DevForce

Developer Guide
Version 5.1.0

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Preface _____________________________________________________________________ 8
Related DevForce Documentation _____________________________________________________________ Intended Audience _________________________________________________________________________ Chapter Organization _______________________________________________________________________ Product Prerequisites _______________________________________________________________________ Company Facts ____________________________________________________________________________ 8 8 8 9 9

Chapter 1: DevForce, Enterprise Applications, and the ADO.NET Entity Framework _______ 10
The Problem _____________________________________________________________________________ 11 Object Mapping Technology _________________________________________________________________ 12 The Microsoft ADO.NET Entity Framework _____________________________________________________ 12

Using DevForce with the Entity Framework ____________________________________________ 15
Advantages of Using DevForce _______________________________________________________________ 15

DevForce in More Detail____________________________________________________________ 17
Advantages of the DevForce (Revisited) _______________________________________________________ 18 More DevForce Advantages _________________________________________________________________ 29

Conclusion _______________________________________________________________________ 35

Chapter 2: Getting Started _____________________________________________________ 36
Installation _______________________________________________________________________________ 36 DevForce Start Menu ______________________________________________________________________ 36

The “NorthwindIB" database ________________________________________________________ 38 Development Process ______________________________________________________________ 38 Documentation Conventions ________________________________________________________ 41
Best Practices ____________________________________________________________________________ 41 Typography ______________________________________________________________________________ 41

Chapter 3: Hello, DevForce_____________________________________________________ 43
DevForce Application Architecture - The Big Picture ______________________________________________ 43 DevForce and the ADO.NET EntityModel _______________________________________________________ 44 Your First DevForce Application: a Walk-Through ________________________________________________ 46 Building the Domain Model _________________________________________________________________ 47 Add Unit Tests ____________________________________________________________________________ 70

Understanding the App.Configs ______________________________________________________ 89
Information Flow Between the App.Configs ____________________________________________________ 91

Monitoring Activity ________________________________________________________________ 92
Appendix: Listings of Sample App.Config Files ___________________________________________________ 94 Appendix: Probing Sequence for the App.Config File _____________________________________________ 95

Chapter 4: Class Libraries ______________________________________________________ 96
Important Namespaces ____________________________________________________________ 96 The IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity ____________________________________________________ 97 Finding Help on DevForce__________________________________________________________ 100
XML Documentation ______________________________________________________________________ 100 2|P age

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IntelliSense _____________________________________________________________________________ 100 The Object Browser_______________________________________________________________________ 102 Class View ______________________________________________________________________________ 103 Class Diagram ___________________________________________________________________________ 103

Chapter 5 Business Object Mapping ____________________________________________ 105
Introduction ____________________________________________________________________ 105
Overview of the ADO.NET Entity Model ______________________________________________________ 106 Working with the IdeaBlade DevForce Object Mapper ___________________________________________ 106

Object Mapper Walk-Through ______________________________________________________ 106
Exiting The Object Mapper _________________________________________________________________ 118 The Object Mapper Menus _________________________________________________________________ 119 Injected Base Types_______________________________________________________________________ 120 The Name Pluralizer: Fixing the Pluralization in Type Names ______________________________________ 122 Mapping a Web Service ___________________________________________________________________ 125

Notes on the Generated Code ______________________________________________________ 128 Multiple Datasources _____________________________________________________________ 131
DataSourceKeys _________________________________________________________________________ 132

DevForce and Data Sources – Digging Deeper__________________________________________ 133
The Object Mapper and Manually Added or Modified Keys _______________________________________ 135 DataSourceKeys, DataSourceKeyResolvers, and DataSourceExtensions _____________________________ 135 EntityManagers and DataSourceExtensions ___________________________________________________ 135 Tenant Extensions ________________________________________________________________________ 138 Multi-Part Extensions _____________________________________________________________________ 139 Extensions and EntityServers _______________________________________________________________ 140 Dynamic DataSourceKeys and the DataSourceKeyResolver _______________________________________ 140

Appendix: Many-to-Many Associations in the Entity Framework __________________________ 143

Chapter 6

Property Interceptors _____________________________________________ 149

Named vs. Unnamed Interceptor Actions _____________________________________________________ 150 Interceptor Chaining and Ordering __________________________________________________________ 151

Chapter 7 Object Persistence __________________________________________________ 162
Object Persistence Overview _______________________________________________________ 162
The Big Picture __________________________________________________________________________ 162 DevForce and the ADO.NET EntityModel ______________________________________________________ 163 Persistence Management Capabilities ________________________________________________________ 167

Entity Queries and Entity Navigation _________________________________________________ 173
Entity Queries ___________________________________________________________________________ 173 Entity Navigation _________________________________________________________________________ 183 The Null Entity ___________________________________________________________________________ 186

The EntityListManager ____________________________________________________________ 187 Entity Caching ___________________________________________________________________ 189
All Business Objects are Cached _____________________________________________________________ 189 Queries, Navigation, and the Cache __________________________________________________________ 192 Query Workflow _________________________________________________________________________ 194 Query Strategy __________________________________________________________________________ 196 3|P age

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Span Queries ____________________________________________________________________________ 204 Cached Entity Lifespan ____________________________________________________________________ 206 Saving the Cache Locally ___________________________________________________________________ 206 The TraceViewer: Watch What Data Is Being Loaded, and How____________________________________ 207

Creating Business Objects _________________________________________________________ 210
When Not to Create ______________________________________________________________________ 210 The Business Object Create Method _________________________________________________________ 210 Auxiliary Business Object Class Methods ______________________________________________________ 214 Adding and Removing Related Objects using Add() and Remove() _________________________________ 215 Business Object Creation Review ____________________________________________________________ 216

Saving Business Objects ___________________________________________________________ 217
EntityState of an Object ___________________________________________________________________ 217 Undo __________________________________________________________________________________ 217 Validation ______________________________________________________________________________ 217 Temporary Id Fix-up ______________________________________________________________________ 218 Initiation of any save operation causes the EntityManager to attempt to replace temporary ids with permanent ids. Subsequent success, failure, or cancellation is immaterial. The act of saving launches the fix-up process. The fix-up process was covered above, in the section “The TraceViewer: Watch What Data Is Being Loaded, and How ________________________________________________________________________ 218 Life Cycle Events _________________________________________________________________________ 221 Saves and Transaction Management _________________________________________________________ 222 Re-query After Save ______________________________________________________________________ 223 When Save Fails _________________________________________________________________________ 223 Data Source Concurrency __________________________________________________________________ 226 Saving the “Dependency Graph” ____________________________________________________________ 232 Dependency Graph Retrieval _______________________________________________________________ 235 Workflow For a Save ______________________________________________________________________ 236

Advanced Object Persistence Concepts _______________________________________________ 237
Getting Information About an Entity Type with GetEntityMeta() ___________________________________ 237 Access Both Local and Remote Data Sources In the Same N-tier Application _________________________ 239 Stored Procedure Queries _________________________________________________________________ 240 Stored Procedure Entity Navigation __________________________________________________________ 243 Cache Search with Stored Procedure Queries __________________________________________________ 244 Forced Re-fetch __________________________________________________________________________ 244 Lost Connection During Query ______________________________________________________________ 245 Query Cache ____________________________________________________________________________ 246 MergeStrategy In More Detail ______________________________________________________________ 247 Filtering Queries _________________________________________________________________________ 252 Query Inversion in More Detail _____________________________________________________________ 253 Transactional Queries _____________________________________________________________________ 258 Multiple Application Environments __________________________________________________________ 258 Multiple EntityManager Instances ___________________________________________________________ 259 Multi-Threading in a DevForce App __________________________________________________________ 260 Asynchronous Queries ____________________________________________________________________ 261 Batching Asynchronous Tasks _______________________________________________________________ 264 Service Oriented Architecture ______________________________________________________________ 266

Troubleshooting _________________________________________________________________ 267
Troubleshooting Performance Problems ______________________________________________________ 267

Chapter 8: Validation Through Verification ______________________________________ 269
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DevForce Verification _____________________________________________________________________ 269

Getting Started __________________________________________________________________ 271 Verification Types Overview _______________________________________________________ 275
Main Verification Classes __________________________________________________________________ 275 Verifiers ________________________________________________________________________________ 276 VerifierResult____________________________________________________________________________ 280 Triggers ________________________________________________________________________________ 282 VerifierEngine ___________________________________________________________________________ 283 PropertyValueVerifiers ____________________________________________________________________ 285

Verification Deep Dive ____________________________________________________________ 287
Verifiers ________________________________________________________________________________ 288 Verifier Result ___________________________________________________________________________ 291 Triggers ________________________________________________________________________________ 295 VerifierEngine ___________________________________________________________________________ 302

Invoking Verification _____________________________________________________________ 307
Instance Verification ______________________________________________________________________ 309 Trigger Verification: Preset and Postset _______________________________________________________ 310 Monitor Execution with the VerifierBatchInterceptor ___________________________________________ 314

Verification and WinForms User Interfaces ____________________________________________ 315
UI Lockup _______________________________________________________________________________ 315 Improving the User’s Experience ____________________________________________________________ 317

Chapter 9: DevForce Silverlight Apps ___________________________________________ 319
Overview - What is DevForce Silverlight? _____________________________________________________ 319 Creating a DevForce Silverlight Application ____________________________________________________ 319 Silverlight IIS Deployment Steps _____________________________________________________________ 320 Questions and Answers ___________________________________________________________________ 322 Troubleshooting _________________________________________________________________________ 323

Chapter 10: WinForm User Interfaces ___________________________________________ 326
UI Data Binding __________________________________________________________________ 326
NET Data Binding_________________________________________________________________________ 327 NET v. DevForce WinClient UI Data Binding for WinForms ________________________________________ 327 Data Binding with DevForce WinClient UI Designers For WinForms ________________________________ 329 DevForce WinClient Data Binding Architecture _________________________________________________ 332 Nested Property Paths ____________________________________________________________________ 345 Data Binding to Data Objects of Any Type _____________________________________________________ 351 When to Use .NET Data Binding Instead ______________________________________________________ 354 When Not to Use Data Binding at All _________________________________________________________ 354

UI Architecture __________________________________________________________________ 355
Nested Property Paths ____________________________________________________________________ 355 The BindableList(of T) _____________________________________________________________________ 356 EntityPropertyDescriptors _________________________________________________________________ 372

Multi-Level Undo with Checkpoints __________________________________________________ 376 UI Designers ____________________________________________________________________ 377
BindingManagerDesigners _________________________________________________________________ 378

More on Third-Party WinForm Control Suites __________________________________________ 393
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Developer Express “DXperience” ____________________________________________________________ 393 Infragistics “NetAdvantage” ________________________________________________________________ 394

DataBinders ____________________________________________________________________ 394 Troubleshooting _________________________________________________________________ 395
Third-Party Control Suites__________________________________________________________________ 395 UI Performance Tuning ____________________________________________________________________ 396 Large BindingSource loads are Slow __________________________________________________________ 397

DevForce WinClient Assemblies for WinForm Support___________________________________ 397

Chapter 11: Web Applications _________________________________________________ 399
The DevForce ASPDataSource Component ____________________________________________________ 399 Using the ASPDataSource in Development ____________________________________________________ 399 Overridable Methods for Select, Update, Insert, and Delete ______________________________________ 399 The EntityAdapterManager Class ____________________________________________________________ 400 The Configure Data Source Wizard __________________________________________________________ 400 Parameter Collection Editor ________________________________________________________________ 401 Retrieving Schema Information _____________________________________________________________ 401 Third Party Support _______________________________________________________________________ 402

Chapter 12: Business Object Server _____________________________________________ 403
Business Object Server Architecture _________________________________________________________ 403 EntityService Startup and Shutdown _________________________________________________________ 405 EntityServer Startup and Shutdown __________________________________________________________ 407 Remote Service Method Call (RSMC) Methods _________________________________________________ 407 Push Notification _________________________________________________________________________ 408

BOS Hosting Details ______________________________________________________________ 409
The DevForce Client ______________________________________________________________________ 412

Vista Setup _____________________________________________________________________ 412
Vista setup requirements for the ServerConsole or ServerService __________________________________ 412 Vista setup requirements for IIS _____________________________________________________________ 413

Troubleshooting _________________________________________________________________ 414
Worked in 2-Tier, Strange Errors in n-Tier _____________________________________________________ 414

Chapter 13: Disconnected Applications __________________________________________ 416
Running offline __________________________________________________________________________ 417 Securing Offline Data _____________________________________________________________________ 424

Chapter 14: Security _________________________________________________________ 430
Authentication __________________________________________________________________________ 430 Authorization____________________________________________________________________________ 431 Encryption ______________________________________________________________________________ 432

Chapter 15: Deployment _____________________________________________________ 433
Deployment Phases ______________________________________________________________________ 433 Initial Deployment In a Nutshell _____________________________________________________________ 433 Deployment Configurations ________________________________________________________________ 434 Deployment Steps by Configuration Type _____________________________________________________ 435 A Bit of Advice Regarding N-Tier Deployments _________________________________________________ 436 IdeaBlade Configuration File________________________________________________________________ 437 Create Client and Server File Sets ____________________________________________________________ 442 6|P age

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Server Deployment _______________________________________________________________________ 444 Data Server Deployment ___________________________________________________________________ 444 Business Object Server Deployment _________________________________________________________ 444 Client Deployment _______________________________________________________________________ 450 Deployment Test _________________________________________________________________________ 454 Troubleshooting _________________________________________________________________________ 457 IIS n-Tier Deployment _____________________________________________________________________ 462

Chapter 16: Best Practices ____________________________________________________ 464
General Coding Practices __________________________________________________________ 464 General DevForce Practices ________________________________________________________ 467 Questions and Answers ___________________________________________________________ 467
Database Design Preferences _______________________________________________________________ 467 Abstract Class Design _____________________________________________________________________ 468 Sorting on Natural Keys ___________________________________________________________________ 468 Implementing “Soft Deletes” _______________________________________________________________ 469 Localization _____________________________________________________________________________ 470 Centralized Runtime Configuration __________________________________________________________ 471

Chapter 17: Troubleshooting __________________________________________________ 472
Contacting Support _______________________________________________________________ 472
Identifying your DevForce version ___________________________________________________________ 472

Upgrading Your Software __________________________________________________________ 473

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Preface

Preface
This Developers‟ Guide describes how to use DevForce to build your data-driven .NET application.

Related DevForce Documentation
DevForce Release Notes – Explains what is new, what has changed, and the implications for existing DevForce applications. It is a “must read” every time you update your application to a new version of DevForce. DevForce Reference Help – This is the detailed API documentation describing each namespace, class, and method. Code examples are provided for key topics. DevForce Tutorials – The tutorials show, in a step-by-step manner, how to build simple applications using DevForce.

Intended Audience
This Developers Guide targets developers building applications with DevForce. We assume you are familiar with .NET 3.5, LINQ, the ADO.NET Entity Framework, and Visual Studio 2008.

Chapter Organization
Chapter 1, DevForce, Enterprise Applications, and the ADO.NET Entity Framework, describes new Microsoft technologies including Language Integrated Query (LINQ) and the ADO.NET Entity Framework; assesses what these technologies do well, and where they fall short of addressing the needs of enterprise application developers; and then outlines how DevForce fills the gap and provides additional enterprise features to simplify development. Chapter 2, Getting Started, covers the basics of installing DevForce and building your application. It covers also some design guidelines and conventions. You should also review the DevForce Installation Guide for detailed installation advice and troubleshooting tips. Chapter 3, Hello, DevForce, is a quick walk through a simple application that highlights some prominent features of DevForce applications. Chapter 4, Class Libraries, takes you on a quick walk through the DevForce assemblies and namespaces so you can see what is where. Chapter 5, Business Object Mapping, delves into the details of defining your business object model with the DevForce Object Mapping Tool (AKA, the Object Mapper). Chapter 6, Property Interceptors, describes DevForce‟s mechanism for intercepting and either modifying or extending the behavior of any .NET property. Chapter 7, Object Persistence, delves into the details of querying, creating, updating, and deleting the business object entities that you defined with the DevForce Object Mapping Tool. Chapter 8, Validation Through Verification, Data Verification (Validation), covers DevForce‟s subsystem for validating data in your business model. Chapter 9, DevForce Silverlight Apps, covers the development of Silverlight applications using DevForce business objects and persistence facilities. Chapter 10, WinForm User Interfaces, covers the building of WinForm user interfaces with business object entities, using the facilities of DevForce. Chapter 11, Web Applications, introduces the use of DevForce as an Object Mapper and persistence framework for Web Applications, and details the use of the DevForce AspNetDataSource control. 8|P age

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Chapter 12, Disconnected Applications, covers features and issues related to running applications while disconnected from a back-end data server.

Preface

Chapter 13, Security, describes the security features intrinsic to DevForce, many of which require no special action by the developer. Chapter 14, Business Object Server, explains the special features and requirements for using the Business Object Server in an n-tier application. Chapter 15, Deployment, covers details of deploying your application. Chapter 16, Best Practices, is a grab bag of practices we believe will help you develop great applications. Chapter 17, Troubleshooting, covers testing, debugging, and how to get the most from technical support

Product Prerequisites
You should have Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and the .NET 3.5 framework installed prior to installing DevForce. For Silverlight development, you should also install the Silverlight 3 SDK. More specific system requirements are covered in a section of the separate “Installation Guide”.

Company Facts
Please contact us or visit us at our headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area: 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 350 Emeryville, CA 94608 510.596.5100 www.ideablade.com support@ideablade.com

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DevForce and the Entity Framework

DevForce, Enterprise Applications, and the ADO.NET Entity Framework
DevForce is a framework for building and operating multi-tier, data-driven enterprise applications. By “enterprise application” we do not mean simply a big application, or an application for a big company. Rather, we refer to an application with the following specific characteristics: Its users devote many hours to its use, performing task essential to conducting the organization‟s business. It requires a rich and responsive graphical user interface, dense with sophisticated controls User interactions are complex; task and context switching is common. It presents data that are complex in themselves, and deeply interrelated. The data are stored centrally and shared with other users. Supply chain, customer relationship management (CRM), and asset tracking applications are typical examples. User productivity is critical. That puts a premium on the application‟s ability to provide a highly responsive, richly featured user experience – the kind of experience typical of a desktop application running directly on a client machine. We expect people to get work done at any time from anywhere. Those people may be employees or they may be valued partners. In either case, security matters. Accordingly, we often need to deploy and operate enterprise applications over a wide area network – preferably over the internet – with undiminished productivity and security. DevForce is especially suited to building and running applications that require a rich user experience delivered to remote, Internet-connected clients. While DevForce contributes at all levels of the enterprise application architecture stack, its Object Relational Mapping (ORM) technologies and object-oriented approach to data management draw most of the attention. Microsoft has stepped into this arena with the Language Integrated Query (LINQ) and the ADO.NET Entity Framework, both released with version 3.5 of the .NET framework. The Entity Framework is a robust ORM solution; the developer can retrieve data as “entities” by writing “LINQ to Entities” statements in her preferred .NET programming language. DevForce delegates to the Entity Framework the mapping between object and relational database schemas, as well as the database persistence operations (queries and saves). These are important and challenging tasks that the Entity Framework handles well. There is much more to an application than how it handles raw data. There is the business object layer that encapsulates the data and governs those data with business rules. There are higher layers that address the application workflow and user experience. All of this is outside the purview of the Entity Framework. If we concentrate only on data management, we still find enterprise application requirements untouched by the Entity Framework. Chief among them are: Central services, Internet connectivity, distributed transactions, performance, security, scalability, and Silverlight support - needs best met with an intelligent middle-tier server. Highly responsive client UI‟s that exploit caching to avoid redundant, slow trips across the wire. Object models mapped to multiple data repositories Objects mapped to Web and WCF service data sources Proper support for a business object layer with business rules. 10 | P a g e

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DevForce and the Entity Framework

DevForce satisfies these requirements even as it relies on the ADO.NET Entity Framework for basic ORM and query facilities. The key components of DevForce include: the Entity Manager, which includes a queryable client-side cache; the Business Object Server (BOS) for services in a middle tier; a provider for the LINQ language that permits LINQ queries to be used with both the client-side cache and remote data sources the Object Mapper which extends the ADO.NET Entity Framework designer and generates DevForce entity code. This chapter explores the key data management issues for .NET enterprise application developers. It introduces the LINQ and the ADO.NET Entity Framework, explaining what they do and where they leave off. It then describes how DevForce fills in the critical gaps.

The Problem
Every business application is an extended dialogue between a user and the business objects that fulfill the application‟s purpose. Those business objects are behavioral objects first and foremost. They are the embodiment of the customer stories that describe what the application does and how it does it. A few behaviors may be stateless; financial calculations come to mind. But there is usually data somewhere in those business objects. An order has a customer and a delivery date and line items describing quantities of goods sold for a price. There is no escaping the data aspect of business objects and all of that data must be managed. While the application is running, the data are held in session in some form. In an object-oriented system they are held in fields and exposed as properties of a class instance. But because the data are long-lived – longer-lived than any one session – they have to be saved between sessions. And because we share our data with others, we have to save the data in permanent storage accessible over a network. Shuttling data between storage and the application session is one of those necessary but “dirty” jobs, a job completely unrelated to the application‟s purpose. Developers long ago discovered three data management problems. First, the way we store data is not the way we use data in an application. Money, for example, is both an amount and a currency (dollars, euros). The two aspects require separate slots in storage; from the application perspective, it‟s just one thing: money. An “order” in the context of an application session may be seen as one “thing” with a customer, a shipper, line items, etc. When we store that order in a relational database, the order, customer, shipper and line are five different things. So the best representation of stored data often is not the best representation for session data. Second, session data are governed by rules. We must know the customer for an order before we can deliver the ordered goods. The date of the order should precede the delivery date. Some other part of the application may need to be alerted when the order is actually delivered. The application is more maintainable and easier to understand when the rules (behavior) and the data are bound together as “business objects” or “entities”. Such rules are largely irrelevant when the data are tucked safely away in storage. Third, there are many mechanical matters surrounding saving and retrieving data that have nothing to do with the application‟s purpose such as opening and closing connections, composing SQL, detecting concurrency violations, converting raw data into Data Transfer Objects, and managing transaction boundaries. Getting the application dialogue right is hard enough without these distractions. Yes, the application still has to ask for data and stow them away. But there should be a way to express our intent simply and entirely in terms of the application entities. Ordinary operations should make no mention of databases, connections, tables, or columns. The profound differences between stored data and session data lead developers to expend enormous energy moving and translating between stored and session representations. This is wasted energy from the perspective of the application customer who could not care less about our implementation problems.

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It is also wasted energy from the developer‟s perspective because this problem has been solved by Object Mapping technology.

Object Mapping Technology
An object mapping technology maintains two views of the data. There is a conceptual model for representing the data within the entities used by the application and there is a storage model that defines how the data are stored in the repository. These two models have completely different characteristics, as we have seen. The conceptual model could include a conceptual order, an order entity, as it is understood by the application. The storage model describes how the order entity‟s data values are held in the data repository. If the repository is a relational database, many of the order entity data values – its state – are likely held in columns of a table. The value of a DeliveryDate property of an Order entity might be stored in the [DeliveryDt] column of an [OrderHeader] table row. The correspondence between the conceptual order entity and the table row is obvious and strong in this example. Even so, the correspondence is not literal; there is Order and DeliveryDate on one side; OrderHeader and DeliveryDt on the other. Therefore, the object mapping technology maintains a “map” of the correspondence between entities of the conceptual model and the table rows in the storage model so that it can transform one representation into the other. The Order entity has a related Customer entity and related OrderDetail entities. These additional entities might correspond to Company and OrderLineItem tables in a relational database. Relational databases objects don‟t have relationships. They have foreign key constraints that imply these relationships. Accordingly, the object mapping technology also maintains a map of the associations between entities and the foreign key constraints in the database. The map records the pairing of the relationship between Order and Customer with the foreign key constraint between the OrderHeader and Company tables. This order example is especially simple. Other mappings could be enormously complex, with values changing shape (type), entities splitting among multiple tables, and relationships weaving through intermediate association tables. Without an object mapping facility, the application developer would have to be constantly aware of these correspondences as she wrote instructions to retrieve and save application data. Small changes in the actual storage schema or in the application entity model could easily break the code in a hundred places. Without an object mapping facility, the application would become vulnerable and brittle as it grew and aged. Productivity would fall as developers devoted increasing effort to keeping the conceptual and the storage models aligned.

The Microsoft ADO.NET Entity Framework
The Microsoft ADO.NET Entity Framework is one Object Mapping technology to consider. DevForce builds upon the Entity Framework, so we introduce the Microsoft technology here before explaining DevForce‟s added value. Read more about the Entity Framework at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb399572(VS.90).aspx

Entity Data Model (EDM)
The Entity Framework supports an Entity Data Model (EDM) that describes data from the application perspective. The EDM does not include the actual business object classes that contain those data; rather it defines certain of the data and data relationships within those classes in an implementation-agnostic language of its own. Concretely, the EDM is an XML schema file that defines a conceptual data model. That schema is accompanied by two other XML schema files: one describing how the data are stored (the storage model) and another that maps the conceptual model to the storage model.

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The Entity Framework uses this chain of descriptions to move data between the data-laden objects in memory and the actual data repositories. For this to work at runtime, the conceptual schema (the EDM proper) refers to entity classes of the application while the storage model gets matched up, via configuration, with a real database running on a server somewhere.

The Entity Data Model Designer
Most developers prefer to use a tool to work with XML rather than edit XML by hand. EDM XML is dense and forbidding so a tool is a practical necessity. The ADO.NET Entity Data Model Designer is a Visual Studio design tool that provides the developer with a graphical, drag-and-drop EDM design experience. The designer enables simultaneous development of all three related schemas – the conceptual, storage, and mapping schemas. Most applications are predicated on a pre-existing database. This database cannot be ignored; the conceptual model must ultimately come to terms with it. Most developers find it convenient to confront this fact early and will prefer to generate the conceptual data model and associated schemas using the Entity Data Model Wizard. The wizard produces the EDM schemas which then can be viewed and edited in the designer.

Entity Object Layer
The Entity Framework business object layer consists of the classes that implement the application business objects. The Entity Framework includes an entity class generator that uses the EDM to produce class code that defines the business object data fields and their accessor properties. It also generates the navigation properties that enable the application to traverse from one object to its related objects (e.g. from an order to its customer). The EDM describes only the business object data and their relationships. The Entity Framework knows nothing about the business object behavior that applies to the data so there is no business logic in the generated code. The application developer writes business logic separately in a companion class file. The two files – the developer‟s business logic file and the generated object data management file – combine to form a single definition of the business object, the business object class. Technically, each file defines a .NET partial class. The compiler knits the two together, resulting in the complete business object class.

Entity Persistence
The Entity Framework includes components responsible for moving business object data between the application and the database. The ObjectContext is the most visible of the components. The application uses ObjectContext to retrieve, hold, and save entities. The ObjectContext maintains a cache of all the entities it manages. The developer writes queries and submits them to the ObjectContext, which retrieves the selected entities and adds them to its cache before returning them to the caller. The developer creates new objects and adds them to the ObjectContext. The ObjectContext tracks changes – adds, modifications, deletes – to entities in its cache. A save command tells the ObjectContext to write the changed entities to the database. The Entity Framework handles all of these relational database persistence operations without troubling the developer with details. The Entity Data Model and a few guiding parameters are all it needs.

LINQ to Entities
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While the mechanics of saving business object data are challenging, it has never been difficult for developers to express their intent. It is usually sufficient to tell some service class to “save” and the service knows what to do. Getting data is a different story. It is not easy to say precisely which data you want, and in what form, using a general purpose programming language. It‟s harder still to write queries in a strongly-typed manner and stay within an entity-oriented paradigm. Until recently, object mapping vendors offered their own “object query languages” (OQLs) which were, in fact, merely special purpose classes with strangled interfaces. OQL queries were clumsy to write and repugnant to read. With its release of the .NET 3.5 Framework, Microsoft added new language facilities for finding and accessing data in a general purpose, object-oriented way, without exposing the details of data storage and retrieval. Chief among the new features is LINQ, an abbreviation of Language Integrated Query. A LINQ query looks much like an SQL query. Most programmers have long experience with SQL so, while SQL itself may be tortured, most programmers are accustomed to it and find LINQ expressions familiar:

C#

IQueryable<Product> products = from prod in anObjectContext.Products where prod.ReorderLevel > 100 select prod; foreach (Product aProduct in products) {…}

VB LINQ defines a set of query operators for interrogating arbitrary sources of data. Anything that can be enumerated can be queried with a LINQ expression. We can use LINQ to select items from a list, nodes from an XML file, file names from a file folder, or records from a database. LINQ itself does not know how to do any of these things. LINQ defines the query operators and patterns for writing query expressions. The operators and expressions are meaningless until they are married to an implementation that is specific to a domain. Thus there is a LINQ implementation for querying in-memory objects (LINQ to Objects), an implementation for querying XML structures (LINQ to XML), an implementation for querying relational databases (LINQ to SQL), and so on. Microsoft provides some of these implementations but third parties can develop their own and Microsoft encourages them to do so. The LINQ facility provides the expressiveness we need for querying entities. What we need is a LINQ implementation that supports an object mapping technology. Microsoft‟s LINQ to Entities is that implementation for the Entity Framework.

Entity SQL
The Entity Framework supplements LINQ to Entities with its own query language called Entity SQL. Entity SQL is a storage-independent dialect of SQL that works directly with the conceptual model. An Entity SQL query refers to entities, properties, and associations (e.g. Order and Order_Customer) rather than the database elements in the storage model. The particulars of data storage remain hidden in the object-oriented data design.

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Entity SQL queries are strings as seen in this example: C#

DevForce and the Entity Framework

string queryString = @"SELECT VALUE Product FROM Products “ + AS Product WHERE Product.ReorderLevel > 100"; ObjectQuery<Product> products = new ObjectQuery<Product>(queryString, anObjectContext); foreach (Product result in products) {…}

VB One significant drawback: Visual Studio will not detect even simple mistakes because the query string won‟t be evaluated until runtime.

Using DevForce with the Entity Framework
Microsoft‟s ADO.NET Entity Framework is a solid foundation for object relational mapping and relational database persistence operations. LINQ to Entities is a huge advance over SQL string commands and proprietary object query languages. We covered this same territory in our earlier, .NET 2.0 version of DevForce; we are pleased now turn over some of these responsibilities to the Entity Framework for applications built on the .NET 3.5 platform. DevForce provides an alternative Entity Data Model editor, the DevForce Object Mapper, which is used for four main reasons: to augment the EDM schemas with DevForce-specific XML to generate the DevForce business object classes which extend the Entity Framework classes to work with a tabular interface that is more productive for larger (>20 class) object models for more granular control over the generated class and property code The Object Mapper plugs into Visual Studio and the developer can switch freely between the Object Mapper and the Entity Framework designer, choosing the one that is most productive for the task at hand. DevForce relies upon the Entity Framework for the persistence operations that target relational databases. The Entity Framework prepares and issues the actual vendor SQL. The Entity Framework issues all insert, update and delete commands and employs optimistic concurrency techniques to detect collisions between updates of the same object by different users.

Advantages of Using DevForce
The ADO.NET Entity Framework does a good job of handling relational database mapping and persistence operations for client / server applications. However, most enterprise applications need better data management and better support for developing the business objects that encapsulate the relational data. DevForce provides essential improvements in such critical areas as: Infrastructure for multi-tier applications Security Client application performance Model design and code generation Multiple data sources Web Services

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Intermittently connected and offline apps We summarize each point in the balance of this section.

DevForce and the Entity Framework

Infrastructure for Multi-Tier Applications
The ADO.NET Entity Framework only supports a 2-tier architecture in which the client machine speaks directly to a relational database server. This won‟t work for many enterprise applications, especially those that Connect to servers over the Internet, a wireless, or a wide area network. Require rigorous security. Must scale to support many users, especially external partners and customers. Offer applications On-Demand (Software-as-a-Service). Will deploy as a Silverlight application in a browser. Such applications require the performance, security and scalability of an intelligent middle tier server that mediates between client machines and such server-side resources as databases and web services. DevForce implements an end-to-end, multi-tier (n-tier) architecture whose middle tier component is called the “Business Object Server” (BOS). DevForce is the only way to bring n-tier capabilities to LINQ- and Entity Framework-based applications.

Security
ADO.NET Entity Framework has no intrinsic security features. Because of it two-tier approach, the security burden falls entirely on the network and the database. That may be sufficient for simple applications with few users who are always connected within the company LAN. But we will need a better answer when authentication and authorization schemes become fine grained and application specific, when the number of users grows, and when some of those users are reaching in from outside the company walls. The DevForce n-tier solution supports a rich variety of standard and custom authentication techniques and provides encryption and authorization points on both client and server.

Client Application Performance
Data access is the number one performance killer. Large volumes of data are deadly. Frequent trips to the server are worse. And it‟s really bad if the UI freezes while waiting for data. Responsiveness and user productivity improve dramatically when we eliminate unnecessary trips, reduce the size of data traveling over the wire, and retrieve data asynchronously. None of this is easy to implement. The ADO.NET Entity Framework is a purely 2-tier architecture in which the client talks SQL to the database, a chatty conversation with few means to shrink the data. It doesn‟t remember previous queries, we can‟t query its primitive entity cache, and we can‟t query asynchronously. A DevForce application deployed in n-tier mode represents business object data in a compact form and compresses the data before sending it resulting in smaller payloads over the wire. Smaller payloads, faster app. Most applications ask for the same data over and over. DevForce has a query-able entity cache and a query cache. We can ask the entity cache any question, including questions we‟ve never asked before. The query cache remembers previous database queries so repeated questions don‟t cause redundant server visits. In fact, we use DevForce to Entities, a LINQ-based query language, to pose questions that can search the cache, search the data source, or search both as we wish.

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Finally, DevForce offers asynchronous queries that can hide the actual cost of a remote query as perceived by the end user. The UI continues to function and we can occupy the user‟s attention with an initial set of data while the balance is retrieved in background.

Model Design and Code Generation
The ADO.NET Entity Framework design tools and code generation are not as strong as they need to be for enterprise-scale applications. The drag-and-drop designer becomes unwieldy with modestly sized domain models; class diagrams with more than 20 objects are almost impossible to read or manage. The developer has little control over the mapping and the generated code doesn‟t support common business behavior scenarios such as validation, property-level security, value and message localization, and change auditing. The DevForce Object Mapper can read and write EF schemas. Its utilitarian interface targets medium to large models (20 to 2,000 entity types). It‟s easy to determine how data are exposed as classes and properties and it‟s easy to grow the model as requirements change. It can generate classes from storage schema but it also tolerates conceptual class development in advance of storage mapping. The generated code is designed for augmentation with business logic so we can build business objects instead of property bags.

Multiple Data Sources
The ADO.NET Entity Framework supports just one database per Entity Data Model. But many application data models draw from data storied in multiple data sources. In a supply chain application, orders may be stored in an inventory database while ledger entries are captured in an accounting database. Orders and ledger entries have keys that, conceptually, enable navigation between them even though a cross database query is not technically possible. In DevForce we can define a single model that holds both orders and ledger entries and the code generator can produce “navigation properties” for seamlessly navigating between them. DevForce handles the SQL for simulating the cross database “join”. Order and ledger updates must be saved transactionally. DevForce can perform such distributed transaction; the Entity Framework, knowing only one database, cannot.

Web and WCF backed Business Objects
Web services and WCF services are increasingly important sources of application data both as front ends to legacy databases and as the preferred modality for accessing Internet resources. The ADO.NET Entity Framework can only map entities to relational databases. DevForce can map business objects to relational databases, web services, and WCF services, all in a single consolidated model.

Intermittently Connected and Offline Applications
ADO.NET Entity Framework applications are vulnerable to temporary connection failures. There is no effective way to recover from a query or save that fails because the connection or server is unavailable. There is no intrinsic solution to “the airplane problem” – the application that must be able to launch and run offline as when working while in flight. DevForce applications have the means to survive transient connectivity and to thrive offline.

DevForce in More Detail
We highlighted the most significant DevForce differences in the previous section. Here we explain them in greater detail and cover some of the other important DevForce features that improve application design and developer productivity. 17 | P a g e

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Advantages of the DevForce (Revisited)
Multi-Tier Applications
The ADO.NET Entity Framework is a client / server technology. It‟s ObjectServices component, which is responsible for querying and saving data to the database, executes in the same process as the client business object layer. Database SQL commands and raw data flow over the wire.

This works just fine when there are relatively few clients, all connected to a secure, high speed LAN. Performance becomes a serious problem when the traffic goes up or when going over a wide area network. There‟s a lot of back-and-forth talk when SQL passes over the network and the data are verbose. With reduced bandwidth and increased latency, those frequent roundtrips for data that no one noticed before become serious problems and the user experience slows to a crawl. Furthermore, in order for a two-tier application to work over the internet, you would have to expose your database directly to the world. This opens up the possibility of someone stealing the connection string and browsing or changing your database without authorization.

The DevForce n-Tier Solution
The DevForce n-tier solution, with its “Business Object Server” (BOS) deployed in a middle tier, overcomes all of these obstacles.

The ADO.NET Entity Framework has relocated from the client arena to the Business Object Server where it now functions purely as an object mapping technology, translating persistent data between entity and storage representations. The client application hosts the DevForce Entity Manager, a component responsible for holding business objects in cache and communicating with the BOS.

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The business objects and the Entity Manager itself are completely decoupled from the ADO.NET Entity Framework. There are no references on the client to any of the Entity Framework assemblies. Nor do clients talk to the database. Instead, the Entity Manager sends commands to the BOS and receives business objects in return. Commands may be expressed in a variety of formats including the new LINQ to DevForce query language. The BOS translates a LINQ to DevForce query into a LINQ to Entities query and submits it to the Entity Framework. The Entity Framework returns simple entities to the BOS which forwards them to the client. DevForce on the client turns them into business objects and caches them in the Entity Manager. The BOS and the client DevForce Entity Manager exchange data in a serialized binary form that passes easily through firewalls and over the Internet. The BOS compresses the data before sending them to the client. These smaller payloads reduce network traffic and improve client performance. The BOS is effectively stateless. It retains no essential information about client sessions between requests. Each client request resolves to a method call running on a new thread; the call holds onto entity data just long enough to fulfill the request after which it is discarded. Such statelessness makes it easy to distribute requests among multiple BOS servers for scalability and fault tolerance.

Remote Services
Some applications require services that must execute in a centrally hosted environment, perhaps because they involve proprietary logic or because they crunch volumes of data that would swamp the network if transmitted to clients. A client can make a “remote service call” to the BOS, which will invoke custom server side methods to perform or delegate these hosted services. The BOS can watch for server-side events such as data updates or network notifications, and publish corresponding events to subscribing clients through its “push” service.

DevForce Silverlight1
Features described in the section are included with the DevForce Silverlight product. Microsoft Silverlight enables deployment of .NET applications within a browser. There is no application to install, no client footprint, and no compromise of the client machine‟s security. The door is open to deliver applications to consumers and locked-down enterprise environments securely. Data access remains a challenge. Data-driven Silverlight applications need access to the same data as their desktop equivalents. A Silverlight application can only reach data resources over the Internet and, as we‟ve seen, the ADO.NET Entity Framework cannot move data over the Internet. But a DevForce Silverlight application can. In 2009, IdeaBlade will release “DevForce Silverlight” supporting SilverLight applications that are based on the same rich object model deployed in DevForce WPF smart client applications.

In Summary
With the DevForce n-tier capability, The Entity Framework becomes an n-tier platform Business object data can travel through firewalls and over the Internet Data are compressed and encrypted for fast, secure transport
1

DevForce Silverlight and DevForce WinClient are separate IdeaBlade products. They are combined in the DevForce Universal product.

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The client can request non-data services to be executed on the server and subscribe to server events. A software vendor can offer software-as-a-service to its Internet customers. With the DevForce Silverlight product, you get all of the above capabilities in a tool that permits you to develop Silverlight applications that use the Entity Framework in the same way that WPF Windows clients do.

Secure Services
The Entity Framework only supports a two tier architecture in which the client talks directly to the database. There are not intrinsic capabilities for authenticating users, authorizing access, or encrypting data. This architecture relies entirely on coarse grained network and database measures to secure the application and requires extra care to protect the client machine from theft or intrusion. This level of security is not good enough in many environments. There may be tough corporate or legal mandates to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access. A client machine could fall into mischievous hands. Any .NET program is easily disassembled. A determined malefactor could discover the client-side application security measures, develop counter measures, and attempt unauthorized persistence operations.

Connection Security
The trouble begins with the database connection string. In a two-tier world, each client must provide the Entity Framework ObjectContext with a database connection string before it can access the database. The database is easily compromised if the string contains a user and password. Encrypting the string until the moment of use certainly helps – if you remember to do so – but still amounts to security-by-obfuscation. It is much safer to rely on the operating system to authenticate the user to the database via the Security Support Provider Interface (SSPI) as when the MS SQL Server connection string specifies “Integrated Security=SSPI;”. Moreover, each database connection is unique, defeating the performance advantage of connection pooling. This technique works but there are problems. The IT management burden grows heavy when there are many application users scattered across a widespread corporate network. New users must be added both to network directories and to the database‟s own list of authorized users. Departing employees should be removed from all directories. The application administrator rarely maintains the network and database logons so there are communications breakdowns that lead to mistakes. In a DevForce n-tier deployment, the Business Object Server (BOS) stands between the client and the database. The client must login to the BOS before the BOS makes any requests on the client‟s behalf. After login every transmission from client to server is accompanied by an encrypted session token that identifies the client. NT Authentication and impersonation are viable alternatives for LAN users and can be combined with alternative login mechanisms when users access the application from outside the corporate network. Clients no longer access the database directly. They don‟t hold a connection string nor issue vendor SQL calls. They don‟t know where the data physically reside. Instead they ask the BOS to fetch and save data on their behalf and only commands and object data travel over the wire. The BOS, running on a secure machine, connects to the database with its own private connection string. The BOS performs all database operations.

Authorization
The ADO.NET Entity Framework has no authorization mechanisms. In most cases, the application relies upon authorization settings in the database – settings which operate crudely at table levels and do not reflect more detailed business rules. Application-specific authorizations can only be enforced in the client. The ability to limit order approval or restrict access to a patient record depends entirely on business logic executing in the client. 20 | P a g e

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With the DevForce BOS in place every query and save operation is subject to inspection. The BOS invariably calls certain customizable secured operation methods, passing along the client‟s Principal so each method can identify the client user and his assigned roles. The method can determine if the user is allowed to perform the requested operation and what action to take if permission is denied. Every step in this process, from login to security check can be tailored to meet the particular needs of the application. There is nothing that client can do to thwart these measures. The BOS will execute them like clockwork and the client has no access to the server, no ability to inject malicious code.

Encryption
The developer is free to engage the kind of encryption that is most appropriate. SSL is typical but other methods can be inserted in the pipeline. DevForce prefers to use Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) for client-to-server communications; the WCF security-related configuration options are all available.

Client Performance with DevForce Caching
Fulfilling a request for data with a trip to the database is thousands of times slower than satisfying the same request from local memory. The trip is longer still when the database resides across the network. That‟s why responsive, data-intensive business applications cache entity data locally. If we‟ve asked for the data before, we should not have to ask for the same data again – at least not immediately. The ADO.NET Entity Framework caches entities and can look up an object by key rather than go to the database. That can be a big time saver – unless the entity isn‟t in cache! The Entity Framework returns null if it can‟t find the object. Maybe the entity doesn‟t exist. Maybe it just hasn‟t been retrieved yet. The Entity Framework can‟t tell. We‟d have to query for the object – or explicitly load it – to be sure. Unfortunately, we can‟t simply query the Entity Framework cache directly. All Entity Framework queries (and loads) reach across the net to the database – even repeat queries issued mere moments ago. Do applications ask the same question twice? Yes they do. Users are always cycling among several active tasks; each time they return to a task underway, the application re-issues a query. The developer might take pains to cache such queries herself. But that‟s an arduous and error prone pursuit best left to the DevForce framework.

DevForce Caching and LINQ to DevForce
The DevForce Entity Manager maintains a query-able, client-side entity cache. By “query-able” we mean that we can always apply a LINQ to DevForce query to the in-memory cache. LINQ to DevForce is a LINQ implementation that enables queries to both the entity cache and to remote data sources. Let‟s look at an example. We want to see the orders of star sales rep, “Nancy Davolio.” We compose a LINQ query that searches for orders of the rep who‟s first name = “Nancy” and whose last name = “Davolio.” The first time we run it, the Entity Manager realizes that the query is new and sends the query over the wire to the BOS. The results come back after a fraction of a second or several seconds, depending upon the amount of data, the load on the database, and the speed of the network. A minute later we ask for Nancy‟s orders again. The Entity Manager recognizes the repeat query and looks only in the local cache. It returns with the results immediately. Behind the scenes the DevForce Entity Manager maintains both a cache of entities and a cache of queries. The query cache is the memory of queries run against the database. When DevForce executes a LINQ to DevForce query it checks this query cache first. If it finds the query it assumes the query can be satisfied by the entity cache. It then translates the LINQ expression tree into search operations against that cache. The developer can inspect, add, remove, clear, and update the contents of both the entity and query caches.

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Responsiveness with Asynchronous Queries
Responsiveness is subjective. The application is fast or slow if the user thinks it is. Users worry if the application freezes for more than a second. A prolonged delay when the application launches or a heavy screen loads is a common cause for complaint. Initialization queries or big data transfers are often the source of the problem. You can alleviate the pain by fetching the data in background with asynchronous queries. The Entity Framework does not support asynchronous queries. DevForce does. It is easy to fire off a series of async queries before displaying a form on screen. The form appears immediately and fills as the data arrive. Some entities are more volatile than others. The list of provincial and city tax rates is probably constant during a particular session. Inventories, on the other hand, are changing constantly and screen full of quantities on hand should probably be refreshed every few minutes (or seconds perhaps). DevForce async queries on a timer can keep that screen current without stalling the UI while the application polls for changes. There is always the danger of a runaway query – the query that pulls down so much data that it either freezes the UI for agonizing minutes or times out. Fortunately, it‟s easy to use the LINQ extension method Take() to pull down sequential sections of a collection of entities. The following query, for example, will bring down the first 100 customers, ordered by the name of their company:

C#

var query =_mgr.Customers.OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName).Take(100);

We can make the application appear extremely fast by combining a Take() query that requests a small set of data with an asynchronous query that requests a larger set. Suppose, for example, that the user requests several thousand orders. We don‟t know for sure he‟ll do so, but we‟ve seen it before. So we take defensive measures. We first compose the user‟s order query in the usual manner. We then suffix it with a call to Take() that limits the request to a safe maximum of 3,000 orders. We submit this one as an asynchronous query because we know from experience that it will take several uncomfortable seconds to return. We follow immediately with the same query, also suffixed with a call to Take(), this time limited to 100 orders. This one we submit synchronously2; we‟re willing to wait a half second for this one. It returns as a list and we present the first 100 orders. The original request for 3,000 eventually arrives; the call-back method fills the list. On screen, the order grid magically grows from 100 to 3,000. The user is delighted. Note that there is also a Skip() extension method that can be used if you want something other than the first n members of an ordered result set. The following query will bring down the next 100 customers: C#
var query = _mgr.Customers.OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName).Skip(100).Take(100);

Model Design and Code Generation
Architects are increasingly convinced that we should design business objects with a blind eye to the way their inner state are stored. Our job is to interpret the user stories, to tease out the logic and data necessary to support those stories. A business object model gradually emerges and from that model we later discover the storage scheme that fits best. This approach is called Behavior Driven Development (BDD) because it encourages us to start from the required application behavior and work toward the implementation rather than leap directly to data design (as most of us old
2

In Silverlight applications all queries must be asynchronous, so in that case we will have to do both of our queries – the larger one and the smaller one – asynchronously. In a Silverlight app, we might choose to tie up the user interface of our application by other means (such as displaying a child window) while waiting for the smaller query to return.

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folks have done our entire careers). If a user story says “the order date must precede the delivery date”, it is clear we‟ll need two date fields. When the story says “the user enters an order date” and “the user enters a delivery date”, we will know enough to give our Order class properties to get and set these dates. On the other hand, our Order class won‟t have an “approval date”, a “credit checked date”, a “status changed date” or any other date unless another user story calls for them. No peeking to see if these fields are in the Order table! We won‟t worry just yet about how or where the order and delivery dates are stored. BDD says we should wait to the “last responsible moment” before committing to a storage scheme. Meanwhile, we can code and test our Order class now. As storage blindness is rarely possible in real life, we should at least hang a curtain to hide the storage details – and peer behind that curtain as little as possible. The Entity Data Model helps by separating the conceptual data model from the storage schema. There is no mistaking the fact that the conceptual data model remains a data model – well short of a business object layer whose members combine behavior and state. Moreover it exists for one reason only: so that we can move values between business objects and storage when that time inevitably arrives. So it is actually a model of the state within the business objects rather than a model of the business objects. Nonetheless, we should be able to maintain the pretense that our state is purely conceptual and could be moved to any form of storage. We only commit to a storage scheme when we‟re in a different frame of mind. This kind of design separation is extremely difficult to accomplish by hand. There is a lot of tedious programming for each business object, most of it concerning access to the fields of persisted data. An object mapped to a table row of twenty columns could yield a couple of pages of code. The slightest change to the storage schema necessitates a revision of this code. We won‟t do it without adequate tools and code generation. We would simply lack the patience and discipline.

ADO.NET Entity Framework Development
The ADO.NET Entity Framework takes a stab at the appropriate tooling and code generation. There is a Visual Studio EF designer that presents a visual canvas upon which to draw entity classes, the relationships among them, and the mapping to the storage schemas. The EF code generator produces a partial class file with properties to access persisted data fields. It also inscribes navigation properties that return related entities; the Order.Customer property returns the Customer object associated with a given Order instance. Because a business object is more than data and needs more logic – more behavior – than just data access properties, the generated class file needs a companion partial class file. The design tool can‟t generate the companion file – only the developer knows what belongs there. The developer creates this file and pours her custom business object behavior into it. The compiler combines the two files, yielding a complete class with both business logic and data management capabilities. This two-part, “bicameral” file structure is effective in keeping developer and generated code in separate rooms. In principle the generator can be run repeatedly – rearranging the generated code “room” – without disturbing the furniture in the developer‟s room.

Weaknesses
The Entity Framework designer and generator fall short in several critical respects: The designer does not give the developer adequate control over the generated code The generated properties are not adequately extensible, limiting the developer‟s ability to abstract out the business logic shared across business objects.

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The code generator blocks introduction of “base” classes into the inheritance hierarchy, limiting the developer‟s ability to inherit common business object behavior.

Designer Woes
We could write the properties by hand. But we‟d like to use the Entity Framework Designer to generate the code for us so that the property code conforms to standard and includes all the property interceptor calls it should have. Unfortunately, the Entity Framework Designer won‟t generate entity code without validating the storage model and the mapping schema – which don‟t yet exist. The DevForce Object Mapper can generate the tedious persistent data accessor property code with the conceptual model alone. It doesn‟t need the storage or mapping schemas which we can fill in later. The developer should be able to build the conceptual data model without first committing to a storage or mapping specification. When the developer determines that the application data requirements are sufficiently well known to warrant database schema design, she can add the storage and mapping schemas “just in time.” Unfortunately, the EF insists that every conceptual entity be mapped. It refuses to “validate” the model when there is no mapping and it won‟t generate code for an un-validated model. The developer should work on just those business objects that are pertinent to the user story. Who cares if the database has hundreds of tables when we only need five business objects. Sadly, the EF designer is unforgiving. There is no going back once the developer has selected his tables and generated her model. She will have to edit the XML to add the sixth, seventh, and eighth objects. Indeed, there are a great number of everyday mapping activities that can only be accomplished by dipping into the raw XML.

Rigid Code Generation
The Entity Framework code generator grants the programmer only limited control over the generated class code. For example, it emits public properties for all mapped data values, even those you don‟t want exposed. And it always generates properties with both getters and setters. This is a reasonable default but is not desirable in every case. The primary key value is usually immutable; its property should be read only if it can be read at all.

Anemic Data Properties
The bicameral approach works fine when we can locate the business logic in the developer‟s custom partial class file. It‟s easy to put calculations and workflow rules there when they concern the entire object. For example, this is the place to augment the order object with an InvoiceTotal property that sums the cost of all item details. But a great deal of business logic is only effective when it executes inside the data access properties – and these properties reside in the generated file. Suppose we want to constrain the transition from one order status value to another; perhaps the status proceeds from “new” to “approved” to “shipped” to “delivered”. We should reject any attempt to transition directly from “new” to “shipped”. Maybe we should block unauthorized users from changing the status at all. The critical place to catch validation and security violations is inside the OrderStatus property itself. The EF did not generate the OrderStatus property with these capabilities. We cannot add them to the generated property code ourselves; the designer will overwrite our change the next time we use it – as we surely will in response to changing application requirements. The generated code must have adequate extension points – mechanisms that enable the developer to inject behavior into the properties without touching the code itself. Unfortunately, the Entity Framework generates anemic property accessors. Here is another example:
[EdmScalarPropertyAttribute()] public string SocialSecurityNumber { get { return _socialSecurityNumber; }

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set { OnSocialSecurityNumberChanging(value); ReportPropertyChanging("SocialSecurityNumber"); _socialSecurityNumber = value; ReportPropertyChanged("SocialSecurityNumber"); OnSocialSecurityNumberChanged(); } }

The “getter” is not extensible. It simply returns the social security number field value. What if the user is not authorized to view that number? There is no way to block the attempt to read this value or to mask it so the user sees only a safe portion of it (e.g., the last four digits). The “setter” has a few extension points. There are reporting methods that could alert the application to changes. The ReportPropertyChanging and ReportPropertyChanged methods defer to an Entity Framework ChangeTracker object that monitors current and original property values. It could be useful to a watching application component (e.g., for data binding support). There are the partial methods, OnSocialSecurityNumberChanging and OnSocialSecurityNumberChanged, with which the developer can implement some limited logic specific to Social Security Numbers. Observe that the incoming value cannot be transformed before it reaches the field; we can complain (i.e., throw an exception) but we cannot heal. We are out of luck if we need generalized property logic that works across multiple properties. We shouldn‟t have to manually implement an On…Changing or On…Changed method for every property we want to validate. We should have a model-wide solution to validating changes that centralizes validation rules and manages them as resources … as we do in DevForce. And remember: validation is but one example of logic we could manage as metadata and introduce dynamically into the property.

Missing Inheritance
The Entity Framework supports inheritance hierarchies but only if each class in the hierarchy is mapped to a physical database table. The only base class that isn‟t mapped is the Entity Framework‟s own Entity class. There is no room to insert a class into the hierarchy that provides pure behavior. This is a serious omission. Years of real world application building confirm the wisdom and necessity of at least one base class that provides behavior that all business objects have in common. This is the application model base class, not Microsoft‟s or IdeaBlade‟s. Such a class could Manage persistent auditing fields such as LastModifiedBy and LastModifiedDate. Generate separate audit trail objects during save. Implement data binding interfaces such as IDataErrorInfo. Cache broken validation rules. Provide access to the application‟s Dependency Injection or Service Locator facilities. It is not uncommon to introduce similar classes elsewhere in the hierarchy. We might want an Inventory class in support of several distinct types of inventory, each mapped to its own table; we shouldn‟t have to have an Inventory table too.

DevForce Design and Code Generation
The DevForce Object Mapper and code generation address each of these deficiencies. The Object Mapper is a Visual Studio plug-in accessible from the tools menu. It presents classes and mappings in the grid format familiar to DevForce developers today. It surrenders to the Entity Framework all of the drag-and-

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drop finery of pretty boxes arranged on a stylish canvas. It favors a proven utilitarian approach that grants the developer unfettered access to large object models. The developer can add classes that are not yet mapped to a database table (or web method) and generate the entity classes. These classes can‟t be persisted until they are mapped. But they can be elaborated to support user stories and they can be tested. Call it impure if you must but it is a huge time saver to generate part of the conceptual model from existing database tables or web methods. You can do so incrementally. If you only need five objects, that is all you map. It‟s easy to come back later to generate additional storage-backed business object classes. The developer can specify an abstract base class that will never have a corresponding member in a data repository and insert this class anywhere in the business object class hierarchy. It‟s easy to set an application base class from which all new business objects derive by default. Like the Entity Framework, DevForce generates a partial class file covering the persistent data, leaving the developer to write custom business logic in a companion file. But DevForce gives the developer better control over the generated code. For example, using the DevForce Object Mapper she can Decide which properties to make public and which to hide Make any property read only Include or exclude DevForce value verification Impose a required-value requirement on a property mapped to a nullable column

Property Interceptors
DevForce provides a mechanism to intercept and either modify or extend the behavior of any .NET property. This interception is intended to replace, and expand upon, the technique of marking properties as virtual and overriding them in a subclass. This facility is a lightweight form of what is termed “Aspect-Oriented Programming”. Interception can be accomplished either statically, via attributes on developer-defined interception methods, or dynamically, via runtime calls to the „current‟ instance of a PropertyInterceptorManager. Attribute interception is substantially easier to write and should be the default choice in most cases. You can learn about property interceptors in the chapter “Property Interceptors” in this Developer Guide.

Multiple Data Sources
An Entity Data Model maps all of its entities to tables in a single database. This is unrealistic for the many enterprise applications whose conceptual data models integrate information from multiple resources. It‟s not uncommon for an application to draw upon data resident in three or four different databases. Consider, for example, a custom ERP application that keeps order information in one database and accounting information in a separate database under the control of a third party accounting package. Business requirements are such that a contract for a new order stimulates a cascade of credits and debits. The ledger entries refer back to the order number and it must be possible to navigate from an order to its entire ledger history. Both databases must be updated when saving the new order. It would be a catastrophe if the order was added but not the ledger entries. We require a distributed transaction which means that the changes to both databases must either all succeed or all fail. This is an extremely difficult scenario for the Entity Framework. The two databases require two Entity Data Models and two sets of entity classes. An EF ObjectContext can only manage entities from a single model so we‟ll need at least two ObjectContexts at runtime. Our scenario calls for the ability to navigate from an order to ledgers and from a ledger entry back to an order. That will be tricky because the related objects live in different ObjectContexts. Entity instances don‟t know about other ObjectContexts so an order won‟t know which ObjectContext holds its companion ledger entries. The developer will have to create some clever infrastructure to make this work. 26 | P a g e

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Saving changes to orders and ledger entries is no picnic either. We have to save orders and ledger entries separately. The developer will have to be aware of the issue, set up a distributed transaction, and make sure that the Entity Framework properly enlists both save operations in that transaction. By contrast, DevForce supports multiple data sources. The Order and LedgerEntry classes can reside in a single model so there is no need for a separate interface assembly. DevForce will generate the navigation properties to walk from order to ledger entry and back again. And DevForce takes care of setting up the distributed transaction and enlisting the save operations within that transaction. Our example looks a bit like this:

We see that DevForce is relying on the Entity Framework for object mapping and persistence operations while shielding the developer from unpleasant implementation complexities. The critical factor is the introduction of the DevForce business object model as a construct separate from the Entity Framework‟s own conceptual data model. In effect, DevForce provides a higher level abstraction over the Entity Framework object mapping abstraction.

Web Service Data Sources
The Entity Framework only works with relational data. It can only communicate with a relational database server. Not all data can be reached via a relational database server. Sometimes the data are locked up in a legacy nonrelational database. Sometimes the database is guarded by corporate IT or walled in behind a vendor‟s proprietary API. We may have to access such data sources through a web service. Our application may have to reach outside the corporate walls to access data from external sources. Tax rates, credit scores, geographical data, and zip codes are some of the external resources our application might expect to acquire. Most of these resources are already exposed as web services and those that aren‟t can be wrapped in a web or WCF service by a moderately skilled developer. Web service data are every bit as resistant to object oriented treatment as relational data. There is the same disconnect between the storage model and the conceptual model. Our object mapping technology should support entity classes backed by web service data. The upper application layers should be not be reminded constantly of the underlying storage technology.

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Entities of a DevForce conceptual model can be mapped to Web and WCF Service methods as illustrated here:

Lost Connections and Offline Applications
The Entity Framework‟s ObjectContext must always be able to connect to the database. If the application cannot connect, any query will throw an exception. The ObjectContext cache is unstable and unusable while the connection is broken so it is dangerous to continue even if something appears to work. Many applications operate in environments with unreliable connectivity. Mobile applications and wireless laptops are vulnerable to sudden outages. Without DevForce, the developer must work hard to protect against connectivity failures. The user‟s pending changes could all be lost. A DevForce application can be immune to these problems. The application can recover from an outage and continue to process queries against the cache alone until the connection is restored. The cache preserves unsaved changes, including newly added objects, so the user can continue working, albeit constrained to the world of entities presently in cache. A DevForce application can encrypt and save the entity cache to a local file with just a few commands. Later, with a few more commands, the application restores the cache from that file. A bullet-proof application might automatically store a user‟s pending changes locally every few minutes “just in case.” If the application crashes or the battery dies, the user could re-launch later and recover her work. We use this same mechanism to develop applications that operate offline intentionally. The user pre-loads the cache, preserves the cache locally, shuts down, re-launches while disconnected, does work, saves that work locally, and finally saves the pending changes to the database when reconnected. Someone may have saved changes to the same data while this user was offline. It happens while online too but the risk is greater when the time from change to save is prolonged. The response is essentially the same: DevForce detects the concurrency violation and the application resolves it, perhaps with the user‟s help.

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More DevForce Advantages
We‟ve seen the DevForce capabilities that are most critical for enterprise application development. There are other ways in which DevForce improves upon the ADO.NET Entity Framework. They may not be as critical in the majority of applications but they can significantly enhance developer productivity and code quality and are worthy of comment here.

Entity LifeCycle Events
The business object and upper application layers often need to know what the persistence layer is doing. The Entity Framework functions silently most of the time. It raises a SavingChanges event but won‟t tell you when the save operation succeeds or what entities were saved. There is no easy way of knowing when it reaches out to the database or returns with data. DevForce provides pre- and post- events or interception points for all significant moment in the “life-cycle” of an entity. Client side events include Creating and Created, Fetching and Fetched, Saving and Saved, Deleting and Deleted, Removing and Removed. There are also life-cycle extension points on the server-side (BOS) . These include the ServerSaving and ServerSaved methods so that developers can add custom processing immediately before and immediately after the save transaction. The ServerSaving method has access to the entities to be saved; the method can manipulate these entities, add to them, and remove them, before turning the final list over to DevForce for the save operation. The ServerSaved method knows if the transaction succeeded or failed and can invoke another server-side process as appropriate. Such a process might send a message to another service running in the hosted environment.

