why is IIS trying to load a 32 bit DLL in a 64 bit install, especially if the application pool is configured to not allow 32 bit code at all? The problem lies in the server configuration and the fact that 32 bit and 64 bit configuration settings exist side by side in IIS. If I open my Default Web Site (or any other root Web Site) and go to the ISAPI filter list here’s what I see: Notice that there are 3 entries for ASP.NET 4.0 in this list. Only two of them however are specifically scoped to the specifically to 32 bit or 64 bit. As you can see the 64 bit filter correctly points at the Framework64 folder to load the dll, while both the 32 bit and the ‘generic’ entry point at the plain Framework 32 bit folder. Aha! Hence lies our problem. You can edit ApplicationHost.config manually, but I ran into the nasty issue of not being able to easily edit that file with the 32 bit editor (who ever thought that was a good idea???? WTF). You have to open ApplicationHost.Config in a 64 bit native text editor – which Visual Studio is not. Or my favorite editor: EditPad Pro. Since I don’t have a native 64 bit editor handy Notepad was my only choice. Or as an alternative you can use the IIS 7.5 Configuration Editor which lets you interactively browse and edit most ApplicationHost settings. You can drill into the configuration hierarchy visually to find your keys and edit attributes and sub values in property editor type interface. I had no idea this tool existed prior to today and it’s pretty cool as it gives you some visual clues to options available – especially in absence of an Intellisense scheme you’d get in Visual Studio (which doesn’t work). To use the Configuration Editor go the Web Site root and use the Configuration Editor option in the Management Group. Drill into System.webServer/isapiFilters and then click on the Collection’s … button on the right. You should now see a display like this: which shows all the same attributes you’d see in ApplicationHost.config (cool!). These entries correspond to these raw ApplicationHost.config entries: <filter name="ASP.Net_4.0" path="C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\aspnet_filter.dll" enableCache="true" preCondition="runtimeVersionv4.0" /> <filter name="ASP.Net_4.0_64bit" path="C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\aspnet_filter.dll" enableCache="true" preCondition="runtimeVersionv4.0,bitness64" /> <filter name="ASP.Net_4.0_32bit" path="C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\aspnet_filter.dll" enableCache="true" preCondition="runtimeVersionv4.0,bitness32" /> The key attribute we’re concerned with here is the preCondition and the bitness subvalue. Notice that the ‘generic’ version – which comes first in the filter list – has no bitness assigned to it, so it defaults to 32 bit and the 32 bit dll path. And this is where our problem comes from. The simple solution to fix the startup problem is to remove the generic entry from this list here or in the filters list shown earlier and leave only the bitness specific versions active. The preCondition attribute acts as a filter and as you can see here it filters the list by runtime version and bitness value. This is something to keep an eye out in general – if a bitness values are missing it’s easy to run into conflicts like this with any settings that are global and especially those that load modules and handlers and other executable code. On 64 bit systems it’s a good idea to explicitly set the bitness of all entries or remove the non-specific versions and add bit specific entries. So how did this get misconfigured? I installed IIS before everything else was installed on this machine and then went ahead and installed Visual Studio. I suspect the Visual Studio install munged this up as I never saw a similar problem on my live server where everything just worked right out of the box. In searching about this problem a lot of solutions pointed at using aspnet_regiis –r from the Framework64 directory, but that did not fix this extra entry in the filters list – it adds the required 32 bit and 64 bit entries, but it doesn’t remove the errand un-bitness set entry. Hopefully this post will help out anybody who runs into a similar situation without having to trouble shoot all the way down into the configuration settings and noticing the bitness settings. It’s a good lesson learned for me – this is my first desktop install of a 64 bit OS and things like this are what I was reluctant to find. Now that I ran into this I have a good idea what to look for with 32/64 bit misconfigurations in IIS at least.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2011Posted in IIS7   ASP.NET  

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  • LINQ to SQL and missing Many to Many EntityRefs

    - by Rick Strahl
    Ran into an odd behavior today with a many to many mapping of one of my tables in LINQ to SQL. Many to many mappings aren’t transparent in LINQ to SQL and it maps the link table the same way the SQL schema has it when creating one. In other words LINQ to SQL isn’t smart about many to many mappings and just treats it like the 3 underlying tables that make up the many to many relationship. Iain Galloway has a nice blog entry about Many to Many relationships in LINQ to SQL. I can live with that – it’s not really difficult to deal with this arrangement once mapped, especially when reading data back. Writing is a little more difficult as you do have to insert into two entities for new records, but nothing that can’t be handled in a small business object method with a few lines of code. When I created a database I’ve been using to experiment around with various different OR/Ms recently I found that for some reason LINQ to SQL was completely failing to map even to the linking table. As it turns out there’s a good reason why it fails, can you spot it below? (read on :-}) Here is the original database layout: There’s an items table, a category table and a link table that holds only the foreign keys to the Items and Category tables for a typical M->M relationship. When these three tables are imported into the model the *look* correct – I do get the relationships added (after modifying the entity names to strip the prefix): The relationship looks perfectly fine, both in the designer as well as in the XML document: <Table Name="dbo.wws_Item_Categories" Member="ItemCategories"> <Type Name="ItemCategory"> <Column Name="ItemId" Type="System.Guid" DbType="uniqueidentifier NOT NULL" CanBeNull="false" /> <Column Name="CategoryId" Type="System.Guid" DbType="uniqueidentifier NOT NULL" CanBeNull="false" /> <Association Name="ItemCategory_Category" Member="Categories" ThisKey="CategoryId" OtherKey="Id" Type="Category" /> <Association Name="Item_ItemCategory" Member="Item" ThisKey="ItemId" OtherKey="Id" Type="Item" IsForeignKey="true" /> </Type> </Table> <Table Name="dbo.wws_Categories" Member="Categories"> <Type Name="Category"> <Column Name="Id" Type="System.Guid" DbType="UniqueIdentifier NOT NULL" IsPrimaryKey="true" IsDbGenerated="true" CanBeNull="false" /> <Column Name="ParentId" Type="System.Guid" DbType="UniqueIdentifier" CanBeNull="true" /> <Column Name="CategoryName" Type="System.String" DbType="NVarChar(150)" CanBeNull="true" /> <Column Name="CategoryDescription" Type="System.String" DbType="NVarChar(MAX)" CanBeNull="true" /> <Column Name="tstamp" AccessModifier="Internal" Type="System.Data.Linq.Binary" DbType="rowversion" CanBeNull="true" IsVersion="true" /> <Association Name="ItemCategory_Category" Member="ItemCategory" ThisKey="Id" OtherKey="CategoryId" Type="ItemCategory" IsForeignKey="true" /> </Type> </Table> However when looking at the code generated these navigation properties (also on Item) are completely missing: [global::System.Data.Linq.Mapping.TableAttribute(Name="dbo.wws_Item_Categories")] [global::System.Runtime.Serialization.DataContractAttribute()] public partial class ItemCategory : Westwind.BusinessFramework.EntityBase { private System.Guid _ItemId; private System.Guid _CategoryId; public ItemCategory() { } [global::System.Data.Linq.Mapping.ColumnAttribute(Storage="_ItemId", DbType="uniqueidentifier NOT NULL")] [global::System.Runtime.Serialization.DataMemberAttribute(Order=1)] public System.Guid ItemId { get { return this._ItemId; } set { if ((this._ItemId != value)) { this._ItemId = value; } } } [global::System.Data.Linq.Mapping.ColumnAttribute(Storage="_CategoryId", DbType="uniqueidentifier NOT NULL")] [global::System.Runtime.Serialization.DataMemberAttribute(Order=2)] public System.Guid CategoryId { get { return this._CategoryId; } set { if ((this._CategoryId != value)) { this._CategoryId = value; } } } } Notice that the Item and Category association properties which should be EntityRef properties are completely missing. They’re there in the model, but the generated code – not so much. So what’s the problem here? The problem – it appears – is that LINQ to SQL requires primary keys on all entities it tracks. In order to support tracking – even of the link table entity – the link table requires a primary key. Real obvious ain’t it, especially since the designer happily lets you import the table and even shows the relationship and implicitly the related properties. Adding an Id field as a Pk to the database and then importing results in this model layout: which properly generates the Item and Category properties into the link entity. It’s ironic that LINQ to SQL *requires* the PK in the middle – the Entity Framework requires that a link table have *only* the two foreign key fields in a table in order to recognize a many to many relation. EF actually handles the M->M relation directly without the intermediate link entity unlike LINQ to SQL. [updated from comments – 12/24/2009] Another approach is to set up both ItemId and CategoryId in the database which shows up in LINQ to SQL like this: This also work in creating the Category and Item fields in the ItemCategory entity. Ultimately this is probably the best approach as it also guarantees uniqueness of the keys and so helps in database integrity. It took me a while to figure out WTF was going on here – lulled by the designer to think that the properties should be when they were not. It’s actually a well documented feature of L2S that each entity in the model requires a Pk but of course that’s easy to miss when the model viewer shows it to you and even the underlying XML model shows the Associations properly. This is one of the issue with L2S of course – you have to play by its rules and once you hit one of those rules there’s no way around them – you’re stuck with what it requires which in this case meant changing the database.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2010Posted in ADO.NET  LINQ  

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  • GZip/Deflate Compression in ASP.NET MVC

