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  • Ajax Control Toolkit December 2013 Release

    - by Stephen.Walther
    Today, we released a new version of the Ajax Control Toolkit that contains several important bug fixes and new features. The new release contains a new Tabs control that has been entirely rewritten in jQuery. You can download the December 2013 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit at http://Ajax.CodePlex.com. Alternatively, you can install the latest version directly from NuGet: The Ajax Control Toolkit and jQuery The Ajax Control Toolkit now contains two controls written with jQuery: the ToggleButton control and the Tabs control.  The goal is to rewrite the Ajax Control Toolkit to use jQuery instead of the Microsoft Ajax Library gradually over time. The motivation for rewriting the controls in the Ajax Control Toolkit to use jQuery is to modernize the toolkit. We want to continue to accept new controls written for the Ajax Control Toolkit contributed by the community. The community wants to use jQuery. We want to make it easy for the community to submit bug fixes. The community understands jQuery. Using the Ajax Control Toolkit with a Website that Already uses jQuery But what if you are already using jQuery in your website?  Will adding the Ajax Control Toolkit to your website break your existing website?  No, and here is why. The Ajax Control Toolkit uses jQuery.noConflict() to avoid conflicting with an existing version of jQuery in a page.  The version of jQuery that the Ajax Control Toolkit uses is represented by a variable named actJQuery.  You can use actJQuery side-by-side with an existing version of jQuery in a page without conflict.Imagine, for example, that you add jQuery to an ASP.NET page using a <script> tag like this: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="WebForm1.aspx.cs" Inherits="TestACTDec2013.WebForm1" %> <!DOCTYPE html> <html > <head runat="server"> <title></title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <script src="Scripts/jquery-2.0.3.min.js"></script> <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:TabContainer runat="server"> <ajaxToolkit:TabPanel runat="server"> <HeaderTemplate> Tab 1 </HeaderTemplate> <ContentTemplate> <h1>First Tab</h1> </ContentTemplate> </ajaxToolkit:TabPanel> <ajaxToolkit:TabPanel runat="server"> <HeaderTemplate> Tab 2 </HeaderTemplate> <ContentTemplate> <h1>Second Tab</h1> </ContentTemplate> </ajaxToolkit:TabPanel> </ajaxToolkit:TabContainer> </div> </form> </body> </html> The page above uses the Ajax Control Toolkit Tabs control (TabContainer and TabPanel controls).  The Tabs control uses the version of jQuery that is currently bundled with the Ajax Control Toolkit (jQuery version 1.9.1). The page above also includes a <script> tag that references jQuery version 2.0.3.  You might need that particular version of jQuery, for example, to use a particular jQuery plugin. The two versions of jQuery in the page do not create a conflict. This fact can be demonstrated by entering the following two commands in the JavaScript console window: actJQuery.fn.jquery $.fn.jquery Typing actJQuery.fn.jquery will display the version of jQuery used by the Ajax Control Toolkit and typing $.fn.jquery (or jQuery.fn.jquery) will show the version of jQuery used by other jQuery plugins in the page.      Preventing jQuery from Loading Twice So by default, the Ajax Control Toolkit will not conflict with any existing version of jQuery used in your application. However, this does mean that if you are already using jQuery in your application then jQuery will be loaded twice. For performance reasons, you might want to avoid loading the jQuery library twice. By taking advantage of the <remove> element in the AjaxControlToolkit.config file, you can prevent the Ajax Control Toolkit from loading its version of jQuery. <ajaxControlToolkit> <scripts> <remove name="jQuery.jQuery.js" /> </scripts> <controlBundles> <controlBundle> <control name="TabContainer" /> <control name="TabPanel" /> </controlBundle> </controlBundles> </ajaxControlToolkit> Be careful here:  the name of the script being removed – jQuery.jQuery.js – is case-sensitive. If you remove jQuery then it is your responsibility to add the exact same version of jQuery back into your application.  You can add jQuery back using a <script> tag like this: <script src="Scripts/jquery-1.9.1.min.js"></script>     Make sure that you add the <script> tag before the server-side <form> tag or the Ajax Control Toolkit won’t detect the presence of jQuery. Alternatively, you can use the ToolkitScriptManager like this: <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager runat="server"> <Scripts> <asp:ScriptReference Name="jQuery.jQuery.js" /> </Scripts> </ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager> The Ajax Control Toolkit is tested against the particular version of jQuery that is bundled with the Ajax Control Toolkit. Currently, the Ajax Control Toolkit uses jQuery version 1.9.1. If you attempt to use a different version of jQuery with the Ajax Control Toolkit then you will get the exception jQuery 1.9.1 is required in your JavaScript console window: If you need to use a different version of jQuery in the same page as the Ajax Control Toolkit then you should not use the <remove> element. Instead, allow the Ajax Control Toolkit to load its version of jQuery side-by-side with the other version of jQuery. Lots of Bug Fixes As usual, we implemented several important bug fixes with this release. The bug fixes concerned the following three controls: Tabs control – In the course of rewriting the Tabs control to use jQuery, we fixed several bugs related to the Tabs control. AjaxFileUpload control – We resolved an issue concerning the AjaxFileUpload and the TMP directory. HTMLEditor control – We updated the HTMLEditor control to use the new Ajax Control Toolkit bundling and minification framework. Summary I would like to thank the Superexpert team for their hard work on this release. Many long hours of coding and testing went into making this release possible.

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  • Netflix, jQuery, JSONP, and OData

    - by Stephen Walther
    At the last MIX conference, Netflix announced that they are exposing their catalog of movie information using the OData protocol. This is great news! This means that you can take advantage of all of the advanced OData querying features against a live database of Netflix movies. In this blog entry, I’ll demonstrate how you can use Netflix, jQuery, JSONP, and OData to create a simple movie lookup form. The form enables you to enter a movie title, or part of a movie title, and display a list of matching movies. For example, Figure 1 illustrates the movies displayed when you enter the value robot into the lookup form.   Using the Netflix OData Catalog API You can learn about the Netflix OData Catalog API at the following website: http://developer.netflix.com/docs/oData_Catalog The nice thing about this website is that it provides plenty of samples. It also has a good general reference for OData. For example, the website includes a list of OData filter operators and functions. The Netflix Catalog API exposes 4 top-level resources: Titles – A database of Movie information including interesting movie properties such as synopsis, BoxArt, and Cast. People – A database of people information including interesting information such as Awards, TitlesDirected, and TitlesActedIn. Languages – Enables you to get title information in different languages. Genres – Enables you to get title information for specific movie genres. OData is REST based. This means that you can perform queries by putting together the right URL. For example, if you want to get a list of the movies that were released after 2010 and that had an average rating greater than 4 then you can enter the following URL in the address bar of your browser: http://odata.netflix.com/Catalog/Titles?$filter=ReleaseYear gt 2010&AverageRating gt 4 Entering this URL returns the movies in Figure 2. Creating the Movie Lookup Form The complete code for the Movie Lookup form is contained in Listing 1. Listing 1 – MovieLookup.htm <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Netflix with jQuery</title> <style type="text/css"> #movieTemplateContainer div { width:400px; padding: 10px; margin: 10px; border: black solid 1px; } </style> <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="App_Scripts/Microtemplates.js" type="text/javascript"></script> </head> <body> <label>Search Movies:</label> <input id="movieName" size="50" /> <button id="btnLookup">Lookup</button> <div id="movieTemplateContainer"></div> <script id="movieTemplate" type="text/html"> <div> <img src="<%=BoxArtSmallUrl %>" /> <strong><%=Name%></strong> <p> <%=Synopsis %> </p> </div> </script> <script type="text/javascript"> $("#btnLookup").click(function () { // Build OData query var movieName = $("#movieName").val(); var query = "http://odata.netflix.com/Catalog" // netflix base url + "/Titles" // top-level resource + "?$filter=substringof('" + escape(movieName) + "',Name)" // filter by movie name + "&$callback=callback" // jsonp request + "&$format=json"; // json request // Make JSONP call to Netflix $.ajax({ dataType: "jsonp", url: query, jsonpCallback: "callback", success: callback }); }); function callback(result) { // unwrap result var movies = result["d"]["results"]; // show movies in template var showMovie = tmpl("movieTemplate"); var html = ""; for (var i = 0; i < movies.length; i++) { // flatten movie movies[i].BoxArtSmallUrl = movies[i].BoxArt.SmallUrl; // render with template html += showMovie(movies[i]); } $("#movieTemplateContainer").html(html); } </script> </body> </html> The HTML page in Listing 1 includes two JavaScript libraries: <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="App_Scripts/Microtemplates.js" type="text/javascript"></script> The first script tag retrieves jQuery from the Microsoft Ajax CDN. You can learn more about the Microsoft Ajax CDN by visiting the following website: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/cdn.ashx The second script tag is used to reference Resig’s micro-templating library. Because I want to use a template to display each movie, I need this library: http://ejohn.org/blog/javascript-micro-templating/ When you enter a value into the Search Movies input field and click the button, the following JavaScript code is executed: // Build OData query var movieName = $("#movieName").val(); var query = "http://odata.netflix.com/Catalog" // netflix base url + "/Titles" // top-level resource + "?$filter=substringof('" + escape(movieName) + "',Name)" // filter by movie name + "&$callback=callback" // jsonp request + "&$format=json"; // json request // Make JSONP call to Netflix $.ajax({ dataType: "jsonp", url: query, jsonpCallback: "callback", success: callback }); This code Is used to build a query that will be executed against the Netflix Catalog API. For example, if you enter the search phrase King Kong then the following URL is created: http://odata.netflix.com/Catalog/Titles?$filter=substringof(‘King%20Kong’,Name)&$callback=callback&$format=json This query includes the following parameters: $filter – You assign a filter expression to this parameter to filter the movie results. $callback – You assign the name of a JavaScript callback method to this parameter. OData calls this method to return the movie results. $format – you assign either the value json or xml to this parameter to specify how the format of the movie results. Notice that all of the OData parameters -- $filter, $callback, $format -- start with a dollar sign $. The Movie Lookup form uses JSONP to retrieve data across the Internet. Because WCF Data Services supports JSONP, and Netflix uses WCF Data Services to expose movies using the OData protocol, you can use JSONP when interacting with the Netflix Catalog API. To learn more about using JSONP with OData, see Pablo Castro’s blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/pablo/archive/2009/02/25/adding-support-for-jsonp-and-url-controlled-format-to-ado-net-data-services.aspx The actual JSONP call is performed by calling the $.ajax() method. When this call successfully completes, the JavaScript callback() method is called. The callback() method looks like this: function callback(result) { // unwrap result var movies = result["d"]["results"]; // show movies in template var showMovie = tmpl("movieTemplate"); var html = ""; for (var i = 0; i < movies.length; i++) { // flatten movie movies[i].BoxArtSmallUrl = movies[i].BoxArt.SmallUrl; // render with template html += showMovie(movies[i]); } $("#movieTemplateContainer").html(html); } The movie results from Netflix are passed to the callback method. The callback method takes advantage of Resig’s micro-templating library to display each of the movie results. A template used to display each movie is passed to the tmpl() method. The movie template looks like this: <script id="movieTemplate" type="text/html"> <div> <img src="<%=BoxArtSmallUrl %>" /> <strong><%=Name%></strong> <p> <%=Synopsis %> </p> </div> </script>   This template looks like a server-side ASP.NET template. However, the template is rendered in the client (browser) instead of the server. Summary The goal of this blog entry was to demonstrate how well jQuery works with OData. We managed to use a number of interesting open-source libraries and open protocols while building the Movie Lookup form including jQuery, JSONP, JSON, and OData.

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  • Ajax Control Toolkit July 2011 Release and the New HTML Editor Extender

    - by Stephen Walther
    I’m happy to announce the July 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit which includes important bug fixes and a completely new HTML Editor Extender control. You can download the July 2011 Release by visiting the Ajax Control Toolkit CodePlex site at: http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com Using the New HTML Editor Extender Control You can use the new HTML Editor Extender to extend any standard ASP.NET TextBox control so that it supports rich formatting such as bold, italics, bulleted lists, numbered lists, typefaces and different foreground and background colors. The following code illustrates how you can extend a standard ASP.NET TextBox control with the HtmlEditorExtender: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="Simple.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.Simple" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="asp" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head runat="server"> <title>Simple</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <asp:ToolkitScriptManager runat="Server" /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtComments" TextMode="MultiLine" Columns="60" Rows="8" runat="server" /> <asp:HtmlEditorExtender TargetControlID="txtComments" runat="server" /> </form> </body> </html> This page has the following three controls: ToolkitScriptManager – The ToolkitScriptManager renders all of the scripts required by the Ajax Control Toolkit. TextBox – The TextBox control is a standard ASP.NET TextBox which is set to display multiple lines (a TextArea instead of an Input element). HtmlEditorExtender – The HtmlEditorExtender is set to extend the TextBox control. You can use the standard TextBox Text property to read the rich text entered into the TextBox control on the server. Lightweight and HTML5 The HTML Editor Extender works on all modern browsers including the most recent versions of Mozilla Firefox (Firefox 5), Google Chrome (Chrome 12), and Apple Safari (Safari 5). Furthermore, the HTML Editor Extender is compatible with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and newer. The HTML Editor Extender is very lightweight. It takes advantage of the HTML5 ContentEditable attribute so it does not require an iframe or complex browser workarounds. If you select View Source in your browser while using the HTML Editor Extender, we hope that you will be pleasantly surprised by how little markup and script is generated by the HTML Editor Extender. Customizable Toolbar Buttons Depending on the web application that you are building, you will want to display different toolbar buttons with the HTML Editor Extender. One of the design goals of the HTML Editor Extender was to make it very easy for you to customize the toolbar buttons. Imagine, for example, that you want to use the HTML Editor Extender when accepting comments on blog posts. In that case, you might want to restrict the type of formatting that a user can display. You might want to enable a user to format text as bold or italic but you do not want the user to make any other formatting changes. The following page illustrates how you can customize the HTML Editor Extender toolbar: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="CustomToolbar.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.CustomToolbar" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="asp" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <html> <head runat="server"> <title>Custom Toolbar</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <asp:ToolkitScriptManager Runat="server" /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtComments" TextMode="MultiLine" Columns="50" Rows="10" Text="Hello <b>world!</b>" Runat="server" /> <asp:HtmlEditorExtender TargetControlID="txtComments" runat="server"> <Toolbar> <asp:Bold /> <asp:Italic /> </Toolbar> </asp:HtmlEditorExtender> </form> </body> </html> Notice that the HTML Editor Extender in the page above has a Toolbar subtag. You can list the toolbar buttons which you want to appear within the subtag. In the case above, only Bold and Italic buttons are displayed. Here is a complete list of the Toolbar buttons currently supported by the HTML Editor Extender: Undo Redo Bold Italic Underline StrikeThrough Subscript Superscript JustifyLeft JustifyCenter JustifyRight JustifyFull InsertOrderedList InsertUnorderedList CreateLink UnLink RemoveFormat SelectAll UnSelect Delete Cut Copy Paste BackgroundColorSelector ForeColorSelector FontNameSelector FontSizeSelector Indent Outdent InsertHorizontalRule HorizontalSeparator Of course the HTML Editor Extender was designed to be extensible. You can create your own buttons and add them to the control. Compatible with the AntiXSS Library When using the HTML Editor Extender on a public facing website, we strongly recommend that you use the HTML Editor Extender with the AntiXSS Library. If you allow users to submit arbitrary HTML, and you don’t take any action to strip out malicious markup, then you are opening your website to Cross-Site Scripting Attacks (XSS attacks). The HTML Editor Extender uses the Provider Model to support different Sanitizer Providers. The July 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit ships with a single Sanitizer Provider which uses the AntiXSS library (see http://AntiXss.CodePlex.com ). A Sanitizer Provider is responsible for sanitizing HTML markup by removing any malicious elements, attributes, and attribute values. For example, the AntiXss Sanitizer Provider will take the following block of HTML: <b><a href=""javascript:doEvil()"">Visit Grandma</a></b> <script>doEvil()</script> And return the following sanitized block of HTML: <b><a href="">Visit Grandma</a></b> Notice that the JavaScript href and <SCRIPT> tag are both stripped out. Be aware that there are a depressingly large number of ways to sneak evil markup into your HTML. You definitely want a Sanitizer as a safety net. Before you can use the AntiXSS Sanitizer Provider, you must add three assemblies to your web application: AntiXSSLibrary.dll, HtmlSanitizationLibrary.dll, and SanitizerProviders.dll. All three assemblies are included with the CodePlex download of the Ajax Control Toolkit in the SanitizerProviders folder. Here’s how you modify your web.config file to use the AntiXSS Sanitizer Provider: <configuration> <configSections> <sectionGroup name="system.web"> <section name="sanitizer" requirePermission="false" type="AjaxControlToolkit.Sanitizer.ProviderSanitizerSection, AjaxControlToolkit"/> </sectionGroup> </configSections> <system.web> <compilation targetFramework="4.0" debug="true"/> <sanitizer defaultProvider="AntiXssSanitizerProvider"> <providers> <add name="AntiXssSanitizerProvider" type="AjaxControlToolkit.Sanitizer.AntiXssSanitizerProvider"></add> </providers> </sanitizer> </system.web> </configuration> You can detect whether the HTML Editor Extender is using the AntiXSS Sanitizer Provider by checking the HtmlEditorExtender SanitizerProvider property like this: if (MyHtmlEditorExtender.SanitizerProvider == null) { throw new Exception("Please enable the AntiXss Sanitizer!"); } When the SanitizerProvider property has the value null, you know that a Sanitizer Provider has not been configured in the web.config file. Because the AntiXSS library requires Full Trust, you cannot use the AntiXSS Sanitizer Provider with most shared website hosting providers. Because most shared hosting providers only support Medium Trust and not Full Trust, we do not recommend using the HTML Editor Extender with a public website hosted with a shared hosting provider. Why a New HTML Editor Control? The Ajax Control Toolkit now includes two HTML Editor controls. Why did we introduce a new HTML Editor control when there was already an existing HTML Editor? We think you will like the new HTML Editor much more than the previous one. We had several goals with the new HTML Editor Extender: Lightweight – We wanted to leverage HTML5 to create a lightweight HTML Editor. The new HTML Editor generates much less markup and script than the previous HTML Editor. Secure – We wanted to make it easy to integrate the AntiXSS library with the HTML Editor. If you are creating a public facing website, we strongly recommend that you use the AntiXSS Provider. Customizable – We wanted to make it easy for users to customize the toolbar buttons displayed by the HTML Editor. Compatibility – We wanted to ensure that the HTML Editor will work with the latest versions of the most popular browsers (including Internet Explorer 6 and higher). The old HTML Editor control is still included in the Ajax Control Toolkit and continues to live in the AjaxControlToolkit.HTMLEditor namespace. We have not modified the control and you can continue to use the control in the same way as you have used it in the past. However, we hope that you will consider migrating to the new HTML Editor Extender for the reasons listed above. Summary We’ve introduced a new Ajax Control Toolkit control with this release. I want to thank the developers and testers on the Superexpert team for the huge amount of work which they put into this control. It was a non-trivial task to build an entirely new control which has the complexity of the HTML Editor in less than 6 weeks. Please let us know what you think! We want to hear your feedback. If you discover issues with the new HTML Editor Extender control, or you have questions about the control, or you have ideas for how it can be improved, then please post them to this blog. Tomorrow starts a new sprint

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  • September 2011 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit

    - by Stephen Walther
    I’m happy to announce the release of the September 2011 Ajax Control Toolkit. This release has several important new features including: Date ranges – When using the Calendar extender, you can specify a start and end date and a user can pick only those dates which fall within the specified range. This was the fourth top-voted feature request for the Ajax Control Toolkit at CodePlex. Twitter Control – You can use the new Twitter control to display recent tweets associated with a particular Twitter user or tweets which match a search query. Gravatar Control – You can use the new Gravatar control to display a unique image for each user of your website. Users can upload custom images to the Gravatar.com website or the Gravatar control can display a unique, auto-generated, image for a user. You can download this release this very minute by visiting CodePlex: http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com Alternatively, you can execute the following command from the Visual Studio NuGet console: Improvements to the Ajax Control Toolkit Calendar Control The Ajax Control Toolkit Calendar extender control is one of the most heavily used controls from the Ajax Control Toolkit. The developers on the Superexpert team spent the last sprint focusing on improving this control. There are three important changes that we made to the Calendar control: we added support for date ranges, we added support for highlighting today’s date, and we made fixes to several bugs related to time zones and daylight savings. Using Calendar Date Ranges One of the top-voted feature requests for the Ajax Control Toolkit was a request to add support for date ranges to the Calendar control (this was the fourth most voted feature request at CodePlex). With the latest release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, the Calendar extender now supports date ranges. For example, the following page illustrates how you can create a popup calendar which allows a user only to pick dates between March 2, 2009 and May 16, 2009. <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="CalendarDateRange.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.CalendarDateRange" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="asp" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <html> <head runat="server"> <title>Calendar Date Range</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <asp:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtHotelReservationDate" runat="server" /> <asp:CalendarExtender ID="Calendar1" TargetControlID="txtHotelReservationDate" StartDate="3/2/2009" EndDate="5/16/2009" SelectedDate="3/2/2009" runat="server" /> </form> </body> </html> This page contains three controls: an Ajax Control Toolkit ToolkitScriptManager control, a standard ASP.NET TextBox control, and an Ajax Control Toolkit CalendarExtender control. Notice that the Calendar control includes StartDate and EndDate properties which restrict the range of valid dates. The Calendar control shows days, months, and years outside of the valid range as struck out. You cannot select days, months, or years which fall outside of the range. The following video illustrates interacting with the new date range feature: If you want to experiment with a live version of the Ajax Control Toolkit Calendar extender control then you can visit the Calendar Sample Page at the Ajax Control Toolkit Sample Site. Highlighted Today’s Date Another highly requested feature for the Calendar control was support for highlighting today’s date. The Calendar control now highlights the user’s current date regardless of the user’s time zone. Fixes to Time Zone and Daylight Savings Time Bugs We fixed several significant Calendar extender bugs related to time zones and daylight savings time. For example, previously, when you set the Calendar control’s SelectedDate property to the value 1/1/2007 then the selected data would appear as 12/31/2006 or 1/1/2007 or 1/2/2007 depending on the server time zone. For example, if your server time zone was set to Samoa (UTC-11:00), then setting SelectedDate=”1/1/2007” would result in “12/31/2006” being selected in the Calendar. Users of the Calendar extender control found this behavior confusing. After careful consideration, we decided to change the Calendar extender so that it interprets all dates as UTC dates. In other words, if you set StartDate=”1/1/2007” then the Calendar extender parses the date as 1/1/2007 UTC instead of parsing the date according to the server time zone. By interpreting all dates as UTC dates, we avoid all of the reported issues with the SelectedDate property showing the wrong date. Furthermore, when you set the StartDate and EndDate properties, you know that the same StartDate and EndDate will be selected regardless of the time zone associated with the server or associated with the browser. The date 1/1/2007 will always be the date 1/1/2007. The New Twitter Control This release of the Ajax Control Toolkit introduces a new twitter control. You can use the Twitter control to display recent tweets associated with a particular twitter user. You also can use this control to show the results of a twitter search. The following page illustrates how you can use the Twitter control to display recent tweets made by Scott Hanselman: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="TwitterProfile.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.TwitterProfile" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="asp" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <html > <head runat="server"> <title>Twitter Profile</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <asp:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" /> <asp:Twitter ID="Twitter1" ScreenName="shanselman" runat="server" /> </form> </body> </html> This page includes two Ajax Control Toolkit controls: the ToolkitScriptManager control and the Twitter control. The Twitter control is set to display tweets from Scott Hanselman (shanselman): You also can use the Twitter control to display the results of a search query. For example, the following page displays all recent tweets related to the Ajax Control Toolkit: Twitter limits the number of times that you can interact with their API in an hour. Twitter recommends that you cache results on the server (https://dev.twitter.com/docs/rate-limiting). By default, the Twitter control caches results on the server for a duration of 5 minutes. You can modify the cache duration by assigning a value (in seconds) to the Twitter control's CacheDuration property. The Twitter control wraps a standard ASP.NET ListView control. You can customize the appearance of the Twitter control by modifying its LayoutTemplate, StatusTemplate, AlternatingStatusTemplate, and EmptyDataTemplate. To learn more about the new Twitter control, visit the live Twitter Sample Page. The New Gravatar Control The September 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit also includes a new Gravatar control. This control makes it easy to display a unique image for each user of your website. A Gravatar is associated with an email address. You can visit Gravatar.com and upload an image and associate the image with your email address. That way, every website which uses Gravatars (such as the www.ASP.NET website) will display your image next to your name. For example, I visited the Gravatar.com website and associated an image of a Koala Bear with the email address [email protected] The following page illustrates how you can use the Gravatar control to display the Gravatar image associated with the [email protected] email address: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="GravatarDemo.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.GravatarDemo" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="asp" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head id="Head1" runat="server"> <title>Gravatar Demo</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <asp:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" /> <asp:Gravatar ID="Gravatar1" Email="[email protected]" runat="server" /> </form> </body> </html> The page above simply displays the Gravatar image associated with the [email protected] email address: If a user has not uploaded an image to Gravatar.com then you can auto-generate a unique image for the user from the user email address. The Gravatar control supports four types of auto-generated images: Identicon -- A different geometric pattern is generated for each unrecognized email. MonsterId -- A different image of a monster is generated for each unrecognized email. Wavatar -- A different image of a face is generated for each unrecognized email. Retro -- A different 8-bit arcade-style face is generated for each unrecognized email. For example, there is no Gravatar image associated with the email address [email protected] The following page displays an auto-generated MonsterId for this email address: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="GravatarMonster.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.GravatarMonster" %> <%@ Register TagPrefix="asp" Namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" Assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" %> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head id="Head1" runat="server"> <title>Gravatar Monster</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <asp:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" /> <asp:Gravatar ID="Gravatar1" Email="[email protected]" DefaultImageBehavior="MonsterId" runat="server" /> </form> </body> </html> The page above generates the following image automatically from the supplied email address: To learn more about the properties of the new Gravatar control, visit the live Gravatar Sample Page. ASP.NET Connections Talk on the Ajax Control Toolkit If you are interested in learning more about the changes that we are making to the Ajax Control Toolkit then please come to my talk on the Ajax Control Toolkit at the upcoming ASP.NET Connections conference. In the talk, I will present a summary of the changes that we have made to the Ajax Control Toolkit over the last several months and discuss our future plans. Do you have ideas for new Ajax Control Toolkit controls? Ideas for improving the toolkit? Come to my talk – I would love to hear from you. You can register for the ASP.NET Connections conference by visiting the following website: Register for ASP.NET Connections   Summary The previous release of the Ajax Control Toolkit – the July 2011 Release – has had over 100,000 downloads. That is a huge number of developers who are working with the Ajax Control Toolkit. We are really excited about the new features which we added to the Ajax Control Toolkit in the latest September sprint. We hope that you find the updated Calender control, the new Twitter control, and the new Gravatar control valuable when building your ASP.NET Web Forms applications.