Lazy Load by Default
(The material in this section applies to DevForce WinClient but not to DevForce Silverlight, where all data retrieval is asynchronous.) DevForce navigation properties return a result if possible. The expression Order.Customer returns the order‟s customer if it has one. If the customer is already in cache, DevForce returns it. If the customer is not in cache, DevForce fetches it from storage. The behavior is the same if the navigation property returns a collection. The expression Order.OrderDetails returns the order‟s line items, retrieving them from storage if they are not found in cache. The Entity Framework takes a contrary approach. The navigation property it generates for Order.OrderDetails returns an empty list if the line items are not already in cache. The EF design team seems to have succumbed to architectural Puritanism. OO guidelines say a property should return quickly. A database query is not a fast operation. Therefore the team reasoned it should return nothing rather than return what the caller clearly expected: the list of line items. We agree with the rule in general. But we can think of no use case in which returning an empty list from Order.OrderDetails is the right thing to do. It only punishes the caller who will now have to write several lines of defensive code to satisfy the guardians of OO propriety. IdeaBlade decided to break the rule and provide useful behavior.

The Null Entity Pattern
DevForce scalar navigation properties always returns a business object. The expression Order.Customer always returns a customer object. Of course the returned customer is the order‟s real customer entity if the order actually has a customer. If the order doesn‟t have a customer, DevForce returns a placeholder object called the Null Entity.

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The same navigation property if generated by the Entity Framework would have returned null. Null values greatly complicate the developer‟s life. She has to be on constant alert for null reference exceptions. Data binding to a property that can return null is pure hell. A null reference exception thrown during data binding results in an ugly red bullet on screen and an error message that baffles the poor user. A customer null entity has all the properties of a real customer. The programmer can distinguish a null entity from the real thing when she has to but she doesn‟t have to litter the code with null value tests. Data binding survives nicely; a UI widget bound to a null entity displays a conveniently vacant value of the developer‟s choosing. The null entity pattern spares developers many hours of pain both in writing and reading code.

Proper Merge Strategies
When the Entity Framework fetches data from the database it must decide how to merge those data into its cache. What happens if the retrieved entities match entities already in the cache? What if some of those entities have pending unsaved changes or are scheduled for deletion? By default the EF only adds unmatched entities. That leaves modified entities untouched. But it also means that stale data are not refreshed. Inventory levels won‟t be updated. The user won‟t know about depletions or replenishments unless she is “lucky” enough to try saving a change to one of the adjusted products; the save will fail with a concurrency exception and she‟ll know to refresh the inventory level. An EF query with the “overwrite” option with refresh the unmodified inventory level – and wipe out the user‟s pending changes to other inventory objects. An EF query with the “preserve changes” option seems to do the right thing. It updates the unmodified inventory level and preserves the user‟s changes. Unfortunately, it obscures the fact that the changed inventory item is out of sync with the database. Suppose there was one item left in stock when the user fetched the inventory level. The user allocates it to her customer. Meanwhile, a different user sold the item to his customer, reducing the stock level to zero. After this user refreshes her cache with “preserve changes” she still believes there is one item in stock. There is not indication otherwise. She saves, intending to sell the item to her customer. The save succeeds and now the same item has been silently sold to two different customers? The DevForce offers equivalents to the EF merge strategies; they have their place. But the DevForce “preserve changes” option also preserves the pending concurrency conflict. The other user sold the item first and DevForce will prevent her from selling it twice.

The DevForce Verification Engine
DevForce provides a robust “Verification Engine” for validating the correctness of business objects. The developer can code custom verification rules and apply rules to objects by decorating properties with attributes, specifying the rules programmatically in the business object, or by reading them from metadata and adding them to the engine at runtime. While the application could suspend business object validation until just before save, user‟s prefer to be alerted immediately when they enter invalid data. Validation should be performed in the business object rather than the UI. Business object properties should validate proposed values as those values are conveyed from the UI to the object. DevForce supports this approach by inscribing calls to the Verification Engine inside the property setters.

Entity Metadata
The developer sometimes needs to know aspects of the conceptual data model itself. For example, she might need to iterate over all the child relationships of an order without knowing what those relationships are in advance. The metadata about such features of the model are often hard or impossible to find in the Entity Framework. DevForce records these features in metadata objects that can be easily reached programmatically through the

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EntityMetadataStore class. See the section “Getting Information About an Entity Type with GetEntityMeta()” in the Object Persistence chapter for detail.

Eager Entity Loading
By default, a query only returns the entities we ask for. If we query for orders, we get orders – and not the other objects related to those orders such as the customers, shipping addresses, line item details, and the product catalog. That‟s usually a good thing. Why suffer the performance cost of fetching related objects if we won‟t need them? With “lazy load” we can get a related object as we need it, when we need it, if we need it. In many scenarios we know we need the related objects immediately. Suppose our application presents the user with a list of orders. There is a grid beneath the list that displays the order details associated with the currently selected order. Clearly we need both the orders and their details at the same time. But if we stick with “lazy loading”, we‟ll see a flurry of tiny database requests as the grid calls Order.OrderDetails for each order in every displayed row. Performance will stink. Fortunately, in DevForce we can “eagerly load” the related objects by adding one or more “spans” to the query. When we add a span that specifies the relationship between Order and OrderDetail, the query engine fetches and caches the order details at the same time that it fetches and returns the selected orders. The grid‟s subsequent calls to Order.OrderDetails are satisfied quickly from the entity cache; there will be no extra trip to the server. The Entity Framework‟s LINQ to Entities syntax has a comparable feature called an “include”. We can add one or more “include” statements to eagerly load related entities. Unfortunately, there is no way to manage the includes of a LINQ to Entities query; there is no way to discover if it contains an include, no way to remove an include if it is not wanted. Moreover, an include instruction is a string, which means it cannot be type checked. In contrast, the DevForce programmer can inspect a LINQ to DevForce query for spans and add or remove them at will.

Dynamic Data Source Configuration
Data source connection management is unexpected chore. It seems simple at first: record the connection in configuration file and get out of the way. But, for many applications, the connections proliferate and the rules about who gets which connection become complex. The Entity Framework isn‟t much help in this department in part because it does not contemplate a world of multiple databases. But DevForce can help you tame the complexity. Two common scenarios illustrate the problem. 1. In typical Enterprise development cycles, an application advances through a sequence of “environments” that begin with “Dev” and proceed through “QA”, “Stage”, and “Production”. The executables are the same but the data source connection information changes at each step. It should be easy “flip a switch” and repoint the application to the database (or set of data sources) that are appropriate for the targeted environment. In some On-Demand applications, each tenant has its own database or data source set. Financial institution „A‟ has its database, „B‟ has theirs, and so on. Users launch a common application front end. When they enter their credentials, the login module identifies the user‟s company and determines the corporate database that is correct for that user‟s session.

2.

In both illustration, the data source schemas are the same across all session; what changes from session to session is that actual database used. The data model mapping schema associates each entity type with a home storage schema. That schema has a symbolic name, the DataSourceKey.

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We know the storage schema at design time. We know the DataSourceKey at design time. But we don‟t won‟t know the actual data source to access until runtime. That‟s when we‟ll use the DataSourceKey to locate the appropriate connection string and hook up to a real data source. By default, DevForce looks for the connection string in an XML configuration file, expecting to find a dataSourceKey node identified by the DataSourceKey name. The connection string should be an element within that node. Continuing our first example, we might locate any one of four connection strings depending upon the environment. We don‟t want four separate configuration files. So instead, DevForce lets us maintain multiple connection strings for each DataSourceKey. It differentiates among them by means of a DataSourceKeyExtension, an extra bit of string associated with the DataSourceKey name. Now we can record as many connection strings as we need for any conceptual data source by creating distinct nodes uniquely identified by the both key name and extension. Nodes that share the same key name refer to the same conceptual data source; the extension tells us which concrete data source to use at runtime. We control runtime behavior by telling the client-side Entity Manager which extension to use. If we‟re running in the “QA” environment, we‟ll specify a “QA” extension. If the application entities map to conceptual databases “Alpha” and “Beta”, the application will connect to the concrete databases identified by “Alpha_QA” and “Beta_QA”. When we run in production we switch to the “Prod” extension and the application now connects to databases identified by “Alpha_Prod” and “Beta_Prod”. Notice that databases travel in sets. There is the “QA” set and the “Prod” set. We can use this same technique to support multi-tenant applications that store customer data in separate databases – an approach often mandated by financial clients. An “Acme” client session runs against the “Alpha_Acme” and “Beta_Acme” databases. The “Baker” client runs against the “Alpha_Baker” and “Beta_Baker” databases. The DevForce configuration file may not be the best place to store the connection information. In our second “On Demand” scenario, we could be adding new application tenants frequently. Rather than update the configuration file every time, we write a DataSourceKeyResolver to calculate and locate connection information based on key name and extension.

Custom Key Generation
Every entity must have a unique Entity Key so that the framework (a) can distinguish one entity from another and (b) recognize when two apparently distinct object instances actually represent the same thing. The Entity Key is the conceptual equivalent of a primary key in a database table row. Like a primary key, it can be a single value (e.g., an integer Id) or a composite key (e.g. as when a line item‟s key consists of it parent Order and Product ids). A newly created entity must have a unique key before it can be added to the cache; this is true whether we add the entity to the Entity Framework ObjectContext or to the DevForce Entity Manager. Sometimes we can create the key on the spot. It‟s easy if the key is a Guid or some other globally unique value that can be determined by the client alone. It‟s not easy if we must construct the key based on values acquired from a remote source. That‟s the more usual case. The key could be mapped to an auto-incrementing column in the object‟s home table. It could be generated by incrementing a counter stored in a separate database table (e.g., a NextId table).

Identity Column Keys
The Entity Framework supports the attributing of a column described in the storage model (SSDL) section of the Entity Data Model with the StoreGeneratedPattern enumeration. This lets the EF know that the back-end data store will generate a value for a column upon insert (or upon both insert and update) so that when an entity containing such a column is persisted the EF knows, post-save, to read the new value from the back-end data store and update the entity in the EF cache.

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The EF supports three states for StoreGeneratedPattern: None (the default), Identity, and Computed. Columns flagged with StoreGeneratedPattern=Identity are those updated only upon insert. Columns flagged with StoreGeneratedPattern=Computed are updated upon both insert and update. DevForce supports the StoreGeneratedPattern=”Identity” setting, extending its capabilities to encompass entities in the DevForce client-side cache. These entities need primary key values immediately upon creation, though they may not be persisted until much later. DevForce gives such entities a temporary primary key upon creation so they can be referenced client-side without any trip to the data source. Upon saving, their value is updated in the client-side cache to the value generated on the server. The foreign key values in other entities that reference the targeted entity are also updated to reflect the new, server-generated primary key value of the target entity. The Entity Framework can generate the new key for you if the key is a single valued integer key mapped to a SQL Server identity column. The EF can‟t set the object‟s permanent key; that won‟t happen until the newly created object is saved and even then it will be the database, not the application, that determines the key. So the EF assigns a temporary key and refers to that key when it adds related entities to the new object‟s graph. For example, upon creating a new Order, the EF assigns it a temporary key (e.g., “-1”). When we add a new OrderDetail to that Order, EF inserts “-1” into the hidden foreign key field of the OrderDetail that links the detail to the parent order. When the application saves these new entities, the EF acquires the permanent ids from SQL Server and updates the objects accordingly. Continuing our example, the EF learns that the new Order‟s primary key is “123” and updates the order‟s id. It also takes a critical second step: it finds all associated OrderDetails and updates their “ParentOrderId” column values from “-1” to “123”. “Id Fix-up” is our name for this propagation of permanent ids to related objects. Only then does it try to save the fixed-up OrderDetails.

Coping with Custom Keys
Many applications are tethered to an existing database with it‟s legacy primary key scheme. They can‟t use Guids. The key may be a simple integer acquired from a counter table named NextId. It might be a semantic key that combines the counter value with “meaningful characters”; maybe the order key includes the state and fiscal year as in “FY07-0270-CA”. We‟ll have to write the logic ourselves. When we create the order, we read the current counter from the NextId table, bump it for next time, calculate our key, set the Order‟s key – and then we‟re ready add the entity to the ObjectContext. It‟s a pain but it‟s manageable for a continuously connected application. It‟s much harder if we must support an application that can operate offline. We won‟t always be able to reach the NextId table so we can‟t always calculate the permanent keys immediately. We‟ll need a custom temporary key and Id Fix-up scheme. DevForce can do all of this for you. You write a custom Id calculation class that conforms to a DevForce interface. DevForce discovers the class and manages key creation, temporary keys, and Id Fix-up during the save. Of course it works even when your application runs offline.

Declarative Concurrency Column Management
Many applications must guard against the possibility that two different users will unknowingly edit and save the same entity simultaneously. Without some kind of checking, the last person to save wins. If I sell a particular item and you sell the same item, we will have sold the same item twice although the database will show only that you sold it. I could have put a database lock on the item record, thus preventing you from reading and editing it. Such “pessimistic locking” harms performance and leads to troubling lock-out scenarios. Neither DevForce nor the Entity Framework supports such a physical locking scheme. The Entity Framework relies on “optimistic concurrency” techniques to detect and resolve concurrent access conflicts. Optimistic concurrency assumes that two users rarely wrestle over the same record and therefore allows all 33 | P a g e

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users to access records freely. If two users, such as you and I, try to update the same record, it detects the conflict and terminates the second save; it informs the second client be raising a concurrency exception. The Entity Framework implements optimistic concurrency by comparing the value of a concurrency column in the pending record with the value of that column in the stored record. If the values are the same, the pending record can be saved. If the values are different, the pending record is out of sync with the stored record; the framework assumes a concurrency conflict and throws the exception. This technique works so long as the concurrency value is changed after each successful save. Who is responsible for that change? The Entity Framework says that you are. You are fortunate if the database table has an update trigger that can do it. Otherwise, you have to write the code that updates the concurrency column and you have to remember to call it at the right moment. DevForce can handle the concurrency column update for you. In the DevForce Object Mapper you declare the concurrency column (or columns) and pick a method from a list of concurrency column update methods. DevForce will call that method at the appropriate time. Yes, you can extend the list with a custom method.

Undo and Checkpointing
The Entity Framework lets you accept all entities with pending changes (thus disguising a discrepancy between data in session and data in storage!) but won‟t let you roll back changes – either individually or collectively – without many lines of programming. “Undo” is a one line command in DevForce. There is no progressive undo capability in Entity Framework. With the DevForce “Checkpointing” facility, the application can roll back the state of the entire entity cache to any one in a sequence of “checkpoints” or snapshots. Wizards put this feature to good use. Each step forward through the wizard can be marked. In the current step the user might add new entities, modify or delete existing entities, and retrieve more from the database. If the user then cancels the current wizard page and retreats a step, the application can discard all of these changes and restore the state of both the entities and the cache to the marked state with a single command.

Sandbox Editors
Sandbox editors are a convenient alternative – or compliment – to checkpointing. Imagine that customer “Jim” calls to adjust one of his orders. You find the order in the list and open it in an editor and begin working on it. You‟re in the midst of changing deliver addresses, order items, billing information, etc. Suddenly, premium customer “Sally” calls you with an urgent request for a new order that you must enter right now. Jim kindly agrees to complete his changes later. You begin Sally‟s order in a second order editor. You are half way through Sally‟s order when Jim calls you back. He says “never mind, that order we were changing is just fine the way it was.” You switch briefly over to Jim‟s order and discard all changes simply by shutting down the order editor. You return to Sally‟s order editor, complete it, and save. There are two distinct orders in flight in this example. Each has its own set of entities some of which may overlap (e.g., the list of shippers) although most do not. With DevForce, you can create separate Entity Managers – with separate caches – and maintain these editor sets separately, each in their own “sandbox”. The entities in the “Jim” Entity Manager are isolated from the entities in the “Sally” Entity Manager and all of these entities are isolated from the list of orders held in the application‟s main Entity Manager. Now imagine that this scenario takes place off line. There is no access to the database. That still works in DevForce because you can easily pass copies of entities from one manager to the next without going to the database. You might even prefer this approach when connected if the performance of your application is at a premium and bandwidth is poor.

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DevForce and the Entity Framework

Keeping lists of entities up-to-date is a recurring application problem. It‟s the holiday season as I write this so let‟s imagine we‟ve written Santa‟s inventory tracker. The tracker displays a list of undelivered packages on Santa‟s dashboard. As each package finds its intended child, the list should grow shorter. An elf in the back of the sleigh is updating package information on a separate screen, marking each one “delivered” as it drops down the chimney. Santa sees the same dashboard on the console monitor because he and the elf are cabled together. What makes the list shrink when the elf marks the package delivered? Traditionally, we‟d have written the logic ourselves. But there is a problem: the elf‟s module doesn‟t know about the list displayed on the dashboard. So it‟s not as easy as remembering to remove an item from UndeliveredList when the elf clicks the “Delivered” button. We‟ll probably need some kind of cross module event scheme. DevForce can handle this for us automatically with its managed list feature. Let the two modules share the same Entity Manager, let the list be governed by this manager, give the list the appropriate predicate – “keep item if not delivered”- and the list takes care of itself.

Conclusion
IdeaBlade has been in this arena since the early days of .NET. The DevForce product has long offered most of the capabilities described in this paper including the multi-tier ORM, client-side caching, and code generation. The Microsoft ADO.NET Entity Framework is a solid contribution to the field and its very existence confirms the widespread need for an infrastructure like DevForce. But the Entity Framework by itself cannot fulfill the needs of many enterprise applications. The productivity isn‟t quite there. The generated code lacks essential support for business object development. Its two-tier architecture limits the application‟s ability to reach a distributed user community with the required performance and security. With DevForce, developers can quickly realize the potential of an object-oriented, multi-tier, enterprise application connecting hundreds or thousands of users.

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Getting Started

Getting Started
This section offers a brief overview of how to get started with IdeaBlade. Topics covered in this chapter are: Topic Installation DevForce Start Menu NorthwindIB database Documentation Conventions Description Brief introduction and pointer to pertinent sources. Tools and information accessible from the Windows Start Menu. Many examples make use of the tutorial NorthwindIB database, which is based on Microsoft's blueprint NorthwindEF database. Best Practices indicators and typographical conventions used in this guide.

Chapter 2:

Installation
The separate DevForce Installation Guide covers the installation and upgrade process in detail and also contains a troubleshooting section. The DevForce Release Notes contain version specific information that you may need for certain upgrades.

DevForce Start Menu
Installation adds an “IdeaBlade DevForce” folder to your Start menu. At the moment it looks like this:

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Documentation Menu Item Developers Guide DevForce Help Installation Guide Learning Units Release Notes

Description The document you‟re reading now. The technical help covering the DevForce assemblies, types, and type members. How to install and upgrade DevForce. Includes Troubleshooting tips. Scripts and solutions for hands-on walk-thrus of DevForce product features and applications. Documentation of new features, enhancements to existing features, bug fixes, upgrade issues, and everything else you need to know when upgrading your copy of DevForce.

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Tools Menu Item Assembly Binding Redirector

Description Discovers third-party control suites on your machine; compares the names and version numbers of the associated DLLs with the versions supported by DevForce; suggests redirections to permit you to use your installed versions with DevForce; and writes machine.config statements to implement the selected redirections. Edits an IdeaBlade.ibconfig file governing your application‟s deployment. DevForce application deployment is its own chapter in this guide. Installs the NorthwindIB sample database. This is a SQL Server database (not a database server) that is used in many of the Learning Units that accompany the product. Quick „n dirty tool that facilitates testing a distributed app. Creates folders for client- and server-side assemblies and configuration files, and otherwise facilitates running the DevForce EntityService in a separate process from the client side app and EntityManager. Facilitates replacing your current product key with a new one (in the case of upgrade, etc.) When you elect installation of Windows Forms support (the default), DevForce adds a number of visual design components to the Visual Studio 2008 Tool Box. Sometimes VS won‟t accept our automated attempt to install these tools. You may remove one or more from the VS tools accidentally. You may acquire a 3 rd party control suite for which we have a dedicated visual component. This installer will help you (re)install these components. Tool for listening to logged activity from a running DevForce application.

Applies to DevForce Silverlight No

Config Editor

Yes

Database Installer

Yes

N-Tier Configuration Starter Product Key Updater Tool Box Installer

No

Yes No

Trace Viewer

Yes

The “NorthwindIB" database
NorthwindIB is a sample database that is referenced by the DevForce Tutorials and other documentation. It differs from its source, the Microsoft NorthwindEF database, in several significant respects while retaining a recognizable parentage. The data are mostly the same. The differences between NorthwindIB and NorthwindEF are detailed in a text file “NorthwindIB_DifferencesFromEF.txt” which installs in the DevForce installation directly alongside the NorthwindIB.MDF database file. We recommend installing or upgrading your copy of "NorthwindIB" so you can follow along with our tutorials and code samples. The normal installation process tries to add this to your SQL Server databases but it may fail to do so for any number of reasons. We also update this database from time to time in order to support new example code that illustrates DevForce features. Please see the Installation Guide for instructions on how to install or upgrade this database.

Development Process
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The “object-oriented” and “distributed” parts may seem a little foreign to some.

Getting Started

The object-oriented approach to data means thinking in terms of Business Objects and Object Persistence rather than retrieving, inserting and updating data records. This becomes so obvious and easy in DevForce that, in a few days, you stop thinking in terms of fields and joins and you may even forget how to use ADO. The “distributed” aspects don‟t surface until well down the road and, because it‟s easy to re-configure the application for multiple physical tiers, there is no cost to delaying awareness of multi-tier considerations. Many developers do the lion‟s share of their work in a one-tier physical model in which all components of the system – even a test database – reside on a single physical machine. You may prefer to access test data on an independent server in which case your development experience is not that much different than good-old client / server. The following sections summarize the stages in a typical development process. The summary highlights the end-toend influence of the DevForce infrastructure.

Database Schema Implementation
You either have a DBA or you are the DBA. If you are the DBA, you‟ve always been in control. If you have a DBA, you‟re going to have to coordinate with her. Fortunately, she can remain the only one who touches the database. You may recommend schema changes but nothing in DevForce requires a schema change. There may be a tussle over stored procedures. The DBA may want you to use them. You can. But your life will be much better without them in most cases. DevForce assumes you are starting from an existing database schema. Theory says the object model should dictate the storage schema. This is highly desirable, especially in the early design phases. However, once your application(s) have settled in, the “Model Driven Architecture” (MDA) approach becomes academic. The database is what it is and you may change it only at increasing cost. DevForce does not provide an MDA tool. Neither does it interfere with MDA. It picks up where MDA leaves off. Of course your schema doesn‟t stand still either. DevForce adapts to those changes without imposing any of its own.

Object Mapping
The application architect or senior developer uses a combination of the Entity Framework‟s Entity Data Model (EDM) Designer and the DevForce Object Mapper to configure the map business object classes to data source objects. While “data source objects” can reside in databases, web service methods, or message queues, most enterprise application data are stored in relational databases. Accordingly, most object mapping is between business object classes, AKA entities, and tables, views, or stored procedures in a relational database. You cycle around and around from schema design to database schema change to object mapping to redesign. You return repeatedly to the Object Mapper, knowing that it adapts to change while your business object layer rides above the mapped classes, insulating the UI layers of your application from adverse consequences of those changes. The DevForce Object Mapper and the Entity Framework EDM designer co-exist happily: neither interferes with the other‟s work.

Business Logic Elaboration
That business object layer is the locus of business logic development. You begin with a collection of use cases and test cases that explore the persisted features of the Business Objects. You might read simple entity properties and explore the network of relations among the entities, perhaps printing results to the console.

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Getting Started

Business Object creation and comparison methods are next, following the IdeaBlade recommended patterns and using a few simple methods of the Entity class at the root of all Business Objects. Note that we‟re not writing UI here. We‟re exploring and enriching the business objects independently of any particular user experience. Our changes go in the developer partial classes that are initially generated by the Object Mapper and subsequently left entirely alone. Slowly we begin to add rules and to verify those rules. The ship date must be after the order date, for example. Only a user with administrative rights can change a salary. The developer inscribes these rules in the custom entity classes that comprise the business logic layer. The developer doesn‟t spend much time thinking about how to push and pull entities from their persistent homes in data storage. That‟s the job of the EntityManager, guided by the object map. Developers no longer embed SQL commands for reading or writing data to storage. Instead they invoke strongly-typed LINQ queries that return business objects (entities). They write business logic that references object properties, not data fields.

Nonpersisted Classes
Business objects have state and long-lasting identity. They are stored (persisted) for an extended time. Not everything is a business object. There are transient objects and Singleton classes with no state to store such as temporary collections (e.g. list of user-selected products). calculation classes (e.g., a ROI calulator). helper classes to which similar Business Objects delegate common functionality (e.g., audit logging). APIs to external applications. Because these are not "Business Objects" - they do not carry state (or least what state they have is not stored in the database). They are not mapped and they fall outside the purview of DevForce Object Persistence. Such classes are written in the normal fashion and will be collected in one or more separate application projects.

Application Control Classes
The developers add the control classes that manage navigation and work flow. They enable the graphic designer‟s buttons and menus and tie the forms to other methods in the business objects.

Deploy
The application is completed in record time. There have been mock deployments to development, test, and staging environments. The production deployment is no different. The application code itself is identical, whether it is installed on the server or deployed to a client; the only difference is the configuration of their respective IdeaBlade Configuration files which are now separately edited for the production environment. There are packages of files: a server package and a client package. The server package typically is a Microsoft Install file (MSI). This file is unpacked into the designated directories of one or more servers and each is launched. The Business Object Server monitors the health and activity of each server application. DevForce WinClient .NET‟s “ClickOnce” publishing is the easy way to build and distribute the client package. ClickOnce puts the package (a collection of files) on a web server and makes it accessible through a web page. PC users with .NET runtime installed navigate by browser to the page and clicking an install button.

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ClickOnce downloads and installs the client application in the user‟s personal directory. It then launches automatically. This install happens once. Developers upgrade the application and publish revised client packages. ClickOnce detects the upgrade and downloads the new version seamlessly. There is no danger of the application executables and class libraries colliding with those of other application. Nor will an install (or uninstall) of a different application disturb this one. .NET has corrected the DLL nightmare with proper versioning. .NET applications don't have to use the Windows registry either. DevForce Silverlight In a Silverlight application, the XAP file is your client package, and Visual Studio has fortunately built it for you. You‟ll need to be sure to place the XAP file in the ClientBin folder of the web site which is hosting the application. This site will typically also host the Business Object Server (deployed as the server package above) but this is not a requirement. If you do host the BOS and Silverlight application from different web sites you‟ll need to be sure to also deploy a file named “clientaccesspolicy.xml”. More information on this is available later in this document.

Documentation Conventions
Best Practices
Throughout this Guide we‟ll make recommendation either for or against some practice. We use a rating system to indicate when we feel very strongly or just strongly about these recommendations. We borrowed if from one of the best guideline books you‟ll find [Cwalina, p. xx]. Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries by Cwalina et al. This was written by the folks who‟ve been building Microsoft products for decades, most of them architects or prime contributors to .NET itself. It‟s readable, wise, and practical. Get it today! Rating  Do  Do Not  Consider  Avoid Description Always follow this recommendation unless you have an amazingly compelling reason to do otherwise. You should never do this – unless you have an amazingly compelling reason. You must document why you did it so you‟ll remember why later. You should follow this recommendation in general but if you understand it and have a good reason, you can break it and still sleep at night. The cited practice is probably a bad idea but sometimes you do it anyway. Be sure to have a good reason and write it down so others can see why (e.g., put it in your code comments).

Watch for these ratings throughout. This Guide also includes a Best Practices chapter which repeats some of the advice in the other chapters and covers topics of its own.

Typography
The following table shows the typographic conventions used in this DevForce Developers‟ Guide. These are the same as the conventions used in the .NET Framework documentation.
Convention Description Example

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Convention Monospace

Description

Example

Indicates source code, code examples, input to the command line, application output, code lines embedded in text, and variables and code elements. Indicates most predefined programming elements, including namespaces, classes, delegates, objects, interfaces, methods, functions, macros, structures, constructors, properties, events, enumerations, fields, operators, statements, directives, data types, keywords, exceptions, non-HTML attributes, and configuration tags, as well as registry keys, subkeys, and values. Also indicates the following HTML elements: attributes, directives, keywords, values, and headers. In addition, indicates required user input, including command-line options, that must be entered exactly as shown.

Public Class

Bold

Path class Resolve method

Italic

Indicates placeholders, most often method or function parameters and context parameter HTML placeholders; these placeholders represent information that must be supplied by the implementation or the user. For command-line input, indicates parameter values.

Capital letters

Indicates the names of keys and key sequences.

ENTER CTRL+R

Plus sign

Indicates a combination of keys. For example, ALT+F1 means to hold down the ALT key while pressing the F1 key.

ALT+F1

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Hello, DevForce

Hello, DevForce
Creation means finding the new world in that first fierce step with no thought of return. David Whyte, “Statue of Buddha”

Chapter 3:

Don‟t look back. All change, all creation, is attended first by grief for what is lost followed by the clarity in moving on with no thought of return. DevForce is not magic and you‟re unlikely to build an enterprise application over night. But you can build a good application that you‟re proud of in reasonable time. Once you lay to rest your old habits and have grieved for them awhile, the new path will embrace you and, in spare moments, you may wonder how you ever did it that old way. “But I‟m so happy in my comfortable way. What if things go wrong? That DevForce thing is just a little intimidating.” This chapter should ease you across the threshold, highlighting some of the more prominent DevForce features along the way.

DevForce Application Architecture - The Big Picture
A DevForce application relies upon a layered architecture for data access. At one end is a data source – typically a relational database. At the other end is the user interface which works with business objects in a business object model. There are several components in the middle.

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Figure 1. Application Components in a DevForce Application

Hello, DevForce

One of them, called an EntityServer, moves data (and data requests) between the ADO.NET Entity Framework and DevForce business objects. If the back-end data store is a relational database, the EntityServer leaves the direct communication with the data store to the ADO.NET Entity Framework. However, if the back-end data store is a web service, the DevForce EntityServer handles the job, since that capability does not exist within the Entity Framework. The EntityServer has a copy of the application‟s business object model so that it can instantiate DevForce business objects server-side if need be. However, for most operations (such as simple data retrievals), it forwards to the client-side EntityManager the data required for hydrating DevForce business objects there, without ever instantiating DevForce business objects on the server. The data is packaged and passed in a highly efficient format and process. The ADO.NET Entity Data Model includes the mapping information necessary to translate between locations in a relational data source and the corresponding persistent fields in the ADO.NET business entities. The EntityServer (besides handling those jobs against web services), mediates between the Entity Framework and the DevForce EntityManager that manages the client-side cache used by your application. The second important DevForce component is the EntityManager. The EntityManager takes instruction from the higher levels of the application such as the UI, and forwards UI requests for entities to the EntityServer. The EntityManager puts the received entities – obtained from whatever source by the EntityServer -- into its entity cache and makes them available to the UI. End users review the entities and make changes through the UI. The UI signals the EntityManager to save the changes. It dutifully forwards the changed entities to the EntityServer which communicates with the appropriate component to commit the data into persistent storage.

DevForce and the ADO.NET EntityModel
Visual Studio‟s ADO.NET Entity Data Model wizard creates an EDMX file which contains descriptions of a conceptual data schema (the object model), an actual data store schema (the database model), and the mappings between the two. It also renders the object model in code in a file named <ModelName>.Designer.cs (or .vb). The developer‟s first step in building the object model for her application will consist in creating an entity model in an EDMX file. Typically she will use the Visual Studio Entity Data Model wizard to create the initial version of the EDMX file and the corresponding generated code file. After that, she will work with some combination of the Visual Studio Entity Model Designer and direct XML coding in the EDMX file, depending upon her preferences and whether she needs to use features in her model that are not supported by the Entity Model designer. The second step will be to create a Domain model using the DevForce Object Mapper. This model is so named because it will be composed of one or more Entity Models persisted in .EDMX files. The DevForce Object Mapper will alter the .EDMX file by adding additional elements and attributes. These added features are ignored, and left undisturbed by, the ADO.NET Entity Data Model Designer. Because of this, the developer can move back and forth between the Visual Studio Entity Model Designer and the DevForce Object Mapper without fear of either disturbing the other‟s work. There is, by intent, some overlap in the the functionality of the DevForce Object Mapper and ADO.NET Entity Data Model Designer. However, our intial work on the DevForce Object Mapper has been focussed on providing needed or useful capabilities that are either not present, or are difficult to work with, in the Entity Data Model Designer. Our goal is to make it as convenient as possible for you to work with your model. We mentioned that the Entity Data Model wizard and designer, in addition to altering the .EDMX file, generate the classes that comprise the compilable manifestation of the object model. From the Object Mapper‟s enhanced version of the .EDMX DevForce generates two sets of classes. The first is essentially the same Entity Framework model generated by the Visual Studio tools. This version of your object model will be deployed to the logical middle tier of your application, where it is used by the ADO.NET Entity Framework for creating objects of the type that it understands. 44 | P a g e

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The second version of the object model generated by the DevForce Object Mapper is a DevForce version consisting of business classes that inherit from IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity. As previously mentioned, we refer to this version of the model as the Domain model. The Domain model is “persistence ignorant”: unlike the Entity Framework model, it has no knowledge whatsoever of the back-end datastore or the mapping between that and its objects. In an n-tier deployment, it is the only model that is deployed client side. The client needs no connection information for back-end datasources. The DevForce Domain Model is the only client-side model your application will use. It is, however, also deployed server-side; and it‟s scope of operation is synonymous with the bracketed area labelled “DevForce Business Objects” in Figure 1. The Domain Model is a consumer of Entity Data Models, whose .edmx files typcially define the lion‟s share of its content. Server-side, DevForce delegates to the Entity Framework the jobs of communicating with the database(s) to perform persistence operations including data retrieval and saving. The Entity Framework, in turn, uses the compiled versions of the Entity Data Models, as well as connection information typically stored in an app.config file, to do its work. In DevForce, all direct communications with back-end data sources are considered, logically, as server-side operations, which they will literally be in an application deployed across three or more physical tiers. The application components that facilitate such communications, including the Entity Framework, Entity Data Model, and DevForce EntityServer are considered server-side components, and are kept logically separate from client-side components such as the DevForce EntityManager and the client application. It is perfectly possible to deploy both the logical client-side components and the logical server-side components to the client machine, and this is often the configuration used for much of the development work even on enterprise applications. When all application components including the database server are deployed on a single physical machine, you have a “single-tier deployment”. When all application components except the database server are deployed on a single physical machine, and the latter is deployed to a remote machine, you have what is known as a “client-server” application. When client-side application components are deployed on a separate machine from server-side application components, this is typically referred to as “n-tier” deployment, even if the database server resides on the same machine as the application server (e.g., the DevForce BOS). However, since the strongest application security, widest availability, greatest scalability, and easiest deployment are all associated with n-tier physical deployment, we figure it‟s much to your benefit to write your application from the beginning to permit that, and we make it as easy for you as we can. What are the Parts of Your Business Model, and Where Are the Parts Deployed? The ADO.NET Entity Data Model and the DevForce Domain Model each have representations in both XML and in .NET code. The representation of the Entity Data Model (EDM) in XML is a file with the extension .EDMX. Visual Studio includes a code generator that creates a corresponding file of .NET code. This file has the same name as the .EDMX file, but an extension of “designer.cs”. It is stored by Visual Studio subordinate to the .EDMX file in the Entity Data Model project. The representation of the DevForce Domain Model in XML consists of a file with the extension .IBEDMX; and one or more of the Entity Data Model (.EDMX) files just discussed. The .IBEDMX file mostly acts as a catalog of the Entity Data Models that contain, in XML, the detailed specifications of entities, properties, associations, tables, columns, relationships, and mappings. Both the DevForce Object Mapper and the Visual Studio Entity Data Model Designer read from and write to the .EDMX files. The tools cooperate completely, fully respecting each others‟ work, and may be used in any order. Using the specifications stored in the .IBEDMX and .EDMX files, the DevForce Object Mapper generates a file of .NET code which has the same name as the .IBEDMX file, but an extension of “designer.cs”. This generated code file is stored by the Object Mapper subordinate to the .IBEDMX file in the Domain Model project.

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The Object Mapper also generates “developer partial class” files for each entity in the Domain Model. These files are named “<EntityName>.cs” and are generated into the Domain Model project.

Your First DevForce Application: a Walk-Through
With that information, we‟re ready to walk through the process of building a simple DevForce-based application. The process consists of the following steps: 1. 2. 3. 4. Obtain or create at least one ADO.NET Entity Data Model Create a new Domain Model using the DevForce Object Mapper Add the Entity Data Model to the Domain Model Adjust the Entity Data Model as desired; e.g., rename classes and properties, designate concurrency columns, etc. 5. Save the Domain Model, which results in code being generated for the types in the model 6. Optionally, add additional Entity Data Models and repeat 7. Optionally, add entities backed by web-services 8. Add custom business logic to the entity classes 9. Add Unit Tests a. Add References b. EmployeeTest First Look c. Get a Test Employee d. Run the Test e. Accumulating Test Results f. Lessons Learned 10. Create the UI a. Unaided .NET Winforms b. .NET Winforms Using DevForce V3 UI tools c. WPF Let‟s get started! 46 | P a g e

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Building the Domain Model
1. We‟ll begin our walk-through by creating a blank Visual Studio solution named “DevForceEF01”:

2. 3.

To that we‟ll add an empty project into which we‟ll subsequently put a newly created Entity Data Model. If you know you‟ll be starting with an existing solution that already includes one or more Entity Models, you can skip ahead to the section, “Build Your Domain Model Using the DevForce Object Mapper”. Add a new Class Library project to your blank solution. Name this project “ServerModelNorthwindIB”. Delete the Class1.cs file that gets created by default in the new project. You will not use it. Add a New Item, ADO.NET Entity Data Model, to the project using the Entity Data Model wizard. Name your model ServerModelNorthwindIB.edmx.

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a. b.

On the Choose Model Contents dialog, select “Generate from database”. On the Choose Your Data Connection dialog, create or select the NorthwindIB data connection. Rename the connection settings key name for the App.Config file to “ServerModelNorthwindIBContext”.

c.

On the Choose Your Database Objects dialog: Uncheck the Stored Procedures and Views. Expand the Tables node and make sure only the following tables are checked:  Customer  Employee  Order  OrderDetail  Product  Supplier

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Hello, DevForce

Rename the Model Namespace to “ServerModelNorthwindIB” Click <Finish>. 4. Visual Studio will create an Entity Data Model using the settings you specified, and will open it in its graphical editor. Save the file without making any changes, then inspect it as you wish in the graphical editor or the source XML.

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You could, at this point, do considerable further work on your Entity Data Model. For example, you might: Create new entities Describe inheritance relationships among the entities Create new associations (relationships) between the entities Define complex types within the entities Create and map function imports for stored procedures Map entities to stored procedures for CRUD (Create, Retrieve, Update, Delete) operations; And other operations. Note that we could also have included Stored Procedures and Views in our Entity Data Model while creating it with the wizard. We didn‟t in order to keep thing simple for the purpose of this beginning tutorial. But DevForce supports everything you can do in your Entity Data Model.

Build Your Domain Model Using the DevForce Object Mapper Now that we have an Entity Data Model to work with, we‟ll create our Domain Model. 1. 2. From the Visual Studio main menu, select Tools / DevForce Object Mapper. From the Object Mapper menu, select File / New. DevForce creates a new in-memory domain model named (New Model), which will be visible in the navigational tree control. 3. Select the (New Model) node in the tree control. Observe the “Domain Model Settings.

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Hello, DevForce

When the Object Mapper saves the domain model and generates code, it will use the Namespace (“DomainModel”) shown for the generated code, and will also name the EntityManager container (“DomainModelEntityManager”) as shown. You‟ll use the EntityManager for retrieving data into your local cache, for saving changes, and for many other data persistence operations. 4. Now observe the “Save Settings”.

By default, the Object Mapper will, when you first save your work, do all of the following: Generate a code file, <DomainModel Name>.<Entity Data Model Name>.Designer.cs (or .vb); e.g., “DomainModel.ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs”. This code file contains partial classes for all business entities defined in the DomainModel. Create an app.config file in the domain model project, and store configuration information (such as connection strings) there. Generate a handler for the post-build event of any executable project that references the DomainModel assembly. This handler will make sure that a. the ideaBlade.configuration section of the app.config in that project gets updated at build time to reflect any new information in the copy of app.config that resides in the domain model project; and b. the assembly containing the Entity Data Model gets copied to the executables folder. 3 All .NET code will be generated in the language you select, C# or VB. If the “Create developer classes” checkbox is checked, the Object Mapper will also generate developer partial classes for each of the entities in your model. We‟ll discuss these more later. The “Output intermediate files” checkbox is included as a debugging aid. You can happily ignore it for now. The “Generate post-build event” option refers to the creation of a handler for a Visual Studio IDE event that fires when a project is built. The handler DevForce generates makes sure that necessary Entity Data Model components (including the EDM assembly and possibly the model artifact files – .CSDL, .SSDL, and .MSL) will automatically be copied to the final executables directory whenever the project containing the EntityModel is built. Absent this handler, you will have to move the files there manually, or write your own post-build handler.

3

If the developer has elected to have the .SSDL, .CSDL, and.MSL files generated by Visual Studio from the Entity Data Model stored as loose files rather than embedd

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5. From the (right-click) shortcut menu associated with the domain model (New Model) node in the tree control -- or from the File option on the main menu -- select Add Entity Model.

Hello, DevForce

6.

In the resulting File Open dialog, navigate to the ServerModelNorthwindIB.edmx file and select that. DevForce will display a node for the ServerModelNorthwindIB Entity Data Model as a child of the (New Model) domain model. You can add as many Entity Data Models as you like to your domain model.

7.

Select the ServerModelNorthwindIB.edmx node in the tree control. Observe the settings in the details pane.

The meanings and uses of these settings are described in detail in the “Object Mapping” chapter of the IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide. Please refer to that for details. For our purposes here, just accept all the default settings. 8. We‟re going to do some further work on our model, but before we do let‟s save our work. Select the (New Model) node in the navigational tree, and click the save button. (You can also initiate the save from the File menu, or from the shortcut menu associated with the (New Model) node, using the Save option.)

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The dialog reminds you that you need to tell the Object Mapper where to save the DomainModel project. Click <OK> to close the dialog, then click the <New Project> button.

A new project named for your DomainModel will also be created in the current solution. In that project will be stored your domain model. Both the project file and the domain model files will be placed in a directory that will be created to house them. Domain model, directory, and project will each be given the name specified as “Name” in the above dialog window. The Location requested is for the project directory. By default that directory will be created immediately within the directory where the existing solution resides.

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In addition to the above, the Object Mapper will create a Solution Folder and move both the Domain Model project and the Entity Data Model project into it. The Object Mapper has generated a “designer” code file... DomainModel.ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs ...and placed it subordinate to DomainModel.ibedmx, the XML file representing the domain model. DomainModel.ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs plays a role relative to the domain model similar to that played by the ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs in relation to the entity data model, ServerModelNorthwindIB.edmx. It is contains the generated code that represents the blueprint for the runtime object model. DomainModel. ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs contains the domain model (consisting of DevForce entities and related classes), whereas ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs contains the entity data model (consisting of ADO.NET EntityObjects and related classes). If we had checked the “Create developer classes” checkbox (see at right), then the Object Mapper would also have generated one additional partial class for each entity in our model. Let‟s do that now to see the additional files.

Simply check the “Create developer classes” checkbox and then save the Object Mapper work again. The Object Mapper has now generated “developer” partial classes (in individual files) for each of the types in the business object model. These are Customer.cs, Employee.cs, Order.cs, and so forth. Once generated, these classes won‟t be overwritten by the Object Mapper. They‟re designed for your custom code.

The Object Mapper also generated into the DomainModel project an app.config file that contains (among other things) connection information for the data sources for all Entity Models contained in the Domain Model. In an n-tier app, this connection information will not be deployed to the client machine, but only to the machine with the DevForce Business Object Server (BOS). 54 | P a g e

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Examining and Editing the Contents of the Entity Data Model in the Object Mapper 9.

Hello, DevForce

Reopen the Object Mapper if it is closed, and double-click the ServerModelNorthwindIB.edmx node in the tree control. You should see (hierarchically just below it) the container node for the ServerModelNorthwindIB Entity Data Model, called “ServerModelNorthwindIBContext”. Note that this container has the name that you specified, while creating the Entity Data Model in the EDM wizard, for saving the connection information.

10. In the upper part of the details pane you should see the names of each type that you selected for inclusion in ServerModelNorthwindIB. Note that both the type names and the corresponding Entity Set Names are the same as the names of the tables on which they were based. We‟d like the type names to be singular and the Entity Set Names to be plural. 11. In the lower part of the details pane see the property details for the type selected in the upper part. Select the Order type in the upper partition of the details pane. Scroll through and note the many pieces of information available about the Order object‟s properties that are visible or modifiable on the Simple Properties tab. 12. Select the Associations tab and note the associations discovered in the Entity Data Model. (These, in turn, were created there because of the discovery of foreign key relations in the NorthwindIB database.)

We see associations between Order and Customer, Order and Employee, and Order-OrderDetails. 13. Select the Navigation Properties tab. These properties were discovered in the Entity Data Model, where they were generated as a consequence of the discovered relationships among the database tables. The Entity Data Model designer named the navigation properties according to the name of their source table. But we‟d like navigation properties that return a collection to have plural names, and ones that return a single object to have singular names. 14. In the tree control pane, select the ServerModelNorthwindIB.edmx node. Click the <Name Pluralizer> button in the Entity Model Settings section. That launches the following model dialog:

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Hello, DevForce

15. Examine the default settings. By default, this tool will make Entity Set and Collection Navigation Property names plural, but will make Entity Type names and Scalar Navigation Property names singular, regardless of what they are now. Accept the default settings and click OK. 16. Select the ServerModelNorthwindIBContext node in the tree control again and observe that the Entity Set Names are now plural. Look at the Navigation Properties for the Order type and observe that the property for OrderDetails is now named in the plural, whereas the others, which do not return collections, have been left singular.

17. On the Simple Properties tab, change the name of the “Freight” property to “FreightCost”. You can change the name of any property, or any entity. 18. Save the Domain Model. Whenever you save after the first time, the following things happen: a. The code in the file DomainModel.ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs gets overwritten; b. The individual files containing the partial “developer” classes are left alone; and,

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c.

Hello, DevForce

Depending upon the nature of your changes, either or both of the DomainModel.ibedmx and app.config files may be updated.

Build and Add a Second Entity Model to Your Domain Model
[If you already know that your domain model will only get data from a single datasource, feel free to skip this section.] Now we‟ll add a second Entity Model to our existing Domain Model. Our second Entity Model is based on the Adventureworks2000 database from Microsoft, but uses only the tables Address, CountryRegion, Department, Employee, and StateProvince.4 Our Adventureworks model looks something like the following when viewed in the Visual Studio Entity Model Designer:

4

Note that the selection of Adventureworks2000 as our second data source for our example was driven much more by its likely familiarity to you, the reader, than by any actual relevance it has as an extension to NorthwindEF in a practical domain model. A more likely real-world scenario would be (as an example) one in which product inventory information resides in one database and accounting information in another, with both types of information being required by a target application.

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1.

Note that the Employee entity has a relationship to itself, representing the reporting relationship among AdventureWorks Employees. The Entity Data Model wizard modelled the relationship and generated navigation properties, but lacking much understanding of what the entities on the two ends of that relationship represent, simply named them “Employee” and “Employee1”. At the same time it created navigation properties in the Employee type named “Employee1” and “Employee2”. “Employee1” returns a collection of Employees (those who report to any current Employee); whereas “Employee2” returns a single Employee (the current Employee‟s manager). All very confusing!

Also select any of the entities in the diagram and inspect its properties. Each Entity Set Name has been defaulted to the same name as that used for the entity (e.g., the Entity Set for the Address type is named “Address”).

Don‟t do anything about the names at this time: we can address them more easily in the DevForce Object Mapper

Add the Adventureworks Entity Model to the DevForce Domain Model
2. From the Visual Studio menu, select Tools / DevForce Object Mapper. The Object Mapper will launch with the existing domain model loaded.

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3.

Right-click the DomainModel.ibedmx node and select “Add Entity Model” from the shortcut menu. In the File Open dialog, navigate to the “Aw2000Server.edmx” entity model. When you open it, you‟ll see the following message:

This message results from the fact that the new Entity Model contains a type, “Employee”, whose name is already being used in the domain model. (Remember, the NorthwindEF model also contains an Employee type.) Respond by clicking the <Yes> button to allow the Object Mapper to rename the incoming class to resolve the conflict. 4. Find and select the Aw2000ServerContext node in the Object Mapper and inspect the imported model. Note the following: a. The Employee from AdventureWorks was renamed to “Employee1” to resolve the conflict with the Employee from NorthwindEF. b. All Entity Set Names are singular, since they are defined in the Entity Model (.edmx) file. Rename a number of types in the EntityModel using the DevForce Object Mapper. 5. Double-click the Employee1 type in the upper right pane of the Object Mapper (titled “Aw2000ServerContext”) and rename it to “EmployeeAw2000”.

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6.

Hello, DevForce

In the lower right pane (“EmployeeAw2000”), select the Navigation Properties tab. Double-click the “Employee1” property and rename it to “DirectReports”. Double-click the “Employee2” property and rename it to “Manager”.

7.

Note that all of these names are maintained in the Entity Model (.edmx) file, so changes will be written to that file, and will be recognized by the Visual Studio Entity Data Model Designer. In the tree control, re-select the “Aw2000Server.edmx” node. In the Entity Model Settings pane, click the <Name Pluralizer> button. You‟ll see a dialog like the following:

8.

If you accept all of the default, the Object Mapper will change Entity Sets names so that they are plural Entity Type names so that they are singular Navigation properties that return a single object so that they are singular Navigation properties that return a collection of objects so that they are plural. Click <OK> to accept the defaults and allows the Object Mapper to fix up names in your model. 9. Again select the Aw2000ServerContext node in the tree control. Note the new Entity Set Names. All are plural and look good except the name for the EmployeeAw2000 type. It was left unchanged because the Object Mapper noticed that the type name and EntitySet name were different to begin with. Double-click the Entity Set Name “Employees1” and change it to “EmployeesAw2000”.

10. Note that the Name Pluralizer recognized the name of the “DirectReports” navigation property as being already plural, and so did not make any further change to it. Explore other navigation properties and note the pluralization, making it much easier now to distinguish collection properties from scalar ones. 60 | P a g e

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Save the Enhanced Domain Model
11. Select File / Save from the Object Mapper menu. The Object Mapper generates a second “designer” class file under the DomainModel.ibedmx file for the new AdventureWorks2000 entities.

Since the “Create developer classes” checkbox is still checked, it also generates developer partial classes for the new entities: Address, CountryRegion, Department, EmployeeAw2000, and StateProvince. All entities from both data sources are now part of the same domain model.

...and your solution tree should something like that shown at right. Note that we created (or moved) the ServerModelAw2000 project into the DomainModel Folder. The organization of the various model projects under the “DomainModel Folder” solution folder is, of course, a matter of preference and not a necessity. It does, however, make it easy to collapse the model and all of its parts in the solution tree when you want to concentrate on the front-end (or some other) project.

Add a Web Service Model to Your Domain Model
[If you already know that your domain model will only get data from relational databases and not from any web services, feel free to skip this section.]

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ADO.NET Entity Data Models are strictly for mapping to relational databases. But to your DevForce-managed domain model, you can also add entities into your domain model sourced by a web service. 1. Right-click the domain model node in the tree control and select “Add Web Service”.

You will see the following dialog:

That‟s mostly just there to let you know where the service reference is being placed in your solution. Later you may want to move it to a project whose assembly is deployed only to your server. 2. In the ensuing dialog, enter the WSDL address of the target web service and click the <Go> button. (You can also use the <Discover> button to get information about web services to which the current solution already has references.)

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3.

Hello, DevForce

Expand the service, as desired, to inspect the available operations. Enter your desired name for the Namespace and click <OK>.

You may next get a dialog like the following:

That results from the fact that the Object Mapper names DataSourceKeys “Default”, by default, and since we never renamed the key for the NorthwindIB model we already have one of those. Just click <Yes> and we‟ll deal with it later.

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4.

Hello, DevForce

The entities mapped to the web service will be grouped in a ModelContainer under the name you gave to the web service.

5.

Save your work again in the Object Mapper. Notice that the Object Mapper created an EDMX file for the web service. The Entity Framework wouldn‟t know what to do with this, but luckily, DevForce does! You can actually view the EDMX file using the Visual Studio Entity Data Model Designer.

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Hello, DevForce

6.

The Domain Model ibedmx file now has a third designer code file to it:

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Hello, DevForce

...and the Object Mapper generated developer classes5 for the web-service-based entities:

Add Business Logic
Each entity in the Domain Model is represented by two partial classes – one in the “designer” code file associated with the ibedmx, another in a stand-alone file. The partial class in the designer file is subject to frequent regeneration by the Object Mapper, and as such isn‟t the place to put custom logic – or to make any sort of manual changes The partial class in the stand-alone file, on the other hand, is expressly designed as the venue for such customization. Let‟s add some custom logic to the Employee partial class in Employee.cs. 1. C# VB View the code in Employee.cs. Locate the commented line shown below.
// Add additional logic to your business object here... ’’ Add additional logic to your business object here...

5

Again, because the “Generate developer classes” checkbox remains checked on the detail panel for the DomainModel.ibedmx node in the Object Mapper.

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After the line, add the following code:

Hello, DevForce

C#

/// <summary> /// Age as of today /// </summary> public int Age { get { if (null == this.BirthDate) return 0; DateTime oBirthDate = (DateTime)this.BirthDate; DateTime oToday = DateTime.Today; int oAge = oToday.Year - oBirthDate.Year; if (oBirthDate.AddYears(oAge) > oToday) oAge--; if (oAge < 0) return 0; else return oAge; } }

VB This code defines a calculated property, Age, which returns the Employee‟s current age by calculating it from their birthdate. 2. C# Below the Age property, add a second one:
/// <summary> /// Total revenue for this Employee's orders /// </summary> public double TotalOrderRevenue { get { double revenue = 0; foreach (Order aOrder in this.Orders) { foreach (OrderDetail aOrderDetail in aOrder.OrderDetails) { revenue += aOrderDetail.Quantity * Convert.ToDouble(aOrderDetail.UnitPrice) * aOrderDetail.Discount; } } return revenue; } }

VB This property uses navigation properties on the Employee and Order entities, automatically generated by the Entity Framework and carried through into the DevForce entities, to roll up the revenue from each line item of each order written by the Employee. 3. Let‟s add one more bit of custom logic to see how we can modify the behavior of even those properties that map directly to a back-end datasource and were therefore written into the generated class in DomainModel.ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs. We‟ll make a simple adjustment: we‟ll convert the Employee‟s LastName value to upper-case for display purposes while allowing entered or changed values to retain whatever capitalization the end user entered. In other words, we want a value stored as “Davolio” in the back-end datasource to be returned as “DAVOLIO” when we ask for it from the Employee object.

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Hello, DevForce

First let‟s have a look at that generated code. There doesn‟t appear to be much there, but it has an amazing amount of flexibility built into it, behind the scenes: C#
#region LastName /// <summary>Gets or sets the LastName.</summary> [IbVerify.StringLengthVerifier(MaxValue=30, IsRequired=true)] [IbUtil.MaxTextLength(30)] [IbUtil.DBDataType(typeof(String))] public String LastName { get { return LastNameEntityProperty.GetValue(this); } set { LastNameEntityProperty.SetValue(this, value); } } #endregion LastName

VB 4. C# Enter the following code below the TotalRevenueCost property that you most recently added:
[AfterGet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] public void UppercaseLastName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { var lastName = args.Value; if ( !String.IsNullOrEmpty(lastName)) { args.Value = args.Value.ToUpper(); } }

VB UppercaseLastName() simply converts the current value of the LastName property (passed to the method in args.Value) as desired, and the work is done. The [AfterGet] attribute with which the public method UppercaseLastName() is decorated tells DevForce to call that method during any get operation for the designated property, just after the raw value is retrieved from the local instance of the object. The static6 EntityPropertyNames.LastName property, included in the attribute, simply returns the string-valued name of the LastName property. (The EntityPropertyNames class was automatically created by DevForce during Object Mapper code generation so you don‟t have to hard-code property names and risk misspelling them, in this and other contexts.) You can call the method anything you like (since the [AfterGet] attribute defines its role), but the signature does requires the args parameter, which is an instance of IPropertyInterceptorArgs. The version used here employs the generic version of IPropertyInterceptor, which fully specifies the type of both the property and its containing entity, so that you need not cast Args.Value within the method code. The compiler already knows (in this example) that it‟s a string. C# VB
public void UppercaseLastName(IPropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) {

6

“Shared” in VB

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Hello, DevForce

Let‟s implement a quick console app to use as a front-end for our application so we can see the results of our custom work on the Employee class. We‟re choosing a console app as a UI, for now, simply for its simplicity. Later in this example we add a Winforms UI; and then a Silverlight UI. A WPF UI is yet another available option. Examples of all four UI types are included in the Learning Units that install with DevForce. 1. 2. 3. 4. C# Compile your DomainModel project. Add a new project, a Console Application, naming it “Console01”. To Console01, add references to IdeaBlade.EntityModel and to the DomainModel project. Add the statements shown in bold red below to the Main() method in Program.cs so that it looks as follows:
using using using using using using System; System.Collections.Generic; System.Linq; System.Text; IdeaBlade.EntityModel; DomainModel;

namespace Console01 { class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { GetEmployees(); } private static void GetEmployees() { var query = _manager.Employees; foreach (Employee anEmployee in query) { Console.WriteLine("Last Name = " + anEmployee.LastName); Console.WriteLine(" Birth date = " + anEmployee.BirthDate.ToString()); Console.WriteLine(" Age = " + anEmployee.Age); Console.WriteLine(String.Format(" Total Order Revenue: {0:C}", anEmployee.TotalOrderRevenue)); Console.WriteLine(); } Console.WriteLine(); Console.WriteLine("Press ENTER to continue..."); Console.ReadLine(); } #region Private Fields static DomainModelEntityManager _manager = DomainModelEntityManager.DefaultManager; #endregion } }

VB 5. Make Console01 the Startup Project for your DevForceEF01 solution. Compile and then run the app. You should see output similar to the following:

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Hello, DevForce

Note that, for each Employee, the LastName is being converted to upper case; the Age is being computed properly from the birth date; and the Total Order Revenue is being rolled up across all Orders and their line items!

6.

Press the ENTER key to end the app.

Add Unit Tests
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Do write unit tests as you go.

Hello, DevForce

Unit Testing with Visual Studio Team Test
Do you have Team Test? Look for “Test” among the Visual Studio menus. If it‟s there, you‟ve got Team Test; if it isn‟t, you don‟t. For now you should skip ahead. Before you do, think about how you will test your application. If you can‟t afford Team Test, you might consider NUnit. It‟s solid and it‟s free. While it won‟t generate the template tests (we‟ll see Team Test do that shortly), it is otherwise remarkably similar to testing with Team Test. It‟s easy to get started with the new Visual Studio Team Test. 1. With Employee.cs open in code view, right-click in the Code View window. 2. Pick “Create Unit Tests …” The “Create Unit Tests” Dialog appears.

3. Un-select the DomainModel assembly. 4. Expand the DomainModel.Employee node, and select the following items for testing: Employee() (the parameterless constructor) Age (one of our calculated properties) 5. For “Output Project”, accept “Create a new Visual C# Test Project”...

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Hello, DevForce

6. Click [OK] 7. Enter “DomainModel.Test” as the project name, when asked, and click [Create]. After some grinding in the background, you will see the DomainModel.Test project added to the solution, with references to the DomainModel and the necessary IdeaBlade assemblies. You will also see an EmployeeTest.cs (or .vb, if you are working in Visual Basic) tab and an AuthoringTests.txt tab. AuthoringTests is a non-functional introduction to testing. It‟s worth reading at some point, but for now, just close it.

Configure the Test Project
We‟re almost ready to run our test, but we have just a couple of configuration changes to make the test project ready to run. 1. Make sure the following Using [C#] or Imports [VB] statements at the top of the Employee.Test.cs file:

C#

using using using using using

DomainModel; Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UnitTesting; System.Collections.Generic; System.Linq; IdeaBlade.Core; DomainModel Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UnitTesting System.Collections.Generic System.Linq IdeaBlade.Core

VB

Imports Imports Imports Imports Imports

2. 3.

Build or rebuild the entire solution. Set testrunconfig to deploy the app.config to the test output directory. You can do this as follows: a. On the Visual Studio Test menu, select Edit Test Run Configurations and then Local Test Run (localtestrun.testrunconfig). b. On the localtestrun.testrunconfig dialog, select Deployment. c. Click <Add File...>. Change the Objects of type select to “All files(*.*)”, and find the app.config file in the folder for the solution‟s executable project, select it, and click the <Open> button. The localtestrun.testrunconfig dialog should then appear as follows:

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Hello, DevForce

Note that there is no need to set the ConfigFileLocation in code (e.g., in one of the test initializer methods), because, as in any DevForce app, DevForce automatically searches the main application folder (BaseAppDirectory) for an app.config file. It will therefore find the one deployed in the test deployment folder (TestDeploymentDir).7 4. Next we need to ensure that the server model assembly will be deployed to the test result directory. Click <Add File...> again. Navigate to the bin\debug folder under the project folder for your Entity Data Model project (the NorthwindIBServer folder, in our case). Select the NorthwindIBServer assembly:

7

You can find detailed information about how DevForce finds configuration in the appendix to this chapter entitled “Probing Sequence for the App.Config File”.

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Hello, DevForce

5.