    - by Rick Strahl
    A long while back I wrote about GZip compression in ASP.NET. In that article I describe two generic helper methods that I've used in all sorts of ASP.NET application from WebForms apps to HttpModules and HttpHandlers that require gzip or deflate compression. The same static methods also work in ASP.NET MVC. Here are the two routines:/// <summary> /// Determines if GZip is supported /// </summary> /// <returns></returns> public static bool IsGZipSupported() { string AcceptEncoding = HttpContext.Current.Request.Headers["Accept-Encoding"]; if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(AcceptEncoding) && (AcceptEncoding.Contains("gzip") || AcceptEncoding.Contains("deflate"))) return true; return false; } /// <summary> /// Sets up the current page or handler to use GZip through a Response.Filter /// IMPORTANT: /// You have to call this method before any output is generated! /// </summary> public static void GZipEncodePage() { HttpResponse Response = HttpContext.Current.Response; if (IsGZipSupported()) { string AcceptEncoding = HttpContext.Current.Request.Headers["Accept-Encoding"]; if (AcceptEncoding.Contains("gzip")) { Response.Filter = new System.IO.Compression.GZipStream(Response.Filter, System.IO.Compression.CompressionMode.Compress); Response.Headers.Remove("Content-Encoding"); Response.AppendHeader("Content-Encoding", "gzip"); } else { Response.Filter = new System.IO.Compression.DeflateStream(Response.Filter, System.IO.Compression.CompressionMode.Compress); Response.Headers.Remove("Content-Encoding"); Response.AppendHeader("Content-Encoding", "deflate"); } } // Allow proxy servers to cache encoded and unencoded versions separately Response.AppendHeader("Vary", "Content-Encoding"); } The first method checks whether the client sending the request includes the accept-encoding for either gzip or deflate, and if if it does it returns true. The second function uses IsGzipSupported() to decide whether it should encode content and uses an Response Filter to do its job. Basically response filters look at the Response output stream as it's written and convert the data flowing through it. Filters are a bit tricky to work with but the two .NET filter streams for GZip and Deflate Compression make this a snap to implement. In my old code and even now in MVC I can always do:public ActionResult List(string keyword=null, int category=0) { WebUtils.GZipEncodePage(); …} to encode my content. And that works just fine. The proper way: Create an ActionFilterAttribute However in MVC this sort of thing is typically better handled by an ActionFilter which can be applied with an attribute. So to be all prim and proper I created an CompressContentAttribute ActionFilter that incorporates those two helper methods and which looks like this:/// <summary> /// Attribute that can be added to controller methods to force content /// to be GZip encoded if the client supports it /// </summary> public class CompressContentAttribute : ActionFilterAttribute { /// <summary> /// Override to compress the content that is generated by /// an action method. /// </summary> /// <param name="filterContext"></param> public override void OnActionExecuting(ActionExecutingContext filterContext) { GZipEncodePage(); } /// <summary> /// Determines if GZip is supported /// </summary> /// <returns></returns> public static bool IsGZipSupported() { string AcceptEncoding = HttpContext.Current.Request.Headers["Accept-Encoding"]; if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(AcceptEncoding) && (AcceptEncoding.Contains("gzip") || AcceptEncoding.Contains("deflate"))) return true; return false; } /// <summary> /// Sets up the current page or handler to use GZip through a Response.Filter /// IMPORTANT: /// You have to call this method before any output is generated! /// </summary> public static void GZipEncodePage() { HttpResponse Response = HttpContext.Current.Response; if (IsGZipSupported()) { string AcceptEncoding = HttpContext.Current.Request.Headers["Accept-Encoding"]; if (AcceptEncoding.Contains("gzip")) { Response.Filter = new System.IO.Compression.GZipStream(Response.Filter, System.IO.Compression.CompressionMode.Compress); Response.Headers.Remove("Content-Encoding"); Response.AppendHeader("Content-Encoding", "gzip"); } else { Response.Filter = new System.IO.Compression.DeflateStream(Response.Filter, System.IO.Compression.CompressionMode.Compress); Response.Headers.Remove("Content-Encoding"); Response.AppendHeader("Content-Encoding", "deflate"); } } // Allow proxy servers to cache encoded and unencoded versions separately Response.AppendHeader("Vary", "Content-Encoding"); } } It's basically the same code wrapped into an ActionFilter attribute, which intercepts requests MVC requests to Controller methods and lets you hook up logic before and after the methods have executed. Here I want to override OnActionExecuting() which fires before the Controller action is fired. With the CompressContentAttribute created, it can now be applied to either the controller as a whole:[CompressContent] public class ClassifiedsController : ClassifiedsBaseController { … } or to one of the Action methods:[CompressContent] public ActionResult List(string keyword=null, int category=0) { … } The former applies compression to every action method, while the latter is selective and only applies it to the individual action method. Is the attribute better than the static utility function? Not really, but it is the standard MVC way to hook up 'filter' content and that's where others are likely to expect to set options like this. In fact,  you have a bit more control with the utility function because you can conditionally apply it in code, but this is actually much less likely in MVC applications than old WebForms apps since controller methods tend to be more focused. Compression Caveats Http compression is very cool and pretty easy to implement in ASP.NET but you have to be careful with it - especially if your content might get transformed or redirected inside of ASP.NET. A good example, is if an error occurs and a compression filter is applied. ASP.NET errors don't clear the filter, but clear the Response headers which results in some nasty garbage because the compressed content now no longer matches the headers. Another issue is Caching, which has to account for all possible ways of compression and non-compression that the content is served. Basically compressed content and caching don't mix well. I wrote about several of these issues in an old blog post and I recommend you take a quick peek before diving into making every bit of output Gzip encoded. None of these are show stoppers, but you have to be aware of the issues. Related Posts GZip Compression with ASP.NET Content ASP.NET GZip Encoding Caveats© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in ASP.NET  MVC   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • DropDownList and SelectListItem Array Item Updates in MVC

    - by Rick Strahl
    So I ran into an interesting behavior today as I deployed my first MVC 4 app tonight. I have a list form that has a filter drop down that allows selection of categories. This list is static and rarely changes so rather than loading these items from the database each time I load the items once and then cache the actual SelectListItem[] array in a static property. However, when we put the site online tonight we immediately noticed that the drop down list was coming up with pre-set values that randomly changed. Didn't take me long to trace this back to the cached list of SelectListItem[]. Clearly the list was getting updated - apparently through the model binding process in the selection postback. To clarify the scenario here's the drop down list definition in the Razor View:@Html.DropDownListFor(mod => mod.QueryParameters.Category, Model.CategoryList, "All Categories") where Model.CategoryList gets set with:[HttpPost] [CompressContent] public ActionResult List(MessageListViewModel model) { InitializeViewModel(model); busEntry entryBus = new busEntry(); var entries = entryBus.GetEntryList(model.QueryParameters); model.Entries = entries; model.DisplayMode = ApplicationDisplayModes.Standard; model.CategoryList = AppUtils.GetCachedCategoryList(); return View(model); } The AppUtils.GetCachedCategoryList() method gets the cached list or loads the list on the first access. The code to load up the list is housed in a Web utility class. The method looks like this:/// <summary> /// Returns a static category list that is cached /// </summary> /// <returns></returns> public static SelectListItem[] GetCachedCategoryList() { if (_CategoryList != null) return _CategoryList; lock (_SyncLock) { if (_CategoryList != null) return _CategoryList; var catBus = new busCategory(); var categories = catBus.GetCategories().ToList(); // Turn list into a SelectItem list var catList= categories .Select(cat => new SelectListItem() { Text = cat.Name, Value = cat.Id.ToString() }) .ToList(); catList.Insert(0, new SelectListItem() { Value = ((int)SpecialCategories.AllCategoriesButRealEstate).ToString(), Text = "All Categories except Real Estate" }); catList.Insert(1, new SelectListItem() { Value = "-1", Text = "--------------------------------" }); _CategoryList = catList.ToArray(); } return _CategoryList; } private static SelectListItem[] _CategoryList ; This seemed normal enough to me - I've been doing stuff like this forever caching smallish lists in memory to avoid an extra trip to the database. This list is used in various places throughout the application - for the list display and also when adding new items and setting up for notifications etc.. Watch that ModelBinder! However, it turns out that this code is clearly causing a problem. It appears that the model binder on the [HttpPost] method is actually updating the list that's bound to and changing the actual entry item in the list and setting its selected value. If you look at the code above I'm not setting the SelectListItem.Selected value anywhere - the only place this value can get set is through ModelBinding. Sure enough when stepping through the code I see that when an item is selected the actual model - model.CategoryList[x].Selected - reflects that. This is bad on several levels: First it's obviously affecting the application behavior - nobody wants to see their drop down list values jump all over the place randomly. But it's also a problem because the array is getting updated by multiple ASP.NET threads which likely would lead to odd crashes from time to time. Not good! In retrospect the modelbinding behavior makes perfect sense. The actual items and the Selected property is the ModelBinder's way of keeping track of one or more selected values. So while I assumed the list to be read-only, the ModelBinder is actually updating it on a post back producing the rather surprising results. Totally missed this during testing and is another one of those little - "Did you know?" moments. So, is there a way around this? Yes but it's maybe not quite obvious. I can't change the behavior of the ModelBinder, but I can certainly change the way that the list is generated. Rather than returning the cached list, I can return a brand new cloned list from the cached items like this:/// <summary> /// Returns a static category list that is cached /// </summary> /// <returns></returns> public static SelectListItem[] GetCachedCategoryList() { if (_CategoryList != null) { // Have to create new instances via projection // to avoid ModelBinding updates to affect this // globally return _CategoryList .Select(cat => new SelectListItem() { Value = cat.Value, Text = cat.Text }) .ToArray(); } …}  The key is that newly created instances of SelectListItems are returned not just filtered instances of the original list. The key here is 'new instances' so that the ModelBinding updates do not update the actual static instance. The code above uses LINQ and a projection into new SelectListItem instances to create this array of fresh instances. And this code works correctly - no more cross-talk between users. Unfortunately this code is also less efficient - it has to reselect the items and uses extra memory for the new array. Knowing what I know now I probably would have not cached the list and just take the hit to read from the database. If there is even a possibility of thread clashes I'm very wary of creating code like this. But since the method already exists and handles this load in one place this fix was easy enough to put in. Live and learn. It's little things like this that can cause some interesting head scratchers sometimes…© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in MVC  ASP.NET  .NET   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • WinInet Apps failing when Internet Explorer is set to Offline Mode

    - by Rick Strahl
    Ran into a nasty issue last week when all of a sudden many of my old applications that are using WinInet for HTTP access started failing. Specifically, the WinInet HttpSendRequest() call started failing with an error of 2, which when retrieving the error boils down to: WinInet Error 2: The system cannot find the file specified Now this error can pop up in many legitimate scenarios with WinInet such as when no Internet connection is available or the HTTP configuration (usually configured in Internet Explorer’s options) is misconfigured. The error typically means that the server in question cannot be found or more specifically an Internet connection can’t be established. In this case the problem started suddenly and was causing some of my own applications (old Visual FoxPro apps using my own wwHttp library) and all Adobe Air applications (which apparently uses WinInet for its basic HTTP stack) along with a few more oddball applications to fail instantly when trying to connect via HTTP. Most other applications – all of my installed browsers, email clients, various social network updaters all worked just fine. It seems it was only WinInet apps that were failing. Yet oddly Internet Explorer appeared to be working. So the problem seemed to be isolated to those ‘classic’ applications using WinInet. WinInet’s base configuration uses the Internet Explorer options dialog. To check this out I typically go to the Internet Explorer options and find the Connection tab, and check out the LAN Setup. Make sure there are no rogue proxy settings or configuration scripts that are invalid. Trying with Auto-configuration on and off also can often fix ‘real’ configuration errors. This time however this wasn’t a problem – nothing in the LAN configuration was set (all default). I also played with the Automatic detection of settings which also had no effect. I also tried to use Fiddler to see if that would tell me something. Fiddler has a few additional WinInet configuration options in its configuration. Running Fiddler and hitting an HTTP request using WinInet would never actually hit Fiddler – the failure would occur before WinInet ever fired up the HTTP connection to go through the Fiddler HTTP proxy. And the Culprit is: Internet Explorer’s Work Offline Option The culprit in this situation was Internet Explorer which at some point, unknown to me switched into Offline Mode and was then shut down: When this Offline mode is checked when IE is running *or* if IE gets shut down with this flag set, all applications using WinInet by default assume that it’s running in offline mode. Depending on your caching HTTP headers and whether the page was cached previously you may or may not get a response or an error. For an independent non-browser application this will be highly unpredictable and likely result in failures getting online – especially if the application forces requests to always reload by disabling HTTP caching (as I do on most of my dynamic HTTP clients). What makes this especially tricky is that even when IE is in offline mode in the browser, you can still browse around the Web *if* you have a connection. IE will try to load anything it has cached from the local cache, but as soon as you hit a URL that isn’t cached it will automatically try to access that URL and uncheck the Work Offline option. Conversely if you get knocked off the Internet and browse in IE 9, IE will automatically go into offline mode. I never explicitly set offline mode – it just automatically sets itself on and off depending on the connection. Problem is if you’re not using IE all the time (as I do – rarely and just for testing so usually a few commonly used URLs) and you left it in offline mode when you exit, offline mode stays set which results in the above head scratcher. Ack. This isn’t new behavior in IE 9 BTW – this behavior has always been there, but I think what’s different is that IE now automatically switches between online and offline modes without notifying you at all, so it’s hard to tell when you are offline. Fixing the Issue in your Code If you have an application that is using WinInet, there’s a WinInet option called INTERNET_OPTION_IGNORE_OFFLINE. I just checked this out in my own applications and Internet Explorer 9 and it works, but apparently it’s been broken for some older releases (I can’t confirm how far back though) – lots of posts seem to suggest the flag doesn’t work. However, in IE 9 at least it does seem to work if you call InternetSetOption before you call HttpOpenRequest with the Http Session handle. In FoxPro code I use: DECLARE INTEGER InternetSetOption ;    IN WININET.DLL ;    INTEGER HINTERNET,;    INTEGER dwFlags,;    INTEGER @dwValue,;    INTEGER cbSize lnOptionValue = 1   && BOOL TRUE pass by reference   *** Set needed SSL flags lnResult=InternetSetOption(this.hHttpSession,;    INTERNET_OPTION_IGNORE_OFFLINE ,;  && 77    @lnOptionValue ,4)   DECLARE INTEGER HttpOpenRequest ;    IN WININET.DLL ;    INTEGER hHTTPHandle,;    STRING lpzReqMethod,;    STRING lpzPage,;    STRING lpzVersion,;    STRING lpzReferer,;    STRING lpzAcceptTypes,;    INTEGER dwFlags,;    INTEGER dwContextw     hHTTPResult=HttpOpenRequest(THIS.hHttpsession,;    lcVerb,;    tcPage,;    NULL,NULL,NULL,;    INTERNET_FLAG_RELOAD + ;    IIF(THIS.lsecurelink,INTERNET_FLAG_SECURE,0) + ;    this.nHTTPServiceFlags,0) …  And this fixes the issue at least for IE 9… In my FoxPro wwHttp class I now call this by default to never get bitten by this again… This solves the problem permanently for my HTTP client. I never want to see offline operation in an HTTP client API – it’s just too unpredictable in handling errors and the last thing you want is getting unpredictably stale data. Problem solved but this behavior is – well ugly. But then that’s to be expected from an API that’s based on Internet Explorer, eh?© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2011Posted in HTTP  Windows  