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  • Use ASP.NET 4 Browser Definitions with ASP.NET 3.5

    - by Stephen Walther
    We updated the browser definitions files included with ASP.NET 4 to include information on recent browsers and devices such as Google Chrome and the iPhone. You can use these browser definition files with earlier versions of ASP.NET such as ASP.NET 3.5. The updated browser definition files, and instructions for installing them, can be found here: http://aspnet.codeplex.com/releases/view/41420 The changes in the browser definition files can cause backwards compatibility issues when you upgrade an ASP.NET 3.5 web application to ASP.NET 4. If you encounter compatibility issues, you can install the old browser definition files in your ASP.NET 4 application. The old browser definition files are included in the download file referenced above. What’s New in the ASP.NET 4 Browser Definition Files The complete set of browsers supported by the new ASP.NET 4 browser definition files is represented by the following figure:     If you look carefully at the figure, you’ll notice that we added browser definitions for several types of recent browsers such as Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3.5, Google Chrome, Opera 10, and Safari 4. Furthermore, notice that we now include browser definitions for several of the most popular mobile devices: BlackBerry, IPhone, IPod, and Windows Mobile (IEMobile). The mobile devices appear in the figure with a purple background color. To improve performance, we removed a whole lot of outdated browser definitions for old cell phones and mobile devices. We also cleaned up the information contained in the browser files. Here are some of the browser features that you can detect: Are you a mobile device? <%=Request.Browser.IsMobileDevice %> Are you an IPhone? <%=Request.Browser.MobileDeviceModel == "IPhone" %> What version of JavaScript do you support? <%=Request.Browser["javascriptversion"] %> What layout engine do you use? <%=Request.Browser["layoutEngine"] %>   Here’s what you would get if you displayed the value of these properties using Internet Explorer 8: Here’s what you get when you use Google Chrome: Testing Browser Settings When working with browser definition files, it is useful to have some way to test the capability information returned when you request a page with different browsers. You can use the following method to return the HttpBrowserCapabilities the corresponds to a particular user agent string and set of browser headers: public HttpBrowserCapabilities GetBrowserCapabilities(string userAgent, NameValueCollection headers) { HttpBrowserCapabilities browserCaps = new HttpBrowserCapabilities(); Hashtable hashtable = new Hashtable(180, StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase); hashtable[string.Empty] = userAgent; // The actual method uses client target browserCaps.Capabilities = hashtable; var capsFactory = new System.Web.Configuration.BrowserCapabilitiesFactory(); capsFactory.ConfigureBrowserCapabilities(headers, browserCaps); capsFactory.ConfigureCustomCapabilities(headers, browserCaps); return browserCaps; } At the end of this blog entry, there is a link to download a simple Visual Studio 2008 project – named Browser Definition Test -- that uses this method to display capability information for arbitrary user agent strings. For example, if you enter the user agent string for an iPhone then you get the results in the following figure: The Browser Definition Test application enables you to submit a user-agent string and display a table of browser capabilities information. The browser definition files contain sample user-agent strings for each browser definition. I got the iPhone user-agent string from the comments in the iphone.browser file. Enumerating Browser Definitions Someone asked in the comments whether or not there is a way to enumerate all of the browser definitions. You can do this if you ware willing to use a little reflection and read a private property. The browser definition files in the config\browsers folder get parsed into a class named BrowserCapabilitesFactory. After you run the aspnet_regbrowsers tool, you can see the source for this class in the config\browser folder by opening a file named BrowserCapsFactory.cs. The BrowserCapabilitiesFactoryBase class has a protected property named BrowserElements that represents a Hashtable of all of the browser definitions. Here's how you can read this protected property and display the ID for all of the browser definitions: var propInfo = typeof(BrowserCapabilitiesFactory).GetProperty("BrowserElements", BindingFlags.NonPublic | BindingFlags.Instance); Hashtable browserDefinitions = (Hashtable)propInfo.GetValue(new BrowserCapabilitiesFactory(), null); foreach (var key in browserDefinitions.Keys) { Response.Write("" + key); } If you run this code using Visual Studio 2008 then you get the following results: You get a huge number of outdated browsers and devices. In all, 449 browser definitions are listed. If you run this code using Visual Studio 2010 then you get the following results: In the case of Visual Studio 2010, all the old browsers and devices have been removed and you get only 19 browser definitions. Conclusion The updated browser definition files included in ASP.NET 4 provide more accurate information for recent browsers and devices. If you would like to test the new browser definitions with different user-agent strings then I recommend that you download the Browser Definition Test project: Browser Definition Test Project

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  • Adding the New HTML Editor Extender to a Web Forms Application using NuGet

    - by Stephen Walther
    The July 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit includes a new, lightweight, HTML5 compatible HTML Editor extender. In this blog entry, I explain how you can take advantage of NuGet to quickly add the new HTML Editor control extender to a new or existing ASP.NET Web Forms application. Installing the Latest Version of the Ajax Control Toolkit with NuGet NuGet is a package manager. It enables you to quickly install new software directly from within Visual Studio 2010. You can use NuGet to install additional software when building any type of .NET application including ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC applications. If you have not already installed NuGet then you can install NuGet by navigating to the following address and clicking the giant install button: http://nuget.org/ After you install NuGet, you can add the Ajax Control Toolkit to a new or existing ASP.NET Web Forms application by selecting the Visual Studio menu option Tools, Library Package Manager, Package Manager Console: Selecting this menu option opens the Package Manager Console. You can enter the command Install-Package AjaxControlToolkit in the console to install the Ajax Control Toolkit: After you install the Ajax Control Toolkit with NuGet, your application will include an assembly reference to the AjaxControlToolkit.dll and SanitizerProviders.dll assemblies: Furthermore, your Web.config file will be updated to contain a new tag prefix for the Ajax Control Toolkit controls: <configuration> <system.web> <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.0" /> <pages> <controls> <add tagPrefix="ajaxToolkit" assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" /> </controls> </pages> </system.web> </configuration> The configuration file installed by NuGet adds the prefix ajaxToolkit for all of the Ajax Control Toolkit controls. You can type ajaxToolkit: in source view to get auto-complete in Source view. You can, of course, change this prefix to anything you want. Using the HTML Editor Extender After you install the Ajax Control Toolkit, you can use the HTML Editor Extender with the standard ASP.NET TextBox control to enable users to enter rich formatting such as bold, underline, italic, different fonts, and different background and foreground colors. For example, the following page can be used for entering comments. The page contains a standard ASP.NET TextBox, Button, and Label control. When you click the button, any text entered into the TextBox is displayed in the Label control. It is a pretty boring page: Let’s make this page fancier by extending the standard ASP.NET TextBox with the HTML Editor extender control: Notice that the ASP.NET TextBox now has a toolbar which includes buttons for performing various kinds of formatting. For example, you can change the size and font used for the text. You also can change the foreground and background color – and make many other formatting changes. You can customize the toolbar buttons which the HTML Editor extender displays. To learn how to customize the toolbar, see the HTML Editor Extender sample page here: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/HTMLEditorExtender/HTMLEditorExtender.aspx Here’s the source code for the ASP.NET page: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="Default.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.Default" %> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head runat="server"> <title>Add Comments</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager ID="TSM1" runat="server" /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtComments" TextMode="MultiLine" Columns="50" Rows="8" Runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:HtmlEditorExtender ID="hee" TargetControlID="txtComments" Runat="server" /> <br /><br /> <asp:Button ID="btnSubmit" Text="Add Comment" Runat="server" onclick="btnSubmit_Click" /> <hr /> <asp:Label ID="lblComment" Runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html> Notice that the page above contains 5 controls. The page contains a standard ASP.NET TextBox, Button, and Label control. However, the page also contains an Ajax Control Toolkit ToolkitScriptManager control and HtmlEditorExtender control. The HTML Editor extender control extends the standard ASP.NET TextBox control. The HTML Editor TargetID attribute points at the TextBox control. Here’s the code-behind for the page above:   using System; namespace WebApplication1 { public partial class Default : System.Web.UI.Page { protected void btnSubmit_Click(object sender, EventArgs e) { lblComment.Text = txtComments.Text; } } }   Preventing XSS/JavaScript Injection Attacks If you use an HTML Editor -- any HTML Editor -- in a public facing web page then you are opening your website up to Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks. An evil hacker could submit HTML using the HTML Editor which contains JavaScript that steals private information such as other user’s passwords. Imagine, for example, that you create a web page which enables your customers to post comments about your website. Furthermore, imagine that you decide to redisplay the comments so every user can see them. In that case, a malicious user could submit JavaScript which displays a dialog asking for a user name and password. When an unsuspecting customer enters their secret password, the script could transfer the password to the hacker’s website. So how do you accept HTML content without opening your website up to JavaScript injection attacks? The Ajax Control Toolkit HTML Editor supports the Anti-XSS library. You can use the Anti-XSS library to sanitize any HTML content. The Anti-XSS library, for example, strips away all JavaScript automatically. You can download the Anti-XSS library from NuGet. Open the Package Manager Console and execute the command Install-Package AntiXSS: Adding the Anti-XSS library to your application adds two assemblies to your application named AntiXssLibrary.dll and HtmlSanitizationLibrary.dll. After you install the Anti-XSS library, you can configure the HTML Editor extender to use the Anti-XSS library your application’s web.config file: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <configuration> <configSections> <sectionGroup name="system.web"> <section name="sanitizer" requirePermission="false" type="AjaxControlToolkit.Sanitizer.ProviderSanitizerSection, AjaxControlToolkit"/> </sectionGroup> </configSections> <system.web> <sanitizer defaultProvider="AntiXssSanitizerProvider"> <providers> <add name="AntiXssSanitizerProvider" type="AjaxControlToolkit.Sanitizer.AntiXssSanitizerProvider"></add> </providers> </sanitizer> <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.0" /> <pages> <controls> <add tagPrefix="ajaxToolkit" assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" /> </controls> </pages> </system.web> </configuration> Summary In this blog entry, I described how you can quickly get started using the new HTML Editor extender – included with the July 2011 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit – by installing the Ajax Control Toolkit with NuGet. If you want to learn more about the HTML Editor then please take a look at the Ajax Control Toolkit sample site: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/HTMLEditorExtender/HTMLEditorExtender.aspx

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  • The Microsoft Ajax Library and Visual Studio Beta 2

    - by Stephen Walther
    Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 was released this week and one of the first things that I hope you notice is that it no longer contains the latest version of ASP.NET AJAX. What happened? Where did AJAX go? Just like Sting and The Police, just like Phil Collins and Genesis, just like Greg Page and the Wiggles, AJAX has gone out of band! We are starting a solo career. A Name Change First things first. In previous releases, our Ajax framework was named ASP.NET AJAX. We now have changed the name of the framework to the Microsoft Ajax Library. There are two reasons behind this name change. First, the members of the Ajax team got tired of explaining to everyone that our Ajax framework is not tied to the server-side ASP.NET framework. You can use the Microsoft Ajax Library with ASP.NET Web Forms, ASP.NET MVC, PHP, Ruby on RAILS, and even pure HTML applications. Our framework can be used as a client-only framework and having the word ASP.NET in our name was confusing people. Second, it was time to start spelling the word Ajax like everyone else. Notice that the name is the Microsoft Ajax Library and not the Microsoft AJAX library. Originally, Microsoft used upper case AJAX because AJAX originally was an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. And, according to Strunk and Wagnell, acronyms should be all uppercase. However, Ajax is one of those words that have migrated from acronym status to “just a word” status. So whenever you hear one of your co-workers talk about ASP.NET AJAX, gently correct your co-worker and say “It is now called the Microsoft Ajax Library.” Why OOB? But why move out-of-band (OOB)? The short answer is that we have had approximately 6 preview releases of the Microsoft Ajax Library over the last year. That’s a lot. We pride ourselves on being agile. Client-side technology evolves quickly. We want to be able to get a preview version of the Microsoft Ajax Library out to our customers, get feedback, and make changes to the library quickly. Shipping the Microsoft Ajax Library out-of-band keeps us agile and enables us to continue to ship new versions of the library even after ASP.NET 4 ships. Showing Love for JavaScript Developers One area in which we have received a lot of feedback is around making the Microsoft Ajax Library easier to use for developers who are comfortable with JavaScript. We also wanted to make it easy for jQuery developers to take advantage of the innovative features of the Microsoft Ajax Library. To achieve these goals, we’ve added the following features to the Microsoft Ajax Library (these features are included in the latest preview release that you can download right now): A simplified imperative syntax – We wanted to make it brain-dead simple to create client-side Ajax controls when writing JavaScript. A client script loader – We wanted the Microsoft Ajax Library to load all of the scripts required by a component or control automatically. jQuery integration – We love the jQuery selector syntax. We wanted to make it easy for jQuery developers to use the Microsoft Ajax Library without changing their programming style. If you are interested in learning about these new features of the Microsoft Ajax Library, I recommend that you read the following blog post by Scott Guthrie: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2009/10/15/announcing-microsoft-ajax-library-preview-6-and-the-microsoft-ajax-minifier.aspx Downloading the Latest Version of the Microsoft Ajax Library Currently, the best place to download the latest version of the Microsoft Ajax Library is directly from the ASP.NET CodePlex project: http://aspnet.codeplex.com/ As I write this, the current version is Preview 6. The next version is coming out at the PDC. Summary I’m really excited about the future of the Microsoft Ajax Library. Moving outside of the ASP.NET framework provides us the flexibility to remain agile and continue to innovate aggressively. The latest preview release of the Microsoft Ajax Library includes several major new features including a client script loader, jQuery integration, and a simplified client control creation syntax.

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  • Using jQuery to Insert a New Database Record

    - by Stephen Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to explore the easiest way of inserting a new record into a database using jQuery and .NET. I’m going to explore two approaches: using Generic Handlers and using a WCF service (In a future blog entry I’ll take a look at OData and WCF Data Services). Create the ASP.NET Project I’ll start by creating a new empty ASP.NET application with Visual Studio 2010. Select the menu option File, New Project and select the ASP.NET Empty Web Application project template. Setup the Database and Data Model I’ll use my standard MoviesDB.mdf movies database. This database contains one table named Movies that looks like this: I’ll use the ADO.NET Entity Framework to represent my database data: Select the menu option Project, Add New Item and select the ADO.NET Entity Data Model project item. Name the data model MoviesDB.edmx and click the Add button. In the Choose Model Contents step, select Generate from database and click the Next button. In the Choose Your Data Connection step, leave all of the defaults and click the Next button. In the Choose Your Data Objects step, select the Movies table and click the Finish button. Unfortunately, Visual Studio 2010 cannot spell movie correctly :) You need to click on Movy and change the name of the class to Movie. In the Properties window, change the Entity Set Name to Movies. Using a Generic Handler In this section, we’ll use jQuery with an ASP.NET generic handler to insert a new record into the database. A generic handler is similar to an ASP.NET page, but it does not have any of the overhead. It consists of one method named ProcessRequest(). Select the menu option Project, Add New Item and select the Generic Handler project item. Name your new generic handler InsertMovie.ashx and click the Add button. Modify your handler so it looks like Listing 1: Listing 1 – InsertMovie.ashx using System.Web; namespace WebApplication1 { /// <summary> /// Inserts a new movie into the database /// </summary> public class InsertMovie : IHttpHandler { private MoviesDBEntities _dataContext = new MoviesDBEntities(); public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context) { context.Response.ContentType = "text/plain"; // Extract form fields var title = context.Request["title"]; var director = context.Request["director"]; // Create movie to insert var movieToInsert = new Movie { Title = title, Director = director }; // Save new movie to DB _dataContext.AddToMovies(movieToInsert); _dataContext.SaveChanges(); // Return success context.Response.Write("success"); } public bool IsReusable { get { return true; } } } } In Listing 1, the ProcessRequest() method is used to retrieve a title and director from form parameters. Next, a new Movie is created with the form values. Finally, the new movie is saved to the database and the string “success” is returned. Using jQuery with the Generic Handler We can call the InsertMovie.ashx generic handler from jQuery by using the standard jQuery post() method. The following HTML page illustrates how you can retrieve form field values and post the values to the generic handler: Listing 2 – Default.htm <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Add Movie</title> <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> </head> <body> <form> <label>Title:</label> <input name="title" /> <br /> <label>Director:</label> <input name="director" /> </form> <button id="btnAdd">Add Movie</button> <script type="text/javascript"> $("#btnAdd").click(function () { $.post("InsertMovie.ashx", $("form").serialize(), insertCallback); }); function insertCallback(result) { if (result == "success") { alert("Movie added!"); } else { alert("Could not add movie!"); } } </script> </body> </html>     When you open the page in Listing 2 in a web browser, you get a simple HTML form: Notice that the page in Listing 2 includes the jQuery library. The jQuery library is included with the following SCRIPT tag: <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> The jQuery library is included on the Microsoft Ajax CDN so you can always easily include the jQuery library in your applications. You can learn more about the CDN at this website: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/cdn.ashx When you click the Add Movie button, the jQuery post() method is called to post the form data to the InsertMovie.ashx generic handler. Notice that the form values are serialized into a URL encoded string by calling the jQuery serialize() method. The serialize() method uses the name attribute of form fields and not the id attribute. Notes on this Approach This is a very low-level approach to interacting with .NET through jQuery – but it is simple and it works! And, you don’t need to use any JavaScript libraries in addition to the jQuery library to use this approach. The signature for the jQuery post() callback method looks like this: callback(data, textStatus, XmlHttpRequest) The second parameter, textStatus, returns the HTTP status code from the server. I tried returning different status codes from the generic handler with an eye towards implementing server validation by returning a status code such as 400 Bad Request when validation fails (see http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html ). I finally figured out that the callback is not invoked when the textStatus has any value other than “success”. Using a WCF Service As an alternative to posting to a generic handler, you can create a WCF service. You create a new WCF service by selecting the menu option Project, Add New Item and selecting the Ajax-enabled WCF Service project item. Name your WCF service InsertMovie.svc and click the Add button. Modify the WCF service so that it looks like Listing 3: Listing 3 – InsertMovie.svc using System.ServiceModel; using System.ServiceModel.Activation; namespace WebApplication1 { [ServiceBehavior(IncludeExceptionDetailInFaults=true)] [ServiceContract(Namespace = "")] [AspNetCompatibilityRequirements(RequirementsMode = AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsMode.Allowed)] public class MovieService { private MoviesDBEntities _dataContext = new MoviesDBEntities(); [OperationContract] public bool Insert(string title, string director) { // Create movie to insert var movieToInsert = new Movie { Title = title, Director = director }; // Save new movie to DB _dataContext.AddToMovies(movieToInsert); _dataContext.SaveChanges(); // Return movie (with primary key) return true; } } }   The WCF service in Listing 3 uses the Entity Framework to insert a record into the Movies database table. The service always returns the value true. Notice that the service in Listing 3 includes the following attribute: [ServiceBehavior(IncludeExceptionDetailInFaults=true)] You need to include this attribute if you want to get detailed error information back to the client. When you are building an application, you should always include this attribute. When you are ready to release your application, you should remove this attribute for security reasons. Using jQuery with the WCF Service Calling a WCF service from jQuery requires a little more work than calling a generic handler from jQuery. Here are some good blog posts on some of the issues with using jQuery with WCF: http://encosia.com/2008/06/05/3-mistakes-to-avoid-when-using-jquery-with-aspnet-ajax/ http://encosia.com/2008/03/27/using-jquery-to-consume-aspnet-json-web-services/ http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2007/04/04/json-hijacking-and-how-asp-net-ajax-1-0-mitigates-these-attacks.aspx http://www.west-wind.com/Weblog/posts/896411.aspx http://www.west-wind.com/weblog/posts/324917.aspx http://professionalaspnet.com/archive/tags/WCF/default.aspx The primary requirement when calling WCF from jQuery is that the request use JSON: The request must include a content-type:application/json header. Any parameters included with the request must be JSON encoded. Unfortunately, jQuery does not include a method for serializing JSON (Although, oddly, jQuery does include a parseJSON() method for deserializing JSON). Therefore, we need to use an additional library to handle the JSON serialization. The page in Listing 4 illustrates how you can call a WCF service from jQuery. Listing 4 – Default2.aspx <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Add Movie</title> <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="Scripts/json2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> </head> <body> <form> <label>Title:</label> <input id="title" /> <br /> <label>Director:</label> <input id="director" /> </form> <button id="btnAdd">Add Movie</button> <script type="text/javascript"> $("#btnAdd").click(function () { // Convert the form into an object var data = { title: $("#title").val(), director: $("#director").val() }; // JSONify the data data = JSON.stringify(data); // Post it $.ajax({ type: "POST", contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8", url: "MovieService.svc/Insert", data: data, dataType: "json", success: insertCallback }); }); function insertCallback(result) { // unwrap result result = result["d"]; if (result === true) { alert("Movie added!"); } else { alert("Could not add movie!"); } } </script> </body> </html> There are several things to notice about Listing 4. First, notice that the page includes both the jQuery library and Douglas Crockford’s JSON2 library: <script src="Scripts/json2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> You need to include the JSON2 library to serialize the form values into JSON. You can download the JSON2 library from the following location: http://www.json.org/js.html When you click the button to submit the form, the form data is converted into a JavaScript object: // Convert the form into an object var data = { title: $("#title").val(), director: $("#director").val() }; Next, the data is serialized into JSON using the JSON2 library: // JSONify the data var data = JSON.stringify(data); Finally, the form data is posted to the WCF service by calling the jQuery ajax() method: // Post it $.ajax({   type: "POST",   contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8",   url: "MovieService.svc/Insert",   data: data,   dataType: "json",   success: insertCallback }); You can’t use the standard jQuery post() method because you must set the content-type of the request to be application/json. Otherwise, the WCF service will reject the request for security reasons. For details, see the Scott Guthrie blog post: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2007/04/04/json-hijacking-and-how-asp-net-ajax-1-0-mitigates-these-attacks.aspx The insertCallback() method is called when the WCF service returns a response. This method looks like this: function insertCallback(result) {   // unwrap result   result = result["d"];   if (result === true) {       alert("Movie added!");   } else {     alert("Could not add movie!");   } } When we called the jQuery ajax() method, we set the dataType to JSON. That causes the jQuery ajax() method to deserialize the response from the WCF service from JSON into a JavaScript object automatically. The following value is passed to the insertCallback method: {"d":true} For security reasons, a WCF service always returns a response with a “d” wrapper. The following line of code removes the “d” wrapper: // unwrap result result = result["d"]; To learn more about the “d” wrapper, I recommend that you read the following blog posts: http://encosia.com/2009/02/10/a-breaking-change-between-versions-of-aspnet-ajax/ http://encosia.com/2009/06/29/never-worry-about-asp-net-ajaxs-d-again/ Summary In this blog entry, I explored two methods of inserting a database record using jQuery and .NET. First, we created a generic handler and called the handler from jQuery. This is a very low-level approach. However, it is a simple approach that works. Next, we looked at how you can call a WCF service using jQuery. This approach required a little more work because you need to serialize objects into JSON. We used the JSON2 library to perform the serialization. In the next blog post, I want to explore how you can use jQuery with OData and WCF Data Services.

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  • Metro: Introduction to the WinJS ListView Control

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to provide a quick introduction to the ListView control – just the bare minimum that you need to know to start using the control. When building Metro style applications using JavaScript, the ListView control is the primary control that you use for displaying lists of items. For example, if you are building a product catalog app, then you can use the ListView control to display the list of products. The ListView control supports several advanced features that I plan to discuss in future blog entries. For example, you can group the items in a ListView, you can create master/details views with a ListView, and you can efficiently work with large sets of items with a ListView. In this blog entry, we’ll keep things simple and focus on displaying a list of products. There are three things that you need to do in order to display a list of items with a ListView: Create a data source Create an Item Template Declare the ListView Creating the ListView Data Source The first step is to create (or retrieve) the data that you want to display with the ListView. In most scenarios, you will want to bind a ListView to a WinJS.Binding.List object. The nice thing about the WinJS.Binding.List object is that it enables you to take a standard JavaScript array and convert the array into something that can be bound to the ListView. It doesn’t matter where the JavaScript array comes from. It could be a static array that you declare or you could retrieve the array as the result of an Ajax call to a remote server. The following JavaScript file – named products.js – contains a list of products which can be bound to a ListView. (function () { "use strict"; var products = new WinJS.Binding.List([ { name: "Milk", price: 2.44 }, { name: "Oranges", price: 1.99 }, { name: "Wine", price: 8.55 }, { name: "Apples", price: 2.44 }, { name: "Steak", price: 1.99 }, { name: "Eggs", price: 2.44 }, { name: "Mushrooms", price: 1.99 }, { name: "Yogurt", price: 2.44 }, { name: "Soup", price: 1.99 }, { name: "Cereal", price: 2.44 }, { name: "Pepsi", price: 1.99 } ]); WinJS.Namespace.define("ListViewDemos", { products: products }); })(); The products variable represents a WinJS.Binding.List object. This object is initialized with a plain-old JavaScript array which represents an array of products. To avoid polluting the global namespace, the code above uses the module pattern and exposes the products using a namespace. The list of products is exposed to the world as ListViewDemos.products. To learn more about the module pattern and namespaces in WinJS, see my earlier blog entry: http://stephenwalther.com/blog/archive/2012/02/22/metro-namespaces-and-modules.aspx Creating the ListView Item Template The ListView control does not know how to render anything. It doesn’t know how you want each list item to appear. To get the ListView control to render something useful, you must create an Item Template. Here’s what our template for rendering an individual product looks like: <div id="productTemplate" data-win-control="WinJS.Binding.Template"> <div class="product"> <span data-win-bind="innerText:name"></span> <span data-win-bind="innerText:price"></span> </div> </div> This template displays the product name and price from the data source. Normally, you will declare your template in the same file as you declare the ListView control. In our case, both the template and ListView are declared in the default.html file. To learn more about templates, see my earlier blog entry: http://stephenwalther.com/blog/archive/2012/02/27/metro-using-templates.aspx Declaring the ListView The final step is to declare the ListView control in a page. Here’s the markup for declaring a ListView: <div data-win-control="WinJS.UI.ListView" data-win-options="{ itemDataSource:ListViewDemos.products.dataSource, itemTemplate:select('#productTemplate') }"> </div> You declare a ListView by adding the data-win-control to an HTML DIV tag. The data-win-options attribute is used to set two properties of the ListView. The ListView is associated with its data source with the itemDataSource property. Notice that the data source is ListViewDemos.products.dataSource and not just ListViewDemos.products. You need to associate the ListView with the dataSoure property. The ListView is associated with its item template with the help of the itemTemplate property. The ID of the item template — #productTemplate – is used to select the template from the page. Here’s what the complete version of the default.html page looks like: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <meta charset="utf-8"> <title>ListViewDemos</title> <!-- WinJS references --> <link href="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/css/ui-dark.css" rel="stylesheet"> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/js/base.js"></script> <script src="//Microsoft.WinJS.0.6/js/ui.js"></script> <!-- ListViewDemos references --> <link href="/css/default.css" rel="stylesheet"> <script src="/js/default.js"></script> <script src="/js/products.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <style type="text/css"> .product { width: 200px; height: 100px; border: white solid 1px; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="productTemplate" data-win-control="WinJS.Binding.Template"> <div class="product"> <span data-win-bind="innerText:name"></span> <span data-win-bind="innerText:price"></span> </div> </div> <div data-win-control="WinJS.UI.ListView" data-win-options="{ itemDataSource:ListViewDemos.products.dataSource, itemTemplate:select('#productTemplate') }"> </div> </body> </html> Notice that the page above includes a reference to the products.js file: <script src=”/js/products.js” type=”text/javascript”></script> The page above also contains a Template control which contains the ListView item template. Finally, the page includes the declaration of the ListView control. Summary The goal of this blog entry was to describe the minimal set of steps which you must complete to use the WinJS ListView control to display a simple list of items. You learned how to create a data source, declare an item template, and declare a ListView control.