If you have elected to have the Entity Data Model artifacts stored as loose files rather than to be embedded in the server model assembly (as is the default), then you will also need to add three components of the NorthwindIBServer model (the .ssdl, .csdl, and .msl files). You will find these in the same folder where you found the model assembly. On the localtestrun.testrunconfig dialog, click <Close> and respond Yes when prompted whether to save changes to the testrunconfig.

6.

EmployeeTest First Look
The action is in EmployeeTest.cs. It is a little forbidding at first but we‟ll clear that up in a few quick steps. 1. Ignore the TestContext property (perhaps by wrapping in its own region). 2. Close the “Additional Test Attributes” region if it‟s open – we don‟t need it yet. 3. Find the EmployeeConstructorTest (). Rework it to look like the following:

C#

/// <summary> ///A test for Employee Constructor ///</summary> [TestMethod()] public void EmployeeConstructorTest() { Employee target = new Employee(); string desiredTypeName = "Employee"; string actualTypeName = target.GetType().Name; Assert.IsTrue(actualTypeName == desiredTypeName, "Created type, '" + actualTypeName + "', is incorrect. It should be '" + desiredTypeName + "'."); }

VB

That leaves just the Age property that we added. The following test method is automatically generated for that: C#
/// <summary> ///A test for Age ///</summary> [TestMethod()] public void AgeTest() { Employee target = new Employee(); // TODO: Initialize to an appropriate value int actual; actual = target.Age; Assert.Inconclusive("Verify the correctness of this test method."); }

VB

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Hello, DevForce

The newly created Employee won‟t have an Age property value that‟s of much interest. Let‟s fix up the test so it uses an actual employee in our test database.

Get a Test Employee
We will want to be careful to keep the test data always in a known state. If we make changes, we‟d better restore the original data even if our tests fail. We should have a back up of the database just in case. One of the cardinal testing rules is that there should be no dependencies among the tests. That means that tests can be run independently and in any order. Accordingly, if we make changes during a test, we must restore the original data immediately after the test. We must make sure we do so even if the test fails. Do restore the test data source after every test Do maintain a back up of the database just in case. This Tutorial program uses NorthwindIB database as its data source. It has well-known data and we‟re not going to make any changes just yet, so we‟re fine. 1. We‟re not going to be purists now – this is just a tutorial – so we‟ll be sloppy with our first test. Let‟s rewrite it so it looks like this:

C#

/// <summary> ///A test for Age ///</summary> [TestMethod()] public void AgeTest() { DomainModelEntityManager manager = DomainModelEntityManager.DefaultManager; Employee target = manager.Employees .Where(e => e.LastName.ToLower() == "Davolio".ToLower()).ToList().First<Employee>(); int actual = target.Age; int approxAge = System.DateTime.Now.Year - target.BirthDate.Value.Year; Assert.IsTrue(approxAge - actual <= 1);}

VB

Run the Test
1. 2. Open the Test View from the menu Test ► Windows ► Test View. Run the selected AgeTest test by selecting it and clicking the <Run Selection> button, as shown at right.

A “Test Results” window appears at the bottom of Visual Studio. The test passes!

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Hello, DevForce

Accumulating Test Results
Team Test keeps track of every test run. You can review them from within the “Test Results” window.

When you examine your solution director in Windows Explorer, you will find the TestResults directory where these results are stored. You don‟t want this directory under source control and you definitely want to clear it out. Prune or delete the TestResults directory at your leisure

Lessons Learned
We have the foundation for testing the logic we add to our business entities. It didn‟t take long to set up a test environment. Now it‟s just a matter of keeping it up. There is far more to learn about testing than we can cover in this Guide. Check the “Suggested Reading” chapter in the Concepts Manual for our recommendations. There is no end to the information available on the web.

Add a WinForm UI
In Visual Studio 2008, you have many options for a UI. You can use Winforms, WebForms, WPF, or Silverlight. If you choose Winforms, you have the option to use the UI-related assemblies of DevForce 3.x to grease the wheels. We‟ll see what that looks like now.

Add a UI Project
1. 2. In the Solution Explorer, right-click the solution node and select a new Windows Forms Application. Name the project Winforms01. Set a reference in the Winforms01 project to the DomainModel project so our form can see the entities in the domain model. Set references to IdeaBlade.EntityModel and IdeaBlade.Core so you can use the DevForce types you‟ll need.

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Hello, DevForce

3.

In the Properties window, change the Text property of the Form to “Employees”. In the Solution Explorer, and rename the file containing the form to “EmployeeForm.cs”. Say yes when asked whether you want to rename references to the form in the project:

4.

Find the BindingSource control in the Toolbox (“All Windows Forms” group) and drag two of them on to the form. Name one of them “_ordersBindingSource” and the other “_employeesBindingSource”. (We‟re using the underscore prefix “_” for elements that will be scoped at the class level in our form, as these will.) Drag a BindingNavigator to the form, positioning it along the top edge. Name that “_employeesBindingNavigator”. Find the “IdeaBlade DevForce” group in the Toolbox – remember, it won‟t be there unless you have DevForce Version 3.x installed as well as DevForce. Drag a ControlBindingManager and then a DataGridViewBindingManager on to the form. Rename the ControlBindingManager “_employeesControlBindingManager”; rename the DataGridViewBindingManager “orders DataGridViewBindingManager”. In the Properties window, assign the _employeesBindingSource to the BindingSource property for the _employeesControlBindingManager; assign the _ordersBindingSource to the BindingSource property for the _ordersDataGridViewBindingManager. In the component tray, select the _employeesControlBindingManager, right click the smart tag that shows up at its upper right corner, and choose Autopopulate Controls. In the dialog “Bind to which object type?”, select the DomainModel assembly and the Employee type, then click <Ok>. You‟ll see the DevForce v3 “Configure Databindings” designer:

5.

6.

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Hello, DevForce

7.

From the Properties tree control, drag the following properties onto the Autopopulation tab: LastName, FirstName, BirthDate, Age, and Photo. Click the Naming Conventions button and add an underscore in front of the default text of “{0}{1}” to make it “_{0}{1}”. Click the <Update Sample> button if you want to see what it will look like. Then click <OK>.

8.

9.

On the “Configure DataBindings” dialog, click <OK> to close it and autopopulate the form with controls for your selected properties. Rearrange the controls as desired. We‟ll move the PictureBox for the Photo to the right of the other controls, and delete its label.

10. Now select the _ordersDataGridViewBindingManager, click the Smart Tag, select “Configure Databindings”, select DomainModel as the assembly containing your target types, and select Order as the target type. Into the grid, drag the properties OrderDate, RequiredDate, ShippedDate, and Freight. Expand the Customer property in the tree control and drag the CompanyName property of the Customer onto the grid. Move it to make it the top row. Edit the value in the “Column Title” column from “Customer 78 | P a g e

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Company Name” to “Company”.

Hello, DevForce

11. Click <OK> to close the dialog. Whoops! The designer warns you that you haven‟t linked your selected properties to a grid (see picture below). Response that <No>, you don‟t want to exit just yet.

12. Click the <Create Grid> button, and name the grid to be created “_ordersDataGridView”. Click <OK>, then click <OK> on the main dialog again. The designer configures a DataGridView control and plops it on to your form. Position and size it as desired. Your form should now look something like the following:

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Hello, DevForce

13. There‟s more configuration we could do in the designer, but we‟ll choose to do it in the “code behind” for our form, instead. Make that look as follows:

C#

using using using using using using using using

System; System.Collections.Generic; System.ComponentModel; System.Data; System.Drawing; System.Linq; System.Text; System.Windows.Forms;

using IdeaBlade.EntityModel; using IdeaBlade.Util; using DomainModel; namespace Winforms01 { public partial class EmployeeForm : Form { public EmployeeForm() { InitializeComponent(); } private void EmployeeForm_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) { ConfigureBindingSources(); ConfigureBindingNavigators(); ConfigureBindingManagers(); ConfigureHandlers(); LoadData(); } private void ConfigureBindingSources() {

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_employeesBindingSource.DataSource = _employees; _ordersBindingSource.DataSource = _orders; }

Hello, DevForce

private void ConfigureBindingNavigators() { _employeesBindingNavigator.BindingSource = _employeesBindingSource; } private void ConfigureBindingManagers() { _employeesControlBindingManager.BindingSource = _employeesBindingSource; _ordersDataGridViewBindingManager.BindingSource = _ordersBindingSource; } private void ConfigureHandlers() { _employeesBindingSource.CurrentChanged += new EventHandler(_employeesBindingSource_CurrentChanged); } void _employeesBindingSource_CurrentChanged(object sender, EventArgs e) { Employee currentEmployee = (Employee)_employeesBindingSource.Current; _orders.ReplaceRange(currentEmployee.Orders); } private void LoadData() { _employees.ReplaceRange(_manager.Employees); } #region Private Fields DomainModelEntityManager _manager = DomainModelEntityManager.DefaultManager; BindableList<Employee> _employees = new BindableList<Employee>(); BindableList<Order> _orders = new BindableList<Order>(); #endregion } }

VB

Make “Winforms01” the start-up Project
14. In the Solution Explorer, right-click the Winforms01 project node and select Set As Startup Project.

Run It!
15. Build and run your app.

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Hello, DevForce

Add a WPF UI
Please see the Learning Units that install with DevForce for examples of a DevForce app with a WPF user interface.

Create a Silverlight App with DevForce
Features described in the section are included with the DevForce Silverlight product. Re-open the Object Mapper and check the “Generate Silverlight Projects” checkbox:

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Hello, DevForce

Doing so causes a ComboBox for the project name to appear, and a button to create a new project. Click the <New Project…> button to see the Create Project dialog:

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Hello, DevForce

We‟ll accept the default name for the project, “DomainModelSL”, by clicking <OK>. Then we will again save our Domain Model. After closing the Object Mapper, we see that it has created a new project named “DomainModelSL”.

Now that we have our Silverlight copy of the DomainModel, it‟s time to add the executable project. .NET provides a Silverlight Application project template, but that‟s not what you want:

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Hello, DevForce

Why not? Because we‟ve provided a DevForce-aware template that will get you there a lot faster, and with much less trouble. Under the Visual C# (or VB) project types, find the DevForce section and select the “DevForce Silverlight Application” template. We‟ll name our project “DevForceSilverlight01”:

Visual Studio creates a Silverlight project of the specified name. It also creates a web project to host the Silverlight app, naming it “<appname>Web”, or in our example, “DevForceSilverlight01Web”.

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Hello, DevForce

Actions of the DevForce Silverlight Application Project Template The “DevForce Silverlight Application” template, like the standard Visual Studio Silverlight Application template, creates a Silverlight application project and a web application project. But it also provides considerable DevForcespecific functionality to make it easy to host a BOS in the same web application project. In the web application project, it does all of the following: includes two WCF service files for the BOS, EntityService.svc and EntityServer.svc; includes a Global.asax showing how to check the IdeaBlade configuration information and to enable support for a trace viewer; provides a web.config file that contains WCF ServiceModel configuration information for the BOS (the EntityService and EntityServer services), as well as a stub ideaBlade.configuration section; configures the Default.aspx file so that it contains the Silverlight control, and skips the creation of Silverlight test pages; creates a log folder to hold the debuglog.xml file includes references to necessary IdeaBlade assemblies; and selects the “specific port” setting and specifies 9009 as the default port. Using port 9009 is not a DevForce requirement, but it‟s a handy open port that can be used during development; and using a specific port rather than an auto-assigned one makes communicating with the BOS easier. In the Silverlight application project as well, the DevForce Silverlight Application project template includes references to needed IdeaBlade assemblies. The assembly and namespace names for both projects are set to the same value. This is necessary if you plan to place the Domain Model in the web application project and the linked (Silverlight) domain model in the Silverlight application project. Using the same assembly name and namespace allows DevForce seamlessly to transmit entities between the .NET and Silverlight environments. If your domain model will not be in these projects but in a separate

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Hello, DevForce

assembly, then that assembly and the assembly holding the linked SL model must have the same name and namespace. Which Startup Project? The DevForce Silverlight Application template, like the standard one, designates the web project as the Startup Project. That‟s important. If the Silverlight project is designated as the Startup Project, the application will start, and you‟ll probably see the start page; but the app, in that circumstance, is running under the file system instead of being served by a web server. When running under the file system it can‟t access a service such as the DevForce Business Object Server; so you will not, for example, be able to retrieve data. You can easily tell how your app is being hosted by looking at the browser‟s address bar. If it‟s being served by a web server, the URL in the address bar will start with http://.

If it‟s running from the file system, the URL in the address bar will look like a file path (and you‟ll see no evidence of retrieved data where you otherwise would have).

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Resuming the Walk-Through... Launching the project, you should see the following display in your browser. (We‟ve made our default browser Mozilla Firefox to demonstrate the browser independence of Silverlight!) The text you see is displayed in a Silverlight TextBlock control hosted by Page.xaml in the Silverlight project. You‟re ready immediately to start building meaningful functionality into that page – including creating data bindings to your DevForce entities. See the Learning Units for samples of Silverlight / DevForce applications!

Specifying a Target Browser If you have more than one Silverlight-compatible browser installed on your computer, you can specify in which browser you would like your Silverlight app to launch.

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Hello, DevForce

Find the start page for your app (Default.aspx as generated by the project template ), right-click it, and select Browse With... Then select the desired browser and click the <Set as Default> button. You may then click <Browse> to launch the app, or <Cancel> if all you wanted to do was to change the setting. Either way, subsequent launches of the application will occur in the browser you specified.

This concludes our walk-through of the setup of a DevForce Silverlight application. To see more detailed sample Silverlight / DevForce applications, please consult the Learning Units that install with DevForce.

Understanding the App.Configs
You will soon discover that your Entity Framework / DevForce app includes many app.config files. Each has its necessary and particular role, and there is a flow of information between them. In this section we‟ll explain those roles and information flows.

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The sample Visual Studio solution at right includes three copies of app.config, one in each of the following locations: 1. 2. 3. in the project for the Entity Data Model (#1); in the project for the DomainModel (#2); and in the executable project (#3)

We‟ve listed them in the above order because it reflects the flow of information between them. (We‟ll provide more detail on that momentarily.)

The App.Config in the Entity Data Model project (#1 in the picture) typically gets there by being generated by the Visual Studio Entity Data Model designer. It contains a configuration section with a connectionStrings element. For a sample, see Listing 1 in the Appendix “Listings of Sample App.Config Files” at the end of this chapter.

The app.config in the DomainModel project (#2) typically gets there by being generated by DevForce. It contains, most importantly, an ideaBlade.configuration section with edmKeys that include connection information and other settings related to specific data sources; and other settings that control or reflect such things as application logging behavior, location of the Business Object Server, etc. The connection information included in the edmKeys usually originates from the EDM project‟s app.config (#1), being copied from there by DevForce. However, the developer can add to it manually or using the DevForce Configuration Editor.8 The app.config file associated with the Entity Data Model enables the Entity Data Model designer to find the EDM‟s datasource. As such, it is essential to the design-time utility of that designer. The app.config file associated with the Domain Model is updated at design time, but other than to be available for update, its contents have no design-time function. The same is true for the app.config associated with the executable project. The latter, however, becomes the (only) copy of app.config used at runtime. It is actually copied and renamed by Visual Studio to reflect the name of the assembly; for example, if the UI project above is used to create an assembly named UI.exe, then Visual Studio will create a copy of the app.config file in that UI project and name the copy UI.exe.config. The latter is the version used at runtime by the .NET framework.

8

“Config Editor” under IdeaBlade DevForce / Tools on the Windows Start menu.

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Hello, DevForce

Information Flow Between the App.Configs
The typical flow of information between the copies of app.config is as follows. 1. Information is written to the EDM app.config (#1), usually by the EDM designer. 2. The DomainModel app.config (#2) is updated using information from one or more EDM app.configs. This update occurs either upon a Save in the DevForce Object Mapper, or when the developer responds “Yes” to the following prompt, which is presented after the developer saves a change to the Entity Data Model 9:

3.

The app.config associated with the executable project (#3) is updated using information from the DomainModel app.config. This occurs at build time 10 when DevForce discovers a mismatch between the information in the ideaBlade.configuration section of the executable project app.config and the corresponding information in the DomainModel copy (#2). Before updating app.config #3 DevForce prompts you as follows:

Note that, except for updating the ideaBlade.configuration and configSections elements of the executable project‟s app.config (#3), DevForce leaves the app.config alone. Thus, it can contain any other elements and information needed by the app; those will be left undisturbed.

9 10

DevForce watches the Visual Studio IDE for such a change, and responds when it occurs by presenting this prompt. Specifically, when the executable project is built. This is performed by a Build Event handler attached by DevForce to the executable project.

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Hello, DevForce

The flow of information between app.configs 1, 2, and 3 is summarized in the graphic at right. Content from the EDM app.config (#1) flows to the DomainModel app.config (#2). Content from the DomainModel app.config (#2) flows to the executable project app.config (#3). There is no “back flow” of information; and unrelated app.config content is preserved at each stage during updating.

Monitoring Activity
What is actually happening as we run the applications? When is it asking for data? What does the SQL look like?

SQL Profiler
We can always monitor activity on the SQL Server using SQL Profiler. Here we assume SQL Server 2005. Launch the SQL Server Management Console. Select “Tools ►SQL Server Profiler” from the menu. Select “File ►New Trace ..” from the Profiler menu and connect to your database server Click [Run] on the [Trace Properties] dialog. Return to Visual Studio and re-run the application [F5]

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The trace window fills, showing us exactly how we‟re hitting the database.

Hello, DevForce

DevForce DebugLog
We may want to supplement the SQL Profiler with a DevForce tool that helps us see both the database activity and the other application activity that surrounds it. DevForce applications generate a trace log11 every time you run the application. The log appears in the executable directory; its default name is “DebugLog.xml”12. Open Windows Explorer. Navigate to the ..\bin\debug directory under the UI directory. Launch DebugLog.xml. The log appears in a browser window.

Each row speaks of some event during the life of the last application run. You‟ll see database access events among other event occurring from the start of the application until it shuts down. You can launch the DebugLog while the application is running and refresh the browser from time to time to see how the log is progressing as you move through the application.

DevForce TraceViewer
The DevForce TraceViewer affords a friendlier and more dynamic look at logged activity. You can launch the TraceViewer from the IdeaBlade DevForce/Tools menu. It can also be linked directly into your application. See the Object Persistence chapter for details.

11 12

You can turn it off or filter it. There are companion .css and .xslt files in that directory as well so that the log displays in the browser nicely. You can rename the log in the App.Config file as you‟ll learn in the Deployment chapter.

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Appendix: Listings of Sample App.Config Files
Listing 1. App.Config associated with the Entity Data Model XML
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <configuration> <connectionStrings> <add name="ServerModelNorthwindIBContext" connectionString="metadata=res://*/ServerModelNorthwindIB.csdl|res://*/Server ModelNorthwindIB.ssdl|res://*/ServerModelNorthwindIB.msl;provider=System.Data .SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;Data Source=.;Initial Catalog=NorthwindIB;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" providerName="System.Data.EntityClient" /> </connectionStrings> </configuration>

Listing 2. Copy of app.config associated with the DomainModel XML
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <configuration> <configSections> <section name="ideablade.configuration" type="IdeaBlade.Core.Configuration.IdeaBladeSection, IdeaBlade.Core, Version=5.1.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=287b5094865421c0" /> </configSections> <ideablade.configuration version="5.00" updateFromDomainModelConfig="Ask"> <logging logFile="DebugLog.xml" /> <objectServer isDistributed="false" remoteBaseURL="http://localhost" serverPort="9009" serviceName="EntityService" /> <edmKeys> <edmKey name="Default" connection="metadata=res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.csd l|res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.ssdl|res://ServerModel NorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provid er connection string=&quot;Data Source=.;Initial Catalog=NorthwindIB;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" containerName="ServerModelNorthwindIB.ServerModelNorthwindIBContext"> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelNorthwindIB" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey> </edmKeys> </ideablade.configuration> </configuration>

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide
Listing 3. Copy of app.config in the project for the executable XML
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <configuration> <!—The following section is left alone by DevForce when it updates the app.config in the executable project --> <DeveloperAddedSection> <ArbitraryElementNo1 /> <ArbitraryElementNo2 /> </DeveloperAddedSection>

Hello, DevForce

<connectionStrings> ...snip </connectionStrings> <configSections> ...snip </configSections> <ideablade.configuration version="5.00" updateFromDomainModelConfig="Ask"> …snip </ideablade.configuration> </configuration>

Appendix: Probing Sequence for the App.Config File
Whenever a .NET application attempts to exercise any aspect of the DevForce API that requires DevForce configuration information and such configuration information has not already been found and placed into memory, DevForce will search for a configuration file that contains this information. Its probing path is as follows: 1. If the ConfigFileLocation property of the IdeaBladeConfig object has been set in the executing code, DevForce will search the indicated location for a file named or matching “*.exe.config”, “web.config” or “app.config”, in that order. Note that files matching “*.dll.config” will not be found. If the ConfigFileLocation property was not set, or a suitable config file was not found in the indicated location, then DevForce will look to see if the IdeaBladeConfig.ConfigFileAssembly property has been set. If so, it will look for an embedded resource named “app.config”. Next, the BaseAppDirectory is searched for a file named or matching “*.exe.config”, “web.config” or “app.config”, again in that order. This property is read-only and determined at run time, and is usually the directory from which the entry assembly was loaded. However, in a test project executable, which has no entry assembly, the AppDomain.BaseDirectory is used. In MSTest, this will be the TestContext.TestDeploymentDir. DevForce next searches for an embedded resource named “app.config” in the entry assembly. This is ignored in the case of a test project because the entry assembly is null.

2.

3.

4.

Finally, DevForce will look for an embedded resource named “app.config” in an assembly named “AppHelper”. This search is done for reason of backward compatibilility with DevForce applications that use the AppHelper project formerly generated by the DevForce Object Mapper.

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide

Class Libraries

Class Libraries
This chapter takes you on a brief tour of the DevForce libraries. The DevForce installer put a number of assembly DLLs in your installation directory and in the global assembly cache (GAC, pronounced “gack”). You do not have to put DevForce DLLs in the GAC on your application client machines. In most cases your installation will likely be via XCOPY or ClickOnce. You should turn to the Reference Help for the minute details about the DevForce classes, interfaces, methods, properties and events. That effort can be like looking through a keyhole. Here you can learn a bit about the room you‟re seeing through that keyhole. While an assembly can host multiple namespaces and a DLL can host multiple assemblies, each DevForce namespace is almost invariably in its own assembly and each assembly is in its own DLL. Thus, as our tour proceeds namespace-by-namespace, we are also walking from one assembly and DLL to the next. In this chapter we‟ll also give you some ideas about how to use Visual Studio to get to this information quickly.

Chapter 4:

Important Namespaces
All DevForce namespaces have an “IdeaBlade” prefix. The discussion below elides that prefix for brevity so, when we refer to “EntityModel”, we mean “IdeaBlade. EntityModel”. See the DevForce Reference Help or Consolidated Help for much more detail on the content of these namespaces.

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DevForce Namespace
EntityModel …

Summary Includes critical modeling and persistence classes including Entity, EntityManager, EntityQuery, EntityRelation, QueryCache, QueryStrategy, and many others. Includes classes for modelling, querying, and persisting Entities backed by web services. Includes classes to assist with databinding, encryption, debugging, i/o, localization, tracing, and other common development tasks. Includes classes related to DevForce‟s verification (validation) facilities. Includes the TraceViewer, a utility that provides a real-time display of DevForce tracing messages; and the TraceViewerForm, a window that provides an immediately display surface for trace messages from a DevForce app. Includes classes used for specific operations performed directly against relational databases. Can only be used from code executing on the middle-tier server.

EntityModel.WS … Core …

Validation … DevTools.WinTraceViewer …

Ado …

The IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity
The IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity is the base class of all of persistable business entities in your DevForce domain model. Instances of Entity are not created directly. Entity objects are managed and cached by a EntityManager. You'll use an EntityManager to create, retrieve and save your entities. The EntityManager will also handle serialization and transfer of entities to a distributed Object Server. When working with entity classes, basic properties for your business objects – those that map to columns of a database, for example -- are auto-generated for you by the IdeaBlade DevForce Object Mapping Tool. You focus on creating additional custom properties and methods to support business logic and rules.

The EntityAspect Property
Every instance of an entity has an EntityAspect property that is inherited from IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity. C# or VB
aCustomer.EntityAspect

Through the EntityAspect you have access to a rich set of (a) properties that define the entity‟s state, and (b) persistence-related methods. These are listed below: method names terminate with parentheses. See the DevForce reference help (IdeaBlade DevForce / Documentation / DevForce Help from the Windows Start Menu) for more detail.

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Table 1. EntityAspect Members Member AcceptChanges() AddToManager() ClearErrors() Delete() Entity EntityGroup EntityKey EntityManager EntityMetadata Function

Class Libraries

Accepts all changes to this Entity, returning the EntityState to Unchanged. Adds a newly created entity to its associated EntityManager. Clears any error messages on this Entity. Marks this Entity for deletion; the EntityState becomes "Deleted".

The EntityGroup that this Entity belongs to. An EntityGroup is a container that holds cached entities of a particular type. The EntityKey for this entity. Represents the primary key for an Entity. The EntityManager that manages this entity. The EntityMetadata for this Entity. The available EntityMetadata includes all of the following properties: Member Description

CanQueryByEntityKey Gets whether primary key queries are allowed. ComplexTypeProperties Returns a collection of EntityProperties that describe complex object properties for entities of this type. ConcurrencyProperties Returns a collection of EntityProperties that are concurrency properties for entities of this type. Returns a collection of DataEntityProperties for entities of this type. Gets the data source key name. The default EntitySetName for entities of this type. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that belong to entities of this type. Gets the Type of the entity. Returns whether this metadata describes a ComplexObject. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that are keys for entities of this type. Returns a collection of DataEntityProperties for entities of this type.

DataProperties

DataSourceKeyName DefaultEntitySetName EntityProperties

EntityType IsComplexType

KeyProperties

NavigationProperties

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Public Methods Name CreateEntity Description Creates a new entity of the type describe by this metadata item.

GetDefaultValue

EntitySetName EntityState Equals() FindRelatedEntities() ForcePropertyChanged()

The name of the Entity Framework EntitySet containing this entity. An enum signifying that the entity is Detached, Unchanged, Added, Deleted, or Modified. As defined on System.Object. Finds any cached entities related to this entity by a specified EntityRelationLink. Forces a PropertyChanged event to be fired. This method should only be needed in situations where changes to calculated fields or other properties not backed by an EntityProperty must be made known. Returns the EntityProperty corresponding to the specified property name. As defined on System.Object. Returns all related entities via a specified EntityRelationLink. Differs from FindRelatedEntities() in that it will retrieve the related entities from the back-end data source of if necessary. Generic version of GetRelatedEntities() Returns a related entity via an EntityRelationLink. Generic version of GetRelatedEntity() As defined on System.Object. Determines whether this entity has any pending changes. Returns a Boolean. Gets a boolean value indicating whether there are errors in this entity. Returns whether the current instance is a null entity. (The EntityManager will return a NullEntity instead of a null value when a requested entity is not found.) Returns whether the current instance is a null entity or a pending entity. Returns whether the current instance is a pending entity. (The EntityManager will return a PendingEntity instead of a null value when a requested entity is being queried asynchronously and has not yet been returned.) Rejects (rolls back) all changes to this Entity since it was retrieved or had Entity.AcceptChanges called on it.

GetDataProperty() GetHashCode() GetRelatedEntities()

GetRelatedEntities<>() GetRelatedEntity() GetRelatedEntity<>() GetType() HasChanges() HasErrors IsNullEntity IsNullOrPendingEntity IsPendingEntity

RejectChanges()

RemoveFromManager()

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SavingErrorMessage SetAdded()

Gets the description of any error that occured during the most recent save of this entity. Forces this entity into the EntityState of Added. You will usually have no reason to call this method from application code. The EntityState is automatically set to Added by the framework when a new entity is added to an EntityManager. Forces this entity into the EntityState of Modified. You will usually have no reason to call this method from application code. The EntityState is automatically set to Modified by the framework when any EntityProperty of the entity is changed. A string representation of this object. Gets the IdeaBlade.Validation.VerifierEngine shared by all entities within the same EntityManager.

SetModified()

ToString() VerifierEngine

Finding Help on DevForce
Refer to the Reference Help (available from the IdeaBlade DevForce / Documentation menu option) for information on DevForce classes. For the detail help on individual types and their members, you can launch the Reference Help from the Start Menu ► All Programs ► IdeaBlade DevForce ►Reference Help. There are some handy ways to get type and member level help within Visual Studio itself. These techniques are great for exploring .NET and your own code as well as DevForce. IntelliSense Object Browser Class View Class Diagram These are discussed in more detail below.

XML Documentation
These techniques are only as good as the XML documentation embedded in the code. All of these techniques rely upon XML Documentation which we describe briefly in the Best Practices chapter.

IntelliSense
You probably know that if you hover the mouse over a class or method for a moment, you‟ll see a tool tip that gives some brief syntactical information.

IntelliSense can do much more. A full discussion is out of scope but we thought it worth mentioning a few of the tricks we use all of the time.

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Learn the key accelerators.
You‟ll find many of the IntelliSense accelerator keys listed in the Visual Studio Edit Menu.

We find List Members and Parameter Info to be the most informative short-cuts.13 Press the accelerator key combination for List Members within an identifier and IntelliSense displays its description straight from the <summary/> tag of its XML documentation. This works for a member, too. Enter the dot („.‟) to the right of an identifier and again you get an open list. IntelliSense scrolls to the most recently used option if there is one. Clicking on the option reveals its description. Press the accelerator key combination for Parameter Info while your cursor is in the parameter list and you‟ll see the method overloads and a description of the nearest parameter if the developer provided the XML documentation Use the up and down arrow to scroll among the overloads.

13

Word completion is a big help too although that‟s more about saving keystrokes than discovery. Type just a few letters of the desired identifier, then signal work completion; VS fills in your choice.

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The Object Browser
From the menu select View ► Object Browser (or press the accelerator key combination shown adjacent to that menu option). Visual Studio adds an “Object Browser” tab showing all of the assemblies referenced by any project in the solution. There are three panes: a tree view of the assembly, list of member of the selected type, and the XML documentation.

You can expand any node in the tree view to see its inheritance chain and examine any type within that chain:

Search
Best of all, you can search for a word (or part of a word) among your referenced assemblies and the .NET framework assemblies.

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In this example, we browse just among the solution assemblies and search for the word “manager”. After we click the green search button, the result might look like this:

We can browse around in this filtered set as before. We click the “Clear Search” icon when we‟re done.

Class View
Class View is just like the Object View but narrows the scope to just the assemblies we can edit in our Solution. You can open the Class View from the menu (View ► Class View).

Class Diagram
With both the Object Browser and Class View we can examine the assemblies but we cannot change their XML documentation. We can only change the XML documentation of the code we‟re editing. As with previous versions of Visual Studio we can enter the XML comments within the Code View. Visual Studio 2005 introduced the Class Diagram which promises to be the means for programming visually. You can open a class diagram in Visual Studio 2008 using the View Class Diagram button on the Class View toolbar. The Class Diagram displays a lovely design service onto which we can drag our existing classes and mark associations among them like so:

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We can add classes and add members and the Class Diagram will stub in the code which we later flesh out by switching back to Code View. There are no round-tripping problems because the Class Diagram is just another view on the exact same code; there is no intermediate format that must be translated as we shift from one perspective to the other. This will be a wonderful documentation tool as soon as Microsoft smoothes some of the rough edges. You soon discover that you‟re wrestling with positioning the blocks and the lines that connect them. Just as you have it about right, you touch something and all of the graphics scramble to odd and inconvenient positions. We are not enamored of the code generation either. It generates a nice stub but we can do better with code snippets and, really, how hard is it to write a stub method or property? If you like it, by all means use it.

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Business Object Mapping
The business object model consists primarily of “business objects”, the programmatic constructs that represent entities in the domain of the application. In most cases, business objects represent entities in the “real world” such as customers, employees, orders, and products. Business Object Model development proceeds in the following steps: The developer uses the ADO.NET Entity Data Model Designer, or XML hand-coding, or a likely combination of the two, to develop one or more Entity Data Models that describe conceptual entities and map them to a back-end storage schema. The developer uses the DevForce Object Mapper to create a “Domain Model” that combines one or more Entity Data Models into a single logical model. The resulting Domain Model encompasses entities from all source Entity Models, uniting them in a single structure that permits relationships to be defined amongst them and (at runtime) updates to be handled transactionally across them. The developer uses the Object Mapper to enhance and adjust the Entity Models in a variety of ways. The changes made to the source Entity Model(s) by the Object Mapper do not conflict with the demands of the Entity Data Model Designer, so the developer can work with confidence on her business model using either or both tools, throughout the development life cycle. The Object Mapper then generates DevForce Entity class files from the Domain Model, just as the Entity Data Model Designer generates class files from the Entity Model(s). These class files define the specification for the runtime object model. This chapter covers addresses the building of the Business Object Model. Another chapter, “Object Persistence”, describes the use of that model in persistence operations such as queries, creates, updates, deletes and saves.

Chapter 5

Introduction
The ADO.NET Entity Framework provides a mapping scheme for declaring how its persistence mechanisms should translate between data in a data source and data in an in-memory business object state. The Entity Framework, however, provides only for operation in client-server mode. Its object model includes detailed information about the schema of the back-end data sources, and the Entity Framework depends upon locally available connection information to carry out its persistence operations with those data sources. The DevForce Composite Object Model, by contrast, is entirely free of knowledge or information about back-end data sources, and so can be deployed to client machines without compromising the security of the persistent data stores (which may be relational databases or web services). Furthermore, the DevForce persistence framework that uses the Domain Model provides and manages a local cache in which data can be stored during application sessions, permitting extensive and complex data maintenance work independent of the back-end data stores. In short, DevForce extends the capabilities of the Entity Framework from client-server to n-tier; and in the process, provides all the benefits of n-tier deployment. These include: client machines that are more secure; vastly better performance over low and moderate speed connections (such as typical internet connections); wider application reach (because of the reduced connection performance requirements); fuller use of client-side computing power and corresponding reduced server-side hardware demands; server statelessness and the concomitant ease of server scaling; and disconnected operation. Because the DevForce Composite Object Model integrates multiple Entity Models, you business model can – unlike in the Entity Framework – span multiple back-end databases. The DevForce model, again unlike the EF Model, also supports business objects that are sourced from web services. Objects derived from all of these sources are 105 | P a g e

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integrated into a single model, in which they are treated as equal members, have relationships, and participate in single, integrated transactions.

Overview of the ADO.NET Entity Model
In the ADO.NET Entity Model you declare, for example, that anEmployee.FirstName, maps to the [FirstName] column of [Employee] table records in a relational database. The Entity Framework‟s persistence mechanism can take if from there. When it retrieves employee data from the data source, it will know how to find the first name value and copy it into the EF version of the Employee business object. When it saves the Employee business object, it will know how to extract the first name value and put it where it belongs in the data source. The DevForce persistence framework maps DevForce Entities to the corresponding Entity Framework objects. But that is all happily behind the scenes for you. All you need to know is that DevForce uses the services of the Entity Framework to perform the direct communications with back-end databases, and that, in order to do so, it knows how to map its own entities to the EF ones. In your development world, you can happily ignore the latter; you will code to, and in your application use, the DevForce entities exclusively.

Working with the IdeaBlade DevForce Object Mapper
The IdeaBlade DevForce Object Mapping (OM) tool, AKA “Object Mapper”, is a graphical designer for creating and maintaining domain model from the starting point of one or more ADO.NET Entity Data Models. The Object Mapper plugs directly into Visual Studio during DevForce installation. Note that we do not address the creation or modification of the Entity Model using the Visual Studio Entity Data Model designer or XML hand-coding. Those are topics for which Microsoft provides abundant documentation. If you can put it in the Entity Model and make it work with the Entity Framework, we support it.

Object Mapper Walk-Through
This topic is arranged as a structured walk through the tool during which we create and elaborate a domain model containing a collection of related business object entities based on tables in the NorthwindIB database. 1. Begin with an existing Visual Studio solution containing at least one project with an ADO.NET Entity Data Model (EDM) in it. The solution shown below has an EDM based on the NorthwindIB database that ships with DevForce. This is a modified version of the NorthwindEF database distributed by Microsoft. (A discussion of the differences between NorthwindIB and NorthwindEF, and the reasons for them, is included as an Appendix to this chapter.)

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2.

Launch the Object Mapper from the Visual Studio menu.

The Object Mapper launches with no model loaded in this first-time use.

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3.

Create a New Domain Model by selecting File / New from the Object Mapper menu.

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The Object Mapper displays a Domain Model with the default name “Untitled” in the Navigation Pane.

4.

Click on the Domain Model name in the tree control to select it. Now inspect the properties of the Domain Model in the Detail pane.

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Domain Model Project. This will display the path to the folder for the Domain Model project and files. Use the <New project…> button to create a new Domain Model project; otherwise select an existing project from the dropdown list. Create Silverlight Domain Model Project checkbox. Check this box if you wish to create a Silverlight project. (See the chapter, “DevForce Silverlight Apps” for more detail.) This option is only available in the DevForce Silverlight product or the combined WinClient/Silverlight product. Namespace. Code for the Domain Model will be generated into the namespace shown in the Settings area. By default, the namespace will be “DomainModel”. You can change this if you prefer a different name for the namespace. Entity Manager Name. By default, the container for the Domain Model‟s collections of objects will be “DomainModelEntityManager”. You can change this as well. You will be able to reference its collections in LINQ and elsewhere as follows: C# VB .NET Language. This option determines the .NET language in which the class files will be generated. You can choose C# or VB. Generate Code after save. This option determines whether the the Object Mapper will generate code when you save your Domain Model. You can selectively turn on or off the generation of two types of code: 1. Create Developer Partial Class Files By default, the Object Mapper will generate a developer partial class in a stand-alone file for each entity in the model for which it does not find such a file already in existence. It will never overwrite an existing partial class developer file. This option allows you to turn off the generation of such classes. You might choose to do this if storing your developer partial classes somewhere other than the root of the DomainModel project. 2. Update model project‟s app.config Determines if the app.config file (written in XML) will be generated or updated.
DomainModelEntityManager _em1 = DomainModel.DomainModelEntityManager.DefaultManager;

Copy Entity Model Artifacts. This option determines whether the Object Mapper will generate statements in the DomainModel project‟s post-build event handler to move necessary DLLs and Entity Data Model components to the executables directory for the solution. Without these statements you will have to move the files yourself whenever you change and rebuild the model. File Name. This setting displays the file name (path) to the folder where the Domain Model (.ibedmx) file is (or will be) saved. 5. Add an Entity Model

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Select Model / Add Entity Model to add an existing Entity Model to your Domain Model.

Business Object Mapping

You will be presented with an Open File dialog. Browse to the desired Entity Model file.

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6. Inspect the Properties of the Entity Model

Business Object Mapping

File Name. This setting displays the file name (path) to the Entity Model (.edmx) file. This is the location to which you browsed when adding the Entity Model to the Domain Model. Data Source Key. The data source key is the symbolic name for this Entity Model, and by extension, the database to which it is bound. Namespace. Code for the Entity Model will be generated into the namespace shown. The namespace shown is the one currently encoded into the Entity Model (.edmx) file. If you have not previously changed it in the Object Mapper, it is the namespace you selected when creating the Entity Model, or which you later changed in the Entity Model. You can change this if you prefer a different name for the namespace for the Entity Model generated code. Container Name. The container for the entity model‟s collections of objects is a System.Data.Object.ObjectContext whose name is encoded into the Entity Model (.edmx) file. Note that you are unlikely to use this container directly in your DevForce app, since you will be working through the Domain Model‟s DomainModelEntityManager container and its collections. C# VB Injected Base Types. This button launches a dialog to help you define base classes to sit in the inheritance hierarchy of your business type classes. This will be discussed below.
DomainModelEntityManager _em1 = DomainModel.Manager.DefaultManager;

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Name Pluralizer. This button launches a tool to help you save a great deal of time making the pluralization of your type names orderly and sensible. This will be discussed below. Verification Interceptors. These options give you control over which verification-related interceptors are coded into your generated property definitions. You can choose among the options shown below:

Verification interceptors are discussed in Chapter 7, “Validation Through Verification”, of this Developer Guide. 7. Click on the ServerModelNorthwindIbContext node in the navigational tree control. When you‟re positioned in the tree on a container node such as this one, you have a comprehensive, quick reference view of the entity types and their properties:

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For each Entity type you see:

Business Object Mapping

a Read-Only property indicating whether the type definition has been modified in the current Object Mapper session the name of the Entity Set that will provide instances of the type whether the type is abstract the type‟s Base type, if it inherits from another type. 8. Click in the tree control on one of the individual types. You‟ll see only the properties and associations for that type:

9.

Select the Navigation Properties tab in the detail pane. This shows you the properties defined in the ServerModelNorthwindIB Entity Model for navigating from the Order object to its related entities. The Order has a Customer who placed it, an Employee who wrote it, a collection of line items (which are OrderDetail objects), and, potentially, a related InternationalOrder. These properties were generated by the EDM Designer in response to its discovery of relationships in the targeted database schema.

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10. Select the Associations tab. You will see the background information about the associations defined in the model (which led to the generation of the navigation properties you just examined).

A foreign key constraint, FK_Order_Customer, found in the database, relates the Order and Customer tables in a many-to-1 relationship. (One customer can place many Orders.) Another, FK_Order_Employee, relates the Order and Employee tables in a many-to-1 relationship. (One Employee can write many Orders.) A third, FK_InternationalOrder_Order, relates the Order and InternationalOrder tables in a 1-to-0 or 1 relationship. The Entity Model designer inferred a 1-to-0 or 1 relationship between these two tables because their linking columns are in both cases a primary key. A fourth, FK_OrderDetail_Order, relates the Order and OrderDetail tables in a 1-to-many. (One Order can have many details – line items).

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11. Return to the Simple Properties tab and examine the detail on the properties of the Order Entity:

On this grid, you can: Rename a property; Add it to, or remove it from, the type‟s primary key; Observe its datatype ; Make it nullable or non-nullable; Designate it as a column to be considered when checking for concurrency conflicts, and ask DevForce to automatically update it for you as needed, according to a variety of strategies; Change Getter and Setter Access levels

Continuing to the right on the Simple Properties grid, you can:

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Set the property‟s Getter, Setter, and Verification Setter modes; Turn Default Verification on or off for it; Observe the property‟s maximum allowed length, for data types for which that property is defined; Observe whether the property‟s length is fixed; Observe the property‟s Precision and Scale. Detail on the Property Settings Many of the property settings are self-explanatory, but a few need further explanation: Concurrency Strategy Six strategies are defined, as shown here:

These are discussed in detail in Chapter 6, “Object Persistence”, in the “Basic Mechanics of Concurrency” section.

Access The Access setting determines with what access type the property definition will be generated. The options are: Public, Protected, Internal, Private, and Protected Internal.

Getter and Setter Mode The Getter Mode and Setter Mode controls what general-purpose interception points will be coded into the property definition. Interception points are also discussed in Chapter 6, “Object Persistence”, section “Architecture of the DevForce Business Object Class”.

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Verification Setter Mode The Verification Setter Mode controls what verification-specific interception points will be coded into the property definition. Verification interceptors are in Chapter 7, “Validation Through Verification”.

Exiting The Object Mapper
If you attempt exit the Object Mapper with unsaved changes, you‟ll see the following dialog:

Clicking <Yes> will take you into the same dialog as File / Save (for a first-time save):

Upon saving with the default code generation options, the Object Mapper will do all of the following: 1. 2. 3. Create a new solution folder in your solution called “DomainModel” (or whatever you changed the Name in the above dialog to be). Create a new project within that solution folder, naming it “DomainModel” (or your substituted name), generating code into it, and storing it subordinate to your solution folder on the disk. Move the project for any EntityDataModel included in the Domain Model into the same solution folder 118 | P a g e

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Create an AppHelper project and write an app.config file into it that contains necessary configurationsettings.

The Object Mapper Menus
Menu Options

The File menu contains options related to the Domain Model file as a whole.

The Model menu contains options related to operations on the Entity Model components of the domain model. Many of these options are also available on right-click shortcut menus associated with nodes of the navigation tree.

The View menu contains a toggle option to suppress or display the navigation window (tree control).

The Help menu contains an About option from which you can learn the version number and license type associated with the copy of DevForce you have installed.

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Injected Base Types
In the Detail pane for an Entity Model we previously noted the presence of a button to launch something called “Injected Base Types...”.

Clicking this button launches the following dialog:

This dialog permits you to introduce base types between levels in your inheritance hierarchy. The most common operation will be to create a base entity that inherits from IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity, and to make it the base type for all business object types in the model. This you would do as follows: 1. 2. Click the <Add> button. In the “Add Injected Base Type” window, type the desired name of your base entity, and accept the inheritance default of “Entity”.

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3.

Click OK. You‟ll see the following dialog:

4.

Now select the row created for BaseEntity and click <Set Default>.

BaseEntity becomes the default base class for all your business object types.

You can all other base types and assign any subset of your business object types to inherit from them. Note, however, that you can insert at most one base type between each pair of concrete types. Thus, you can have Order inherit from BaseEntity and International Order inherit from NonDomesticOrder; but you can‟t use the Injected Types dialog to make Order inherit from OrderBase and OrderBase inherit from BaseEntity. If you need to do that, do the following: 1. 2. 3. Define base types BaseEntity and OrderBase. Make BaseEntity the default type. After close the Injected Types dialog, set Order to inherit from OrderBase.

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4. 5.

Save and generate the model. Manually change the code for the OrderBase class to make OrderBase inherit from BaseEntity. (Note that you will have to re-do this last step if you regenerate OrderBase.)

We stopped short of providing facilities to define such multi-level inheritance stacks in the Injected Types dialog in order to keep the UI simple.

The Name Pluralizer: Fixing the Pluralization in Type Names
In the Detail pane for an Entity Model we previously noted the presence of a button to launch something called the “Name Pluralizer”.

The Name Pluralizer can also be launched from the main menu via Edit / Name Pluralizer, or from the context menu associated with the Entity Model node in the navigational tree control:

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Launching the Name Pluralizer by any of these mechanisms presents you with the following modal dialog:

We‟ll get to the mechanics of this tool in a moment, but let‟s get a little background first. The Entity Model Designer, by default, always names the Entity Sets and Entity the same as the table on which they are based. In the NorthwindIB database, tables were named in the singular (“Customer” rather than “Customers”, etc.), so both the Entity Types and the Entity Sets are named in the singular as well. We‟re going to want the Entity Set names to be plural, as we find it more natural to refer to the “Customers” collection, which contains individual “Customer” entities. The EDM Designer also makes no attempt to address the number (singular or plural) of the navigation properties. It simply names them the same thing as the corresponding Entity. You may want to do better than that. Most developers want the navigation properties that return a collection to have plural names (“OrderDetails” instead of “OrderDetail”), and the navigation properties that return a single object to have singular names (“Customer”, “Employee”, “InternationalOrder”). Click back on the Entity Model node in the Model tree and note the <Name Pluralizer> button.

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This launches the following modal dialog. The Name Pluralizer will fix our pluralization problems with both Entity Set names and Navigation Property names at one stroke. You can change them in either direction, but for most developers, the default settings will be perfect. Regardless of what their names are now, Entity Sets and Navigation Properties that return a collection will end up with plural names; Entity Types and Navigation Properties that return a single object with singular ones. (The <Reset Defaults> button will always re-establish the settings you see here.)

You just click <OK> or <Apply> to perform the work. (The <Ok> and <Apply> buttons have the standard Windows behaviors: both perform the indicated operations, but <Ok> will also close the dialog, whereas <Apply> will leave it open.)

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Note the pluralization of the Entity Set and Navigation Property names after applying the Pluralizer. This will save you a lot of time, particularly if your model is large!

Mapping a Web Service
The process of adding a web service to your domain model will result in a service reference being added to the project that is selected at the time you add the web service. Since such a service reference should not be included in a project destined for client-side deployment, you should, before launching the Object Mapper to add a web service to your domain model, select such a project. If you don‟t already have a suitable project targetted for server-side-only deployment, create one. To add web service entities to your domain model, begin by selecting File / Add Web Service from the Object Mapper menu:

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In the resultant dialog, enter the URL of the desired web service:

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The web service returns information about what Services and Operations it provides:

A .NET class will be generated to facilitate your access of this web service. Change the namespace that will be used for the code in this class if desired:

This will result in an additional EntityModel node in the navigation pane, and a new container (ObjectContext) with classes corresponding to the output of the web service. Such classes will become types in your DomainModel, peers of those generated from database tables.

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Notes on the Generated Code
The DevForce Object Mapper generates a great deal of code into its designer class file. Let‟s take a moment to revisit the code for generated properties that you had just a glimpse of in Chapter 3: Hello, DevForce.

Data Properties
First, let‟s consider the generated code for a simple property. We‟ll look at the CompanyName property of the Customer object in the NorthwindIB database. Here is the complete generated code for this property:

C#

#region CompanyName /// <summary>Gets or sets the CompanyName.</summary> [IbVerify.StringLengthVerifier(MaxValue=40, IsRequired=true)] [IbUtil.MaxTextLength(40)] [IbUtil.DBDataType(typeof(String))] public String CompanyName { get { return CompanyNameEntityProperty.GetValue(this); } [global::System.Diagnostics.DebuggerNonUserCode] set { CompanyNameEntityProperty.SetValue(this, value); } } #endregion CompanyName

VB

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The first attribute associated with the property defines a StringLengthVerifier (see the chapter of this guide on Verification). The second (which is redundant if you have elected the generated of the attributed verifiers, as here) caps the length of the value that can be entered for this property. The third defines its data type. See the chapter “Property Interceptors” for a detailed discusion of how you can write code to intercept Gets and Sets to change the delivered or received value, perform security checks, or perform any desired related operation. As it so happens, there is even more information in the CompanyNameEntityProperty that we have so far described. As it so happens, EntityProperty has two subclasses, DataEntityProperty and NavigationEntityProperty, which contain additional information. Since CompanyName isn‟t a navigation property, but rather a simple data property, CompanyNameEntityProperty is generated into the designer code as a DataEntityProperty. That has the following members:

As you can see, the information you have available about the CompanyName property to your interceptor methods is quite rich indeed. In addition to the things we‟ve seen before, you have the property‟s default value, and you can tell if its value is autoincremented, if it is a complex type, if it is designated as a property to be checked for the determination of data concurrency, and if it belongs to its containing object‟s key.

Navigation Properties
Now let‟s look at the definition for a navigation property. These, you may recall, are generated when relations are defined between types. The Customer type, for example, is involved in a one-to-many relation with the Order type: a given Customer can place many Orders. So the DevForce Object Mapper generated an Orders property into the Customer class: C#
#region Orders /// <summary>Gets the Orders.</summary> [IbEm.RelationProperty("FK_Order_Customer", IbEm.QueryDirection.ToRole2)] public IbEm.RelatedEntityList<Order> Orders { get { return OrdersEntityProperty.GetValue(this); } } #endregion Orders #endregion Navigation properties

VB The code for the Orders property has many similarities to the CompanyName property we previously examined, but some important differences as well. Whereas CompanyName returned a simple string type, Orders returns a RelatedEntityList<Order>. It has an attribute that flags it as a RelationProperty (the term is synonymous with “navigation property”), and which specifies the relation type (FK_Order_Customer) that connects Order to Customer and indicates that Order is the child in that relation. 129 | P a g e

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Note that a ChildrenReference<Order> property is also defined in the generated code. This property, named Orders_Reference, allows you, among other things, to examine the navigation property before the fact to determine if it returns a scalar value or a list. The name “Orders” sure looks like something that returns a collection, but that just a happy consequence of the way the modeller named it, and not an easy or reliable way to make the determination! Since Orders is a navigation property, its corresponding EntityProperty is generated as a NavigationEntityProperty. The following information is available on such a property, above and beyond the information we say previously that belongs to all EntityProperties:

Note that you can tell which side of a relation the type returned by the property is on (QueryDirection), and which relation is involved (RelationName).

Use of Indexers on Entities
Note that all of the following ways of requesting or setting the value of a property are equivalent. Each syntax results in an operation that is routed through the property‟s getter and setter logic:

anEmployee.LastName anEmployee[“LastName”] anEmployee[LastNameEntityProperty] aLastNameEntityProperty.GetValue aLastNameEntityProperty.SetValue See the “Property Interceptors” chapter to learn how to bypass the getter and setter logic for those cases where you need to.

EntityManager.GetEntityGroup
In the cache, entities of a single type are stored in a container called an EntityGroup. You probably won‟t find much direct need of this container, but it does raise a few low-level events that can be useful in very specific situations, those being: EntityPropertyChanging EntityPropertyChanged EntityChanging EntityChanged The first two fire when a property is changed, and are specific to that property; the last two fire when anything about an entity changes (including a property). If you‟re alert, you may note that those occurrences seem pretty well covered by the corresponding interceptors in the property setters that we just finished discussing: Event on EntityGroup EntityPropertyChanging Corresponding Interceptor methods generated into the Entity class Before{PropertyName}Set 130 | P a g e

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EntityPropertyChanged EntityChanging EntityChanged

After{PropertyName}Set BeforeSet AfterSet

And you‟d be right: for most things you need to be in response to a change in an entity, the interceptor methods are the vehicle of choice. But the EntityGroup events offer one advantage over the latter: because they are implemented as event handlers, they can be added and removed dynamically at runtime. If you need to do something conditioned upon runtime circumstances, they‟ll be just the ticket. You can get an instance of the EntityGroup for a type (we‟ll use Customer again) from an EntityManager as follows: C# EntityGroup customerGroup = anEntityManager.GetEntityGroup(typeof(Customer)) ; VB You can also get the EntityGroup associated with a particular entity: C# aCustomer.EntityAspect.EntityGroup

VB

Multiple Datasources
Some business object models unite data from multiple data sources. Order information, for example, might reside in both an application-specific database and in an accounting database. We might need to read from both. We might need to post to both. We can accommodate these requirements within a single business object model 14. We began the mapping session illustration by supplying a database connection string. We then examined the database objects, picked a few, mapped them, and generated their classes.

14

The data sources can be a mix of databases and web services. We illustrate this discussion with database data sources.

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DataSourceKeys
We neglected to mention that the concrete business objects we declared were attached permanently to a particular DataSourceKey. We associated that key with a database accessible via the connection string. Let‟s revisit the moment after setting that connection string.

Notice the DataSourceKey property associated with the Entity Data Model. In the screen shot, above, the property has the name “Default”, which is the default value given to this property by the Object Mapper. But this can be renamed as desired by the developer. In the Entity Data Model, the DataSourceKey name is stored as a DataSourceKey attribute of the Schema element within the ConceptualModel. This tells you that there is a one-to-one mapping between a DataSourceKey and a particular Entity Data Model (EDM). Since a single DevForce DomainModel can encompass multiple EDMs, there is then a one-to-many relationship between a DomainModel and its DataSourceKeys. In the app.config file, the name of a DataSourceKey is stored in a name attribute of an edmKey element. In that file, the Object Mapper generates one edmKey for each Entity Data Model included in the DomainModel. Each edmKey, besides having a name, also has a connection attribute whose value includes both the location of the entity model artifacts (.csdl, .ssdl, and .msl files) and the connection string for the database. When the Object Mapper generates its version of the app.config initially, this connection string is brought over intact from the app.config file associated with the underlying Entity Data Model.

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You might assume, at first blush, that there is necessarily exactly one edmKey for each DataSourceKey. But that isn‟t the case. While there can be, at runtime -- at a given moment -- only one physical data source associated with a given Entity Data Model, DevForce provides you with the flexibility to assign different physical datasources to a given EDM at different times. For example, you might have Development, Test, and Production versions of a given database. All have the same schema, but contain different data. You can decide for a given runtime session of the application which database should be used to supply data to Entity Data Model XYZ. You can even switch the datasource out dynamically while running! To use this capability, you add additional edmKey elements manually to the app. config, so that it will end ups with multiple edmKeys for at least some of the Entity Data Models that comprise your Domain Model. Because of this capability, the actual formal relationship between Entity Data Models and edmKeys is one-to-many. On the other hand, there should be exactly one edmKey for each physical database that can contribute data to a given DomainModel at runtime. Thus the relationship of edmKeys to physical databases is 1-to1. The relationship between these various elements is summarized in the following sidebar and diagram:

Models, Keys, and Data Sources
The diagram at right summarizes the relationships between models, keys, and data sources. One DomainModel may be associated with many Entity Data Models (EDMs). A given EDM is associated with a single DataSourceKey. A given EDM / DataSourceKey may be associated with many Entity Types. A given EDM / DataSourceKey may be associated with many edmKeys (in the app.config file). Each edmKey represents a single physical data source.

The DataSourceKey represents a schema: for a given EDM, the DataSourceKey identifies the Datasource schema to which the EDM‟s conceptual model is mapped. Every business object has a DataSourceKeyName property, defined in the (Entity) class that was generated by the DevForce Object Mapper to contain the object‟s blueprint.Any data source used at runtime to supply data for that business object must have the same schema as the data source to which that business object type is mapped in the Entity Data Model.

DevForce and Data Sources – Digging Deeper
There are potentially many data sources at play in a DevForce application. Data sources can be databases or web services. The DevForce Object Mapper does not do design-time access to databases. Any design-time access of a database is initiated by Visual Studio‟s Entity Data Model Designer during your design session using that tool. That designer associates an app.config file with the Entity Data Model (.edmx) file, placing it in the same project as the latter. That app.config contains connection information to the database used by the EDM designer for its design work.

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When you direct the DevForce Object Mapper to generate code, it creates (or updates) an instance of app.config in the Visual Studio project where it stores the DomainModel (.ibedmx) file. In creating an edmKey element in the app.config for an Entity Data Model‟s database, the Object Mapper simply copies the connection information found in the EDM‟s app.config. Listing 4 shows the XML Schema element from an Entity Data Model (.edmx) file. Typically, this element is generated initially by the EDM Designer, then modified slightly the DevForce Object Mapper. Note namespace and two attributes prefixed with “ib”. These were written into the .edmx file by the DevForce Object Mapper. They are respected by the EDM Designer, however, and it will not overwrite them even if you use it to generate fresh EDM code later. Listing 4. DataSourceKey attribute in the Entity Data Model (.edmx) file XML
<Schema Namespace="ServerModelNorthwindIB" Alias="Self" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/ado/2006/04/edm" xmlns:ib="http//www.ideablade.com/schemas/edmx" ... ib:DataSourceKey="Default" ib:LastModTs="7/3/2008 12:54:54 PM">

When you save your work in the DevForce Object Mapper , it writes (subject to your okay) a similar connection string into the app.config file that it saves in the DomainModel project. It writes this information as part of an edmKey (for relational database sources) or a wsKey (for web service sources). Listing 5 shows the XML statement written by the Devforce Object Mapper into its app.config for the same object model just referenced: Listing 5. Data source identifier (edmKey) for run-time operations (written to the app.config file) XML <ideaBlade.configuration version="5.00" updateFromDomainModelConfig="Ask" ...
<edmKeys> <edmKey connection="metadata=res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.csdl| res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.ssdl|res://ServerModelNort hwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;Datasource=.;Initial Catalog=NorthwindIB;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" containerName="ServerModelNorthwindIB.ServerModelNorthwindIBContext" logTraceString="false" name="Default" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelNorthwindIB" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey> </edmKeys>

... </ideaBlade.configuration>

Observe the connection information for the Entity Data Model and its datasource, and the DataSourceKeyName, stored as the name attribute of the edmKey. DataSourceKeys originally written by the Object Mapper into the app.config file, such as the one just shown, may subsequently be altered or removed manually by the developer. Other DataSourceKeys may also be added manually. Why might a developer alter or add a DataSourceKey in app.config? The most common reason would be that he wants to add keys that point to multiple variations of a particular Datasource (e.g., Development, Test, Production).

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The Object Mapper and Manually Added or Modified Keys
If your Domain Model project includes an existing app.config file and you add or modify Entity Data Models or their DataSourceKey names inside the Object Mapper and save your work, the Object Mapper will ask if you want it to update the app.config. Basically this update consists of modifying the edmKeys in the app.config file. The Object Mapper will only modify edmKeys in the app.config file with names that match those that it displays in its designer, and only if you accept its offer to do the update.

DataSourceKeys, DataSourceKeyResolvers, and DataSourceExtensions
A DataSourceKey is a symbolic representation of a data source used by the DevForce EntityManager and associated with the Entity objects it retrieves, updates, and creates. Every Entity has a “DataSourceKeyName” attribute that identifies its symbolic Datasource15. This key name is hard-coded into the business class at the time the latter is generated by the Object Mapper. Recall that a DomainModel, and therefore an EntityManager can access multiple data sources. A given EntityManager might, for example, access a SQL Server database, an Oracle database, and a web service, mapping business classes from each and joining all into a single transactional unit. Each of those three datasources gets a distinct DataSourceKey, and entities generated from each of them get assigned the name of that DataSourceKey. But what if you need multiple versions of those three data sources? For example, you might have Development, Test, Stage, and Production versions of the same three-datasource set. The data sources in all four versions would have the same schemas, but different content. For example, data in the development and test data sources might be “scrubbed” so as to eliminate security issues during relatively unprotected use; data in the development data sources might be lightweight compared to that in the Test data sources; and so forth. All four versions of a given database (schema) in a set of data sources would be identified with the same DataSourceKey and all would map to the same set of business classes, so that an application consuming their data would be indifferent to which of the physical instances of that schema it accessed in any given launch. DevForce uses a string called a DatasourceExtension to discriminate between alternative instances of a given data schema. You supply these extensions in the edmKeys (and possibly in wsKeys) that you configure in the app.config file, by adding them to the name attribute of the edmKey or wsKey, separating them from the DataSourceKey Name by an underscore character (“_”). At runtime, to obtain the data required for business objects of a designated type (e.g, Employees), DevForce connects to an actual data source by consulting a DataSourceKeyResolver. The DataSourceKeyResolver combines the DataSourceKeyName associated with the desired Entity type with a DataSourceExtension (supplied by the requesting EntityManager) and returns a DataSourceKey object. That DataSourceKey object contains all the information required to connect to an actual, deployed data source.