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  • Dynamic Types and DynamicObject References in C#

    - by Rick Strahl
    I've been working a bit with C# custom dynamic types for several customers recently and I've seen some confusion in understanding how dynamic types are referenced. This discussion specifically centers around types that implement IDynamicMetaObjectProvider or subclass from DynamicObject as opposed to arbitrary type casts of standard .NET types. IDynamicMetaObjectProvider types  are treated special when they are cast to the dynamic type. Assume for a second that I've created my own implementation of a custom dynamic type called DynamicFoo which is about as simple of a dynamic class that I can think of:public class DynamicFoo : DynamicObject { Dictionary<string, object> properties = new Dictionary<string, object>(); public string Bar { get; set; } public DateTime Entered { get; set; } public override bool TryGetMember(GetMemberBinder binder, out object result) { result = null; if (!properties.ContainsKey(binder.Name)) return false; result = properties[binder.Name]; return true; } public override bool TrySetMember(SetMemberBinder binder, object value) { properties[binder.Name] = value; return true; } } This class has an internal dictionary member and I'm exposing this dictionary member through a dynamic by implementing DynamicObject. This implementation exposes the properties dictionary so the dictionary keys can be referenced like properties (foo.NewProperty = "Cool!"). I override TryGetMember() and TrySetMember() which are fired at runtime every time you access a 'property' on a dynamic instance of this DynamicFoo type. Strong Typing and Dynamic Casting I now can instantiate and use DynamicFoo in a couple of different ways: Strong TypingDynamicFoo fooExplicit = new DynamicFoo(); var fooVar = new DynamicFoo(); These two commands are essentially identical and use strong typing. The compiler generates identical code for both of them. The var statement is merely a compiler directive to infer the type of fooVar at compile time and so the type of fooExplicit is DynamicFoo, just like fooExplicit. This is very static - nothing dynamic about it - and it completely ignores the IDynamicMetaObjectProvider implementation of my class above as it's never used. Using either of these I can access the native properties:DynamicFoo fooExplicit = new DynamicFoo();// static typing assignmentsfooVar.Bar = "Barred!"; fooExplicit.Entered = DateTime.Now; // echo back static values Console.WriteLine(fooVar.Bar); Console.WriteLine(fooExplicit.Entered); but I have no access whatsoever to the properties dictionary. Basically this creates a strongly typed instance of the type with access only to the strongly typed interface. You get no dynamic behavior at all. The IDynamicMetaObjectProvider features don't kick in until you cast the type to dynamic. If I try to access a non-existing property on fooExplicit I get a compilation error that tells me that the property doesn't exist. Again, it's clearly and utterly non-dynamic. Dynamicdynamic fooDynamic = new DynamicFoo(); fooDynamic on the other hand is created as a dynamic type and it's a completely different beast. I can also create a dynamic by simply casting any type to dynamic like this:DynamicFoo fooExplicit = new DynamicFoo(); dynamic fooDynamic = fooExplicit; Note that dynamic typically doesn't require an explicit cast as the compiler automatically performs the cast so there's no need to use as dynamic. Dynamic functionality works at runtime and allows for the dynamic wrapper to look up and call members dynamically. A dynamic type will look for members to access or call in two places: Using the strongly typed members of the object Using theIDynamicMetaObjectProvider Interface methods to access members So rather than statically linking and calling a method or retrieving a property, the dynamic type looks up - at runtime  - where the value actually comes from. It's essentially late-binding which allows runtime determination what action to take when a member is accessed at runtime *if* the member you are accessing does not exist on the object. Class members are checked first before IDynamicMetaObjectProvider interface methods are kick in. All of the following works with the dynamic type:dynamic fooDynamic = new DynamicFoo(); // dynamic typing assignments fooDynamic.NewProperty = "Something new!"; fooDynamic.LastAccess = DateTime.Now; // dynamic assigning static properties fooDynamic.Bar = "dynamic barred"; fooDynamic.Entered = DateTime.Now; // echo back dynamic values Console.WriteLine(fooDynamic.NewProperty); Console.WriteLine(fooDynamic.LastAccess); Console.WriteLine(fooDynamic.Bar); Console.WriteLine(fooDynamic.Entered); The dynamic type can access the native class properties (Bar and Entered) and create and read new ones (NewProperty,LastAccess) all using a single type instance which is pretty cool. As you can see it's pretty easy to create an extensible type this way that can dynamically add members at runtime dynamically. The Alter Ego of IDynamicObject The key point here is that all three statements - explicit, var and dynamic - declare a new DynamicFoo(), but the dynamic declaration results in completely different behavior than the first two simply because the type has been cast to dynamic. Dynamic binding means that the type loses its typical strong typing, compile time features. You can see this easily in the Visual Studio code editor. As soon as you assign a value to a dynamic you lose Intellisense and you see which means there's no Intellisense and no compiler type checking on any members you apply to this instance. If you're new to the dynamic type it might seem really confusing that a single type can behave differently depending on how it is cast, but that's exactly what happens when you use a type that implements IDynamicMetaObjectProvider. Declare the type as its strong type name and you only get to access the native instance members of the type. Declare or cast it to dynamic and you get dynamic behavior which accesses native members plus it uses IDynamicMetaObjectProvider implementation to handle any missing member definitions by running custom code. You can easily cast objects back and forth between dynamic and the original type:dynamic fooDynamic = new DynamicFoo(); fooDynamic.NewProperty = "New Property Value"; DynamicFoo foo = fooDynamic; foo.Bar = "Barred"; Here the code starts out with a dynamic cast and a dynamic assignment. The code then casts back the value to the DynamicFoo. Notice that when casting from dynamic to DynamicFoo and back we typically do not have to specify the cast explicitly - the compiler can induce the type so I don't need to specify as dynamic or as DynamicFoo. Moral of the Story This easy interchange between dynamic and the underlying type is actually super useful, because it allows you to create extensible objects that can expose non-member data stores and expose them as an object interface. You can create an object that hosts a number of strongly typed properties and then cast the object to dynamic and add additional dynamic properties to the same type at runtime. You can easily switch back and forth between the strongly typed instance to access the well-known strongly typed properties and to dynamic for the dynamic properties added at runtime. Keep in mind that dynamic object access has quite a bit of overhead and is definitely slower than strongly typed binding, so if you're accessing the strongly typed parts of your objects you definitely want to use a strongly typed reference. Reserve dynamic for the dynamic members to optimize your code. The real beauty of dynamic is that with very little effort you can build expandable objects or objects that expose different data stores to an object interface. I'll have more on this in my next post when I create a customized and extensible Expando object based on DynamicObject.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in CSharp  .NET   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Wishful Thinking: Why can't HTML fix Script Attacks at the Source?