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  • Using jQuery and OData to Insert a Database Record

    - by Stephen Walther
    In my previous blog entry, I explored two ways of inserting a database record using jQuery. We added a new Movie to the Movie database table by using a generic handler and by using a WCF service. In this blog entry, I want to take a brief look at how you can insert a database record using OData. Introduction to OData The Open Data Protocol (OData) was developed by Microsoft to be an open standard for communicating data across the Internet. Because the protocol is compatible with standards such as REST and JSON, the protocol is particularly well suited for Ajax. OData has undergone several name changes. It was previously referred to as Astoria and ADO.NET Data Services. OData is used by Sharepoint Server 2010, Azure Storage Services, Excel 2010, SQL Server 2008, and project code name “Dallas.” Because OData is being adopted as the public interface of so many important Microsoft technologies, it is a good protocol to learn. You can learn more about OData by visiting the following websites: http://www.odata.org http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/data/bb931106.aspx When using the .NET framework, you can easily expose database data through the OData protocol by creating a WCF Data Service. In this blog entry, I will create a WCF Data Service that exposes the Movie database table. Create the Database and Data Model The MoviesDB database is a simple database that contains the following Movies table: You need to create a data model to represent the MoviesDB database. In this blog entry, I use the ADO.NET Entity Framework to create my data model. However, WCF Data Services and OData are not tied to any particular OR/M framework such as the ADO.NET Entity Framework. For details on creating the Entity Framework data model for the MoviesDB database, see the previous blog entry. Create a WCF Data Service You create a new WCF Service by selecting the menu option Project, Add New Item and selecting the WCF Data Service item template (see Figure 1). Name the new WCF Data Service MovieService.svc. Figure 1 – Adding a WCF Data Service Listing 1 contains the default code that you get when you create a new WCF Data Service. There are two things that you need to modify. Listing 1 – New WCF Data Service File using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Data.Services; using System.Data.Services.Common; using System.Linq; using System.ServiceModel.Web; using System.Web; namespace WebApplication1 { public class MovieService : DataService< /* TODO: put your data source class name here */ > { // This method is called only once to initialize service-wide policies. public static void InitializeService(DataServiceConfiguration config) { // TODO: set rules to indicate which entity sets and service operations are visible, updatable, etc. // Examples: // config.SetEntitySetAccessRule("MyEntityset", EntitySetRights.AllRead); // config.SetServiceOperationAccessRule("MyServiceOperation", ServiceOperationRights.All); config.DataServiceBehavior.MaxProtocolVersion = DataServiceProtocolVersion.V2; } } } First, you need to replace the comment /* TODO: put your data source class name here */ with a class that represents the data that you want to expose from the service. In our case, we need to replace the comment with a reference to the MoviesDBEntities class generated by the Entity Framework. Next, you need to configure the security for the WCF Data Service. By default, you cannot query or modify the movie data. We need to update the Entity Set Access Rule to enable us to insert a new database record. The updated MovieService.svc is contained in Listing 2: Listing 2 – MovieService.svc using System.Data.Services; using System.Data.Services.Common; namespace WebApplication1 { public class MovieService : DataService<MoviesDBEntities> { public static void InitializeService(DataServiceConfiguration config) { config.SetEntitySetAccessRule("Movies", EntitySetRights.AllWrite); config.DataServiceBehavior.MaxProtocolVersion = DataServiceProtocolVersion.V2; } } } That’s all we have to do. We can now insert a new Movie into the Movies database table by posting a new Movie to the following URL: /MovieService.svc/Movies The request must be a POST request. The Movie must be represented as JSON. Using jQuery with OData The HTML page in Listing 3 illustrates how you can use jQuery to insert a new Movie into the Movies database table using the OData protocol. Listing 3 – Default.htm <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>jQuery OData Insert</title> <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="Scripts/json2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> </head> <body> <form> <label>Title:</label> <input id="title" /> <br /> <label>Director:</label> <input id="director" /> </form> <button id="btnAdd">Add Movie</button> <script type="text/javascript"> $("#btnAdd").click(function () { // Convert the form into an object var data = { Title: $("#title").val(), Director: $("#director").val() }; // JSONify the data var data = JSON.stringify(data); // Post it $.ajax({ type: "POST", contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8", url: "MovieService.svc/Movies", data: data, dataType: "json", success: insertCallback }); }); function insertCallback(result) { // unwrap result var newMovie = result["d"]; // Show primary key alert("Movie added with primary key " + newMovie.Id); } </script> </body> </html> jQuery does not include a JSON serializer. Therefore, we need to include the JSON2 library to serialize the new Movie that we wish to create. The Movie is serialized by calling the JSON.stringify() method: var data = JSON.stringify(data); You can download the JSON2 library from the following website: http://www.json.org/js.html The jQuery ajax() method is called to insert the new Movie. Notice that both the contentType and dataType are set to use JSON. The jQuery ajax() method is used to perform a POST operation against the URL MovieService.svc/Movies. Because the POST payload contains a JSON representation of a new Movie, a new Movie is added to the database table of Movies. When the POST completes successfully, the insertCallback() method is called. The new Movie is passed to this method. The method simply displays the primary key of the new Movie: Summary The OData protocol (and its enabling technology named WCF Data Services) works very nicely with Ajax. By creating a WCF Data Service, you can quickly expose your database data to an Ajax application by taking advantage of open standards such as REST, JSON, and OData. In the next blog entry, I want to take a closer look at how the OData protocol supports different methods of querying data.

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  • Ajax Control Toolkit and Superexpert

    - by Stephen Walther
    Microsoft has asked my company, Superexpert Consulting, to take ownership of the development and maintenance of the Ajax Control Toolkit moving forward. In this blog entry, I discuss our strategy for improving the Ajax Control Toolkit. Why the Ajax Control Toolkit? The Ajax Control Toolkit is one of the most popular projects on CodePlex. In fact, some have argued that it is among the most successful open-source projects of all time. It consistently receives over 3,500 downloads a day (not weekends -- workdays). A mind-boggling number of developers use the Ajax Control Toolkit in their ASP.NET Web Forms applications. Why does the Ajax Control Toolkit continue to be such a popular project? The Ajax Control Toolkit fills a strong need in the ASP.NET Web Forms world. The Toolkit enables Web Forms developers to build richly interactive JavaScript applications without writing any JavaScript. For example, by taking advantage of the Ajax Control Toolkit, a Web Forms developer can add modal dialogs, popup calendars, and client tabs to a web application simply by dragging web controls onto a page. The Ajax Control Toolkit is not for everyone. If you are comfortable writing JavaScript then I recommend that you investigate using jQuery plugins instead of the Ajax Control Toolkit. However, if you are a Web Forms developer and you don’t want to get your hands dirty writing JavaScript, then the Ajax Control Toolkit is a great solution. The Ajax Control Toolkit is Vast The Ajax Control Toolkit consists of 40 controls. That’s a lot of controls (For the sake of comparison, jQuery UI consists of only 8 controls – those slackers J). Furthermore, developers expect the Ajax Control Toolkit to work on browsers both old and new. For example, people expect the Ajax Control Toolkit to work with Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 9 and every version of Internet Explorer in between. People also expect the Ajax Control Toolkit to work on the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome. And, people expect the Ajax Control Toolkit to work with different operating systems. Yikes, that is a lot of combinations. The biggest challenge which my company faces in supporting the Ajax Control Toolkit is ensuring that the Ajax Control Toolkit works across all of these different browsers and operating systems. Testing, Testing, Testing Because we wanted to ensure that we could easily test the Ajax Control Toolkit with different browsers, the very first thing that we did was to set up a dedicated testing server. The dedicated server -- named Schizo -- hosts 4 virtual machines so that we can run Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Internet Explorer 9 at the same time (We also use the virtual machines to host the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari). The five developers on our team (plus me) can each publish to a separate FTP website on the testing server. That way, we can quickly test how changes to the Ajax Control Toolkit affect different browsers. QUnit Tests for the Ajax Control Toolkit Introducing regressions – introducing new bugs when trying to fix existing bugs – is the concern which prevents me from sleeping well at night. There are so many people using the Ajax Control Toolkit in so many unique scenarios, that it is difficult to make improvements to the Ajax Control Toolkit without introducing regressions. In order to avoid regressions, we decided early on that it was extremely important to build good test coverage for the 40 controls in the Ajax Control Toolkit. We’ve been focusing a lot of energy on building automated JavaScript unit tests which we can use to help us discover regressions. We decided to write the unit tests with the QUnit test framework. We picked QUnit because it is quickly becoming the standard unit testing framework in the JavaScript world. For example, it is the unit testing framework used by the jQuery team, the jQuery UI team, and many jQuery UI plugin developers. We had to make several enhancements to the QUnit framework in order to test the Ajax Control Toolkit. For example, QUnit does not support tests which include postbacks. We modified the QUnit framework so that it works with IFrames so we could perform postbacks in our automated tests. At this point, we have written hundreds of QUnit tests. For example, we have written 135 QUnit tests for the Accordion control. The QUnit tests are included with the Ajax Control Toolkit source code in a project named AjaxControlToolkit.Tests. You can run all of the QUnit tests contained in the project by opening the Default.aspx page. Automating the QUnit Tests across Multiple Browsers Automated tests are useless if no one ever runs them. In order for the QUnit tests to be useful, we needed an easy way to run the tests automatically against a matrix of browsers. We wanted to run the unit tests against Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari automatically. Expecting a developer to run QUnit tests against every browser after every check-in is just too much to expect. It takes 20 seconds to run the Accordion QUnit tests. We are testing against 8 browsers. That would require the developer to open 8 browsers and wait for the results after each change in code. Too much work. Therefore, we built a JavaScript Test Server. Our JavaScript Test Server project was inspired by John Resig’s TestSwarm project. The JavaScript Test Server runs our QUnit tests in a swarm of browsers (running on different operating systems) automatically. Here’s how the JavaScript Test Server works: 1. We created an ASP.NET page named RunTest.aspx that constantly polls the JavaScript Test Server for a new set of QUnit tests to run. After the RunTest.aspx page runs the QUnit tests, the RunTest.aspx records the test results back to the JavaScript Test Server. 2. We opened the RunTest.aspx page on instances of Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, FireFox, Chrome, Opera, Google, and Safari. Now that we have the JavaScript Test Server setup, we can run all of our QUnit tests against all of the browsers which we need to support with a single click of a button. A New Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit Each Month The Ajax Control Toolkit Issue Tracker contains over one thousand five hundred open issues and feature requests. So we have plenty of work on our plates J At CodePlex, anyone can vote for an issue to be fixed. Originally, we planned to fix issues in order of their votes. However, we quickly discovered that this approach was inefficient. Constantly switching back and forth between different controls was too time-consuming. It takes time to re-familiarize yourself with a control. Instead, we decided to focus on two or three controls each month and really focus on fixing the issues with those controls. This way, we can fix sets of related issues and avoid the randomization caused by context switching. Our team works in monthly sprints. We plan to do another release of the Ajax Control Toolkit each and every month. So far, we have competed one release of the Ajax Control Toolkit which was released on April 1, 2011. We plan to release a new version in early May. Conclusion Fortunately, I work with a team of smart developers. We currently have 5 developers working on the Ajax Control Toolkit (not full-time, they are also building two very cool ASP.NET MVC applications). All the developers who work on our team are required to have strong JavaScript, jQuery, and ASP.NET MVC skills. In the interest of being as transparent as possible about our work on the Ajax Control Toolkit, I plan to blog frequently about our team’s ongoing work. In my next blog entry, I plan to write about the two Ajax Control Toolkit controls which are the focus of our work for next release.

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  • PDC and Tech-Ed Europe Slides and Code

    - by Stephen Walther
    I spent close to three weeks on the road giving talks at Tech-Ed Europe (Berlin), PDC (Los Angeles), and the Los Angeles Code Camp (Los Angeles). I got to talk about two topics that I am very passionate about: ASP.NET MVC and Ajax. Thanks everyone for coming to all my talks! At PDC, I announced all of the new features of our ASP.NET Ajax Library. In particular, I made five big announcements: ASP.NET Ajax Library Beta Released – You can download the beta from Ajax.CodePlex.com ASP.NET Ajax Library includes the AJAX Control Toolkit – You can use the Ajax Control Toolkit with ASP.NET MVC. ASP.NET Ajax Library being contributed to the CodePlex Foundation – ASP.NET Ajax is the founding project for the CodePlex Foundation (see CodePlex.org) ASP.NET Ajax Library is receiving full product support – Complain to Microsoft Customer Service at midnight on Christmas ASP.NET Ajax Library supports jQuery integration – Use (almost) all of the Ajax Control Toolkit controls in jQuery For more details on the Ajax announcements, see James Senior’s blog entry on the Ajax announcements at: http://jamessenior.com/post/News-on-the-ASPNET-Ajax-Library.aspx In my MVC talks, I discussed the new features being introduced with ASP.NET MVC 2. Here are three of my favorite new features: Client Validation – Client validation done the right way. Do your validation in your model and let the validation bubble up to JavaScript code automatically. Areas – Divide your ASP.NET MVC application into sub-applications. Great for managing both medium and large projects. RenderAction() – Finally, a way to add content to master pages and multiple pages without doing anything strange or twisted. There are demos of all of these features in the MVC downloads below. Here are the power point and code from all of the talks: PDC – Introducing the New ASP.NET Ajax Library PDC – ASP.NET MVC: The New Stuff Tech-Ed Europe - What's New in Microsoft ASP.NET Model-View-Controller Tech-Ed Europe - Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX: Taking AJAX to the Next Level

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  • Using Durandal to Create Single Page Apps

    - by Stephen.Walther
    A few days ago, I gave a talk on building Single Page Apps on the Microsoft Stack. In that talk, I recommended that people use Knockout, Sammy, and RequireJS to build their presentation layer and use the ASP.NET Web API to expose data from their server. After I gave the talk, several people contacted me and suggested that I investigate a new open-source JavaScript library named Durandal. Durandal stitches together Knockout, Sammy, and RequireJS to make it easier to use these technologies together. In this blog entry, I want to provide a brief walkthrough of using Durandal to create a simple Single Page App. I am going to demonstrate how you can create a simple Movies App which contains (virtual) pages for viewing a list of movies, adding new movies, and viewing movie details. The goal of this blog entry is to give you a sense of what it is like to build apps with Durandal. Installing Durandal First things first. How do you get Durandal? The GitHub project for Durandal is located here: https://github.com/BlueSpire/Durandal The Wiki — located at the GitHub project — contains all of the current documentation for Durandal. Currently, the documentation is a little sparse, but it is enough to get you started. Instead of downloading the Durandal source from GitHub, a better option for getting started with Durandal is to install one of the Durandal NuGet packages. I built the Movies App described in this blog entry by first creating a new ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Application with the Basic Template. Next, I executed the following command from the Package Manager Console: Install-Package Durandal.StarterKit As you can see from the screenshot of the Package Manager Console above, the Durandal Starter Kit package has several dependencies including: · jQuery · Knockout · Sammy · Twitter Bootstrap The Durandal Starter Kit package includes a sample Durandal application. You can get to the Starter Kit app by navigating to the Durandal controller. Unfortunately, when I first tried to run the Starter Kit app, I got an error because the Starter Kit is hard-coded to use a particular version of jQuery which is already out of date. You can fix this issue by modifying the App_Start\DurandalBundleConfig.cs file so it is jQuery version agnostic like this: bundles.Add( new ScriptBundle("~/scripts/vendor") .Include("~/Scripts/jquery-{version}.js") .Include("~/Scripts/knockout-{version}.js") .Include("~/Scripts/sammy-{version}.js") // .Include("~/Scripts/jquery-1.9.0.min.js") // .Include("~/Scripts/knockout-2.2.1.js") // .Include("~/Scripts/sammy-0.7.4.min.js") .Include("~/Scripts/bootstrap.min.js") ); The recommendation is that you create a Durandal app in a folder off your project root named App. The App folder in the Starter Kit contains the following subfolders and files: · durandal – This folder contains the actual durandal JavaScript library. · viewmodels – This folder contains all of your application’s view models. · views – This folder contains all of your application’s views. · main.js — This file contains all of the JavaScript startup code for your app including the client-side routing configuration. · main-built.js – This file contains an optimized version of your application. You need to build this file by using the RequireJS optimizer (unfortunately, before you can run the optimizer, you must first install NodeJS). For the purpose of this blog entry, I wanted to start from scratch when building the Movies app, so I deleted all of these files and folders except for the durandal folder which contains the durandal library. Creating the ASP.NET MVC Controller and View A Durandal app is built using a single server-side ASP.NET MVC controller and ASP.NET MVC view. A Durandal app is a Single Page App. When you navigate between pages, you are not navigating to new pages on the server. Instead, you are loading new virtual pages into the one-and-only-one server-side view. For the Movies app, I created the following ASP.NET MVC Home controller: public class HomeController : Controller { public ActionResult Index() { return View(); } } There is nothing special about the Home controller – it is as basic as it gets. Next, I created the following server-side ASP.NET view. This is the one-and-only server-side view used by the Movies app: @{ Layout = null; } <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <title>Index</title> </head> <body> <div id="applicationHost"> Loading app.... </div> @Scripts.Render("~/scripts/vendor") <script type="text/javascript" src="~/App/durandal/amd/require.js" data-main="/App/main"></script> </body> </html> Notice that I set the Layout property for the view to the value null. If you neglect to do this, then the default ASP.NET MVC layout will be applied to the view and you will get the <!DOCTYPE> and opening and closing <html> tags twice. Next, notice that the view contains a DIV element with the Id applicationHost. This marks the area where virtual pages are loaded. When you navigate from page to page in a Durandal app, HTML page fragments are retrieved from the server and stuck in the applicationHost DIV element. Inside the applicationHost element, you can place any content which you want to display when a Durandal app is starting up. For example, you can create a fancy splash screen. I opted for simply displaying the text “Loading app…”: Next, notice the view above includes a call to the Scripts.Render() helper. This helper renders out all of the JavaScript files required by the Durandal library such as jQuery and Knockout. Remember to fix the App_Start\DurandalBundleConfig.cs as described above or Durandal will attempt to load an old version of jQuery and throw a JavaScript exception and stop working. Your application JavaScript code is not included in the scripts rendered by the Scripts.Render helper. Your application code is loaded dynamically by RequireJS with the help of the following SCRIPT element located at the bottom of the view: <script type="text/javascript" src="~/App/durandal/amd/require.js" data-main="/App/main"></script> The data-main attribute on the SCRIPT element causes RequireJS to load your /app/main.js JavaScript file to kick-off your Durandal app. Creating the Durandal Main.js File The Durandal Main.js JavaScript file, located in your App folder, contains all of the code required to configure the behavior of Durandal. Here’s what the Main.js file looks like in the case of the Movies app: require.config({ paths: { 'text': 'durandal/amd/text' } }); define(function (require) { var app = require('durandal/app'), viewLocator = require('durandal/viewLocator'), system = require('durandal/system'), router = require('durandal/plugins/router'); //>>excludeStart("build", true); system.debug(true); //>>excludeEnd("build"); app.start().then(function () { //Replace 'viewmodels' in the moduleId with 'views' to locate the view. //Look for partial views in a 'views' folder in the root. viewLocator.useConvention(); //configure routing router.useConvention(); router.mapNav("movies/show"); router.mapNav("movies/add"); router.mapNav("movies/details/:id"); app.adaptToDevice(); //Show the app by setting the root view model for our application with a transition. app.setRoot('viewmodels/shell', 'entrance'); }); }); There are three important things to notice about the main.js file above. First, notice that it contains a section which enables debugging which looks like this: //>>excludeStart(“build”, true); system.debug(true); //>>excludeEnd(“build”); This code enables debugging for your Durandal app which is very useful when things go wrong. When you call system.debug(true), Durandal writes out debugging information to your browser JavaScript console. For example, you can use the debugging information to diagnose issues with your client-side routes: (The funny looking //> symbols around the system.debug() call are RequireJS optimizer pragmas). The main.js file is also the place where you configure your client-side routes. In the case of the Movies app, the main.js file is used to configure routes for three page: the movies show, add, and details pages. //configure routing router.useConvention(); router.mapNav("movies/show"); router.mapNav("movies/add"); router.mapNav("movies/details/:id");   The route for movie details includes a route parameter named id. Later, we will use the id parameter to lookup and display the details for the right movie. Finally, the main.js file above contains the following line of code: //Show the app by setting the root view model for our application with a transition. app.setRoot('viewmodels/shell', 'entrance'); This line of code causes Durandal to load up a JavaScript file named shell.js and an HTML fragment named shell.html. I’ll discuss the shell in the next section. Creating the Durandal Shell You can think of the Durandal shell as the layout or master page for a Durandal app. The shell is where you put all of the content which you want to remain constant as a user navigates from virtual page to virtual page. For example, the shell is a great place to put your website logo and navigation links. The Durandal shell is composed from two parts: a JavaScript file and an HTML file. Here’s what the HTML file looks like for the Movies app: <h1>Movies App</h1> <div class="container-fluid page-host"> <!--ko compose: { model: router.activeItem, //wiring the router afterCompose: router.afterCompose, //wiring the router transition:'entrance', //use the 'entrance' transition when switching views cacheViews:true //telling composition to keep views in the dom, and reuse them (only a good idea with singleton view models) }--><!--/ko--> </div> And here is what the JavaScript file looks like: define(function (require) { var router = require('durandal/plugins/router'); return { router: router, activate: function () { return router.activate('movies/show'); } }; }); The JavaScript file contains the view model for the shell. This view model returns the Durandal router so you can access the list of configured routes from your shell. Notice that the JavaScript file includes a function named activate(). This function loads the movies/show page as the first page in the Movies app. If you want to create a different default Durandal page, then pass the name of a different age to the router.activate() method. Creating the Movies Show Page Durandal pages are created out of a view model and a view. The view model contains all of the data and view logic required for the view. The view contains all of the HTML markup for rendering the view model. Let’s start with the movies show page. The movies show page displays a list of movies. The view model for the show page looks like this: define(function (require) { var moviesRepository = require("repositories/moviesRepository"); return { movies: ko.observable(), activate: function() { this.movies(moviesRepository.listMovies()); } }; }); You create a view model by defining a new RequireJS module (see http://requirejs.org). You create a RequireJS module by placing all of your JavaScript code into an anonymous function passed to the RequireJS define() method. A RequireJS module has two parts. You retrieve all of the modules which your module requires at the top of your module. The code above depends on another RequireJS module named repositories/moviesRepository. Next, you return the implementation of your module. The code above returns a JavaScript object which contains a property named movies and a method named activate. The activate() method is a magic method which Durandal calls whenever it activates your view model. Your view model is activated whenever you navigate to a page which uses it. In the code above, the activate() method is used to get the list of movies from the movies repository and assign the list to the view model movies property. The HTML for the movies show page looks like this: <table> <thead> <tr> <th>Title</th><th>Director</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody data-bind="foreach:movies"> <tr> <td data-bind="text:title"></td> <td data-bind="text:director"></td> <td><a data-bind="attr:{href:'#/movies/details/'+id}">Details</a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <a href="#/movies/add">Add Movie</a> Notice that this is an HTML fragment. This fragment will be stuffed into the page-host DIV element in the shell.html file which is stuffed, in turn, into the applicationHost DIV element in the server-side MVC view. The HTML markup above contains data-bind attributes used by Knockout to display the list of movies (To learn more about Knockout, visit http://knockoutjs.com). The list of movies from the view model is displayed in an HTML table. Notice that the page includes a link to a page for adding a new movie. The link uses the following URL which starts with a hash: #/movies/add. Because the link starts with a hash, clicking the link does not cause a request back to the server. Instead, you navigate to the movies/add page virtually. Creating the Movies Add Page The movies add page also consists of a view model and view. The add page enables you to add a new movie to the movie database. Here’s the view model for the add page: define(function (require) { var app = require('durandal/app'); var router = require('durandal/plugins/router'); var moviesRepository = require("repositories/moviesRepository"); return { movieToAdd: { title: ko.observable(), director: ko.observable() }, activate: function () { this.movieToAdd.title(""); this.movieToAdd.director(""); this._movieAdded = false; }, canDeactivate: function () { if (this._movieAdded == false) { return app.showMessage('Are you sure you want to leave this page?', 'Navigate', ['Yes', 'No']); } else { return true; } }, addMovie: function () { // Add movie to db moviesRepository.addMovie(ko.toJS(this.movieToAdd)); // flag new movie this._movieAdded = true; // return to list of movies router.navigateTo("#/movies/show"); } }; }); The view model contains one property named movieToAdd which is bound to the add movie form. The view model also has the following three methods: 1. activate() – This method is called by Durandal when you navigate to the add movie page. The activate() method resets the add movie form by clearing out the movie title and director properties. 2. canDeactivate() – This method is called by Durandal when you attempt to navigate away from the add movie page. If you return false then navigation is cancelled. 3. addMovie() – This method executes when the add movie form is submitted. This code adds the new movie to the movie repository. I really like the Durandal canDeactivate() method. In the code above, I use the canDeactivate() method to show a warning to a user if they navigate away from the add movie page – either by clicking the Cancel button or by hitting the browser back button – before submitting the add movie form: The view for the add movie page looks like this: <form data-bind="submit:addMovie"> <fieldset> <legend>Add Movie</legend> <div> <label> Title: <input data-bind="value:movieToAdd.title" required /> </label> </div> <div> <label> Director: <input data-bind="value:movieToAdd.director" required /> </label> </div> <div> <input type="submit" value="Add" /> <a href="#/movies/show">Cancel</a> </div> </fieldset> </form> I am using Knockout to bind the movieToAdd property from the view model to the INPUT elements of the HTML form. Notice that the FORM element includes a data-bind attribute which invokes the addMovie() method from the view model when the HTML form is submitted. Creating the Movies Details Page You navigate to the movies details Page by clicking the Details link which appears next to each movie in the movies show page: The Details links pass the movie ids to the details page: #/movies/details/0 #/movies/details/1 #/movies/details/2 Here’s what the view model for the movies details page looks like: define(function (require) { var router = require('durandal/plugins/router'); var moviesRepository = require("repositories/moviesRepository"); return { movieToShow: { title: ko.observable(), director: ko.observable() }, activate: function (context) { // Grab movie from repository var movie = moviesRepository.getMovie(context.id); // Add to view model this.movieToShow.title(movie.title); this.movieToShow.director(movie.director); } }; }); Notice that the view model activate() method accepts a parameter named context. You can take advantage of the context parameter to retrieve route parameters such as the movie Id. In the code above, the context.id property is used to retrieve the correct movie from the movie repository and the movie is assigned to a property named movieToShow exposed by the view model. The movie details view displays the movieToShow property by taking advantage of Knockout bindings: <div> <h2 data-bind="text:movieToShow.title"></h2> directed by <span data-bind="text:movieToShow.director"></span> </div> Summary The goal of this blog entry was to walkthrough building a simple Single Page App using Durandal and to get a feel for what it is like to use this library. I really like how Durandal stitches together Knockout, Sammy, and RequireJS and establishes patterns for using these libraries to build Single Page Apps. Having a standard pattern which developers on a team can use to build new pages is super valuable. Once you get the hang of it, using Durandal to create new virtual pages is dead simple. Just define a new route, view model, and view and you are done. I also appreciate the fact that Durandal did not attempt to re-invent the wheel and that Durandal leverages existing JavaScript libraries such as Knockout, RequireJS, and Sammy. These existing libraries are powerful libraries and I have already invested a considerable amount of time in learning how to use them. Durandal makes it easier to use these libraries together without losing any of their power. Durandal has some additional interesting features which I have not had a chance to play with yet. For example, you can use the RequireJS optimizer to combine and minify all of a Durandal app’s code. Also, Durandal supports a way to create custom widgets (client-side controls) by composing widgets from a controller and view. You can download the code for the Movies app by clicking the following link (this is a Visual Studio 2012 project): Durandal Movie App