EntityManagers and DataSourceExtensions
Every EntityManager gets associated at instantiation with a “DataSourceExtension”. You can see this clearly in the following code statement which uses an overload of the EntityManager constructor that specifies the extension explicitly (as “Development”):

C#

DomainModelEntityManager mgr = new DomainModelEntityManager(true, "Development");

15

You can find this on an entity instance as its EntityAspect.EntityMetadata.DataSourceKeyName property

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The extension determines which version – e.g., Development, Test, Stage, or Production – of the data source(s) actually gets accessed by the EntityManager. Expressed another way: the “Extension” identifies a collection of one or more data sources, each the repository of a set of tables or web services that map to business object classes, which will be accessed by a given EntityManager. 16 In the illustration below, all four of the DS#1 data sources would have the same DataSourceKeyName. The same could be said for the DS#2 and DS#3 data sources. On the other hand, the set of data sources accessed by a single EntityManager would comprise a DS#1, a DS#2, and a DS#3. But which copy of DS#1, a DS#2, and DS#3 should be used? That would be determined by the DataSourceExtension with which the EntityManager was associated at instantiation.

Now let‟s look at DataSourceKey names and extensions as they appear in edmKeys and wsKeys in an App.config file. Listing 6 is an excerpt from an app.config file containing multiple DataSourceKeys with different key names and extensions. For clarity, we‟ve made sure the name attribute is the first attribute listed for the the <edmKey> element. Note that each DataSourceKey, in addition to containing a connection string, also includes probe assembly names for assemblies that hold auxiliary classes for id generation, authentication, event handling, and the like. 17 Listing 6. Extract of app.config file with multiple DataSourceKeys XML
<edmKeys> <!-- Production databases --> <edmKey name="NorthwindIB_Release" connection="metadata=res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.csdl| res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.ssdl|res://ServerModelNort hwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;Data Source=ProductionDBMS_A;Initial Catalog=NorthwindIB;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" containerName="ServerModelNorthwindIB.ServerModelNorthwindIBContext" logTraceString="false" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelNorthwindIB" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey> <edmKey name="Aw2000_Release" connection="metadata=res://ServerModelAw2000/ServerModelAw2000.csdl|res://Serv erModelAw2000/ServerModelAw2000.ssdl|res://ServerModelAw2000/ServerModelAw2000 .msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;Data

16

The default extension, incidentally, is no extension at all. If you create a new DevForce DomainModel and let the Object Mapper write the edmKey entry into the configuration file, the DataSourceKey will be entered with a name of “Default”, without an extension. It may also contain a <tag>, where you can put any sort of string-value custom information you desire. At runtime you can access the information placed there via the Tag property of a DataSourceKey object -- which you can get from the DataSourceKeys collection of a DataSourceKeyResolver object.

17

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Source=ProductionDBMS_B;Initial Catalog=AdventureWorks2000;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" containerName="ServerModelAw2000.ServerModelAw2000Context" logTraceString="false" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelAw2000" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey> <!-- Development databases --> <edmKey name="NorthwindIB_Development" connection="metadata=res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.csdl| res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.ssdl|res://ServerModelNort hwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;Data Source=DevelopmentDBMS_A;Initial Catalog=NorthwindIB;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" containerName="ServerModelNorthwindIB.ServerModelNorthwindIBContext" logTraceString="false" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelNorthwindIB" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey> <edmKey name="Aw2000_Development" connection="metadata=res://ServerModelAw2000/ServerModelAw2000.csdl|res://Serv erModelAw2000/ServerModelAw2000.ssdl|res://ServerModelAw2000/ServerModelAw2000 .msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;Data Source= DevelopmentDBMS_B;Initial Catalog=AdventureWorks2000;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" containerName="ServerModelAw2000.ServerModelAw2000Context" logTraceString="false" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelAw2000" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey> </edmKeys> <wsKeys> <wsKey url="http://api.google.com/search/beta2" endpointName="GoogleSearchPort" name="GoogleSearch" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </wsKey> </wsKeys>

In the above excerpt from an app.config file, edmKeys are present for two databases (NorthwindIB and Adventureworks2000). Two versions (Development and Release) are maintained of these databases. A wsKey is present for a Google web service: the same service is used for Development and Production.

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Instantiating an EntityManager and specifying a DataSourceKey Extension of “Release”...
mPersMgr = new DomainModelEntityManager(true, "Release");

…would cause all data accesses for entities based on the databases to go against the sources named in the edmKeys that have the suffix “_Release” in their name attribute. For example, data for classes mapped to tables in the NorthwindIB database would be retrieved from the copy of that database running on the ProductionDBMS_A instance of SQL Server; data for classes mapped to the AdventureWorks2000 database would be retrieved from the copy of that database running on the ProductionDBMS_B instance of SQL Server; and data for classes mapped to the Google web service would be accessed via the service addressable at the URL http://api.google.com/search/beta2. Were an EntityManager to be instantiated with the extension “Development”, different copies of the two databases would be accessed. Note the following points: 1. 2. The DataSourceKey Names and DataSourceKey Extensions are case insensitive. In the name attribute of the edmKey element, the Datasource Extensions are always preceded by an underscore “_” character.

If you wished to establish one or the other set of databases as the default – say, the Development versions – then you could include in the <edmKeys> section of the app.config an additional pair of edmKeys with no extensions specified in their names, as shown below. The information in these keys would be used by any EntityManager instantiated with no DataSourceExtension specified. (This time, for brevity, we‟ve snipped out the detail for the connection attribute value.) Listing 7. Extract of app.config file with multiple DataSourceKeys XML
<!-- Default databases --> <edmKey name="NorthwindIB" connection="..." containerName="ServerModelNorthwindIB.ServerModelNorthwindIBContext" logTraceString="false" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelNorthwindIB" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey> <edmKey name="Aw2000" connection="..." containerName="ServerModelAw2000.ServerModelAw2000Context" logTraceString="false" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" /> <probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelAw2000" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey>

Tenant Extensions
Extensions are also a good way to segment data sources by client in a “multi-tenant application”. Multi-tenant applications are typical of Application Service Provider (ASP) scenarios in which each customer‟s data is managed in isolated data sources.

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When the user logs in, the application identifies the user‟s parent customer and knows which set of Datasources is appropriate for that user. The application can then instantiate an EntityManager that draws upon just those data sources. The “DataSourceExtension” is the ideal representation for a customer-specific data source set as in this depiction of a three-tenant scenario with customers “A”, “B”, and “C”:

Multi-Part Extensions
DataSourceExtensions may have multiple parts, permitted an even more sophisticated scheme for selected a data source instance at runtime. Consider the following edmKeys in an app.config file (connection value and probe assembly section removed for brevity):

XML

<edmKeys> <!-- Production databases --> <edmKey name="Acmetest2_SQLSRVR_OLE1" connection="... " containerName="ServerModelAcmeTest.ServerModelAcmeTestContext" logTraceString="false" tag=""> ... </edmKey> <edmKey name="Acmetest2_SQLSRVR_OLE2" connection="..." containerName="ServerModelAcmeTest.ServerModelAcmeTestContext" logTraceString="false" tag=""> ... </edmKey> <edmKey name="Acmetest2_SQLSRVR" connection="... " containerName="ServerModelAcmeTest.ServerModelAcmeTestContext" logTraceString="false" tag=""> ... </edmKey> <edmKey name="Acmetest2" connection="..." containerName="ServerModelAcmeTest.ServerModelAcmeTestContext" logTraceString="false" tag=""> ... </edmKey> </edmKeys>

Note that the first two edmKey names contain two underscores. These delimit multi-part DataSourceExtensions. Were you to instantiate an EntityManager as follows: C#
mPersMgr = new DomainModelEntityManager(true, "SQLSRVR_OLE1");

…you would get the database identified in the first edmKey in the above excerpt. On the other hand, if you wrote this statement:

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C#

mPersMgr = new DomainModelEntityManager(true, "SQLSRVR_FOO");

…then the DataSourceKeyResolver, being unable to locate an edmKey with both parts of the extension matching, would resolve the database to the one identified with the third edmKey, named “AcmeTEst2_SQLSRVR”. It would do so because it finds a match on the first part of the extension. If the DataSourceKeyResolver can find no edmKey with an extension that matches at least on the first part of the extension submitted, it will throw an exception. Thus, the following statement, containing a misspelled first part of the extension, will result in an exception. It will find no matching set of extensions; no matching first extension; and will not default to the extensionless key “AcmeTest2”: C#
mPersMgr = new DomainModelEntityManager(true, "SQLSVRR_OLE1");

Extensions and EntityServers
Let‟s stick with the multi-tenant, ASP scenario for awhile. When the application client determines the customer, it creates an EntityManager dedicated to the data sources applicable to that customer by including the customer‟s “DatasourceExtension” name in the constructor. C#
msManager = new DomainModelEntityManager(true, "A"); // Connect to customer "A"

Now the client application tries to login or fetch entities with this EntityManager. The EntityManager contacts the EntityService. The EntityService checks among its EntityServers for one that is associated with extension “A”. It doesn‟t find one so it creates a new EntityServer instance for extension “A” and adds it to its collection. This EntityServer now serves every EntityManager presenting the “A” extension. When the EntityService encounters EntityManagers with unknown extensions – “B” and “C” for example –, it creates more EntityServers. The three-tenant scenario could look like this:

Dynamic DataSourceKeys and the DataSourceKeyResolver
Every entity has a “DataSourceKeyName” which identifies its symbolic data source. There should be at least one real data source somewhere that holds the data source object to which the entity is mapped. The “DataSourceKeyName” helps DevForce find it. The DataSourceKeyName property of the entity reveals this name; for example: anEmployee.EntityAspect.EntityMetadata.DataSourceKeyName.

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DevForce connects an actual data source at runtime by asking a DataSourceKeyResolver for the DataSourceKey that corresponds to the key name. To be more precise, it returns an object that implements IDataSourceKey. There are three implementations of this interface at the moment, the EdmKey, the WsKey and the ClientEdmKey. EdmKey and WsKey provide access and management information for relational database and web service data sources, respectively. ClientEdmKey has no dependency on the Entity Framework on its data sources. A DataSourceKeyResolver has a single method, GetKey(KeyName, KeyExtension) to do get this key. The KeyName is the symbolic data source name that we see inscribed in the entity‟s DataSourceKeyName property. The KeyExtension, as we have seen, is an optional string for differentiating among multiple keys each referring to a distinct runtime data source. DevForce uses its own DefaultDataSourceKeyResolver unless we provide an alternative. The default version looks for a key in the IdeaBlade section of the application configuration file, App.config; it knows how to find the requested key definition in the configuration file‟s XML and turn it into the appropriate kind of DataSourceKey. The App.config is a fixed file that must reside in a known place. That means the key information must be comparatively static as well. True, the configuration file does not have to be compiled into the application18. DevForce will prefer a loose version of the file in the executable‟s directory. We make our change, drop it into the executable‟s directory, and DevForce will prefer that version over any other. No re-compilation or major re-deployment required. We may need more flexibility or security than the configuration file affords in situations such as the following: The connection facts change periodically and we can‟t count on redeploying the updated configuration file. The connection facts are different for different users of the application. The connection facts must not reside in a text file; they must be delivered to the application at runtime after authenticating the user. You are having trouble deploying a loose configuration file on IIS.

Custom DataSourceKeyResolver
Fortunately, it is easy to write a custom DataSourceKeyResolver that does exactly what you want it to do. Pick a project to hold your key resolver, e.g. DomainModel If in an assembly not already being probed by DevForce, add a top-level probe assembly tag to App.config so DevForce can find it. XML <edmKey connection="metadata=res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindI B.csdl|res://ServerModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.ssdl|res://S erverModelNorthwindIB/ServerModelNorthwindIB.msl;provider=System.Data.S qlClient;provider connection string=&quot;Data Source=.;Initial Catalog=NorthwindIB;Integrated Security=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=True&quot;" containerName="ServerModelNorthwindIB.ServerModelNorthwindIBContext" logTraceString="false" name="Default" tag=""> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="DomainModel" />

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It is compiled into the application by default as an embedded resource of the AppHelper.dll.

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<probeAssemblyName name="ServerModelNorthwindIB" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </edmKey>

Add the following references to that project:
IdeaBlade.EntityModel IdeaBlade.Core IdeaBlade.EntityModel.WS // if creating WsKeys

Write a class that implements IDataSourceKeyResolver. Decorate the class with the SerializableAttribute ([Serializable] in C#, in VB).
<Serializable()>_

Implement your version of GetKey(KeyName, KeyExtension) to handle the keys you want to manage. Return null (Nothing in VB) if you want the DefaultDataSourceKeyResolver to determine the key.

C#

using IdeaBlade.EntityModel; using IdeaBlade.Core; namespace AppHelper { [Serializable] class MyDataSourceKeyResolver : IDataSourceKeyResolver { public IDataSourceKey GetKey(string keyName, string keyExtension, bool onServer) {

if (!onServer) {return null;}
Console.WriteLine("Shot ya with my resolver"); // Demo code. // Build your own ClientEdmKey starting with the following // return new MakeClientEdmKey(keyName, theConnectionString) return null; // Didn't build key; DefaultDataSourceKeyResolver takes over } } }

VB
Imports IdeaBlade.EntityModel Imports IdeaBlade.Core <Serializable()> _ Public Class MyDataSourceKeyResolver : Implements IDataSourceKeyResolver Public Function GetKey(ByVal keyName As String, _ ByVal keyExtension As String, _ ByVal onServer As Boolean ) _ As IDataSourceKey Implements IDataSourceKeyResolver.GetKey

If !onServer Then Return null
Console.WriteLine("Shot ya with my resolver") ' Demo code. ' Build your own ClientEdmKey starting with the following ' Return New MakeClientEdmKey(keyName, theConnectionString) Return Nothing ' Didn't build key; DefaultDataSourceKeyResolver takes over End Function End Class

THE NET RESULT OF KEY LOOKUP MUST DELIVER A KEY ON BOTH CLIENT AND SERVER. However, in n-tier, the client should not provide connection info in the key. Note that GetKey receives a boolean onServer parameter that indicates whether GetKey() is operating on the server or client. 142 | P a g e

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Appendix: Many-to-Many Associations in the Entity Framework
In this appendix we examine alternative ways of modeling many-to-many associations in Entity Data Models. Specifically, we‟ll look at three different models, all based on the NorthwindIB database 19, that link Employees and Territories in a many-to-many relationship. The central differences between the three relate to how the linking entity in the many-to-many association is modeled. Accordingly, we describe them with reference to that entity: Exposed Linking Entity With Payload Non-Exposed Linking Entity With No Payload Exposed Linking Entity With No Payload We‟ll see how each of the three situations is modeled in the Entity Framework, and discuss some pros and cons.

Introduction
“Payload” is the term used by the Entity Framework designers to describe columns in a linking entity other than the foreign keys to the two external items that the linking entity connects. In the database diagram below, EmployeeTerritory is the many-to-many linking table between the Employee and Territory tables. It has two foreign keys, EmployeeID and Territory ID, which link it to those tables (in many-to-1 relationships). But it has also has ID and RowVersion columns which, whatever their business function, constitute payload in the linking entity. Figure 2. Linking Table with Payload

The following database diagram, on the other hand, depicts a linking table, EmployeeTerritoryNoPayload, which has only the two foreign key columns. Figure 3. Linking Table with no Payload
19

NorthwindIB is our IdeaBlade version of the NorthwindEF sample database distributed by Microsoft. We‟ve made a variety of changes to permit us to illustrate different capabilities of DevForce and the Entity Framework, but the two database remain substantially similar.

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As it so happens, the Entity Data Model (EDM) Wizard in Visual Studio, which is launched when you add an ADO.NET Entity Data Model item to a project, generates very different conceptual models from these two sets of table schemas. Let‟s have a look.

Exposed Linking Entity With Payload
If you run the EDM wizard against the set of tables in Figure 1 and do a bit of renaming on the Navigation Properties to make their function clearer, you get an EDM that looks like the following:

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Notice the many-to-1 associations20 between EmployeeTerritory and Employee, and between EmployeeTerritory and Territory. Taken together, they define a many-to-many association between Employee and Territory, but that association is not explicit. Notice also that the EDM wizard created a navigation property in the Employee entity to return the employee‟s collection of associated EmployeeTerritory objects. It named that property EmployeeTerritory; we renamed it to “EmployeeTerritories” to make clearer that it returns a collection. The wizard created a corresponding navigation property in the Territory entity, which we also renamed. If we want the collection of Territory entities that are associated with a particular Employee entity, we‟ll either have to iterate through its collection of EmployeeTerritory entities, grabbing the Territory associated with each and setting it aside in a list; or write a query to retrieve them. Whatever operation we choose to use to compile the list we can of course embed in a property or method of our Employee class to give us convenient access to the desired associates.

Non-Exposed Linking Entity With No Payload
If you run the EDM wizard against the set of tables in Figure 2 and again do a bit of renaming on the Navigation Properties, you get an EDM that looks like the following:

Good heavens: what happened to the linking entity, EmployeeTerritory?

20

If you‟re new to the Entity Framework and/or to object modeling, just be aware that what are called “relationships” between tables in a database are referred to as “associations” between the corresponding objects in an Entity Framework conceptual model. For practical purposes the terms “relationship”, “relation”, and “association” frequently get used more or less interchangeably in discussions of these object models, even though, technically, in UML terminology, an association is just one subtype of relationship.

In this paper I‟ve used the term “relationship” when speaking of tables in a database, and “association” when speaking of entities in an object model. I attempt no finer distinction than that.

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As it turns out, the EDM code generator decided that its function was entirely to associate the Employee and Territory entities, and that it therefore needed no explicit presence in the model. Instead, it chose simply to describe the many-to-many association between Employee and Territory. It also created a navigation property in the Employee entity to return the collection of associated Territories. Since it doesn‟t attempt meaningful pluralization, it named this property “Territory”; we renamed it to “Territories”. Corresponding, it created a navigation property in the Territory entity to return the related Employees. This, of course, it named “Employee”; we renamed it to “Employees”.

The Issues
While the invisible linking entity used for the payload-free linking table has its attractive aspects, it also means that you must necessarily live with two different ways of modeling many-to-manys in your Entity Data Model. You can‟t always live without a payload in your linking entity. Consider, example, an Order entity that links Sales Representatives to Customers in a many-to-many association. The Order is important in its own right, and is likely to carry a great deal of important informational baggage. It certainly must be exposed in your business model, whatever its function as a linking entity. The other issue is that “pure”, payload-free linking entities sometimes, over their lifetimes, need to grow a payload. You may find that you wish to record certain pieces of information about the association itself. When was said Territory assigned to said Employee? Who made the assignment? Why was the assignment made? The moment you add payload, you will have to change your model, because the linking entity can, by the rules of the ADO.NET Entity Data Model, no longer remain unexposed. Furthermore, the explicit many-to-many association it formerly defined is no longer supported. So you will have to rewire that many-to-many association as a pair of many-to-1s. This isn‟t terribly hard if you know what you‟re doing with the EDM, but we would certainly advise you to practice the job offline, in a small test model, before you try it on your real EDM. And make a backup of the latter before you start hacking away at it. It‟s all too easy to hose it up, at which point you will have no choice but to don your swamp boots and head bravely into a mosquito-infested swamp of XML.

Advantages of Standardizing on Linking Entities Having Payload
It often happens, as a business model evolves, that linking entities which began life as pure utililitarian connectors come to need additional properties to describe their state satisfactorily, and therefore to need a payload. If that‟s what the business model demands, one doesn‟t want to create a disincentive for adding such a payload when the day comes that it is discovered to be needed. Knowing that adding even a single extra column to a linking entity will force us to make a non-trivial21 change to our model might make us think twice about adding a column we really need. To head this off at the pass, we might make the design decision that our linking entities should always be exposed in the model, from day one. Then adding a column to a table, and a corresponding property to an entity in our conceptual model, will be a very simple operation. We might also prefer that every one of our tables and every one of our entities have an arbitrary, single-column primary key. When all of our entities, linking or otherwise, have the same kind of key, we work with all of them in exactly the same way, and we don‟t have to explain why a certain entity (which formerly didn‟t have, but now does have, plenty of payload columns) has a two-property primary key when the rest have single-property primary keys. “Is there a reason for that?” a new developer on our team asks. “Sure,” we answer. “It‟s historical.” No thanks! Applying the inclination for single-column primary keys to linking entities means you automatically also get linking entities that have payload and are explicitly exposed in your model. Thus, you gain two aspects of standardization for the price of one: (1) consistent primary key styles and (2) consistent modeling of linking entities and many-tomany associations across your model and down through time.

21

all in the eye of the beholder, of course

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Wait a Minute: What About the Navigation Properties?
If you‟re very alert you may have noted that pursuing the above-discussed key and linking-entity-exposure preferences does leave us without one thing we get from the EDM‟s default treatment of payload-free linking entities: the many-to-many navigation properties. Isn‟t that a big disadvantage? Now we now have to write them ourselves? It‟s true, we do, so let‟s see how hard it is. In a DevForce application, we end up writing all our code against the Entity classes generated by DevForce rather than those generated by the Entity Framework (which, strictly speaking, are System.Data.Objects.DataClasses.EntityObjects rather than IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entities). So if I‟m going to write a Territories property to return the Territories associated many-to-many with an Employee, I‟ll do it in the Employee partial class generated by DevForce in a standalone Employee.cs (or .vb) file. Here‟s what the property looks like: C#
public List<Territory> Territories { get { var query = this.EntityManager.EmployeeTerritories .Where(et => et.Employee.EmployeeID == this.EmployeeID) .Select(et => et.Territory) .Distinct(); return query.ToList(); } }

VB

The next 30 of these look pretty much like this one: I just substitute the appropriate entity types and key properties.

Exposed Linking Entity With No Payload
For our final exercise, let‟s suppose, hypothetically, that you‟re one of those wrong-headed people who disagree with me and happen to like, for linking entities, multi-column primary keys consisting of the two foreign keys. But let‟s also propose that you are persuaded by the utility of modeling a payload-free linking entity in a manner that allows it to acquire payload later with a minimum of upheaval in your model. Is there some way you can get the payload-free linking entity to show up, and with the same many-to-1 associations coming out of it that it will have to have later when it does have a payload? Yeah, okay, if the answer were “no”, I probably wouldn‟t have brought it up. Here‟s a picture of such a model:

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The unfortunate thing is that this is not an option provided by the EDM designer. You‟ll have to do a bit of twiddling. The dirty details would make this article too long and take it off course, but here‟s a prescription by which you can figure them out yourself. You can do everything below, except the final step, in the EDM designer: 1. Create a linking entity that has a payload (anything!) and build a model that uses it. The best model for this purpose is probably one that contains exactly three entities, like the ones we‟ve looked at in this article. 2. Remove the payload columns from the linking entity‟s backing database table. 3. Update the EDM using its “Update Model from Database” option. 4. Delete the properties corresponding to the payload column or columns that you removed. 5. Add the two foreign key properties to the conceptual in the EDM as explicit scalar properties. 6. Designate the two foreign key properties as primary keys. 7. Flesh out the table mappings for the two newly added properties, and for the two many-to-1 associations. 8. Examine the Before and After model to see what‟s different. If you‟re free to change the database on which the model is built, you might be able to use the above technique directly on your actual development model. Otherwise you‟ll have to spend enough energy on the last step above to be able to reproduce the result in your model. It‟s not rocket science, but it‟s not quite falling off a log, either.

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Property Interceptors
DevForce provides a mechanism to intercept and either modify or extend the behavior of any .NET property. This interception is intended to replace, and expand upon, the technique of marking properties as virtual and overriding them in a subclass. This facility is a lightweight form of what is termed “Aspect-Oriented Programming”. Interception can be accomplished either statically, via attributes on developer-defined interception methods, or dynamically, via runtime calls to the „current‟ instance of the PropertyInterceptorManager (described later). Attribute interception is substantially easier to write and should be the default choice in most cases.

Chapter 6

Attribute Interception
DevForce supplies four attributes that are used to specify where and when property interception should occur. These attributes are
IdeaBlade.Core.BeforeGetAttribute IdeaBlade.Core.AfterGetAttribute IdeaBlade.Core.BeforeSetAttribute IdeaBlade.Core.AfterSetAttribute

Under most conditions these attributes will be placed on methods defined in the custom partial class associated with a particular DevForce entity. For example, the code immediately below represents a snippet from the autogenerated Employee class. (Generated code) C#
public partial class Employee : IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity { public String LastName { get { return LastNameEntityProperty.GetValue(this); } set { LastNameEntityProperty.SetValue(this, value); } }

VB Property interception of the get portion of this property would be accomplished by adding the following code fragment to a custom Employee partial class definition: (Developer code) C#
[AfterGet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] public void UppercaseLastName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { var lastName = args.Value; if ( !String.IsNullOrEmpty(lastName)) { args.Value = args.Value.ToUpper(); } }

VB DevForce will insure that this method is automatically called as part of any call to the Employee.LastName „get‟ property. The “AfterGet” attribute specifies that this method will be called internally as part of the „get‟ process “after” any internal get operations involved in the get are performed. The effect is that the LastName property will always return an uppercased result. For the remainder of this document, methods such as this will be termed interceptor actions.

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The corresponding „set‟ property can be intercepted in a similar manner.

Property Interceptors

C#

[BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] public void UppercaseLastName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { var lastName = args.Value; if ( !String.IsNullOrEmpty(lastName)) { args.Value = args.Value.ToUpper(); } }

VB In this case we are ensuring that any strings passed into the „LastName‟ property will be uppercased before being stored in the Employee instance ( and later persisted to the backend datastore). Note that, in this case, the interception occurs “before” any internal operation is performed. In these two cases we have implemented an „AfterGet‟ and a „BeforeSet‟ interceptor. BeforeGet and AfterSet attributes are also provided and operate in a similar manner.

Named vs. Unnamed Interceptor Actions
The property interception code snippets shown above were all examples of what are termed „Named‟ interceptor actions, in that they each specified a single specific „named‟ property to be intercepted. It is also possible to create „Unnamed‟ interceptor actions that apply to all of the properties for a specific target type. For example, suppose that the following code were implemented in the Employee partial class:

C#

// Note that no parameter follows the BeforeSet attribute [BeforeSet] public void BeforeSetAny(IPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { if ( !Thread.CurrentPrincipal.IsUserInRole(“Administrator”)) { throw new InvalidOperationException(“Only admistrators can change data”); } }

VB The result of this code would be that only those users logged in as administrators would be allowed to call any property setters within the Employee class. A similar „set‟ action might look like the following: C#
[AfterSet] public void AfterSetAny(IPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { LogChangeToEmployee(args.Instance); }

VB This would log any changes to the employee class. Later in this document we will also describe how to define interceptors that apply across multiple types as well as multiple properties within a single type.

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Interceptor Chaining and Ordering
Any given property may have more than one interceptor action applied to it. For example:

C#

[AfterGet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] public void UppercaseLastName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { /// … do something interesting } [AfterGet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] // same mode (afterGet) and property name as above public void InsureNonEmptyLastName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { // … do something else interesting } [AfterGet] // same mode as above and applying to all properties on employee. public void AfterAnyEmployeeGet(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, Object> args) { // … global employee action here }

VB In this case, three different interceptor actions are all „registered‟ to occur whenever the Employee.LastName property is called. To execute these actions, the DevForce engine forms a chain where each of the „registered‟ interceptor actions is called with the same arguments that were passed to the previous action. Any interceptor can thus change the interceptor arguments in order to change the input to the next interceptor action in the chain. The „default‟ order in which interceptor actions are called is defined according to the following rules. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Base class interceptor actions before subclass interceptor actions. Named interceptor actions before unnamed interceptor actions. Attribute interceptor actions before dynamic interceptor actions. For attribute interceptor actions, in order of their occurrence in the code. For dynamic interceptor actions, in the order that they were added to the PropertyInterceptorManager.

Because of the rigidity of these rules, there is also a provision to override the default order that any interceptor action is called by explicitly setting its „Order‟ property. For attribute interceptors this is accomplished as follows:

C#

[BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName, Order=-1.0)] public void UppercaseLastName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { … }

The „Order‟ property is defined as being of type „double‟ and is automatically defaulted to a value of „0.0‟. Any interceptor action with a property of less that „0.0‟ will thus occur earlier than any interceptors without a specified order and any value greater that „0.0‟ will correspondingly be called later, and in order of increasing values of the Order parameter. Exact ordering of interceptor actions can thus be accomplished.

Multiple attributes on a single interceptor action
There will be cases where you want a single interceptor action to handle more than one property but less than an entire class. In this case, it may be useful to write an interceptor action similar to the following:

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C#

[BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.FirstName)] [BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] [BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.MiddleName)] public void UppercaseName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { var name = args.Value; if ( !String.IsNullOrEmpty(name)) { args.Value = args.Value.ToUpper(); } }

VB

The EntityPropertyNames class
In all of the previous examples we have shown „Named” attributes specified with the form “EntityPropertyNames.{PropertyName}. This is a recommended pattern that ensures type safety. However, the following two attribute specifications have exactly the same effect:

C#

[BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.FirstName)] // or [BeforeSet(“FirstName”)]

VB The „EntityPropertyNames‟ reference is actually to an inner class that is automatically generated inside each of the DevForce Entity classes. Its primary purpose is to allow specification of property names as constants. Note that the EntityPropertyNames class is defined as a partial class so that developers can add their own property names to the class for any custom properties that they create.

PropertyInterceptorArgs and IPropertyInterceptorArgs
Interceptor actions get all of the information about the context of what they are intercepting from the single interceptor argument passed into them. This argument will obviously be different for different contexts; i.e. a set versus a get action, a change to an employee versus a company, a change to the FirstName property instead of the LastName property. Because of this there are many possible implementations of what the single argument passed into any interceptor action might contain. However, all of these implementations implement a single primary interface: IPropertyInterceptorArgs. Every interceptor action shown previously provides an example of this. In each case, a single argument of type PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> or of type IPropertyInterceptorArgs was passed into each of the interceptor methods. In fact, the type of the „args‟ instance that is actually be passed into each of these methods at runtime is an instance of a subtype of the argument type declared in the methods signature. For any interceptor action defined on a DevForce entity, the actual args passed into the action will be a concrete implementation of one of the following classes.

DataEntityPropertyGetInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> NavigationEntityPropertyGetInterceptorArgs<TInstance, NavigationEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<TInstance,

TValue> TValue>

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The boldfaced characters above indicate whether we are providing interception to a get or a set property, as well as whether we are intercepting a data or a navigation property. In general, you can write an interception method with an argument type that is any base class of the actual argument type defined for that interceptor. If you do use a base class, then you may need to perform runtime casts in order to access some of the additional properties provided by the specific subclass passed in at runtime. These subclassed properties will be discussed later. The entire inheritance hierarchy for property interceptor arguments is shown below: Assembly Where Defined IdeaBlade.Core Property Interceptor Arguments
IPropertyInterceptorArgs IPropertyInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> PropertyInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> DataEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue>

IdeaBlade.EntityModel

DataEntityPropertyGetInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> NavigationEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> NavigationEntityPropertyGetInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> NavigationEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue>

The generic <TInstance> argument will always be the type that the intercepted method will operate on, known elsewhere in this document and the interceptor API as the “TargetType”. The <TValue> argument will be the type of the property being intercepted. i.e. „String‟ for the „LastName‟ property. Note that the interceptor arguments defined to operate on DevForce entities break into multiple subclasses with additional associated interfaces based on two primary criteria. 1) Is it a „get‟ or a „set‟ interceptor? a. „get‟ interceptor args implement IEntityPropertyGetInterceptorArgs b. „set‟ interceptor args implement IEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs 2) Does it involve a „DataEntityProperty‟ or a „NavigationEntityProperty‟?. a. „DataEntityProperty‟ args implement IDataEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs b. „NavigationEntityProperty‟ args implement INavigationEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs

The API for each of the interfaces above is discussed below.

IPropertyInterceptorArgs
The root of all property interceptor arguments is the IPropertyInterceptorArgs interface. Its properties will be available to all interceptors.

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C#

public interface IPropertyInterceptorArgs { Object Instance { get; } Object Value { get; set; } bool Cancel { get; set; } Action<Exception> ExceptionAction { get; set; } object Tag { get; set; } object Context { get; } }

In general the most useful of these properties will be the „Instance‟ and „Value‟ properties. The „Instance‟ property will always contain the „parent‟ object whose property is being intercepted. The „Value‟ will always be the value that is being either retrieved or set. The „Cancel‟ property allows you to stop the execution of the property interceptor chain at any point by setting the „Cancel‟ property to „true. The „ExceptionAction‟ property allows you to set up an action that will be performed whenever an exception occurs anywhere after this point in the chain of interceptors. The „Tag‟ property is intended as a general purpose grab bag for the developer to use for his/her own purposes. The „Context‟ property is used for internal purposes and should be ignored.

An example of using the ExceptionAction and Cancel is shown below: C#
[AfterSet] public void BeforeSetAny(IPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { // Do not let any setters throw an exception // Eat them and log them, and cancel the remainder of the set operation. args.ExceptionAction = (e) => { LogException(e); args.Cancel = true; }; }

VB

Generic IPropertyInterceptorArgs
The following is a generic version of IPropertyInterceptorArgs where both the Instance and Value properties are now strongly typed; otherwise it is identical to IPropertyInterceptorArgs.

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C#

public interface IPropertyInterceptorArgs<TInstance, TValue> : IPropertyInterceptorArgs { TInstance Instance { get; } TValue Value { get; set; } bool Cancel { get; set; } Action<Exception> ExceptionAction { get; set; } object Tag { get; set; } object Context { get; } }

IEntity PropertyInterceptorArgs and subclasses
Whereas the interfaces above can be used to intercept any property on any object, the argument interfaces below are for use only with DevForce specific entities and complex objects. Each interface below provides additional contextual data to any interceptor actions defined to operate on DevForce entities. The most basic of these is simply the idea that each property on a DevForce entity has a corresponding “EntityProperty” ( discussed elsewhere in this guide).

C#

public interface IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs : IPropertyInterceptorArgs { EntityProperty EntityProperty { get; } }

An example is shown below: C#
[AfterSet] public void AfterSetAny(IPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { var entityPropertyArgs = args as IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs; if ( entityPropertyArgs != null) { Log(“The “ + entityPropertyArgs.EntityProperty.Name + “ was set to the value: “ + args.Value.ToString()); } }

VB

The next two interfaces provide additional context based on whether the interceptor action being performed is a „get‟ operation or a „set‟ operation. For a get operation, IdeaBlade entities have a concept of possibly multiple versions, i.e. an original, current, or proposed version, of an entity at any single point in time. It may be useful to know which „version‟ is being retrieved during the current action. Note that the version cannot be changed. C#
public interface IEntityPropertyGetInterceptorArgs : IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs { EntityVersion EntityVersion { get; } }

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For a set operation, IdeaBlade has as part of its underlying implementation of any property the idea of possibly validating ( verifying) the incoming data. The VerificationSetterOptions property of any implementation of IEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs provides the ability to determine whether a validation has or will be called as well as allowing any „BeforeSet‟ code to actually change how the verification will occur.
public interface IEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs : IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs { VerificationSetterOptions VerificationSetterOptions { get; set; } }

An example: C#
[AfterSet] public void BeforeSetAny(IEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs args) { // turn off validation args.VerificationSetterOptions = VerificationSetterOptions.None; }

VB

The DevForce EntityProperty is an abstract class with two concrete subclasses; a DataEntityProperty and a NavigationEntityProperty ( discussed elsewhere in this guide). The next two IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs subinterfaces allow access to instances of one or the other of these depending on whether the property being intercepted is a data or a navigation property. C#
public interface IDataEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs : IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs { DataEntityProperty DataEntityProperty { get; } }

C#

public interface INavigationEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs : IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs { NavigationEntityProperty NavigationEntityProperty { get; } }

IPropertyInterceptorArgs Type Coercion
One of the first issues that a developer will encounter with writing interceptor actions that handle more than one property is that it becomes difficult or impossible to use a concrete subtype as the argument to the interceptor. For example, imagine that we wanted to write a single action that handled two or more very different properties each of a different type: This could be written as follows:

C#

[BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.HireDate)] // hire date is of type datetime [BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.FirstName)] // firstname is of type string public void StrangeAction(IPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { var emp = (Employee) args.Instance; var entityProperty = ((IDataEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs) args).EntityProperty; .. do some very baroque operation with emp and entityProperty }

VB

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But ideally we would prefer to write it like this, in order to avoid performing a lot of superfluous casts:

C#

[BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.HireDate)] // hire date is of type datetime [BeforeSet(EntityPropertyNames.FirstName)] // firstname is of type string public void StrangeAction(DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<Employee, Object> args) { // no casting var emp = args.Instance; var entityProperty = args.DataEntityProperty; .. some very baroque operation }

VB

The problem is that, according to the rules of inheritance, the two concrete classes that this method will be called with:
Type 1: DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> Type 2: DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<Employee, DateTime>

…do not inherit from:
Type 3: DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<Employee, Object>

In fact, the only class or interface that they do share is:
IPropertyInterceptorArgs

So in order to allow this construction, DevForce needs to “coerce” each of „Type1‟ and „Type2” into „Type3” for the duration of the method call. Because DevForce does do this, any of the following arguments are also valid:
Type 4: DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<Entity, Object> Type 5: DataEntityPropertySetInterceptorArgs<Object, Object> Type 5: PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, Object> … etc.

The basic rule for the type coercion facility is that any concrete type can be specified if its generic version is a subtype of the generic version of the actual argument type that will be passed in.

PropertyInterceptor Attribute Discovery
In general, any interceptor method declared within a DevForce entity and marked with a property interceptor attribute will be automatically discovered before the first property access. PropertyInterceptors will most commonly be defined within the developer-controlled partial class associated with each entity. Property interceptors can also be defined on any base class and these will also be discovered automatically. In order to reduce the surface area of any entity class, a developer may not want to expose the property interceptor methods directly on the surface of his or her class. To facilitate this, DevForce will also probe any public inner classes of any class and will locate any property interceptors defined there as well. Example:

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C#

public partial class Employee : IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity { // internal class just for property interceptors public class PropertyInterceptorsDefinitions { [BeforeGet(Employee.EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] public void LastNameInterceptor(IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { … } [AfterSet] public void LoggingInterceptor(IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { … } }

VB

One important note: property interceptor methods defined on a class directly may be either instance or static methods; whereas property interceptors defined on an inner class (or anywhere other than directly on the entity class) must be static methods. In the event that a developer wants to completely isolate his interception methods in another non-entity-based class, then discovery will not occur automatically. In this case, the DiscoverInterceptorsFromAttributes(Type targetType) method on the PropertyInterceptorManager class may be used to force discovery of any specified type and all of its base types. Attribute interceptors that are declared outside of the classes to which they apply must be further qualified via the “TargetType” property as shown below: C#
public class UnattachedInterceptor { [AfterSet(User.EntityPropertyNames.Name,

TargetType=typeof(User)]

public void LoggingInterceptor(IEntityPropertyInterceptorArgs args) { … } }

VB

Alternative PropertyInterceptor Attribute Method Signatures
While the property interceptor methods described previously allow a great deal of control over the entire interception process, there are times when this is overkill. Sometimes all you really want is to do is modify or inspect the incoming or outgoing values. In these cases, a simplified signature for an interception method is also provided. For example the following standard interceptor action:

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(Developer code) C#

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[AfterGet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] public void UppercaseLastName(PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String> args) { var lastName = args.Value; if ( !String.IsNullOrEmpty(lastName)) { args.Value = args.Value.ToUpper(); } }

VB can also be written as (Developer code) C#
[AfterGet(EntityPropertyNames.LastName)] public String UppercaseLastName(String lastName) { if ( !String.IsNullOrEmpty(lastName)) { return lastName.ToUpper(); } else { return String.Empty; } }

VB In general, any property interceptor action that only inspects or modifies the incoming value without the need for any other context can be written in this form. In fact, if the action does not actually modify the incoming value, the return type of the interceptor action can be declared as void.

Dynamic Property Interception and the PropertyInterceptorManager.
Property interceptors can be added and removed dynamically by making use of the PropertyInterceptorManager and the PropertyInterceptor classes. Their API‟s are shown below:

C#

public sealed class PropertyInterceptorManager { public static PropertyInterceptorManager CurrentInstance { get; set; } public void DiscoverInterceptorsFromAttributes(Type targetType) public void AddAction(PropertyInterceptorAction interceptorAction) public bool RemoveAction(PropertyInterceptorAction interceptorAction) public IList<PropertyInterceptorAction<TArgs>> GetActions<TArgs>(Type targetType, String targetName, PropertyInterceptorMode mode) where TArgs : class, IPropertyInterceptorArgs }

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C#

public class PropertyInterceptorAction<TArgs> : PropertyInterceptorAction where TArgs : class, IPropertyInterceptorArgs { public PropertyInterceptorAction(Type targetType, String targetName, PropertyInterceptorMode mode, Action<TArgs> action); public PropertyInterceptorAction(Type targetType, String targetName, PropertyInterceptorMode mode, Action<TArgs> action, Double order, String key); public Type TargetType { get; } public String TargetName { get; } } public PropertyInterceptorMode Mode { get; } public String Key { get; } public Double Order { get; } public Type ArgsType { get; } public Type InstanceType { get; } public Type ValueType { get; } public PropertyInterceptorAction<TArgs> ConvertTo<TArgs>() where TArgs : class, IPropertyInterceptorArgs; }

Since there is no public constructor for the PropertyInterceptorManager class, the only instance available to the developer is via the „CurrentInstance‟ property. This property will always have a value. The current instance is the container for all currently „registered” interceptor actions. PropertyInterceptorActions can be created via the PropertyInterceptorAction class and added to the PropertyInterceptorManager.CurrentInstance as shown below: (Developer code) C#
var piAction = new PropertyInterceptorAction<PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String>>( typeof(Employee), Employee.LastNameEntityProperty.Name, PropertyInterceptorMode.BeforeGet, (args) => args.Value = arg.Value.ToUpper); PropertyInterceptorManager.CurrentInstance.AddAction(piAction);

VB Interceptor actions can be removed in a similar manner. This mechanism also allows the application of an interceptor action to a base class that is then, in turn, applied to all of its subclasses. As a somewhat contrived example, you might want to completely disable all setters in an application via a call like this: C#
var piAction = new PropertyInterceptorAction<PropertyInterceptorArgs<Employee, String>>( typeof(Object), // everyone inherits from object null, // no property name PropertyInterceptorMode.BeforeSet, (args) => throw new Exception(“No sets allowed”); PropertyInterceptorManager.CurrentInstance.AddAction(piAction);

VB

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Property Interceptors

Within a DevForce application, every property interceptor has a GetterInterceptor and a SetterInterceptor property. These properties can also be used to modify the property interceptor actions associated with that property. Under the covers this is going through the PropertyInterceptorManager mechanism described above, but the syntax is often simpler. For example:

C#

Employee.AddressEntityProperty.SetterInterceptor.AddAction( PropertyInterceptorTiming.Before, args => args.Value = AddZipCode(args.Value));

VB

PropertyInterceptor keys
Every property interceptor action has a key that can either be specified via an optional attribute property or dynamically when the action is first created. If no key is defined, the system will automatically create one. This key will be used to identify an action for removal. The PropertyInterceptorManager.RemoveAction(interceptorAction) attempts to find an interceptor that matches the one passed in. This match requires that the TargetType, TargetName, Mode, and Key be the same between the two interceptor actions.

Mechanics of Property Interception
Property interception within DevForce is accomplished by dynamically generating compiled lamda expressions for each interceptor action. DevForce interceptors are discovered (but not compiled) as each entity class is first referenced. Runtime compilation of each property interceptor occurs lazily the first time each property is accessed. After this first access, the entire code path for each property access is fully compiled. Properties that are never accessed do not require compilation. The addition or removal of interceptor actions after they have been compiled does require a new compilation the next time the property is executed. This happens automatically. Errors encountered during the compilation process will thus appear when a property is accessed for the first time. These exceptions will be of type PropertyInterceptorException and will contain information on the specific method that could not be compiled into a property interceptor action. These are usually a function of a PropertyInterceptorArgs parameter type that is not compatible with the property or properties being accessed.

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Object Persistence
Object Persistence Overview
In the last section you saw how the object mapping exercise declared relationships between business objects and remote data sources. You learned that it generated classes for each business object as well as some helper classes such as EntityRelations. The collection of these classes constitutes the application‟s business object model. In this chapter we describe how the DevForce persistence scheme works with the business object model. You will learn that instances of the business object developer class (AKA the entity developer class) are held in a container called the entity cache. This cache belongs to and is managed by an instance of the DevForce EntityManager class. You will discover that a EntityManager instance is rich in capabilities that go beyond retrieving and saving business objects. We‟ll introduce them here and elaborate on a few of them in subsequent sections. By the end of the chapter, you will appreciate that the EntityManager class is one of the most important and useful classes in the DevForce framework.

Chapter 7

The Big Picture
A DevForce application relies upon a layered architecture for data access. At one end is a data source – typically a relational database. At the other end is the user interface which works with business objects in a business object model. There are several components in the middle.

Figure 4. Cross-tier flow of data and business objects.

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One of them, called an EntityServer, moves data (and data requests) between the ADO.NET Entity Framework and DevForce business objects. If the back-end data store is a relational database, the EntityServer leaves the direct communication with the data store to the ADO.NET Entity Framework. However, if the back-end data store is a web service, the DevForce EntityServer handles the job, since that capability does not exist within the Entity Framework. The EntityServer has a copy of the application‟s business object model so that it can instantiate DevForce business objects server-side if need be. However, for most operations (such as simple data retrievals), it forwards to the client-side EntityManager the data required for hydrating DevForce business objects there, without ever instantiating DevForce business objects on the server. The data is packaged and passed in a highly efficient format and process. The ADO.NET Entity Data Model includes the mapping information necessary to translate between locations in a relational data source and the corresponding persistent fields in the ADO.NET business entities. The EntityServer (besides handling those jobs against web services), mediates between the Entity Framework and the DevForce EntityManager that manages the client-side cache used by your application. The EntityServer is an important component and you should understand its role in the object persistence process. That said, you will seldom see or deal with it directly. The second important DevForce component is the EntityManager. The EntityManager takes instruction from the higher levels of the application such as the UI, and forwards UI requests for entities to the EntityServer. The EntityManager puts the received entities – obtained from whatever source by the EntityServer -- into its entity cache and makes them available to the UI. End users review the entities and make changes through the UI. The UI signals the EntityManager to save the changes. It dutifully forwards the changed entities to the EntityServer which communicates with the appropriate component to commit the data into persistent storage.

DevForce and the ADO.NET EntityModel
Visual Studio‟s ADO.NET Entity Data Model wizard creates an EDMX file which contains descriptions of a conceptual data schema (the object model), an actual data store schema (the database model), and the mappings between the two. It also renders the object model in code in a file named <ModelName>.Designer.cs (or .vb). The developer‟s first step in building the object model for her application will consist in creating an entity model in an EDMX file. Typically she will use the Visual Studio Entity Data Model wizard to create the initial version of the EDMX file and the corresponding generated code file. After that, she will work with some combination of the Visual Studio Entity Model Designer and direct XML coding in the EDMX file, depending upon her preferences and whether she needs to use features in her model that are not supported by the Entity Model designer. The second step will be to create a Domain model using the DevForce Object Mapper. This model is so named because it will be composed of one or more Entity Models persisted in .EDMX files. The DevForce Object Mapper will alter the .EDMX file by adding additional elements and attributes. These added features are ignored, and left undisturbed by, the ADO.NET Entity Data Model Designer. Because of this, the developer can move back and forth between the Visual Studio Entity Model Designer and the DevForce Object Mapper without fear of either disturbing the other‟s work. There is, by intent, some overlap in the the functionality of the DevForce Object Mapper and ADO.NET Entity Data Model Designer. Over time, this overlap will likely increase as we subsume additional aspects of the Entity Model Designer‟s functionality. Our goal is to make it as convenient as possible for you to work with your model. However, our intial work on the DevForce Object Mapper has been focussed on providing needed or useful capabilities that are either not present, or are difficult to work with, in the Entity Data Model Designer. We mentioned that the Entity Data Model wizard and designer, in addition to altering the .EDMX file, generate the classes that comprise the compilable manifestation of the object model. From the Object Mapper‟s enhanced version of the .EDMX DevForce generates two sets of classes. The first is essentially the same Entity Framework model 163 | P a g e

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generated by the Visual Studio tools. This version of your object model will be deployed to the logical middle tier of your application, where it is used by the ADO.NET Entity Framework for creating objects of the type that it understands. The second version of the object model generated by the DevForce Object Mapper is a DevForce version consisting of business classes that inherit from IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity. As previously mentioned, we refer to this version of the model as the Domain model. The Domain model is “persistence ignorant”: unlike the Entity Framework model, it has no knowledge whatsoever of the back-end datastore or the mapping between that and its objects. In an n-tier deployment, it is the only model that is deployed client side. The client needs no connection information for back-end datasources. For those familiar with DevForce version 3.x (mated with .NET 2.0): the Entity Framework model essentially takes over the function handled in DevForce 3.x by the .ORM file. Both contain knowledge of the data source and mapping information. A copy of the assembly containing the Domain model is also deployed server-side in an n-tier deployment. Architecture of the DevForce Business Object Class The inheritance hierarchy for a DevForce business class is as follows:

The final class for a business type is generated as two partial classes. In the partial classes labelled as DevForcecontrolled, the essential data structure of the type is defined, although with empty partial methods that constitute interception points in the type. This partial class is driven by settings in the Domainmodel and gets regenerated whenever the develop instructs the DevForce Object Mapper to regenerate code. Thus it should never be modified by the developer. All DevForce-controlled partial classes for types originating from a given Entity Data Model are generated into a single file, named <EntityModelName>.cs (or .vb, if generated in Visual Basic rather than C#). If the Domainmodel includes multiple Entity Models, one such code file will be generated for each model. The partial class described in the picture as “Developer-controlled” is provided as the developer‟s workshop, where she can modify the getters and setters for properties defined in the DevForce-controlled partial class and add custom properties, methods, and events. One such class is generated for each type in the Domainmodel; and each such partial class is generated into its own file, which bears the name of the type. These files are generated by the Object Mapper only when they do not already exist. Thus the developer can safely add her own code to this file without fear that it will be overwritten. If you are already familiar with the Entity Framework, you will note that DevForce code generation proceeds according to the same pattern used by the Entity Framework. The Entity Framework also generates partial classes for each type in a model, and all into a single class. It does not generate partial classes for developer work, but does permit the developer to create and maintain such partial classes.

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Modifying the behavior of a generated property

Object Persistence

To modify the behavior of a generated property in a DevForce entity, one does not override it. Rather, DevForce provides a series of interceptors implemented as empty partial methods in the DevForce-controlled partial class. In the Developer-controlled partial class, these methods can be given implementations. As you may know, such interceptors, implemented in .NET 3.5 as partial methods, are overhead-free, since the compiler generates no call to them if, at compile time, it finds no implementation. In Code Listing 1 you will find the complete generated code for the CompanyName property of a Customer class. We‟ll look at selected portions of this code now. Here‟s the getter code. Note the method calls to BeforeGetCompanyName(), BeforeGet(), AfterGetCompanyName(), and AfterGet(). Also note that BeforeGetCompanyName() and AfterGetCompanyName() are declared as partial methods.

C#

get { var args = new GetterArgs<String>(CompanyNameEntityProperty); BeforeGetCompanyName(args); BeforeGet(args); if (args.Cancel) return args.Value; args.Value = (String)GetRawValue(CompanyNameEntityProperty); AfterGet(args); AfterGetCompanyName(args); return args.Value; } partial void BeforeGetCompanyName(GetterArgs<String> args); partial void AfterGetCompanyName(GetterArgs<String> args);

VB Calls are generated by the compilter to the partial methods only if you provide an implementation in your developercontrolled partial class (e.g., in the Customer.cs file). BeforeGetCompanyName() intercepts the Get request before the subsequent call to GetColumnValue() has a chance to retrieve the actual data for the CompanyName property from the cached object. It can refuse to service the request (because, for example, the requestor has insufficient security privileges), or substitute its own value based on any logic you define. If it did set the value of Args.Value, and also set Args.Cancel to true, its substituted value would be all the requestor would ever see. AfterGetCompanyName(), on the other hand, intercepts the Get request just after the call to GetColumnValue(). It can thus be used to modify the actual column value: for example, to substitute for each character in the column value an asterisk (*), again, perhaps, because of security rules; but also for any other reason you, the developer, impose. There are corresponding interceptors, BeforeSetCompanyName() and AfterSetCompanyName(), in the property‟s setter code:

C#

set { var args = new SetterArgs<String>(CompanyNameEntityProperty, VerificationSetterOptions.Both, value); OnCompanyNameChanging(args.Value); BeforeSetCompanyName(args); BeforeSet(args); if (args.Cancel) return; SetRawValue(CompanyNameEntityProperty, args.Value);

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AfterSet(args); AfterSetCompanyName(args); OnCompanyNameChanged(); }

Object Persistence

VB These permit you to intercept a “Set” request before it occurs, or perform any sort of desired processing after it occurs. Note also the OnCompanyNameChanging() and OnCompanyNameChanged() calls. These provide essentially redundant subsets of the capability already provided by BeforeSetCompanyName() and AfterSetCompanyName(), but are included for the convenience of those who may (in developer partial classes for their entity model classes) have implemented the corresponding partial methods, and who wish to simply move that code into the developer partial class for the domain model.

The BeforeGet(),AfterGet(), BeforeSet(), and AfterSet() overrides
You may also have noticed the calls to BeforeGet() and AfterGet() in the Getter core, and to BeforeSet() and AfterSet() in the Setter core. The intended functionality of these is similar to the interceptors we have just discussed, except that the latter were all specific to the particular property, whereas these new interceptors are functionally scoped at the class level. If you have logic that addresses multiple properties (e.g., all properties that have a DateTime type, or all properties whose names begin with a particular prefix, or what-have-you), you may find it more convenient to apply this in these class-wide methods. These four methods are implemented as virtual (“MustOverride” in VB) rather than as partial methods. This permits their implementation over an inheritance hierarchy. For example, suppose your DevForce Entities inherit from a BaseEntity where you code behavior you want across the board. In your BaseEntity, you might override AfterSet() to update a timestamp property defined on every entity. In the Customer class, you could then add additional AfterSet behaviors that were specific to Customers, after calling the AfterSet() implementation in the base class. The property-specific interceptors, by contrast, are tied to particular Entity subtypes (e.g., Customer, Employee) and are tied to values that are only available in the final subtype. These, therefore, have been implemented as partial methods. As such, they confer the great performance benefit of never being called unless implemented. Code Listing 1. Complete Generated Code for Customer.CompanyName Property C#
#region CompanyName /// <summary>Gets or sets the CompanyName.</summary> [StringLengthVerifier(MaxValue=40, IsRequired=true)] [MaxTextLength(40)] [DBDataType(typeof(String))] public virtual String CompanyName { get { var args = new GetterArgs<String>(CompanyNameEntityProperty); BeforeGetCompanyName(args); BeforeGet(args); if (args.Cancel) return args.Value; args.Value = (String)GetRawValue(CompanyNameEntityProperty); AfterGet(args); AfterGetCompanyName(args); return args.Value; } [System.Diagnostics.DebuggerNonUserCode] set { var args = new SetterArgs<String>(CompanyNameEntityProperty,

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VerificationSetterOptions.Both, value); OnCompanyNameChanging(args.Value); BeforeSetCompanyName(args); BeforeSet(args); if (args.Cancel) return; SetRawValue(CompanyNameEntityProperty, args.Value); AfterSet(args); AfterSetCompanyName(args); OnCompanyNameChanged(); } } partial void BeforeGetCompanyName(GetterArgs<String> args); partial void AfterGetCompanyName(GetterArgs<String> args); partial void BeforeSetCompanyName(SetterArgs<String> args); partial void AfterSetCompanyName(SetterArgs<String> args); partial void OnCompanyNameChanging(String value); partial void OnCompanyNameChanged(); #endregion CompanyName

Object Persistence

VB

Locating the Physical Data Source with a Key
How does the EntityServer locate the physical storage to use? You learned earlier that every business object – every concrete entity – is mapped to a particular data source. That data source is identified symbolically by a data source key. That key is compiled into the entity and cannot be changed at run-time. The EntityServer has a copy of the business object model so it knows the data source key for each kind of business object. But the key is purely symbolic. It does not contain the location of a physical data source nor can it determine how to connect to such a data source. It does not contain a database connection string, for example. Fortunately, the EntityServer also has a private copy of the application configuration file. It can use the data source key to find in that file the physical data source configuration information it needs such as the connection string for the physical data source it should use. This is all we need to know for the moment to assure ourselves that a DevForce application actually can move data between a physical data source and business objects in the client application. We turn next to the EntityManager which is the keeper of business objects on the client side.

Persistence Management Capabilities
In this section we introduce the most important capabilities of the EntityManager. Some topics deserve extended attention and are discussed more fully in later chapters but you‟ll get a preview here of how DevForce persistence management can retrieve business objects from data sources manage them in its cache move business objects across the Internet create new business objects save additions, changes, and deletions to a data source restore pending changed and deleted objects to their retrieved state continue to function when disconnected 167 | P a g e

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preserve cache contents temporarily in local storage log in and log out of the central server. ensure business object security exploit an n-tier architecture

Object Persistence

Retrieving business objects
DevForce applications deal in business objects. Accordingly, the DevForce retrieval mechanisms return business objects. There are two such mechanisms: entity queries and entity navigation. An entity query hunts for objects with attributes that match specified search criteria. Suppose you need a list of employees over 40. In DevForce you could express this criterion in a LINQ-To-DevForce query which could be enumerated over to return a collection of Employee entities that happens to include “Nancy Davolio.” Entity navigation involves traversing from one kind of business object to another along a relation between them. You navigate from “Nancy” to her home address with an expression such as anEmployee.HomeAddress. This returns an Address entity. Entity navigation can return a collection of entities as well. anEmployee.Orders returns the orders assigned to this employee sales rep. The orders are returned in special kind of generic list whose contents are managed by the EntityManager, a feature you‟ll find especially useful in your UI. The section “Entity Queries and Entity Navigation” offers greater detail.

The Entity Cache
A EntityManager caches business objects both for performance and to enable offline operation of the application. Each instance of EntityManager has its own cache of entities. Entities enter the cache in one of three ways: from a data source as a result of entity query or entity navigation by creation as new entities by import from another EntityManager or outside source Most entities enter the cache from a data source. Standard entity queries and entity navigations check the cache first to see if the desired objects are present; they resort to the data source only if the objects are not found 22. This behavior is usually desirable as it improves performance. The risk is that the entities in the cache become stale. The programmer can by-pass the cache and query the database directly (the query results still end up in the cache). There are a host of other options which are addressed in the section “Entity Queries and Entity Navigation”. After a successful query the cache holds the root business objects of the result. If you searched for employees, the cache will hold employee entities. The cache may hold other related entities as well. But it may not and you shouldn‟t assume that it holds the entire business object graph of an employee after retrieving that employee. For example, after querying for “Nancy Davolio”, she is in the cache, but her home address probably is not. A cache holds at most one copy of a business object. Recall that a business object has a unique identity implemented as a unique primary key. There is only one Employee in the application universe with an Id = 42. If follows that there can only be one Employee in the cache with Id = 42. An application can have more than one EntityManager instance23. This is only required for very special purposes, so for the balance of this discussion, we will assume the application uses just one EntityManager instance. But we‟ll contemplate the possibility just long enough to observe that every entity instance knows its own

22 23

For brevity we omit the important effect of the query cache; we‟ll cover this later too. See “Multiple Entity Manager Instances” under “Advanced Business Object Concepts”.

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EntityManager. If we ever encounter two Employee entities with Id = 42, we can ask them “who is your

EntityManager?” Finally, entities stay in the cache until the application terminates or they are removed explicitly. If our application retrieves a great deal of data, you may have to take steps to prevent cache overflow. We‟ll have more to say about caching in the coming pages.

Business objects in motion
The EntityServer and EntityManager exchange data in a highly optimized manner. Because of our efficient, automatic, and as-needed dehyration and rehydration of objects, as well as our seamless interaction with the Microsoft Entity Framework and its objects, your experience of the exchange of data between logical tiers is that it is simply DevForce business objects that are moving back and forth. A DevForce business object sent from the EntityManager to the EntityServer, or vice versa, is, in all important respects, exactly the same object when it arrives as when it left. It is of the same type, with the same persistable field values, properties, methods, and events. In effect, the entire object has traveled over the network; it is a “mobile business object.” There are two important implications. Developers write one business object class with the full capacity to execute on either the client or server as required. They don‟t write one kind of object for the server and a different one for the client. They write one class, period. The application can be deployed on one physical tier, two tiers, three, or n-tiers – without recoding. We guarantee complete object fidelity for cross-process or cross-machine communication, achieving this through a combination of storage format, serialization methods, transport mechanisms, and data merge facilities.

Creating new business objects
The developer makes a new entity by invoking a factory method that returns an instance of the business object. The developer wrote this method herself. She probably called it Create and made it a public static (Shared in VB) method of the business object‟s Developer class. Employee.Create() would be typical. There are four steps to the typical Create method: Get a prototype instance of the new entity from the EntityManager Give the prototype a unique identity Initialize some of its values Add the completed prototype to the EntityManager‟s cache We explore these steps in the section “Creating Business Objects”.