    - by Rick Strahl
    The Web can be an evil place, especially if you're a Web Developer blissfully unaware of Cross Site Script Attacks (XSS). Even if you are aware of XSS in all of its insidious forms, it's extremely complex to deal with all the issues if you're taking user input and you're actually allowing users to post raw HTML into an application. I'm dealing with this again today in a Web application where legacy data contains raw HTML that has to be displayed and users ask for the ability to use raw HTML as input for listings. The first line of defense of course is: Just say no to HTML input from users. If you don't allow HTML input directly and use HTML Encoding (HttyUtility.HtmlEncode() in .NET or using standard ASP.NET MVC output @Model.Content) you're fairly safe at least from the HTML input provided. Both WebForms and Razor support HtmlEncoded content, although Razor makes it the default. In Razor the default @ expression syntax:@Model.UserContent automatically produces HTML encoded content - you actually have to go out of your way to create raw HTML content (safe by default) using @Html.Raw() or the HtmlString class. In Web Forms (V4) you can use:<%: Model.UserContent %> or if you're using a version prior to 4.0:<%= HttpUtility.HtmlEncode(Model.UserContent) %> This works great as a hedge against embedded <script> tags and HTML markup as any HTML is turned into text that displays as HTML but doesn't render the HTML. But it turns any embedded HTML markup tags into plain text. If you need to display HTML in raw form with the markup tags rendering based on user input this approach is worthless. If you do accept HTML input and need to echo the rendered HTML input back, the task of cleaning up that HTML is a complex task. In the projects I work on, customers are frequently asking for the ability to post raw HTML quite frequently.  Almost every app that I've built where there's document content from users we start out with text only input - possibly using something like MarkDown - but inevitably users want to just post plain old HTML they created in some other rich editing application. See this a lot with realtors especially who often want to reuse their postings easily in multiple places. In my work this is a common problem I need to deal with and I've tried dozens of different methods from sanitizing, simple rejection of input to custom markup schemes none of which have ever felt comfortable to me. They work in a half assed, hacked together sort of way but I always live in fear of missing something vital which is *really easy to do*. My Wishlist Item: A <restricted> tag in HTML Let me dream here for a second on how to address this problem. It seems to me the easiest place where this can be fixed is: In the browser. Browsers are actually executing script code so they have a lot of control over the script code that resides in a page. What if there was a way to specify that you want to turn off script code for a block of HTML? The main issue when dealing with HTML raw input isn't that we as developers are unaware of the implications of user input, but the fact that we sometimes have to display raw HTML input the user provides. So the problem markup is usually isolated in only a very specific part of the document. So, what if we had a way to specify that in any given HTML block, no script code could execute by wrapping it into a tag that disables all script functionality in the browser? This would include <script> tags and any document script attributes like onclick, onfocus etc. and potentially also disallow things like iFrames that can potentially be scripted from the within the iFrame's target. I'd like to see something along these lines:<article> <restricted allowscripts="no" allowiframes="no"> <div>Some content</div> <script>alert('go ahead make my day, punk!");</script> <div onfocus="$.getJson('http://evilsite.com/')">more content</div> </restricted> </article> A tag like this would basically disallow all script code from firing from any HTML that's rendered within it. You'd use this only on code that you actually render from your data only and only if you are dealing with custom data. So something like this:<article> <restricted> @Html.Raw(Model.UserContent) </restricted> </article> For browsers this would actually be easy to intercept. They render the DOM and control loading and execution of scripts that are loaded through it. All the browser would have to do is suspend execution of <script> tags and not hookup any event handlers defined via markup in this block. Given all the crazy XSS attacks that exist and the prevalence of this problem this would go a long way towards preventing at least coded script attacks in the DOM. And it seems like a totally doable solution that wouldn't be very difficult to implement by vendors. There would also need to be some logic in the parser to not allow an </restricted> or <restricted> tag into the content as to short-circuit the rstricted section (per James Hart's comment). I'm sure there are other issues to consider as well that I didn't think of in my off-the-back-of-a-napkin concept here but the idea overall seems worth consideration I think. Without code running in a user supplied HTML block it'd be pretty hard to compromise a local HTML document and pass information like Cookies to a server. Or even send data to a server period. Short of an iFrame that can access the parent frame (which is another restriction that should be available on this <restricted> tag) that could potentially communicate back, there's not a lot a malicious site could do. The HTML could still 'phone home' via image links and href links potentially and basically say this site was accessed, but without the ability to run script code it would be pretty tough to pass along critical information to the server beyond that. Ahhhh… one can dream… Not holding my breath of course. The design by committee that is the W3C can't agree on anything in timeframes measured less than decades, but maybe this is one place where browser vendors can actually step up the pressure. This is something in their best interest to reduce the attack surface for vulnerabilities on their browser platforms significantly. Several people commented on Twitter today that there isn't enough discussion on issues like this that address serious needs in the web browser space. Realistically security has to be a number one concern with Web applications in general - there isn't a Web app out there that is not vulnerable. And yet nothing has been done to address these security issues even though there might be relatively easy solutions to make this happen. It'll take time, and it's probably not going to happen in our lifetime, but maybe this rambling thought sparks some ideas on how this sort of restriction can get into browsers in some way in the future.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in ASP.NET  HTML5  HTML  Security   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • .NET 4.5 is an in-place replacement for .NET 4.0

    - by Rick Strahl
    With the betas for .NET 4.5 and Visual Studio 11 and Windows 8 shipping many people will be installing .NET 4.5 and hacking away on it. There are a number of great enhancements that are fairly transparent, but it's important to understand what .NET 4.5 actually is in terms of the CLR running on your machine. When .NET 4.5 is installed it effectively replaces .NET 4.0 on the machine. .NET 4.0 gets overwritten by a new version of .NET 4.5 which - according to Microsoft - is supposed to be 100% backwards compatible. While 100% backwards compatible sounds great, we all know that 100% is a hard number to hit, and even the aforementioned blog post at the Microsoft site acknowledges this. But there's so much more than backwards compatibility that makes this awkward at best and confusing at worst. What does ‘Replacement’ mean? When you install .NET 4.5 your .NET 4.0 assemblies in the \Windows\.NET Framework\V4.0.30319 are overwritten with a new set of assemblies. You end up with overwritten assemblies as well as a bunch of new ones (like the new System.Net.Http assemblies for example). The following screen shot demonstrates system.dll on my test machine (left) running .NET 4.5 on the right and my production laptop running stock .NET 4.0 (right):   Clearly they are different files with a difference in file sizes (interesting that the 4.5 version is actually smaller). That’s not all. If you actually query the runtime version when .NET 4.5 is installed with with Environment.Version you still get: 4.0.30319 If you open the properties of System.dll assembly in .NET 4.5 you'll also see: Notice that the file version is also left at 4.0.xxx. There are differences in build numbers: .NET 4.0 shows 261 and the current .NET 4.5 beta build is 17379. I suppose you can use assume a build number greater than 17000 is .NET 4.5, but that's pretty hokey to say the least. There’s no easy or obvious way to tell whether you are running on 4.0 or 4.5 – to the application they appear to be the same runtime version. And that is what Microsoft intends here. .NET 4.5 is intended as an in-place upgrade. Compile to 4.5 run on 4.0 – not quite! You can compile an application for .NET 4.5 and run it on the 4.0 runtime – that is until you hit a new feature that doesn’t exist on 4.0. At which point the app bombs at runtime. Say you write some code that is mostly .NET 4.0, but only has a few of the new features of .NET 4.5 like aync/await buried deep in the bowels of the application where it only fires occasionally. .NET will happily start your application and run everything 4.0 fine, until it hits that 4.5 code – and then crash unceremoniously at runtime. Oh joy! You can .NET 4.0 applications on .NET 4.5 of course and that should work without much fanfare. Different than .NET 3.0/3.5 Note that this in-place replacement is very different from the side by side installs of .NET 2.0 and 3.0/3.5 which all ran on the 2.0 version of the CLR. The two 3.x versions were basically library enhancements on top of the core .NET 2.0 runtime. Both versions ran under the .NET 2.0 runtime which wasn’t changed (other than for security patches and bug fixes) for the whole 3.x cycle. The 4.5 update instead completely replaces the .NET 4.0 runtime and leaves the actual version number set at v4.0.30319. When you build a new project with Visual Studio 2011, you can still target .NET 4.0 or you can target .NET 4.5. But you are in effect referencing the same set of assemblies for both regardless which version you use. What's different is the compiler used to compile and link your code so compiling with .NET 4.0 gives you just the subset of the functionality that is available in .NET 4.0, but when you use the 4.5 compiler you get the full functionality of what’s actually available in the assemblies and extra libraries. It doesn’t look like you will be able to use Visual Studio 2010 to develop .NET 4.5 applications. Good news – Bad news Microsoft is trying hard to experiment with every possible permutation of releasing new versions of the .NET framework apparently. No two updates have been the same. Clearly updating to a full new version of .NET (ie. .NET 2.0, 4.0 and at some point 5.0 runtimes) has its own set of challenges, but doing an in-place update of the runtime and then not even providing a good way to tell which version is installed is pretty whacky even by Microsoft’s standards. Especially given that .NET 4.5 includes a fairly significant update with all the aysnc functionality baked into the runtime. Most of the IO APIs have been updated to support task based async operation which significantly affects many existing APIs. To make things worse .NET 4.5 will be the initial version of .NET that ships with Windows 8 so it will be with us for a long time to come unless Microsoft finally decides to push .NET versions onto Windows machines as part of system upgrades (which currently doesn’t happen). This is the same story we had when Vista launched with .NET 3.0 which was a minor version that quickly was replaced by 3.5 which was more long lived and practical. People had enough problems dealing with the confusing versioning of the 3.x versions which ran on .NET 2.0. I can’t count the amount support calls and questions I’ve fielded because people couldn’t find a .NET 3.5 entry in the IIS version dialog. The same is likely to happen with .NET 4.5. It’s all well and good when we know that .NET 4.5 is an in-place replacement, but administrators and IT folks not intimately familiar with .NET are unlikely to understand this nuance and end up thoroughly confused which version is installed. It’s hard for me to see any upside to an in-place update and I haven’t really seen a good explanation of why this approach was decided on. Sure if the version stays the same existing assembly bindings don’t break so applications can stay running through an update. I suppose this is useful for some component vendors and strongly signed assemblies in corporate environments. But seriously, if you are going to throw .NET 4.5 into the mix, who won’t be recompiling all code and thoroughly test that code to work on .NET 4.5? A recompile requirement doesn’t seem that serious in light of a major version upgrade.  Resources http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dotnet/archive/2011/09/26/compatibility-of-net-framework-4-5.aspx http://www.devproconnections.com/article/net-framework/net-framework-45-versioning-faces-problems-141160© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in .NET   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Replacing jQuery.live() with jQuery.on()

    - by Rick Strahl
    jQuery 1.9 and 1.10 have introduced a host of changes, but for the most part these changes are mostly transparent to existing application usage of jQuery. After spending some time last week with a few of my projects and going through them with a specific eye for jQuery failures I found that for the most part there wasn't a big issue. The vast majority of code continues to run just fine with either 1.9 or 1.10 (which are supposed to be in sync but with 1.10 removing support for legacy Internet Explorer pre-9.0 versions). However, one particular change in the new versions has caused me quite a bit of update trouble, is the removal of the jQuery.live() function. This is my own fault I suppose - .live() has been deprecated for a while, but with 1.9 and later it was finally removed altogether from jQuery. In the past I had quite a bit of jQuery code that used .live() and it's one of the things that's holding back my upgrade process, although I'm slowly cleaning up my code and switching to the .on() function as the replacement. jQuery.live() jQuery.live() was introduced a long time ago to simplify handling events on matched elements that exist currently on the document and those that are are added in the future and also match the selector. jQuery uses event bubbling, special event binding, plus some magic using meta data attached to a parent level element to check and see if the original target event element matches the selected selected elements (for more info see Elijah Manor's comment below). An Example Assume a list of items like the following in HTML for example and further assume that the items in this list can be appended to at a later point. In this app there's a smallish initial list that loads to start, and as the user scrolls towards the end of the initial small list more items are loaded dynamically and added to the list.<div id="PostItemContainer" class="scrollbox"> <div class="postitem" data-id="4z6qhomm"> <div class="post-icon"></div> <div class="postitemheader"><a href="show/4z6qhomm" target="Content">1999 Buick Century For Sale!</a></div> <div class="postitemprice rightalign">$ 3,500 O.B.O.</div> <div class="smalltext leftalign">Jun. 07 @ 1:06am</div> <div class="post-byline">- Vehicles - Automobiles</div> </div> <div class="postitem" data-id="2jtvuu17"> <div class="postitemheader"><a href="show/2jtvuu17" target="Content">Toyota VAN 1987</a></div> <div class="postitemprice rightalign">$950</div> <div class="smalltext leftalign">Jun. 07 @ 12:29am</div> <div class="post-byline">- Vehicles - Automobiles</div> </div> … </div> With the jQuery.live() function you could easily select elements and hook up a click handler like this:$(".postitem").live("click", function() {...}); Simple and perfectly readable. The behavior of the .live handler generally was the same as the corresponding simple event handlers like .click(), except that you have to explicitly name the event instead of using one of the methods. Re-writing with jQuery.on() With .live() removed in 1.9 and later we have to re-write .live() code above with an alternative. The jQuery documentation points you at the .on() or .delegate() functions to update your code. jQuery.on() is a more generic event handler function, and it's what jQuery uses internally to map the high level event functions like .click(),.change() etc. that jQuery exposes. Using jQuery.on() however is not a one to one replacement of the .live() function. While .on() can handle events directly and use the same syntax as .live() did, you'll find if you simply switch out .live() with .on() that events on not-yet existing elements will not fire. IOW, the key feature of .live() is not working. You can use .on() to get the desired effect however, but you have to change the syntax to explicitly handle the event you're interested in on the container and then provide a filter selector to specify which elements you are actually interested in for handling the event for. Sounds more complicated than it is and it's easier to see with an example. For the list above hooking .postitem clicks, using jQuery.on() looks like this:$("#PostItemContainer").on("click", ".postitem", function() {...}); You specify a container that can handle the .click event and then provide a filter selector to find the child elements that trigger the  the actual event. So here #PostItemContainer contains many .postitems, whose click events I want to handle. Any container will do including document, but I tend to use the container closest to the elements I actually want to handle the events on to minimize the event bubbling that occurs to capture the event. With this code I get the same behavior as with .live() and now as new .postitem elements are added the click events are always available. Sweet. Here's the full event signature for the .on() function: .on( events [, selector ] [, data ], handler(eventObject) ) Note that the selector is optional - if you omit it you essentially create a simple event handler that handles the event directly on the selected object. The filter/child selector required if you want life-like - uh, .live() like behavior to happen. While it's a bit more verbose than what .live() did, .on() provides the same functionality by being more explicit on what your parent container for trapping events is. .on() is good Practice even for ordinary static Element Lists As a side note, it's a good practice to use jQuery.on() or jQuery.delegate() for events in most cases anyway, using this 'container event trapping' syntax. That's because rather than requiring lots of event handlers on each of the child elements (.postitem in the sample above), there's just one event handler on the container, and only when clicked does jQuery drill down to find the matching filter element and tries to match it to the originating element. In the early days of jQuery I used manually build handlers that did this and manually drilled from the event object into the originalTarget to determine if it's a matching element. With later versions of jQuery the various event functions in jQuery essentially provide this functionality out of the box with functions like .on() and .delegate(). All of this is nothing new, but I thought I'd write this up because I have on a few occasions forgotten what exactly was needed to replace the many .live() function calls that litter my code - especially older code. This will be a nice reminder next time I have a memory blank on this topic. And maybe along the way I've helped one or two of you as well to clean up your .live() code…© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2013Posted in jQuery   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Using the HTML5 &lt;input type=&quot;file&quot; multiple=&quot;multiple&quot;&gt; Tag in ASP.NET