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  • An Introduction to Meteor

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The goal of this blog post is to give you a brief introduction to Meteor which is a framework for building Single Page Apps. In this blog entry, I provide a walkthrough of building a simple Movie database app. What is special about Meteor? Meteor has two jaw-dropping features: Live HTML – If you make any changes to the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or data on the server then every client shows the changes automatically without a browser refresh. For example, if you change the background color of a page to yellow then every open browser will show the new yellow background color without a refresh. Or, if you add a new movie to a collection of movies, then every open browser will display the new movie automatically. With Live HTML, users no longer need a refresh button. Changes to an application happen everywhere automatically without any effort. The Meteor framework handles all of the messy details of keeping all of the clients in sync with the server for you. Latency Compensation – When you modify data on the client, these modifications appear as if they happened on the server without any delay. For example, if you create a new movie then the movie appears instantly. However, that is all an illusion. In the background, Meteor updates the database with the new movie. If, for whatever reason, the movie cannot be added to the database then Meteor removes the movie from the client automatically. Latency compensation is extremely important for creating a responsive web application. You want the user to be able to make instant modifications in the browser and the framework to handle the details of updating the database without slowing down the user. Installing Meteor Meteor is licensed under the open-source MIT license and you can start building production apps with the framework right now. Be warned that Meteor is still in the “early preview” stage. It has not reached a 1.0 release. According to the Meteor FAQ, Meteor will reach version 1.0 in “More than a month, less than a year.” Don’t be scared away by that. You should be aware that, unlike most open source projects, Meteor has financial backing. The Meteor project received an $11.2 million round of financing from Andreessen Horowitz. So, it would be a good bet that this project will reach the 1.0 mark. And, if it doesn’t, the framework as it exists right now is still very powerful. Meteor runs on top of Node.js. You write Meteor apps by writing JavaScript which runs both on the client and on the server. You can build Meteor apps on Windows, Mac, or Linux (Although the support for Windows is still officially unofficial). If you want to install Meteor on Windows then download the MSI from the following URL: http://win.meteor.com/ If you want to install Meteor on Mac/Linux then run the following CURL command from your terminal: curl https://install.meteor.com | /bin/sh Meteor will install all of its dependencies automatically including Node.js. However, I recommend that you install Node.js before installing Meteor by installing Node.js from the following address: http://nodejs.org/ If you let Meteor install Node.js then Meteor won’t install NPM which is the standard package manager for Node.js. If you install Node.js and then you install Meteor then you get NPM automatically. Creating a New Meteor App To get a sense of how Meteor works, I am going to walk through the steps required to create a simple Movie database app. Our app will display a list of movies and contain a form for creating a new movie. The first thing that we need to do is create our new Meteor app. Open a command prompt/terminal window and execute the following command: Meteor create MovieApp After you execute this command, you should see something like the following: Follow the instructions: execute cd MovieApp to change to your MovieApp directory, and run the meteor command. Executing the meteor command starts Meteor on port 3000. Open up your favorite web browser and navigate to http://localhost:3000 and you should see the default Meteor Hello World page: Open up your favorite development environment to see what the Meteor app looks like. Open the MovieApp folder which we just created. Here’s what the MovieApp looks like in Visual Studio 2012: Notice that our MovieApp contains three files named MovieApp.css, MovieApp.html, and MovieApp.js. In other words, it contains a Cascading Style Sheet file, an HTML file, and a JavaScript file. Just for fun, let’s see how the Live HTML feature works. Open up multiple browsers and point each browser at http://localhost:3000. Now, open the MovieApp.html page and modify the text “Hello World!” to “Hello Cruel World!” and save the change. The text in all of the browsers should update automatically without a browser refresh. Pretty amazing, right? Controlling Where JavaScript Executes You write a Meteor app using JavaScript. Some of the JavaScript executes on the client (the browser) and some of the JavaScript executes on the server and some of the JavaScript executes in both places. For a super simple app, you can use the Meteor.isServer and Meteor.isClient properties to control where your JavaScript code executes. For example, the following JavaScript contains a section of code which executes on the server and a section of code which executes in the browser: if (Meteor.isClient) { console.log("Hello Browser!"); } if (Meteor.isServer) { console.log("Hello Server!"); } console.log("Hello Browser and Server!"); When you run the app, the message “Hello Browser!” is written to the browser JavaScript console. The message “Hello Server!” is written to the command/terminal window where you ran Meteor. Finally, the message “Hello Browser and Server!” is execute on both the browser and server and the message appears in both places. For simple apps, using Meteor.isClient and Meteor.isServer to control where JavaScript executes is fine. For more complex apps, you should create separate folders for your server and client code. Here are the folders which you can use in a Meteor app: · client – This folder contains any JavaScript which executes only on the client. · server – This folder contains any JavaScript which executes only on the server. · common – This folder contains any JavaScript code which executes on both the client and server. · lib – This folder contains any JavaScript files which you want to execute before any other JavaScript files. · public – This folder contains static application assets such as images. For the Movie App, we need the client, server, and common folders. Delete the existing MovieApp.js, MovieApp.html, and MovieApp.css files. We will create new files in the right locations later in this walkthrough. Combining HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Files Meteor combines all of your JavaScript files, and all of your Cascading Style Sheet files, and all of your HTML files automatically. If you want to create one humongous JavaScript file which contains all of the code for your app then that is your business. However, if you want to build a more maintainable application, then you should break your JavaScript files into many separate JavaScript files and let Meteor combine them for you. Meteor also combines all of your HTML files into a single file. HTML files are allowed to have the following top-level elements: <head> — All <head> files are combined into a single <head> and served with the initial page load. <body> — All <body> files are combined into a single <body> and served with the initial page load. <template> — All <template> files are compiled into JavaScript templates. Because you are creating a single page app, a Meteor app typically will contain a single HTML file for the <head> and <body> content. However, a Meteor app typically will contain several template files. In other words, all of the interesting stuff happens within the <template> files. Displaying a List of Movies Let me start building the Movie App by displaying a list of movies. In order to display a list of movies, we need to create the following four files: · client\movies.html – Contains the HTML for the <head> and <body> of the page for the Movie app. · client\moviesTemplate.html – Contains the HTML template for displaying the list of movies. · client\movies.js – Contains the JavaScript for supplying data to the moviesTemplate. · server\movies.js – Contains the JavaScript for seeding the database with movies. After you create these files, your folder structure should looks like this: Here’s what the client\movies.html file looks like: <head> <title>My Movie App</title> </head> <body> <h1>Movies</h1> {{> moviesTemplate }} </body>   Notice that it contains <head> and <body> top-level elements. The <body> element includes the moviesTemplate with the syntax {{> moviesTemplate }}. The moviesTemplate is defined in the client/moviesTemplate.html file: <template name="moviesTemplate"> <ul> {{#each movies}} <li> {{title}} </li> {{/each}} </ul> </template> By default, Meteor uses the Handlebars templating library. In the moviesTemplate above, Handlebars is used to loop through each of the movies using {{#each}}…{{/each}} and display the title for each movie using {{title}}. The client\movies.js JavaScript file is used to bind the moviesTemplate to the Movies collection on the client. Here’s what this JavaScript file looks like: // Declare client Movies collection Movies = new Meteor.Collection("movies"); // Bind moviesTemplate to Movies collection Template.moviesTemplate.movies = function () { return Movies.find(); }; The Movies collection is a client-side proxy for the server-side Movies database collection. Whenever you want to interact with the collection of Movies stored in the database, you use the Movies collection instead of communicating back to the server. The moviesTemplate is bound to the Movies collection by assigning a function to the Template.moviesTemplate.movies property. The function simply returns all of the movies from the Movies collection. The final file which we need is the server-side server\movies.js file: // Declare server Movies collection Movies = new Meteor.Collection("movies"); // Seed the movie database with a few movies Meteor.startup(function () { if (Movies.find().count() == 0) { Movies.insert({ title: "Star Wars", director: "Lucas" }); Movies.insert({ title: "Memento", director: "Nolan" }); Movies.insert({ title: "King Kong", director: "Jackson" }); } }); The server\movies.js file does two things. First, it declares the server-side Meteor Movies collection. When you declare a server-side Meteor collection, a collection is created in the MongoDB database associated with your Meteor app automatically (Meteor uses MongoDB as its database automatically). Second, the server\movies.js file seeds the Movies collection (MongoDB collection) with three movies. Seeding the database gives us some movies to look at when we open the Movies app in a browser. Creating New Movies Let me modify the Movies Database App so that we can add new movies to the database of movies. First, I need to create a new template file – named client\movieForm.html – which contains an HTML form for creating a new movie: <template name="movieForm"> <fieldset> <legend>Add New Movie</legend> <form> <div> <label> Title: <input id="title" /> </label> </div> <div> <label> Director: <input id="director" /> </label> </div> <div> <input type="submit" value="Add Movie" /> </div> </form> </fieldset> </template> In order for the new form to show up, I need to modify the client\movies.html file to include the movieForm.html template. Notice that I added {{> movieForm }} to the client\movies.html file: <head> <title>My Movie App</title> </head> <body> <h1>Movies</h1> {{> moviesTemplate }} {{> movieForm }} </body> After I make these modifications, our Movie app will display the form: The next step is to handle the submit event for the movie form. Below, I’ve modified the client\movies.js file so that it contains a handler for the submit event raised when you submit the form contained in the movieForm.html template: // Declare client Movies collection Movies = new Meteor.Collection("movies"); // Bind moviesTemplate to Movies collection Template.moviesTemplate.movies = function () { return Movies.find(); }; // Handle movieForm events Template.movieForm.events = { 'submit': function (e, tmpl) { // Don't postback e.preventDefault(); // create the new movie var newMovie = { title: tmpl.find("#title").value, director: tmpl.find("#director").value }; // add the movie to the db Movies.insert(newMovie); } }; The Template.movieForm.events property contains an event map which maps event names to handlers. In this case, I am mapping the form submit event to an anonymous function which handles the event. In the event handler, I am first preventing a postback by calling e.preventDefault(). This is a single page app, no postbacks are allowed! Next, I am grabbing the new movie from the HTML form. I’m taking advantage of the template find() method to retrieve the form field values. Finally, I am calling Movies.insert() to insert the new movie into the Movies collection. Here, I am explicitly inserting the new movie into the client-side Movies collection. Meteor inserts the new movie into the server-side Movies collection behind the scenes. When Meteor inserts the movie into the server-side collection, the new movie is added to the MongoDB database associated with the Movies app automatically. If server-side insertion fails for whatever reasons – for example, your internet connection is lost – then Meteor will remove the movie from the client-side Movies collection automatically. In other words, Meteor takes care of keeping the client Movies collection and the server Movies collection in sync. If you open multiple browsers, and add movies, then you should notice that all of the movies appear on all of the open browser automatically. You don’t need to refresh individual browsers to update the client-side Movies collection. Meteor keeps everything synchronized between the browsers and server for you. Removing the Insecure Module To make it easier to develop and debug a new Meteor app, by default, you can modify the database directly from the client. For example, you can delete all of the data in the database by opening up your browser console window and executing multiple Movies.remove() commands. Obviously, enabling anyone to modify your database from the browser is not a good idea in a production application. Before you make a Meteor app public, you should first run the meteor remove insecure command from a command/terminal window: Running meteor remove insecure removes the insecure package from the Movie app. Unfortunately, it also breaks our Movie app. We’ll get an “Access denied” error in our browser console whenever we try to insert a new movie. No worries. I’ll fix this issue in the next section. Creating Meteor Methods By taking advantage of Meteor Methods, you can create methods which can be invoked on both the client and the server. By taking advantage of Meteor Methods you can: 1. Perform form validation on both the client and the server. For example, even if an evil hacker bypasses your client code, you can still prevent the hacker from submitting an invalid value for a form field by enforcing validation on the server. 2. Simulate database operations on the client but actually perform the operations on the server. Let me show you how we can modify our Movie app so it uses Meteor Methods to insert a new movie. First, we need to create a new file named common\methods.js which contains the definition of our Meteor Methods: Meteor.methods({ addMovie: function (newMovie) { // Perform form validation if (newMovie.title == "") { throw new Meteor.Error(413, "Missing title!"); } if (newMovie.director == "") { throw new Meteor.Error(413, "Missing director!"); } // Insert movie (simulate on client, do it on server) return Movies.insert(newMovie); } }); The addMovie() method is called from both the client and the server. This method does two things. First, it performs some basic validation. If you don’t enter a title or you don’t enter a director then an error is thrown. Second, the addMovie() method inserts the new movie into the Movies collection. When called on the client, inserting the new movie into the Movies collection just updates the collection. When called on the server, inserting the new movie into the Movies collection causes the database (MongoDB) to be updated with the new movie. You must add the common\methods.js file to the common folder so it will get executed on both the client and the server. Our folder structure now looks like this: We actually call the addMovie() method within our client code in the client\movies.js file. Here’s what the updated file looks like: // Declare client Movies collection Movies = new Meteor.Collection("movies"); // Bind moviesTemplate to Movies collection Template.moviesTemplate.movies = function () { return Movies.find(); }; // Handle movieForm events Template.movieForm.events = { 'submit': function (e, tmpl) { // Don't postback e.preventDefault(); // create the new movie var newMovie = { title: tmpl.find("#title").value, director: tmpl.find("#director").value }; // add the movie to the db Meteor.call( "addMovie", newMovie, function (err, result) { if (err) { alert("Could not add movie " + err.reason); } } ); } }; The addMovie() method is called – on both the client and the server – by calling the Meteor.call() method. This method accepts the following parameters: · The string name of the method to call. · The data to pass to the method (You can actually pass multiple params for the data if you like). · A callback function to invoke after the method completes. In the JavaScript code above, the addMovie() method is called with the new movie retrieved from the HTML form. The callback checks for an error. If there is an error then the error reason is displayed in an alert (please don’t use alerts for validation errors in a production app because they are ugly!). Summary The goal of this blog post was to provide you with a brief walk through of a simple Meteor app. I showed you how you can create a simple Movie Database app which enables you to display a list of movies and create new movies. I also explained why it is important to remove the Meteor insecure package from a production app. I showed you how to use Meteor Methods to insert data into the database instead of doing it directly from the client. I’m very impressed with the Meteor framework. The support for Live HTML and Latency Compensation are required features for many real world Single Page Apps but implementing these features by hand is not easy. Meteor makes it easy.

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  • Install the Ajax Control Toolkit from NuGet

    - by Stephen Walther
    The Ajax Control Toolkit is now available from NuGet. This makes it super easy to add the latest version of the Ajax Control Toolkit to any Web Forms application. If you haven’t used NuGet yet, then you are missing out on a great tool which you can use with Visual Studio to add new features to an application. You can use NuGet with both ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Forms applications. NuGet is compatible with both Websites and Web Applications and it works with both C# and VB.NET applications. For example, I habitually use NuGet to add the latest version of ELMAH, Entity Framework, jQuery, jQuery UI, and jQuery Templates to applications that I create. To download NuGet, visit the NuGet website at: http://NuGet.org Imagine, for example, that you want to take advantage of the Ajax Control Toolkit RoundedCorners extender to create cross-browser compatible rounded corners in a Web Forms application. Follow these steps. Right click on your project in the Solution Explorer window and select the option Add Library Package Reference. In the Add Library Package Reference dialog, select the Online tab and enter AjaxControlToolkit in the search box: Click the Install button and the latest version of the Ajax Control Toolkit will be installed. Installing the Ajax Control Toolkit makes several modifications to your application. First, a reference to the Ajax Control Toolkit is added to your application. In a Web Application Project, you can see the new reference in the References folder: Installing the Ajax Control Toolkit NuGet package also updates your Web.config file. The tag prefix ajaxToolkit is registered so that you can easily use Ajax Control Toolkit controls within any page without adding a @Register directive to the page. <configuration> <system.web> <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.0" /> <pages> <controls> <add tagPrefix="ajaxToolkit" assembly="AjaxControlToolkit" namespace="AjaxControlToolkit" /> </controls> </pages> </system.web> </configuration> You should do a rebuild of your application by selecting the Visual Studio menu option Build, Rebuild Solution so that Visual Studio picks up on the new controls (You won’t get Intellisense for the Ajax Control Toolkit controls until you do a build). After you add the Ajax Control Toolkit to your application, you can start using any of the 40 Ajax Control Toolkit controls in your application (see http://www.asp.net/ajax/ajaxcontroltoolkit/samples/ for a reference for the controls). <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="WebForm1.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1.WebForm1" %> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head runat="server"> <title>Rounded Corners</title> <style type="text/css"> #pnl1 { background-color: gray; width: 200px; color:White; font: 14pt Verdana; } #pnl1_contents { padding: 10px; } </style> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <asp:Panel ID="pnl1" runat="server"> <div id="pnl1_contents"> I have rounded corners! </div> </asp:Panel> <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager ID="sm1" runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:RoundedCornersExtender TargetControlID="pnl1" runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html> The page contains the following three controls: Panel – The Panel control named pnl1 contains the content which appears with rounded corners. ToolkitScriptManager – Every page which uses the Ajax Control Toolkit must contain a single ToolkitScriptManager. The ToolkitScriptManager loads all of the JavaScript files used by the Ajax Control Toolkit. RoundedCornersExtender – This Ajax Control Toolkit extender targets the Panel control. It makes the Panel control appear with rounded corners. You can control the “roundiness” of the corners by modifying the Radius property. Notice that you get Intellisense when typing the Ajax Control Toolkit tags. As soon as you type <ajaxToolkit, all of the available Ajax Control Toolkit controls appear: When you open the page in a browser, then the contents of the Panel appears with rounded corners. The advantage of using the RoundedCorners extender is that it is cross-browser compatible. It works great with Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari even though different browsers implement rounded corners in different ways. The RoundedCorners extender even works with an ancient browser such as Internet Explorer 6. Getting the Latest Version of the Ajax Control Toolkit The Ajax Control Toolkit continues to evolve at a rapid pace. We are hard at work at fixing bugs and adding new features to the project. We plan to have a new release of the Ajax Control Toolkit each month. The easiest way to get the latest version of the Ajax Control Toolkit is to use NuGet. You can open the NuGet Add Library Package Reference dialog at any time to update the Ajax Control Toolkit to the latest version.

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  • Creating Custom Ajax Control Toolkit Controls