Saving and undoing business object changes
Adding, changing, and deleting are operations affecting business objects in a EntityManager cache only. They are purely local modifications. They have no effect on the database and are invisible to other application users. The developer updates the database by telling the EntityManager to save changes. The developer can save an individual entity, an arbitrary list of entities, or all entities with pending changes. The wise developer will validate the business objects before saving them. The developer can also undo the changes in which case the affected business objects are restored to their state when last retrieved. We explore these summary remarks with greater depth in the chapter “Saving Business Objects”. 169 | P a g e

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A client application can lose its connection to the central servers. The interruption may be brief, sudden, and unexpected as when a mobile device loses its signal. The break may be voluntary and last for hours as when the user runs the application offline on an airplane. An application which is susceptible to connection failures is called a “partially connected” or “intermittently connected” application. A DevForce smart client application can operate when disconnected, suddenly or on purpose, for any length of time. It can be shut down and re-started without skipping a beat. While disconnected, the application can still create new objects and modify or delete cached entities. Such changes accumulate in the cache until the application reconnects and performs a save. All it takes is a little programming using some simple DevForce EntityManager features. Step #1: Manage the connection. The developer can control voluntary connection to the host and respond to unexpected disconnects with the help of a small number of EntityManager properties, methods, and events. Step #2: Save a copy of the cache locally. The typical sequence is: 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Fill the cache with entities that will be needed while running disconnected. Disconnect and continue running. Save the cache to the client‟s local storage (e.g., a file) just before exit. Shut down. On re-launch, restore the cache from the client copy.

All pending changes are preserved across the two sessions. See the “Saving the Cache Locally” section of the “Business Object Caching” chapter to learn more.

Application Security
We‟ll devote a later chapter to securing your application so we‟ll just mention the topic briefly in this overview. Application security has three aspects: 8. 9. Confidentiality Authentication

10. Authorization Confidentiality – A secure application guards against eavesdroppers intercepting and reading traffic flowing between client and host. DevForce supports a variety of encryption measures including standard SSL. They are discussed in a separate chapter of the Security section of this document. Authentication – A secure application employs an authentication scheme to ensure that both parties to a connection are who they claim to be. In a smart client context there are two authentication burdens: (1) the server must confirm and remain confident it is talking to a real, authorized client and (2) each client must be confident it is conversing with an authentic server. DevForce has mechanisms to support both kinds of checks. Authorization – The EntityManager‟s Login method returns a DevForce SessionBundle after the user runs the login gauntlet. The SessionBundle.Principal property returns a .NET IPrincipal object that responds to an IsInRole method returning true if the user has the named role. The developer has total flexibility in determining the implementation of the login manager, the IPrincipal object, and the definition and usage of the role scheme. DevForce ensures that the SessionBundle is tamper proof.

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A secure application prevents improper access to data in the data source.

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The first step is to remove connection strings from the client. Connection strings have database addresses and passwords. There is no disguising or hiding them on the client. They belong in a safe place on the server. The EntityManager doesn‟t connect to the data source so it doesn‟t need connection strings. It tells the EntityServer which data source to use by sending a symbolic data source key. The key is just a name. The EntityServer knows how to use the key to find and connect to the data source. No process on the client side can use it. A secure application provides more fine-grained security than just whether or not the client can access the data source. It should prevent certain users from retrieving certain business objects. It should discriminate among users in determining which kinds of data source update are permitted. The screening could be at any level of detail from, say, the tables down to a single column of a particular record. There is always a risk that some process pretending to be a valid client will access the database in an unauthorized way24. A good security design assumes that the client process will be compromised because it cannot be physically secured. While it may not be possible to fully protect the client, you can secure the host by deploying the DevForce Business Object Server (BOS) which includes the full-scale version of the EntityServer. The BOS will run special security methods whenever the client attempts to reach the server. As discussed above, the EntityServer includes ServerFetching, ServerFetched, ServerSaving, and ServerSaved events. You can handle the ServerFetching event to intercept data retrieval requests and the ServerSaving event to intercept save requests, in each case before-the-fact, to make sure the authenticated user has rights to do what she is requesting. These handlers run server-side, and no client can prevent the server from invoking them. Furthermore, your handlers can delegate their work to other methods that exist in libraries only deployed to the server. No hacker can examine the latter, so your application can be made safe from disassembly and spoofing. Finally, DevForce business objects can be digitally signed before transmission to the client. A rogue client cannot order the server to update the data source with an imposter entity.

n-tier architecture
We discussed n-tier architecture at the beginning of this chapter. “The Big Picture” topic described three data management tiers: 11. Data source(s) on the data tier 12. EntityServer(s) as the data access tier 13. EntityManager within a client tier You can run all three logical tiers on the client machine if you have a totally stand-alone application. This is the preferred choice for most development work because it eliminates the complexities of coordinating with other people, software, and hardware. A production data-driven application must move the database to a central tier so that many users can share the data efficiently. If you put both an EntityServer and the EntityManager in the same process running on a client PC, you have the ever popular two-tier, “client/server” model.

24

Both smart client and browser-based applications face this “spoofing” risk.

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This simplifies the exchanges between an EntityServer and the EntityManager. The two components don‟t have to communicate over a process boundary, so an EntityServer reads and writes directly to the EntityManager cache. On the other hand, an EntityServer running under such circumstances cannot provide any meaningful security or monitoring services. It is simply a data access abstraction – a job it does very well.

3-Tier Deployment
Enterprise-grade applications will deploy the logical tiers on three separate physical tiers: a database server, an application server, and PC client machines. The application server hosts the Business Object Server (BOS) which runs multiple instances of a more muscular version of the EntityServer. This 3-physical-tier deployment provides some remarkable advantages over the 2-tier model. Improved performance over connections slower than a local area network (e.g., the internet). The slow, heavy work takes place between the BOS and the database over a fat, fast pipe. Communications and data passing between the client and the middle tier are concise and highly optimized. Application Reach -- Because the application can be on-line wherever there is an Internet connection and without resort to VPN, it can be deployed and used by larger numbers and with reduced system requirements. SQL commands and result sets – the raw data exchanged between a database and a client-side access layer – cannot flow over web protocols. Business objects can. Security is much tighter. We covered earlier the many layers of security available with the BOS in place. Scalability. It is impractical to maintain live connections for each client when the number of simultaneous users becomes large. The tipping point appears to be around one hundred. An EntityServer running on a central server can pool connections to the data sources and serve many clients simultaneously. The server is stateless – there is no need for session awareness – so fail-over and load balancing are easy options. The BOS monitoring console provides detailed data and global insight into the use (and abuse) of the application.

Model Choice by Configuration
One-tier? Two-tier? Three-tier? You don‟t have to make the choice right away. You write our code pretty much the same way no matter what the model. In general, you don‟t have to think about which code is executing where or by what route our business objects arrived in cache. For the most part, you write code as if every aspect of the application takes place inside our development PC. When you are ready to deploy to a multi-tiered environment, you set a few values in the XML application configuration file (App.Config) and build some set-up projects.

Conclusion
We just took a high level view of the Persistence Management landscape. Some of the key points were: The EntityManager is perhaps the most important component in the DevForce framework. It is the client application‟s gateway to the remote data. The EntityManager holds and manages an entity cache of business object instances and makes them available to the application UI. All entities within a cache are unique; no two entities can have the same primary key. You can fetch entities into the cache from remote data sources using entity queries and entity navigation. Entity navigation returns a collection whose contents are managed dynamically by a EntityManager. You can create, modify, delete, remove, and save cached entities. These actions raise “Life Cycle” events to which you may subscribe. 172 | P a g e

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Entities in a cache can come from many different data sources. Each data source is identified by its data source key. Each entity belongs to just one data source. A smart-client application can run off-line. An EntityServer handles the data access and object map translation chores for each of the application data sources. It exchanges business objects with one or more EntityManager instances on individual client machines. A Business Object Server (BOS) running on a central host provides enterprise-grade security, scalability, data integrity, performance, and application monitoring. The following sections and chapters delve deeper into the features introduced here.

Entity Queries and Entity Navigation
Entity queries and entity navigation are the two mechanisms for retrieving business objects from a data source. Both deposit business objects into the EntityManager‟s cache. You use entity queries to get started in a work flow. They return Order entities in answer to the question “What orders were placed last month?” They return Employee entities in response to “Which employees were hired last year?” The results of entity queries are root objects. Once you have a root object, your subsequent queries are often about entities related to the root object. Given employee “Sally”, you start exploring her object graph by looking for her address, her manager, her orders, etc. You traverse Sally‟s object graph using entity navigation and it has its own simple and intuitive syntax. Most applications require surprisingly few entity queries. Once you have a list of orders or employees that interest you, you‟re likely to settle in and poke around using entity navigation. It is common for applications to show 10 or 20 times as many entity navigations as entity queries. Since we can‟t navigate anywhere until you have some root entities in hand, let‟s start with entity queries.

Entity Queries
Use an EntityQuery when you want to retrieve a set of business objects that satisfy selection criteria - the set of employees who were hired last year, for example. Entity queries come in many flavors. Some of them are general to all data sources; some are specialized to a particular data source. Some can query the data source and the entity cache at the same time; some can only query the data source25. EntityQueries, like .NET ObjectQueries, are enumerable, and so can be executed in a variety of stepwise ways. Consider, for example, the following query: C#
var customersQuery = from cust in _Em1.Customers where cust.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative" orderby cust.CompanyName select cust;

VB

25

This means this kind of query can be used only when the application is connected to the data source; such queries can‟t run when the application is off-line.

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This can also be written in method-based syntax26 as

Object Persistence

C#

var customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName) .Select(c => c);

VB Or just,

C#

var customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName);

VB Each of these returns an IdeaBlade.EntityQuery.EntityQuery<Customer>. If you choose to type your variable to hold the query‟s return value explicitly as a DevForce EntityQuery<T>, the statement becomes the following:

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName);

VB

Depending upon how you now use your EntityQuery, the complete matching result set may be retrieved from the server in one trip, or a subset may be retrieved. If, for example, you use it as follows…

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName); Customer firstCustomer = customersQuery.First();

VB …then only a single Customer entity is retrieved from the data source into the local cache.

26

At IdeaBlade we have a decided preference for the method-based syntax, so you will see most of our sample queries in that format. The method-based syntax provides a superset of the capabilities of the query syntax, and when using query syntax you are often forced into concatenating method-based clauses, anyway, to get what you want. We make a fuller discussion of the reasons for our preference elsewhere, so just consider this a heads-up.

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At the other end of the spectrum is a usage like the following:

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName); ICollection<Customer> customers = customersQuery.ToList();

VB The call to extension method ToList(), because it demands a complete set of pointers to the retrieved matching customers, forces the complete query to be executed. Below is a DevForce DebugLog listing for a test that first issued a First() call like the one we just considered, then a call to ToList(). We‟ve removed some of the columns included in the log so the table won‟t be quite so wide, but note the highlighted “Fetch … value” messages. The first one, when delivered to the EntityFramework, will be translated into a SQL query that returns a single record; the second will be translated into a SQL query that returns all of the matching customers.

If you want to see the SQL generated by the EntityFramework to process your query, find the appropriate edmKey in your App.Config file and add a logTraceString attribute set to “true”:

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This will result in output like the following. (Again, some columns were omitted to reduce the table width for inclusion here.) Note the generated SQL statement:

In between the two extremes of asking a query object for its First() element and asking it to dump its contents ToList() are many possibilities, such as using it in a foreach loop:

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> customersQuery = _Em1.Customers

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.Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName); foreach (Customer aCustomer in customersQuery) { }

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VB

The foreach loop returns references to the retrieved Customers one at a time, but it does so from a collection of those references which must be obtained up front. Thus, as soon as the first iteration of the loop is executed, the entire set of Customers is retrieved to the local cache, and a collection of references to them is assembled. The debug log will show only a single query:

On the other hand, this query results in exactly five entities being retrieved from the data source:

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName); customersQuery.QueryStrategy = QueryStratey.DataSourceOnly; ICollection<Customer> customers = customersQuery.Skip(5).Take(5).ToList();

VB Note the use of the DataSourceOnly QueryStrategy. That‟s often important when using Skip(). You can learn why in the section of this chapter on FetchStrategies.

The With() Extension Method
DevForce provides an extension method, With(), that permits you to substitute a different QueryStrategy, a different target EntityManager, or both, on an existing query. The original query will be left unaltered. When a call to With() is chained to a query, the result may be either a new query or a reference to the original query. Normally it will be a new query, but if the content of the With() call is such that the resultant query would be the same as the original one, a reference to the original query is returned instead of a new query. If you ever want to be sure that you get a new query, use the Clone() extension method instead of With(). With() avoids the overhead of a Clone() when a copy is unnecessary. You can pass null arguments to With(). When a query has a null EntityManager assigned, it uses the DefaultManager. When a query has a null QueryStrategy, it uses the DefaultQueryStrategy of the assigned (or default) EntityManager. See the code below for more detail on the possibilities.

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> query0 = _em1.Customers .Where(c => c.CompanyName.ToLower().StartsWith("a")); query0.QueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.DataSourceOnly;

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// Use With() to run the existing query against a different EntityManager: DomainModelEntityManager em2 = new DomainModelEntityManager(); List<Customer> customers = new List<Customer>(query0.With(em2)); // The next two examples use With() to run the query with a different QueryStrategy. // The With() call in the right-hand side of the following statement // specifies a query that is materially different from query0, in // that it has a different QueryStrategy associated with it. // Accordingly, the right-hand side of the statement will return // a new query: EntityQuery<Customer> query1 = query0.With(QueryStrategy.CacheOnly); // Because the content of the With() call in the right-hand side // of the following statement doesn't result in a modification // of query0, the right-hand side will return a reference to // query0 rather than a new query. EntityQuery<Customer> query2 = query0.With(QueryStrategy.DataSourceOnly); // If you want to be certain you get a new query, use Clone() // rather than With(): EntityQuery<Customer> query3 = (EntityQuery<Customer>)query0.Clone(); query3.QueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.DataSourceOnly; // Change both the QueryStrategy and the EntityManager EntityQuery<Customer> query4 = query0.With(em2, QueryStrategy.CacheOnly); // You can pass null arguments to With(). When a query has a null EntityManager, // assigned, it uses the DefaultManager. When a query has a null QueryStrategy, // it uses the DefaultQueryStrategy of the assigned (or default) EntityManager. // Run the query against the default EntityManager, using its default QueryStrategy: EntityQuery<Customer> query5 = query0.With(null, null); // When you pass a single null to With, you must cast it to the appropriate // type so the compiler know's which single-parameter overload you mean to use: // Run the query against the default EntityManager, using the base query's // assigned QueryStrategy: EntityQuery<Customer> query6 = query0.With((DomainModelEntityManager)null); // Run the query against the assigned EntityManager, using that EntityManager's // default QueryStrategy: EntityQuery<Customer> query7 = query0.With((QueryStrategy)null);

VB

The FirstOrNullEntity() ExtensionMethod
LINQ to Entities provides First() and FirstOrDefault() extension methods on queries. First() returns the first item in a collection meeting the query criteria; FirstOrDefault() returns that, or if no items meet the criteria, the default value for the target type. For integer target types, FirstOrDefault() returns a zero; for string types, it returns an empty string. For complex types or other types that have no default, it returns a null. DevForce adds a FirstOrNullEntity() extension method that can be used when you are querying for target types that inherit from IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity. If no entity meets the specified criteria, FirstOrNullEntity() returns the DevForce NullEntity for the target type. You can read about NullEntities elsewhere in this document; but in brief,

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the NullEntity is a non-saveable, immutable, syntactically correct instance of an entity represents “nothing there” but will not trigger an exception.

The ToQuery () ExtensionMethod
Every IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity has a ToQuery() extension method that returns an IEntityQuery<T> where T is an Entity. This IEntityQuery<T> specifies the Entity on which it was based using its EntityAspect.EntityKey, and can be extended to perform various useful operations. Consider, for example, the following statements:

C#

Customer aCustomer = _em1.Customers.FirstOrNullEntity(); var query = aCustomer.ToQuery<Customer>() .Include(Customer.PathFor(c => c.Orders)); query.With(QueryStrategy.DataSourceOnly).ToList();

VB Here we have extended the query to create a span query that will reload the original Customer from the data source, and in the process also load all of its associated Orders. We do not otherwise have so convenient a way to accomplish this goal. The ToQuery() extension method is also provided on any IEnumerable<T> collection, when T is an Entity. Thus you can turn an arbitrary list of Customers into a query that will return the same set of Customers. The Where() clause on the resultant query will specify a series of OR‟d key values. For example, consider the following statements: 179 | P a g e

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C#

List<Customer> customers = _em1.Customers .Where(c => c.CompanyName.ToLower().StartsWith("a")).ToList(); var query2 = customers.ToQuery<Customer>();

VB

Placing query2 in a watch window reports its value as the following: {value(IdeaBlade.EntityModel.EntityGroup`1[DomainModel.Customer]).Where(t => ((((t.CustomerID = 785efa04-cbf2-4dd7-a7de-083ee17b6ad2) || (t.CustomerID = b61cf396-206f-41a6-9766-168b5cbb8edd)) || (t.CustomerID = f214f516-d55d-4f98-a56d7ed65fd79520)) || (t.CustomerID = 256d4372-baa7-4937-9d87-d9a4e06146f8)))} The first query evidently placed four Customers in the customers list; the query returned by ToQuery() specifies those four by their (GUID) key values.

Other Query Types
In addition to the EntityQuery, DevForce provides the PassthruESQLQuery and StoredProcQuery types for querying using Entity SQL and stored procedures, respectively. Like the EntityQuery, these types implement DevForce‟s IEntityQuery interface.

Code Listing 2. PassthruEsqlQuery C#
var q0 = new PassthruEsqlQuery(typeof(Customer), "SELECT VALUE c FROM Customers AS c Where c.CustomerID < 10"); var r0 = _Em1.ExecuteQuery<Customer>(q0);

VB

Code Listing 3. StoredProcQuery

C#

DateTime dt1 = DateTime.Parse("1/1/1990"); DateTime dt2 = DateTime.Parse("1/1/2000"); var results = _em1.GetSalesByYear(dt1, dt2);

VB

The Query Object return type
An entity query returns one and only one kind of thing. That kind of thing is always an entity type declared in the business object model. The query developer must identify that entity type and ensure that the substance of the query actually will return such entities.

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The query returns only one kind of entity but it may populate the entity cache with other kinds of entities. You‟ll see just how useful this can be when we discuss span queries and query inversion.

The Fetch and Merge
The EntityManager evaluates the query and searches for suitable entities either in the cache, in the data source, or in both. Where it looks for entities and what it does with the ones it finds are determined by a QueryStrategy object which we will cover in the “Caching” topic below.

Query v. Method Syntax
The following LINQ query is written in the syntax known as “query syntax”:

C#

var customersQuery = from cust in _Em1.Customers where cust.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative" orderby cust.CompanyName select cust;

VB This can also be written in method-based syntax as

C#

var customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName);

VB At IdeaBlade we mostly prefer the method-based syntax as a general rule. The capabilities available in methodbased syntax are a superset of those available in query syntax, so when using query syntax you may be forced into concatenating method-based clauses anyway to get what you want, as in the following:

C#

ICollection<Customer> customers = (from cust in _Em1.Customers orderby cust.CompanyName select cust).ToList();

VB

Having said that, there are a few things that are arguably a bit easier or more natural to do in query syntax, and of course there are simply personal preferences. So use what you like!

LINQ
The typical data-oriented approach to retrieving objects relies upon a specialized query language such as SQL. SQL is a powerful query language requiring considerable sophistication and experience to use properly. But there are pitfalls to using SQL and several good reasons to prefer LINQ to SQL queries, including: 181 | P a g e

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Object orientation Compile time checking Query portability Query manipulation

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14. LINQ is a vast subject and is, for the most part, beyond the scope of this document. A web search on “LINQ” will provide you with an abundance of excellent resources for learning about LINQ. 15. It suffices to say here that our implementation of LINQ -- LINQ to DevForce -- permits the same query to be used against a local cache or a back-end datasource supported by Microsoft‟s LINQ to Entities. You will specify, by means of a QueryStrategy property on the query object, just what you want its target data store or data stores to be.

PassthruESQL Queries
DevForce supports queries in Entity SQL (ESQL) with its PassThruEsqlQuery() method.

C#

public void EsqlBasic() { var query = new PassthruEsqlQuery(typeof(Customer), "SELECT VALUE c FROM Customers AS c Where c.CustomerID < 10"); var result = _Em1.ExecuteQuery<Customer>(query); Assert.IsTrue(result.Count() == 9); }

VB As you can see, PassThruEsqlQuery() requires the Entity type to which you want references returned and the ESQL query string. Here‟s an ESQL query that takes a parameter, “bonus”, which we‟ll give a value of 2000:

C#

public void EsqlBasic4() { var param = new QueryParameter("bonus", 2000); var paramEsql = new ParameterizedEsql( "SELECT VALUE sp FROM SalesPersons AS sp Where sp.Bonus > @bonus", param); var q1 = new PassthruEsqlQuery(typeof(SalesPerson), paramEsql); var r1 = _Em1.ExecuteQuery<SalesPerson>(q1); Assert.IsTrue(r1.Count() > 5); param.Value = 4000; var r2 = _Em1.ExecuteQuery<SalesPerson>(q1); Assert.IsTrue(r2.Count() < r1.Count()); }

VB Note that the value of the parameter can be changed and the same query re-executed, returning different results. When you use Entity SQL, you‟re responsible for formulating a query string that constitutes a valid query. If you goof, you won‟t know until you run it.

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A PassthruEsqlQuery will not interrogate the local cache27. It goes directly to the Entity Data Model to which the application must be connected when the query is issued. The EntityServer will throw an exception if it cannot convert the result set into objects of the target entity‟s type. We highly recommend a try/catch around your passthru query call.

Remote Service Method Call (RSMC)
DevForce offers a Remote Service Method Call (RSMC) facility that enables a client-side caller to invoke an arbitrary static method of a class accessible to the DevForce Business Object Server (BOS). The method can return any kind of serializable object28: a list, a custom object, a list of custom objects, etc. The client calls EntityManager.InvokeServerMethod() with the appropriate arguments: typically a class name, method name, and arguments for the method. An EntityServer instance in the BOS runs a security check and (if passed) invokes the requested method. The BOS serializes the result and transmits it back to the requesting EntityManager which presents the object to the caller after deserialization. It is up to the caller to make sense of this object. There is no restriction on what the remote method does or how it does it. The object returned must be serializable and – like business objects – must be of the same type on both client and server. The RSMC mechanism ensures that remote method callers go through the same security checks as the other EntityManager query methods. An asynchronous version of the Remote Service Method Call is also provided. It‟s perfect for any timeconsuming, server-based operation whose results are not needed immediately for continued work in the client application. The asynchronously RSMC can, for example, be used to load huge and even unrelated collections of data from the backend data store to the local cache without freezing the UI. The end user continues productive work while the data is being loaded; and then subsequently enjoys extremely crisp response in all aspects of the client application that depend upon the data that was loaded, which is now available directly from the local cache.

Entity Navigation
Entity navigation is a convenient syntax for accessing data from related business objects. Consider these familiar scenarios: Get all of a particular sales rep‟s orders. Find the employee‟s home address Calculate the sales tax for an order In each instance, we want information (orders, address, sales tax table for the ship-to-address) related to a single entity (salesrep, employee, order). The desired information exists somewhere in the entity‟s business object graph – the network of other entities that are related to our primary entity. In DevForce, you can begin with an entity – arbitrarily designated the “root entity” – and traverse its relations to reach other entities, both near and far. We call this “navigating the graph.” All you do is write a simple navigation property expression such as myOrder.Customer.

27 28

We can extend some Passthru queries to search the cache. See “Advanced Business Object Concepts.” RPC is not an “entity query” facility because it is not required to return entities.

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Behind this innocent syntax is a ParentReference type dedicated to entity navigation:

C#

_Customer_Reference = (ParentReference<Customer>) References.Get(EntityRelations.CustomerOrders.ToParent);

VB

_Customer_Reference = (ParentReference<Customer>) References.Get(EntityRelations.CustomerOrders.ToParent)

Queries of this kind are called relation queries. Because they pursue objects along the path defined by a relation between two entity types. That relation is CustomerOrders in this example. While you can write relation queries any time, the DevForce Object Mapper bakes the more convenient navigation property syntax directly into our Order entity‟s generated partial class as a Customer property. Observe that the navigation property syntax, myOrder.Customer, looks just like one of the entity‟s simple properties, myOrder.ShippedDate. The key difference is that it returns an entity (Customer) rather than a value (DateTime). Entities have properties so you can write myOrder.Customer.Name. They have navigation properties so you can walk further along the graph to the Address entity where you‟ll find the headquarters city:
myOrder.Customer.HeadquartersAddress.City

Parent-Child Navigation properties
So far we‟ve considered only navigation properties that return a single entity. Navigation properties can return many entities. The myOrder.OrderDetails navigation property, for example, returns the many line items of a single order. Navigation properties that return multiple entities are invariable parent-child properties. The property belongs to the parent entity such as Order and it returns child entities such as OrderDetail entities. The navigation property returns child entities in an IList<T> collection. The Order.OrderDetails property returns its OrderDetail children in a concrete collection, IList<OrderDetail>.

A brief example
I am writing a program in C#. I have declared a BindableList<OrderDetail> called lineItems. I write and run the following two expressions and learn that there are three line items.

C# lineItems = myOrder.OrderDetails; // Get the line items Console.WriteLine("lineItems.Count = {0}", lineItems.Count); // Says there are 3

VB

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I decide to increase the quantity ordered for the first OrderDetail as follows. C# lineItems = myOrder.OrderDetails; // Get the line items firstItem = lineItems[0]; firstItem.Quantity = 10; Console.WriteLine("lineItems.Count = {0}", lineItems.Count); // Says there are 3

Object Persistence

VB

Deferred Retrieval
When does the EntityManager fetch myOrder‟s line items from the data source? We might have written DevForce to fetch them automatically when it fetched myOrder. But if DevForce were to get the line items automatically, why stop there? It could get the customer for the order, the sales rep for the order, and the products for each line item. Those are just the immediate neighbors. It could get the customer‟s headquarter address, the sales rep‟s address and manager, and each product‟s manufacturer. If it continued like this, it might fetch most of the database. Retrieving the entire graph is obviously wasteful and infeasible. How often do we want to know the manager of the sales rep who booked the order? Clearly we have to prune the object graph. But where do we prune? How can we know in advance which entities we will need and which we can safely exclude? We cannot know. Fortunately, we don‟t have to know29. We keep it simple. We use an entity query to get the root entities (such as myOrder). Then we use entity navigation to retrieve neighboring related entities as we need them. This just-in-time approach is called deferred retrieval (also known as “lazy instantiation”, “lazy loading”, “Just-InTime [JIT] data retrieval”, and so on).

Proactive Data Loads
Having established that the DevForce default is deferred retrieval, we hasten to add that there are many circumstances when it absolutely makes sense to load data before it is specifically needed to satisfy some demand of the application. Filling a large data grid is an excellent example of such a situation. Suppose you‟re filling a grid with Orders – lots of them – and that for each Order you also wish to display the name of the Customer who placed it, the Sales Representative who wrote it, and the Shipping Company that will deliver it. With deferred retrieval, filling a single row of the grid would require three extra trips to the data source – one each for a Customer, Employee, and Shipper entity -- above and beyond the one that got all of the Orders to begin with. If the grid were populated with a thousand Orders, there would be three thousand separate (and unnecessary) trips to the data source to retrieve the related entities. You can well imagine that this might negatively impact your application‟s performance. For circumstances like these where there is an obvious impending need for a great deal of related data, you can add Include() clauses to your data retrieval query to bring back the related data at the same time your retrieve the root data. The following example retrieves Orders along with their related Customer, SalesRep, and Shipper; and for

29

We don‟t have to know if we can be certain of continuous connection to the data source. If we expect the application to run offline, we‟ll have to anticipate the related entities we‟ll need and pre-fetch them. We‟ll get to this issue later.

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good measure, it also retrieves the line items (OrderDetails) for each Order, and the Product referenced in each line item:

C#

var query = _context.Orders .Include("Customer") .Include("SalesRep") .Include("Shipper") .Include("OrderDetails") .Include("OrderDetails.Product");

VB

Missing objects
Every order should have a shipping address. What if it doesn‟t? Will myOrder.ShippingAddress.City throw an exception? Will we have to wrap every entity navigation in a giant try/catch block? Will it return null? Will we have to follow every entity navigation with a test for null? That might be worse than catching an exception. Fortunately entity navigation neither returns a null nor throws an exception. Instead, when the EntityManager discovers there is no shipping address, it returns the Address Null Entity.

The Null Entity
The null entity is a sentinel object that looks and behaves, for the most part, like a real entity instance. Every entity class defines its own “null entity” instance. When a query such as anEntityManager.DiscontinuedProducts must return an entity and it has no valid entity instance to return, it returns a null entity of the requested type instead. When a navigation property should return a related entity instance and there is no such instance, it will return a null entity instead. This is far better than returning a null (Nothing in VB). The caller can‟t do a thing with null and may even crash. The null entity, on the other hand, has the properties of a real entity instance. For example, it can report its type and the EntityManager that owns it30. All cached entities answer to IsNullEntity; only a null entity replies true. Most of its properties return runtime safe but semantically “empty” values that can be displayed in a UI. If anEmployee is a null entity, for example, the expression anEmployee.FirstName returns an empty string. The navigation property anEmployee.Orders returns an empty IList<Order>. The navigation property anEmployee.HomeAddress returns the Address null entity. This means we can write a long expression such as anEmployee.HomeAddress.State.Name without throwing an exception. In this case the Address null entity‟s State navigation property returns a State null entity whose Name property returns an empty string. The null entity cannot be changed, deleted, or saved. But the savvy developer can redefine a null entity‟s default property responses by overriding the UpdateNullEntity() method in the entity‟s Developer class31. She could change the Address.City property, for example, so that it returns the string “<unknown>”.

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Like real cached entities, null entities must belong to a EntityManager and, in fact, are created by a EntityManager This method is inherited from the root business object class, Entity.

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The EntityListManager
Instances of IdeaBlade.EntityModel.EntityListManager<T> watch the DevForce cache for changes and add entity references to designated lists if such changes meet developer-defined rules. Consider the following code:

C#

var filter = new Predicate<Employee>( delegate(Employee anEmployee) { return anEmployee.City == "London"; }); _employeeEntityListManager = new EntityListManager<Employee>(_entityManager, filter, null); _employeeEntityListManager.ManageList(_salesReps, false);

VB This code sets up an EntityListManager to watch the cache for changes to Employees, or the insertion of new Employees. If any changed or new Employee is found to be based in London, a reference to that Employee will be added to the _salesReps list. At the same time, _employeeEntityListManager will inspect all items in the _salesReps list to see that they meet the specified rule about London. The only requirements for _salesReps are that it implement System.Collections.IList; and contain instances of IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity. A single EntityListManager can manage as many different lists as you wish. To put _employeeEntityListManager in charge of additional lists, you would simply invoke its ManageList() method again for each desired list:

C#

_employeeEntityListManager.ManageList(_telecommuters, false); _employeeEntityListManager.ManageList(_fieldAgents, false);

VB Of course, it only makes sense to do this when the same inclusion criteria apply to each targetted list. In additions to changes to the cache, changes to a managed list trigger action by the managing EntityListManager. Thus, any of the follows statements will cause _employeeEntityListManager to examine the current contents of the cache and add references to all London employees to the _salesReps list:

C#

_salesReps.Add(anEmployee); _salesReps.Remove(anEmployee); _salesReps.Clear();

VB In the case of the statement _salesReps.Clear(), you will not end up with an empty list unless you first remove _salesReps from the list of lists being managed by employeeEntityListManager. Removing an entity that the rule says should be included also will not result in the entity disappearing from the list. The EntityListManager will just put it right back! In general, beware of making manual changes (adds or removals) to the set of items contained in a managed list.

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EntityListManagers and The NullEntity

Object Persistence

One exception occurs when you want the NullEntity for the type contained in a list to be included. NullEntities are singletons and do not reside in the cache, so there is no way that an EntityListManager will ever find one there to add a reference to! If you want the NullEntity in a managed list, you should manually add it. The ListManager will not remove it.

C#

_salesReps.Add(anEmployee); _salesReps.Remove(anEmployee); _salesReps.Clear();

VB

EntityListManagers and Duplicates
The EntityListManager will not eliminate duplicates from a list. For example, suppose you direct the following statement against a list, _salesReps, that is already being managed to include Employees based in London:

C# VB

_salesReps.ReplaceRange(_entityManager.Employees.Where(e=>e.City == "London"));

You will end up with duplicate references to each of the London employees!

EntityListManagers and Performance
EntityListManagers do create a certain amount of overhead, so be judicious in their use. It is also possible to narrow their scope of what they must monitor more than we did in our examples above. We instantiated our EntityListManager as follows:

C#

var filter = new Predicate<Employee>( delegate(Employee anEmployee) { return anEmployee.City == "London"; }); _employeeEntityListManager = new EntityListManager<Employee>(_entityManager, filter, null);

VB The third argument, which we left null, is an array of EntityProperty objects. By leaving it null, we told the manager to submit any added or modified Employee to the test encoded in the filter Predicate. Suppose that, instead, we pass a list of properties of the Employee to this argument:

C#

new EntityListManager<Employee>(_entityManager, filter, new EntityProperty[]{Employee.CityEntityProperty});

VB

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Now the EntityListManager will apply its test (about City being equal to London) only to an Employee whose City property, specifically, was modified. If you simply change only the Birthdate of an Employee already in the cache, the rule will not be evaluated. It can, after all, be safely assumed that said Employee would already be in the lists being managed if the value in its City property were “London”.

Coding More Involved Rules
In the examples above we passed an anonymous delegate to the constructor of the Predicate filter. That‟s great for simple rules, but you can declare the predicate separately if you need to do something more involved. This also gives you a chance to name the rule, which can make your code more readable. Here‟s a simple example: C#
void ConfigureEntityListManager() { mListManager = new EntityListManager<Order>( mPersMgr, FilterOrdersByDate, new EntityColumn[] { Order.OrderDateEntityColumn, Order.CustomerIdEntityColumn } Boolean FilterOrdersByDate(Order pOrder) { Customer currentCustomer = (Customer)mCustomersBS.Current; return (pOrder.OrderDate.Value.Year == 1996 && pOrder.Customer == currentCustomer); }

});

VB

Entity Caching
There are at least three good reasons to cache business objects: 1. 2. 3. The connection to the server may break during a session Writing business object changes directly to the data source is impractical and often unwise. In real life applications, the same entities are retrieved repeatedly; it wastes time and resources to bother the server with redundant requests for the same entities.

Each DevForce EntityManager has its own, private entity cache that: holds all retrieved and newly created entities; is searchable by query and object navigation; tracks cached entity changes, deletions and additions; insulates the developer from cache mechanics; enables the developer to control how entities are fetched and merged into the cache; raises events when entities are fetched, changed, deleted, or added; permits the developer to manipulate the cache when necessary; can be persisted to and retrieved from client storage.

All Business Objects are Cached
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The business object developer class inherits from IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Entity. In DevForce 3.x, and in earlier versions of DevForce, Entity inherited from System.Data.DataRow; but for several reasons, chief among which was our desired to make our object model cross-compatible with Silverlight (which does not support DataSets), we have replaced the DataSet and its component parts with our own set of storage classes. Entity now lies at the base of the business object inheritance tree, inheriting nothing, though it does implement several interfaces. These include: IdeaBlade.EntityModel.IEntityBase; System.ComponentModel.IEditableObject; System.ComponentModel.INotifyPropertyChanged; and SystemRuntime.InteropServices.IComparable. Previously an Entity was a DataRow, and as such resided in a System.Data.DataTable, which in turn resided in a System.Data.DataSet. Now an Entity lives in an IdeaBlade.EntityModel.EntityGroup which lives within an EntityGroupCollection. You may find that you rarely need to interact directly with an EntityGroup or EntityGroupCollection; and virtually all of the metadata you will ever need about an entity can be accessed through the Entity‟s EntityAspect.EntityMetaData property. Public properties and methods of that include the following:

Member Type Property Property

Name EntityType IsComplexType

Function Gets the Type of the entity Returns whether this metadata describes a "ComplexObject"

Property Property

DataSourceKeyName DefaultEntitySetName

Gets the data source key name. The default EntitySetName for entities of this type.

Property

EntityProperties

Returns a collection of EntityProperties that belong to entities of this type. Returns a collection of DataEntityProperties for entities of this type. Returns a collection of DataEntityProperties for entities of this type. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that are keys for entities of this type. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that are concurrency properties for entities of this type. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that describe complex object properties for entities of this type.

Property

DataProperties

Property Property Property Property

NavigationProperties KeyProperties ConcurrencyProperties ComplexTypeProperties

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Property

CanQueryByEntityKey

Gets whether primary key queries are allowed.

Method Method

CreateEntity() GetDefaultValue(Type pType)

Creates a new entity of the type describe by this metadata item. Returns the default value of a type: usually '0' or null for any data type. Note that this is subtly different from the TypeFns.GetDefaultValue method in that it returns Today for a default date time.

Business objects are unique in each cache
DevForce persistence management ensures that each business object appears at most once in a particular EntityManager cache. No matter how many times the employee “Nancy Davolio” is read into the cache, she appears at most once. Within the application, a reference to any “Nancy Davolio” employee object is a reference to the same one employee object. If we change her first name to “Sue”, she becomes “Sue” everywhere in the session unless … … unless there is more than one EntityManager instance32. Each EntityManager instance maintains its own independent cache. The “Nancy Davolio” retrieved into EM1 is not the same object as the “Nancy Davolio” retrieved into EM2, even though they are both mapped to the same row in the Employee table of the database. Changes to a copy of a business object in one cache are invisible to other copies in other caches both in this client and in all other clients. Changes become visible to other caches only after the object is saved to the data source and re-fetched to those caches.

Entities in Lists
Entities in lists are always references to entities in the EntityManager‟s cache. This is true whether the EM maintains the list or you maintain the list. In general we prefer to work with only one list of entities of a particular type. But it may be useful to have two such lists that are a little different. For example, one list could hold all employees of the company while the second list holds the subset of those employees who are managers. Both lists contain references to the same employee instances in cache but they are very different lists. If we change the Employee „A‟ who happens to be a manager, we are also changing the Employee „A‟ in the general employee list. They are the same Employee „A‟. If follows that if the PM re-fetches a clean copy of Employee 'A' from the data source, the pending changes will disappear for all viewers of Employee „A‟ whether they are looking at „A‟ in the first list or in the second list.

Business object proper, not the business object graph
When speaking of a business object held in cache, we may easily lose sight of what we mean by a “business object.”

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Multiple EntityManagers have their place but most applications will need only one. Multiple EMs are covered in “Advanced Business Object Concepts”.

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We distinguished earlier between the “business object proper”, which encapsulates the simple, scalar values stored in the object‟s base table, and the “business object graph” which embraces the entire network of other business objects to which it is related. For example, the simple Employee properties such as “FirstName” and “LastName” access data values that are stored in the Employee table; these are properties of the employee business object proper. The “HomeAddress” navigation property, on the other hand, delivers a related business object, the employee‟s home address. The data values of the address come from a different table (Address) and “belong” to the address business object proper, not the employee per se. An EntityManager instance retrieves and holds business objects proper, not their graphs. Objects in the graph of a particular business object may be in the cache. Or they may not. They don‟t enter the cache simply by virtue of being in another object‟s graph. The employee‟s home address object will not enter the cache just because we retrieved the employee object. It will enter the cache after we execute an expression such as anEmployee.HomeAddress.

Queries, Navigation, and the Cache
We‟ve covered entity queries and entity navigation. Although entity queries make explicit reference to the EntityManager, we learned that entity navigation is also performed by the EntityManager. Here we explain how the EntityManager processes both explicit entity queries and the implicit queries inside entity navigation syntax. We will see that EM query processing is guided by a query strategy. When following the default, “normal” strategy, the EM tries first to satisfy a query from data in its cache; it reaches out to the data source only if it must.

Query Cache
When a EntityManager begins to process a normal query, it checks its query cache to see if it has processed this exact query before. The query cache holds queries and is not the same as the entity cache which holds objects and is what we usually mean when we refer to “the cache.” If the EntityManager finds the query in the query cache, it assumes that the objects which satisfy the query are in the entity cache; accordingly, it satisfies the query entirely from the cache without consulting the data source. A one-to-many entity navigation, such as from employee to the employee‟s orders, is translated implicitly to an entity query language (OQL) query that also enters the query cache. The next time the application navigates from that same employee to its orders, the EntityManager will recognize that it has performed the query before and look only in the cache for those orders. The query cache grows during the course of a session. Certain operations clear it as one of their side-effects; removing an entity from the cache is one such operation. The developer can also clear the query cache explicitly. We just said that the EntityManager searches the query cache for an exact match of the current query, but that was really a “little white first approximation.” Actually, the EntityManager does better than that: it searches either for an exact match, or for an unrestricted query returning the same type. If, for example, you have previously retrieved “all Customers” and now ask for “Customers from Canada”, your new query will be satisfied from the cache.

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Primary key queries
A query for business objects by primary key may be resolved entirely in the cache. If we search 33 for the employee with Id = „1‟ the EntityManager will try to find it in the cache and, if not found there, will only then look for it in the data source. The EntityManager treats navigation along a one-to-one relationship, such as from Employee to HomeAddress, as a primary key query. Navigation in the parent direction along a one-to-many relationship, such as from an OrderDetail to its parent Order, is also a primary key query.

“Object Not Found” and the Null Entity
When we search for an entity and do not find it, the EntityManager, rather than returning a null that may cause an exception in your application, returns a “sentinel” object called the Null Entity. Such a sentinel behaves much like a real entity of the sought-for type except that it can‟t be changed, deleted, or saved. Every business object class defines its own null entity. See “The Null Entity” elsewhere in the section on queries and navigation.

Cache use when disconnected
When the EntityManager “knows” it is disconnected from the server, it will satisfy a navigation, or a query submitted with the Normal QueryStrategy, from the cache alone; it will not attempt to search the data source. If a sought-for object is not in the cache, the EntityManager will return the Null Entity for objects of that type. The EntityManager raises an exception if it discovers during query processing that it can‟t reach the data source; see the “Lost Connections” topic in the “Advanced Business Object Concepts” section below.

Modifications
Each business object carries a read-only EntityState property that indicates if the object is new, modified, marked for deletion, or unchanged since it was last retrieved. It bears repeating that our local modifications affect only the cached copy of a business object, not its version in the data source. The data source version won‟t be updated until the application tells the EntityManager to save the changed object. It follows that the data source version can differ from our cached copy either because we modified the cached copy or because another user saved a different version to the data source after we retrieved our copy. It would be annoying at best if the EntityManager overwrote our local changes each time it queried the data source. Fortunately, in a normal query, the EntityManager will only replace an unmodified version of an object already in the cache; our modified objects are preserved until we save or undo them.

Stale Entity Data
All of this is convenient. But what if another user has made changes to a cached entity? The local application is referencing the cached version and is unaware of the revisions. For the remainder of the user session, the application will be using out-of-date data. The developer must choose how to cope with this possibility. Delayed recognition of non-local changes is often acceptable. A list of U.S. States or zip codes is unlikely to change during a user session. Employee name changes may be too infrequent and generally harmless to worry about. In such circumstances the default caching and query behavior is fine.

33

If we use the default QueryStrategy; we are just about to discuss QueryStrategy so bear with me.

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If concurrency checking is enabled and the user tries to save a changed object to the data source, DevForce will detect the collision with the previously modified version in the data source. The update will fail and DevForce will report this failure to the application which can take steps to resolve it. Some objects are so volatile and critical that the application must be alert to external changes. The developer can implement alternative approaches to maintaining entity currency by invoking optional DevForce facilities for managing cached objects and forcing queries that go to the data source and merge the results back into the cache. The facilities for this are detailed in the section “Query Strategy” further on in this chapter.

Fetch Life Cycle Events
DevForce raises the client-side Fetching event prior to performing a query and raises the client-side Fetched event just before returning query results. We can listen to either or both by attaching a custom handler. The Fetching event provides the query object. Our handler can examine the object (it implements IEntityQuery) and choose to let the query through, modify it first, or cancel it. If we cancel the query, the Entity Manager method returns as if it found nothing34. The Fetched event fires just before the query method returns. Entities have been fetched and merged into the cache. The event arguments include the list of entities that came from the data source. There might be none if the query found nothing or was satisfied entirely from the cache. It could include entities of the target entity type – the kind we expected returned from the query. It could include entities of other types as is likely if this is a span query or if the query provoked query inversion35. As previously discussed, there are corresponding server-side events named ServerFetching and ServerFetched.

Query Workflow
Putting these points together, we can construct a schematic workflow for normal 36 DevForce entity queries and entity navigation when the application is connected to the Business Object Server (BOS) running on its own physical tier.

Table 2. Entity Query and Navigation Workflow When QueryStrategy = Normal

Component Client Tier – Application Code Client Tier – EntityManager

Action The client application requests a particular set of entities (the “desired entities”) either by entity query or by entity navigation Raises Fetching event. Listeners can see the query and, optionally, cancel the query. Checks if it can satisfy the query with the

34

If the method returns a scalar entity, it yields the return entity type‟s Null Entity; otherwise, it returns a null entity list. Beware of canceling an entity navigation list query method Span queries are later in this section. We cover “Query Inversion” in the “Advanced Business Object Concepts”. The workflow is different in a few places when we use a different QueryStrategy. See the “QueryStrategy” topic under “Advanced Business Object Concepts”.

35 36

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entities in the client-side cache. If so, it returns them immediately; end of workflow. If not, the EntityManager sends the query along with authentication information to the Business Object Server (BOS) on the middle tier. It may modify the request before sending to the BOS if it can determine that some of desired entities are already in the client side cache. Middle Tier - Business Object Server The BOS authenticates the client (the currently logged in “user”) and runs any developer-specified security checks in the ServerFetching handler. If security checks fail, it raises a security exception and sends this back to the client tier. If the data source is a relational database: Having passed security checks, the BOS converts the query into one or more LINQ-toEntities queries in the form expected by the ADO.NET Entity Framework. If a relational database is the data source, the Entity Framework converts the LINQ to Entities query into one or more SQL queries and submits them to the data source query mechanism. Data source – Data Source Middle Tier - Business Object Server If the data source is a web service: The BOS converts the query into appropriate web service calls and submits them against the targeted service.

Object Persistence

Middle Tier - Business Object Server

The data source performs the query or queries and returns one or more result sets back to the Business Object Server. If the data source is a relational database: The Entity Framework converts the result sets returned from the data source If the data source is a web service: The EntityServer converts the result sets returned from the data source into entities.

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into ADO.NET entities and delivers them to the EntityServer. Middle Tier – Business Object Server The EntityServer repackages the entities obtained from the data source into a format that can be transmitted efficiently. It then ships the entity data to the client side application. After transmission, the BOS allows the server‟s local copy of the entities to go out of scope and the garbage collector reclaims them. This enables the BOS to stay stateless. Client Tier –EntityManager: Compares fetched entities to entities already in the cache. Adds new entities to the cache. Replaces matching cached entities that are unmodified (in essence refreshing them). Preserves cached entities with pending modifications because the query strategy is normal. Client Tier –EntityManager: Reapplies the original query to the cache to locate all desired entities. Client Tier –EntityManager: Raises the Fetched event. Listeners can examine the list of entities actually retrieved from the data source. Client Tier –EntityManager: Returns the desired entities to the application. Client Tier – Application Code Client Tier – Application Code: The entities are available for processing.

Object Persistence

Middle Tier – Business Object Server

Client Tier – EntityManager

The application developer may proceed blissfully unaware of all this effort.

Query Strategy
When the EntityManager performs a query, it follows a query strategy. That strategy determines several things, chief among them these: the source of the data returned in a query; how data obtained from a source external to the EntityManager cache is merged with existing data in the cache; and how issues related to satisfaction of the query from the cache are handled. The QueryStrategy is a settable property of the query itself:

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C#

EntityQuery<Order> query = _Em1.Orders; query.QueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.DataSourceThenCache;

VB

In addition, every EntityManager has a DefaultQueryStrategy that is used whenever you do not explicitly specify the query strategy you want to use with a particular query. You can also change this default:

C# VB

_Em1.DefaultQueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.Normal;

Entity navigation (e.g., myEmployee.Orders) is implemented with relation queries governed by the DefaultQueryStrategy. In addition, any query whose QueryStrategy property has a value of null will be executed with the DefaultQueryStrategy for the EntityManager underwhich it is run. The QueryStrategy object has four properties: FetchStrategy, MergeStrategy, InversionMode, and TransactionSettings. The FetchStrategy controls where DevForce looks for the requested data: in the cache, in the datasource, or in some combination of the two. The MergeStrategy controls how DevForce resolves conflicts between the states of objects which, although already in the cache, are also retrieved from an external source. The InversionMode controls whether DevForce attempts to retrieve objects that are referenced in the query but are not the target type (e.g., the query “give me all Customers with Orders in the current year” will return references to Customer objects, but must process Order objects along the way). The TransactionSettings object permits you to control the TimeOut and IsolationLevel associated with a query, and also whether and how to use the Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator. There are five static (Shared in VB) properties in the IdeaBlade.EntityModel.QueryStrategy class that return the five most common combinations of a FetchStrategy, a MergeStrategy, and an InversionMode. These will be named and discussed momentarily, but are much easier to understand after examining the available FetchStrategy, MergeStrategy, and InversionMode options.

Fetch Strategies
Five FetchStrategies are available in DevForce:

Table 3. FetchStrategies

Strategy
CacheOnly

Action Apply this query against the cache only, returning references only to entities already there. Do not consult the data source. (Note that this query leaves the cache unchanged.) Retrieve matching entries from the datasource into the entity cache. Return references only to those entities retrieved from the the data source. A result set returned from a query using this FetchStrategy would not include locally added 197 | P a g e

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entities that had not yet been persisted to the data source.

DataSourceThenCache

First retrieve matching entries from the datasource into the entity cache. Discard all references to entities retrieved in this step. Resubmit the same query against the updated cache. Return references only to entities matched by this second, CacheOnly query.

DataSourceAndCache

First retrieve matching entries from the datasource into the entity cache. Retain references to entities retrieved in this step. Resubmit the same query as CacheOnly. Combine (union) the references obtained in this second, CacheOnly query with those obtained in the data source retrieval step.

Optimized

Check the query cache to see if the current query has previously been submitted (and, if necessary, inverted) successfully. If so, satisfy the query from the entity cache, and skip the trip to the datasource. If the query cache contains no query matching or encompassing the current query, then determine if all entities needed to satisfy the query correctly from the cache can be retrieved into the cache.37 If so, apply the DataSourceThenCache FetchStrategy. Otherwise, apply the DataSourceOnly FetchStrategy.

Operation of the FetchStrategies When the Client is Disconnected from the Data Source
If the client is disconnected from the data source, the DataSourceOnly, DataSourceThenCache, and DataSourceAndCache strategies will throw an InvalidOperationException. The Optimized strategy will behave as a CacheOnly query. It will not throw an exception, even if no matching query exists in the query cache.

MergeStrategies
A MergeStrategy comes into play whenever DevForce discovers that an entity retrieved from an external source already exists in the entity cache. (The two versions are recognized as the same entity because of matching type and primary key value.) The MergeStrategy determines how DevForce will resolve any conflict found in the two instances of the entity.38 DevForce supports five different MergeStrategies: PreserveChanges, OverwriteChanges, PreserveChangesUnlessOriginalObsolete, PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal, and NotApplicable. Their meanings are shown in Table 4. When reviewing the table, remember that, for every cached DevForce entity, two states are maintained: Original and Current. The Original state comprises the set of values for all properties as they existed at the time of the last retrieval from, or save to, the datasource. The Current state comprises the set of values for the object‟s properties as the end user sees them. That is, the Current state values reflect any local changes that have been made since the entity was retrieved, or last saved. When an entity is persisted, it is the values in its Current state that are saved. Table 4. MergeStrategies
37 38

See the discussion on query inversion for more detail. Conflicts are diagnosed by comparing the values in the entity‟s designated Concurrency column.

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Strategy
PreserveChanges OverwriteChanges PreserveChangesUnless OriginalObsolete

Action when cached entity has pending changes
Preserves the state of the cached entity. Overwrites the cached entity with data from the data source. Sets the EntityState of the cached entity to Unchanged. Preserves the values in the Current state of the cached entity, if its Original state matches the state retrieved from the datasource. If the state as retrieved from the datasource differs from that found locally in the Original set of property values, this indicates that the entity has been changed externally by another user or process. In this case (with this MergeStrategy), DevForce overwrites the local entity, setting the values in both its Current and Original states to match that found in the datasource. DevForce also then sets the EntityState of the cached instance to Unchanged.

PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal

Unconditionally preserves the values in the Current version for the cached entity; and also updates the values in its Original version to match the values in the instance retrieved from the datasource. This has the effect of rendering the local entity savable (upon the next attempt), when it might otherwise trigger a concurrency exception. This merge strategy must be used – and may only be used – with the CacheOnly fetch strategy. No merge action applies because no data is retrieved from any source outside the cache.

NotApplicable

We drill deeper into the topic of merge strategies in the section “MergeStrategy In More Detail” much later in this chapter. We suggest you defer reading that at least until you‟ve completed this section on Query Strategy – so you don‟t miss the big picture.

InversionMode
Query inversion applies to queries which: a) are directed against a data source, and

b) though returning references to instances a single business object type, or a scalar simple type, must process other types in order to acquire the result. For example, the query “get me all Customers with Orders in the current year” will return references to Customer objects, but must first examine many Order objects in order to return the correct set of Customers. The query “give me the count of Customers located in Idaho” will return an integer, but must examine the Customer collection in the data source. Query inversion is the process of retrieving those non-targeted objects that are nonetheless necessary for correct completion of a query. The most fundamental reason for doing query inversion is so that the query can be applied against a pool of data that combines unpersisted local data with data that exists in the datasource. This is, after all, what your end user normally wants: query results based on the state of the data as she has modified it. The only place that combined pool of data can exist, prior to persisting changes, is the local cache. Therefore the query must ultimately be applied against the cache; and that operation, if it is to return correct results, requires the 199 | P a g e

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cache to contain all entities that must be examined in the course of satisfying the query. So to satisfy the query “get me all Customers with Orders in the current year”, the cache must contain not only the Customers to which references will be returned, but also all extant current-year Orders, so we can know which Customers those are. A handy side-effect of inverting queries is that the same query, if resubmitted during the same application session, can be satisfied entirely from the cache, without requiring another trip to the datasource. Another results from the fact that there is a reasonably good statistical chance that the related objects needed for satisfaction of the query will also be referenced in other ways by the application. In this very common scenario, the effect of the extra data retrieved is to improve client-side performance by eliminating the need for separate retrieval of the related objects. Note that the end result of a query inversion process is very similar to that which occurs when the .Include() method is used in a query. Both processes result in the retrieval and local storage of objects that are related to a set of root objects that are the primary target of a particular query. Four InversionModes are available in DevForce for a query: Table 5. InversionModes

Strategy
On

Implicit Instuctions to DevForce Attempt to retrieve, from the datasource and into the cache, entities other than the targetted type which are needed for correct processing of the query. If this attempt fails, throw an exception. Do not attempt to retrieve entities other than the targetted type into the cache. Attempt to retrieve, from the datasource and into the cache, all entities other than the targetted type which are needed for correct processing of the query. However, if this attempt fails, just retrieve the entities of the directly targetted type, and do not throw an exception. Don‟t attempt to invert the current query; but act as if it were successfully inverted (if it needed to be). You (the developer) should only use this InversionMode when you are prepared to guarantee, on your own, that the entity cache contains (or will contain, after the DataSource portion of the query operation) all the necessary related objects to return a correct result if submitted against the cache. Normally you would make good on this guarantee by performing other data retrieval operations (prior to the one in question) to retrieve the necessary related data; or by including calls to the Include() extension method in the current query, sufficient to retrieve the necessary related data.

Off Try

Manual

The default InversionMode is Try, and this will likely be your choice for most queries. You should use On only if your application absolutely depends upon the related entities being brought into the cache by your query, and you should include exception handling in case the strategy fails. Choose the Off setting if you only want the targeted entries retrieved into the cache. Be sure you choose a compatible FetchStrategy. For queries that DevForce can successfully invert, the InversionModes of Try and On will yield the same end state: the query will be cached, and all related objects necessary to permit future satisfaction of the query entirely from the cache will be assumed to be present in the cache. If you use the InversionMode of Manual properly – that is, you take care to see that the necessary related objects get retrieved into the cache by some means or another before the query is submitted – then it, too, will produce the same ending state as the Try and On settings. 200 | P a g e

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Queries That Cannot Be Inverted
The following types of queries cannot be inverted:

Object Persistence

A query that returns a scalar result. This includes all aggregate queries (Count, Sum, Avg, etc.). 39

C# VB

var query = _Em1.Orders.Select(o => o.Freight).Sum();

A query whose return type is a single element. These include queries that call .First(), .Last(), and .Single()

C# VB

var query = _Em1.Products.OrderByDescending(c => c.CategoryName).First();

A query whose return type is different from the type contained in the collection first referenced.

C#

var query = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.CustomerID == "CONSH") .SelectMany(c => c.Orders);

VB

More on Query Inversion...

We drill deeper into the topic of query inversion in the section “Filtering Queries
DevForce provides an extension method, Filter(), that can be used to superimpose one or more independently defined filter conditions upon an existing query. Filter() differs from Where() in that it can apply a condition defined independent of the targetted query. Filter()‟s primary motivating use case is the need to apply server-side filters to submitted queries in a handler for the Server.Fetching event; though it is perfectly possible to use it in other contexts. For example, suppose your application‟s database includes data for customers worldwide, but that a given Sales Manager only works with data for customers from his region. Instead of baking the region condition into every
39

Note that this group includes the example mentioned earlier in this discussion: “Give me the count of Customers located in Idaho.”

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query for Customers throughout your application, you could implement a ServerFetching handler that imposes the condition upon any query for customers made while that Sales Manager is logged in. The usefulness of Filter() becomes even more apparent when you need to apply filters in a global way for more than one type. There are four overloads of Filter(), two of which are generic, and two of which are not. Each pair includes one overload that takes a Func<T> and another that takes an EntityQueryFilterCollection (each of whose members is a Func<T>). The generic versions normally get used client-side, because they normally operate upon an EntityQuery<T>, whereupon.NET uses type inference to get T and route the call through the generic signature. The non-generic versions are necessary because, server-side, DevForce has access only to an EntityQuery, not an EntityQuery<T>; that being a consequence of the .NET constraint that generic types can‟t be passed in event arguments. Let‟s look at some examples:

C#

var query = _em1.Territories.Where(t => t.Id > 100); var newQuery = query.Filter((IQueryable<Territory> q) => q.Where(t => t.Description.StartsWith("M")));

In this example we have used the overload of Filter which is non-generic, and which takes as its argument a Func delegate. Said delegate takes an IQueryable<T> -- essentially a list of items of type T – and returns an IQueryable<T>. The IQueryable<T> that goes in is the one defined by the variable query, defined as

C#

_em1.Territories.Where(t => t.Id > 100)

The one that comes out is the one that went in minus those Territories whose Description property value begins with the letter “M”. In the first example, above, our filter applies to the query‟s root type, Territory. We aren‟t limited to that: we can also apply filters to other types used in the query. Consider the following:

C#

var q1 = _em1.Customers.SelectMany(c => c.OrderSummaries .Where(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N")) ); var q1a = q1.Filter((IQueryable<OrderSummary> q) => q.Where(o => o.Freight > maxFreight));

The root type for this query is Customer, but the query projects OrderSummaries as its output, and it is against OrderSummaries that we apply our filter. Again we use the non-generic form of Filter; and again, the overload that takes a Func<T> argument. This time the filter imposes a condition upon the values of the OrderSummary.Freight property. Without the filter we would have retrieved all OrderSummaries having a ShipCity whose name begins with “N”; with the filter, not only must the name begin with “N”, but the Freight property value must exceed the value maxFreight. Let‟s look at another example of filtering one some type other than the query‟s root type:

C#

var q1 = _em1.Customers.Where(c => c.OrderSummaries.Any(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N"))); var q1a = q1.Filter((IQueryable<OrderSummary> q) => q.Where(o => o.Freight >

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maxFreight));

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In the absence of the filter, the above query would retrieve Customer objects: specifically, Customers having at least one Order whose ShipCity begins with the letter “N”. The filter potentially reduces the set of Customers retrieved by imposing an additional condition on their related OrderSummaries (again, on the value of their Freight property). Now let‟s look at a use of Filter() involving conditions on more than a single type.

C#

var eqFilters = new EntityQueryFilterCollection(); eqFilters.AddFilter((IQueryable<Customer> q) => q.Where(c => c.Country.StartsWith("U"))); eqFilters.AddFilter((IQueryable<OrderSummary> q) => q.Where(o => o.OrderDate < new DateTime(2009, 1, 1))); var q0 = _em1.Customers.Where(c => c.OrderSummaries.Any(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N"))); var q1 = q0.Filter(eqFilters);

In the above snippet, we instantiate a new EntityQueryFilterCollection, to which we then add two individual filters, each of which is a Func<T>. The first filter added imposes a condition on the Customer type; the second imposes a condition on the OrderSummary type. Note that we could now apply these filters to any query whatsoever. If the targetted query made use of the Customer type, the condition on Customers would apply; if it made use of the OrderSummary type, the condition on OrderSummaries would apply. If it made use of both, as does our example q0, both conditions would apply. A filter is also applied directly to any clause of a query that returns its targetted type. Thus, the effect of the two filters defined above, applied against query q0, is to produce a query that would look like the following if written conventionally:

C#

var q0 = _em1.Customers .Where(c => c.Country.StartsWith("U")) .Where(c => c.OrderSummaries .Where(o => o.OrderDate < new DateTime(2009, 1, 1)) .Any(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N")));

Query Inversion in More Detail” much later in this chapter. Again, we suggest you defer reading that at least until you‟ve completed this section on Query Strategy.

Pre-Defined QueryStrategies
As mentioned previously, every QueryStrategy combines a FetchStrategy, a MergeStrategy, and a InversionMode. Since there are five FetchStrategies, five MergeStrategies, and four InversionModes, there are potentially 100 versions of QueryStrategy, even keeping the TransactionSettings constant. However, in practice, a much smaller set of QueryStrategies suffices for the great majority of purposes. DevForce has identified five of them as being of particular significance, enshrining them as static (Shared in VB) properties of the QueryStrategy class. These predefined QueryStrategies combine FetchStrategy, MergeStrategy, and InversionMode strategies as shown in Table 6.