    - by Rick Strahl
    Per HTML5 spec the <input type="file" /> tag allows for multiple files to be picked from a single File upload button. This is actually a very subtle change that's very useful as it makes it much easier to send multiple files to the server without using complex uploader controls. Please understand though, that even though you can send multiple files using the <input type="file" /> tag, the process of how those files are sent hasn't really changed - there's still no progress information or other hooks that allow you to automatically make for a nicer upload experience without additional libraries or code. For that you will still need some sort of library (I'll post an example in my next blog post using plUpload). All the new features allow for is to make it easier to select multiple images from disk in one operation. Where you might have required many file upload controls before to upload several files, one File control can potentially do the job. How it works To create a file input box that allows with multiple file support you can simply do:<form method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data"> <label>Upload Images:</label> <input type="file" multiple="multiple" name="File1" id="File1" accept="image/*" /> <hr /> <input type="submit" id="btnUpload" value="Upload Images" /> </form> Now when the file open dialog pops up - depending on the browser and whether the browser supports it - you can pick multiple files. Here I'm using Firefox using the thumbnail preview I can easily pick images to upload on a form: Note that I can select multiple images in the dialog all of which get stored in the file textbox. The UI for this can be different in some browsers. For example Chrome displays 3 files selected as text next to the Browse… button when I choose three rather than showing any files in the textbox. Most other browsers display the standard file input box and display the multiple filenames as a comma delimited list in the textbox. Note that you can also specify the accept attribute in the <input> tag, which specifies a mime-type to specify what type of content to allow.Here I'm only allowing images (image/*) and the browser complies by just showing me image files to display. Likewise I could use text/* for all text formats registered on the machine or text/xml to only show XML files (which would include xml,xst,xsd etc.). Capturing Files on the Server with ASP.NET When you upload files to an ASP.NET server there are a couple of things to be aware of. When multiple files are uploaded from a single file control, they are assigned the same name. In other words if I select 3 files to upload on the File1 control shown above I get three file form variables named File1. This means I can't easily retrieve files by their name:HttpPostedFileBase file = Request.Files["File1"]; because there will be multiple files for a given name. The above only selects the first file. Instead you can only reliably retrieve files by their index. Below is an example I use in app to capture a number of images uploaded and store them into a database using a business object and EF 4.2.for (int i = 0; i < Request.Files.Count; i++) { HttpPostedFileBase file = Request.Files[i]; if (file.ContentLength == 0) continue; if (file.ContentLength > App.Configuration.MaxImageUploadSize) { ErrorDisplay.ShowError("File " + file.FileName + " is too large. Max upload size is: " + App.Configuration.MaxImageUploadSize); return View("UploadClassic",model); } var image = new ClassifiedsBusiness.Image(); var ms = new MemoryStream(16498); file.InputStream.CopyTo(ms); image.Entered = DateTime.Now; image.EntryId = model.Entry.Id; image.ContentType = "image/jpeg"; image.ImageData = ms.ToArray(); ms.Seek(0, SeekOrigin.Begin); // resize image if necessary and turn into jpeg Bitmap bmp = Imaging.ResizeImage(ms.ToArray(), App.Configuration.MaxImageWidth, App.Configuration.MaxImageHeight); ms.Close(); ms = new MemoryStream(); bmp.Save(ms,ImageFormat.Jpeg); image.ImageData = ms.ToArray(); bmp.Dispose(); ms.Close(); model.Entry.Images.Add(image); } This works great and also allows you to capture input from multiple input controls if you are dealing with browsers that don't support multiple file selections in the file upload control. The important thing here is that I iterate over the files by index, rather than using a foreach loop over the Request.Files collection. The files collection returns key name strings, rather than the actual files (who thought that was good idea at Microsoft?), and so that isn't going to work since you end up getting multiple keys with the same name. Instead a plain for loop has to be used to loop over all files. Another Option in ASP.NET MVC If you're using ASP.NET MVC you can use the code above as well, but you have yet another option to capture multiple uploaded files by using a parameter for your post action method.public ActionResult Save(HttpPostedFileBase[] file1) { foreach (var file in file1) { if (file.ContentLength < 0) continue; // do something with the file }} Note that in order for this to work you have to specify each posted file variable individually in the parameter list. This works great if you have a single file upload to deal with. You can also pass this in addition to your main model to separate out a ViewModel and a set of uploaded files:public ActionResult Edit(EntryViewModel model,HttpPostedFileBase[] uploadedFile) You can also make the uploaded files part of the ViewModel itself - just make sure you use the appropriate naming for the variable name in the HTML document (since there's Html.FileFor() extension). Browser Support You knew this was coming, right? The feature is really nice, but unfortunately not supported universally yet. Once again Internet Explorer is the problem: No shipping version of Internet Explorer supports multiple file uploads. IE10 supposedly will, but even IE9 does not. All other major browsers - Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera - support multi-file uploads in their latest versions. So how can you handle this? If you need to provide multiple file uploads you can simply add multiple file selection boxes and let people either select multiple files with a single upload file box or use multiples. Alternately you can do some browser detection and if IE is used simply show the extra file upload boxes. It's not ideal, but either one of these approaches makes life easier for folks that use a decent browser and leaves you with a functional interface for those that don't. Here's a UI I recently built as an alternate uploader with multiple file upload buttons: I say this is my 'alternate' uploader - for my primary uploader I continue to use an add-in solution. Specifically I use plUpload and I'll discuss how that's implemented in my next post. Although I think that plUpload (and many of the other packaged JavaScript upload solutions) are a better choice especially for large uploads, for simple one file uploads input boxes work well enough. The advantage of this solution is that it's very easy to handle on the server side. Any of the JavaScript controls require special handling for uploads which I'll also discuss in my next post.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in HTML5  ASP.NET  MVC   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Fixing a SkyDrive Sync Disaster

    - by Rick Strahl
    For a few months I've been using SkyDrive to handle some basic synching tasks for a number of folders of mine. Specifically I've been dumping a few of my development folders into sky drive so I have a live running backup. It had been working just fine until about a week ago when something went awry. Badly! The idea is that the SkyDrive should sync files, but somewhere in its sync relationship it appears that SkyDrive got confused and assumed it needed to sync back older files to my local machine from the SkyDrive server. So rather than syncing my newer files to the server SkyDrive was pushing older files back to me. Because SkyDrive is so slow actually updating data it's not unusual for SkyDrive to be far behind in syncing and apparently some files were out of date by several months. Of course this is insidious because I didn't notice it for quite some time. I'd been happily working away on my files when a few days ago I noted a bunch of files with -RasXps (my machine name) popping up in various folders. At first I thought my Git repository was giving me a fit, but eventually realized that SkyDrive was actually pushing old files into my monitored folders. To be fair SkyDrive did make backups of the existing files, but by the time I caught it there were literally a few thousand files scattered on my machine that were now updated with old files from online. Here's what some of this looks like: If you look at the directory list you see a bunch of files with a -RasXps postfix appended to them. Those are the files that SkyDrive replaced and backed up on my machine. As you can see the backed up files are actually newer than the ones it pulled from the online SkyDrive. Unless I modified the files after they were updated they all were older than the existing local files. Not exactly how I imagined my synching would work. At first I started cleaning up this mess manually. In most cases the obvious solution was to simply delete the original file and replace with the -RasXps file, but not in all files. Some scrutiny was required and besides being a pain in the ass to rename files, quite frequently I had to dig out Beyond Compare to compare a few files where it wasn't quite clear what's wrong. I quickly realized that doing this by hand would be too hard for the large number of files that got hosed. Hacking together a small .NET Utility So, I figured the easiest way to tackle this is to write a small utility app that shows me all the mangled files that have backups, allows me to compare them and then quickly select and update them, removing the -RasXps file after choosing one of the two files. What I ended up with was a quick and dirty WinForms app that allows me to pick a root folder, and then shows all the -MachineName files: I start by picking a base folder and a template to search for - typically the -MachineName. Clicking Go brings up a list of all files in that folder and its subdirectories.  The list also displays the dates for the saved (-MachineName) file and the current file on disk, along with highlighting for the newer of the two. I can right click on any file and get a context menu pop up to open the folder in Explorer, or open Beyond Compare and view the two files to compare differences which I found very helpful for a number of files where I had modified the files after SkyDrive had updated to an old one. Typically these would be the green files (of which there were thankfully few). To 'fix' files I can select any number of files in the list, then use one of the three buttons on the right to apply an operation. I can use the Saved files - that is the backup file that SkyDrive created with the -MachineName extension (-RasXps above). Or I can use the current file, which is the file with the right name on disk right now and delete the -MachineName file. Or on some occasions I can just opt to delete both of them. For some files like binaries it's often easier to just delete and them be rebuild than choosing. For the most part the process involves accepting the pink files, and checking the few green files and see if any modifications were made since the file was updated incorrectly by SkyDrive. For me luckily those are few in number. Anyways, I thought I share this utility in case anybody else runs into this issue. I've included the VS2012 solution and all the source code so you can see how it works and you can tweak it as needed. The .NET 4.5 binaries are also included if you can't compile. Be warned though!  This rough code is provided as is and makes no guarantees or claims about file safety. All three of the action buttons on the form will delete data. It's a very rough utility and there are no safeguards that ask nicely before deleting files. I highly recommend you make a backup before you have at it. This tools is very narrow in focus, but it might also work with other sync issues from other vendors. I seem to remember that I had similar issues with SugarSync at some point and it too created the -MachineName style files on sync conflicts. Hope this helps somebody out so you can avoid wasting the better part of a full work day on this… Resources Download the Source Code and Binaries for SkyDrive Rescue© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2013Posted in Windows  .NET   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Dynamically creating a Generic Type at Runtime