    - by Stephen Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to explain how you can extend the Ajax Control Toolkit with custom Ajax Control Toolkit controls. I describe how you can create the two halves of an Ajax Control Toolkit control: the server-side control extender and the client-side control behavior. Finally, I explain how you can use the new Ajax Control Toolkit control in a Web Forms page. At the end of this blog entry, there is a link to download a Visual Studio 2010 solution which contains the code for two Ajax Control Toolkit controls: SampleExtender and PopupHelpExtender. The SampleExtender contains the minimum skeleton for creating a new Ajax Control Toolkit control. You can use the SampleExtender as a starting point for your custom Ajax Control Toolkit controls. The PopupHelpExtender control is a super simple custom Ajax Control Toolkit control. This control extender displays a help message when you start typing into a TextBox control. The animated GIF below demonstrates what happens when you click into a TextBox which has been extended with the PopupHelp extender. Here’s a sample of a Web Forms page which uses the control: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="ShowPopupHelp.aspx.cs" Inherits="MyACTControls.Web.Default" %> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html > <head runat="server"> <title>Show Popup Help</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <act:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" /> <%-- Social Security Number --%> <asp:Label ID="lblSSN" Text="SSN:" AssociatedControlID="txtSSN" runat="server" /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtSSN" runat="server" /> <act:PopupHelpExtender id="ph1" TargetControlID="txtSSN" HelpText="Please enter your social security number." runat="server" /> <%-- Social Security Number --%> <asp:Label ID="lblPhone" Text="Phone Number:" AssociatedControlID="txtPhone" runat="server" /> <asp:TextBox ID="txtPhone" runat="server" /> <act:PopupHelpExtender id="ph2" TargetControlID="txtPhone" HelpText="Please enter your phone number." runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html> In the page above, the PopupHelp extender is used to extend the functionality of the two TextBox controls. When focus is given to a TextBox control, the popup help message is displayed. An Ajax Control Toolkit control extender consists of two parts: a server-side control extender and a client-side behavior. For example, the PopupHelp extender consists of a server-side PopupHelpExtender control (PopupHelpExtender.cs) and a client-side PopupHelp behavior JavaScript script (PopupHelpBehavior.js). Over the course of this blog entry, I describe how you can create both the server-side extender and the client-side behavior. Writing the Server-Side Code Creating a Control Extender You create a control extender by creating a class that inherits from the abstract ExtenderControlBase class. For example, the PopupHelpExtender control is declared like this: public class PopupHelpExtender: ExtenderControlBase { } The ExtenderControlBase class is part of the Ajax Control Toolkit. This base class contains all of the common server properties and methods of every Ajax Control Toolkit extender control. The ExtenderControlBase class inherits from the ExtenderControl class. The ExtenderControl class is a standard class in the ASP.NET framework located in the System.Web.UI namespace. This class is responsible for generating a client-side behavior. The class generates a call to the Microsoft Ajax Library $create() method which looks like this: <script type="text/javascript"> $create(MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior, {"HelpText":"Please enter your social security number.","id":"ph1"}, null, null, $get("txtSSN")); }); </script> The JavaScript $create() method is part of the Microsoft Ajax Library. The reference for this method can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb397487.aspx This method accepts the following parameters: type – The type of client behavior to create. The $create() method above creates a client PopupHelpBehavior. Properties – Enables you to pass initial values for the properties of the client behavior. For example, the initial value of the HelpText property. This is how server property values are passed to the client. Events – Enables you to pass client-side event handlers to the client behavior. References – Enables you to pass references to other client components. Element – The DOM element associated with the client behavior. This will be the DOM element associated with the control being extended such as the txtSSN TextBox. The $create() method is generated for you automatically. You just need to focus on writing the server-side control extender class. Specifying the Target Control All Ajax Control Toolkit extenders inherit a TargetControlID property from the ExtenderControlBase class. This property, the TargetControlID property, points at the control that the extender control extends. For example, the Ajax Control Toolkit TextBoxWatermark control extends a TextBox, the ConfirmButton control extends a Button, and the Calendar control extends a TextBox. You must indicate the type of control which your extender is extending. You indicate the type of control by adding a [TargetControlType] attribute to your control. For example, the PopupHelp extender is declared like this: [TargetControlType(typeof(TextBox))] public class PopupHelpExtender: ExtenderControlBase { } The PopupHelp extender can be used to extend a TextBox control. If you try to use the PopupHelp extender with another type of control then an exception is thrown. If you want to create an extender control which can be used with any type of ASP.NET control (Button, DataView, TextBox or whatever) then use the following attribute: [TargetControlType(typeof(Control))] Decorating Properties with Attributes If you decorate a server-side property with the [ExtenderControlProperty] attribute then the value of the property gets passed to the control’s client-side behavior. The value of the property gets passed to the client through the $create() method discussed above. The PopupHelp control contains the following HelpText property: [ExtenderControlProperty] [RequiredProperty] public string HelpText { get { return GetPropertyValue("HelpText", "Help Text"); } set { SetPropertyValue("HelpText", value); } } The HelpText property determines the help text which pops up when you start typing into a TextBox control. Because the HelpText property is decorated with the [ExtenderControlProperty] attribute, any value assigned to this property on the server is passed to the client automatically. For example, if you declare the PopupHelp extender in a Web Form page like this: <asp:TextBox ID="txtSSN" runat="server" /> <act:PopupHelpExtender id="ph1" TargetControlID="txtSSN" HelpText="Please enter your social security number." runat="server" />   Then the PopupHelpExtender renders the call to the the following Microsoft Ajax Library $create() method: $create(MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior, {"HelpText":"Please enter your social security number.","id":"ph1"}, null, null, $get("txtSSN")); You can see this call to the JavaScript $create() method by selecting View Source in your browser. This call to the $create() method calls a method named set_HelpText() automatically and passes the value “Please enter your social security number”. There are several attributes which you can use to decorate server-side properties including: ExtenderControlProperty – When a property is marked with this attribute, the value of the property is passed to the client automatically. ExtenderControlEvent – When a property is marked with this attribute, the property represents a client event handler. Required – When a value is not assigned to this property on the server, an error is displayed. DefaultValue – The default value of the property passed to the client. ClientPropertyName – The name of the corresponding property in the JavaScript behavior. For example, the server-side property is named ID (uppercase) and the client-side property is named id (lower-case). IDReferenceProperty – Applied to properties which refer to the IDs of other controls. URLProperty – Calls ResolveClientURL() to convert from a server-side URL to a URL which can be used on the client. ElementReference – Returns a reference to a DOM element by performing a client $get(). The WebResource, ClientResource, and the RequiredScript Attributes The PopupHelp extender uses three embedded resources named PopupHelpBehavior.js, PopupHelpBehavior.debug.js, and PopupHelpBehavior.css. The first two files are JavaScript files and the final file is a Cascading Style sheet file. These files are compiled as embedded resources. You don’t need to mark them as embedded resources in your Visual Studio solution because they get added to the assembly when the assembly is compiled by a build task. You can see that these files get embedded into the MyACTControls assembly by using Red Gate’s .NET Reflector tool: In order to use these files with the PopupHelp extender, you need to work with both the WebResource and the ClientScriptResource attributes. The PopupHelp extender includes the following three WebResource attributes. [assembly: WebResource("PopupHelp.PopupHelpBehavior.js", "text/javascript")] [assembly: WebResource("PopupHelp.PopupHelpBehavior.debug.js", "text/javascript")] [assembly: WebResource("PopupHelp.PopupHelpBehavior.css", "text/css", PerformSubstitution = true)] These WebResource attributes expose the embedded resource from the assembly so that they can be accessed by using the ScriptResource.axd or WebResource.axd handlers. The first parameter passed to the WebResource attribute is the name of the embedded resource and the second parameter is the content type of the embedded resource. The PopupHelp extender also includes the following ClientScriptResource and ClientCssResource attributes: [ClientScriptResource("MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior", "PopupHelp.PopupHelpBehavior.js")] [ClientCssResource("PopupHelp.PopupHelpBehavior.css")] Including these attributes causes the PopupHelp extender to request these resources when you add the PopupHelp extender to a page. If you open View Source in a browser which uses the PopupHelp extender then you will see the following link for the Cascading Style Sheet file: <link href="/WebResource.axd?d=0uONMsWXUuEDG-pbJHAC1kuKiIMteQFkYLmZdkgv7X54TObqYoqVzU4mxvaa4zpn5H9ch0RDwRYKwtO8zM5mKgO6C4WbrbkWWidKR07LD1d4n4i_uNB1mHEvXdZu2Ae5mDdVNDV53znnBojzCzwvSw2&amp;t=634417392021676003" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" /> You also will see the following script include for the JavaScript file: <script src="/ScriptResource.axd?d=pIS7xcGaqvNLFBvExMBQSp_0xR3mpDfS0QVmmyu1aqDUjF06TrW1jVDyXNDMtBHxpRggLYDvgFTWOsrszflZEDqAcQCg-hDXjun7ON0Ol7EXPQIdOe1GLMceIDv3OeX658-tTq2LGdwXhC1-dE7_6g2&amp;t=ffffffff88a33b59" type="text/javascript"></script> The JavaScrpt file returned by this request to ScriptResource.axd contains the combined scripts for any and all Ajax Control Toolkit controls in a page. By default, the Ajax Control Toolkit combines all of the JavaScript files required by a page into a single JavaScript file. Combining files in this way really speeds up how quickly all of the JavaScript files get delivered from the web server to the browser. So, by default, there will be only one ScriptResource.axd include for all of the JavaScript files required by a page. If you want to disable Script Combining, and create separate links, then disable Script Combining like this: <act:ToolkitScriptManager ID="tsm" runat="server" CombineScripts="false" /> There is one more important attribute used by Ajax Control Toolkit extenders. The PopupHelp behavior uses the following two RequirdScript attributes to load the JavaScript files which are required by the PopupHelp behavior: [RequiredScript(typeof(CommonToolkitScripts), 0)] [RequiredScript(typeof(PopupExtender), 1)] The first parameter of the RequiredScript attribute represents either the string name of a JavaScript file or the type of an Ajax Control Toolkit control. The second parameter represents the order in which the JavaScript files are loaded (This second parameter is needed because .NET attributes are intrinsically unordered). In this case, the RequiredScript attribute will load the JavaScript files associated with the CommonToolkitScripts type and the JavaScript files associated with the PopupExtender in that order. The PopupHelp behavior depends on these JavaScript files. Writing the Client-Side Code The PopupHelp extender uses a client-side behavior written with the Microsoft Ajax Library. Here is the complete code for the client-side behavior: (function () { // The unique name of the script registered with the // client script loader var scriptName = "PopupHelpBehavior"; function execute() { Type.registerNamespace('MyACTControls'); MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior = function (element) { /// <summary> /// A behavior which displays popup help for a textbox /// </summmary> /// <param name="element" type="Sys.UI.DomElement">The element to attach to</param> MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.initializeBase(this, [element]); this._textbox = Sys.Extended.UI.TextBoxWrapper.get_Wrapper(element); this._cssClass = "ajax__popupHelp"; this._popupBehavior = null; this._popupPosition = Sys.Extended.UI.PositioningMode.BottomLeft; this._popupDiv = null; this._helpText = "Help Text"; this._element$delegates = { focus: Function.createDelegate(this, this._element_onfocus), blur: Function.createDelegate(this, this._element_onblur) }; } MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.prototype = { initialize: function () { MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.callBaseMethod(this, 'initialize'); // Add event handlers for focus and blur var element = this.get_element(); $addHandlers(element, this._element$delegates); }, _ensurePopup: function () { if (!this._popupDiv) { var element = this.get_element(); var id = this.get_id(); this._popupDiv = $common.createElementFromTemplate({ nodeName: "div", properties: { id: id + "_popupDiv" }, cssClasses: ["ajax__popupHelp"] }, element.parentNode); this._popupBehavior = new $create(Sys.Extended.UI.PopupBehavior, { parentElement: element }, {}, {}, this._popupDiv); this._popupBehavior.set_positioningMode(this._popupPosition); } }, get_HelpText: function () { return this._helpText; }, set_HelpText: function (value) { if (this._HelpText != value) { this._helpText = value; this._ensurePopup(); this._popupDiv.innerHTML = value; this.raisePropertyChanged("Text") } }, _element_onfocus: function (e) { this.show(); }, _element_onblur: function (e) { this.hide(); }, show: function () { this._popupBehavior.show(); }, hide: function () { if (this._popupBehavior) { this._popupBehavior.hide(); } }, dispose: function() { var element = this.get_element(); $clearHandlers(element); if (this._popupBehavior) { this._popupBehavior.dispose(); this._popupBehavior = null; } } }; MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.registerClass('MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior', Sys.Extended.UI.BehaviorBase); Sys.registerComponent(MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior, { name: "popupHelp" }); } // execute if (window.Sys && Sys.loader) { Sys.loader.registerScript(scriptName, ["ExtendedBase", "ExtendedCommon"], execute); } else { execute(); } })();   In the following sections, we’ll discuss how this client-side behavior works. Wrapping the Behavior for the Script Loader The behavior is wrapped with the following script: (function () { // The unique name of the script registered with the // client script loader var scriptName = "PopupHelpBehavior"; function execute() { // Behavior Content } // execute if (window.Sys && Sys.loader) { Sys.loader.registerScript(scriptName, ["ExtendedBase", "ExtendedCommon"], execute); } else { execute(); } })(); This code is required by the Microsoft Ajax Library Script Loader. You need this code if you plan to use a behavior directly from client-side code and you want to use the Script Loader. If you plan to only use your code in the context of the Ajax Control Toolkit then you can leave out this code. Registering a JavaScript Namespace The PopupHelp behavior is declared within a namespace named MyACTControls. In the code above, this namespace is created with the following registerNamespace() method: Type.registerNamespace('MyACTControls'); JavaScript does not have any built-in way of creating namespaces to prevent naming conflicts. The Microsoft Ajax Library extends JavaScript with support for namespaces. You can learn more about the registerNamespace() method here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb397723.aspx Creating the Behavior The actual Popup behavior is created with the following code. MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior = function (element) { /// <summary> /// A behavior which displays popup help for a textbox /// </summmary> /// <param name="element" type="Sys.UI.DomElement">The element to attach to</param> MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.initializeBase(this, [element]); this._textbox = Sys.Extended.UI.TextBoxWrapper.get_Wrapper(element); this._cssClass = "ajax__popupHelp"; this._popupBehavior = null; this._popupPosition = Sys.Extended.UI.PositioningMode.BottomLeft; this._popupDiv = null; this._helpText = "Help Text"; this._element$delegates = { focus: Function.createDelegate(this, this._element_onfocus), blur: Function.createDelegate(this, this._element_onblur) }; } MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.prototype = { initialize: function () { MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.callBaseMethod(this, 'initialize'); // Add event handlers for focus and blur var element = this.get_element(); $addHandlers(element, this._element$delegates); }, _ensurePopup: function () { if (!this._popupDiv) { var element = this.get_element(); var id = this.get_id(); this._popupDiv = $common.createElementFromTemplate({ nodeName: "div", properties: { id: id + "_popupDiv" }, cssClasses: ["ajax__popupHelp"] }, element.parentNode); this._popupBehavior = new $create(Sys.Extended.UI.PopupBehavior, { parentElement: element }, {}, {}, this._popupDiv); this._popupBehavior.set_positioningMode(this._popupPosition); } }, get_HelpText: function () { return this._helpText; }, set_HelpText: function (value) { if (this._HelpText != value) { this._helpText = value; this._ensurePopup(); this._popupDiv.innerHTML = value; this.raisePropertyChanged("Text") } }, _element_onfocus: function (e) { this.show(); }, _element_onblur: function (e) { this.hide(); }, show: function () { this._popupBehavior.show(); }, hide: function () { if (this._popupBehavior) { this._popupBehavior.hide(); } }, dispose: function() { var element = this.get_element(); $clearHandlers(element); if (this._popupBehavior) { this._popupBehavior.dispose(); this._popupBehavior = null; } } }; The code above has two parts. The first part of the code is used to define the constructor function for the PopupHelp behavior. This is a factory method which returns an instance of a PopupHelp behavior: MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior = function (element) { } The second part of the code modified the prototype for the PopupHelp behavior: MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.prototype = { } Any code which is particular to a single instance of the PopupHelp behavior should be placed in the constructor function. For example, the default value of the _helpText field is assigned in the constructor function: this._helpText = "Help Text"; Any code which is shared among all instances of the PopupHelp behavior should be added to the PopupHelp behavior’s prototype. For example, the public HelpText property is added to the prototype: get_HelpText: function () { return this._helpText; }, set_HelpText: function (value) { if (this._HelpText != value) { this._helpText = value; this._ensurePopup(); this._popupDiv.innerHTML = value; this.raisePropertyChanged("Text") } }, Registering a JavaScript Class After you create the PopupHelp behavior, you must register the behavior as a class by using the Microsoft Ajax registerClass() method like this: MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior.registerClass('MyACTControls.PopupHelpBehavior', Sys.Extended.UI.BehaviorBase); This call to registerClass() registers PopupHelp behavior as a class which derives from the base Sys.Extended.UI.BehaviorBase class. Like the ExtenderControlBase class on the server side, the BehaviorBase class on the client side contains method used by every behavior. The documentation for the BehaviorBase class can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb311020.aspx The most important methods and properties of the BehaviorBase class are the following: dispose() – Use this method to clean up all resources used by your behavior. In the case of the PopupHelp behavior, the dispose() method is used to remote the event handlers created by the behavior and disposed the Popup behavior. get_element() -- Use this property to get the DOM element associated with the behavior. In other words, the DOM element which the behavior extends. get_id() – Use this property to the ID of the current behavior. initialize() – Use this method to initialize the behavior. This method is called after all of the properties are set by the $create() method. Creating Debug and Release Scripts You might have noticed that the PopupHelp behavior uses two scripts named PopupHelpBehavior.js and PopupHelpBehavior.debug.js. However, you never create these two scripts. Instead, you only create a single script named PopupHelpBehavior.pre.js. The pre in PopupHelpBehavior.pre.js stands for preprocessor. When you build the Ajax Control Toolkit (or the sample Visual Studio Solution at the end of this blog entry), a build task named JSBuild generates the PopupHelpBehavior.js release script and PopupHelpBehavior.debug.js debug script automatically. The JSBuild preprocessor supports the following directives: #IF #ELSE #ENDIF #INCLUDE #LOCALIZE #DEFINE #UNDEFINE The preprocessor directives are used to mark code which should only appear in the debug version of the script. The directives are used extensively in the Microsoft Ajax Library. For example, the Microsoft Ajax Library Array.contains() method is created like this: $type.contains = function Array$contains(array, item) { //#if DEBUG var e = Function._validateParams(arguments, [ {name: "array", type: Array, elementMayBeNull: true}, {name: "item", mayBeNull: true} ]); if (e) throw e; //#endif return (indexOf(array, item) >= 0); } Notice that you add each of the preprocessor directives inside a JavaScript comment. The comment prevents Visual Studio from getting confused with its Intellisense. The release version, but not the debug version, of the PopupHelpBehavior script is also minified automatically by the Microsoft Ajax Minifier. The minifier is invoked by a build step in the project file. Conclusion The goal of this blog entry was to explain how you can create custom AJAX Control Toolkit controls. In the first part of this blog entry, you learned how to create the server-side portion of an Ajax Control Toolkit control. You learned how to derive a new control from the ExtenderControlBase class and decorate its properties with the necessary attributes. Next, in the second part of this blog entry, you learned how to create the client-side portion of an Ajax Control Toolkit control by creating a client-side behavior with JavaScript. You learned how to use the methods of the Microsoft Ajax Library to extend your client behavior from the BehaviorBase class. Download the Custom ACT Starter Solution

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  • Metro: Introduction to CSS 3 Grid Layout

    - by Stephen.Walther
    The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with a quick introduction to the new W3C CSS 3 Grid Layout standard. You can use CSS Grid Layout in Metro style applications written with JavaScript to lay out the content of an HTML page. CSS Grid Layout provides you with all of the benefits of using HTML tables for layout without requiring you to actually use any HTML table elements. Doing Page Layouts without Tables Back in the 1990’s, if you wanted to create a fancy website, then you would use HTML tables for layout. For example, if you wanted to create a standard three-column page layout then you would create an HTML table with three columns like this: <table height="100%"> <tr> <td valign="top" width="300px" bgcolor="red"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </td> <td valign="top" bgcolor="green"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </td> <td valign="top" width="300px" bgcolor="blue"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </td> </tr> </table> When the table above gets rendered out to a browser, you end up with the following three-column layout: The width of the left and right columns is fixed – the width of the middle column expands or contracts depending on the width of the browser. Sometime around the year 2005, everyone decided that using tables for layout was a bad idea. Instead of using tables for layout — it was collectively decided by the spirit of the Web — you should use Cascading Style Sheets instead. Why is using HTML tables for layout bad? Using tables for layout breaks the semantics of the TABLE element. A TABLE element should be used only for displaying tabular information such as train schedules or moon phases. Using tables for layout is bad for accessibility (The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is explicit about this) and using tables for layout is bad for separating content from layout (see http://CSSZenGarden.com). Post 2005, anyone who used HTML tables for layout were encouraged to hold their heads down in shame. That’s all well and good, but the problem with using CSS for layout is that it can be more difficult to work with CSS than HTML tables. For example, to achieve a standard three-column layout, you either need to use absolute positioning or floats. Here’s a three-column layout with floats: <style type="text/css"> #container { min-width: 800px; } #leftColumn { float: left; width: 300px; height: 100%; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { background-color:green; height: 100%; } #rightColumn { float: right; width: 300px; height: 100%; background-color:blue; } </style> <div id="container"> <div id="rightColumn"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </div> <div id="leftColumn"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </div> <div id="middleColumn"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </div> </div> The page above contains four DIV elements: a container DIV which contains a leftColumn, middleColumn, and rightColumn DIV. The leftColumn DIV element is floated to the left and the rightColumn DIV element is floated to the right. Notice that the rightColumn DIV appears in the page before the middleColumn DIV – this unintuitive ordering is necessary to get the floats to work correctly (see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/533607/css-three-column-layout-problem). The page above (almost) works with the most recent versions of most browsers. For example, you get the correct three-column layout in both Firefox and Chrome: And the layout mostly works with Internet Explorer 9 except for the fact that for some strange reason the min-width doesn’t work so when you shrink the width of your browser, you can get the following unwanted layout: Notice how the middle column (the green column) bleeds to the left and right. People have solved these issues with more complicated CSS. For example, see: http://matthewjamestaylor.com/blog/holy-grail-no-quirks-mode.htm But, at this point, no one could argue that using CSS is easier or more intuitive than tables. It takes work to get a layout with CSS and we know that we could achieve the same layout more easily using HTML tables. Using CSS Grid Layout CSS Grid Layout is a new W3C standard which provides you with all of the benefits of using HTML tables for layout without the disadvantage of using an HTML TABLE element. In other words, CSS Grid Layout enables you to perform table layouts using pure Cascading Style Sheets. The CSS Grid Layout standard is still in a “Working Draft” state (it is not finalized) and it is located here: http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-grid-layout/ The CSS Grid Layout standard is only supported by Internet Explorer 10 and there are no signs that any browser other than Internet Explorer will support this standard in the near future. This means that it is only practical to take advantage of CSS Grid Layout when building Metro style applications with JavaScript. Here’s how you can create a standard three-column layout using a CSS Grid Layout: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <style type="text/css"> html, body, #container { height: 100%; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; } #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100%; } #leftColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; background-color:green; } #rightColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; background-color:blue; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="container"> <div id="leftColumn"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </div> <div id="middleColumn"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </div> <div id="rightColumn"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </div> </div> </body> </html> When the page above is rendered in Internet Explorer 10, you get a standard three-column layout: The page above contains four DIV elements: a container DIV which contains a leftColumn DIV, middleColumn DIV, and rightColumn DIV. The container DIV is set to Grid display mode with the following CSS rule: #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100%; } The display property is set to the value “-ms-grid”. This property causes the container DIV to lay out its child elements in a grid. (Notice that you use “-ms-grid” instead of “grid”. The “-ms-“ prefix is used because the CSS Grid Layout standard is still preliminary. This implementation only works with IE10 and it might change before the final release.) The grid columns and rows are defined with the “-ms-grid-columns” and “-ms-grid-rows” properties. The style rule above creates a grid with three columns and one row. The left and right columns are fixed sized at 300 pixels. The middle column sizes automatically depending on the remaining space available. The leftColumn, middleColumn, and rightColumn DIVs are positioned within the container grid element with the following CSS rules: #leftColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; background-color:green; } #rightColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; background-color:blue; } The “-ms-grid-column” property is used to specify the column associated with the element selected by the style sheet selector. The leftColumn DIV is positioned in the first grid column, the middleColumn DIV is positioned in the second grid column, and the rightColumn DIV is positioned in the third grid column. I find using CSS Grid Layout to be just as intuitive as using an HTML table for layout. You define your columns and rows and then you position different elements within these columns and rows. Very straightforward. Creating Multiple Columns and Rows In the previous section, we created a super simple three-column layout. This layout contained only a single row. In this section, let’s create a slightly more complicated layout which contains more than one row: The following page contains a header row, a content row, and a footer row. The content row contains three columns: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <style type="text/css"> html, body, #container { height: 100%; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; } #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100px 1fr 100px; } #header { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-column-span: 3; -ms-grid-row: 1; background-color: yellow; } #leftColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-row: 2; background-color:red; } #middleColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; -ms-grid-row: 2; background-color:green; } #rightColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; -ms-grid-row: 2; background-color:blue; } #footer { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-column-span: 3; -ms-grid-row: 3; background-color: orange; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="container"> <div id="header"> Header, Header, Header </div> <div id="leftColumn"> Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column, Left Column </div> <div id="middleColumn"> Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column, Middle Column </div> <div id="rightColumn"> Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column, Right Column </div> <div id="footer"> Footer, Footer, Footer </div> </div> </body> </html> In the page above, the grid layout is created with the following rule which creates a grid with three rows and three columns: #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 300px auto 300px; -ms-grid-rows: 100px 1fr 100px; } The header is created with the following rule: #header { -ms-grid-column: 1; -ms-grid-column-span: 3; -ms-grid-row: 1; background-color: yellow; } The header is positioned in column 1 and row 1. Furthermore, notice that the “-ms-grid-column-span” property is used to span the header across three columns. CSS Grid Layout and Fractional Units When you use CSS Grid Layout, you can take advantage of fractional units. Fractional units provide you with an easy way of dividing up remaining space in a page. Imagine, for example, that you want to create a three-column page layout. You want the size of the first column to be fixed at 200 pixels and you want to divide the remaining space among the remaining three columns. The width of the second column is equal to the combined width of the third and fourth columns. The following CSS rule creates four columns with the desired widths: #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 200px 2fr 1fr 1fr; -ms-grid-rows: 1fr; } The fr unit represents a fraction. The grid above contains four columns. The second column is two times the size (2fr) of the third (1fr) and fourth (1fr) columns. When you use the fractional unit, the remaining space is divided up using fractional amounts. Notice that the single row is set to a height of 1fr. The single grid row gobbles up the entire vertical space. Here’s the entire HTML page: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <style type="text/css"> html, body, #container { height: 100%; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; } #container { display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 200px 2fr 1fr 1fr; -ms-grid-rows: 1fr; } #firstColumn { -ms-grid-column: 1; background-color:red; } #secondColumn { -ms-grid-column: 2; background-color:green; } #thirdColumn { -ms-grid-column: 3; background-color:blue; } #fourthColumn { -ms-grid-column: 4; background-color:orange; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="container"> <div id="firstColumn"> First Column, First Column, First Column </div> <div id="secondColumn"> Second Column, Second Column, Second Column </div> <div id="thirdColumn"> Third Column, Third Column, Third Column </div> <div id="fourthColumn"> Fourth Column, Fourth Column, Fourth Column </div> </div> </body> </html>   Summary There is more in the CSS 3 Grid Layout standard than discussed in this blog post. My goal was to describe the basics. If you want to learn more than you can read through the entire standard at http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-grid-layout/ In this blog post, I described some of the difficulties that you might encounter when attempting to replace HTML tables with Cascading Style Sheets when laying out a web page. I explained how you can take advantage of the CSS 3 Grid Layout standard to avoid these problems when building Metro style applications using JavaScript. CSS 3 Grid Layout provides you with all of the benefits of using HTML tables for laying out a page without requiring you to use HTML table elements.

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  • July 2013 Release of the Ajax Control Toolkit