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Table 6. Fetch and merge strategies of the common query strategies

Object Persistence

Query Strategy
Normal CacheOnly DataSourceOnly DataSourceThenCache DataSourceOnlyWithQueryInversion

Fetch Strategy
Optimized CacheOnly DataSourceOnly DataSourceThenCache DataSourceAndCache

Merge Strategy
PreserveChanges (Not Applicable) OverwriteChanges OverwriteChanges OverwriteChanges

InversionMode
Try (Not Applicable) Off Try On

Here‟s how you assign a pre-defined QueryStrategy:
query.QueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.DataSourceThenCache;

C#
query.QueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.DataSourceThenCache

VB

Custom QueryStrategies
As just noted, only five of the possible combinations of a FetchStrategy and a MergeStrategy are covered by the named QueryStrategies. What if you want one of the other combinations? You can create your own QueryStrategy by supplying the fetch and merge strategy enumerations to its constructor. The result is a new immutable QueryStrategy instance40. Here‟s an example of the creation and assignment of a custom QueryStrategy:

C#

QueryStrategy aQueryStrategy = new QueryStrategy(FetchStrategy.DataSourceThenCache, MergeStrategy.PreserveChanges, QueryInversionMode.On);

VB

Dim aQueryStrategy As New QueryStrategy( _ FetchStrategy.DataSourceThenCache, MergeStrategy.PreserveChanges, QueryInversionMode.On)

DefaultQueryStrategy
We mentioned earlier that the DevForce EntityManager has a DefaultQueryStrategy property that can be used to shape the fetch and merge behavior of queries where the QueryStrategy is not explicitly specified. The default setting for the EntityManager‟s DefaultQueryStrategy is QueryStrategy.Normal. If you leave this setting at its default value, and in an individual query do nothing to countermand the default settings, then the FetchStrategy of Optimized will be used in combination with the MergeStrategy of PreserveChanges. If for some reason you wanted a EntityManager where the default QueryStrategy would always involve a trip to the data source, you could assign a different QueryStrategy, such as DataSourceOnly, to the PM‟s

40

Immutable meaning that we can get the component fetch and merge strategies but we cannot reset them.

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DefaultQueryStrategy property. For a given query, you could still use any desired QueryStrategy by explicitly specifying a different one.

When to Use The Different QueryStrategies
For most users, most of the time, the DevForce defaults are perfect: Satisfy a query from the entity cache whenever possible; When a trip to the data source is found necessary, resolve any conflicts that occur between incoming data and data already cache by giving the local version priority; and Perform query inversion as needed; if needed and undoable, revert to a DataSourceOnly FetchStrategy. Your choice of a non-default strategy can be driven by a variety of things. For example, suppose your application supports online concert ticket sales. Your sales clerks need absolutely up-to-date information about what seats are available at the time they make a sale. In that use case, it will be essential to direct your query for available seats against the data source, so a FetchStrategy of DataSourceOnly might be in order. In code to handle concurrency conflicts, one might need a QueryStrategy with a MergeStrategy of PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal to make an entity in conflict savable. (The data source version of the conflicted entity would only be retrieved and used to partially overwrite the cache version after the concurrency conflict had been resolved by some predetermined strategy.) You can and will think of your own reasons to use different combinations of FetchStrategy, MergeStrategy, and InversionMode. Just ask yourself, for a given data retrieval operation, whether the data in the cache is good enough, or you need absolutely current data from the data source. Then ask yourself how you want to resolve conflicts between data already cached and duplicate incoming data. Then consider the process DevForce will use to satisfy the query and make sure it will have the data it needs to give you a correct result. DevForce gives you the flexibility to set the behavior exactly as need it.

Making a One-Time Change to the QueryStrategy With Which a Given Query Is Run
You may find yourself with an existing IEntityQuery object that you don‟t want to disturb in any way, but which you would like to run with a different QueryStrategy for a specific, one-time purpose. DevForce provides an extension method, With(), that permits you to do this. 41 When a call to With() is chained to a query, the result may be either a new query or a reference to the original query. Normally it will be a new query, but if the content of the With() call is such that the resultant query would be the same as the original one, a reference to the original query is returned instead of a new query. If you ever want to be sure that you get a new query, use the Clone() extension method instead of With(). With() avoids the overhead of a Clone() when a copy is unnecessary.

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> query0 = _em1.Customers .Where(c => c.CompanyName.ToLower().StartsWith("a")); query0.QueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.DataSourceOnly; // // // // The With() call in the right-hand side of the following statement specifies a query that is materially different from query0, in that it has a different QueryStrategy associated with it. Accordingly, the right-hand side of the statement will return

41

Our topic here is QueryStrategy, but in fact some overloads of the With() method also (or alternatively) permit you to make a one-time change to the EntityManager against which the query will be run.

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// a new query: EntityQuery<Customer> query1 = query0.With(QueryStrategy.CacheOnly);

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// Because the content of the With() call in the right-hand side // of the following statement doesn't result in a modification // of query0, the right-hand side will return a reference to // query0 rather than a new query. EntityQuery<Customer> query2 = query0.With(QueryStrategy.DataSourceOnly); // If you want to be certain you get a new query, use Clone() // rather than With(): EntityQuery<Customer> query3 = (EntityQuery<Customer>)query0.Clone(); query3.QueryStrategy = QueryStrategy.DataSourceOnly;

VB

Span Queries
A EntityManager query method always returns entities of a single type, the return type identified in the query object. But what about entities related to the returned entities? When do we get those? Consider a query for second quarter orders. We display them in a grid with their customer names and order totals.

The Order entities entered the cache when we processed the query. Not so the Customer and the OrderDetail entities that we need to calculate the order total. The EntityManager gets these entities only when we ask for them explicitly. Such delayed fetching we called deferred retrieval. The grid control binding calls an Order property each time it fills a cell. The “Customer” and “Order Total” columns are bound to two properties that resolve to two relation queries, one for Customer entities and one for OrderDetail entities. This means the grid control invokes two relation queries for each and every row. There are three rows showing in the screen shot so there will be six queries, each one requiring a round trip to the data source. In other words, filling this grid requires six trips to the data source. Now suppose that we had an excellent quarter and placed a thousand orders. The user clicks the “Customer” column caption, causing the grid to sort by customer. The sort requires examination of every one of those thousand orders. Most grids will fire every visible property on every examined row. That could mean two thousand separate trips to the server: one thousand fetches of customers and one thousand fetches of order details. The UI will stall for ten uncomfortable seconds and then return to its familiar crisp responsiveness. Subsequent sorts and scrolling are fast; all of the entities are now in cache so there are no trips to the data source 42. But those ten seconds felt like an eternity. The problem wasn‟t the ten seconds; it‟s that they occurred when the user thought they should not. She expected the search for orders take some time; maybe not ten seconds but she expected

42

The volume of data is not the issue. We might think that we‟d improve performance if we used a view that summed the OrderDetails on the server. We‟d get one value per row instead of having to bring down the details and sum them locally. When we try this, we observe no improvement whatsoever. The delays were due entirely to the round-tripping, not the data volume nor the summations.

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a pause of some length. On the other hand, she expected the sort to happen immediately. When it didn‟t, she thought there was something wrong with the application. Is the sort delay necessary? Of course not! The program cannot anticipate needing the related data and so it fetches entities inefficiently. We know better. When we grab the thousand orders, we can fetch their customers and order details at the same time. Not every Customer in the data source. Not every OrderDetail entity either. We only need the customer and order details that are related to those thousand second quarter orders. We should get them all at once, not piecemeal as we scroll or sort the grid. Span queries to the rescue. We can add span instructions to our query so that the EntityManager gets the related entities when it gets the orders. A span query instruction describes a path along the root entity graph to a particular entity type know as the span target. Of course, a EntityManager returns references to the root objects when it executes a span query. At the same time it fetches every span target entity related to any of the returned root entities and puts them in the cache. We‟ll need two of spans for our example. There is a simple syntax for spanning to the immediate neighbors of the query‟s result entity type:

C#

var query = _Em1.Orders .Include("Customer") .Include("OrderDetails");

VB

var query = _Em1.Orders .Include("Customer") .Include("OrderDetails")

We can span to entities farther away on the Order business object graph also as we might do if we were displaying product name in the Order‟s OrderDetails grid.

C#

var query = _Em1.Orders .Include("Customer") .Include("OrderDetails") .Include("OrderDetails.Product");

VB

var query = _Em1.Orders .Include("Customer") .Include("OrderDetails") .Include("OrderDetails.Product")

Again, span queries don‟t change the list of entities to which references are returned from the query. The caller still receives the same thousand orders. But before returning the orders, the span query processing fetches the related entities and merges them into the cache. When the grid cells call upon Order properties to return customers or calculated order totals, those properties will find the pertinent entities waiting in cache. The main order query is a little slower because there are more entities retrieved. The user won‟t notice; she expected the search to take a beat or two. The first sort is instantaneous; she is thrilled.

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Performance Details
While spans greatly reduce the number of queries submitted to the database, they do not, of course, eliminate them altogether. Each span resolves to a separate query and each of these span queries necessitates a separate trip to the database. Thus, if our we added three spans to an Order query, there would be four queries (one for the Orders, one for the related type referenced in each of the spans) and four trips to the database. But these four trips -- as our previous discussion has illustrated – might well replace thousands of trips required in the absence of spans. In an n-tier deployment using the Business Object Server (BOS), the picture is even rosier. In that configuration, the client submits the entire request, including spans, in a single transmission to the BOS. It is the BOS that makes the four trips to the database. When the BOS has a fast, fat pipe to the database - as it should – those four trips are very quick indeed. The BOS then combines the results from its queries against the database into a single package that it ships back to the client. There has been only one trip across the “slow” connection between client and server! Note also that the total loads on the EntityServer and database are reduced when each client is making efficient data requests using spans. Thus, every individual client benefits from the improved efficiency of the other clients. Performance matters ... but not all time and effort spent optimizing performance returns equal results. We strongly advise instrumenting your queries during development and testing to identify performance hotspots. Then optimize where it really matters.

Cached Entity Lifespan
Entities stay in the cache until the application terminates or they are removed. There is no garbage collection. We may need to purge the cache of unwanted entities if we accumulate a large volume of entities during a user session a session might last a long time – days, weeks, etc. the cache contents will be saved and later restored from local storage. The programmer has many “remove” options including the ability to remove a single entity, a list of entities, entities of a particular type, and all entities with a specified EntityState. “Removal” and “deletion” are not the same thing. “Remove” means “remove the entity from the cache.” There are no data source implications. The entity is simply no longer in the cache; it is as if we had never fetched it. “Delete” means “schedule the entity for deletion from the data source.” The entity remains hidden in the cache, waiting for the moment when we send a delete request to the data source. That moment arrives when we “save” the deleted entity. Once saved (that is, deleted from the data source), the object is removed from the cache. New entities are removed from the cache immediately when deleted; they were never in the data source so there is nothing there to delete, nothing to schedule.

Saving the Cache Locally
An EntityManager can save its cache locally. This feature is useful in many scenarios including these two: The application must be able to run offline for extended periods. It must be possible to exit the application and launch it again later while still disconnected. The developer is worried that the user may accumulate many changes for a long time without saving to the data source. The application would snapshot the changes periodically in case the application goes down. But many of the modified business objects won‟t pass data source validity checks or won‟t satisfy business rules for permanent business objects. They can‟t be saved to the data source. In the first case the application can‟t reach the data source and in the second its access is blocked. The application needs a local option.

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The application can tell the EntityManager to serialize its object cache as an XML stream and save the stream to a file on the client‟s file system. Variations on the theme enable encryption of the stream and filing to isolated storage or other arbitrary destinations. On command or when the application is re-launched, the application can locate the file and restore its contents to the EntityManager‟s cache. The developer can choose to completely replace the target cache or merge the saved cache objects into it; in a merge, objects from the saved cache replace corresponding objects in the target cache. The pool of temporary ids maintained by the developer‟s custom implementation of IIdGenerator is also saved and restored. The process preserves pending business object changes – additions, modifications, deletes. When the application next obtains a server connection, it can synchronize local objects with the central data source. It can refresh local unmodified copies of business objects that have been changed by other users. It can save local pending changes, relying upon DevForce optimistic concurrency checking to prevent overwriting other users‟ changes. If the developer expects the application to operate offline, she should prep the cache by retrieving the business objects the user is likely to need before disconnecting and saving the cache locally. While disconnected, queries and object navigation can only access objects already in cache.

The TraceViewer: Watch What Data Is Being Loaded, and How
Sometimes you may not be aware of what data is being loaded during particular processes. In this, the DevForce TraceViewer can be extremely helpful. For our own development, we often load it in the startup method in nonrelease versions of our application. To use the TraceViewer, you must first set a reference to the executable file where it lives: WinTraceViewer.exe. That file is deployed to the DevForce installation folder, usually C:\Program Files\IdeaBlade DevForce. To add the reference, right-click the references node in your desired UI project, and select Add Reference. On the Add Reference dialog, select the Browse tab, then browse to the file and click OK:

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C#

using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Windows.Forms; namespace UI { static class Program { /// <summary> /// The main entry point for the application. /// </summary> [STAThread] static void Main() { Application.EnableVisualStyles(); Application.SetCompatibleTextRenderingDefault(false); #if DEBUG IdeaBlade.DevTools.TraceViewer.TraceViewerForm tv = new IdeaBlade.DevTools.TraceViewer.TraceViewerForm(); tv.Show(); #endif Application.Run(new MainForm()); } } } Public Class Program Public Shared Sub main() #If DEBUG Then Dim tv As New IdeaBlade.DevTools.TraceViewer.TraceViewerForm() tv.Show() #end If Application.Run(MainForm) End Sub End Class

VB

The TraceViewer logs all operations against the Entity Server, so you can use it to see exactly what data loading operations result from actions performed in the user interface. (E.g., move to the next Employee: see the SQL statements issued to load Order and OrderDetail objects; etc.)

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By default, the TraceViewer shows queries in a LINQ-like representation:

The above, for example, is an unrestricted query for entities of type Employee. You can, however, elect to see the SQL generated server-side by the Entity Framework. To do that, you must change the logTraceString setting in the applicable App.Config file 43 to true.

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In a development app with all parts running on a single machine, choose the App.Config file in the AppHelper project.

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This results in a display like the following:

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The TraceViewer can be invaluable in troubleshooting performance problems. These are often caused by inefficient data retrieval (such as loading a data grid where each rows triggers several trips to the server to pick up related objects that were not pre-loaded).

Creating Business Objects
In this short chapter we discuss business object creation in a bit more detail. We‟ll explain why and when the developer must write her own creation method and what minimal steps are essential to its implementation. We delve into the special challenge of creating unique business object identifiers and how DevForce supports this process. We mention also two other custom class methods, CompareTo() and ToString(). We may want to add them while writing the creation method.

When Not to Create
A business object class needs a create method only if the application can add new business objects of its type. This is not so in a surprising number of cases. For example, we don‟t add states to the USA very often. Our application may want access to these states as business objects but it is unlikely to need to add new ones (or change existing states).

The Business Object Create Method
Most applications will add new instances to many of its business object classes. The developer must write a Create method for each of these classes and call it whenever she wants a new object. For technical reasons, we must acquire new instances via a class method rather than by means of a constructor. The expression emp = new Employee(…) is always invalid; instead it must look something like emp = Employee.Create(…). Most Create method implementations return a single business object after following these four steps: 1. 2. 3. 4. Ask the EntityManager for a prototype of the new business object Give the prototype a unique identity Fill in some of its initial values (optional) Add the completed prototype to the EntityManager„s cache

Why can‟t DevForce take care of this for us? Because steps 2 and 3 require application-specific know-how that DevForce can neither discover nor supply. Step #2 concerns the identity of the object. DevForce requires that every business object have a unique identity. Identity is captured in the object‟s primary key which is composed of one or more identifiers. There is no way for 212 | P a g e

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DevForce to know how identifiers are determined. While it can discover that a particular database table‟s key is a single integer field, this fact is insufficient to generate an identifier. The integer could come from anywhere. Step #3 concerns the validity of the object. It is generally a good idea to maintain an object in a valid state. This isn‟t always possible but it is a useful goal and the Create method is a place to start. Of course DevForce is ignorant of application business rules so if there is to be any object initialization it is up to the developer to code it here.

Generating unique identifiers
Unless the primary key is an Identity column, DevForce doesn‟t know how to generate an object‟s primary key identifier(s) so it cannot deliver new business objects on its own. That is why the EntityManager provides a prototype in Step #1 that is not yet in the cache. Once the developer sets the primary key‟s identifier(s) in the prototype, the prototype may be added to the EntityManager‟s cache and become a business object accessible to the application. It may still be invalid from a business perspective but it is programmatically acceptable to DevForce. A business object‟s key must be unique not only within the context of the current user session but across the application domain. We have to make sure the key we assign to a new employee object cannot also be assigned to a different employee object by someone else.

GUIDs
GUIDs (globally unique identifiers) make great identifiers (aka “ids”) because they are easy to mint, are nearly certain to be unique, and can be generated locally, independent of any external resource. If we are in complete control of the database schema design, GUIDs are the way to go. The MS SQL uniqueidentifier data type is the database analog for a GUID. When we need a new GUID, we ask .NET to compute one for us, assign it to the prototype‟s identifier data member, and move on to the next step in object creation. GUIDs have two disadvantages: GUID values are long and obscure. Users find them difficult to type correctly and difficult to remember. At 16 bytes, the GUID is large compared to other data types such as 4-byte integers. Database indexes built using GUID keys may be relatively slower than indexes using an integer key. In our experience, striving for meaningful identifiers leads to disappointment and failure; we strongly council against using identifiers with semantic content. If you disagree, you may regard these additional GUID properties as disadvantageous: GUID values are random and cannot accept any patterns that may make them more meaningful to users. There is no way to determine the sequence in which GUID values are generated. They are not suited for applications that depend on incrementing key values. If GUIDs work for you, you may skip the next section on custom id generation. Unfortunately, few of us have this option. We are usually given a database that we cannot change. We‟re not allowed to replace all table ids and all foreign key columns with 16 byte integer GUIDs. We have to conform to the existing key schemes which impose both the identifier data types and the manner of their generation.

Sql Server Identity Ids
DevForce detects Sql Server Identity columns and generates ids automatically. Its approach is almost exactly the same as “custom id generation” which we‟ll discuss next. The key difference is that the id “seed” value – the source of the next available id – is maintained by Sql Server rather than in a custom id seed table (e.g., “NextId”). 213 | P a g e

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There are special consideration when using the DevForce Identity Id generator which are covered below.

Custom id generation
Custom id generation almost always requires access to some external resource, some application-specific logic for deriving new ids, and additional logic to increment the resource. Suppose our application uses integer keys for all of its tables. The database has a special “NextId” table that holds the next integer id. To get a new id, a server-side process could quickly lock that table, grab the id, update the table to hold a new next id, and free the table. This is just one among thousands of ways applications generate ids. The commonality is the external resource, the functional equivalent of the NextId table, without which we could not be sure of generating identifiers that are unique within the application domain. The developer must write the code that reads the resource, calculates ids, and updates the resource. If only it were this simple. Remember that we are describing a smart client application in which new object creation begins on the client machine. The client machine could be disconnected and thus unable to reach a NextId table or some other external source of permanent ids. We still want to be able to create new objects while disconnected. We know that we will have to connect to that external resource to get permanent ids and store the new objects in the database. In the interim, we must finesse the situation and use locally generated, temporary ids until we can reconnect and replace them with permanent ids. For example, since our permanent ids are always positive integers, we could use negative integers for temporary ids, acquiring them by decrementing a client-side counter. We assign temporary ids (however generated) to the new objects and to the foreign keys of the objects that reference them. At some point when we‟re sure we‟re connected, we run around to all the locations with temporary ids and replace them with permanent ids.

Id Fix-up
Just before we save objects back to the database is a good time to attempt this fix-up because (a) we must be connected to save and (b) we must fix all locally modified objects before saving any of them in case one such object has a reference to a temporary id. The DevForce id generation facility can help. In essence: The developer writes an id generation class that conforms to the DevForce IIdGenerator interface. This class will handle id generation for every class of business object in the data source. The developer implements the prescribed methods in the id generation class that provide temporary and permanent ids. Back in the business object creation method, the developer invokes the EntityManager.GenerateId(…) method which assigns a temporary id to the new object prototype. A typical call looks like: pm.GenerateId(protoEmp, Employee.IdEntityColumn). The EntityManager attempts a save The DevForce framework tells the developer‟s id generation class to give it the map of temporary ids to permanent ids. The framework runs around the cache, replacing temporary ids with permanent ids.

Foreign Key Fix-Up
The framework replaces temporary ids in entity properties that are connected to the generated id column by a relation. The generated Id column in this example is the Employee.IdEntityColumn. 214 | P a g e

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Suppose there is a relation defined in the model between Order.SalesRepId and EmployeeId, but that no relation is defined between Customer.SalesRepId and EmployeeId. This is a critical omission, as you will see. We create a new employee, myEmployee. The Id generator gives him a temporary id value of –1. During the application session myEmployee is assigned to myOrder:
myOrder.SalesRep = myEmployee

But no relation was defined between Employee and Customer, so there is no Customer.SalesRep property44 to which myEmployee can be assigned directly. Nevertheless, the determined developer stuffs the EmployeeId value directly into the Customer.SalesRepId property.
myCustomer.SalesRepId = myEmployee.Id

This is a bad practice and should be avoided. The absence of the myCustomer.SalesRep property should have been a warning that a critical relation was missing. See what happens: The user saves and the fix-up begins. The value of myEmployee.Id is updated to its permanent value, 301.
myOrder.SalesRepId is fixed up to 301 (since there is a relation back to Employee.Id) . myCustomer.SalesRepId stays stuck with id = –1. (There was no relation from myCustomer.SalesRepId back to Employee.Id so the PM didn‟t know to replace the SalesRepId.)

Not good! In most cases the end result of all this would be an errant foreign key value persisted to the data source. If, however, the data source did have the necessary foreign key constraint (but the related relation had been deleted from the model), the result of attempting to persist the errant foreign key value would be a foreign key constraint exception. That might appear to reflect a PersistenceOrder problem (e.g., saving a child before saving its new parent) when in fact it is not. Important: Map all of the relations.

Sample Id Generator
DevForce ships with source for example id generator classes that you can either use directly or adapt for your application. It‟s now easy to see why we prefer GUIDs. We can use .NET‟s free GUID generator while disconnected because it works locally without resort to an external resource. GUIDs are globally unique so the ids we create are fine as permanent ids. All of the complexity disappears. The 16-byte cost of GUIDs is usually worth it. Use GUIDs if you can.

Ids in mapping objects
We cannot leave this subject without observing that some business objects do not use generated ids. Mapping objects relate one kind of business object to another in a many-to-many relationship. OrderDetails in the IdeaBladeTutorial database is one such business object. In addition to carrying information about a particular purchase item such as quantity and price, it relates Orders to Products in a many-to-many relationship. Orders have many items each associated with a particular product being purchased. A given product will appear as a purchased item on many different orders.

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At least, there would be no such property generated by the DevForce Object Mapper

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A mapping object‟s primary key is typically a combination of the ids from the two objects it relates. The key of an OrderDetail object is comprised of its parent order‟s id and the id of the product being sold. It is an {OrderId, ProductId} tuple. In such cases, the ids that form the primary key are not generated within the create method but rather passed into the method in its parameter list. The create method for OrderDetail would include an order object and a product object among its parameters. Inside the Create() method, we would extract their ids and set the OrderDetail prototype‟s primary key accordingly. OrderDetail happens also to be the detail object in a master/detail relationship. The id of the master object is often one of the identifiers in the detail object‟s key and it will usually be passed into the method in one of its parameters.

Creating a valid business object
EntityManager delivers a prototype in step #1 of the create method. DevForce ensures that the prototype has a nonnull value for every object member that is mapped to a non-nullable field in the database. This “assistance” is often helpful but it may be wrong. Suppose business rules demand that every employee have a hire date and that hire dates must be later than the company‟s incorporation. The HireDate field in the database is mandatory so the prototype carries a default value for the corresponding object data member. The developer should make no assumption about this value other than that it is a valid date from the perspective of the database. It could be anything and might well be a date prior to the founding of the company. The hire date is probably unknown when the object is created. The developer may choose to wait until it becomes known in which case the prototype default value will suffice for awhile. The object can‟t be saved but we will have time to get a valid hire date from the user before we save it. Alternatively, the developer may decide that a particular date, such as today‟s date, makes a good initial hire date. She will initialize the prototype‟s hire date accordingly, here in the Create method. The lesson: strive to make the new object as valid as possible by setting appropriate initial values in this step of the creation method. It is often helpful to add parameters to the Create method so the caller can pass in appropriate initial values. None of this is required but it is good practice.

Auxiliary Business Object Class Methods
While we‟re adding a new object creation method inside the business object class, it‟s a good time to mention two other useful methods: CompareTo() and ToString().

CompareTo()
When DevForce sorts a collection of business objects it often looks to the class CompareTo() method to determine which of two objects sorts before the other. Business objects inherit a CompareTo() method from the root class of all business objects, Entity. It‟s rarely what we want; the results are arbitrary and unpredictable. We should override it with a comparison that is useful. A CompareTo()for the Employee class might compare employee first and last names.

ToString()
It is common for both DevForce and .NET to invoke an object‟s ToString() method. An object‟s default ToString() returns the object‟s class name. This is rarely useful. For example, anEmployee.ToString() might return “Tutorial.Entities.Employee”. We should override the Employee ToString() method so that it returns something useful like “Nancy Davolio”. 216 | P a g e

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Many classes, not just business object classes, should have their own ToString() methods.

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Adding and Removing Related Objects using Add() and Remove()
Navigation properties that return a collection (e.g., anEmployee.Orders) have Add() and Remove() methods.

Add()
The Add() method takes a parameter of the type contained by the collection (e.g., an Order).

C#

Order anOrder = new Order(); anOrder.OrderDate = DateTime.Today; anOrder.FreightCost = Convert.ToDecimal(999.99); anEmployee.Orders.Add(anOrder);

Invoking Add() adds the supplied item to the collection. If the relation between the parent and child types is 1-tomany and the supplied item is currently associated with a different parent, then Add() simultaneously removes it from the corresponding collection of the other parent. 45 Note that, in the above snippet, we did not need to set the SalesRep property of the new Order to the Employee whom we wanted to become its parent:

C#

// anOrder.SalesRep = anEmployee;

//don't need this; Add() will handle it

Invocation of the Add() method on anEmployee.Orders produced the equivalent result.

Remove ()
Remove() also takes a parameter of the type contained by the collection. It dissociates the indicated instance from the collection‟s parent46.

C#

anEmployee.Orders.Remove(anOrder);

Note that while Remove unassigns the Order from the target Employee, removing it from the collection returned by the navigation property, it does not remove it from the cache or mark it for deletion. If you want the Order removed from the cache or deleted from the back-end datastore, you must order those actions separately by calling the Order‟s EntityAspect.Remove() or EntityAspect.Delete() methods, as appropriate.

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The equivalent result on table rows in a relational database is that the child entity‟s foreign key value is changed.

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Add() and Remove () on Many-to-Many Navigation Properties

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You can also use Add() and Remove () on many-to-many navigation collections generated by the Entity Data Model. You get these in your Entity Data Model when two entities are linked by a many-to-many linking table that has “no payload”; that is, no columns other than the two foreign keys (which also form a composite primary key). 47 An example would be an Employee linked to a Territory by means of an EmployeeTerritory table whose composite primary key consists of the two foreign keys EmployeeId and TerritoryId, and which has no other columns. When you have such an association, invoking Add() on the many-to-many navigation property creates (in the EntityManager cache) the necessary linking object in the EntitySet for the linking objects 48. Remove() marks as deleted the linking object that formerly connected the two entities in the many-to-many relationship. Both changes – the insertion of a new linking object or the deletion of an existing one – are propagated to the back-end data store upon the execution of SaveChanges() on the governing EntityManager.

Adding and Removing Items in Custom-Coded Many-to-Many Navigation Properties
You can (and probably will) also have in your model many-to-many associations involving linking entities that do have payload. (For example, in the NorthwindIB database, Order links Employees (who act as sales reps) to Customers in a many-to-many relationship.) For these cases, you should add and remove elements to the m-to-m collection (e.g., anEmployee.Customers) by inserting or deleting instances of the linking entity. Since that linking entity is probably significant in its own right (again consider an Order), it likely has properties that need their values set at creation time in any case. For example, the following code will have the indirect effect of adding a new Customer to the Customers collection of anEmployee, but only if the Order being added is for a Customer with which anEmployee is not already linked through some other Order. Otherwise, aCustomer is already in anEmployee‟s Customers collection.

C#

// May add a Customer to anEmployee’s Customers collection anOrder = Order.Create(_entityManager, aCustomer, anOrderDate); anEmployee.Orders.Add(anOrder);

Similarly, the following code will have the indirect effect of removing aCustomer from the Customers collection of anEmployee, but only if anEmployee has no other Orders for aCustomer. If she does, then aCustomer will remain in her Customers collection.

C#

// May remove a Customer from anEmployee’s Customers collection anOrder.EntityAspect.Delete();

Business Object Creation Review
Developers will write a creation method for each business object class that can add new objects. That method will return a new business object after it gets a prototype from the EntityManager assigns an id to the prototype
47 48

See the appendix “Many-to-Many Associations in the Entity Framework” in the Object Mapping chapter for more information. Note that those objects are not exposed in the conceptual model, and are never manipulated directly by you.

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(optionally) sets certain prototype values to satisfy minimum standards of validity adds the prototype to the EntityManager

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If we have to generate custom ids for our business objects, we probably will write and register an id generation class that conforms to the DevForce IIdGenerator interface.

Saving Business Objects
Add, change, and delete operations only affect entities in a EntityManager cache. They are not written to the data source nor are they visible to other application users until the application tells the EntityManager to save them. Alternatively, the application can undo the changes rather than save them. If the application decides to save, it issues one of the overloads of EntityManager.SaveChanges() that can save an individual business object, an arbitrary list of objects, or all entities with pending changes. Saves are always transactional in DevForce. If concurrency checking is enabled, DevForce will confirm that entities being saved have not been modified or deleted by another process since they were last retrieved. This chapter elaborates on each of these points.

EntityState of an Object
Unmodified entities are never saved. Attempts to save them are ignored. The application can determine if a particular object is new, modified, marked for deletion, or unmodified by examining its EntityState property which returns one of the corresponding EntityRowState enumerations. The application can also query the cache for all entities that are in one particular EntityState or specific combination of EntityStates and submit them together for save.

Undo
Modified business objects don‟t have to be saved. The application can undo changes made to a single object or a list of objects in the cache. This is a single level undo. Undoing a pre-existing object, whether changed or marked for deletion, restores it to its state when last retrieved from the data source 49; its EntityState becomes “unmodified.” Undoing a newly created object deletes it immediately and removes it from the cache. There is no undo of an undo.

Multi-level Undo
The EntityManager provides “Checkpoint” methods that facilitate implementation of applications that need multilevel undo. The utility of “checkpointing” is most apparent in the UI so we cover it in the WinForm User Interfaces chapter in the topic “Multi-Level Undo with Checkpoints”.

Validation
The wise developer will validate business objects before saving them.

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Many developers perform validity checks in the presentation layer. Some checks in the UI make sense especially when they provide crisp and immediate user feedback. But good design keeps most validation logic out of the presentation layer and delegates it to the business object. Here are four good reasons: As the application evolves there are likely to be multiple screens – even multiple UIs – updating the same business object. There is high risk that they will perform validation differently and omit essential checks if each handles its own validation. The object may be changed by a batch program or by a web service. We need to perform the same validations in these modes as we do in a graphical interface. Cross-field and cross-record checks in the UI can create deadlocks and recursion problems. It‟s easier to apply rules such as “the birth date comes before the hire date” and “orders weighing more than 100 pounds must be shipped by ground” after the user presses a button rather than try to enforce them while the user is typing. It‟s easier to break up or combine forms in an interface if you don‟t also have to juggle the validation code to match. DevForce offers extensive facilities for defining and executing validation logic. See the chapter, “Validation Through Verification”.

Temporary Id Fix-up Initiation of any save operation causes the EntityManager to attempt to replace temporary ids with permanent ids. Subsequent success, failure, or cancellation is immaterial. The act of saving launches the fix-up process. The fix-up process was covered above, in the section “The TraceViewer: Watch What Data Is Being Loaded, and How
Sometimes you may not be aware of what data is being loaded during particular processes. In this, the DevForce TraceViewer can be extremely helpful. For our own development, we often load it in the startup method in nonrelease versions of our application. To use the TraceViewer, you must first set a reference to the executable file where it lives: WinTraceViewer.exe. That file is deployed to the DevForce installation folder, usually C:\Program Files\IdeaBlade DevForce. To add the reference, right-click the references node in your desired UI project, and select Add Reference. On the Add Reference dialog, select the Browse tab, then browse to the file and click OK:

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C#

using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Windows.Forms; namespace UI { static class Program { /// <summary> /// The main entry point for the application. /// </summary> [STAThread] static void Main() { Application.EnableVisualStyles(); Application.SetCompatibleTextRenderingDefault(false); #if DEBUG IdeaBlade.DevTools.TraceViewer.TraceViewerForm tv = new IdeaBlade.DevTools.TraceViewer.TraceViewerForm(); tv.Show(); #endif Application.Run(new MainForm()); } } } Public Class Program Public Shared Sub main() #If DEBUG Then Dim tv As New IdeaBlade.DevTools.TraceViewer.TraceViewerForm() tv.Show() #end If Application.Run(MainForm) End Sub End Class

VB

The TraceViewer logs all operations against the Entity Server, so you can use it to see exactly what data loading operations result from actions performed in the user interface. (E.g., move to the next Employee: see the SQL statements issued to load Order and OrderDetail objects; etc.)

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By default, the TraceViewer shows queries in a LINQ-like representation:

The above, for example, is an unrestricted query for entities of type Employee. You can, however, elect to see the SQL generated server-side by the Entity Framework. To do that, you must change the logTraceString setting in the applicable App.Config file to true.

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The TraceViewer can be invaluable in troubleshooting performance problems. These are often caused by inefficient data retrieval (such as loading a data grid where each rows triggers several trips to the server to pick up related objects that were not pre-loaded). Creating Business Objects”. Be sure you understand the fix-up process as detailed in that section.

Life Cycle Events
Creation, retrieval, modification, removal, deletion, and save are key moments in a cached entity‟s life cycle. DevForce raises events on these occasions. The developer can subscribe and react accordingly.

Client-Side Life Cycle Events
Client-side life cycle events on the EntityManager include Fetching, Fetch, Saving, and Saved. These are summarized in Table 7: Table 7. EntityManager Life-Cycle Events Event Fetching Fetched Saving Saved Typical Uses of the Corresponding Event Handler Modify the query being submitted, or refuse the request for data. Modify the objects that were returned by the query Modify the object submitted for saving, or refuse the request to perform inserts and/or updates. Modify the saved object (which might be different from the object submitted for saving by virtue of triggers that were fired on the back end to modify the latter after it was saved).

The EntityManager raises a Fetching event shortly after the application initiates a data retrieval operation. It raises a Fetched event if any entities are retrieved successfully. We can add our own event handlers to these events. The Fetching event provides the handler with a copy of the query object that the caller proposes to submit. The event handler can scrutinize the query object, modifying it or rejecting the query entirely if security or other considerations make that the appropriate response. The EntityManager raises the Fetched event if any entity is retrieved. The handler receives a list of the entities that were retrieved. The EntityManager raises a Saving event shortly after the application initiates a save. It raises a Saved event if any entities are saved successfully. We can add our own event handlers to these events. The Saving event provides the handler with a list of entities that the caller proposes to save. It will calculate that list if the method parameters do not prescribe the list50. The event handler can scrutinize the list, invoke validation
50

SaveChanges() with no arguments, for example, is a blanket request to save every changed entity in cache.

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methods on selected entities, clean up others (e.g., clear meaningless error conditions), add additional entities to the list, and even exclude entities from the list. Lastly, it can cancel the save. The EntityManager raises the saved event if any entity is saved. The handler receives a list of the entities that were saved successfully. In transactional saves, either every entity in the save list is saved or none of them are. In DevForce, saves are always transactional, even across disparate back-end data sources.

Server-Side Life Cycle Events
Server-side life cycle events on the EntityServer include ServerFetching, ServerFetched, ServerSaving, and ServerSaved. These are summarized in Table 8. Table 8. PersistenceServer Life-Cycle Events Event ServerFetching ServerFetched ServerSaving ServerSaved Typical Uses of the Corresponding Event Handler Modify the query being submitted, or refuse the request for data. Modify the objects that were returned by the query Modify the object submitted for saving, or refuse the request to perform inserts and/or updates. Modify the saved object (which might be different from the object submitted for saving by virtue of triggers that were fired on the back end to modify the latter after it was saved).

These events provide the developer with the opportunity to do perform server-side, before-the-fact and after-the-fact operations on both queries and saves. The EntityManager, which resides client side, provides corresponding client side events: Fetching, Fetched, Saving and Saved. The developer thus has complete flexibility to perform centralized processing on data retrievals and updates, client-side or server-side, as her use case dictates. For those familiar with previous versions of DevForce, the EnityServer. ServerFetching event replaces the Version 3 PersistenceServer‟s QuerySecurityCheck event. Similarly, EntityServer.ServerSaving replaces PersistenceServer.SaveSecurityCheck.
ServerFetching will have access both to the submitted query object and to an IPrincipal representing the authenticated user who made the request. ServerFetched, ServingSaving, and ServerSaved will also have

access to that same IPrincipal, but instead of a query object they will have access to the full collection of DevForce entities being retrieved or updated. Thus, the ServerFetched, ServingSaving, and ServerSaved event handlers will make use of the copy of the Domainmodel assembly that has been deployed server-side.

Saves and Transaction Management
EntityManager save methods can save a single business object, a list of objects, all objects in a particular

modified state (e.g., “new”), or all entities with pending changes. Recall that modified objects include additions, updates, and deletes. Deleted records are actually marked for delete and must be “saved” to be deleted from the data source.
EntityManager saves are transactional by default. When the developer saves more than one entity at a time,

DevForce processes them together as a single unit of work. Either every save succeeds, or they are all rolled back.

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Behind the scenes, DevForce causes the necessary INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE statements to be wrapped within “Begin Transaction” and “Commit Transaction” or “Rollback Transaction” statements. If all succeed the transaction is committed. If any fail, the data source is restored to its pre-transaction condition51. The application relies upon the data source manager to provide two key benefits throughout the transaction: Consistency - simultaneous queries and change requests cannot collide with each other, and users must never see or operate on data that is in mid-change. In a multi-user environment the data source manager must prevent simultaneous queries and data modification requests from interfering with each other. This is important because if the data being processed by a query can be changed by another user's update, the results of the query may be ambiguous. Recovery - in case of system failure, data source recovery is complete and automatic. SQL defines different degrees of consistency enforcement called “isolation levels”. Each database vendor has a different default isolation level and a proprietary syntax to change it. The developer is responsible for setting the database isolation level and all other global database behavior options. Such settings may be made in the database itself or with proprietary information embedded in the connection string. Consult the database vendor‟s documentation.

Distributed Transactions
DevForce can provide transactional integrity when saving entities to two or more data sources. These data sources can be of different types from different vendors. Their data source managers must support the X/Open XA specification for Distributed Transactions52. The developer instructs DevForce to use the .NET Enterprise Services (AKA, COM+) Distributed Transaction Coordinator (DTC) to handle transaction management. DTC performs a two phase commit. In the first “prepare” phase all parties to the transaction signal their readiness to commit their parts of the transaction. In so agreeing they must guarantee that they can complete their tasks even after a crash. If any participant does not agree, all parties roll back the transactions they have underway. If all participants agree, the transaction moves into the second, “commit” phase in which the parties actually commit their changes. If the transaction is successful, the entities are re-queried.

Re-query After Save
DevForce immediately re-queries the entity after inserting or updating it successfully. Re-query is essential because the insert or update may provoke a data source trigger that modifies the data source object. We often use a trigger to update an optimistic concurrency column. A database-maintained timestamp is another common example. In such cases, the row in the database is no longer exactly the same as the row we wrote. The EntityServer must update the entity and then send it back to the client‟s EntityManager. The revised entity re-enters the cache, replacing its original; its EntityState becomes Unchanged.

When Save Fails
The EntityManager.SaveChanges() method overrides all return a SaveResult object.

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We cover save failures in topic coming up soon. At this writing, databases are the only DevForce supported data sources that support the X/Open XA protocol.

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SaveResult.Ok returns “true” if the save was entirely successful. The PM throws a EntityManagerSaveException if the save was canceled or failed in any way.

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This is the default behavior. You can change that behavior – indeed, SaveChanges() used to behave differently in versions prior to 3.1.3 – but we recommend that you stay with this default. It follows that you prepare your code to catch and analyze an exception. You will find the information you need in the exception, including the SaveResult object that SaveChanges() would have returned. Always handle SaveChanges exceptions.  Do wrap every call to EntityManager.SaveChanges() in your own custom Save method.  Do wrap every SaveChanges in a Try/Catch and analyze the exception when thrown. Here‟s a code fragment showing a Save method that matches our recommendation: C#
internal void SaveAll() { try { using ( new WaitCursor(Page.ParentForm) ) { MainEm.Manager.SaveChanges();// Save everything } DisplaySaveOk(); } catch ( EntityManagerSaveException saveException ) { ProcessSaveFailure(saveException); } catch { throw; // re-throw unexpected exception } }

VB

Friend Sub SaveAll() Try Using New WaitCursor(Page.ParentForm) MainEm.Manager.SaveChanges() ' Save everything End Using DisplaySaveOk() Catch saveException As EntityManagerSaveException ' Save failure always throws exception post DF 3.1.3. ProcessSaveFailure(saveException) Catch Throw ' Re-throw unexpected exception End Try End Sub

The serious failure interpretation and recovery work is in the ProcessSaveFailure method which is custom code that we write. The information we need is in the EntityManagerSaveException instance passed as a parameter to the method.

SaveChanges() Exceptions
The EntityManager raises a EntityManagerSaveException if the save is canceled (e.g., you cancel it in your Saving event handler) or if there is any kind of exception. The EntityServerError handler gets the first crack at the exception. If there is no handler or it doesn‟t handle the exception, the PM throws it again, now in the context of the SaveChanges() call.

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 We recommend that you do not handle save exceptions in the EntityServerError; leave that to the code near your SaveChanges() call that catches and interprets save failures. You‟ll find examples of this recommendation in the Funhouse in the ApplicationController and EmployeePageController classes.

EntityManagerSaveException
The EntityManagerSaveException inherits from EntityServerException, supplementing that base class with information pertaining to the save. That information includes an instance of SaveResult such as would have been returned from SaveChanges(). We‟ll discuss that in a moment. First we‟ll get a rough idea of what went wrong by looking at the exception‟s Failure Type.

FailureType Connection Data Concurrency Other

Description The Entity Manager could not reach the data source. There might be a network connection problem or the data source itself could be down. The data source threw an exception such as a referential integrity violation. There was a concurrency conflict. Could be anything but usually the cause is that the save was canceled by the Saving event handler. Check the SaveResult.Canceled.

Once we‟ve learned the category of failure we can decide how to handle it. We can look to the precipitating exception itself to further refine our response. When the failure type is anything but Connection, we‟ll likely want to examine the SaveResult to learn about which entities were affected and how.

SaveResult
Among its contents are: SaveResult.Canceled which is true if the save was canceled while handling the Saving event. The precipitating exception, whether from an attempt to connect to the data source or an exception from the data source itself such as a concurrency conflict or referential integrity violation. A list of the entities that were not saved called EntitiesWithErrors. In practice, this will always be a list of one -- the first entity to fail -- since saves are transactional. These entities remain in the cache and retain exactly the values and setting they had before the save attempt.

Alternatives to Default SaveChanges Exceptions
In prior versions, the PM threw an exception only if there was a problem connecting to or exchanging data with the database. Database exceptions, such as concurrency violations or referential integrity violations, were returned to the user in an instance of SaveResult. There are two problems with that approach: 227 | P a g e

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Many developers neglected to check the SaveResult and did not realize that the save had failed. It was difficult to anticipate which kinds of problems would appear in the SaveResult and which would cause an exception.

Although we strongly encourage developers to adopt the revised approach, it is easy to preserve the former behavior globally as follows:
 Get the EntityManager‟s DefaultSaveOptions

 Set its ThrowExceptionOnSaveFailure to “OnConnectionFailure”. You can also preserve the former behavior for a particular save by preparing an ad hoc SaveOptions object with the ThrowExceptionOnSaveFailure property set to your liking. You then pass this as an argument to SaveChanges().
ThrowExceptionOnSaveFailure takes one of these ThrowExceptionRule enumerations:

Enumerated Value Always OnConnectionFailure Never

Description Always throw an exception. The SaveResult is not returned but its contents are available in the argument passed to the exception handler [default]. SaveResult is returned when a non-connection related exception occurs [DevForce behavior prior to version 3.1.3]. The SaveResult is always returned from the call, with the Exception property set if the save failed

We covered Always, the default, in the preceding section. Under the OnConnectionFailure option, SaveChanges() returns a SaveResult even when there is a datarelated exception such as referential integrity or concurrency a violation. It only throws an exception when the PM can‟t reach the data source. Such Connection-related errors are sent first to the EntityServerError handler and, if unhandled, are then thrown here.

Data Source Concurrency
A multi-user application must decide how to resolve the conflict when two users try to update the same data source entity53. Consider the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. I fetch the Employee with Id = 42 You fetch the Employee with Id = 42 You change and save your copy of the Employee with Id = 42 I try to save my copy of the Employee with Id = 42

Is this really going to happen? There is always a risk that another client or component will change the data source entity while we are holding our cached copy of it. The risk grows the longer we wait between the time we fetch the entity and the time we save or refresh it. In offline scenarios, the time between fetch and update can be hours or days. There could be a great many concurrency conflicts waiting to happen. If I save my copy now, should it overwrite the one you saved?
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The “data source entity” is the term of convenience we use to describe the data in the data source that map to a corresponding entity in cache. The data source entity may be a single row in a database table as when an Employee cached entity maps to a row in an Employee table. Alternatively, the data may be scattered in many places in some other kind of data source. We have no clue as to the actual location of data behind a Web service entity.

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If so, we‟ve chosen “last-in-wins” concurrency checking. My copy replaces your copy; your changes are lost. This is the default in DevForce but we strongly recommend that you adopt another type of concurrency control. Permitting one user to blithely overwrite changes that another user made can be dangerous or even fatal. There is an enormous literature on this subject of “concurrency checking.” The coping strategies are many and complex.

Basic Mechanics of Concurrency Detection
DevForce defers to the ADO.NET Entity Framework‟s mechanism for detecting concurrency conflicts at the time an update is submitted to the back-end data source. The Entity Framework (EF) permits the developer to designate, in the Entity Model, one or more columns of a type‟s data source table as concurrency columns. When a client application submits an update order against such a model to the EF, the EF prepares a SQL Update statement. To that statement it adds a WHERE clause that ensures that all columns designated as a concurrency columns have the same value they did when the record was last retrieved by the submitting application. (In other words, they have not been changed in the meantime by another user.) If that proves not to be the case, the exception thrown by the back-end data source will be propagated back down the application‟s calling chain. It is the developer‟s responsibility to ensure that concurrency columns that should change upon an update do change. DevForce makes that considerably easier by providing, in the Object Mapper, a mechanism for automatically updating the value of a given column-based property upon any other change to the record. The Object Mapper offers six Concurrency Strategies that can be applied to a given property:

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Concurrency Strategy

Instruction to DevForce (Action to Perform Whenever the Entity Is Updated) Replace existing value of the property with a new GUID value. Replace existing value of the property with the current Date/Time. Increment the existing value of the property by 1. Find, in one of the data source‟s probe assemblies, a class that implements the IConcurrencyStrategy interface, and call its
SetNewConcurrencyValue()

AutoGuid AutoDateTime AutoIncrement Server Callback

method, passing that method the Entity and the ConcurrencyProperty as parameters. Said method must be written to update the ConcurrencyProperty as appropriate. Client Just include this column in the concurrency test. The client application will take responsibility for seeing that it is properly updated whenever the entity is modified. Do not use this property to test concurrency.

None

Note that some of the strategies only apply to properties of specific types: clearly we cannot force a GUID value into an integer property, or a DateTime value into a boolean property, and so forth. It remains the developer‟s responsibility to handle any concurrency exception thrown by the back end.

One Concurrency Column, or Many?
Since the Entity Framework permits you to designate any number of columns as concurrency columns, it may be tempting simply to designate them all.54 That‟s one way of making sure that, if anything in the record has been changed by another user since you got your copy, a concurrency conflict will be diagnosed. This may be your only alternative if you have no design access to the database, but be aware that there will be a performance impact. Every update will be accompanied by a flurry of activity comparing values. As with other performance issues, you should do some upfront testing to determine whether the performance impact is unacceptable, or even significant. If you do have design access to the database, or you‟re fortunate enough to inherit a database already designed the way you want it, it‟s generally a better alternative to provide a single column that is guaranteed to be updated whenever anything else is, and to use that as your sole determinant of a concurrency conflict. A simple integer column that is incremented each time the record is updated will do quite nicely; you can also use a GUID,

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You can, of course, safely omit the primary key.

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timestamp, or any other type and methodology that guarantees that the value will change in a non-cyclical way. As you have seen, DevForce makes it easy for you to make a column auto-updating.

Concurrency and the Object Graph
A large part of the complexity revolves around the scope of concurrency checking. Have I changed an order if I add, change or delete one of its OrderDetail items? If I change the name of a customer, have I changed its orders? These considerations have to do with concurrency control of the business object graph. DevForce does not support graph concurrency directly. DevForce supports single-table, “business object proper” concurrency control. The developer can achieve the desired degree of graph concurrency control by employing single-table checking within a properly conceived, transactional concurrency plan. It doesn‟t have to be wildly difficult. In brief, the developer adds custom business model code such that Added, changed, or deleted children entites always modify their parents. An application save attempt always includes the root entity of the dependency graph. During a save attempt, the root entity ensures that its children are included in the entity-save list. These children include their children. Handling concurrency conflicts in these situations is discussed further in the section “Concurrency and Dependent Entries.” For now we return to concurrency checking of single business objects.

Pessimistic versus Optimistic Concurrency Checking
There are two popular approaches to concurrency checking: pessimistic and optimistic. In pessimistic concurrency, we ask the data source to lock the data source entity while we examine it. If we change it, we write it back to the data source. When we are done looking at it or updating it, we free the lock. While we have it locked, no one else can see or use it. This approach holds up other users trying to reach the object we hold. It gets worse if we need many objects at once. There are potential deadlocks (I grab A, you grab B, I want B too, but can‟t get it, so I wait. You want A also, but can‟t get it, so you wait. We both wait forever). There are more complicated, less draconian implementations to this approach but they amount to the same punishing performance. Under optimistic concurrency, we don‟t lock the table row. We bet that no one will change the source data while we‟re working with it and confirm our bet when (and if) we try to update the data. The mechanism works as follows. We fetch a copy of the table row and turn it into a business object. We work with this copy of the data source entity. We may decide to update the entity or mark it for deletion. When we save an altered entity, the business object server converts our intention into a data source management command. That command, in the process of updating or deleting the supporting table row, confirms that the row still exists and has not changed since we fetched it. If the row is missing or has changed, the command fails and it‟s up to the application to figure out what to do about it. Changes are comparatively rare so we have reason to be optimistic that the row will be exactly as we last found it.

Resolving Concurrency Collisions
Our optimism is usually rewarded. Occasional disappointment is inevitable. Eventually, we will encounter a conflict between our cached entity, with its pending changes, and the newly-updated data source entity. We will want to resolve that conflict one way or the other. The possible resolutions include: Preserve the pending changes and ask the user what to do. Abandon the pending changes and re-fetch the entity. 231 | P a g e

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Arrange for the cached entity to become the current entity while preserving the pending changes Compare the cached entity with the current data source entity and merge the difference per some business rules or as guided by the user. The first choice is the easiest place to start. We do nothing with the entity and report the problem to the user. The cached entity cannot be saved. We leave it up to the user to decide either to abandon the changes (option #2) or push them forward (options #2 and #3). The remaining options involve re-fetching the entity from the data source. They differ in what they do with the entity retrieved – a difference determined by the MergeStrategy55 and how we use it.

C# VB

aManager.RefetchEntity(anEntity, aMergeStrategy);

aManager.RefetchEntity(anEntity, aMergeStrategy)

OverwriteChanges

The second choice uses the OverwriteChanges strategy to simply discard the user‟s changes and update the entity to reflect the one current in the datasource. While unmatched in simplicity, it is almost the choice least likely to satisfy the end user. If this is the only option, we should have the courtesy to explain this to the user before erasing her efforts.
PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal

The third choice makes the cached entity current by re-fetching with the PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal strategy. This strategy causes the cached entity to trump the current datasource entity with a little trickery. The refetch replaces the cached entity‟s original version56 with the values from the current data source entity but it preserves the cached entity‟s current version values, thus retaining its pending changes. The cached entity‟s original concurrency column value now matches the concurrency column value in the datasource record.

C# emp["FirstName", DataRowVersion.Current]; // the cached entity value emp["FirstName", DataRowVersion.Original]; // the latest from the datasource VB

The effect is as if we had just read the entity from the datasource and applied the user‟s changes to it. If we ask the persistence layer to save it now, the datasource will “think” that we modified the most recently saved copy of the entity and welcome the changed record.

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We discuss merge strategies in “Advanced Business Object Concepts”. We cover entity versions in “Advanced Business Object Concepts”.

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This option is much like “last one wins” concurrency with a crucial difference: it was no accident. We detected the concurrency collision and forced the issue in accordance with approved business rules. The PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal strategy works only if the entity is governed by optimistic concurrency. If the entity lacks a concurrency column, the refetch uses the OverwriteChanges strategy instead. Of course we wouldn‟t be talking about concurrency resolution if there were no concurrency columns.
PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal with Merge

The fourth possibility begins, like the third, with a re-fetch governed by the PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal strategy. This time we don‟t forcibly save the cached entity. We execute business logic instead which compares the current and original versions, column by column, deciding whether to keep the locally changed value (the “current” value) or the datasource value (now tucked inside the “original” value). Such logic can determine if and when the cached entity‟s values should prevail. The logic may be entirely automatic. Alternative, the program could present both versions to the user and let her decide each difference.

Concurrency and Dependent Entities
What if a bunch of entities are mutually dependent? Suppose we have an order and its details. User „A‟ adds two more details and changes the quantity on a third. She deletes the fourth detail and then saves. In many applications, an order is never less than the sum of its parts. The order and every one of its details must be treated as a unit at least for transactional save purposes. We will describe this network of dependency as a “Dependency Graph”. DevForce does not offer native support for dependency graphs and its concurrency conflict detection and resolution features target single entity, “business object proper” concurrency only. We are about to consider how you can extend DevForce concurrency checking for dependency graphs. We‟ll talk more about dependency graphs in general later in this section.

Detection
Continuing our story and standing at an Olympian distance with an all knowing eye, we see that User „B‟ changed the fifth order detail and saved before User „A‟ tried to save her changes. User „A‟ didn‟t touch the fifth order detail. She won‟t know about the change because there will be no concurrency conflict to detect; she can‟t detect a concurrency conflict unless she save the fifth order detail and she has no reason to do so. If this worries you (it worries me), you may want to establish business rules that detect concurrency violations for any of entity in a dependency graph. A good approach is to Identify the root entity of the graph (Order) and Ensure that a change to any node in the graph (OrderDetail) causes the root entity to change. User „B‟s change to the fifth detail would have meant a change to the order. User „A‟s changes also modified the order. User „A‟s save attempt will provoke a concurrency violation on the root entity, the order.

Resolution

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Now that User „A‟ has learned about the violation, what can she do? There is no obvious problem. Neither „A‟ nor „B‟ changed the order entity itself so there are not differences to reconcile. There is only the tell-tale fact that their concurrency column values are different. It doesn‟t seem proper to proceed blithely, ignoring the violation and proceeding as if nothing happened. User „A‟ should suspect something is amiss in the details. The application should re-read all details, even those the user didn‟t change. It should look for diffences at any point in the graph and only after applying the application-specific resolution rules should it permit the entire order to be saved again. What are those resolution rules? We suggest taking the easiest way out if possible: the application should tell the User „A‟ about the problem and then throw away her changes. There must be something fundamentally wrong if two people are changing an order at the same time. In any case, the complexity of sorting out the conflict and the risk of making a total mess during “reconciliation” argue for a restart. If you can‟t take the easy way out – if you have to reconcile – here are a few pointers. It is probably easiest to use a temporary second EntityManager for the analysis. A single EntityManager can only hold one instance of an entity at a time and we need to compare two instances of the same entity. This is manageable if there is only one entity to deal with – we‟ve seen how to use the current and original versions within each entity to carry the difference information. This trick falls apart when we are reconciling a dependency graph. Instead we‟ll put User „A‟s cached order and its details in one manager and their dopplegangers from User „B‟ in another. The author thinks it is best to import User „A‟s order and details into the second manager and put User „B‟s version into the main manager by getting them with the OverwriteChanges strategy. This seems counter-intuitive but there are a couple of good reasons. We can ImportEntities into the second manager without logging it in. We‟d have to log in the second manager before we could use it to get GetEntities. This is not hard, but avoiding it is even easier! The application probably should favor User „B‟s order; if so that order will be in the main manager where it belongs.

Show some restraint
The order‟s entire object graph is not its dependency graph. The order may consist of details but that may be as far as it goes. For example, every detail is associated with a product. If User „B‟ changed the fifth detail‟s product name or its color, should this provoke a concurrency conflict? It User „C‟ updated the order‟s customer name, does that mean all orders sold to that customer must be scrutinized for concurrency collisions. Most businesses will say “no.”

Saving the “Dependency Graph”
The DevForce relations between entity classes are indicative of associations among those classes. These associations define an object graph which may cast a wide net over the data source data. In this section we consider a portion of that object graph in which a change to one node requires a change to another node. Such nodes form a sub-graph of mutual dependency we could call a “dependency graph”. Let‟s look a little closer.

Association Types
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Type Association

Description A simple association is typically read as a “Has a” relationship. An Address has a State or a Part has a Color. The two ends have independent lifetimes. A change to the city or the name of the part does not alter the state or the color.57 An aggregation implies a stronger, “Owns a” relationship. A Company owns its employees. The two ends still have independent lifetimes. There is still a law against slavery and the employee may transfer to another company. Yet the bond between Company and Employee is stronger than between Part and Color. There are ramifications to the making and breaking of ties. A composition is a “whole / part” relationship in which the whole is said to “consist of” or “be made up of” the parts. An Order is substantially made up of its detailed items. This is the strongest bond. The lifetimes of the two ends are closely tied. If the order disappears, its details disappear with it. Adding, changing, or deleting details alters the parent order.

Aggregation

Composition

DevForce itself has no mechanism for distinguishing among these association types. In fact, DevForce treats its relations as the simplest association. It makes no assumption about the consequences for related entities of any alterations to either parent or child. It is not clear that there is a meaningful programmatic distinction between Association and Aggregation. There will be more business rules surrounding an Aggregation but business rules always require custom coding so the difference is one of degree rather than of kind. The relevant fact in this context is that parent and child may be modified independently. Yes, we must adjust the child if we delete the parent. There may be constraints and consequences to joining and separating parent and child. There can be side-effects of altering parent or child data unrelated to their bond. But, in general, we don‟t require a modification in one to effect a modification of the other.

Compositions
There are systems that explicitly support the Composition distinction. If you mark a relationship as a composition, the system will implement it differently. The parts (children) in a composition will be contained by the whole (parent) and they may only be accessed through the parent. If you marked an Order‟s OrderDetails property as a composition, the only way to obtain details would be through this property. OrderDetails fetched through any other mechanism would be different objects than the conceptually same entities fetched with the OrderDetails property. We think that is a rare and extreme position which is more trouble than it is worth. The developer can program to it when it occurs but DevForce does not encourage the practice with any means of its own. No mechanism is provided to mark the OrderDetails navigation property as a “Composition”. But this is not to diminish the importance of the Composition bond. In many applications, we should consider the Order modified if we add, change, or delete one of its OrderDetail entities. If we delete the Order, we almost certainly intend to delete its details as well. This is precisely the behavior sought by systems with native support for composition. But we can achieve the same effect in DevForce. It is not hard work, although it requires some care. The reward is flexibility. Each application has its own requirements.We can offer only a brief outline of the main points here.

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They may become incompatible – as when the change to city moves the address to a different state or the part turns out to be colorless – but compatibility is a matter for business rules unrelated to the fundamental nature of the association.

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Our application “save” operation concentrates on the root entity (or enties) of the dependency graph. We implement a Saving handler to invoke composition business rules of the entities. We add the composition business rules to the business object, wrapped in a method the Saving handler can call. We provide for intelligent concurrency resolution to detect and manage the collision of our changes with changes by other users.

Save the Root Entity
This step is irrelevant if our save operation calls one of the “Save all” methods of the EntityManager. The “Save all” methods saves every changed entity in the cache. Our Saving handler must be clever because it might encounter a child entity before its parent. It may not learn of the parent at all; the child entity will be responsible for modifying its parent and including that parent in the list of entities to save. On the other hand, if we choose to save a particular set of entities – the current order and its graph for example – it may be convenient to compose the “save list” entirely of root entities – orders in this case. We will see in a moment that compositional business rules ensure that (a) the root entity is in an altered state and (b) its modified dependent objects are also in the save list.

Saving Event Handler
Remember, the EntityManager raises the Saving event whenever it is ready to write entities to the host data sources. We were going to write a Saving handler anyway. We should validate every business object just before saving it to make sure it is safe to persist. The best approach is to write a Saving event handler that iterates over the list of entities-to-save (the “save list”), calling a validate method on each. We might as well extend this approach to call a PrepareSave method instead that both validates and enforces composition business rules.

Composition Business Rules
We may have any number of composition business rules. One of them must ensure that, if a child is on the save list, its parent is also on the list. That‟s easy because we can always add (and remove) items from the save list within the Saving event handler. Another composition rule must ensure that any change to a child entity modifies its parent. That‟s necessary because DevForce will only save an entity that has been changed. It is not sufficient merely to add the parent to the save list; we must make sure it is in an altered state.