    - by Rick Strahl
    I learned something new today. Not uncommon, but it's a core .NET runtime feature I simply did not know although I know I've run into this issue a few times and worked around it in other ways. Today there was no working around it and a few folks on Twitter pointed me in the right direction. The question I ran into is: How do I create a type instance of a generic type when I have dynamically acquired the type at runtime? Yup it's not something that you do everyday, but when you're writing code that parses objects dynamically at runtime it comes up from time to time. In my case it's in the bowels of a custom JSON parser. After some thought triggered by a comment today I realized it would be fairly easy to implement two-way Dictionary parsing for most concrete dictionary types. I could use a custom Dictionary serialization format that serializes as an array of key/value objects. Basically I can use a custom type (that matches the JSON signature) to hold my parsed dictionary data and then add it to the actual dictionary when parsing is complete. Generic Types at Runtime One issue that came up in the process was how to figure out what type the Dictionary<K,V> generic parameters take. Reflection actually makes it fairly easy to figure out generic types at runtime with code like this: if (arrayType.GetInterface("IDictionary") != null) { if (arrayType.IsGenericType) { var keyType = arrayType.GetGenericArguments()[0]; var valueType = arrayType.GetGenericArguments()[1]; … } } The GetArrayType method gets passed a type instance that is the array or array-like object that is rendered in JSON as an array (which includes IList, IDictionary, IDataReader and a few others). In my case the type passed would be something like Dictionary<string, CustomerEntity>. So I know what the parent container class type is. Based on the the container type using it's then possible to use GetGenericTypeArguments() to retrieve all the generic types in sequential order of definition (ie. string, CustomerEntity). That's the easy part. Creating a Generic Type and Providing Generic Parameters at RunTime The next problem is how do I get a concrete type instance for the generic type? I know what the type name and I have a type instance is but it's generic, so how do I get a type reference to keyvaluepair<K,V> that is specific to the keyType and valueType above? Here are a couple of things that come to mind but that don't work (and yes I tried that unsuccessfully first): Type elementType = typeof(keyvalue<keyType, valueType>); Type elementType = typeof(keyvalue<typeof(keyType), typeof(valueType)>); The problem is that this explicit syntax expects a type literal not some dynamic runtime value, so both of the above won't even compile. I turns out the way to create a generic type at runtime is using a fancy bit of syntax that until today I was completely unaware of: Type elementType = typeof(keyvalue<,>).MakeGenericType(keyType, valueType); The key is the type(keyvalue<,>) bit which looks weird at best. It works however and produces a non-generic type reference. You can see the difference between the full generic type and the non-typed (?) generic type in the debugger: The nonGenericType doesn't show any type specialization, while the elementType type shows the string, CustomerEntity (truncated above) in the type name. Once the full type reference exists (elementType) it's then easy to create an instance. In my case the parser parses through the JSON and when it completes parsing the value/object it creates a new keyvalue<T,V> instance. Now that I know the element type that's pretty trivial with: // Objects start out null until we find the opening tag resultObject = Activator.CreateInstance(elementType); Here the result object is picked up by the JSON array parser which creates an instance of the child object (keyvalue<K,V>) and then parses and assigns values from the JSON document using the types  key/value property signature. Internally the parser then takes each individually parsed item and adds it to a list of  List<keyvalue<K,V>> items. Parsing through a Generic type when you only have Runtime Type Information When parsing of the JSON array is done, the List needs to be turned into a defacto Dictionary<K,V>. This should be easy since I know that I'm dealing with an IDictionary, and I know the generic types for the key and value. The problem is again though that this needs to happen at runtime which would mean using several Convert.ChangeType() calls in the code to dynamically cast at runtime. Yuk. In the end I decided the easier and probably only slightly slower way to do this is a to use the dynamic type to collect the items and assign them to avoid all the dynamic casting madness: else if (IsIDictionary) { IDictionary dict = Activator.CreateInstance(arrayType) as IDictionary; foreach (dynamic item in items) { dict.Add(item.key, item.value); } return dict; } This code creates an instance of the generic dictionary type first, then loops through all of my custom keyvalue<K,V> items and assigns them to the actual dictionary. By using Dynamic here I can side step all the explicit type conversions that would be required in the three highlighted areas (not to mention that this nested method doesn't have access to the dictionary item generic types here). Static <- -> Dynamic Dynamic casting in a static language like C# is a bitch to say the least. This is one of the few times when I've cursed static typing and the arcane syntax that's required to coax types into the right format. It works but it's pretty nasty code. If it weren't for dynamic that last bit of code would have been a pretty ugly as well with a bunch of Convert.ChangeType() calls to litter the code. Fortunately this type of type convulsion is rather rare and reserved for system level code. It's not every day that you create a string to object parser after all :-)© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2011Posted in .NET  CSharp   Tweet (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Changing an HTML Form's Target with jQuery

    - by Rick Strahl
    This is a question that comes up quite frequently: I have a form with several submit or link buttons and one or more of the buttons needs to open a new Window. How do I get several buttons to all post to the right window? If you're building ASP.NET forms you probably know that by default the Web Forms engine sends button clicks back to the server as a POST operation. A server form has a <form> tag which expands to this: <form method="post" action="default.aspx" id="form1"> Now you CAN change the target of the form and point it to a different window or frame, but the problem with that is that it still affects ALL submissions of the current form. If you multiple buttons/links and they need to go to different target windows/frames you can't do it easily through the <form runat="server"> tag. Although this discussion uses ASP.NET WebForms as an example, realistically this is a general HTML problem although likely more common in WebForms due to the single form metaphor it uses. In ASP.NET MVC for example you'd have more options by breaking out each button into separate forms with its own distinct target tag. However, even with that option it's not always possible to break up forms - for example if multiple targets are required but all targets require the same form data to the be posted. A common scenario here is that you might have a button (or link) that you click where you still want some server code to fire but at the end of the request you actually want to display the content in a new window. A common operation where this happens is report generation: You click a button and the server generates a report say in PDF format and you then want to display the PDF result in a new window without killing the content in the current window. Assuming you have other buttons on the same Page that need to post to base window how do you get the button click to go to a new window? Can't  you just use a LinkButton or other Link Control? At first glance you might think an easy way to do this is to use an ASP.NET LinkButton to do this - after all a LinkButton creates a hyper link that CAN accept a target and it also posts back to the server, right? However, there's no Target property, although you can set the target HTML attribute easily enough. Code like this looks reasonable: <asp:LinkButton runat="server" ID="btnNewTarget" Text="New Target" target="_blank" OnClick="bnNewTarget_Click" /> But if you try this you'll find that it doesn't work. Why? Because ASP.NET creates postbacks with JavaScript code that operates on the current window/frame: <a id="btnNewTarget" target="_blank" href="javascript:__doPostBack(&#39;btnNewTarget&#39;,&#39;&#39;)">New Target</a> What happens with a target tag is that before the JavaScript actually executes a new window is opened and the focus shifts to the new window. The new window of course is empty and has no __doPostBack() function nor access to the old document. So when you click the link a new window opens but the window remains blank without content - no server postback actually occurs. Natch that idea. Setting the Form Target for a Button Control or LinkButton So, in order to send Postback link controls and buttons to another window/frame, both require that the target of the form gets changed dynamically when the button or link is clicked. Luckily this is rather easy to do however using a little bit of script code and jQuery. Imagine you have two buttons like this that should go to another window: <asp:LinkButton runat="server" ID="btnNewTarget" Text="New Target" OnClick="ClickHandler" /> <asp:Button runat="server" ID="btnButtonNewTarget" Text="New Target Button" OnClick="ClickHandler" /> ClickHandler in this case is any routine that generates the output you want to display in the new window. Generally this output will not come from the current page markup but is generated externally - like a PDF report or some report generated by another application component or tool. The output generally will be either generated by hand or something that was generated to disk to be displayed with Response.Redirect() or Response.TransmitFile() etc. Here's the dummy handler that just generates some HTML by hand and displays it: protected void ClickHandler(object sender, EventArgs e) { // Perform some operation that generates HTML or Redirects somewhere else Response.Write("Some custom output would be generated here (PDF, non-Page HTML etc.)"); // Make sure this response doesn't display the page content // Call Response.End() or Response.Redirect() Response.End(); } To route this oh so sophisticated output to an alternate window for both the LinkButton and Button Controls, you can use the following simple script code: <script type="text/javascript"> $("#btnButtonNewTarget,#btnNewTarget").click(function () { $("form").attr("target", "_blank"); }); </script> So why does this work where the target attribute did not? The difference here is that the script fires BEFORE the target is changed to the new window. When you put a target attribute on a link or form the target is changed as the very first thing before the link actually executes. IOW, the link literally executes in the new window when it's done this way. By attaching a click handler, though we're not navigating yet so all the operations the script code performs (ie. __doPostBack()) and the collection of Form variables to post to the server all occurs in the current page. By changing the target from within script code the target change fires as part of the form submission process which means it runs in the correct context of the current page. IOW - the input for the POST is from the current page, but the output is routed to a new window/frame. Just what we want in this scenario. Voila you can dynamically route output to the appropriate window.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2011Posted in ASP.NET  HTML  jQuery  

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  • IntelliSense for Razor Hosting in non-Web Applications