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I’m super excited to announce the July 2013 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit. You can download the new version of the Ajax Control Toolkit from CodePlex (http://ajaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com) or install the Ajax Control Toolkit from NuGet: With this release, we have completely rewritten the way the Ajax Control Toolkit combines, minifies, gzips, and caches JavaScript files. The goal of this release was to improve the performance of the Ajax Control Toolkit and make it easier to create custom Ajax Control Toolkit controls. Improving Ajax Control Toolkit Performance Previous releases of the Ajax Control Toolkit optimized performance for a single page but not multiple pages. When you visited each page in an app, the Ajax Control Toolkit would combine all of the JavaScript files required by the controls in the page into a new JavaScript file. So, even if every page in your app used the exact same controls, visitors would need to download a new combined Ajax Control Toolkit JavaScript file for each page visited. Downloading new scripts for each page that you visit does not lead to good performance. In general, you want to make as few requests for JavaScript files as possible and take maximum advantage of caching. For most apps, you would get much better performance if you could specify all of the Ajax Control Toolkit controls that you need for your entire app and create a single JavaScript file which could be used across your entire app. What a great idea! Introducing Control Bundles With this release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, we introduce the concept of Control Bundles. You define a Control Bundle to indicate the set of Ajax Control Toolkit controls that you want to use in your app. You define Control Bundles in a file located in the root of your application named AjaxControlToolkit.config. For example, the following AjaxControlToolkit.config file defines two Control Bundles: <ajaxControlToolkit> <controlBundles> <controlBundle> <control name="CalendarExtender" /> <control name="ComboBox" /> </controlBundle> <controlBundle name="CalendarBundle"> <control name="CalendarExtender"></control> </controlBundle> </controlBundles> </ajaxControlToolkit> The first Control Bundle in the file above does not have a name. When a Control Bundle does not have a name then it becomes the default Control Bundle for your entire application. The default Control Bundle is used by the ToolkitScriptManager by default. For example, the default Control Bundle is used when you declare the ToolkitScriptManager like this:  <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager runat=”server” /> The default Control Bundle defined in the file above includes all of the scripts required for the CalendarExtender and ComboBox controls. All of the scripts required for both of these controls are combined, minified, gzipped, and cached automatically. The AjaxControlToolkit.config file above also defines a second Control Bundle with the name CalendarBundle. Here’s how you would use the CalendarBundle with the ToolkitScriptManager: <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager runat="server"> <ControlBundles> <ajaxToolkit:ControlBundle Name="CalendarBundle" /> </ControlBundles> </ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager> In this case, only the JavaScript files required by the CalendarExtender control, and not the ComboBox, would be downloaded because the CalendarBundle lists only the CalendarExtender control. You can use multiple named control bundles with the ToolkitScriptManager and you will get all of the scripts from both bundles. Support for ControlBundles is a new feature of the ToolkitScriptManager that we introduced with this release. We extended the ToolkitScriptManager to support the Control Bundles that you can define in the AjaxControlToolkit.config file. Let me be explicit about the rules for Control Bundles: 1. If you do not create an AjaxControlToolkit.config file then the ToolkitScriptManager will download all of the JavaScript files required for all of the controls in the Ajax Control Toolkit. This is the easy but low performance option. 2. If you create an AjaxControlToolkit.config file and create a ControlBundle without a name then the ToolkitScriptManager uses that Control Bundle by default. For example, if you plan to use only the CalendarExtender and ComboBox controls in your application then you should create a default bundle that lists only these two controls. 3. If you create an AjaxControlToolkit.config file and create one or more named Control Bundles then you can use these named Control Bundles with the ToolkitScriptManager. For example, you might want to use different subsets of the Ajax Control Toolkit controls in different sections of your app. I should also mention that you can use the AjaxControlToolkit.config file with custom Ajax Control Toolkit controls – new controls that you write. For example, here is how you would register a set of custom controls from an assembly named MyAssembly: <ajaxControlToolkit> <controlBundles> <controlBundle name="CustomBundle"> <control name="MyAssembly.MyControl1" assembly="MyAssembly" /> <control name="MyAssembly.MyControl2" assembly="MyAssembly" /> </controlBundle> </ajaxControlToolkit> What about ASP.NET Bundling and Minification? The idea of Control Bundles is similar to the idea of Script Bundles used in ASP.NET Bundling and Minification. You might be wondering why we didn’t simply use Script Bundles with the Ajax Control Toolkit. There were several reasons. First, ASP.NET Bundling does not work with scripts embedded in an assembly. Because all of the scripts used by the Ajax Control Toolkit are embedded in the AjaxControlToolkit.dll assembly, ASP.NET Bundling was not an option. Second, Web Forms developers typically think at the level of controls and not at the level of individual scripts. We believe that it makes more sense for a Web Forms developer to specify the controls that they need in an app (CalendarExtender, ToggleButton) instead of the individual scripts that they need in an app (the 15 or so scripts required by the CalenderExtender). Finally, ASP.NET Bundling does not work with older versions of ASP.NET. The Ajax Control Toolkit needs to support ASP.NET 3.5, ASP.NET 4.0, and ASP.NET 4.5. Therefore, using ASP.NET Bundling was not an option. There is nothing wrong with using Control Bundles and Script Bundles side-by-side. The ASP.NET 4.0 and 4.5 ToolkitScriptManager supports both approaches to bundling scripts. Using the AjaxControlToolkit.CombineScriptsHandler Browsers cache JavaScript files by URL. For example, if you request the exact same JavaScript file from two different URLs then the exact same JavaScript file must be downloaded twice. However, if you request the same JavaScript file from the same URL more than once then it only needs to be downloaded once. With this release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, we have introduced a new HTTP Handler named the AjaxControlToolkit.CombineScriptsHandler. If you register this handler in your web.config file then the Ajax Control Toolkit can cache your JavaScript files for up to one year in the future automatically. You should register the handler in two places in your web.config file: in the <httpHandlers> section and the <system.webServer> section (don’t forget to register the handler for the AjaxFileUpload while you are there!). <httpHandlers> <add verb="*" path="AjaxFileUploadHandler.axd" type="AjaxControlToolkit.AjaxFileUploadHandler, AjaxControlToolkit" /> <add verb="*" path="CombineScriptsHandler.axd" type="AjaxControlToolkit.CombineScriptsHandler, AjaxControlToolkit" /> </httpHandlers> <system.webServer> <validation validateIntegratedModeConfiguration="false" /> <handlers> <add name="AjaxFileUploadHandler" verb="*" path="AjaxFileUploadHandler.axd" type="AjaxControlToolkit.AjaxFileUploadHandler, AjaxControlToolkit" /> <add name="CombineScriptsHandler" verb="*" path="CombineScriptsHandler.axd" type="AjaxControlToolkit.CombineScriptsHandler, AjaxControlToolkit" /> </handlers> <system.webServer> The handler is only used in release mode and not in debug mode. You can enable release mode in your web.config file like this: <compilation debug=”false”> You also can override the web.config setting with the ToolkitScriptManager like this: <act:ToolkitScriptManager ScriptMode=”Release” runat=”server”/> In release mode, scripts are combined, minified, gzipped, and cached with a far future cache header automatically. When the handler is not registered, scripts are requested from the page that contains the ToolkitScriptManager: When the handler is registered in the web.config file, scripts are requested from the handler: If you want the best performance, always register the handler. That way, the Ajax Control Toolkit can cache the bundled scripts across page requests with a far future cache header. If you don’t register the handler then a new JavaScript file must be downloaded whenever you travel to a new page. Dynamic Bundling and Minification Previous releases of the Ajax Control Toolkit used a Visual Studio build task to minify the JavaScript files used by the Ajax Control Toolkit controls. The disadvantage of this approach to minification is that it made it difficult to create custom Ajax Control Toolkit controls. Starting with this release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, we support dynamic minification. The JavaScript files in the Ajax Control Toolkit are minified at runtime instead of at build time. Scripts are minified only when in release mode. You can specify release mode with the web.config file or with the ToolkitScriptManager ScriptMode property. Because of this change, the Ajax Control Toolkit now depends on the Ajax Minifier. You must include a reference to AjaxMin.dll in your Visual Studio project or you cannot take advantage of runtime minification. If you install the Ajax Control Toolkit from NuGet then AjaxMin.dll is added to your project as a NuGet dependency automatically. If you download the Ajax Control Toolkit from CodePlex then the AjaxMin.dll is included in the download. This change means that you no longer need to do anything special to create a custom Ajax Control Toolkit. As an open source project, we hope more people will contribute to the Ajax Control Toolkit (Yes, I am looking at you.) We have been working hard on making it much easier to create new custom controls. More on this subject with the next release of the Ajax Control Toolkit. A Single Visual Studio Solution We also made substantial changes to the Visual Studio solution and projects used by the Ajax Control Toolkit with this release. This change will matter to you only if you need to work directly with the Ajax Control Toolkit source code. In previous releases of the Ajax Control Toolkit, we maintained separate solution and project files for ASP.NET 3.5, ASP.NET 4.0, and ASP.NET 4.5. Starting with this release, we now support a single Visual Studio 2012 solution that takes advantage of multi-targeting to build ASP.NET 3.5, ASP.NET 4.0, and ASP.NET 4.5 versions of the toolkit. This change means that you need Visual Studio 2012 to open the Ajax Control Toolkit project downloaded from CodePlex. For details on how we setup multi-targeting, please see Budi Adiono’s blog post: http://www.budiadiono.com/2013/07/25/visual-studio-2012-multi-targeting-framework-project/ Summary You can take advantage of this release of the Ajax Control Toolkit to significantly improve the performance of your website. You need to do two things: 1) You need to create an AjaxControlToolkit.config file which lists the controls used in your app and 2) You need to register the AjaxControlToolkit.CombineScriptsHandler in the web.config file. We made substantial changes to the Ajax Control Toolkit with this release. We think these changes will result in much better performance for multipage apps and make the process of building custom controls much easier. As always, we look forward to hearing your feedback.

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  • Ajax Control Toolkit Now Supports jQuery

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I’m excited to announce the September 2013 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit, which now supports building new Ajax Control Toolkit controls with jQuery. You can download the latest release of the Ajax Control Toolkit from http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com or you can install the Ajax Control Toolkit directly within Visual Studio by executing the following NuGet command: The New jQuery Extender Base Class This release of the Ajax Control Toolkit introduces a new jQueryExtender base class. This new base class enables you to create Ajax Control Toolkit controls with jQuery instead of the Microsoft Ajax Library. Currently, only one control in the Ajax Control Toolkit has been rewritten to use the new jQueryExtender base class (only one control has been jQueryized). The ToggleButton control is the first of the Ajax Control Toolkit controls to undergo this dramatic transformation. All of the other controls in the Ajax Control Toolkit are written using the Microsoft Ajax Library. We hope to gradually rewrite these controls as jQuery controls over time. You can view the new jQuery ToggleButton live at the Ajax Control Toolkit sample site: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/ToggleButton/ToggleButton.aspx Why are we rewriting Ajax Control Toolkits with jQuery? There are very few developers actively working with the Microsoft Ajax Library while there are thousands of developers actively working with jQuery. Because we want talented developers in the community to continue to contribute to the Ajax Control Toolkit, and because almost all JavaScript developers are familiar with jQuery, it makes sense to support jQuery with the Ajax Control Toolkit. Also, we believe that the Ajax Control Toolkit is a great framework for Web Forms developers who want to build new ASP.NET controls that use JavaScript. The Ajax Control Toolkit has great features such as automatic bundling, minification, caching, and compression. We want to make it easy for ASP.NET developers to build new controls that take advantage of these features. Instantiating Controls with data-* Attributes We took advantage of the new JQueryExtender base class to change the way that Ajax Control Toolkit controls are instantiated. In the past, adding an Ajax Control Toolkit to a page resulted in inline JavaScript being injected into the page. For example, adding the ToggleButton control to a page injected the following HTML and script: <input id="ctl00_SampleContent_CheckBox1" name="ctl00$SampleContent$CheckBox1" type="checkbox" checked="checked" /> <script type="text/javascript"> //<![CDATA[ Sys.Application.add_init(function() { $create(Sys.Extended.UI.ToggleButtonBehavior, {"CheckedImageAlternateText":"Check", "CheckedImageUrl":"ToggleButton_Checked.gif", "ImageHeight":19, "ImageWidth":19, "UncheckedImageAlternateText":"UnCheck", "UncheckedImageUrl":"ToggleButton_Unchecked.gif", "id":"ctl00_SampleContent_ToggleButtonExtender1"}, null, null, $get("ctl00_SampleContent_CheckBox1")); }); //]]> </script> Notice the call to the JavaScript $create() method at the bottom of the page. When using the Microsoft Ajax Library, this call to the $create() method is necessary to create the Ajax Control Toolkit control. This inline script looks pretty ugly to a modern JavaScript developer. Inline script! Horrible! The jQuery version of the ToggleButton injects the following HTML and script into the page: <input id="ctl00_SampleContent_CheckBox1" name="ctl00$SampleContent$CheckBox1" type="checkbox" checked="checked" data-act-togglebuttonextender="imageWidth:19, imageHeight:19, uncheckedImageUrl:'ToggleButton_Unchecked.gif', checkedImageUrl:'ToggleButton_Checked.gif', uncheckedImageAlternateText:'I don&#39;t understand why you don&#39;t like ASP.NET', checkedImageAlternateText:'It&#39;s really nice to hear from you that you like ASP.NET'" /> Notice that there is no script! There is no call to the $create() method. In fact, there is no inline JavaScript at all. The jQuery version of the ToggleButton uses an HTML5 data-* attribute instead of an inline script. The ToggleButton control is instantiated with a data-act-togglebuttonextender attribute. Using data-* attributes results in much cleaner markup (You don’t need to feel embarrassed when selecting View Source in your browser). Ajax Control Toolkit versus jQuery So in a jQuery world why is the Ajax Control Toolkit needed at all? Why not just use jQuery plugins instead of the Ajax Control Toolkit? For example, there are lots of jQuery ToggleButton plugins floating around the Internet. Why not just use one of these jQuery plugins instead of using the Ajax Control Toolkit ToggleButton control? There are three main reasons why the Ajax Control Toolkit continues to be valuable in a jQuery world: Ajax Control Toolkit controls run on both the server and client jQuery plugins are client only. A jQuery plugin does not include any server-side code. If you need to perform any work on the server – think of the AjaxFileUpload control – then you can’t use a pure jQuery solution. Ajax Control Toolkit controls provide a better Visual Studio experience You don’t get any design time experience when you use jQuery plugins within Visual Studio. Ajax Control Toolkit controls, on the other hand, are designed to work with Visual Studio. For example, you can use the Visual Studio Properties window to set Ajax Control Toolkit control properties. Ajax Control Toolkit controls shield you from working with JavaScript I like writing code in JavaScript. However, not all developers like JavaScript and some developers want to completely avoid writing any JavaScript code at all. The Ajax Control Toolkit enables you to take advantage of JavaScript (and the latest features of HTML5) in your ASP.NET Web Forms websites without writing a single line of JavaScript. Better ToolkitScriptManager Documentation With this release, we have added more detailed documentation for using the ToolkitScriptManager. In particular, we added documentation that describes how to take advantage of the new bundling, minification, compression, and caching features of the Ajax Control Toolkit. The ToolkitScriptManager documentation is part of the Ajax Control Toolkit sample site and it can be read here: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/ToolkitScriptManager/ToolkitScriptManager.aspx Other Fixes This release of the Ajax Control Toolkit includes several important bug fixes. For example, the Ajax Control Toolkit Twitter control was completely rewritten with this release. Twitter is in the process of retiring the first version of their API. You can read about their plans here: https://dev.twitter.com/blog/planning-for-api-v1-retirement We completely rewrote the Ajax Control Toolkit Twitter control to use the new Twitter API. To take advantage of the new Twitter API, you must get a key and access token from Twitter and add the key and token to your web.config file. Detailed instructions for using the new version of the Ajax Control Toolkit Twitter control can be found here: http://www.asp.net/ajaxLibrary/AjaxControlToolkitSampleSite/Twitter/Twitter.aspx   Summary We’ve made some really great changes to the Ajax Control Toolkit over the last two releases to modernize the toolkit. In the previous release, we updated the Ajax Control Toolkit to use a better bundling, minification, compression, and caching system. With this release, we updated the Ajax Control Toolkit to support jQuery. We also continue to update the Ajax Control Toolkit with important bug fixes. I hope you like these changes and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

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  • jQuery, ASP.NET, and Browser History

    - by Stephen Walther
    One objection that people always raise against Ajax applications concerns browser history. Because an Ajax application updates its content by performing sneaky Ajax postbacks, the browser backwards and forwards buttons don’t work as you would normally expect. In a normal, non-Ajax application, when you click the browser back button, you return to a previous state of the application. For example, if you are paging through a set of movie records, you might return to the previous page of records. In an Ajax application, on the other hand, the browser backwards and forwards buttons do not work as you would expect. If you navigate to the second page in a list of records and click the backwards button, you won’t return to the previous page. Most likely, you will end up navigating away from the application entirely (which is very unexpected and irritating). Bookmarking presents a similar problem. You cannot bookmark a particular page of records in an Ajax application because the address bar does not reflect the state of the application. The Ajax Solution There is a solution to both of these problems. To solve both of these problems, you must take matters into your own hands and take responsibility for saving and restoring your application state yourself. Furthermore, you must ensure that the address bar gets updated to reflect the state of your application. In this blog entry, I demonstrate how you can take advantage of a jQuery library named bbq that enables you to control browser history (and make your Ajax application bookmarkable) in a cross-browser compatible way. The JavaScript Libraries In this blog entry, I take advantage of the following four JavaScript files: jQuery-1.4.2.js – The jQuery library. Available from the Microsoft Ajax CDN at http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js jquery.pager.js – Used to generate pager for navigating records. Available from http://plugins.jquery.com/project/Pager microtemplates.js – John Resig’s micro-templating library. Available from http://ejohn.org/blog/javascript-micro-templating/ jquery.ba-bbq.js – The Back Button and Query (BBQ) Library. Available from http://benalman.com/projects/jquery-bbq-plugin/ All of these libraries, with the exception of the Micro-templating library, are available under the MIT open-source license. The Ajax Application Let’s start by building a simple Ajax application that enables you to page through a set of movie database records, 3 records at a time. We’ll use my favorite database named MoviesDB. This database contains a Movies table that looks like this: We’ll create a data model for this database by taking advantage of the ADO.NET Entity Framework. The data model looks like this: Finally, we’ll expose the data to the universe with the help of a WCF Data Service named MovieService.svc. The code for the data service is contained in Listing 1. Listing 1 – MovieService.svc using System.Data.Services; using System.Data.Services.Common; namespace WebApplication1 { public class MovieService : DataService<MoviesDBEntities> { public static void InitializeService(DataServiceConfiguration config) { config.SetEntitySetAccessRule("Movies", EntitySetRights.AllRead); config.DataServiceBehavior.MaxProtocolVersion = DataServiceProtocolVersion.V2; } } } The WCF Data Service in Listing 1 exposes the movies so that you can query the movie database table with URLs that looks like this: http://localhost:2474/MovieService.svc/Movies -- Returns all movies http://localhost:2474/MovieService.svc/Movies?$top=5 – Returns 5 movies The HTML page in Listing 2 enables you to page through the set of movies retrieved from the WCF Data Service. Listing 2 – Original.html <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Movies with History</title> <link href="Design/Pager.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" /> </head> <body> <h1>Page <span id="pageNumber"></span> of <span id="pageCount"></span></h1> <div id="pager"></div> <br style="clear:both" /><br /> <div id="moviesContainer"></div> <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="App_Scripts/Microtemplates.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="App_Scripts/jquery.pager.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var pageSize = 3, pageIndex = 0; // Show initial page of movies showMovies(); function showMovies() { // Build OData query var query = "/MovieService.svc" // base URL + "/Movies" // top-level resource + "?$skip=" + pageIndex * pageSize // skip records + "&$top=" + pageSize // take records + " &$inlinecount=allpages"; // include total count of movies // Make call to WCF Data Service $.ajax({ dataType: "json", url: query, success: showMoviesComplete }); } function showMoviesComplete(result) { // unwrap results var movies = result["d"]["results"]; var movieCount = result["d"]["__count"] // Show movies using template var showMovie = tmpl("<li><%=Id%> - <%=Title %></li>"); var html = ""; for (var i = 0; i < movies.length; i++) { html += showMovie(movies[i]); } $("#moviesContainer").html(html); // show pager $("#pager").pager({ pagenumber: (pageIndex + 1), pagecount: Math.ceil(movieCount / pageSize), buttonClickCallback: selectPage }); // Update page number and page count $("#pageNumber").text(pageIndex + 1); $("#pageCount").text(movieCount); } function selectPage(pageNumber) { pageIndex = pageNumber - 1; showMovies(); } </script> </body> </html> The page in Listing 3 has the following three functions: showMovies() – Performs an Ajax call against the WCF Data Service to retrieve a page of movies. showMoviesComplete() – When the Ajax call completes successfully, this function displays the movies by using a template. This function also renders the pager user interface. selectPage() – When you select a particular page by clicking on a page number in the pager UI, this function updates the current page index and calls the showMovies() function. Figure 1 illustrates what the page looks like when it is opened in a browser. Figure 1 If you click the page numbers then the browser history is not updated. Clicking the browser forward and backwards buttons won’t move you back and forth in browser history. Furthermore, the address displayed in the address bar does not change when you navigate to different pages. You cannot bookmark any page except for the first page. Adding Browser History The Back Button and Query (bbq) library enables you to add support for browser history and bookmarking to a jQuery application. The bbq library supports two important methods: jQuery.bbq.pushState(object) – Adds state to browser history. jQuery.bbq.getState(key) – Gets state from browser history. The bbq library also supports one important event: hashchange – This event is raised when the part of an address after the hash # is changed. The page in Listing 3 demonstrates how to use the bbq library to add support for browser navigation and bookmarking to an Ajax page. Listing 3 – Default.html <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Movies with History</title> <link href="Design/Pager.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" /> </head> <body> <h1>Page <span id="pageNumber"></span> of <span id="pageCount"></span></h1> <div id="pager"></div> <br style="clear:both" /><br /> <div id="moviesContainer"></div> <script src="http://ajax.microsoft.com/ajax/jquery/jquery-1.4.2.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="App_Scripts/jquery.ba-bbq.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="App_Scripts/Microtemplates.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="App_Scripts/jquery.pager.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var pageSize = 3, pageIndex = 0; $(window).bind('hashchange', function (e) { pageIndex = e.getState("pageIndex") || 0; pageIndex = parseInt(pageIndex); showMovies(); }); $(window).trigger('hashchange'); function showMovies() { // Build OData query var query = "/MovieService.svc" // base URL + "/Movies" // top-level resource + "?$skip=" + pageIndex * pageSize // skip records + "&$top=" + pageSize // take records +" &$inlinecount=allpages"; // include total count of movies // Make call to WCF Data Service $.ajax({ dataType: "json", url: query, success: showMoviesComplete }); } function showMoviesComplete(result) { // unwrap results var movies = result["d"]["results"]; var movieCount = result["d"]["__count"] // Show movies using template var showMovie = tmpl("<li><%=Id%> - <%=Title %></li>"); var html = ""; for (var i = 0; i < movies.length; i++) { html += showMovie(movies[i]); } $("#moviesContainer").html(html); // show pager $("#pager").pager({ pagenumber: (pageIndex + 1), pagecount: Math.ceil(movieCount / pageSize), buttonClickCallback: selectPage }); // Update page number and page count $("#pageNumber").text(pageIndex + 1); $("#pageCount").text(movieCount); } function selectPage(pageNumber) { pageIndex = pageNumber - 1; $.bbq.pushState({ pageIndex: pageIndex }); } </script> </body> </html> Notice the first chunk of JavaScript code in Listing 3: $(window).bind('hashchange', function (e) { pageIndex = e.getState("pageIndex") || 0; pageIndex = parseInt(pageIndex); showMovies(); }); $(window).trigger('hashchange'); When the hashchange event occurs, the current pageIndex is retrieved by calling the e.getState() method. The value is returned as a string and the value is cast to an integer by calling the JavaScript parseInt() function. Next, the showMovies() method is called to display the page of movies. The $(window).trigger() method is called to raise the hashchange event so that the initial page of records will be displayed. When you click a page number, the selectPage() method is invoked. This method adds the current page index to the address by calling the following method: $.bbq.pushState({ pageIndex: pageIndex }); For example, if you click on page number 2 then page index 1 is saved to the URL. The URL looks like this: Notice that when you click on page 2 then the browser address is updated to look like: /Default.htm#pageIndex=1 If you click on page 3 then the browser address is updated to look like: /Default.htm#pageIndex=2 Because the browser address is updated when you navigate to a new page number, the browser backwards and forwards button will work to navigate you backwards and forwards through the page numbers. When you click page 2, and click the backwards button, you will navigate back to page 1. Furthermore, you can bookmark a particular page of records. For example, if you bookmark the URL /Default.htm#pageIndex=1 then you will get the second page of records whenever you open the bookmark. Summary You should not avoid building Ajax applications because of worries concerning browser history or bookmarks. By taking advantage of a JavaScript library such as the bbq library, you can make your Ajax applications behave in exactly the same way as a normal web application.

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  • Introduction to the ASP.NET Web API