C# VB

if (parent.EntityState == EntityRowState.Unchanged), parent.SetModified();

If parent.EntityState = EntityRowState.Unchanged Then parent.SetModified()

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Concurrency Violations
We always use transactional saves. We‟ve taken steps to ensure that all members of the “dependency graph” – the order and all of its details, for example, - are part of the same save list and are slated for persistence as a single transaction. When DevForce persistence layer detects a concurrency violation, it terminates the transaction and returns the offending entity as we learned earlier. Chances are there will be more than one entity in the transaction that is in potential concurrency conflict with its corresponding object in the data source. The end user will be most unhappy if we walk her through each entity one by one. We should resolve the concurrency conflicts of all entities in the dependency graph in a single shot. While the exact details will be application specific, they will be some variation on the techniques you learned for resolving conflicts of individual entities.

Dependency Graph Retrieval
Many large DevForce applications use multiple EntityManagers (PM) to maintain separate editing contexts. They often need to transfer entire entity graphs between PMs. For example, an application might have a main PM to hold lists of entities. One list might hold SalesReps and the application could display that list in a grid. Double clicking on one SalesRep row launches a popup editor for the selected sales rep. Double clicking a different SalesRep row launches a second popup editor for the rep in that row. The user can make changes to the first rep, switch to the second editor and make changes to that rep, go back to the first editor, make more changes, and save them. The second editor (and the rep it edits) remains open, and its pending changes are not saved. The user may decide to cancel the second editor, discarding the changes; of course the changes to the first rep have been saved independently. To implement this scenario, we recommend that each editor have its own PM which constitutes an “editing context” that is independent both of the main PM and of other editors. When the application launches an editor, it populates the editor‟s PM with the selected SalesRep from the grid. Because that SalesRep is in the main PM, the application will likely transfer (import) the selected SalesRep into the editor‟s PM. At this moment, the rep in the editor PM is a clone of the rep in the main PM. After save, the application might export the saved rep back into the main PM where it now displays in the grid in its post-save glory[1]. Notice that we mentioned only the transfer of a single entity – the “root entity” – between the PMs. In practice, we often want to transfer both the root entity and many of its related entities. We might transfer the sales rep and his order information (Orders, OrderDetails) as well so that the entire “entity graph” can be edited in a single context. Heretofore, the developer would have to implement the logic to gather up the entities in the graph before transferring them, a task that could require a sophisticated knowledge of the DevForce Object Query Language. Now she can use the DevForce “span” technology to compose a single query-like statement to do the job. The following example implements the scenario described above:

C#

// Copy selected Employees and their Orders, OrderDetails, and Products // from one PM to another. static void GetGraph_OneRootOneSpan() { Console.WriteLine("Retrieving Emp-Orders-OrderDetails-Products..."); EntityManager em1 = EntityManager.DefaultManager; Employee anEmployee = _Em1.Employees

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.Where(e => e. ID == 100) .First(); // Create roots list and add the employee. List<Entity> roots = new List<Entity>(); roots.Add(aEmployee); // Add span(s). List<EntitySpan> spans = new List<EntitySpan>();

Object Persistence

EntitySpan aSpan = new EntitySpan( employeeType, EntityRelations.Employee_Order, EntityRelations.Order_OrderDetail, EntityRelations.Product_OrderDetail); spans.Add(aSpan); // Get entity graph for entities in roots EntityRowState entityState = EntityRowState.Unchanged; EntityList<Entity> entityGraph = pm1.GetEntityGraph(roots, spans, entityState); // Import graph into pm2, a second PM, (assume pm2 has been created elsewhere). pm2.ImportEntities(entityGraph, MergeStrategy.OverwriteChanges); }

VB

Workflow For a Save
Let‟s put most of these ideas together along with our other knowledge of DevForce business objects and look at a schematic workflow for saving all pending changes to a single database. Table 9. Transactional Save Workflow in an N-Tier Deployment

Component Client Tier – Application Code

Action The client application adds, modifies and deletes any number of business objects on the client. The client application asks a EntityManager to save all pending changes.

Client – EntityManager

Makes a save list of the new, modified, and deleted entities in cache. Fires the Saving event. Assume that application listener okays the save. Connects to the data source and authenticates the user. Assume success. If there are any temporary ids, the PM sends them to the BOS for fix-up.

Middle Tier – Business Object Server

Builds map of data source-generated ids (e.g., for Identity columns). Calls method on instance of developer‟s id generation class with remaining temporary. This method returns a map of temporary-to-permanent ids which the BOS returns to the client tier. Uses the temp-to-perm id map to replace all temporary ids. Transmits the save list to the BOS. 238 | P a g e

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Middle Tier – Business Object Server

First the Saving event. This can be used to perform security checks on each entity in the save list. If a security check fails, an exception can be thrown back to the EntityManager (or any other desired action taken.) Workflow ends. Otherwise… Constructs a batch of insert, update, and delete operations, adjusted for optimistic concurrency checking as required. Arranges them by type per the prescribed PersistenceOrder.

Middle Tier – Business Object Server

If the data source is a relational database: Forwards them to the Entity Framework for execution.

If the data source is a web service: Converts the requests to the approprate web service calls and submits them to the web service.

Data Tier - Data Source Middle Tier – Business Object Server

Performs the persistence operations. If there are no failures, it commits them; if there is a single failure, it rolls them all back. If the transaction failed, returns to the EntityManager the identity of the culprit entity and the exception raised by the data source. The EntityManager stores this information in the SaveResult and returns to the client application. Workflow ends. Otherwise… The transaction succeeded. The BOS re-queries the database(s) for all of the inserted and modified entities that are sourced in databases, thus capturing the effects of triggers that fired during save. Converts the (potentially) revised data into entities and sends them to the client side EntityManager. The server‟s local copy of the entities go out of scope and the garbage collector reclaims them. This enables the object server to stay stateless.

Client Tier – EntityManager

Replaces cashed entities with updates from BOS. They are marked “unchanged” because they are now current. Raises the Saved event with list of saved inserted and modified entities.

Client Tier – Application Code

The application resumes.

Advanced Object Persistence Concepts
Getting Information About an Entity Type with GetEntityMeta()
The instance method GetEntityMetadata() on the EntityMetadataStore type returns an EntityMetadata object that is rich with information about a specified entity type:

C#

EntityMetadata employeeEntityMetaData = EntityMetadataStore.Default.GetEntityMetadata(typeof(DomainModel.Employee));

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VB The EntityMetadata objects provides the following members:

The table below provides an explanation for key members:

Property Property Property Method Property Property Property Property Property Property Property

CanQueryByEntityKey ComplexTypeProperties ConcurrencyProperties CreateEntity() DataEntityProperties DataSourceKeyName DefaultEntitySetName EntityProperties EntityType KeyProperties NavigationProperties

Gets whether primary key queries are allowed. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that describe complex object properties for entities of this type. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that are concurrency properties for entities of this type. Creates a new entity of the type described by this metadata item. Returns a collection of DataEntityProperties for entities of this type. Gets the name of the Data Source Key associated with this type. Gets the default EntitySetName for entities of this type. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that belong to entities of this type. Gets the type of the entity. Returns a collection of EntityProperties that are keys for entities of this type. Returns a collection of NavigationEntityProperties for entities of this type.

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Access Both Local and Remote Data Sources In the Same N-tier Application
An application may need to persist volatile data to a centrally hosted database and have the ability to simultaneously access comparatively static data on a local database. Field technicians who service complex machine parts may need ready access to voluminous parts catalogs and repair manuals. The catalog and repair data don‟t change often . They may be stored in a database on the tech‟s laptop. On the other hand, the central office needs to monitor the technicians rounds and dispatch him to new client sites. There could be significant exchange of information between the dispatch center and the remote technician. A DevForce program should be able to provide access to both the remote and local database in an n-tier deployed application. One of the EntityManager constructors facilitates construction of such an application. C#
public EntityManager( bool pShouldConnect, String pDataSourceExtension, PersistenceServiceOption pPersistenceServiceOption)

VB

The caller sets the third parameter to the value of a PersistenceServiceOption enumeration that indicates how the how the EntityManager‟s PersistenceService should be configured. C#
public enum PersistenceServiceOption { /// <summary> /// Use the Ibconfig file [remoting][remotePersistenceEnabled] node. /// </summary> UseDefaultService = 0, /// <summary> /// Use a local service - Service will run in process with the client /// The Ibconfig file [remoting][remotePersistenceEnabled] node is ignored. /// </summary> UseLocalService = 1, /// <summary> /// Use a remote service as defined in the Ibconfig file [remoting] node. /// The Ibconfig file [remoting][remotePersistenceEnabled] node is ignored. /// </summary> UseRemoteService = 2 }

VB

After configuration, the EntityManager will connect either to the remote database or to the local database. A specific PM cannot switch between the two modes. But the application can have more than one EntityManager and bridge the two at convenient moments – which is exactly how we‟d approach the scenario described above.

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Stored Procedure Queries
We broached the subject earlier of the occasional need to use a stored procedure to query for business objects. The need arises most frequently when we require the entities resulting from an extraordinarily complex query involving large volumes of intermediate data that are not themselves required on the client. One might imagine a multi-step query that touched several tables, performed multi-way joins, ordered and aggregated the intermediate results, and compared values with many thousands of records, all so as to return a handful of qualifying results. All of the other data were needed only to satisfy the query; the user won‟t see any of them and there is no point to transmitting them to the client. This is a clear case for a stored procedure because we can and should maximize performance by performing all operations as close to the data source as possible. Chances are that the entities returned by the stored procedure are entities we already know. That procedure could be just an especially resource-consuming query for Order entities that we retrieve and save in the usual way under normal circumstances. The Stored Procedure Query is perfect for this situation. We define such a query, identify Order as the query return type, and turn it loose on the database. We accept the sproc-selected Order objects and work with them in our typical merry way. Note that a stored procedure query, by its nature, must be executed by the database: we can‟t run it against the entity cache58. So we may not invoke it while the application is running offline.

SQL Server Stored Procedure Queries
Suppose your data source table includes a stored procedure named “SalesByYear”. It is defined as follows:

TSQL

ALTER procedure "SalesbyYear" @Beginning_Date DateTime, @Ending_Date DateTime AS SELECT OrderSummary.ShippedDate, OrderSummary.id, "Order Subtotals".Subtotal, DATENAME(yy,ShippedDate) AS Year FROM OrderSummary INNER JOIN "Order Subtotals" ON OrderSummary.Id = "Order Subtotals".OrderSummaryId WHERE OrderSummary.ShippedDate Between @Beginning_Date And @Ending_Date

When included among the items imported into an Entity Data Model, this results in the following Function element in the schema (SSDL) section of the Entity Model file:

XML

<Function Name="SalesbyYear" Schema="dbo" Aggregate="false" BuiltIn="false" NiladicFunction="false" IsComposable="false" ParameterTypeSemantics="AllowImplicitConversion"> <Parameter Name="Beginning_Date" Type="datetime" Mode="In" /> <Parameter Name="Ending_Date" Type="datetime" Mode="In" /> </Function>

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There is an advanced technique for applying a stored procedure query to the cache that we cover briefly in “Advanced Business Object Concepts.”

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To make this convenient available for calling directly off of our EntityManager (as you would equally have to do to make it available on the ADO.NET ObjectContext), you must add a FunctionImport element in the conceptual model (CSDL) section of the Entity Model:

XML

<FunctionImport Name="GetSalesByYear" EntitySet="SalesByYearResults" ReturnType="Collection(IdeaBladeTest1Model.EF.SalesbyYear)"> <Parameter Name="Beginning_Date" Type="DateTime" Mode="In" /> <Parameter Name="Ending_Date" Type="DateTime" Mode="In" /> </FunctionImport>

This will cause a C# or VB method to be generated in your EntityManager class by the name you specified, “GetSalesByYear”. Note that the FunctionImport element also specifies the EntitySet into which results returned by the stored proc will be housed: “SalesByYearResults”; and the return type of the method, which will be a collection of SalesByYear entities.

The SalesByYear Entity type must be defined in your conceptual model:

XML

<EntityType Name="SalesbyYear" Abstract="false" ib:PrevName="SalesbyYear"> <Key> <PropertyRef Name="ShippedDate" /> </Key> <Property Name="ShippedDate" Type="DateTime" Nullable="false" /> <Property Name="id" Type="Int64" Nullable="false" /> <Property Name="Subtotal" Type="Decimal" Nullable="false" Precision="19" Scale="4" /> <Property Name="Year" Type="String" Nullable="false" MaxLength="4" /> </EntityType>

The method specified in the conceptual model in the FunctionImport element must be mapped to the Function element in the SSDL that represents the stored procedure. That mapping must, of course, be specified in the mapping (MSL) section of the Entity Model:

XML

<FunctionImportMapping FunctionImportName="GetSalesByYear" FunctionName="IdeaBladeTest1Model.EF.Store.SalesbyYear" />

Having done all of that in your Entity Model, you can now use the resultant method as shown following two examples:

C#

_em1 = new IdeaBladeTest1Entities(); [TestMethod] public void StoredProcQuery() { DateTime dt1 = DateTime.Parse("1/1/1990"); DateTime dt2 = DateTime.Parse("1/1/2000");

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var results = _em1.GetSalesByYear(dt1, dt2); }

Object Persistence

[TestMethod] public void StoredProcQuery2() { DateTime dt1 = DateTime.Parse("1/1/1995"); DateTime dt2 = DateTime.Parse("12/31/1996"); var results = _em1.GetSalesByYear(dt1, dt2).Where(s => s.Subtotal > 2500); }

VB The method is simply called on the EntityManager with appropriate parameters. It returns an IEnumerable<SalesByYear>, which can be subjected to qualifying filters as you see in the second example above. Below is the Generated code in the domain model designer code file for the GetSalesByYear() method:

C#

#region GetSalesByYear StoredProcQuery /// <summary> /// Constructs and executes the <see cref="T:IdeaBlade.EntityModel.StoredProcQuery"/> /// associated with the given stored procedure. /// </summary> public IEnumerable<IdeaBladeTest1Model.SalesbyYear> GetSalesByYear( Nullable<DateTime> Beginning_Date, Nullable<DateTime> Ending_Date) { StoredProcQuery query = GetSalesByYearQuery(Beginning_Date, Ending_Date); return this.ExecuteQuery<IdeaBladeTest1Model.SalesbyYear>(query); } /// <summary> /// Constructs and returns the <see cref="T:IdeaBlade.EntityModel.StoredProcQuery"/> /// associated with the given stored procedure. /// </summary> public StoredProcQuery GetSalesByYearQuery( Nullable<DateTime> Beginning_Date, Nullable<DateTime> Ending_Date) { QueryParameter Beginning_DateParameter; if (Beginning_Date.HasValue) { Beginning_DateParameter = new QueryParameter("Beginning_Date", Beginning_Date); } else { Beginning_DateParameter = new QueryParameter("Beginning_Date", typeof(DateTime)); } QueryParameter Ending_DateParameter; if (Ending_Date.HasValue) { Ending_DateParameter = new QueryParameter("Ending_Date", Ending_Date); } else { Ending_DateParameter = new QueryParameter("Ending_Date", typeof(DateTime)); } StoredProcQuery query = new StoredProcQuery(typeof(IdeaBladeTest1Model.SalesbyYear), "GetSalesByYear", Beginning_DateParameter, Ending_DateParameter);

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return query; } #endregion GetSalesByYear StoredProcQuery

VB

For the record, here‟s an alternative way to invoke your stored procedure:

C#

[TestMethod] public void StoredProcQuery3() { DateTime dt1 = DateTime.Parse("1/1/1996"); DateTime dt2 = DateTime.Parse("12/31/1998"); StoredProcQuery query = new StoredProcQuery(typeof(SalesbyYear)); // Note that a FunctionImport must be defined in the Entity Model query.ProcedureName = "GetSalesByYear"; query.Parameters.Add(new QueryParameter("Beginning_Date", dt1)); query.Parameters.Add(new QueryParameter("Ending_Date", dt2)); var results = _em1.ExecuteQuery<SalesbyYear>(query); }

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Stored Procedure Entity Navigation
Dot Navigation is a bit tricky for business objects that are defined by a stored procedure (sproc entities). If the source class is a sproc entity, the tool can implement the Source.Target navigation property if the target class is a table or view entity. Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to automatically generate the implementation if the target is also a sproc entity. Consider an example. Suppose the source is Customer and the target is Order and both are mapped to stored procedures. In principle we could map the Customer to Order by creating a relation that joins Order.CustomerId to Customer.Id59. We tell the tool “implement this!” Unfortunately, the Object Mapper must give up immediately. The tool knows the signature of the base stored procedure but has no idea how the sproc actually responds to different parameter values. Therefore, it can not invoke the Order‟s underlying stored procedure such that the sproc returns all orders for a given customer. That operation may not even be possible. A developer can interpret the stored procedure well enough to know what call (if any) would do the job. Accordingly, the developer may choose to implement a Customer.Orders property within the custom logic of the Customer class, using a stored procedure query. The same conundrum confronts us when we devise a relation heading the other direction, from any business object entity to a stored procedure entity. Once again, the Object Mapper does not know how to call the stored procedure so that it returns the objects expected by the source entity type. Table 10 summarizes the situation.

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In fact you can‟t do this within the Object Mapper for reasons we are now discussing.

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Table 10. Who writes the navigation property involving a sproc entity.

Object Persistence

Navigation property Source Entity Type Sproc Sproc Any type Target Entity Type Table or View Sproc or Web Service Sproc

Relation Written By Tool Developer

Cache Search with Stored Procedure Queries
We observed in several places that stored procedure queries only search a database. They cannot search the cache and, therefore, cannot be used when the application is offline. This is technically correct. The IEntityQuery interface prescribes the FindRows method for searching the cache. The StoredProcRdbQuery class implements it just like all other query classes. However, their FindRows implementations throw exceptions because there is no way to implement FindRows for all possible StoredProcRdbQuery and PassthruRdbQuery queries. On the other hand, we might run across a particular stored procedure (or passthru query) that has a good cache search implementation. We then can sub-class StoredProcRdbQuery (or PassthruRdbQuery) and override its FindRows method with one that works.

Forced Re-fetch
There are a number of methods that help us re-fetch specific entities from their data sources. Among them are EntityList.ForceRefetch and PersistenceManger.RefetchEntities<T>. They assume the OverwriteChanges merge strategy but we can give them any of the other merge strategies.
OverwriteChanges replaces the cached entities, overwriting our pending changes. We often want to (a) keep

pending changes but (b) refresh copies of unmodified entities. The PreserveChanges… strategies can help us achieve our purpose.

Table 11. PreserveChanges… strategies in a forced re-fetch

Strategy
PreserveChanges PreserveChangesUnless OriginalObsolete PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal

Description Replace unchanged entities but keep changed entities as they are. Replace unchanged entities and changed entities that are obsolete (i.e., that would fail an optimistic concurrency check if saved now). Replace unchanged entities. Keep changed entities and make them current if they are obsolete by updating their original versions.

Custom Navigation property with Forced Re-fetch
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The first time we call the navigation property the PM will get the entities from the data source and put them in the cache. The next time, and every subsequent time, the navigation property will look in the cache first and find the entities there. So during the entire user session these entities may never be refreshed. This is great for a list of states but not so great for more volatile entities such as theater seats. Some developers will be tempted to override the navigation property to get fresh data from the data source every time. The following is a typical example that strives to keep the Customer.Orders ultra-current:

C#

public override ReadOnlyEntityList<Order> Orders { get {return base.Orders. ForceRefetch(MergeStrategy.Overwrite);} }

VB

Public Overrides ReadOnly Property Orders() As _ IdeaBlade.Persistence.ReadOnlyEntityList(Of Order) Get Return MyBase.Orders.ForceRefetch(MergeStrategy.Overwrite) End Get End Property

Performance is likely to be terrible. Entity properties fire frequently and sometimes unexpectedly. Properties should return quickly. This one goes to the data source every time. Not good. The intention is laudable and we can make this work. One approach is to remember the last time we invoked this method. If we just did it, return with the most recently fetched list. If we did it “too long ago”, force the re-fetch.

Lost Connection During Query
What if the EntityManager can‟t reach the data source when processing a query60 either because of a network connection problem or because the data source is unavailable? This is a non-issue for the CacheOnly query but applies to all other fetch strategies. The PersisenceManager responds differently depending upon whether or not it knows that the connection is broken before attempting the query. If it knows it is disconnected, its behavior is simple: treat every query as a CacheOnly query. This is consistent with the general principle that writing code for a disconnected application should be as easy as possible. We shouldn‟t have to write a lot of special case logic once we have acknowledged that the application is off-line.

Unexpected loss of connection
When the EntityManager believes it is connected, it will attempt to search the database once the cache proves inadequate. If in fact it is not connected or the connection is broken during the search, the EntityManager will and then raise an event. If the application doesn‟t handle the event, it throws an exception. If the EntityManager “believes” it is connected and discovers that it can‟t reach the data source while processing the query, it will take the following steps in sequence. 6. 7.
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change its internal state to “disconnected” raise An EntityServerError event

This analysis applies to both entity query and entity navigation.

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8. throw An EntityServerException unless the event says it handled the problem.

Object Persistence

We can and should supply the EntityManager with An EntityServerError event handler. Our handler can quickly tell that the cause is a connection problem. It can distinguish between network connection failure and data source unavailability. If we know what to do, we can do it and signal that we‟ve handled it; the EntityManager won‟t throw an exception. If we don‟t handle the event or don‟t signal that we‟ve handled it, the EntityManager will throw An EntityServerErrorException.

Query Cache
DevForce caches queries to improve performance 61. Consider a query for employees with FirstName = “Nancy”. The QueryStrategy is Normal which means the fetch strategy is CacheThenDataSource. When we execute this query in an empty EntityManager, there will be a trip across the network to fetch the entities from the data source. We get back “Nancy Davolio” and “Nancy Sinatra”. If we execute the query again, the EntityManager satisfies the query from the entity cache and returns the same result; it does not seek data from the data source. During the first run the EntityManager stored the query in its Query Cache62. The second time it found the query in the Query Cache and thus knew it could use apply the cache to the query instead. If we change “Nancy” to “Sue” and run the query again, we get back just “Nancy Sinatra”. If we change “Sally Wilson” to “Nancy Wilson” and run it again, we‟ll get the principals of a strange duet. So far, everything is working fine. Meanwhile, another user saves “Nancy Ajram” to the data source. We run our query again and … we still have just a duet. The EntityManager didn‟t go to the data source so it doesn‟t find the Lebanese pop star. Such behavior may be just fine for this application. If it is not, the developer has choices. She can: use a QueryStrategy with a different fetch strategy that looks at the database first. clear the query cache explicitly by calling EntityManager.ClearQueryCache clear the query cache implicitly by removing any entity from the entity cache

EntityManager.RemoveEntities Overload Preserves Query Cache
When we remove an entity from a EntityManager‟s entity cache, DevForce automatically clears the PM‟s entire query cache. That‟s right – it erases the EntityManager‟s memory of all the queries it has performed. Suppose we frequently query for employees hired this year. If we issue this query twice. The first query fetches the employees from the database; the second retrieves them from the cache. The second query is almost instantaneous. Then we remove an unrelated entity such as a Customer or an Address. We query again. Instead of reading from the cache as it did before, the PM goes back to the database for these employees. Seems unfair, doesn‟t it? But it‟s the safe thing to do. If we issue the same query multiple times, we expect the same results every time. We expect a different result only if data relevant to our query have changed.

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This analysis applies to both entity queries and entity navigation. Both use CacheFirstThenDataSource fetch strategy by default. The PersistenceManager stores the query in the query cache when (a) the query is successful and (b) it searched the data source (not just the cache).

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The EntityManager will search the local cache instead of the database only if it “believes‟ that all essential information necessary to perform the query are resident in the cache. If it “thinks” that the cache has been compromised, it should go back to the data source to satisfy the query. Removing an entity compromises the cache. For sure it invalidates at least one query – the query that fetched it in the first place. But is that the only invalidated query? The EntityManager does not know. So it does the safe thing and forgets all queries. You and I know (or we think we know) that removing a Customer or Address has no bearing on employees hired this year. The EntityManager is not so sure. There are circumstances when (a) we have to remove an entity and (b) we are certain that no queries will be adversely affected. For example, our query may return entities which we‟ve marked as inactive. We never want inactive entities in our cache but, for reasons we need not explain here, we have inactive entities in the cache. We want to remove those entities. Being inactive they cannot possibly contribute to a correct query result. Unfortunately, removing those entities clears the entire query cache. The EntityManager will satisfy future queries from the database until it has rebuild its query cache. This is not a problem if we rarely have to purge inactive entities. But what if we have to purge them after almost every query63? We will never have a query cache and we will always search the database. The performance of our application will degrade Fortunately, there is now a RemoveEntities signature that can remove entities without clearing the query cache. In the full knowledge of the risk involved, we can call
EntityManager.RemoveEntities(entitieToRemove, false)

The “false” parameter tells the PM that is should not clear the query cache. Remember: removing an entity and deleting it are different operations. Removing it from the cache erases it from client memory; it says nothing about whether or not the entity should be deleted from its permanent home in remote storage. “Delete”, on the other hand, is a command to expunge the entity from permanent storage. The “deleted” entity stays in cache until the program can erase it from permanent storage.

MergeStrategy In More Detail
The discussion here expands upon that in the section “MergeStrategies” earlier in this chapter. It is provided as a supplement for a deeper understanding of the topic. What happens during the merge of a data source entity and a cached entity depends upon the answers to three crucial questions: 9. Is the entity current or obsolete? 10. How has it changed? 11. Is the entity represented in the data source?

Is the entity current or obsolete relative to the data source?
We compare the cached entity‟s concurrency column property value to that of its data source entity. If the two are the same, the cached entity is current; if they differ, the cached entity is obsolete. As it happens, the cached entity has two concurrency column property values, a current one and an original one. The value of the concurrency column in the current version is meaningless. It‟s the value of the concurrency column in the original version that counts.
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This is not a rare scenario.

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Every DevForce entity has an original version and a current version of its persistent state. We can get to one or the other by means of a DataRowVersion indexer64. In principle, the original version holds the state of the entity as it was when we last read it from the data source 65. The current version reflects our changes from this original version. Again, DevForce determines if our cached entity is current or obsolete based on the original version of the column property value.

How has it changed?
The merge action depends upon whether the entity was added, deleted, or changed since we set its original version. The entity‟s EntityState property66 tells us if and how it has changed.

Is the entity represented in the data source?
If there is a data source entity that corresponds to the cached entity, we may use the data from data source entity to change the cached entity in some way. If we don‟t find a matching data source entity, we have to decide what to do with the cached entity. Maybe someone deleted the data source entity in which case we might want to discard the cached entity. If we, on the other hand, we want to save the cached entity, we‟ll have to insert it into the data source rather than update the data source.

Merging when the entity is in the data source
We‟ll look at each strategy and describe the outcome based on (a) whether or not the cached entity is current and (b) the entity‟s EntityState. If the entity is Unchanged, we always replace both its original and current versions with data from the data source entity. Our remaining choices are evident in the following table. Table 12. Merge strategy consequences for a changed cached entity that exists in the data source. Merge Strategy
PreserveChanges

Current Y N Y or N Y N

Added NC NC OW ---OW NC

Deleted NC NC OW NC OW NC

Detached NC NC OW NC OW NC

Modified NC NC OW NC OW NC

Post Current Y N Y Y Y Y

OverwriteChanges PreserveChangesUnless OriginalObsolete

PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal

Y or N

NC = No change; preserve the current version values of the cached entity OW = Overwrite the cached entity‟s current version values with data from the data source entity Post Current = „Y‟ means the cached entity is “current” relative to the data source after the merge.

There are important artifacts not immediately observable from this table.
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.NET provides a DataRowVersion enumeration. The values of interest are Original and Current. See “Version” in the glossary. We can make the object change its original state so that it no longer accurately reflects the last fetched state. DevForce will alter the original state when necessary as we‟ll see. We developers should be very careful about doing this themselves. The possible values are Added, Deleted, Detached, Modified, and Unchanged. See “Data Row State” in the glossary.

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The entity‟s EntityState may change after the merge. It will be marked Unmodified after merge with OverwriteChanges. It will be marked Unmodified after merge with PreserveChangesUnlessOriginalObsolete if the entity is obsolete. Note that deleted and detached entities are resurrected in both cases. An added cached entity must be deemed “obsolete” if it already exists in the data source 67. We will not be able to insert that entity into the data source; we‟ll have to update the data source instead. The PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal strategy enables us to force our changes into the data source even if the entity is obsolete. An added entity merged with PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal will be marked Modified so that DevForce knows to update the data source when saving it. These effects are summarized in the following table: Table 13. EntityState after merge. Merge Strategy
PreserveChanges OverwriteChanges PreserveChangesUnless OriginalObsolete PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal A = Added, D = Deleted,

Current Y or N Y or N Y N Y or N

Added A U --U M

Deleted D U D U D

Detached Dt U Dt U Dt

Modified M U M U M

Dt = Detached,

M = Modified,

U = Unchanged

The merge may change the original version of a changed cached entity to match the data source values.
PreserveChanges never touches the original version.

The original version is always changed with the OverwriteChanges strategy. It is reset with the PreserveChangesUnlessOriginalObsolete strategy if (and only if) the entity is obsolete..
PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal updates the original version (but not the current version!) if the

entity is obsolete. This step ensures that the cached entity appears current while preserving the pending changes. These effects are summarized in the following table:

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The entity exists in the data source if the query returns an object with a matching primary key. If we think we created Employee with Id=3 and we fetch one with Id=3, someone beat us to it and used up that Id value. Our entity is obsolete.

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Table 14. Merge strategy effect on the original version of the cashed entity. Merge Strategy
PreserveChanges OverwriteChanges PreserveChangesUnless OriginalObsolete PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal

Object Persistence

Current Y or N Y or N Y N Y or N

Added NC OW ---OW OW

Deleted NC OW NC OW OW

Detached NC OW NC OW OW

Modified NC OW NC OW OW

Merging when the cached entity is not in the data source
We begin by considering cached entities that are unchanged. If the query applied to the cache returns an unchanged entity, „X‟, and the query applied to the data source did not return its mate, we can safely assume that „X‟ was deleted after we fetched it. We can remove „X‟ from the cache. We turn next to changed cached entities where we must distinguish between a query that tests only for the primary key and one that tests for something other than the primary key. If the query tests for anything other than the primary key, we can draw no conclusions from the fact that a cached entity was not found in the database. For what does it mean if we have an employee named “Sue” in cache and we don‟t find her in the data source? Perhaps someone deleted her from the data source. Maybe someone merely renamed her. Maybe we renamed her. The combinations are too many to ponder. On the other hand, if we query for Employee with Id = 3 and we don‟t find that employee in the data source, we can be confident of a simple interpretation68. A business object must have unique identity so if it isn‟t there, either it was never there or it has been deleted. What happens next depends upon the EntityState of the cached entity and the merge strategy. DevForce recovers gracefully when it attempts to save an entity marked for deletion and it can‟t find the data source entity to delete so the merge can leave this cached entity alone. It can also skip over the detached entities.
PreserveChanges forbids merge effects on changed entities. The entity stays put in the cache. OverwriteChanges takes the data source as gospel. If the cached entity‟s EntityState is Modified,

there should be an existing data source entity. There is not, so DevForce assumes the data source entity has been deleted and the cache should catch up with this reality. It removes 69 the entity from the cache. On the other hand, if the cached entity is new (Added), we don‟t expect it to be in the data source. The entity remains “as is” in the cache, a candidate for insertion into the data source.
PreserveChangesUnlessOriginalObsolete behaves just like OverwriteChanges. PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal strives to position the entity for a successful save. It must intervene to enable data source insertion of a modified entity by changing its EntityState to Added70.

In sum:

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DevForce confirms that the primary key has not changed. While it is good practice to use immutable keys, it is not always so. If the primary key has been changed, DevForce leaves the cached entity alone. Removal from the cache is just that. The entity disappears from cache and will not factor in a save. It does not mean “delete” which requires DevForce to try to delete the entity from the data source. It is an action neutral to the data source.. An update would fail because there is no data source entity to update.

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Table 15. Merge strategy consequences for a changed cached entity that does not exist in the data source. Merge Strategy
PreserveChanges OverwriteChanges PreserveChangesUnlessOriginalObsolete PreserveChangesUpdateOriginal A = Added, M = Modified, R = Removed

Added A A A A

Modified M R R A

DataSourceOnly Subtleties
We may get a nasty surprise if we use a DataSourceOnly or DataSourceThenCache query with other than the OverwriteChanges merge strategy. Consider the following queries using the PreserveChanges merge strategy. Suppose we hold the “Nancy” employee in cache. We change her name to “Sue” and then search the database for all Employees with first names beginning with „S‟. We will not get “Sue” because she is still “Nancy” in the database. Suppose we search again but this time we search for first names beginning with „N‟. This time we get “Sue”. That will confuse the end user but it is technically correct because the “Sue” in cache is still “Nancy” in the database 71.

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DataSourceThenCache will produce the same anomaly for the same reason: the database query picks up the object in the database as “Nancy” but preserves the modification in cache which shows her as “Sue”.

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Filtering Queries
DevForce provides an extension method, Filter(), that can be used to superimpose one or more independently defined filter conditions upon an existing query. Filter() differs from Where() in that it can apply a condition defined independent of the targetted query. Filter()‟s primary motivating use case is the need to apply server-side filters to submitted queries in a handler for the Server.Fetching event; though it is perfectly possible to use it in other contexts. For example, suppose your application‟s database includes data for customers worldwide, but that a given Sales Manager only works with data for customers from his region. Instead of baking the region condition into every query for Customers throughout your application, you could implement a ServerFetching handler that imposes the condition upon any query for customers made while that Sales Manager is logged in. The usefulness of Filter() becomes even more apparent when you need to apply filters in a global way for more than one type. There are four overloads of Filter(), two of which are generic, and two of which are not. Each pair includes one overload that takes a Func<T> and another that takes an EntityQueryFilterCollection (each of whose members is a Func<T>). The generic versions normally get used client-side, because they normally operate upon an EntityQuery<T>, whereupon.NET uses type inference to get T and route the call through the generic signature. The non-generic versions are necessary because, server-side, DevForce has access only to an EntityQuery, not an EntityQuery<T>; that being a consequence of the .NET constraint that generic types can‟t be passed in event arguments. Let‟s look at some examples:

C#

var query = _em1.Territories.Where(t => t.Id > 100); var newQuery = query.Filter((IQueryable<Territory> q) => q.Where(t => t.Description.StartsWith("M")));

In this example we have used the overload of Filter which is non-generic, and which takes as its argument a Func delegate. Said delegate takes an IQueryable<T> -- essentially a list of items of type T – and returns an IQueryable<T>. The IQueryable<T> that goes in is the one defined by the variable query, defined as

C#

_em1.Territories.Where(t => t.Id > 100)

The one that comes out is the one that went in minus those Territories whose Description property value begins with the letter “M”. In the first example, above, our filter applies to the query‟s root type, Territory. We aren‟t limited to that: we can also apply filters to other types used in the query. Consider the following:

C#

var q1 = _em1.Customers.SelectMany(c => c.OrderSummaries .Where(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N")) ); var q1a = q1.Filter((IQueryable<OrderSummary> q) => q.Where(o => o.Freight > maxFreight));

The root type for this query is Customer, but the query projects OrderSummaries as its output, and it is against OrderSummaries that we apply our filter. Again we use the non-generic form of Filter; and again, the overload that

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takes a Func<T> argument. This time the filter imposes a condition upon the values of the OrderSummary.Freight property. Without the filter we would have retrieved all OrderSummaries having a ShipCity whose name begins with “N”; with the filter, not only must the name begin with “N”, but the Freight property value must exceed the value maxFreight. Let‟s look at another example of filtering one some type other than the query‟s root type:

C#

var q1 = _em1.Customers.Where(c => c.OrderSummaries.Any(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N"))); var q1a = q1.Filter((IQueryable<OrderSummary> q) => q.Where(o => o.Freight > maxFreight));

In the absence of the filter, the above query would retrieve Customer objects: specifically, Customers having at least one Order whose ShipCity begins with the letter “N”. The filter potentially reduces the set of Customers retrieved by imposing an additional condition on their related OrderSummaries (again, on the value of their Freight property). Now let‟s look at a use of Filter() involving conditions on more than a single type.

C#

var eqFilters = new EntityQueryFilterCollection(); eqFilters.AddFilter((IQueryable<Customer> q) => q.Where(c => c.Country.StartsWith("U"))); eqFilters.AddFilter((IQueryable<OrderSummary> q) => q.Where(o => o.OrderDate < new DateTime(2009, 1, 1))); var q0 = _em1.Customers.Where(c => c.OrderSummaries.Any(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N"))); var q1 = q0.Filter(eqFilters);

In the above snippet, we instantiate a new EntityQueryFilterCollection, to which we then add two individual filters, each of which is a Func<T>. The first filter added imposes a condition on the Customer type; the second imposes a condition on the OrderSummary type. Note that we could now apply these filters to any query whatsoever. If the targetted query made use of the Customer type, the condition on Customers would apply; if it made use of the OrderSummary type, the condition on OrderSummaries would apply. If it made use of both, as does our example q0, both conditions would apply. A filter is also applied directly to any clause of a query that returns its targetted type. Thus, the effect of the two filters defined above, applied against query q0, is to produce a query that would look like the following if written conventionally:

C#

var q0 = _em1.Customers .Where(c => c.Country.StartsWith("U")) .Where(c => c.OrderSummaries .Where(o => o.OrderDate < new DateTime(2009, 1, 1)) .Any(o => o.ShipCity.StartsWith("N")));

Query Inversion in More Detail
The discussion here expands upon that in the section “InversionMode” earlier in this chapter. It is provided as a supplement for a deeper understanding of the topic.

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Interaction of the FetchStrategy and the InversionMode
Consider the query shown below. For this query, we have custom-baked a QueryStrategy so we can experiment with various FetchStrategies and InversionModes. The collection against which the query is directed is _Em1.Customers; but then it uses the SelectMany() method to project Order objects into the result set. Since its return type is different from the type contained in the collection first referenced, the query is non-invertible. var query = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.CustomerID == "CONSH") .SelectMany(c => c.Orders); QueryStrategy aQueryStrategy = new QueryStrategy(FetchStrategy.DataSourceThenCache, MergeStrategy.PreserveChanges, InversionMode.On); query.QueryStrategy = aQueryStrategy; foreach (Order anOrder in query) { System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine(anOrder.OrderDate.ToString()); } Assert.IsTrue(query.ToList().Count > 0, "should return orders"); VB In our initial run, we have the InversionMode set to On. Because DevForce is unable to invert the query, a QueryInversionServerException is thrown, with the following message: This query is not automatically invertible and cannot be executed unless either its QueryInversionMode is set to 'Manual' or its FetchStrategy is set to Optimized, DataSourceOnly or CacheOnly. If we change the InversionMode to Try and rerun the query, it runs without an exception, but the Assert test fails, because no Orders were included in the result set. Why? Because changing the InversionMode from On to Try didn‟t alter the fact that the query couldn‟t be inverted; it just told DevForce not to worry about that fact. The result set returned with a FetchStrategy of DataSourceThenCache is only that obtained in a final query against the cache, after entities retrieved from the data source have been placed there. Since the query was not invertible, no Customer objects were retrieved into the cache, and that final query returns an empty result. Suppose now we set the FetchStrategy to DataSourceAndCache. Now references to the Order objects retrieved from the data source are included in the result set. A second application of the query, this time against the cache, may or may not pick up additional Orders72. But in any event, the final result set will contain references to the in-cache Orders that are linked to the specified Customer. This will be true even if, at the end of the process, there are still no Customer objects in the cache! When a query cannot be inverted, a FetchStrategy other than DataSourceThenCache should be used. Table 16 shows the combinations of FetchStrategy and InversionMode that lead to exceptions. Note that these exceptions are designed to prevent you from receiving query results that, although they may look perfectly valid, are not!

C#

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It will pick up additional Orders if there are Orders in the cache that are (a) linked to Customer “CONSH”, and (b) either do not exist in the data source, or are not linked to Customer “CONSH” in the data source

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Table 16. FetchStrategy x InversionMode - Exception Behavior FetchStrategy CacheOnly DataSourceOnly DataSourceOnly DataSourceOnly DataSourceOnly DataSourceThenCache DataSourceThenCache DataSourceThenCache DataSourceThenCache Optimized Optimized Optimized Optimized DataSourceAndCache DataSourceAndCache DataSourceAndCache DataSourceAndCache InversionMode NA On Try Off Manual On Try Off Manual On Try Off Manual On Try Off Manual QueryInversionServerException Never

Object Persistence

If query requires inversion and cannot be inverted Never Never Never If query requires inversion and cannot be inverted If query requires inversion and cannot be inverted If query requires inversion Never If query requires inversion and cannot be inverted Never Never Never If query requires inversion and cannot be inverted Never Never Never

Only queries that either have been inverted or do not require inversion are saved in the query cache.

Turning a Non-Invertible Query on Its Head
Note that the previous query (for Orders placed by Customer “CONSH”) can be rewritten as follows:
var query = _Em1.Orders .Where(o => o.Customer.CustomerID == "CONSH");

C# VB

This form of the query, unlike the other one, is invertible.

A Special Case: Using the Skip() Method on an EntityQuery
The query below uses the DataSourceOnly QueryStrategy in combination with a call to Skip().

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName);

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customersQuery.QueryStrategy = QueryStratey.DataSourceOnly; // <--note! ICollection<Customer> customers = customersQuery.Skip(5).Take(5).ToList();

VB

You can easily get results that are not what you would expect if you do not specify the QueryStrategy when using Skip. Suppose we omitted the statement in the above example that specifies the QueryStrategy:

C#

EntityQuery<Customer> customersQuery = _Em1.Customers .Where(c => c.ContactTitle == "Sales Representative") .OrderBy(c => c.CompanyName); ICollection<Customer> customers = customersQuery.Skip(5).Take(5).ToList();

VB In the above case, DevForce would use the EntityManager‟s default QueryStrategy, which (unless you had changed it) would be QueryStrategy.Normal. Recall that QueryStrategy.Normal uses a FetchStrategy of DataSourceThenCache, and that the latter returns a list of references obtained in a final, cache-only query. So here‟s the flow of events for the above query. (Assume an empty cache as a starting point.) 1. 2. 3. 4. Query is submited to the EntityManager. EntityManager checks the query cache to see if query has been submitted before. It finds that it has not. EntityManager submits query against the data source, which returns five Customers, which are placed in the cache. EntityManager submits the query again, this time against the cache (so that it will incorporate any Customers who have been added locally but have not yet been saved to the data source).

The second query, against the cache, skips the five Customers it finds there, and upon attempting to take the next five, discovers that there are no more. It therefore returns 0 Customers. Although this isn‟t, technically, a case of a failed query inversion, the result and the reason for it are clearly similar to that. The only real advice here is that, if you‟re using Skip(), you should either use a FetchStrategy of DataSourceOnly, or make good and certain that you understand FetchStrategies in detail.

DataSourceThenCache Versus DataSourceAndCache
The distinction between the DataSourceThenCache and DataSourceAndCache strategies is subtle but important in the case of queries that must process non-targeted types and are therefore subject to query inversion. Suppose you were to submit the following query:
var query = em1.Customers .Where(c => c.Orders .Any(o => o.OrderDate.HasValue == true && o.OrderDate.Value.Year == 1997));

C#

VB This query targets Customers but must process Orders to find the correct set of Customers. DevForce would have no difficulty inverting this query, but suppose you submitted it with an InversionMode of Off and a FetchStrategy of DataSourceThenCache. The InversionMode setting would mean that only Customer objects were retrieved into the

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cache: no Order objects. “Great!” you say. “That‟s all I wanted: Customers.” But even though you have the desired Customers in your cache, you don‟t yet have references to them. How does DevForce get these references? Because of the FetchStrategy you specified, DevForce now resubmits your query, this time against the cache; and the set of references to Customer objects that it will return will be entirely determined by the Customers that meet the query criteria when the query is resubmitted against the cache. But wait! There is no guarantee that the cache contains the same Order objects that were found in the data source; it will, in fact, contain no Order objects at all unless some other, unrelated operation that was previously executed caused some to be retrieved. Therefore the set of Customers found by the query when submitted against the cache may be very different from the set found when it was submitted against the data source. Indeed, the set may be empty. You may get references to no Customers or some Customers, but there is no guarantee, and indeed little likelihood, that you‟ll get references to all of the Customers retrieved by your query from the data source. If, on the other hand, you submitted your query with a FetchStrategy of DataSourceAndCache, you‟ll get want you wanted: all Customers in the data source who meet your conditions, as well as all Customers that exist only in your local cache that meet those conditions. With that FetchStrategy, DevForce performs a union of the references obtained by the two query submissions. The DataSourceAndCache FetchStrategy does have some drawbacks which we‟ll discuss momentarily. Generally speaking, it is the appropriate FetchStrategy only in the following circumstance: 1. 2. Your query will use related objects; You want to include in the result set references to entities that exist in the cache but which have not yet been persisted to the database; DevForce can‟t invert the query; and You can‟t write an equivalent query that is invertible.

3. 4.

The reason that DataSourceThenCache is the preferred FetchStrategy for other circumstances is that, under certain circumstances, DataSourceAndCache can produce confusing results. Suppose you have some Customer objects in the cache, including Customer XYZ, and you submit a DataSourceAndCache query for Customers with Orders in the current year. Customers meeting this condition are fetched from the data source into the cache, and merged there with Customers already residing in the cache with a MergeStrategy of PreserveChanges. Meanwhile DevForce hangs on to a list of references to the objects just fetched. Now it so happens that Customer XYZ, who was in the cache already, had (during the current application session) just cancelled their one and only order for the current year. The Order was marked for deletion, but this change had not been committed to the database when the query was submitted. So, based on the state of data in the data source, Customer XYZ met the query conditions and was retrieved, and a reference to their object in the cache was included in the set returned by the query against the datasource. DevForce continued on, resubmitting the query against the cache. This time Customer XYZ did not make the cut because, according to the data in the cache, they did not have a current year Order. No reference to their in-cache object was included in the list of pointers resulting from the query against the cache. But DataSourceAndCache, DevForce then performed a UNION of the references obtained in the query against the data source and those obtained in the query against the cache. A reference to cached Customer XYZ therefore ended up in the result set returned by the query. Your app happily filled a datagrid with the returned Customers, and there sat Customer XYZ, even though they (quite visibly) did not have an order in the current year! Can a phone call from your end user be far away? The DataSourceThenCache FetchStrategy, by contrast, would have retrieved, from the data source and into the cache, whatever data met the query conditions. It would then have submitted the query against the cache, and only the Customers meeting the specified condition in that final query would have been included in the returned result set. Customer XYZ, having been found to have no current year Order, would have been excluded, properly.

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Transactional Queries
DevForce query requests are atomic: the developer can issue only one (synchronous) query request at a time. But when the request resolves into multiple SQL queries, they can all be performed together within the same transaction. Individual query requests resolve into several SQL queries when the query has includes that fetch related objects or when the query includes one or more sub-queries and “query inversion” is turned on. When the root query is performed transactionally, both the main select and the selection of related entities occur within transactional boundaries.

DevForce developers can set the transaction isolation level on individual commands
Developers can set the transaction isolation level for individual queries and saves.

Implementation
There is a TransactionSettings class and a TransactionSettings property on both the SaveOptions and QueryStrategy classes. The TransactionSettings class provides the ability to dynamically set: whether or not to use the Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator the Transaction Isolation level of a Save or Query. This provides in effect the Transaction timeout to be applied to a Save or Query Note: For the current version Transaction isolation levels and timeouts can only be applied if the DTC is turned on. Note: The Default Transaction Isolation Level for Saves is “Serialized”; for queries it is “ReadCommitted”. Note: Non-locking queries can be implemented by setting the TransactionSettings.IsolationLevel to “ReadUncommitted”.

Multiple Application Environments
Many IT shops prescribe separate Development, QA, Test, Stage, and Production environments. Each version of the application works its way through a testing gauntlet from the developer environment to ultimate production release. Suppose our application refers to a database data source called “default”. Its data source key is “default”73. The application will use this key at runtime to find a data source configuration in the application configuration file (IdeaBlade.ibconfig). The data source configuration is very simple for the development environment. The development deployment puts all tiers on the PC. The “default” development configuration‟s connection string points to a database on the PC. The QA environment, on the other hand, has a 3 tier deployment with separate machines for client, business object server, and database. This requires many changes to the “default” configuration including a different connection string that points to the QA database. We really need a separate “default” configuration for QA. In fact, we need five “default” configurations in the application configuration file. The symbolic data source, “default”, doesn‟t change as we cross environments. The business objects associated with the “default” data source should be indifferent to configuration differences. The executing environment, on the other hand, has to know which of the “default” configuration to use.

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“default”, not coincidentally, is the DevForce Object Mapper‟s default data source key name for the first data source.

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DevForce provides data source key extensions to help distinguish the five “default” data source configurations. By convention, the data source configuration name is the data source key name followed optionally by an underscore “_” and data source key extension. In our example, the configurations could be named “Default_Development”, “Default_QA”, etc. When the application launches, it determines its runtime environment and then tells the EntityManager to connect to its data source(s) using the extension to find the appropriate data source configuration information74. If we execute in development, we initialize the PM with “Development” and it adds the “_Development” suffix to “default”. If the EntityManager (and, later, the EntityServer) cannot find a data source configuration named “Default_Development”, it will look for one named “default” before giving up.

Multiple EntityManager Instances
Most applications only need a single EntityManager instance. A EntityManager instance can hold every entity we need in a single cache – even entities that persist to different data sources. Accordingly, when we write “EntityManager” we mean an instance; we say “EntityManager class” when referring to the class rather than the instance. We can create new instances and there are scenarios for which this is useful. Perhaps we have a long-running query or series of queries that should run in a background thread without blocking the UI. Maybe we want to poll for changes to a set of entities or be on the look-out for certain conditions in the database. Our implementation should use a different EntityManager in the background thread so as not to conflict with the main manager in the UI thread. When the background process completes, the call-back method can pause the UI, import data from the second manager, alert the user, and resume the UI.

Life with two PMs
Each EntityManager has its own entity cache. An entity instance in one cache is not the same as an entity instance in another cache even when the two instances have identical primary keys. Entities with duplicate keys cannot exist within a single cache. There can be only one Employee object with Id = 42 in a given cache. However, after reading Employee #42 into PM „A‟ and PM „B‟, there are two Employee objects in the application that have Id = 42. This is fine as long as we are aware of it. Think of the two EntityManager caches as separate clients. When „A‟ changes Employee #42, this has no immediate effect on „B‟s copy of Employee #42. If „A‟ saves the changes, „B‟s copy is no longer current with respect to the data source. If „B‟ then makes changes and tries to save, „B‟ gets a concurrency violation. These rules apply whether „A‟ and „B‟ are two end users on different PCs or two EntityManagers in the same application.

Miscellaneous observations
Different EntityManagers do not interact. It is possible – and useful – to import entities from one PM to the other.

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Entities in the PM may map to more than one data source. The PM will suffix each data source key name with the same extension.

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Logging In a Second EntityManager Based on the Credentials of Another EntityManager
The ability to create a second EntityManager that is logged with the same credentials as the first facilitates scenarios in which the application creates a second context for editing. Changes in this second context are isolated from the main context and can be saved or canceled without unintended effects on entities in the primary PM. The EntityManager has a copy constructor for this purpose. C#
EntityManager Pm2 = new EntityManager(Pm1);

VB

The new EntityManager (Pm2) will have the same settings and credentials as its prototype (Pm1) but without any data. Its login state will be the same as its prototype. The second PM must connect to the database in order to save changed entities. It can only connect if it is logged in. Without the ability to login the second PM at its creation, we would have to preserve the users original credentials in some “safe” place in memory. This would be both inconvenient and discomforting, as one can never be quite certain that a rogue module can be prevented from acquiring those credentials and misusing them. It is best to forget about them as soon as possible. The new constructor permits you to do so.

Multi-Threading in a DevForce App
Let‟s begin our discussion of multi-threading with a definition of thread-safety:
For a class to be thread-safe, it first must behave correctly in a single-threaded environment. If a class is correctly implemented, which is another way of saying that it conforms to its specification, no sequence of operations (reads or writes of public fields and calls to public methods) on objects of that class should be able to put the object into an invalid state, observe the object to be in an invalid state, or violate any of the class's invariants, preconditions, or postconditions. Furthermore, for a class to be thread-safe, it must continue to behave correctly, in the sense described above, when accessed from multiple threads, regardless of the scheduling or interleaving of the execution of those threads by the runtime environment, without any additional synchronization on the part of the calling code. The effect is that operations on a thread-safe object will appear to all threads to occur in a fixed, globally consistent order. The relationship between correctness and thread safety is very similar to the relationship between consistency and isolation used when describing ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) transactions: from the perspective of a given thread, it appears that operations on the object performed by different threads execute 75 sequentially (albeit in a nondeterministic order) rather than in parallel.

The DevForce EntityManager is safe for multithreaded read operations. If you attempt writes to a single EntityManager from multiple threads, you must synchronize the write operations yourself. For us to make the EntityManager thread-safe for write operations would require that we make thread-safe every method therein – and every method of the business objects it manages, including property setters. This would increase the EntityManager‟s complexity – and degrade its performance – significantly. Every user of the EntityManager, and every use thereof, would incur the performance penalty, whether such users and uses required thread-safety or not. At least 90% of the use cases that people submit to us for multi-threading involve retrieving data while other operations proceed. For this we have provided Asynchronous Queries. You call the EntityManager‟s GetEntitiesAsync() method, and we take care of putting the data retrieval operation on a separate thread so that the rest of your application can continue processing. Any number of such asynchronous queries can be launched

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Excerpted from ”Characterizing Thread Safety” by Brian Goetz, available on the web at:
http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-jtp09263.html

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simultaneously. You can read about asynchronous queries in the DevForce Developers Guide (in the chapter on Object Persistence), and see sample code in the Asynchronous Queries instructional unit that is shipped with the product. Does this mean that you can‟t do multi-threading (other than by using Asynchronous Queries) in a DevForce application? No, it does not. It just means that you should never share a single EntityManager, or any of the entities it manages in its cache, across multiple threads. Let us repeat: Never share a EntityManager across more than one thread. Never share entities from a given EntityManager in more than one thread. Note that the problems that occur with multi-threaded applications are, by their very nature, timing-dependent and difficult to diagnose, reproduce, and test for. Your multi-threaded process can work successfully for long periods of time, then fail catastrophically when two or more inconsistent changes happen to be made simultaneously. You should definitely not count on this failure occurring at a convenient time! If You‟re Determined To Do Multi-Threading… Be sure you really need multiple threads. Remember, if all you want to do is fetch data asynchronously, you will be fully satisfied with Asynchronous Queries. Don‟t mess around with multi-threading if this is all you want to do. Use caution when writing any multi-threaded app. Don't be lulled into a false sense of confidence just because it is easy to spawn a BackgroundWorker in .NET 2.0. Multi-threading is still hard. The BackgroundWorker made the syntax easy: it did not make good multi-threaded design easier! If you‟re new to multi-threaded programming, work with someone who has significant prior experience doing it, if at all possible. If you can‟t arrange that, do some serious reading and study on the topic before attempting it on a critical application. If your multi-threaded aspirations involve DevForce business objects: Use a different EntityManager in each thread. Such EntityManagers can do anything a normal EntityManager can do; they can fetch (both synchronously and asynchronously), save, and so forth. Never use EntityManager.DefaultManager when multi-threading – the DefaultManager is “global” to the AppDomain and will be shared among any threads in which it is used. Never communicate entities across thread boundaries. If the caller must know about some entities, send a list of PrimaryKeys across the thread boundary in a call back. Alternatively, you could bury EntitySets in a call back to serialize copies of entities across the thread boundary.

Asynchronous Queries
DevForce‟s implementation of the asynchronous query follows the standard .NET “Event-based Asynchronous Pattern” described in http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/wewwczdw(en-US,VS.80).aspx Use the EntityManager.ExecuteQueryAsync() method to launch a query asynchronously:

C#

public void AsyncFetch () { var query1 = _em1.Customers.Where(c => c.CompanyName == "Alfreds Futterkistex"); _em1.ExecuteQueryCompleted += new EventHandler<ExecuteQueryCompletedEventArgs>(_em1_ExecuteQueryCompleted); _em1.ExecuteQueryAsync(query1, QueryStrategy.Normal, 1); //_em1.ExecuteQueryAsync(query1, QueryStrategy.Normal, 1, 60000); } void _em1_ExecuteQueryCompleted(object sender, ExecuteQueryCompletedEventArgs e) {

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int id = (int)e.UserState; Customer cust; if (id == 1) { cust = e.Results.Cast<Customer>().First(); cust.City = "new city"; } }

Object Persistence

VB

The query results for ExecuteQueryAsync arrive when the query completes and raises the ExecuteQueryCompleted event described below. The caller must attach a handler to the EntityManager‟s ExecuteQueryCompleted event before calling a ExecuteQueryAsync method if she wants to receive the query results. The ExecuteQueryAsync method runs the query asynchronously per the specified strategy and updates the EntityManager with retrieved entities. A second overload (a “Timer-Triggered” query) performs the query repeatedly at the millisecond intervals specified in the TimerInteval parameter. (A call to this second overload, which would launch the query once per minute, is commented out in the code sample above.) We can run multiple ExecuteQueryAsync operations simultaneously. The caller creates an arbitrary but unique UserState object to identify the async query and includes it as a parameter of the call. The UserState is returned to the caller when a query completes so she can distinguish one query from another.

Completed Operations
The EntityManager raises the ExecuteQueryCompleted event when any of its ExecuteQueryAsync calls terminates whether because it completed successfully, was canceled, or failed with an exception. The caller‟s ExecuteQueryCompleted event handler receives a ExecuteQueryCompleted EventArgs object with the following parameters:

Parameter
UserState Entities

Description The UserState identifies the ExecuteQueryAsync call that just completed. It is up to the caller to keep track of these UserStates. An IList of entities returned by the query. The actual list will be either an EntityList<T> of entities or an array of entities depending upon whether the ExecuteQueryAsync method was of the generic or non-generic variety. The delay in milliseconds until the query is re-issued. A query with zero delay is called exactly once. If the query raised an exception, this is it. True if the query was canceled.

TimerInterval Exception Canceled

Timer-Triggered Queries
A query with a positive TimerInterval is a “timer-triggered” query. The EntityManager will perform that query again and again, pausing the specified number of milliseconds between each run, as long as: the value remains positive the application continues to run

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the EntityManager maintains its connection to the target data source.

Object Persistence

We can reset the TimerInterval value while in this handler if we wish to change the delay:

C# VB

_myExecuteQueryCompletedEventArgs.IntervalTimer = 60000; // Replay query every minute.

_myExecuteQueryCompletedEventArgs.IntervalTimer = 60000 ' Replay query every minute.

We can stop the query permanently by setting the value to zero:

C# VB

e.IntervalTimer = 0;

// Stops future calls of this timed ExecuteQueryAsync invocation

e.IntervalTimer = 0 ' Stops future calls of this timed ExecuteQueryAsync invocation

We cannot revive a zero-interval query by resetting it to a postive value. Once dead, the query stays dead. We can adjust the interval only within a ExecuteQueryCompleted handler. We will have to cancel the query if we want to change the delay sooner.

Canceling Pending Operations
We may attempt to cancel a ExecuteQueryAsync operation by calling CancelAsync. We identify the query to cancel by passing in its identifying UserState. The operation stops at the next safe breaking point before the operation finishes, if such a breaking point exists, and then raises the ExecuteQueryCompleted event. The caller can confirm that the query was canceled by checking the Canceled parameter of the ExecuteQueryCompletedEventArgs object; it should read true. DevForce also sets the TimerInterval to zero which means that a timer-triggered query will not execute again unless the handler resets the interval. The CancelAsync caller must beware of a race condition in which she invokes CancelAsync but the operation finishes before it is actually canceled; in this situation, the Canceled parameter will be false and the interval may be non-zero.

Asynchronous and Synchronous Phases
The ExecuteQueryAsync methods execute in asynchronous and synchronous phases although this division is transparent to the caller. The application of the query to an external data source, e.g., a query of the database or a web service call, is the asynchronous phase. The synchronous phase begins when the entities are retrieved. The EntityManager on the UI thread merges them into its entity cache and re-queries that cache to deliver the final result to the caller. The EntityManager raises the ExecuteQueryCompleted event at the conclusion of this second phase. Clearly a cache-only or disconnected query lacks the asynchronous phase and returns almost immediately.

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Limitations
These methods only operate in a Windows Forms or ASP.NET application. They throw an exception if used in a console or a Windows Service deployment because the underlying .NET SynchronizationContext for these environments does not allow asynchronous posts back to an initiating thread. We will relieve these constraints with BeginInvoke and EndInvoke mechanisms in a future release.

Batching Asynchronous Tasks
DevForce includes two classes, the AsyncSerialTask and the AsyncParallelTask, that permit you to define and execute asynchronously, in series or in parallel, a collection of linked actions. Each method uses a single callback to handle all processing results, and each provides the ability to specify an ExceptionHandler to provide a single point of error handling.

AsyncSerialTask
The AsyncSerialTask provides you with a mechanism to define a sequence of linked actions, each of which can be performed synchronously or asynchronously. To use the feature, you first create the root task in the sequence, and then add actions to it, until you have a sequence ready for launch via the Execute method. The AsyncSerialTask allows you easily to link a series of actions, passing the output from the previous action as input to the next action. Without the AsyncSerialTask, you would need to issue each asynchronous action separately and in the handler for the completed action launch the next action in the sequence. The AsyncSerialTask takes care of this housekeeping for you. It allows you to pass an argument into the task sequence when execution begins, and to specify a single handler when the entire sequence completes. You can specify an ExceptionHandler to provide a single point of error handling. Note that the entire sequence is not executed as a group on a worker thread. Instead, as each action is serially executed, if the action is asynchronous then a worker thread is started for it; when the action completes its results are returned back to the main thread, which then continues with the next action in the sequence. Note that if you add only synchronous actions and functions to the AsyncSerialTask the entire sequence will execute synchronously. Use the AsyncParallelTask rather than the AsyncSerialTask if you can execute all actions simultaneously.