    - by Rick Strahl
    When I posted my Razor Hosting article a couple of weeks ago I got a number of questions on how to get IntelliSense to work inside of Visual Studio while editing your templates. The answer to this question is mainly dependent on how Visual Studio recognizes assemblies, so a little background is required. If you open a template just on its own as a standalone file by clicking on it say in Explorer, Visual Studio will open up with the template in the editor, but you won’t get any IntelliSense on any of your related assemblies that you might be using by default. It’ll give Intellisense on base System namespace, but not on your imported assembly types. This makes sense: Visual Studio has no idea what the assembly associations for the single file are. There are two options available to you to make IntelliSense work for templates: Add the templates as included files to your non-Web project Add a BIN folder to your template’s folder and add all assemblies required there Including Templates in your Host Project By including templates into your Razor hosting project, Visual Studio will pick up the project’s assembly references and make IntelliSense available for any of the custom types in your project and on your templates. To see this work I moved the \Templates folder from the samples from the Debug\Bin folder into the project root and included the templates in the WinForm sample project. Here’s what this looks like in Visual Studio after the templates have been included:   Notice that I take my original example and type cast the Context object to the specific type that it actually represents – namely CustomContext – by using a simple code block: @{ CustomContext Model = Context as CustomContext; } After that assignment my Model local variable is in scope and IntelliSense works as expected. Note that you also will need to add any namespaces with the using command in this case: @using RazorHostingWinForm which has to be defined at the very top of a Razor document. BTW, while you can only pass in a single Context 'parameter’ to the template with the default template I’ve provided realize that you can also assign a complex object to Context. For example you could have a container object that references a variety of other objects which you can then cast to the appropriate types as needed: @{ ContextContainer container = Context as ContextContainer; CustomContext Model = container.Model; CustomDAO DAO = container.DAO; } and so forth. IntelliSense for your Custom Template Notice also that you can get IntelliSense for the top level template by specifying an inherits tag at the top of the document: @inherits RazorHosting.RazorTemplateFolderHost By specifying the above you can then get IntelliSense on your base template’s properties. For example, in my base template there are Request and Response objects. This is very useful especially if you end up creating custom templates that include your custom business objects as you can get effectively see full IntelliSense from the ‘page’ level down. For Html Help Builder for example, I’d have a Help object on the page and assuming I have the references available I can see all the way into that Help object without even having to do anything fancy. Note that the @inherits key is a GREAT and easy way to override the base template you normally specify as the default template. It allows you to create a custom template and as long as it inherits from the base template it’ll work properly. Since the last post I’ve also made some changes in the base template that allow hooking up some simple initialization logic so it gets much more easy to create custom templates and hook up custom objects with an IntializeTemplate() hook function that gets called with the Context and a Configuration object. These objects are objects you can pass in at runtime from your host application and then assign to custom properties on your template. For example the default implementation for RazorTemplateFolderHost does this: public override void InitializeTemplate(object context, object configurationData) { // Pick up configuration data and stuff into Request object RazorFolderHostTemplateConfiguration config = configurationData as RazorFolderHostTemplateConfiguration; this.Request.TemplatePath = config.TemplatePath; this.Request.TemplateRelativePath = config.TemplateRelativePath; // Just use the entire ConfigData as the model, but in theory // configData could contain many objects or values to set on // template properties this.Model = config.ConfigData as TModel; } to set up a strongly typed Model and the Request object. You can do much more complex hookups here of course and create complex base template pages that contain all the objects that you need in your code with strong typing. Adding a Bin folder to your Template’s Root Path Including templates in your host project works if you own the project and you’re the only one modifying the templates. However, if you are distributing the Razor engine as a templating/scripting solution as part of your application or development tool the original project is likely not available and so that approach is not practical. Another option you have is to add a Bin folder and add all the related assemblies into it. You can also add a Web.Config file with assembly references for any GAC’d assembly references that need to be associated with the templates. Between the web.config and bin folder Visual Studio can figure out how to provide IntelliSense. The Bin folder should contain: The RazorHosting.dll Your host project’s EXE or DLL – renamed to .dll if it’s an .exe Any external (bin folder) dependent assemblies Note that you most likely also want a reference to the host project if it contains references that are going to be used in templates. Visual Studio doesn’t recognize an EXE reference so you have to rename the EXE to DLL to make it work. Apparently the binary signature of EXE and DLL files are identical and it just works – learn something new everyday… For GAC assembly references you can add a web.config file to your template root. The Web.config file then should contain any full assembly references to GAC components: <configuration> <system.web> <compilation debug="true"> <assemblies> <add assembly="System.Web.Mvc, Version=3.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35" /> <add assembly="System.Web, Version=4.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a" /> <add assembly="System.Web.Extensions, Version=4.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35" /> </assemblies> </compilation> </system.web> </configuration> And with that you should get full IntelliSense. Note that if you add a BIN folder and you also have the templates in your Visual Studio project Visual Studio will complain about reference conflicts as it’s effectively seeing both the project references and the ones in the bin folder. So it’s probably a good idea to use one or the other but not both at the same time :-) Seeing IntelliSense in your Razor templates is a big help for users of your templates. If you’re shipping an application level scripting solution especially it’ll be real useful for your template consumers/users to be able to get some quick help on creating customized templates – after all that’s what templates are all about – easy customization. Making sure that everything is referenced in your bin folder and web.config is a good idea and it’s great to see that Visual Studio (and presumably WebMatrix/Visual Web Developer as well) will be able to pick up your custom IntelliSense in Razor templates.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2011Posted in Razor  

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  • Process.Start() and ShellExecute() fails with URLs on Windows 8

    - by Rick Strahl
    Since I installed Windows 8 I've noticed that a number of my applications appear to have problems opening URLs. That is when I click on a link inside of a Windows application, either nothing happens or there's an error that occurs. It's happening both to my own applications and a host of Windows applications I'm running. At first I thought this was an issue with my default browser (Chrome) but after switching the default browser to a few others and experimenting a bit I noticed that the errors occur - oddly enough - only when I run an application as an Administrator. I also tried switching to FireFox and Opera as my default browser and saw exactly the same behavior. The scenario for this is a bit bizarre: Running on Windows 8 Call Process.Start() (or ShellExecute() in Win32 API) with a URL or an HTML file Run 'As Administrator' (works fine under non-elevated user account!) or with UAC off A browser other than Internet Explorer is set as your Default Web Browser Talk about a weird scenario: Something that doesn't work when you run as an Administrator which is supposed to have rights to everything on the system! Instead running under an Admin account - either elevated with a User Account Control prompt or even when running as a full Administrator fails. It appears that this problem does not occur for everyone, but when I looked for a solution to this, I saw quite a few posts in relation to this with no clear resolutions. I have three Windows 8 machines running here in the office and all three of them showed this behavior. Lest you think this is just a programmer's problem - this can affect any software running on your system that needs to run under administrative rights. Try it out Now, in order for this next example to fail, any browser but Internet Explorer has to be your default browser and even then it may not fail depending on how you installed your browser. To see if this is a problem create a small Console application and call Process.Start() with a URL in it:namespace Win8ShellBugConsole { class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { Console.WriteLine("Launching Url..."); Process.Start("http://microsoft.com"); Console.Write("Press any key to continue..."); Console.ReadKey(); Console.WriteLine("\r\n\r\nLaunching image..."); Process.Start(Path.GetFullPath(@"..\..\sailbig.jpg")); Console.Write("Press any key to continue..."); Console.ReadKey(); } } } Compile this code. Then execute the code from Explorer (not from Visual Studio because that may change the permissions). If you simply run the EXE and you're not running as an administrator, you'll see the Web page pop up in the browser as well as the image loading. Now run the same thing with Run As Administrator: Now when you run it you get a nice error when Process.Start() is fired: The same happens if you are running with User Account Control off altogether - ie. you are running as a full admin account. Now if you comment out the URL in the code above and just fire the image display - that works just fine in any user mode. As does opening any other local file type or even starting a new EXE locally (ie. Process.Start("c:\windows\notepad.exe"). All that works, EXCEPT for URLs. The code above uses Process.Start() in .NET but the same happens in Win32 Applications that use the ShellExecute API. In some of my older Fox apps ShellExecute returns an error code of 31 - which is No Shell Association found. What's the Deal? It turns out the problem has to do with the way browsers are registering themselves on Windows. Internet Explorer - being a built-in application in Windows 8 - apparently does this correctly, but other browsers possibly don't or at least didn't at the time I installed them. So even Chrome, which continually updates itself, has a recent version that apparently has this registration issue fixed, I was unable to simply set IE as my default browser then use Chrome to 'Set as Default Browser'. It still didn't work. Neither did using the Set Program Associations dialog which lets you assign what extensions are mapped to by a given application. Each application provides a set of extension/moniker mappings that it supports and this dialog lets you associate them on a system wide basis. This also did not work for Chrome or any of the other browsers at first. However, after repeated retries here eventually I did manage to get FireFox to work, but not any of the others. What Works? Reinstall the Browser In the end I decided on the hard core pull the plug solution: Totally uninstall and re-install Chrome in this case. And lo and behold, after reinstall everything was working fine. Now even removing the association for Chrome, switching to IE as the default browser and then back to Chrome works. But, even though the version of Chrome I was running before uninstalling and reinstalling is the same as I'm running now after the reinstall now it works. Of course I had to find out the hard way, before Richard commented with a note regarding what the issue is with Chrome at least: http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=156400 As expected the issue is a registration issue - with keys not being registered at the machine level. Reading this I'm still not sure why this should be a problem - an elevated account still runs under the same user account (ie. I'm still rickstrahl even if I Run As Administrator), so why shouldn't an app be able to read my Current User registry hive? And also that doesn't quite explain why if I register the extensions using Run As Administrator in Chrome when using Set as Default Browser). But in the end it works… Not so fast It's now a couple of days later and still there are some oddball problems although this time they appear to be purely Chrome issues. After the reinstall Chrome seems to pop up properly with ShellExecute() calls both in regular user and Admin mode. However, it now looks like Chrome is actually running two completely separate user profiles for each. For example, when I run Visual Studio in Admin mode and go to View in browser, Chrome complains that it was installed in Admin mode and can't launch (WTF?). Then you retry a few times later and it ends up working. When launched that way some of the plug-ins installed don't show up with the effect that sometimes they're visible sometimes they're not. Also Chrome seems to loose my configuration and Google sign in between sessions now, presumably when switching user modes. Add-ins installed in admin mode don't show up in user mode and vice versa. Ah, this is lovely. Did I mention that I freaking hate UAC precisely because of this kind of bullshit. You can never tell exactly what account your app is running under, and apparently apps also have a hard time trying to put data into the right place that works for both scenarios. And as my recent post on using Windows Live accounts shows it's yet another level of abstraction ontop of the underlying system identity that can cause all sort of small side effect headaches like this. Hopefully, most of you are skirting this issue altogether - having installed more recent versions of your favorite browsers. If not, hopefully this post will take you straight to reinstallation to fix this annoying issue.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in Windows  .NET   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • Adding proper THEAD sections to a GridView