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I am a huge fan of Ajax. If you want to create a great experience for the users of your website – regardless of whether you are building an ASP.NET MVC or an ASP.NET Web Forms site — then you need to use Ajax. Otherwise, you are just being cruel to your customers. We use Ajax extensively in several of the ASP.NET applications that my company, Superexpert.com, builds. We expose data from the server as JSON and use jQuery to retrieve and update that data from the browser. One challenge, when building an ASP.NET website, is deciding on which technology to use to expose JSON data from the server. For example, how do you expose a list of products from the server as JSON so you can retrieve the list of products with jQuery? You have a number of options (too many options) including ASMX Web services, WCF Web Services, ASHX Generic Handlers, WCF Data Services, and MVC controller actions. Fortunately, the world has just been simplified. With the release of ASP.NET 4 Beta, Microsoft has introduced a new technology for exposing JSON from the server named the ASP.NET Web API. You can use the ASP.NET Web API with both ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Forms applications. The goal of this blog post is to provide you with a brief overview of the features of the new ASP.NET Web API. You learn how to use the ASP.NET Web API to retrieve, insert, update, and delete database records with jQuery. We also discuss how you can perform form validation when using the Web API and use OData when using the Web API. Creating an ASP.NET Web API Controller The ASP.NET Web API exposes JSON data through a new type of controller called an API controller. You can add an API controller to an existing ASP.NET MVC 4 project through the standard Add Controller dialog box. Right-click your Controllers folder and select Add, Controller. In the dialog box, name your controller MovieController and select the Empty API controller template: A brand new API controller looks like this: using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Controllers { public class MovieController : ApiController { } } An API controller, unlike a standard MVC controller, derives from the base ApiController class instead of the base Controller class. Using jQuery to Retrieve, Insert, Update, and Delete Data Let’s create an Ajaxified Movie Database application. We’ll retrieve, insert, update, and delete movies using jQuery with the MovieController which we just created. Our Movie model class looks like this: namespace MyWebAPIApp.Models { public class Movie { public int Id { get; set; } public string Title { get; set; } public string Director { get; set; } } } Our application will consist of a single HTML page named Movies.html. We’ll place all of our jQuery code in the Movies.html page. Getting a Single Record with the ASP.NET Web API To support retrieving a single movie from the server, we need to add a Get method to our API controller: using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Net; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http; using MyWebAPIApp.Models; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Controllers { public class MovieController : ApiController { public Movie GetMovie(int id) { // Return movie by id if (id == 1) { return new Movie { Id = 1, Title = "Star Wars", Director = "Lucas" }; } // Otherwise, movie was not found throw new HttpResponseException(HttpStatusCode.NotFound); } } } In the code above, the GetMovie() method accepts the Id of a movie. If the Id has the value 1 then the method returns the movie Star Wars. Otherwise, the method throws an exception and returns 404 Not Found HTTP status code. After building your project, you can invoke the MovieController.GetMovie() method by entering the following URL in your web browser address bar: http://localhost:[port]/api/movie/1 (You’ll need to enter the correct randomly generated port). In the URL api/movie/1, the first “api” segment indicates that this is a Web API route. The “movie” segment indicates that the MovieController should be invoked. You do not specify the name of the action. Instead, the HTTP method used to make the request – GET, POST, PUT, DELETE — is used to identify the action to invoke. The ASP.NET Web API uses different routing conventions than normal ASP.NET MVC controllers. When you make an HTTP GET request then any API controller method with a name that starts with “GET” is invoked. So, we could have called our API controller action GetPopcorn() instead of GetMovie() and it would still be invoked by the URL api/movie/1. The default route for the Web API is defined in the Global.asax file and it looks like this: routes.MapHttpRoute( name: "DefaultApi", routeTemplate: "api/{controller}/{id}", defaults: new { id = RouteParameter.Optional } ); We can invoke our GetMovie() controller action with the jQuery code in the following HTML page: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Get Movie</title> </head> <body> <div> Title: <span id="title"></span> </div> <div> Director: <span id="director"></span> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> getMovie(1, function (movie) { $("#title").html(movie.Title); $("#director").html(movie.Director); }); function getMovie(id, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: { id: id }, type: "GET", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 200: function (movie) { callback(movie); }, 404: function () { alert("Not Found!"); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> In the code above, the jQuery $.ajax() method is used to invoke the GetMovie() method. Notice that the Ajax call handles two HTTP response codes. When the GetMove() method successfully returns a movie, the method returns a 200 status code. In that case, the details of the movie are displayed in the HTML page. Otherwise, if the movie is not found, the GetMovie() method returns a 404 status code. In that case, the page simply displays an alert box indicating that the movie was not found (hopefully, you would implement something more graceful in an actual application). You can use your browser’s Developer Tools to see what is going on in the background when you open the HTML page (hit F12 in the most recent version of most browsers). For example, you can use the Network tab in Google Chrome to see the Ajax request which invokes the GetMovie() method: Getting a Set of Records with the ASP.NET Web API Let’s modify our Movie API controller so that it returns a collection of movies. The following Movie controller has a new ListMovies() method which returns a (hard-coded) collection of movies: using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Net; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http; using MyWebAPIApp.Models; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Controllers { public class MovieController : ApiController { public IEnumerable<Movie> ListMovies() { return new List<Movie> { new Movie {Id=1, Title="Star Wars", Director="Lucas"}, new Movie {Id=1, Title="King Kong", Director="Jackson"}, new Movie {Id=1, Title="Memento", Director="Nolan"} }; } } } Because we named our action ListMovies(), the default Web API route will never match it. Therefore, we need to add the following custom route to our Global.asax file (at the top of the RegisterRoutes() method): routes.MapHttpRoute( name: "ActionApi", routeTemplate: "api/{controller}/{action}/{id}", defaults: new { id = RouteParameter.Optional } ); This route enables us to invoke the ListMovies() method with the URL /api/movie/listmovies. Now that we have exposed our collection of movies from the server, we can retrieve and display the list of movies using jQuery in our HTML page: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>List Movies</title> </head> <body> <div id="movies"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> listMovies(function (movies) { var strMovies=""; $.each(movies, function (index, movie) { strMovies += "<div>" + movie.Title + "</div>"; }); $("#movies").html(strMovies); }); function listMovies(callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie/ListMovies", data: {}, type: "GET", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", }).then(function(movies){ callback(movies); }); } </script> </body> </html>     Inserting a Record with the ASP.NET Web API Now let’s modify our Movie API controller so it supports creating new records: public HttpResponseMessage<Movie> PostMovie(Movie movieToCreate) { // Add movieToCreate to the database and update primary key movieToCreate.Id = 23; // Build a response that contains the location of the new movie var response = new HttpResponseMessage<Movie>(movieToCreate, HttpStatusCode.Created); var relativePath = "/api/movie/" + movieToCreate.Id; response.Headers.Location = new Uri(Request.RequestUri, relativePath); return response; } The PostMovie() method in the code above accepts a movieToCreate parameter. We don’t actually store the new movie anywhere. In real life, you will want to call a service method to store the new movie in a database. When you create a new resource, such as a new movie, you should return the location of the new resource. In the code above, the URL where the new movie can be retrieved is assigned to the Location header returned in the PostMovie() response. Because the name of our method starts with “Post”, we don’t need to create a custom route. The PostMovie() method can be invoked with the URL /Movie/PostMovie – just as long as the method is invoked within the context of a HTTP POST request. The following HTML page invokes the PostMovie() method. <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Create Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var movieToCreate = { title: "The Hobbit", director: "Jackson" }; createMovie(movieToCreate, function (newMovie) { alert("New movie created with an Id of " + newMovie.Id); }); function createMovie(movieToCreate, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify( movieToCreate ), type: "POST", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 201: function (newMovie) { callback(newMovie); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> This page creates a new movie (the Hobbit) by calling the createMovie() method. The page simply displays the Id of the new movie: The HTTP Post operation is performed with the following call to the jQuery $.ajax() method: $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify( movieToCreate ), type: "POST", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 201: function (newMovie) { callback(newMovie); } } }); Notice that the type of Ajax request is a POST request. This is required to match the PostMovie() method. Notice, furthermore, that the new movie is converted into JSON using JSON.stringify(). The JSON.stringify() method takes a JavaScript object and converts it into a JSON string. Finally, notice that success is represented with a 201 status code. The HttpStatusCode.Created value returned from the PostMovie() method returns a 201 status code. Updating a Record with the ASP.NET Web API Here’s how we can modify the Movie API controller to support updating an existing record. In this case, we need to create a PUT method to handle an HTTP PUT request: public void PutMovie(Movie movieToUpdate) { if (movieToUpdate.Id == 1) { // Update the movie in the database return; } // If you can't find the movie to update throw new HttpResponseException(HttpStatusCode.NotFound); } Unlike our PostMovie() method, the PutMovie() method does not return a result. The action either updates the database or, if the movie cannot be found, returns an HTTP Status code of 404. The following HTML page illustrates how you can invoke the PutMovie() method: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Put Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var movieToUpdate = { id: 1, title: "The Hobbit", director: "Jackson" }; updateMovie(movieToUpdate, function () { alert("Movie updated!"); }); function updateMovie(movieToUpdate, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify(movieToUpdate), type: "PUT", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 200: function () { callback(); }, 404: function () { alert("Movie not found!"); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> Deleting a Record with the ASP.NET Web API Here’s the code for deleting a movie: public HttpResponseMessage DeleteMovie(int id) { // Delete the movie from the database // Return status code return new HttpResponseMessage(HttpStatusCode.NoContent); } This method simply deletes the movie (well, not really, but pretend that it does) and returns a No Content status code (204). The following page illustrates how you can invoke the DeleteMovie() action: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Delete Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> deleteMovie(1, function () { alert("Movie deleted!"); }); function deleteMovie(id, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify({id:id}), type: "DELETE", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 204: function () { callback(); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> Performing Validation How do you perform form validation when using the ASP.NET Web API? Because validation in ASP.NET MVC is driven by the Default Model Binder, and because the Web API uses the Default Model Binder, you get validation for free. Let’s modify our Movie class so it includes some of the standard validation attributes: using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Models { public class Movie { public int Id { get; set; } [Required(ErrorMessage="Title is required!")] [StringLength(5, ErrorMessage="Title cannot be more than 5 characters!")] public string Title { get; set; } [Required(ErrorMessage="Director is required!")] public string Director { get; set; } } } In the code above, the Required validation attribute is used to make both the Title and Director properties required. The StringLength attribute is used to require the length of the movie title to be no more than 5 characters. Now let’s modify our PostMovie() action to validate a movie before adding the movie to the database: public HttpResponseMessage PostMovie(Movie movieToCreate) { // Validate movie if (!ModelState.IsValid) { var errors = new JsonArray(); foreach (var prop in ModelState.Values) { if (prop.Errors.Any()) { errors.Add(prop.Errors.First().ErrorMessage); } } return new HttpResponseMessage<JsonValue>(errors, HttpStatusCode.BadRequest); } // Add movieToCreate to the database and update primary key movieToCreate.Id = 23; // Build a response that contains the location of the new movie var response = new HttpResponseMessage<Movie>(movieToCreate, HttpStatusCode.Created); var relativePath = "/api/movie/" + movieToCreate.Id; response.Headers.Location = new Uri(Request.RequestUri, relativePath); return response; } If ModelState.IsValid has the value false then the errors in model state are copied to a new JSON array. Each property – such as the Title and Director property — can have multiple errors. In the code above, only the first error message is copied over. The JSON array is returned with a Bad Request status code (400 status code). The following HTML page illustrates how you can invoke our modified PostMovie() action and display any error messages: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Create Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var movieToCreate = { title: "The Hobbit", director: "" }; createMovie(movieToCreate, function (newMovie) { alert("New movie created with an Id of " + newMovie.Id); }, function (errors) { var strErrors = ""; $.each(errors, function(index, err) { strErrors += "*" + err + "\n"; }); alert(strErrors); } ); function createMovie(movieToCreate, success, fail) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify(movieToCreate), type: "POST", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 201: function (newMovie) { success(newMovie); }, 400: function (xhr) { var errors = JSON.parse(xhr.responseText); fail(errors); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> The createMovie() function performs an Ajax request and handles either a 201 or a 400 status code from the response. If a 201 status code is returned then there were no validation errors and the new movie was created. If, on the other hand, a 400 status code is returned then there was a validation error. The validation errors are retrieved from the XmlHttpRequest responseText property. The error messages are displayed in an alert: (Please don’t use JavaScript alert dialogs to display validation errors, I just did it this way out of pure laziness) This validation code in our PostMovie() method is pretty generic. There is nothing specific about this code to the PostMovie() method. In the following video, Jon Galloway demonstrates how to create a global Validation filter which can be used with any API controller action: http://www.asp.net/web-api/overview/web-api-routing-and-actions/video-custom-validation His validation filter looks like this: using System.Json; using System.Linq; using System.Net; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http.Controllers; using System.Web.Http.Filters; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Filters { public class ValidationActionFilter:ActionFilterAttribute { public override void OnActionExecuting(HttpActionContext actionContext) { var modelState = actionContext.ModelState; if (!modelState.IsValid) { dynamic errors = new JsonObject(); foreach (var key in modelState.Keys) { var state = modelState[key]; if (state.Errors.Any()) { errors[key] = state.Errors.First().ErrorMessage; } } actionContext.Response = new HttpResponseMessage<JsonValue>(errors, HttpStatusCode.BadRequest); } } } } And you can register the validation filter in the Application_Start() method in the Global.asax file like this: GlobalConfiguration.Configuration.Filters.Add(new ValidationActionFilter()); After you register the Validation filter, validation error messages are returned from any API controller action method automatically when validation fails. You don’t need to add any special logic to any of your API controller actions to take advantage of the filter. Querying using OData The OData protocol is an open protocol created by Microsoft which enables you to perform queries over the web. The official website for OData is located here: http://odata.org For example, here are some of the query options which you can use with OData: · $orderby – Enables you to retrieve results in a certain order. · $top – Enables you to retrieve a certain number of results. · $skip – Enables you to skip over a certain number of results (use with $top for paging). · $filter – Enables you to filter the results returned. The ASP.NET Web API supports a subset of the OData protocol. You can use all of the query options listed above when interacting with an API controller. The only requirement is that the API controller action returns its data as IQueryable. For example, the following Movie controller has an action named GetMovies() which returns an IQueryable of movies: public IQueryable<Movie> GetMovies() { return new List<Movie> { new Movie {Id=1, Title="Star Wars", Director="Lucas"}, new Movie {Id=2, Title="King Kong", Director="Jackson"}, new Movie {Id=3, Title="Willow", Director="Lucas"}, new Movie {Id=4, Title="Shrek", Director="Smith"}, new Movie {Id=5, Title="Memento", Director="Nolan"} }.AsQueryable(); } If you enter the following URL in your browser: /api/movie?$top=2&$orderby=Title Then you will limit the movies returned to the top 2 in order of the movie Title. You will get the following results: By using the $top option in combination with the $skip option, you can enable client-side paging. For example, you can use $top and $skip to page through thousands of products, 10 products at a time. The $filter query option is very powerful. You can use this option to filter the results from a query. Here are some examples: Return every movie directed by Lucas: /api/movie?$filter=Director eq ‘Lucas’ Return every movie which has a title which starts with ‘S’: /api/movie?$filter=startswith(Title,’S') Return every movie which has an Id greater than 2: /api/movie?$filter=Id gt 2 The complete documentation for the $filter option is located here: http://www.odata.org/developers/protocols/uri-conventions#FilterSystemQueryOption Summary The goal of this blog entry was to provide you with an overview of the new ASP.NET Web API introduced with the Beta release of ASP.NET 4. In this post, I discussed how you can retrieve, insert, update, and delete data by using jQuery with the Web API. I also discussed how you can use the standard validation attributes with the Web API. You learned how to return validation error messages to the client and display the error messages using jQuery. Finally, we briefly discussed how the ASP.NET Web API supports the OData protocol. For example, you learned how to filter records returned from an API controller action by using the $filter query option. I’m excited about the new Web API. This is a feature which I expect to use with almost every ASP.NET application which I build in the future.

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  • Ajax Control Toolkit May 2012 Release

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I’m happy to announce the May 2012 release of the Ajax Control Toolkit. This newest release of the Ajax Control Toolkit includes a new file upload control which displays file upload progress. We’ve also added several significant enhancements to the existing HtmlEditorExtender control such as support for uploading images and Source View. You can download and start using the newest version of the Ajax Control Toolkit by entering the following command in the Library Package Manager console in Visual Studio: Install-Package AjaxControlToolkit Alternatively, you can download the latest version of the Ajax Control Toolkit from CodePlex: http://AjaxControlToolkit.CodePlex.com The New Ajax File Upload Control The most requested new feature for the Ajax Control Toolkit (according to the CodePlex Issue Tracker) has been support for file upload with progress. We worked hard over the last few months to create an entirely new file upload control which displays upload progress. Here is a sample which illustrates how you can use the new AjaxFileUpload control: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="01_FileUpload.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1._01_FileUpload" %> <html> <head runat="server"> <title>Simple File Upload</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:AjaxFileUpload id="ajaxUpload1" OnUploadComplete="ajaxUpload1_OnUploadComplete" runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html> The page above includes a ToolkitScriptManager control. This control is required to use any of the controls in the Ajax Control Toolkit because this control is responsible for loading all of the scripts required by a control. The page also contains an AjaxFileUpload control. The UploadComplete event is handled in the code-behind for the page: namespace WebApplication1 { public partial class _01_FileUpload : System.Web.UI.Page { protected void ajaxUpload1_OnUploadComplete(object sender, AjaxControlToolkit.AjaxFileUploadEventArgs e) { // Generate file path string filePath = "~/Images/" + e.FileName; // Save upload file to the file system ajaxUpload1.SaveAs(MapPath(filePath)); } } } The UploadComplete handler saves each uploaded file by calling the AjaxFileUpload control’s SaveAs() method with a full file path. Here’s a video which illustrates the process of uploading a file: Warning: in order to write to the Images folder on a production IIS server, you need Write permissions on the Images folder. You need to provide permissions for the IIS Application Pool account to write to the Images folder. To learn more, see: http://learn.iis.net/page.aspx/624/application-pool-identities/ Showing File Upload Progress The new AjaxFileUpload control takes advantage of HTML5 upload progress events (described in the XMLHttpRequest Level 2 standard). This standard is supported by Firefox 8+, Chrome 16+, Safari 5+, and Internet Explorer 10+. In other words, the standard is supported by the most recent versions of all browsers except for Internet Explorer which will support the standard with the release of Internet Explorer 10. The AjaxFileUpload control works with all browsers, even browsers which do not support the new XMLHttpRequest Level 2 standard. If you use the AjaxFileUpload control with a downlevel browser – such as Internet Explorer 9 — then you get a simple throbber image during a file upload instead of a progress indicator. Here’s how you specify a throbber image when declaring the AjaxFileUpload control: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="02_FileUpload.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1._02_FileUpload" %> <html> <head id="Head1" runat="server"> <title>File Upload with Throbber</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager ID="ToolkitScriptManager1" runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:AjaxFileUpload id="ajaxUpload1" OnUploadComplete="ajaxUpload1_OnUploadComplete" ThrobberID="MyThrobber" runat="server" /> <asp:Image id="MyThrobber" ImageUrl="ajax-loader.gif" Style="display:None" runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html> Notice that the page above includes an image with the Id MyThrobber. This image is displayed while files are being uploaded. I use the website http://AjaxLoad.info to generate animated busy wait images. Drag-And-Drop File Upload If you are using an uplevel browser then you can drag-and-drop the files which you want to upload onto the AjaxFileUpload control. The following video illustrates how drag-and-drop works: Remember that drag-and-drop will not work on Internet Explorer 9 or older. Accepting Multiple Files By default, the AjaxFileUpload control enables you to upload multiple files at a time. When you open the file dialog, use the CTRL or SHIFT key to select multiple files. If you want to restrict the number of files that can be uploaded then use the MaximumNumberOfFiles property like this: <ajaxToolkit:AjaxFileUpload id="ajaxUpload1" OnUploadComplete="ajaxUpload1_OnUploadComplete" ThrobberID="throbber" MaximumNumberOfFiles="1" runat="server" /> In the code above, the maximum number of files which can be uploaded is restricted to a single file. Restricting Uploaded File Types You might want to allow only certain types of files to be uploaded. For example, you might want to accept only image uploads. In that case, you can use the AllowedFileTypes property to provide a list of allowed file types like this: <ajaxToolkit:AjaxFileUpload id="ajaxUpload1" OnUploadComplete="ajaxUpload1_OnUploadComplete" ThrobberID="throbber" AllowedFileTypes="jpg,jpeg,gif,png" runat="server" /> The code above prevents any files except jpeg, gif, and png files from being uploaded. Enhancements to the HTMLEditorExtender Over the past months, we spent a considerable amount of time making bug fixes and feature enhancements to the existing HtmlEditorExtender control. I want to focus on two of the most significant enhancements that we made to the control: support for Source View and support for uploading images. Adding Source View Support to the HtmlEditorExtender When you click the Source View tag, the HtmlEditorExtender changes modes and displays the HTML source of the contents contained in the TextBox being extended. You can use Source View to make fine-grain changes to HTML before submitting the HTML to the server. For reasons of backwards compatibility, the Source View tab is disabled by default. To enable Source View, you need to declare your HtmlEditorExtender with the DisplaySourceTab property like this: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="05_SourceView.aspx.cs" Inherits="WebApplication1._05_SourceView" %> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html> <head id="Head1" runat="server"> <title>HtmlEditorExtender with Source View</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> <ajaxToolkit:ToolkitScriptManager ID="ToolkitScriptManager1" runat="server" /> <asp:TextBox id="txtComments" TextMode="MultiLine" Columns="60" Rows="10" Runat="server" /> <ajaxToolkit:HtmlEditorExtender id="HEE1" TargetControlID="txtComments" DisplaySourceTab="true" runat="server" /> </div> </form> </body> </html> The page above includes a ToolkitScriptManager, TextBox, and HtmlEditorExtender control. The HtmlEditorExtender extends the TextBox so that it supports rich text editing. Notice that the HtmlEditorExtender includes a DisplaySourceTab property. This property causes a button to appear at the bottom of the HtmlEditorExtender which enables you to switch to Source View: Note: when using the HtmlEditorExtender, we recommend that you set the DOCTYPE for the document. Otherwise, you can encounter weird formatting issues. Accepting Image Uploads We also enhanced the HtmlEditorExtender to support image uploads (another very highly requested feature at CodePlex). The following video illustrates the experience of adding an image to the editor: Once again, for backwards compatibility reasons, support for image uploads is disabled by default. Here’s how you can declare the HtmlEditorExtender so that it supports image uploads: <ajaxToolkit:HtmlEditorExtender id="MyHtmlEditorExtender" TargetControlID="txtComments" OnImageUploadComplete="MyHtmlEditorExtender_ImageUploadComplete" DisplaySourceTab="true" runat="server" > <Toolbar> <ajaxToolkit:Bold /> <ajaxToolkit:Italic /> <ajaxToolkit:Underline /> <ajaxToolkit:InsertImage /> </Toolbar> </ajaxToolkit:HtmlEditorExtender> There are two things that you should notice about the code above. First, notice that an InsertImage toolbar button is added to the HtmlEditorExtender toolbar. This HtmlEditorExtender will render toolbar buttons for bold, italic, underline, and insert image. Second, notice that the HtmlEditorExtender includes an event handler for the ImageUploadComplete event. The code for this event handler is below: using System.Web.UI; using AjaxControlToolkit; namespace WebApplication1 { public partial class _06_ImageUpload : System.Web.UI.Page { protected void MyHtmlEditorExtender_ImageUploadComplete(object sender, AjaxFileUploadEventArgs e) { // Generate file path string filePath = "~/Images/" + e.FileName; // Save uploaded file to the file system var ajaxFileUpload = (AjaxFileUpload)sender; ajaxFileUpload.SaveAs(MapPath(filePath)); // Update client with saved image path e.PostedUrl = Page.ResolveUrl(filePath); } } } Within the ImageUploadComplete event handler, you need to do two things: 1) Save the uploaded image (for example, to the file system, a database, or Azure storage) 2) Provide the URL to the saved image so the image can be displayed within the HtmlEditorExtender In the code above, the uploaded image is saved to the ~/Images folder. The path of the saved image is returned to the client by setting the AjaxFileUploadEventArgs PostedUrl property. Not surprisingly, under the covers, the HtmlEditorExtender uses the AjaxFileUpload. You can get a direct reference to the AjaxFileUpload control used by an HtmlEditorExtender by using the following code: void Page_Load() { var ajaxFileUpload = MyHtmlEditorExtender.AjaxFileUpload; ajaxFileUpload.AllowedFileTypes = "jpg,jpeg"; } The code above illustrates how you can restrict the types of images that can be uploaded to the HtmlEditorExtender. This code prevents anything but jpeg images from being uploaded. Summary This was the most difficult release of the Ajax Control Toolkit to date. We iterated through several designs for the AjaxFileUpload control – with each iteration, the goal was to make the AjaxFileUpload control easier for developers to use. My hope is that we were able to create a control which Web Forms developers will find very intuitive. I want to thank the developers on the Superexpert.com team for their hard work on this release.

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  • Introduction to the ASP.NET Web API