    - by Rick Strahl
    I’m working on some legacy code for a customer today and dealing with a page that has my favorite ‘friend’ on it: A GridView control. The ASP.NET GridView control (and also the older DataGrid control) creates some pretty messed up HTML. One of the more annoying things it does is to generate all rows including the header into the page in the <tbody> section of the document rather than in a properly separated <thead> section. Here’s is typical GridView generated HTML output: <table class="tablesorter blackborder" cellspacing="0" rules="all" border="1" id="Table1" style="border-collapse:collapse;"> <tr> <th scope="col">Name</th> <th scope="col">Company</th> <th scope="col">Entered</th><th scope="col">Balance</th> </tr> <tr> <td>Frank Hobson</td><td>Hobson Inc.</td> <td>10/20/2010 12:00:00 AM</td><td>240.00</td> </tr> ... </table> Notice that all content – both the headers and the body of the table – are generated directly under the <table> tag and there’s no explicit use of <tbody> or <thead> (or <tfooter> for that matter). When the browser renders this the document some default settings kick in and the DOM tree turns into something like this: <table> <tbody> <tr> <-- header <tr> <—detail row <tr> <—detail row </tbody> </table> Now if you’re just rendering the Grid server side and you’re applying all your styles through CssClass assignments this isn’t much of a problem. However, if you want to style your grid more generically using hierarchical CSS selectors it gets a lot more tricky to format tables that don’t properly delineate headers and body content. Also many plug-ins and other JavaScript utilities that work on tables require a properly formed table layout, and many of these simple won’t work out of the box with a GridView. For example, one of the things I wanted to do for this app is use the jQuery TableSorter plug-in which – not surprisingly – requires to work of table headers in the DOM document. Out of the box, the TableSorter plug-in doesn’t work with GridView controls, because the lack of a <thead> section to work on. Luckily with a little help of some jQuery scripting there’s a real easy fix to this problem. Basically, if we know the GridView generated table has a header in it, code like the following will move the headers from <tbody> to <thead>: <script type="text/javascript"> $(document).ready(function () { // Fix up GridView to support THEAD tags $("#gvCustomers tbody").before("<thead><tr></tr></thead>"); $("#gvCustomers thead tr").append($("#gvCustomers th")); $("#gvCustomers tbody tr:first").remove(); $("#gvCustomers").tablesorter({ sortList: [[1, 0]] }); }); </script> And voila you have a table that now works with the TableSorter plug-in. If you use GridView’s a lot you might want something a little more generic so the following does the same thing but should work more generically on any GridView/DataGrid missing its <thead> tag: function fixGridView(tableEl) {            var jTbl = $(tableEl);         if(jTbl.find("tbody>tr>th").length > 0) {         jTbl.find("tbody").before("<thead><tr></tr></thead>");         jTbl.find("thead tr").append(jTbl.find("th"));         jTbl.find("tbody tr:first").remove();     } } which you can call like this: $(document).ready(function () { fixGridView( $("#gvCustomers") ); $("#gvCustomers").tablesorter({ sortList: [[1, 0]] }); }); Server Side THEAD Rendering [updated from comments 11/21/2010] Several commenters pointed out that you can also do this on the server side by using the GridView.HeaderRow.TableSection property to force rendering with a proper table header. I was unaware of this option actually – not exactly an easy one to discover. One issue here is that timing of this needs to happen during the databinding process so you need to use an event handler: this.gvCustomers.DataBound += (object o, EventArgs ev) => { gvCustomers.HeaderRow.TableSection = TableRowSection.TableHeader; }; this.gvCustomers.DataSource = custList; this.gvCustomers.DataBind(); You can apply the same logic for the FooterRow. It’s beyond me why this rendering mode isn’t the default for a GridView – why would you ever want to have a table that doesn’t use a THEAD section??? But I disgress :-) I don’t use GridViews much anymore – opting for more flexible approaches using ListViews or even plain code based views or other custom displays that allow more control over layout, but I still see a lot of old code that does use them old clunkers including my own :) (gulp) and this does make life a little bit easier especially if you’re working with any of the jQuery table related plug-ins that expect a proper table structure.© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2010Posted in ASP.NET  jQuery  

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  • Dynamic Code for type casting Generic Types 'generically' in C#

    - by Rick Strahl
    C# is a strongly typed language and while that's a fundamental feature of the language there are more and more situations where dynamic types make a lot of sense. I've written quite a bit about how I use dynamic for creating new type extensions: Dynamic Types and DynamicObject References in C# Creating a dynamic, extensible C# Expando Object Creating a dynamic DataReader for dynamic Property Access Today I want to point out an example of a much simpler usage for dynamic that I use occasionally to get around potential static typing issues in C# code especially those concerning generic types. TypeCasting Generics Generic types have been around since .NET 2.0 I've run into a number of situations in the past - especially with generic types that don't implement specific interfaces that can be cast to - where I've been unable to properly cast an object when it's passed to a method or assigned to a property. Granted often this can be a sign of bad design, but in at least some situations the code that needs to be integrated is not under my control so I have to make due with what's available or the parent object is too complex or intermingled to be easily refactored to a new usage scenario. Here's an example that I ran into in my own RazorHosting library - so I have really no excuse, but I also don't see another clean way around it in this case. A Generic Example Imagine I've implemented a generic type like this: public class RazorEngine<TBaseTemplateType> where TBaseTemplateType : RazorTemplateBase, new() You can now happily instantiate new generic versions of this type with custom template bases or even a non-generic version which is implemented like this: public class RazorEngine : RazorEngine<RazorTemplateBase> { public RazorEngine() : base() { } } To instantiate one: var engine = new RazorEngine<MyCustomRazorTemplate>(); Now imagine that the template class receives a reference to the engine when it's instantiated. This code is fired as part of the Engine pipeline when it gets ready to execute the template. It instantiates the template and assigns itself to the template: var template = new TBaseTemplateType() { Engine = this } The problem here is that possibly many variations of RazorEngine<T> can be passed. I can have RazorTemplateBase, RazorFolderHostTemplateBase, CustomRazorTemplateBase etc. as generic parameters and the Engine property has to reflect that somehow. So, how would I cast that? My first inclination was to use an interface on the engine class and then cast to the interface.  Generally that works, but unfortunately here the engine class is generic and has a few members that require the template type in the member signatures. So while I certainly can implement an interface: public interface IRazorEngine<TBaseTemplateType> it doesn't really help for passing this generically templated object to the template class - I still can't cast it if multiple differently typed versions of the generic type could be passed. I have the exact same issue in that I can't specify a 'generic' generic parameter, since there's no underlying base type that's common. In light of this I decided on using object and the following syntax for the property (and the same would be true for a method parameter): public class RazorTemplateBase :MarshalByRefObject,IDisposable { public object Engine {get;set; } } Now because the Engine property is a non-typed object, when I need to do something with this value, I still have no way to cast it explicitly. What I really would need is: public RazorEngine<> Engine { get; set; } but that's not possible. Dynamic to the Rescue Luckily with the dynamic type this sort of thing can be mitigated fairly easily. For example here's a method that uses the Engine property and uses the well known class interface by simply casting the plain object reference to dynamic and then firing away on the properties and methods of the base template class that are common to all templates:/// <summary> /// Allows rendering a dynamic template from a string template /// passing in a model. This is like rendering a partial /// but providing the input as a /// </summary> public virtual string RenderTemplate(string template,object model) { if (template == null) return string.Empty; // if there's no template markup if(!template.Contains("@")) return template; // use dynamic to get around generic type casting dynamic engine = Engine; string result = engine.RenderTemplate(template, model); if (result == null) throw new ApplicationException("RenderTemplate failed: " + engine.ErrorMessage); return result; } Prior to .NET 4.0  I would have had to use Reflection for this sort of thing which would have a been a heck of a lot more verbose, but dynamic makes this so much easier and cleaner and in this case at least the overhead is negliable since it's a single dynamic operation on an otherwise very complex operation call. Dynamic as  a Bailout Sometimes this sort of thing often reeks of a design flaw, and I agree that in hindsight this could have been designed differently. But as is often the case this particular scenario wasn't planned for originally and removing the generic signatures from the base type would break a ton of other code in the framework. Given the existing fairly complex engine design, refactoring an interface to remove generic types just to make this particular code work would have been overkill. Instead dynamic provides a nice and simple and relatively clean solution. Now if there were many other places where this occurs I would probably consider reworking the code to make this cleaner but given this isolated instance and relatively low profile operation use of dynamic seems a valid choice for me. This solution really works anywhere where you might end up with an inheritance structure that doesn't have a common base or interface that is sufficient. In the example above I know what I'm getting but there's no common base type that I can cast to. All that said, it's a good idea to think about use of dynamic before you rush in. In many situations there are alternatives that can still work with static typing. Dynamic definitely has some overhead compared to direct static access of objects, so if possible we should definitely stick to static typing. In the example above the application already uses dynamics extensively for dynamic page page templating and passing models around so introducing dynamics here has very little additional overhead. The operation itself also fires of a fairly resource heavy operation where the overhead of a couple of dynamic member accesses are not a performance issue. So, what's your experience with dynamic as a bailout mechanism? © Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in CSharp   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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  • HTML5 Input type=date Formatting Issues

    - by Rick Strahl
    One of the nice features in HTML5 is the abililty to specify a specific input type for HTML text input boxes. There a host of very useful input types available including email, number, date, datetime, month, number, range, search, tel, time, url and week. For a more complete list you can check out the MDN reference. Date input types also support automatic validation which can be useful in some scenarios but maybe can get in the way at other times. One of the more common input types, and one that can most benefit of a custom UI for selection is of course date input. Almost every application could use a decent date representation and HTML5's date input type seems to push into the right direction. It'd be nice if you could just say:<form action="DateTest.html"> <label for="FromDate">Enter a Date:</label> <input type="date" id="FromDate" name="FromDate" value="11/08/2012" class="date" /> <hr /> <input type="submit" id="btnSubmit" name="btnSubmit" value="Save Date" class="smallbutton" /> </form> but if you'd expect to just work, you're likely to be pretty disappointed. Problem #1: Browser Support For starters there's browser support. Out of the major browsers only the latest versions of WebKit and Opera based browsers seem to support date input. Neither FireFox, nor any version of Internet Explorer (including the new touch enabled IE10 in Windows RT) support input type=date. Browser support is an issue, but it would be OK if it wasn't for problem #2. Problem #2: Date Formatting If you look at my date input from before:<input type="date" id="FromDate" name="FromDate" value="11/08/2012" class="date" /> You can see that my date is formatted in local date format (ie. en-us). Now when I run this sadly the form that comes up in Chrome (and also iOS mobile browsers) comes up like this: Chrome isn't recognizing my local date string. Instead it's expecting my date format to be provided in ISO 8601 format which is: 2012-11-08 So if I change the date input field to:<input type="date" id="FromDate" name="FromDate" value="2012-10-08" class="date" /> I correctly get the date field filled in: Also when I pick a date with the DatePicker the date value is also returned is also set to the ISO date format. Yet notice how the date is still formatted to the local date time format (ie. en-US format). So if I pick a new date: and then save, the value field is set back to: 2012-11-15 using the ISO format. The same is true for Opera and iOS browsers and I suspect any other WebKit style browser and their date pickers. So to summarize input type=date: Expects ISO 8601 format dates to display intial values Sets selected date values to ISO 8601 Now what? This would sort of make sense, if all browsers supported input type=date. It'd be easy because you could just format dates appropriately when you set the date value into the control by applying the appropriate culture formatting (ie. .ToString("yyyy-MM-dd") ). .NET is actually smart enough to pick up the date on the other end for modelbinding when ISO 8601 is used. For other environments this might be a bit more tricky. input type=date is clearly the way to go forward. Date controls implemented in HTML are going the way of the dodo, given the intricacies of mobile platforms and scaling for both desktop and mobile. I've been using jQuery UI Datepicker for ages but once going to mobile, that's no longer an option as the control doesn't scale down well for mobile apps (at least not without major re-styling). It also makes a lot of sense for the browser to provide this functionality - creating a consistent date input experience across apps only makes sense, which is why I find it baffling that neither FireFox nor IE 10 deign it necessary to support date input natively. The problem is that a large number of even the latest and greatest browsers don't support this. So now you're stuck with not knowing what date format you have to serve since neither the local format, nor the ISO format works in all cases. For my current app I just broke down and used the ISO format and so I'll live with the non-local date format. <input type="date" id="ToDate" name="ToDate" value="2012-11-08" class="date"/> Here's what this looks like on Chrome: Here's what it looks like on my iPhone: Both Chrome and the phone do this the way it should be. For the phone especially this demonstrates why we'd want this - the built-in date picker there certainly beats manually trying to edit the date using finger gymnastics, and it's one of the easiest ways to pick a date I can think of (ie. easier to use than your typical date picker). Finally here's what the date looks like in FireFox: Certainly this is not the ideal date format, but it's clear enough I suppose. If users enter a date in local US format and that works as well (but won't work for other locales). It'll have to do. Over time one can only hope that other browsers will finally decide to implement this functionality natively to provide a unique experience. Until then, incomplete solutions it is. Related Posts Html 5 Input Types - How useful is this really going to be?© Rick Strahl, West Wind Technologies, 2005-2012Posted in HTML5  HTML   Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = 'https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();

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