    - by Stephen.Walther
    I am a huge fan of Ajax. If you want to create a great experience for the users of your website – regardless of whether you are building an ASP.NET MVC or an ASP.NET Web Forms site — then you need to use Ajax. Otherwise, you are just being cruel to your customers. We use Ajax extensively in several of the ASP.NET applications that my company, Superexpert.com, builds. We expose data from the server as JSON and use jQuery to retrieve and update that data from the browser. One challenge, when building an ASP.NET website, is deciding on which technology to use to expose JSON data from the server. For example, how do you expose a list of products from the server as JSON so you can retrieve the list of products with jQuery? You have a number of options (too many options) including ASMX Web services, WCF Web Services, ASHX Generic Handlers, WCF Data Services, and MVC controller actions. Fortunately, the world has just been simplified. With the release of ASP.NET 4 Beta, Microsoft has introduced a new technology for exposing JSON from the server named the ASP.NET Web API. You can use the ASP.NET Web API with both ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Forms applications. The goal of this blog post is to provide you with a brief overview of the features of the new ASP.NET Web API. You learn how to use the ASP.NET Web API to retrieve, insert, update, and delete database records with jQuery. We also discuss how you can perform form validation when using the Web API and use OData when using the Web API. Creating an ASP.NET Web API Controller The ASP.NET Web API exposes JSON data through a new type of controller called an API controller. You can add an API controller to an existing ASP.NET MVC 4 project through the standard Add Controller dialog box. Right-click your Controllers folder and select Add, Controller. In the dialog box, name your controller MovieController and select the Empty API controller template: A brand new API controller looks like this: using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Controllers { public class MovieController : ApiController { } } An API controller, unlike a standard MVC controller, derives from the base ApiController class instead of the base Controller class. Using jQuery to Retrieve, Insert, Update, and Delete Data Let’s create an Ajaxified Movie Database application. We’ll retrieve, insert, update, and delete movies using jQuery with the MovieController which we just created. Our Movie model class looks like this: namespace MyWebAPIApp.Models { public class Movie { public int Id { get; set; } public string Title { get; set; } public string Director { get; set; } } } Our application will consist of a single HTML page named Movies.html. We’ll place all of our jQuery code in the Movies.html page. Getting a Single Record with the ASP.NET Web API To support retrieving a single movie from the server, we need to add a Get method to our API controller: using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Net; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http; using MyWebAPIApp.Models; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Controllers { public class MovieController : ApiController { public Movie GetMovie(int id) { // Return movie by id if (id == 1) { return new Movie { Id = 1, Title = "Star Wars", Director = "Lucas" }; } // Otherwise, movie was not found throw new HttpResponseException(HttpStatusCode.NotFound); } } } In the code above, the GetMovie() method accepts the Id of a movie. If the Id has the value 1 then the method returns the movie Star Wars. Otherwise, the method throws an exception and returns 404 Not Found HTTP status code. After building your project, you can invoke the MovieController.GetMovie() method by entering the following URL in your web browser address bar: http://localhost:[port]/api/movie/1 (You’ll need to enter the correct randomly generated port). In the URL api/movie/1, the first “api” segment indicates that this is a Web API route. The “movie” segment indicates that the MovieController should be invoked. You do not specify the name of the action. Instead, the HTTP method used to make the request – GET, POST, PUT, DELETE — is used to identify the action to invoke. The ASP.NET Web API uses different routing conventions than normal ASP.NET MVC controllers. When you make an HTTP GET request then any API controller method with a name that starts with “GET” is invoked. So, we could have called our API controller action GetPopcorn() instead of GetMovie() and it would still be invoked by the URL api/movie/1. The default route for the Web API is defined in the Global.asax file and it looks like this: routes.MapHttpRoute( name: "DefaultApi", routeTemplate: "api/{controller}/{id}", defaults: new { id = RouteParameter.Optional } ); We can invoke our GetMovie() controller action with the jQuery code in the following HTML page: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Get Movie</title> </head> <body> <div> Title: <span id="title"></span> </div> <div> Director: <span id="director"></span> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> getMovie(1, function (movie) { $("#title").html(movie.Title); $("#director").html(movie.Director); }); function getMovie(id, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: { id: id }, type: "GET", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 200: function (movie) { callback(movie); }, 404: function () { alert("Not Found!"); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> In the code above, the jQuery $.ajax() method is used to invoke the GetMovie() method. Notice that the Ajax call handles two HTTP response codes. When the GetMove() method successfully returns a movie, the method returns a 200 status code. In that case, the details of the movie are displayed in the HTML page. Otherwise, if the movie is not found, the GetMovie() method returns a 404 status code. In that case, the page simply displays an alert box indicating that the movie was not found (hopefully, you would implement something more graceful in an actual application). You can use your browser’s Developer Tools to see what is going on in the background when you open the HTML page (hit F12 in the most recent version of most browsers). For example, you can use the Network tab in Google Chrome to see the Ajax request which invokes the GetMovie() method: Getting a Set of Records with the ASP.NET Web API Let’s modify our Movie API controller so that it returns a collection of movies. The following Movie controller has a new ListMovies() method which returns a (hard-coded) collection of movies: using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Net; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http; using MyWebAPIApp.Models; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Controllers { public class MovieController : ApiController { public IEnumerable<Movie> ListMovies() { return new List<Movie> { new Movie {Id=1, Title="Star Wars", Director="Lucas"}, new Movie {Id=1, Title="King Kong", Director="Jackson"}, new Movie {Id=1, Title="Memento", Director="Nolan"} }; } } } Because we named our action ListMovies(), the default Web API route will never match it. Therefore, we need to add the following custom route to our Global.asax file (at the top of the RegisterRoutes() method): routes.MapHttpRoute( name: "ActionApi", routeTemplate: "api/{controller}/{action}/{id}", defaults: new { id = RouteParameter.Optional } ); This route enables us to invoke the ListMovies() method with the URL /api/movie/listmovies. Now that we have exposed our collection of movies from the server, we can retrieve and display the list of movies using jQuery in our HTML page: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>List Movies</title> </head> <body> <div id="movies"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> listMovies(function (movies) { var strMovies=""; $.each(movies, function (index, movie) { strMovies += "<div>" + movie.Title + "</div>"; }); $("#movies").html(strMovies); }); function listMovies(callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie/ListMovies", data: {}, type: "GET", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", }).then(function(movies){ callback(movies); }); } </script> </body> </html>     Inserting a Record with the ASP.NET Web API Now let’s modify our Movie API controller so it supports creating new records: public HttpResponseMessage<Movie> PostMovie(Movie movieToCreate) { // Add movieToCreate to the database and update primary key movieToCreate.Id = 23; // Build a response that contains the location of the new movie var response = new HttpResponseMessage<Movie>(movieToCreate, HttpStatusCode.Created); var relativePath = "/api/movie/" + movieToCreate.Id; response.Headers.Location = new Uri(Request.RequestUri, relativePath); return response; } The PostMovie() method in the code above accepts a movieToCreate parameter. We don’t actually store the new movie anywhere. In real life, you will want to call a service method to store the new movie in a database. When you create a new resource, such as a new movie, you should return the location of the new resource. In the code above, the URL where the new movie can be retrieved is assigned to the Location header returned in the PostMovie() response. Because the name of our method starts with “Post”, we don’t need to create a custom route. The PostMovie() method can be invoked with the URL /Movie/PostMovie – just as long as the method is invoked within the context of a HTTP POST request. The following HTML page invokes the PostMovie() method. <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Create Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var movieToCreate = { title: "The Hobbit", director: "Jackson" }; createMovie(movieToCreate, function (newMovie) { alert("New movie created with an Id of " + newMovie.Id); }); function createMovie(movieToCreate, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify( movieToCreate ), type: "POST", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 201: function (newMovie) { callback(newMovie); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> This page creates a new movie (the Hobbit) by calling the createMovie() method. The page simply displays the Id of the new movie: The HTTP Post operation is performed with the following call to the jQuery $.ajax() method: $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify( movieToCreate ), type: "POST", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 201: function (newMovie) { callback(newMovie); } } }); Notice that the type of Ajax request is a POST request. This is required to match the PostMovie() method. Notice, furthermore, that the new movie is converted into JSON using JSON.stringify(). The JSON.stringify() method takes a JavaScript object and converts it into a JSON string. Finally, notice that success is represented with a 201 status code. The HttpStatusCode.Created value returned from the PostMovie() method returns a 201 status code. Updating a Record with the ASP.NET Web API Here’s how we can modify the Movie API controller to support updating an existing record. In this case, we need to create a PUT method to handle an HTTP PUT request: public void PutMovie(Movie movieToUpdate) { if (movieToUpdate.Id == 1) { // Update the movie in the database return; } // If you can't find the movie to update throw new HttpResponseException(HttpStatusCode.NotFound); } Unlike our PostMovie() method, the PutMovie() method does not return a result. The action either updates the database or, if the movie cannot be found, returns an HTTP Status code of 404. The following HTML page illustrates how you can invoke the PutMovie() method: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Put Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var movieToUpdate = { id: 1, title: "The Hobbit", director: "Jackson" }; updateMovie(movieToUpdate, function () { alert("Movie updated!"); }); function updateMovie(movieToUpdate, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify(movieToUpdate), type: "PUT", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 200: function () { callback(); }, 404: function () { alert("Movie not found!"); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> Deleting a Record with the ASP.NET Web API Here’s the code for deleting a movie: public HttpResponseMessage DeleteMovie(int id) { // Delete the movie from the database // Return status code return new HttpResponseMessage(HttpStatusCode.NoContent); } This method simply deletes the movie (well, not really, but pretend that it does) and returns a No Content status code (204). The following page illustrates how you can invoke the DeleteMovie() action: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Delete Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> deleteMovie(1, function () { alert("Movie deleted!"); }); function deleteMovie(id, callback) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify({id:id}), type: "DELETE", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 204: function () { callback(); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> Performing Validation How do you perform form validation when using the ASP.NET Web API? Because validation in ASP.NET MVC is driven by the Default Model Binder, and because the Web API uses the Default Model Binder, you get validation for free. Let’s modify our Movie class so it includes some of the standard validation attributes: using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Models { public class Movie { public int Id { get; set; } [Required(ErrorMessage="Title is required!")] [StringLength(5, ErrorMessage="Title cannot be more than 5 characters!")] public string Title { get; set; } [Required(ErrorMessage="Director is required!")] public string Director { get; set; } } } In the code above, the Required validation attribute is used to make both the Title and Director properties required. The StringLength attribute is used to require the length of the movie title to be no more than 5 characters. Now let’s modify our PostMovie() action to validate a movie before adding the movie to the database: public HttpResponseMessage PostMovie(Movie movieToCreate) { // Validate movie if (!ModelState.IsValid) { var errors = new JsonArray(); foreach (var prop in ModelState.Values) { if (prop.Errors.Any()) { errors.Add(prop.Errors.First().ErrorMessage); } } return new HttpResponseMessage<JsonValue>(errors, HttpStatusCode.BadRequest); } // Add movieToCreate to the database and update primary key movieToCreate.Id = 23; // Build a response that contains the location of the new movie var response = new HttpResponseMessage<Movie>(movieToCreate, HttpStatusCode.Created); var relativePath = "/api/movie/" + movieToCreate.Id; response.Headers.Location = new Uri(Request.RequestUri, relativePath); return response; } If ModelState.IsValid has the value false then the errors in model state are copied to a new JSON array. Each property – such as the Title and Director property — can have multiple errors. In the code above, only the first error message is copied over. The JSON array is returned with a Bad Request status code (400 status code). The following HTML page illustrates how you can invoke our modified PostMovie() action and display any error messages: <!DOCTYPE html> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Create Movie</title> </head> <body> <script type="text/javascript" src="Scripts/jquery-1.6.2.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var movieToCreate = { title: "The Hobbit", director: "" }; createMovie(movieToCreate, function (newMovie) { alert("New movie created with an Id of " + newMovie.Id); }, function (errors) { var strErrors = ""; $.each(errors, function(index, err) { strErrors += "*" + err + "n"; }); alert(strErrors); } ); function createMovie(movieToCreate, success, fail) { $.ajax({ url: "/api/Movie", data: JSON.stringify(movieToCreate), type: "POST", contentType: "application/json;charset=utf-8", statusCode: { 201: function (newMovie) { success(newMovie); }, 400: function (xhr) { var errors = JSON.parse(xhr.responseText); fail(errors); } } }); } </script> </body> </html> The createMovie() function performs an Ajax request and handles either a 201 or a 400 status code from the response. If a 201 status code is returned then there were no validation errors and the new movie was created. If, on the other hand, a 400 status code is returned then there was a validation error. The validation errors are retrieved from the XmlHttpRequest responseText property. The error messages are displayed in an alert: (Please don’t use JavaScript alert dialogs to display validation errors, I just did it this way out of pure laziness) This validation code in our PostMovie() method is pretty generic. There is nothing specific about this code to the PostMovie() method. In the following video, Jon Galloway demonstrates how to create a global Validation filter which can be used with any API controller action: http://www.asp.net/web-api/overview/web-api-routing-and-actions/video-custom-validation His validation filter looks like this: using System.Json; using System.Linq; using System.Net; using System.Net.Http; using System.Web.Http.Controllers; using System.Web.Http.Filters; namespace MyWebAPIApp.Filters { public class ValidationActionFilter:ActionFilterAttribute { public override void OnActionExecuting(HttpActionContext actionContext) { var modelState = actionContext.ModelState; if (!modelState.IsValid) { dynamic errors = new JsonObject(); foreach (var key in modelState.Keys) { var state = modelState[key]; if (state.Errors.Any()) { errors[key] = state.Errors.First().ErrorMessage; } } actionContext.Response = new HttpResponseMessage<JsonValue>(errors, HttpStatusCode.BadRequest); } } } } And you can register the validation filter in the Application_Start() method in the Global.asax file like this: GlobalConfiguration.Configuration.Filters.Add(new ValidationActionFilter()); After you register the Validation filter, validation error messages are returned from any API controller action method automatically when validation fails. You don’t need to add any special logic to any of your API controller actions to take advantage of the filter. Querying using OData The OData protocol is an open protocol created by Microsoft which enables you to perform queries over the web. The official website for OData is located here: http://odata.org For example, here are some of the query options which you can use with OData: · $orderby – Enables you to retrieve results in a certain order. · $top – Enables you to retrieve a certain number of results. · $skip – Enables you to skip over a certain number of results (use with $top for paging). · $filter – Enables you to filter the results returned. The ASP.NET Web API supports a subset of the OData protocol. You can use all of the query options listed above when interacting with an API controller. The only requirement is that the API controller action returns its data as IQueryable. For example, the following Movie controller has an action named GetMovies() which returns an IQueryable of movies: public IQueryable<Movie> GetMovies() { return new List<Movie> { new Movie {Id=1, Title="Star Wars", Director="Lucas"}, new Movie {Id=2, Title="King Kong", Director="Jackson"}, new Movie {Id=3, Title="Willow", Director="Lucas"}, new Movie {Id=4, Title="Shrek", Director="Smith"}, new Movie {Id=5, Title="Memento", Director="Nolan"} }.AsQueryable(); } If you enter the following URL in your browser: /api/movie?$top=2&$orderby=Title Then you will limit the movies returned to the top 2 in order of the movie Title. You will get the following results: By using the $top option in combination with the $skip option, you can enable client-side paging. For example, you can use $top and $skip to page through thousands of products, 10 products at a time. The $filter query option is very powerful. You can use this option to filter the results from a query. Here are some examples: Return every movie directed by Lucas: /api/movie?$filter=Director eq ‘Lucas’ Return every movie which has a title which starts with ‘S’: /api/movie?$filter=startswith(Title,’S') Return every movie which has an Id greater than 2: /api/movie?$filter=Id gt 2 The complete documentation for the $filter option is located here: http://www.odata.org/developers/protocols/uri-conventions#FilterSystemQueryOption Summary The goal of this blog entry was to provide you with an overview of the new ASP.NET Web API introduced with the Beta release of ASP.NET 4. In this post, I discussed how you can retrieve, insert, update, and delete data by using jQuery with the Web API. I also discussed how you can use the standard validation attributes with the Web API. You learned how to return validation error messages to the client and display the error messages using jQuery. Finally, we briefly discussed how the ASP.NET Web API supports the OData protocol. For example, you learned how to filter records returned from an API controller action by using the $filter query option. I’m excited about the new Web API. This is a feature which I expect to use with almost every ASP.NET application which I build in the future.

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  • Creating HTML5 Offline Web Applications with ASP.NET

    - by Stephen Walther
    The goal of this blog entry is to describe how you can create HTML5 Offline Web Applications when building ASP.NET web applications. I describe the method that I used to create an offline Web application when building the JavaScript Reference application. You can read about the HTML5 Offline Web Application standard by visiting the following links: Offline Web Applications Firefox Offline Web Applications Safari Offline Web Applications Currently, the HTML5 Offline Web Applications feature works with all modern browsers with one important exception. You can use Offline Web Applications with Firefox, Chrome, and Safari (including iPhone Safari). Unfortunately, however, Internet Explorer does not support Offline Web Applications (not even IE 9). Why Build an HTML5 Offline Web Application? The official reason to build an Offline Web Application is so that you do not need to be connected to the Internet to use it. For example, you can use the JavaScript Reference Application when flying in an airplane, riding a subway, or hiding in a cave in Borneo. The JavaScript Reference Application works great on my iPhone even when I am completely disconnected from any network. The following screenshot shows the JavaScript Reference Application running on my iPhone when airplane mode is enabled (notice the little orange airplane):   Admittedly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find locations where you can’t get Internet access. A second, and possibly better, reason to create Offline Web Applications is speed. An Offline Web Application must be downloaded only once. After it gets downloaded, all of the files required by your Web application (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Image) are stored persistently on your computer. Think of Offline Web Applications as providing you with a super browser cache. Normally, when you cache files in a browser, the files are cached on a file-by-file basis. For each HTML, CSS, image, or JavaScript file, you specify how long the file should remain in the cache by setting cache headers. Unlike the normal browser caching mechanism, the HTML5 Offline Web Application cache is used to specify a caching policy for an entire set of files. You use a manifest file to list the files that you want to cache and these files are cached until the manifest is changed. Another advantage of using the HTML5 offline cache is that the HTML5 standard supports several JavaScript events and methods related to the offline cache. For example, you can be notified in your JavaScript code whenever the offline application has been updated. You can use JavaScript methods, such as the ApplicationCache.update() method, to update the cache programmatically. Creating the Manifest File The HTML5 Offline Cache uses a manifest file to determine the files that get cached. Here’s what the manifest file looks like for the JavaScript Reference application: CACHE MANIFEST # v30 Default.aspx # Standard Script Libraries Scripts/jquery-1.4.4.min.js Scripts/jquery-ui-1.8.7.custom.min.js Scripts/jquery.tmpl.min.js Scripts/json2.js # App Scripts App_Scripts/combine.js App_Scripts/combine.debug.js # Content (CSS & images) Content/default.css Content/logo.png Content/ui-lightness/jquery-ui-1.8.7.custom.css Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-bg_glass_65_ffffff_1x400.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-bg_glass_100_f6f6f6_1x400.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-bg_highlight-soft_100_eeeeee_1x100.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-icons_222222_256x240.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-bg_glass_100_fdf5ce_1x400.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-bg_diagonals-thick_20_666666_40x40.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-bg_gloss-wave_35_f6a828_500x100.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-icons_ffffff_256x240.png Content/ui-lightness/images/ui-icons_ef8c08_256x240.png Content/browsers/c8.png Content/browsers/es3.png Content/browsers/es5.png Content/browsers/ff3_6.png Content/browsers/ie8.png Content/browsers/ie9.png Content/browsers/sf5.png NETWORK: Services/EntryService.svc http://superexpert.com/resources/JavaScriptReference/ A Cache Manifest file always starts with the line of text Cache Manifest. In the manifest above, all of the CSS, image, and JavaScript files required by the JavaScript Reference application are listed. For example, the Default.aspx ASP.NET page, jQuery library, JQuery UI library, and several images are listed. Notice that you can add comments to a manifest by starting a line with the hash character (#). I use comments in the manifest above to group JavaScript and image files. Finally, notice that there is a NETWORK: section of the manifest. You list any file that you do not want to cache (any file that requires network access) in this section. In the manifest above, the NETWORK: section includes the URL for a WCF Service named EntryService.svc. This service is called to get the JavaScript entries displayed by the JavaScript Reference. There are two important things that you need to be aware of when using a manifest file. First, all relative URLs listed in a manifest are resolved relative to the manifest file. The URLs listed in the manifest above are all resolved relative to the root of the application because the manifest file is located in the application root. Second, whenever you make a change to the manifest file, browsers will download all of the files contained in the manifest (all of them). For example, if you add a new file to the manifest then any browser that supports the Offline Cache standard will detect the change in the manifest and download all of the files listed in the manifest automatically. If you make changes to files in the manifest (for example, modify a JavaScript file) then you need to make a change in the manifest file in order for the new version of the file to be downloaded. The standard way of updating a manifest file is to include a comment with a version number. The manifest above includes a # v30 comment. If you make a change to a file then you need to modify the comment to be # v31 in order for the new file to be downloaded. When Are Updated Files Downloaded? When you make changes to a manifest, the changes are not reflected the very next time you open the offline application in your web browser. Your web browser will download the updated files in the background. This can be very confusing when you are working with JavaScript files. If you make a change to a JavaScript file, and you have cached the application offline, then the changes to the JavaScript file won’t appear when you reload the application. The HTML5 standard includes new JavaScript events and methods that you can use to track changes and make changes to the Application Cache. You can use the ApplicationCache.update() method to initiate an update to the application cache and you can use the ApplicationCache.swapCache() method to switch to the latest version of a cached application. My heartfelt recommendation is that you do not enable your application for offline storage until after you finish writing your application code. Otherwise, debugging the application can become a very confusing experience. Offline Web Applications versus Local Storage Be careful to not confuse the HTML5 Offline Web Application feature and HTML5 Local Storage (aka DOM storage) feature. The JavaScript Reference Application uses both features. HTML5 Local Storage enables you to store key/value pairs persistently. Think of Local Storage as a super cookie. I describe how the JavaScript Reference Application uses Local Storage to store the database of JavaScript entries in a separate blog entry. Offline Web Applications enable you to store static files persistently. Think of Offline Web Applications as a super cache. Creating a Manifest File in an ASP.NET Application A manifest file must be served with the MIME type text/cache-manifest. In order to serve the JavaScript Reference manifest with the proper MIME type, I added two files to the JavaScript Reference Application project: Manifest.txt – This text file contains the actual manifest file. Manifest.ashx – This generic handler sends the Manifest.txt file with the MIME type text/cache-manifest. Here’s the code for the generic handler: using System.Web; namespace JavaScriptReference { public class Manifest : IHttpHandler { public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context) { context.Response.ContentType = "text/cache-manifest"; context.Response.WriteFile(context.Server.MapPath("Manifest.txt")); } public bool IsReusable { get { return false; } } } } The Default.aspx file contains a reference to the manifest. The opening HTML tag in the Default.aspx file looks like this: <html manifest="Manifest.ashx"> Notice that the HTML tag contains a manifest attribute that points to the Manifest.ashx generic handler. Internet Explorer simply ignores this attribute. Every other modern browser will download the manifest when the Default.aspx page is requested. Seeing the Offline Web Application in Action The experience of using an HTML5 Web Application is different with different browsers. When you first open the JavaScript Reference application with Firefox, you get the following warning: Notice that you are provided with the choice of whether you want to use the application offline or not. Browsers other than Firefox, such as Chrome and Safari, do not provide you with this choice. Chrome and Safari will create an offline cache automatically. If you click the Allow button then Firefox will download all of the files listed in the manifest. You can view the files contained in the Firefox offline application cache by typing about:cache in the Firefox address bar: You can view the actual items being cached by clicking the List Cache Entries link: The Offline Web Application experience is different in the case of Google Chrome. You can view the entries in the offline cache by opening the Developer Tools (hit Shift+CTRL+I), selecting the Storage tab, and selecting Application Cache: Notice that you view the status of the Application Cache. In the screen shot above, the status is UNCACHED which means that the files listed in the manifest have not been downloaded and cached yet. The different possible values for the status are included in the HTML5 Offline Web Application standard: UNCACHED – The Application Cache has not been initialized. IDLE – The Application Cache is not currently being updated. CHECKING – The Application Cache is being fetched and checked for updates. DOWNLOADING – The files in the Application Cache are being updated. UPDATEREADY – There is a new version of the Application. OBSOLETE – The contents of the Application Cache are obsolete. Summary In this blog entry, I provided a description of how you can use the HTML5 Offline Web Application feature in the context of an ASP.NET application. I described how this feature is used with the JavaScript Reference Application to store the entire application on a user’s computer. By taking advantage of this new feature of the HTML5 standard, you can improve the performance of your ASP.NET web applications by requiring users of your web application to download your application once and only once. Furthermore, you can enable users to take advantage of your applications anywhere -- regardless of whether or not they are connected to the Internet.

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  • 10 Essential Tools for building ASP.NET Websites

    - by Stephen Walther
    I recently put together a simple public website created with ASP.NET for my company at Superexpert.com. I was surprised by the number of free tools that I ended up using to put together the website. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to create a list of essential tools for building ASP.NET websites. These tools work equally well with both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC. Performance Tools After reading Steve Souders two (very excellent) books on front-end website performance High Performance Web Sites and Even Faster Web Sites, I have been super sensitive to front-end website performance. According to Souders’ Performance Golden Rule: “Optimize front-end performance first, that's where 80% or more of the end-user response time is spent” You can use the tools below to reduce the size of the images, JavaScript files, and CSS files used by an ASP.NET application. 1. Sprite and Image Optimization Framework CSS sprites were first described in an article written for A List Apart entitled CSS sprites: Image Slicing’s Kiss of Death. When you use sprites, you combine multiple images used by a website into a single image. Next, you use CSS trickery to display particular sub-images from the combined image in a webpage. The primary advantage of sprites is that they reduce the number of requests required to display a webpage. Requesting a single large image is faster than requesting multiple small images. In general, the more resources – images, JavaScript files, CSS files – that must be moved across the wire, the slower your website. However, most people avoid using sprites because they require a lot of work. You need to combine all of the images and write just the right CSS rules to display the sub-images. The Microsoft Sprite and Image Optimization Framework enables you to avoid all of this work. The framework combines the images for you automatically. Furthermore, the framework includes an ASP.NET Web Forms control and an ASP.NET MVC helper that makes it easy to display the sub-images. You can download the Sprite and Image Optimization Framework from CodePlex at http://aspnet.codeplex.com/releases/view/50869. The Sprite and Image Optimization Framework was written by Morgan McClean who worked in the office next to mine at Microsoft. Morgan was a scary smart Intern from Canada and we discussed the Framework while he was building it (I was really excited to learn that he was working on it). Morgan added some great advanced features to this framework. For example, the Sprite and Image Optimization Framework supports something called image inlining. When you use image inlining, the actual image is stored in the CSS file. Here’s an example of what image inlining looks like: .Home_StephenWalther_small-jpg { width:75px; height:100px; background: url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAAEsAAABkCAIAAABB1lpeAAAAB GdBTUEAALGOfPtRkwAAACBjSFJNAACHDwAAjA8AAP1SAACBQAAAfXkAAOmLAAA85QAAGcxzPIV3AAAKL s+zNfREAAAAASUVORK5CYII=) no-repeat 0% 0%; } The actual image (in this case a picture of me that is displayed on the home page of the Superexpert.com website) is stored in the CSS file. If you visit the Superexpert.com website then very few separate images are downloaded. For example, all of the images with a red border in the screenshot below take advantage of CSS sprites: Unfortunately, there are some significant Gotchas that you need to be aware of when using the Sprite and Image Optimization Framework. There are workarounds for these Gotchas. I plan to write about these Gotchas and workarounds in a future blog entry. 2. Microsoft Ajax Minifier Whenever possible you should combine, minify, compress, and cache with a far future header all of your JavaScript and CSS files. The Microsoft Ajax Minifier makes it easy to minify JavaScript and CSS files. Don’t confuse minification and compression. You need to do both. According to Souders, you can reduce the size of a JavaScript file by an additional 20% (on average) by minifying a JavaScript file after you compress the file. When you minify a JavaScript or CSS file, you use various tricks to reduce the size of the file before you compress the file. For example, you can minify a JavaScript file by replacing long JavaScript variables names with short variables names and removing unnecessary white space and comments. You can minify a CSS file by doing such things as replacing long color names such as #ffffff with shorter equivalents such as #fff. The Microsoft Ajax Minifier was created by Microsoft employee Ron Logan. Internally, this tool was being used by several large Microsoft websites. We also used the tool heavily on the ASP.NET team. I convinced Ron to publish the tool on CodePlex so that everyone in the world could take advantage of it. You can download the tool from the ASP.NET Ajax website and read documentation for the tool here. I created the installer for the Microsoft Ajax Minifier. When creating the installer, I also created a Visual Studio build task to make it easy to minify all of your JavaScript and CSS files whenever you do a build within Visual Studio automatically. Read the Ajax Minifier Quick Start to learn how to configure the build task. 3. ySlow The ySlow tool is a free add-on for Firefox created by Yahoo that enables you to test the front-end of your website. For example, here are the current test results for the Superexpert.com website: The Superexpert.com website has an overall score of B (not perfect but not bad). The ySlow tool is not perfect. For example, the Superexpert.com website received a failing grade of F for not using a Content Delivery Network even though the website using the Microsoft Ajax Content Delivery Network for JavaScript files such as jQuery. Uptime After publishing a website live to the world, you want to ensure that the website does not encounter any issues and that it stays live. I use the following tools to monitor the Superexpert.com website now that it is live. 4. ELMAH ELMAH stands for Error Logging Modules and Handlers for ASP.NET. ELMAH enables you to record any errors that happen at your website so you can review them in the future. You can download ELMAH for free from the ELMAH project website. ELMAH works great with both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC. You can configure ELMAH to store errors in a number of different stores including XML files, the Event Log, an Access database, a SQL database, an Oracle database, or in computer RAM. You also can configure ELMAH to email error messages to you when they happen. By default, you can access ELMAH by requesting the elmah.axd page from a website with ELMAH installed. Here’s what the elmah page looks like from the Superexpert.com website (this page is password-protected because secret information can be revealed in an error message): If you click on a particular error message, you can view the original Yellow Screen ASP.NET error message (even when the error message was never displayed to the actual user). I installed ELMAH by taking advantage of the new package manager for ASP.NET named NuGet (originally named NuPack). You can read the details about NuGet in the following blog entry by Scott Guthrie. You can download NuGet from CodePlex. 5. Pingdom I use Pingdom to verify that the Superexpert.com website is always up. You can sign up for Pingdom by visiting Pingdom.com. You can use Pingdom to monitor a single website for free. At the Pingdom website, you configure the frequency that your website gets pinged. I verify that the Superexpert.com website is up every 5 minutes. I have the Pingdom service verify that it can retrieve the string “Contact Us” from the website homepage. If your website goes down, you can configure Pingdom so that it sends an email, Twitter, SMS, or iPhone alert. I use the Pingdom iPhone app which looks like this: 6. Host Tracker If your website does go down then you need some way of determining whether it is a problem with your local network or if your website is down for everyone. I use a website named Host-Tracker.com to check how badly a website is down. Here’s what the Host-Tracker website displays for the Superexpert.com website when the website can be successfully pinged from everywhere in the world: Notice that Host-Tracker pinged the Superexpert.com website from 68 locations including Roubaix, France and Scranton, PA. Debugging I mean debugging in the broadest possible sense. I use the following tools when building a website to verify that I have not made a mistake. 7. HTML Spell Checker Why doesn’t Visual Studio have a built-in spell checker? Don’t know – I’ve always found this mysterious. Fortunately, however, a former member of the ASP.NET team wrote a free spell checker that you can use with your ASP.NET pages. I find a spell checker indispensible. It is easy to delude yourself that you are capable of perfect spelling. I’m always super embarrassed when I actually run the spell checking tool and discover all of my spelling mistakes. The fastest way to add the HTML Spell Checker extension to Visual Studio is to select the menu option Tools, Extension Manager within Visual Studio. Click on Online Gallery and search for HTML Spell Checker: 8. IIS SEO Toolkit If people cannot find your website through Google then you should not even bother to create it. Microsoft has a great extension for IIS named the IIS Search Engine Optimization Toolkit that you can use to identify issue with your website that would hurt its page rank. You also can use this tool to quickly create a sitemap for your website that you can submit to Google or Bing. You can even generate the sitemap for an ASP.NET MVC website. Here’s what the report overview for the Superexpert.com website looks like: Notice that the Sueprexpert.com website had plenty of violations. For example, there are 65 cases in which a page has a broken hyperlink. You can drill into these violations to identity the exact page and location where these violations occur. 9. LinqPad If your ASP.NET website accesses a database then you should be using LINQ to Entities with the Entity Framework. Using LINQ involves some magic. LINQ queries written in C# get converted into SQL queries for you. If you are not careful about how you write your LINQ queries, you could unintentionally build a really badly performing website. LinqPad is a free tool that enables you to experiment with your LINQ queries. It even works with Microsoft SQL CE 4 and Azure. You can use LinqPad to execute a LINQ to Entities query and see the results. You also can use it to see the resulting SQL that gets executed against the database: 10. .NET Reflector I use .NET Reflector daily. The .NET Reflector tool enables you to take any assembly and disassemble the assembly into C# or VB.NET code. You can use .NET Reflector to see the “Source Code” of an assembly even when you do not have the actual source code. You can download a free version of .NET Reflector from the Redgate website. I use .NET Reflector primarily to help me understand what code is doing internally. For example, I used .NET Reflector with the Sprite and Image Optimization Framework to better understand how the MVC Image helper works. Here’s part of the disassembled code from the Image helper class: Summary In this blog entry, I’ve discussed several of the tools that I used to create the Superexpert.com website. These are tools that I use to improve the performance, improve the SEO, verify the uptime, or debug the Superexpert.com website. All of the tools discussed in this blog entry are free. Furthermore, all of these tools work with both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC. Let me know if there are any tools that you use daily when building ASP.NET websites.

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