C#

public void SampleAsyncTask() { DomainModelEntityManager mgr = new DomainModelEntityManager(); // Let's take a series of "actions" all performed synchronously. // Login - if ok, then: // - Run a query for customers // - Modify the retrieved data // - Save changes // It might look like this: if (mgr.Login(new LoginCredential("demo", "demo", "earth"))) { var customers = mgr.Customers.Where(c => c.Country == "USA").ToList(); customers.ForEach(c => c.Country = "US"); SaveResult sr = mgr.SaveChanges(); Debug.Assert(sr.Ok); } // Now assume that some of these actions should be done asynchronously. // In Silverlight, any actions which go to the BOS - such as query and save -

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// // // // // // // // // // // // //

Object Persistence

must be performed asynchronously. The AsyncSerialTask let's you group a series of actions to be performed together. Without this, you would need to issue each async call separately, and in the handler for the completed action fire off the next action. The AsyncSerialTask does this for you. The same actions with the AsyncSerialTask: - Login asynchronously - When login completes, run an async query to retrieve customers - When the query completes, modify the retrieved data - Save these changes asynchronously (You should also use an ExceptionHandler to trap errors, but we've removed that to make this sample a bit easier to read.) Here's how you might build this task:

AsyncSerialTask.Create("ASimpleTask") .AddAsyncLogin(mgr, new LoginCredential("demo", "demo", "earth")) .AddAsyncQuery(loginArgs => mgr.Customers.Where(c => c.Country == "USA")) .AddAction(fetchArgs => { var customers = fetchArgs.Result; customers.ForEach(c => c.Country = "US"); }) .AddAsyncSave(mgr) .Execute(null, (completionArgs) => { SaveResult sr = completionArgs.Result.Result; Debug.Assert(sr.Ok); }); }

AsyncParallelTask
The AsyncParallelTask allows you to create a set of asynchronous actions, execute them in parallel, and provide a single callback to handle all processing results. To use the feature, you first create a task, and then add asynchronous actions to it until you have a set ready for launch via the Execute method. In the absence of the AsyncParallelTask you would need to issue multiple asynchronous method calls and provide handlers for each. Instead, the AsyncParallelTask takes care of much of this housekeeping for you. It allows you to pass an argument to each action in the task, and to specify a single handler when the entire task completes. You can also specify an ExceptionHandler to provide a single point of error handling. Each action is executed on a separate worker thread. The completion action is called on the main thread once all actions have completed. If you've specified a callback for an asychronous action, that callback will also be called on the main thread. The Execute call returns immediately after starting all of the specified parallel actions. Use the AsyncSerialTask rather than the AsyncParallelTask if you need to link the outputs from one action to the inputs to the next, or to mix asynchronous and synchronous actions.

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C#

public void SampleAsyncTask() { DomainModelEntityManager mgr = new DomainModelEntityManager(); // Let's take a few "actions" performed asynchronously: // - Run a query for all customers // - Run a query for all employees mgr.ExecuteQueryAsync<Customer>(mgr.Customers, cb => { if (cb.Error != null) { Debug.WriteLine(cb.Error.Message); } else { cb.Result.ForEach(c => Debug.WriteLine(c.CompanyName)); } }, null); mgr.ExecuteQueryAsync<Employee>(mgr.Employees, cb => { if (cb.Error != null) { Debug.WriteLine(cb.Error.Message); } else { cb.Result.ForEach(e => Debug.WriteLine(e.LastName)); } }, null); // Since these async actions both essentially run in parallel, let's // combine them into a single task: AsyncParallelTask.Create() .AddExceptionHandler(args => Debug.WriteLine(args.Exception.Message)) .AddAsyncQuery(1, x => mgr.Customers) .AddAsyncQuery(2, x => mgr.Employees) .Execute(cb => { ((EntityFetchedEventArgs&lt;Customer>)cb.CompletionMap[1]).Result.ForEach(c => Debug.WriteLine(c.CompanyName)); ((EntityFetchedEventArgs&lt;Employee>)cb.CompletionMap[2]).Result.ForEach(e => Debug.WriteLine(e.LastName)); }); }

Service Oriented Architecture
We are sometimes asked whether DevForce is a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). DevForce applications can be SOA in three respects. First, DevForce applications are .NET applications, which means it is very easy to build web services into the application. Second, you can map a DevForce business object to a Web service, which means that web service entities are first class entities like table, view, and stored procedure entities. Third, we can expose all or part of the business object model as a web service, which means external applications and non-.NET clients can take advantage of the hard work we put into our model 76. On the other hand, SOA is easy to abuse. It does not belong everywhere and it is an especially unfortunate choice for cross-tier data transfers in an n-tier application. The difference between n-tier and Service Oriented Architectures are vitally important and worth at least some discussion such as we‟re about to have now.

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Web service entities and Web service wrappers for the business object model are in the alpha bits at this writing. Please contact IdeaBlade for more recent information about these important features.

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SOA design emphasizes loose coupling and a contract between a client and a service. The client should know as little as possible about the service internals and engage with the service only through a message-like interface having a simple protocol. The interface should be course grained, meaning that we expect to get a lot done with each service method call and we don‟t over-task the interface with fine details. We are often aware of the boundary between the client and service. The services of an SOA application do not belong to that application. In principle, the services are designed independently of any particular SOA application and could be accessed by any authorized client. An n-tier application, by contrast, has logical layers that are tightly coupled. The layers tend to have many, fine grained interface points. The layers are designed to work together as a single, operating whole. It is a secondary benefit if a tier can serve another application through the same interface. SOA proponents emphasize the importance of the contract between client and server. But SOA can only ensure the consistency of the interface points. It can‟t ensure that the semantics implied in the interface are actually the same on both sides of the fence. A program manager on Microsoft‟s CLR team made an analogous point in a commentary on the difficulty of choosing between defining classes and interfaces:
I often hear people saying that interfaces specify contracts. I believe this is a dangerous myth. Interfaces, by themselves, do not specify much beyond the syntax required to use an object. The interface-as-contract myth causes people to do the wrong thing when trying to separate contracts from implementation, which is a great engineering practice. Interfaces separate syntax from implementation, which is not that useful, and the myth provides a false sense of doing the right engineering. In reality, the contract is semantics, and these can actually be nicely expressed with some implementation.[emphases ours] Krzysztof Cwalina, [Framework Design, 80]

N-tier applications can impose much stricter contracts than SOA applications. They can enforce common semantics by requiring both sides to implement the contract by using the same object classes. A DevForce application forces the type on the server tier to be exactly the same as the type on the client tier. This is known as “type fidelity”. Hiding implementation details is as essential to n-tier design as it is to SOA design; each layer should know as little as possible about the design and works of the other layers. But an n-tier application can and should impose cross-tier requirements if these help realize application objectives. For example, we can require that the data access tier communicate with a UI tier via .NET remoting rather than Web services if this makes the application less complex and perform better; such objectives may matter far more to the customer right now than exposing the business object model as a service77. An n-tier application can also be an application with a Service Oriented Architecture. The application may implement some number of features by invoking a Web service or by embedding a Web service within an object wrapper. The tier may expose some of the application‟s own functionality as Web services. In such cases, the application is communicating externally via the service. Cross-tier interactions, on the other hand, are communications within the application. Let not blind obedience to SO orthodoxy triumph over rational choice.

Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting Performance Problems
Examine the debug log for data source access thrashing. Use the TraceViewer to see data source accessing in real time and correlate with UI actions. Use pre-caching (e.g, use Span Query) before binding to grids.
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This decision does not prevent us from exposing the business object model as a Web service later. Even then we could retain our remoting interface within the application.

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Suspend data binding while filling grids.

Object Persistence

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Validation Through Verification

Validation Through Verification
To err is human … to really mess up takes a computer. “Validation” is the process of evaluating input and judging it valid or invalid. Such evaluation subjects the input to a battery of “validation rules” that evaluate the input in the appropriate context. For example, if the user enters a “committed delivery date” we might want to ensure that The committed delivery date is reasonable in the abstract, e.g., occurs in the future. It is possible to deliver on that date given the availability of the desired products, and the currently selected shipping method, and whether there is enough time to prepare the goods for shipping. The order is “shippable”, e.g. the customer‟s credit has been verified, the address is legitimate, and the total is within the limits authorized for this user. Clearly such rules can be complex, involving not only the input value itself but also the state of the target object (the order), facts about related objects (customer, shipper, product), and aspects of the environment during the validation (time of day, the user‟s role). User input validation gets most of the attention but we need to validate programmatic inputs as well. That delivery date could as easily be set by business logic or a web service request as it is by a wayward click on a calendar control. The rules are the same for everyone, human and machine. Validation is hard to do well especially as the application grows and validation criteria change. Common failings include: Missing and incorrect validity checks Inconsistent checking Failure to validate at the right times Poor communication with end-users Inadequate mechanisms for correcting mistakes. Enterprise application developers are looking for a robust validation system that operates consistently and reliably across a large application. “Across the application” in this context means both “vertically” and “horizontally”. “Vertically” in the sense that we may need to validate several times in multiple layers of the application. We want to validate in the client UI layer so we can give immediate feedback to the user. We may need to validate again when we save, even though the objects we save are no longer on screen. We may even need to validate again on the server side to protect against misadventure coming from outside the relative safety of the hosted environment. We validate “horizontally” when we apply the same mechanisms uniformly across all modules of the application. If the user can set the delivery date on any of several screens, the same rules ought to apply – unless, of course, there is something special about a particular screen.

Chapter 8:

DevForce Verification
“Verification” is IdeaBlade‟s answer to the challenges of validation. “Verification” is a collection of interoperating validation components that are both easy to use and capable of handling sophisticated scenarios. The developer can: Write rules of any complexity. The developer can draw upon pre-defined rules (required value, range check, field length) or write custom rules of any complexity, including rules that compare multiple fields and span multiple objects. Generate validity checking into business objects automatically via the DevForce “Object Mapper.

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Validation Through Verification

Validate any kind of object, not just objects that derive from base business classes. Trigger validity checking at any time such as upon display, before save, or when setting properties. The engine can fire “pre-set” to block critically errant data from entering the object or fire “post-set” to accommodate temporarily invalid values. The UI can inspect the engine for rules of interest, fire them, and adjust the display accordingly. It could color a text box, for example, or hide a portion of the form until applicable criteria were met. Display a localized message in the UI without special programming. The UI could display just the “validation failed” message but it might also show warnings or “ok” messages and it might supplement the message be re-directing the application focus to the offending object and property. Each rule returns a rich, extensible object with all the information necessary for the developer to deliver a helpful response. Discover rules in the code or retrieve them at runtime from a central store. The engine automatically discovers rules in the code and can acquire rules defined externally in configuration XML, a database, or some other store of rules. The application can inspect, add, and remove rules at any time. Leverage rules inheritance. Rules defined in base classes propagate to their derived classes where they are “inherited” or overridden. Adjust validation behavior based on a custom validation context. The developer must have the flexibility to convey custom information to the validation process to cope with the variety of situational factors that arise in real applications. Inspect and intervene as the engine validates. The application can monitor the engine‟s progress and interrupt, modify, or terminate a validation run at any point. Please note that Verification is only active in the Enterprise Edition of DevForce. In other editions, menu options and setting still appear, default verifiers are generated, and other verifiers can be defined in code, but verifiers are not instantiated or applied at runtime.

“Verification” Versus “Validation”
The DevForce validation mechanism is called “Verification” and all of its components are named with some variation on this word. We mean to try neither your patience nor your vocabulary. We would call our offering “validation” if we could. However, Microsoft uses the term “validation” throughout .NET. It appears in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) namespaces and in the Enterprise Library as well. Microsoft also uses the following class names:
ValidationError, ValidationErrorCollection, ValidationManager, ValidationResult, ValidationRule, ValidationStatus, ValidationType

IdeaBlade is integrating DevForce with Microsoft‟s WPF and WWF. You are likely doing the same. We will all become confused if we cannot easily distinguish among the same or very similar names. So “Verification” it is. We will continue to say “validation” when we speaking in general terms; we will use the term “verification” (and its variants) when we refer specifically to the DevForce classes located in the IdeaBlade.Verification namespace.

Whither WPF Validation?
We can‟t leave this digression without a parting comment about validation in Microsoft‟s Windows Presentation Foundation. WPF validation concentrates on presentation of validation results within a WPF user interface. This is a vital aspect of any validation strategy. At present, most applications punish the user for the developer‟s own design failings. We need better UIs and better means to guide users rather than humiliate them.

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Validation Through Verification

DevForce‟s “verification” concentrates on the validation process. It complements WPF by producing the rich validation results necessary to deliver an effective user experience. We will address the integration of these mechanisms in a separate document.

Getting Started
The easiest point of entry to DevForce verification is through the DevForce Object Mapper. We‟ll assume that you are familiar with the OM tool and have an existing, working application with its own business object model. Something like the walk-through in the “Hello DevForce” chapter of this Developers Guide, or the models found in almost any of the Learning Unit code solutions, will do. 1. 2. Launch the Object Mapper in Visual Studio. Select an Entity Model node in the tree control and drop down the Verification Options ComboBox in the properties pane:

3.

Note the default setting of “Both”. This means that a check will be made for applicable verifiers before and after the value of any property of any class in your model is set. However, this setting can be overridden for any individual property using the ComboBox in the “Verification Setter Mode” column of the property grid:

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide

Validation Through Verification

Auto-Generated Verifiers
DevForce automatically generates verifiers to enforce constraints implicit in column definitions of the backing datastore. For example, if the FirstName column of the Employee table behind the Employee object class is defined as non-nullable and 50 characters wide, DevForce generates a verifier to prevent strings longer than 50 characters from being entered for the Employee.FirstName property, and also to prevent the property from being set to null. Suppose our application displays Employee information on a form, as shown below. Let‟s delete the Employee “First Name” textbox to start. We attempt to move out of the field … but we can‟t. Instead, we see:

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Validation Through Verification

We can‟t change any value on the form. We can‟t move to a different Employee. We can‟t even close the form! The user must enter something in the “First Name” textbox.

What Happened?
We set aside for now our opinion about whether locking up the UI is a good user experience, and instead simply examine what happened: DevForce generated a validation rule, known in DevForce as a Verifier. It put code in our business object that invoked validation when we tried to set the value. The validation failed when we cleared the “First Name”. The form responded by locking the text box and displaying an “error bullet” with an informative message. We‟ll cover code generation in detail later, but we can‟t resist a quick preview now. Open the DomainModel.ServerModelNorthwindIB.Designer.cs class file. In the leftmost dropdown menu in Visual Studio, find the DomainModel.Employee class. In the dropdown menu to its right, find the FirstName property in the Employee class.

C#

#region FirstName /// <summary>Gets or sets the FirstName.</summary> [global::IdeaBlade.Validation.StringLengthVerifier(MaxValue=30, IsRequired=true)] [global::IdeaBlade.Core.MaxTextLength(30)] [global::IdeaBlade.Core.DBDataType(typeof(String))] public virtual String FirstName { get { var args = new global::IdeaBlade.EntityModel.GetterArgs<String>(FirstNameEntityProperty); BeforeGetFirstName(args);

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Validation Through Verification

BeforeGet(args); if (args.Cancel) return args.Value; args.Value = (String)GetRawValue(FirstNameEntityProperty); AfterGet(args); AfterGetFirstName(args); return args.Value; } [global::System.Diagnostics.DebuggerNonUserCode] set { var args = new global::IdeaBlade.EntityModel.SetterArgs<String>(FirstNameEntityProperty, global::IdeaBlade.EntityModel.VerificationSetterOptions.Both, value); OnFirstNameChanging(args.Value); BeforeSetFirstName(args); BeforeSet(args); if (args.Cancel) return; SetRawValue(FirstNameEntityProperty, args.Value); AfterSet(args); AfterSetFirstName(args); OnFirstNameChanged(); } } partial void BeforeGetFirstName(global::IdeaBlade.EntityModel.GetterArgs<String> args); partial void AfterGetFirstName(global::IdeaBlade.EntityModel.GetterArgs<String> args); partial void BeforeSetFirstName(global::IdeaBlade.EntityModel.SetterArgs<String> args); partial void AfterSetFirstName(global::IdeaBlade.EntityModel.SetterArgs<String> args); partial void OnFirstNameChanging(String value); partial void OnFirstNameChanged(); #endregion FirstName

VB As we said, we‟ll cover this code in detail later. Let‟s just note a few points about our FirstName property: It sports a StringLengthVerifier attribute The verifier specifies a MaxValue of 30 The verifier says that the value is IsRequired There are BeforeSetValue and AfterSetValue methods They surround some odd looking code that mentions a SetInterceptor and a SetFirstNameImpl method call. Remember, you never have to drill into this EmployeeDataRow class. DevForce generates it and you are not supposed to touch it. All of your work goes into the “final” class, Employee. Curiosity won‟t hurt you. Here‟s the interpretation:
StringLengthVerifier is a validation rule with a maximum length argument. IsRequired means the value will be invalid if it is null or an empty string.

The call to BeforeSet will invoke DevForce code that tests the proposed value before setting the property, by virtue of the VerificationSetterOptions.Both setting that is passed into that method via the args parameter. The call to AfterSet will invoke DevForce code that test the FirstName value after it has been set, again by virtue of the VerificationSetterOptions.Both setting in the args parameter.

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We‟ll investigate all of this further after we‟ve worked through the basic concepts.

Verification Types Overview
All Verification classes are defined under the IdeaBlade.Verification namespace and deployed in a single DevForce class library, IdeaBlade.Verification.dll. This section is a guide to the key Verification constructs in that library.

Main Verification Classes

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These are the main classes, the classes at the heart of the DevForce Verification paradigm. Type
VerifierEngine

Description A VerifierEngine maintains a list of Verifier instances in its VerifierCollection and executes them at the appropriate times, accumulating their VerifierResults in its VerifierResultCollection. A Verifier should not run independently. Rather it should be evaluated by a VerifierEngine and the caller should reap the results from the engine‟s Execute method when it finishes. A Verifier validates the state of an object. This is the abstract base class for a family of verifiers described below. execution produces a VerifierResult object. This object, in addition to signaling validation success or failure, contains detailed information about the outcome and the context of the verifier‟s execution.
Verifier

Verifier VerifierCollection VerifierResult VerifierResultCollection

TriggerItem

A TriggerItem identifies something like an “event”. When the VerifierEngine executes in the context of this “event”, it evaluates all verifiers attached to that TriggerItem. A property is the most commonly encountered TriggerItem. The setting of that property is the associated “event”. The engine looks for all verifiers that are attached to that property “in the right way” and executes them.

TriggerLink

Triggered verifiers have one or more TriggerLinks, each of them connecting the verified object to a TriggerItem. The TriggerLink specifies both the TriggerItem and a “path” back to the verified object. In the case of a simple property it is the very short path from the property to the instance as in the path from Employee.FirstName to Employee. Developers can write complex paths that “navigate” from a triggering “event” on an object that is far removed from the object being validated. For example, changing a customer‟s credit limit property (the trigger) could stimulate verification of all outstanding orders (the verified objects) related to (the path to) that customer.

The Verification types are all interrelated but we separate them by category for explanatory purposes. Verifiers VerifierResult Triggers VerifierEngine PropertyValueVerifiers The Verifier class and its supporting types.
VerifierResult

and related types. and related types.

TriggerItem, TriggerLink,

The VerifierEngine and its supporting types Describes the pre-defined verifiers for the most commonly encountered validation cases.

Verifiers
A Verifier validates the state of an object. An Verifier can only run after it is attached to a VerifierEngine.

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The Verifier class is the abstract base class for derived verifiers that are attuned to specific validation tasks; we cover these derived classes in a separate section below.

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The following table highlights significant members of the Verifier class. Class Member
AddTrigger, AddTriggers ApplicableType DefaultSortOrder Description ExecutionModes GetDisplayName

Validation Through Verification

Description Adds a TriggerLink to the verifier. The verifier subsequently responds to “events” associated with the TriggerItem in that TriggerLink. The verifier validates objects of this type Static property that reveals the SortOrder given to new verifiers by default. The description of the verifier as displayed to the user. The situations in which the verifier should run. The value combines flags from the VerifierExecutionModes enumeration. Returns a name for the member of a type as it should be displayed to the user. “First Name” might be the display name for the FirstName property of an Employee. The method is often used to construct the Description from a message template. The integer position of this Verifier in its engine‟s list. Runs the method that indicates if this Verifier applies to a given instance when run in a particular context. Returns a VerifierApplicabilityresult. Set to one of the VerifierOnErrorMode enumerations (Stop, Continue) that tells the engine whether it should stop or continue verifying if this verifier produces an errant VerifierResult. Continue is the default. Removes a TriggerLink from the verifier. The verifier no longer responds to “events” associated with the TriggerItem in that TriggerLink. The engine executes verifiers in sorted order. The engine sorts verifiers first by this SortValue and, when those are the same, by the order in which the verifiers were added to the engine (InitializationOrder). Thus, the developer can influence verifier processing order by setting this SortValue. Returns the TriggerLinks attached to this verifier. Configuration data for the Verifier. Every Verifier is created with a VerifierArgs instance, either explicitly or implicitly. The engine to which the verifier is attached. For Internal Use. This method implements the verifier‟s core validation test and can be overridden by a derived class. The method is public so that a VerifierEngine can call it at the appropriate time. Developers cannot call it directly – it will throw an exception.

InitializationOrder IsApplicable

OnErrorMode

RemoveTrigger, RemoveTriggers

SortValue

TriggerLinks VerifierArgs VerifierEngine Verify

The following is list of types that are closely related to Verifier. The list is (mostly) alphabetical to make it easier to locate a type and for lack of more compelling organizational principle. Type Description

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Type
ApplicabilityConstraint(Of T)

Description that determines if a Verifier applies to a particular object given the current TriggerContext and VerifierContext. It returns a VerifierApplicability object. T is the type of the verified object.
Delegate

The developer can invoke this constraint directly by calling Verifier.IsApplicable.
DelegateVerifier(Of T)

A harness for a custom verifier that validates an object of type T. The developer can build almost any kind of verifier with an instance of this class. The developer writes the validation test inside a VerifierCondition delegate (hence the name) and includes a reference to the delegate method in the DelegateVerifier constructor. This verifier can be configured with triggers in the same way as all other verifiers.

DelegatePropertyValueVerifier (Of T)

A harness for a custom property verifier that validates an object of type T. Used to build a verifier triggered by a single property with the purpose of evaluating the proposed or actual value of that property. The developer implements the validation test inside a method that conforms to the ValueVerifierCondition delegate and passes a reference to the method in the DelegatePropertyValueVerifier constructor. The verifier behaves like any of the predefined PropertyValueVerifier classes described below.

PropertyValueVerifierAttribute

Each of the PropertyValueVerifiers can be specified declaratively by decorating a property with the corresponding PropertyValueVerifierAttribute. An object passed to a Verifier when it is triggered by a TriggerItem. The object provides the Verifier with information about what triggered it. Trigger classes are covered separately below.
Delegate that determines if a value passes its verifier VerifierResult. T is the type of the verified object.

TriggerContext

ValueVerifierCondition(Of T)

test. It returns a

The developer can supply such a delegate as an argument to the constructor of a DelegatePropertyValueVerifier.
Verifier

Abstract base class for a family of Verifiers. A Verifier validates the state of an object and returns a VerifierResult containing detailed information about the validation outcome and the context of the verifier‟s execution. Strongly typed abstract subclass of Verifier where T is the type of the verified object. The Verifier determines if it applies to an object it is validating based on an ApplicabilityConstraint. That constraint method returns an object of this type which contains both a VerifierApplicabilityCode and an optional message. An enumeration of result codes emerging from evaluation of an ApplicabilityConstraint.

Verifier(Of T) VerifierApplicability

VerifierApplicabilityCode

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Type
VerifierArgs

Description These args carry configuration data for a Verifier. Every Verifier is created with a VerifierArgs instance, either explicitly or implicitly; every Verifier retains a reference to that instance. This is also the base class for a family of VerifierArgs classes, each strongly typed to fit closely with it corresponding Verifier class. The ListVerifier has its ListVerifierArgs for example. Abstract base class for a family of Attribute classes that enable declaration of a Verifier by decoration with an attribute. For example, we can declare that the FirstName property has a StringLengthVerifier by adorning it with the StringLengthVerifierAttribute. A collection of Verifier instances. The collection implements many of the features of List<Verifier> and, most importantly, many Find overloads to facilitate extraction of Verifier subset collections. that implements a validation test on an object of type T. This is the beating heart of the developer‟s custom DelegateVerifier.
Delegate

VerifierAttribute

VerifierCollection

VerifierCondition(Of T) VerifierContext VerifierOnErrorMode

The VerifierEngine executes a Verifier in a particular context and makes this context available to the Verifier as it executes. The enumeration (Stop, Continue) that tells the engine whether it should stop or continue verifying if this verifier produces an errant VerifierResult. The developer can set the Verifier.OnErrorMode to a value from this enumeration. The exception thrown when the Verifier itself fails to execute properly, i.e. when the Verifier throws an exception; that exception is included in the InnerException. Not to be confused with the VerifierResultException. A flag enumeration (Disabled, Instance, OnPostsetTriggers, OnPresetTriggers) that describes the situations in which a Verifier can run. The VerifierEngine, while executing in one of these situations, runs the verifiers that have a matching ExecutionModes flag. The developer can set a Verifier to run in multiple situations by setting its ExecutionModes to a combination of these flags constructed by “or”ing them together. The VerifierExecutionModes enumeration exposes several of the most common combinations (e.g. All which translates to Instance | OnPostsetTriggers | OnPresetTriggers ).

VerifierException

VerifierExecutionModes

VerifierResult
Verifier execution produces a VerifierResult object . This object, in addition to signaling validation success
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or failure, contains detailed information about the outcome and the context of the verifier‟s execution.

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We may say casually that a Verifier returns a VerifierResult but this is not strictly correct and might mislead the developer into improper use of verifiers. While it is true that the Verifier.Verify method returns a VerifierResult, that method executes only one part of the Verifier‟s validation logic and should not be called by developer code. The Verifier should be executed by a VerifierEngine which stores the VerifierResult in its own results collection. The developer retrieves those results from the engine.

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The following table highlights significant members of the VerifierResult class. Class Member
Description IsOk ResultCode TargetInstance TriggerContext Verifier VerifierContext

Description Description of this result. The text is usually fashioned in a form suitable for display when the result is “not Ok”. True if the result has one of the “Ok” VerifierResultCodes. The VerifierResultCode for this result. The object that was verified. The TriggerContext in which the verifier was executed. The Verifier whose execution produced this result. The VerfifierContext in which the verifier was executed.

The following are the important types that are most closely related to VerifierResult. Type
VerifierResultCode

Description Enumeration summarizing the result of verification in a single value. While there are several codes, each is a flavor of a binary outcome: success (Ok) or failure (Error). The codes at this writing are: Error, ErrorInsufficientData, Ok, OkNotApplicable, OkWarning.

VerifierResultCollection

The VerifierEngine accumulates a collection of VerifierResult instances which it returns as a VerifierResultCollection from its Execute method. The collection implements most of the features of Collection<VerifierResult> and, importantly, many Find overloads to facilitate extraction of VerifierResult subset collections. The caller of the VerifierEngine may want to throw an exception if it detects an errant VerifierResult. The VerifierResultException is a strongly-typed exception for this purpose; it can report the initial errant VerifierResult as well as a VerifierResultCollection of other results that may be useful to a handler of the exception. The Entity.BeforeSetValue and Entity.AfterSetValue methods are examples of VerifierEngine callers that throw VerificationResultExceptions. The Verifier and the VerifierEngine do not themselves throw this exception; they merely report errors by providing VerifierResults. Do not confuse the VerificationResultException with the VerificationException. A Verifier or VerifierEngine will throw a VerificationException when the verifier fails to execute properly. Improper verifier execution is not the same as an invalid object condition.

VerifierResultException

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Type
VerifiersErrorsResource.resx

Description A resource file of predefined error message templates. This resource file contains the message templates for constructing VerifierResult descriptions. The developer can substitute a different .NET ResourceManager that governs a wider set of message templates and resources files for different locales; the developer‟s main resource file must contain definitions for all of the message names defined in the VerifiersErrorsResource.resx. The DevForce distribution includes this resource file as a starting place for the developer‟s own resource file (and satellite translation files).

Triggers
Evaluation of a Verifier may be triggered by one or more “events”. “Events” is in quotes because the mechanism, while it feels like an event, does not use the .NET event. The exact mechanism is introduced here and covered more extensively elsewhere in this document. Setting a property is likely the most commonly encountered trigger. Setting Employee.FirstName, for example, could trigger evaluation of a Verifier that checked if the FirstName string value is present and not longer than thirty characters. The Verifier that checks the FirstName string length can be evaluated independently of any trigger. It could be evaluated during validation of an Employee instance79. But we often want to verify the value the moment the user enters the text. Accordingly, the developer attaches a trigger to that Verifier – a trigger bound to the Employee.FirstName property.

TriggerItem
DevForce represents the triggering Employee.FirstName property as a TriggerItem. A TriggerItem is little more than a .NET Type and the name of some member on that type. If a TriggerItem represents a property, the member name is the property name.

TriggerLink
It will not always be enough just to know the TriggerItem. We may have to find our way back from the trigger to the object being verified. This is easy when the TriggerItem refers to a property of the object being verified. If the trigger is Employee.FirstName and the Verifier targets the Employee object, it is obvious that “the way back” from the property to Employee involves no effort at all: the triggering object and the verified object are the same. On the other hand, we may want to evaluate the verifier when a value changes on some different object. For example, we may want to verify that an Order‟s total price is still valid if the price of any of its OrderDetail items goes up. The OrderDetail is not the same object as the Order we need to verify. The TriggerLink provides the path from the OrderDetail whose price changed to its parent Order which must be verified.

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Evaluation in this situation is called “Instance Verification”.

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The TriggerLink holds both the end point (the TriggerItem for OrderDetail.Price) and the method to navigate from the trigger object (OrderDetail) to the object to verify (Order). This method is called the TriggerTargetNavigator. We‟ll cover all of this in greater depth later; for now we look at the classes and other types involved in triggering execution of a Verifier. Type
TriggerContext

Description An object passed to a Verifier when it is triggered by a TriggerItem. The object provides the Verifier with information about what triggered it. A TriggerItem identifies something like an “event”. A A TriggerItem is defined by the Type of the triggering object and the name of a member on that type that does the triggering.

TriggerItem

TriggerLink

A TriggerLink specifies both the TriggerItem and a path back to the verified object. The path is implemented by a TriggerTargetNavigator method. That method is null when the triggering object and the object to be verified are the same as they are when we trigger a verifier for Employee.FirstName when the user sets that property. The navigator could be a.NET property path (e.g. a PropertyDescriptor). It could also be a custom method capable of bridging the two object types; see TriggerTargetNavigator.

TriggerTargetNavigator TriggerTiming

for “navigating” from a TriggerItem to the object being verified. See TriggerLink.
Delegate

An enumeration available within the TriggerContext. It indicates when a verifier was “triggered”. There are two choices: Preset and Postset. Properties are the most common triggers so a TriggerTiming typically indicates whether the verifier was evaluated before or after the property was set.

VerifierEngine
Verifiers do not execute themselves80. They are executed by a VerifierEngine instance. Each engine maintains a list of Verifier instances and evaluates them at the “appropriate” times based on a variety of factors that include (but are not limited to) properties of the verifiers themselves.

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You should not call the Verifier.Verify method directly even though it is public. That method performs some – but not all ! – of the validation work and will throw an exception if called outside a VerifierEngine.

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The details of the engine are covered elsewhere in this chapter. Here are the types most relevant to understanding it. Type
VerifierCollection

Description The engine maintains a collection of Verifier instances, accessible via one of the GetVerifier method overloads. The collection implements most of the features of List<Verifier> and, importantly, many Find overloads to facilitate extraction of Verifier subset collections. The VerifierEngine executes a Verifier in a particular context. The engine creates an instance of a VerifierContext before every validation run (a “batch”) and makes it available to the verifiers in that run. Each verifier can both see and modify the context. The developer can activate a VerifierBatchInterceptor delegate method that can see and modify the context. The context includes a great deal of useful information including a reference to the engine itself, the BatchId of the engine‟s current validation run, the VerifierResultCollection of results accumulated so far, the currently executing Verifier, and a CustomContext object supplied by the developer.

VerifierContext

VerifierEngineCreatedEventArgs

provided to a VerifierEngine.VerifierEngineCreated event handler. The VerifierEngine class raises this static event after creating a new VerifierEngine instance. The developer can attach a handler to consistently configure every new instance.
EventArgs

VerifierEngine. PropertyNameTranslator

Delegate method that takes a type and a string (presumed to be the property name) and returns the string that will be injected into the message produced by the verifier. A verifier description or message should appear in the user‟s preferred language. The message templates can be localized but they often have a placeholder for the property name. The “{0}” in the message “{0} is required” will be filled by a property name at runtime. This name should be localized as well. The VerifierEngine.PropertyNameToDisplayNameTranslator property takes such a delegate. Delegate method called by the VerifierEngine after every verifier evaluation in a batch and once more at the end of the batch. A resource file of predefined error message templates. The exception thrown when the Verifier itself fails to execute properly within the engine, i.e. when the Verifier throws an exception; that exception is included in the VerifierException.InnerException. Not to be confused with the VerifierResultException. A flag enumeration (Disabled, Instance, OnPostsetTriggers, OnPresetTriggers) that describes the situations in which a Verifier can run. The VerifierEngine, while executing in one of these situations, runs the verifiers that have a matching ExecutionModes flag.

VerifierEngine. VerifierBatchInterceptor VerifiersErrorsResource VerifierException

VerifierExecutionModes

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Type
VerifierOnErrorMode

Description The developer can set the Verifier.OnErrorMode to a value from this enumeration (Stop, Continue). The value tells the VerifierEngine whether it should continue (the default) or stop verifying if this verifier reports that its validation failed. The result of executing a Verifier. It contains detailed information about the outcome and the context of the verifier‟s execution The VerifierEngine accumulates a collection of VerifierResult instances which it returns as a VerifierResultCollection from its Execute method. The collection implements most of the features of Collection<VerifierResult> and, importantly, many Find overloads to facilitate extraction of VerifierResult subset collections. Args of the VerifierEngine.VerifiersChanged event, raised when a verifier is added to or removed from the engine or a trigger is added to or removed from a verifier already held by the engine. Enumeration of the types of changes reported in
VerifiersChangedEventArgs

VerifierProviderAttribute VerifierResult VerifierResultCollection

VerifiersChangedEventArgs

VerifiersChangedType

PropertyValueVerifiers
The class diagram for Verifier and its derived classes as of this writing looks like this:

Most of the verifier classes are PropertyValueVerifiers. A PropertyValueVerifier tests a property value. Technically, it is a Verifier attached to single TriggerItem which is a property on the object being validated. The value to test may be the proposed property value (prior to the property set) or the current value (after the property was set).

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Many application validations are property validations and most of these resolve into some variation of just a few kinds of verifier: required, range or length, and membership in a list.

Attribute Classes
Verifiers can be prescribed programmatically and added to the VerifierEngine at runtime. It is sometimes convenient to prescribe them programmatically by adorning properties with attributes. The DevForce includes a number of PropertyValueVerifierAttribute classes to facilitate this approach. The DevForce Verification library covers many of these verifiers and attributes; of course you can easily extend them or write your own.

Null property values
We have to check for null before we can test a property value. In many cases, null values are not permitted. Rather than oblige the developer to specify both a RequiredValueVerifier and the verifier of interest, all PropertyValueVerifiers include an IsRequired parameter; the base, abstract PropertyValueVerifier evaluates IsRequired before handing the value on to the derived verifier classes. The outcome of the test is often arbitrary in the face of a null value; is a null BirthDate before or after the minimum date in a range check? You should be sure you know how the verifier handles nulls. The following table highlights significant members that are specific to the PropertyValueVerifier class. Type
DisplayName

Description The displayable name of this verifier; this is typically the display name for the property it verifies. See also the Verifier.GetDisplayName method. Returns the value of this property as it currently is in the object being verified. This value could be compared to the proposed value if the verifier is executing in a “preset” context. Returns true if a property value is required (if it cannot be null). The .NET PropertyDescriptor for the property it verifies. Returns the strongly type PropertyVerifierArgs that configure this verifier.

GetPropertyValue

IsRequired PropertyDescriptor TypeVerifierArgs

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The following are types closely related to this class and its derived classes. Type
DelegatePropertyValueVerifier (Of T)

Validation Through Verification

Description The foundation of a custom property verifier. The developer implements the validation test inside a ValueVerifierCondition delegate of his own devising. It behaves otherwise like any of the predefined property verifiers. A Regex expression for use with the RegexVerifier. You can use one of the pre-named static patterns or create your own “named” Regex pattern. Verifiers that apply to a single property of an object. The DevForce predefined PropertyValueVerifiers, as of this writing, are:
DateTimeRangeVerifier DecimalRangeVerifier DelegatePropertyValueVerifier(Of T) DoubleRangeVerifier Int32RangeVerifier Int64RangeVerifier ListVerifier RangeVerifier RegexVerifier RequiredValueVerifier StringLengthVerifier

NamedRegexPattern

PropertyValueVerifier

PropertyValueVerifierAttribute

Each of the PropertyValueVerifiers can be specified declaratively by decorating a property with the corresponding PropertyValueVerifierAttribute.
DateTimeRangeVerifierAttribute DecimalRangeVerifierAttribute DelegatePropertyValueVerifierAttribute DoubleRangeVerifierAttribute Int32RangeVerifierAttribute Int64RangeVerifierAttribute RangeVerifierAttribute RegexVerifierAttribute RequiredValueVerifierAttribute StringLengthVerifierAttribute

RangeVerifier(Of T)

A generic range Verifier where T is the type of value tested (not the type of the verified object). A range verifier accepts arguments specifying minimum and maximum (either optional) and whether the range includes or excludes either end point.
Delegate that determines if a value passes its verifier VerifierResult. T is the type of the verified object.

ValueVerifierCondition(Of T)

test. It returns a

The developer can supply such a delegate as an argument to the constructor of a DelegatePropertyValueVerifier.

Verification Deep Dive
Now that we have toured the Verification types we are ready to look more closely at the major types.

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Verifiers
We use an instance of the DevForce abstract Verifier class to implement a validation rule. Verifier = Validation Rule A verifier‟s primary task is to render judgment on the validity of an object. It isn‟t suppose to change the object, just evaluate it and pronounce the object valid or invalid. That‟s a big job – too big for any one verifier instance81. So we create lots of verifiers each of which limits itself to evaluating one aspect of an object such as the string length of a single property. Each verifier produces a VerifierResult object which, at its most basic, (a) indicates success ( Ok) or failure (Error) and (b) provides a message (the VerifierResult.Description) for display to a user. An object is “valid” if the accumulated results of individual verifiers are all “ok”. The DevForce Verification library contains several predefined Verifier subclasses82 as well as several higher level abstract classes that allow developers to construct their own verifiers. Verifiers don‟t execute on their own. They have to be evaluated by a VerifierEngine which means we have to tell the engine about them by registering configured instances of some verifier class with the engine. While we can register verifier instances programmatically, it is often more convenient to let the VerifierEngine discover them – a process we‟ll get to when we consider the engine in detail. For now we‟ll talk about registration as if we always took an active hand in it. Each verifier has an ApplicableType which is the type of object that the verifier can verify. Verifiers with an ApplicableType of a .NET base type are presumed to be applicable to all subclasses of that base type. The VerifierEngine ensures that verifiers registered for a base class are propagated automatically the verifier collection of all derived types. Imagine that you had an abstract class called Produce and a bunch of subclasses – Carrot, Apple, Potato. When you attach a verifier to Produce.Name, that same verifier applies to Carrot.Name, Apple.Name, and 83 Potato.Name .

Verifier Execution
A verifier cannot be executed until it has been added to a VerifierEngine. An individual verifier instance can be attached to only one VerifierEngine at a time. Verifiers are executed in the order that they were added to the VerifierEngine. It is possible to modify the order by setting the SortValue property on each verifier. A VerifierEngine runs in one of three “Execution Modes” at a given time. How we call it determines the mode. Instance Verification Preset Trigger Verification Postset Trigger Verification We cover these modes in detail in the “Invoking Verification” section. The point to note here is that the engine will only evaluate the verifiers that are configured to run in a compatible execution mode. Thus, if the engine is running

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While it is possible to write a single super verifier that does it all, it would be unwise to do so. See the class diagram above. It is the same verifier even if Potato.Name overrides Produce.Name. The developer can remove or replace the propagated verifier for Potato.Name by manipulating the Potato verifiers after they have been built. Carrot.Name and Apple.Name will be unaffected.

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in “Preset Trigger” mode and the verifier‟s ExecutionModes = InstanceAndOnPostsetTriggers, the verifier will not be evaluated; it will be evaluated when the engine runs in either instance or postset trigger mode. When a VerifierEngine evaluates a verifier it calls two verifier methods: IsApplicable and Verify. C#
public virtual VerifierApplicability IsApplicable( Object pItemToVerify, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext); public abstract VerifierResult Verify( Object pItemToVerify, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext);

Visual Basic
Public Overridable Function IsApplicable( _ ByVal pItemToVerify As Object, _ ByVal pTriggerContext As TriggerContext, _ ByVal pVerifierContext As VerifierContext) _ As VerifierApplicability Public MustOverride Function Verify(ByVal pItemToVerify As Object, _ ByVal pTriggerContext As TriggerContext, _ ByVal pVerifierContext As VerifierContext) _ As VerifierResult

Observe that engine calls both methods with the same inputs Parameter
pItemToVerify pTriggerContext

Description The object instance to verify. Its type will be the same as or a descendent of the ApplicableType of the verifier. A TriggerContext object that describes how the verifier was triggered – a topic covered elsewhere in this chapter. Note that this value is null (Nothing in VB) when the verifier was not triggered (i.e., during “instance verification”).

pVerifierContext

IsApplicable
The execution cost of some verifiers may be high. We don‟t want to pay that cost if the verifier does not apply in the present circumstances. The developer can specify an IsApplicable method to short-circuit unnecessary verifier evaluation. For example, most validations are irrelevant if the object is marked for delete. We might test for that in our IsApplicable method. The VerifierEngine calls the verifier‟s IsApplicable method first. The IsApplicable method returns a VerifierApplicability object with a VerifierApplicabilityCode. If the code is Yes the engine continues evaluating the verifier. If the code is anything else, the engine stops evaluating, prepares a VerifierResult for this verifier, and moves on to the next verifier. The VerifierResultCode of the prepared VerifierResult will be an “ok” code (VerifierResultCode.OkNotApplicable) if the VerifierApplicabilityCode is No. It will be an “error” code (VerifierResultCode.ErrorInsufficientData) if the VerifierApplicabilityCode is InsufficientData. An applicability test is rarely needed. Accordingly, the base IsApplicable implementation in the abstract Verifier class simply returns VerifierApplicability.Yes.

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The VerifierEngine provides both the IsApplicable and the Verify methods with a VerifierContext defined as follows: This context gives each Verifier information about its calling and executing environment including the engine‟s progress during this particular execution. The context values change over the course of the verification. The VerifierEngine will change them. Each Verifier can change them too.

Initializing the VerifierContext
The initial VerifierContext is either a context created by the engine or a context provided by the code that puts the engine to work. Such code calls one of the engine‟s Execute methods. There are a number of signatures, as we‟ll see later in this chapter, and many of them take a VerifierContext. If the caller provides the context, it will have instantiated the context with this constructor: C#
VerifierContext(VerifierOnErrorMode pOnErrorMode, Object pCustomContext)

Visual Basic
New (ByVal pOnErrorMode As VerifierOnErrorMode, ByVal pCustomContext As Object)

The VerifierOnErrorMode is an enumeration with two values - Stop and Continue – meaning “Stop verifying if you encounter an error” and “keep verifying until there are no more verifiers to evaluate” 84. The “CustomContext” can be any kind of object. It is a mechanism to enable the calling code to communicate situational information to the verifiers that know how to interpret that information. If the caller does not provide a VerifierContext, the VerifierEngine constructs one from its own resources: the VerifierEngine.DefaultOnErrorMode and the VerifierEngine.DefaultCustomContext. The application could set these defaults when it creates the engine instance; it can revise them at will.

Features of the VerifierContext
Here is the interface of the VerifierContext C#
public class VerifierContext { public Int64 BatchId { get; } public VerifierOnErrorMode OnErrorMode { get; set; } public Object CustomContext { get; set; } public VerifierResultCollection VerifierResults { get; } public object BatchContext { get; set; } public bool EndOfBatch { get; } public Verifier Verifier{ get; } public VerifierEngine VerifierEngine { get; } }

Visual Basic
Public Class VerifierContext

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An individual verifier can terminate the batch even if the OnErrorMode is Continue.

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Public public public public public public public public End Class ReadOnly Property Property ReadOnly Property ReadOnly ReadOnly ReadOnly

Validation Through Verification

Property BatchId() As Int64 OnErrorMode() As VerifierOnErrorMode CustomContext() As Object Property VerifierResults() As VerifierResultCollection BatchContext() As Object Property EndOfBatch As Boolean Property Verifier As Verifier Property VerifierEngine As VerifierEngine

Let‟s walk through them quickly. Calling the engine‟s Execute method initiates a new verification “batch” that lasts for the duration of the method‟s execution. The engine assigns the batch a unique BatchId. As stated earlier, OnErrorMode returns an enumeration with two values - Stop and Continue – meaning “Stop verifying if you encounter an error” and “keep verifying until there are no more verifiers to evaluate”. A verifier can change this value at any time. We‟ve already met the CustomContext containing an arbitrary object defined by the developer and made available either when the engine was called or through its DefaultCustomContext property. Observer that the object can be reset at any time during the batch. The VerifierEngine adds each verifier‟s VerifierResult to the VerifierResultCollection in the context. Verifiers can see prior results and take action accordingly 85. The BatchContext is a means of accumulating and communicating execution state within the batch. It starts null (Nothing in VB). Any verifier can change it, perhaps depositing useful information for downstream verifiers. The EndOfBatch starts false. The VerifierEngine will set it to true after it evaluates the last verifier in the batch. This flag is intended for use by a VerifierEngine.BatchInterceptor, a delegate method called by the engine after it evaluates each verifier – and once more at the end of the batch when it sets this EndOfBatch flag to true. The interceptor could perform “batch cleanup” when it sees the flag set true. The VerifierEngine records the most recently evaluated verifier in the context‟s Verifier property. This property is aimed at the VerifierEngine.BatchInterceptor which may need to take some action after the engine evaluates a particular verifier. The VerifierEngine also registers itself in the context‟s VerifierEngine property. Verifiers don‟t need this – they know to which engine they belong. The VerifierEngine.BatchInterceptor does not know what engine is running; it can find out by looking at this context property.

Custom Verifiers
The Verification library comes with many predefined verifiers that cover the majority of cases. Of course you have to be able to create your own – and you can do so easily. Keep reading and you will see examples. You can find these same examples, in context, in the Learning Unit on Verification that ships with DevForce.

Verifier Result
We expect a verifier to render a binary decision most of the time. It‟s usually a pass / fail test. Accordingly, every verifier returns a VerifierResult with an IsOk property. Either it is or it isn‟t. More nuanced information is also available but there is always a firm yes or no.

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They can even manipulate the VerifierResultCollection itself; one hopes they are prudent in doing so.

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If the validation failed we probably want to display a message to the user 86 explaining how it failed. The VerifierResult.Description contains the message prepared by the Verifier – a message that may have been translated into the local language and culture. The VerifierResult.Description comes from the Verifier.Description by default. The phrase “First Name cannot exceed 30 characters” serves well both as the description of the Verifier and the message to the user when the entered text exceeds 30 characters.

Customizing the Description
When this is not satisfactory, the developer can customize the message.

Sub-class the Verifier and override the Description property
In this example in which the author wants to drive home the point about keeping the birth date reasonable. The DateTimeRangeVerifier would be fine if not for the message. So the author fills out the DateTimeRangeVerifier and then overrides the Description property. C#
/// <summary>Default Ctor,</summary> /// <remarks> /// BirthDate is not required, /// must be on or after global min date (<see cref="M:MinBirthDate"/>), /// and before today. /// </remarks> public BirthDateRangeVerifier() : base(typeof(Employee), // Type of the object being verified Employee.BirthDateEntityProperty.Name, // Property trigger false,// Non-null value is not required MinBirthDate, true, // starting min date (inclusive) DateTime.Today, false) { } // ending max date (exclusive) public override string Description { // ToDo: Localize get { return "Must be born after " + MinBirthDate.Year.ToString() + "; No time travellers allowed!"; } } }

VB

Create a Delegate Verifier
One of the easiest ways to create a new verifier is to create an instance of one of the delegate verifiers as we showed above. The description is one of the parameters in their constructors. C#
public DelegateVerifier(String pDescription, VerifierCondition<T> pVerifierCondition) public DelegatePropertyValueVerifier(String pDescription, String pPropertyName, bool pIsRequired, ValueVerifierCondition<T> pVerifierCondition)

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Or perhaps to a log file if we are validating outside of a user interface.

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' DelegateVerifier Constructor Public Sub New (ByVal pDescription As String, _ ByVal pVerifierCondition As VerifierCondition(Of T)) ' DelegatePropertyValueVerifier Constructor Public Sub New (ByVal pDescription As String, _ ByVal pPropertyName As String, _ ByVal pIsRequired As Boolean, ByVal pVerifierCondition _ As ValueVerifierCondition(Of T))

Sub-class the Verifier and override the Verify() method
The Verifier.Verify method returns the VerifierResult picked up by the VerifierEngine. This gives you complete control over the VerifierResult.Description which you can construct dynamically. This is Verify‟s signature87. C#
public abstract VerifierResult Verify(Object pItemToVerify, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext);

Visual Basic
Public MustOverride Function Verify(ByVal pItemToVerify As Object,_ ByVal pTriggerContext As TriggerContext, _ ByVal pVerifierContext As VerifierContext) As VerifierResult

Localization and Internationalization
The VerifierEngine provides There are two mechanisms for localizing the messages reported through the VerifierResult Use resource files for the message templates Translate the property name that is injected into the template. For example, the basic message template, “{0} is required”, is ready to use as “PropertyRequired” message. At runtime we plug “First name” or “Last name” or whatever into the slot reserved by “{0}”. If the application will be used by non-English speakers, we‟ll want to translate the template and we‟ll want to translate the property names.

Message Templates
DevForce ships with standard error and warning message templates. The developer can replace them with a completely custom version. The developer creates the .NET resource files for each language 88. The only requirement is that at least the default file has an entry for all of the DevForce template keys.

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Although the method is public and it would seem that you can instantiate all of its parameters, you cannot call it yourself; you will get an exception if you try. This is deliberate; DevForce can ensure proper verifier execution only within a VerifierEngine. The .NET practices for localization are beyond the scope of this document.

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A copy of the DevForce verification resource file is available from IdeaBlade as a starting point for customization. Visual Studio generates a strongly-typed ResourceManager class to support these custom files. The developer sets the ErrorsResourceManager property of each new VerifierEngine to this ResourceManager as shown. C#
VerifierEngine engine = new VerifierEngine(); engine.ErrorsResourceManager = myResourceManager;

Visual Basic
Dim engine As VerifierEngine = New VerifierEngine() engine.ErrorsResourceManager = myResourceManager

“Property Names”
Most common verifiers apply to a single property and inherit from the PropertyValueVerifier. Their message templates have a slot for the property name and the verifier knows how to fill that slot with the property name after it has been translated. The key to the process is the PropertyNameTranslator. The VerifierEngine has a PropertyNameToDisplayNameTranslator property that takes a PropertyNameTranslator delegate defined as follows C#
public delegate String PropertyNameTranslator( Type pType, String pPropertyName);

Visual Basic
Public Delegate Function PropertyNameTranslator( _ ByVal pType As Type, ByVal pPropertyName As String) As String

The expected implementation takes a type-and-string (e.g. Employee and “FirstName”) and turns it into a translated string. Note that type-and-string also defines a TriggerItem. As with TriggerItem, the string is typically the name of a member of the target type … but it doesn‟t have to be. With that background we are ready to proceed. All predefined PropertyValueVerifier subclasses within the Verification library observe the following protocol when preparing a “property name” for insertion into the template: If the engine has a PropertyNameToDisplayNameTranslator, that method is used to translate the property name. If there is no translator, the verifier tries the value of PropertyValueVerifier.DisplayName. If DisplayName is null, the verifier looks for a .NET DescriptionAttribute adorning the object property. It there is no such attribute, the verifier uses the property name. This same protocol can be used within a custom verifier, even one multiple slots for multiple property names and values. The translator is not limited to translating property names.

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Triggers
Evaluation of a Verifier may be triggered by one or more “events”. “Events” is in quotes because the mechanism, while it feels like an event, does not use the .NET event. The exact mechanism is introduced here and covered more extensively elsewhere in this document. Setting a property is the most commonly encountered trigger. Setting Employee.FirstName, for example, could trigger evaluation of a Verifier that checked if the FirstName string value is present and not longer than thirty characters. The Verifier that checks the FirstName string length can be evaluated independently of any trigger. It could be evaluated during validation of an Employee instance89. But it is often a kindness to the user if we validate the first name text at the moment she enters it rather than wait for the entire Employee object to be evaluated. Accordingly, the developer attaches a trigger to that Verifier – a trigger bound to the Employee.FirstName property. Property validation of this kind - a property Verifier with an attached property trigger - is extremely popular. It is so popular that DevForce provides the PropertyValueVerifier90 and a host of derived verifiers to make it easy to specify property validation. One approach is to adorn a property with one of the attribute-based versions of the PropertyValueVerifier as we do for the FirstName property in the following example. C#
/// <summary>Gets or sets the FirstName.</summary> [StringLengthVerifier(MaxValue=30, IsRequired=true)] public virtual System.String FirstName { // …

Visual Basic
''' <summary>Gets or sets the FirstName.</summary> <StringLengthVerifier(MaxValue:=30, IsRequired:=True)> _ Public Overridable ReadOnly Property FirstName() As System.String Get '…

A VerifierEngine discovers the attribute and the FirstName property it adorns and then adds a StringLengthVerifier, triggered by the FirstName property, to its list of verifiers. Something similar happens when we add the Verifier programmatically to a list of verifiers that we later add to a VerifierEngine. C#
// Add FirstName StringLengthVerifier to a list of verifiers. verifiers.Add(new StringLengthVerifier( typeof(Employee),"FirstName", true, 1, 30));

Visual Basic
' Add FirstName StringLengthVerifier to a list of verifiers. verifiers.Add(New StringLengthVerifier( _ GetType(Employee), "FirstName", True, 1, 30))

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Evaluation in this situation is called “Instance Verification”. The PropertyValueVerifier and its kin are covered below.

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Behind the scenes, DevForce constructs a Verifier that can validate the Employee.FirstName property and arranges for that Verifier to be evaluated when someone tries to set the Employee.FirstName property91. That “arrangement” is the trigger.

Adding Triggers Explicitly
The predefined PropertyValueVerifiers and their corresponding attribute versions each add a property trigger to a property verifier implicitly (which is to say, “automatically”). When you create your own verifiers, you may want to add one or more triggers yourself. These you must add explicitly. It is easy to do with the EntityPropertyDescriptors generated by the Object Mapper92 as we see in this example:
hireDateVerifier.AddTrigger( EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.HireDate )

You can add them by string name too.
hireDateVerifier.AddTrigger(“HireDate”)

This isn‟t type safe and it assumes that the trigger property is a property of the object to be verified as is usually the case. You can specify the trigger type if you want to do so 93. C#
hireDateVerifier.AddTrigger(typeof(Employee), “HireDate”);

Visual Basic
hireDateVerifier.AddTrigger(GetType(Employee), “HireDate”)

You may go far with just this much understanding of triggers. On the other hand, you may find you need to dig deeper and then you‟ll want to know about TriggerItem and TriggerLink.

TriggerItem
The TriggerItem represents the triggering Employee.FirstName property. The Employee.FirstName property serves two roles in our example. It is both the value that is validated by the verifier and it is the “thing” that can trigger the verifier. We have to distinguish between the two. At the moment, we are interested in the property only in its second role – in its capacity as a trigger. Imagine that the verifier didn‟t look at the first name. Imagine that it performed some other Employee validation such as checking to see if the person is old enough to be an Employee. We could still trigger this verifier every time the user touched the FirstName property. The FirstName property serves in the second role, as trigger, even though it plays no role at all in the validation. A TriggerItem is little more than a .NET Type and a string called the MemberName. The string is almost always the name of some member on that type. If TriggerItem represents a property, the MemberName is the property name.

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It will also be evaluated when the program validates the Employee object (that is, during “Instance Verification”). You can extend them to include your custom properties. Or if you have to do so for reasons that will become clear below.

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While most TriggerItems are properties, it should be clear that we can represent almost any member of a Type as a TriggerItem. We could trigger evaluation of a Verifier with a method as easily as a property. In fact, the MemberName could be an arbitrary string that is not an actual member of the type.

TriggerContext
In the course of evaluating a Verifier, the VerifierEngine calls methods on that verifier. Remember, the VerifierEngine calls these methods. You do not. These methods include: C#
public VerifierApplicability IsApplicable( Object pItemToVerify, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext); public VerifierResult Verify( Object pItemToVerify, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext);

Visual Basic
Public Function Verify( _ ByVal pItemToVerify As Object, _ ByVal pTriggerContext As TriggerContext, _ ByVal pVerifierContext As VerifierContext) As VerifierResult Public Function IsApplicable( _ ByVal pItemToVerify As Object, _ ByVal pTriggerContext As TriggerContext, _ ByVal pVerifierContext As VerifierContext) As VerifierApplicability

Notice that the second parameter is a TriggerContext. The TriggerContext provides the verifier with vital information about how the verifier was triggered. The engine does not have to be triggered to evaluate the verifier. It could evaluate an entire instance without prompting by a trigger94. The TriggerContext is null in this situation – a fact the verifier may use to establish that it was not triggered.

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This is called “instance verification”.

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The following table highlights the key elements of a TriggerContext: Class Member
ProposedValue

Validation Through Verification

Description Typically a value entered by the user. The value is not yet committed; if the trigger is a property, the property has not yet been set to this value. The ProposedValue is meaningful only when the trigger‟s Timing is Preset. By convention, the verifier evaluates the proposed value. If the value is invalid (per the verifier), the triggering property should discard the proposed value and leave the current property value intact. The Entity.BeforeSetValue observes this convention.

Timing

One of the TriggerTiming enumerations (Preset, Postset) that indicate whether the validation occurs before the triggering property performs its task (Preset) or after it has already performed its task (PostSet). The ProposedValue is meaningful only when the Timing is Preset. The TriggerItem that inspired the VerificationEngine to evaluate the Verifier. The object that pulled the trigger. The Employee instance is the TriggerItemInstance in an Employee.FirstName trigger.

TriggerItem TriggerItemInstance

TriggerLink
We have neglected the TriggerLink to this point, conveniently confining our attention to the TriggerItem. As it happens, the TriggerItem alone is insufficient if we are to support a robust validation system. The TriggerItem tells us what kind of object triggered a Verifier. Now we have to find a way back from the object trigger to the object being verified. This is easy when the TriggerItem refers to a property of the object being verified. If the trigger is Employee.FirstName and the Verifier targets the Employee object, it is obvious that “the way back” from the property to Employee involves no effort at all: the triggering object and the verified object are one and the same. We wouldn‟t bother with such minutia unless we had grander plans – and we do. We would like to trigger evaluation of a Verifier when something happens much farther away. Let‟s change our example from Employee to Order. Suppose the user increases the quantity of an item on Order, a change that typically increases the total price of the order. Imagine that there is a verifier on the Order that constrains the total allowed amount of any order to a maximum amount, an amount calculated per a rule that factors the role of the user entering the data and the Customer‟s credit limit. This verifier sits on the Order class. We could wait until we validated the entire order before evaluating this verifier. If the change broke the limit, we‟d tell the user. But it might be better to tell the user right away. It might be better if the change to the OrderDetail.Quantity property triggered the Order verifier immediately.
OrderDetail.Quantity is not a property of Order. It is one hop away, on the navigation path from OrderDetail to Order. In other words, to make this trigger work, the VerifierEngine must be able to follow the path from the triggering change in Quantity to OrderDetail and from there to Order.

Enter the TriggerLink. The TriggerLink includes both the TriggerItem and a method that can navigate from the triggering object to the object to verify, a method known as the TriggerTargetNavigator. In our order example, the navigator could be the method that implements the nested property path from OrderDetail to Order.

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Verifiers and TriggerLinks

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We observed earlier that specifying a StringLengthVerifier for FirstName, simultaneously specifies the Employee.FirstName as its TriggerItem. It turns out that we are actually attaching a TriggerLink to the Verifier; the Employee.FirstName is the TriggerItem contained within that link whose other half is the navigator to Employee. When we use any of the PropertyValueVerifiers, we implicitly create a verifier attached to a TriggerLink that refers to the chosen property as its TriggerItem. The DevForce syntax hides the hook-up to make creating the verifier easy. Easy things should be easy. But hard things should be possible – and a full appreciation of what is actually happening can open our eyes to more complex scenarios. Let‟s take a look at some syntax for adding a TriggerLink to a Verifier explicitly. First, the simple case: C#
TriggerLink aLink = new TriggerLink( new TriggerItem(typeof(Employee), "FirstName"), // TriggerItem null, false); // Navigation aStringLengthVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink);

Visual Basic
Dim aLink As New TriggerLink( _ New TriggerItem(GetType(Employee), "FirstName"), _ Nothing, False) aStringLengthVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink)

The TriggerItem consists of a Type and a property name, just as we expect. The navigator is null (Nothing in VB) because there is no navigation necessary from the object that triggers the verifier to the object that is verified – they are the same object. The third Boolean parameter is false because the link does not return a collection and therefore cannot return “multiple targets”. The meaning of this mysterious option will become clear shortly. We would never actually add a simple property trigger this way. There is no reason to specify the TriggerLink or even the triggering object‟s type. There is no navigator and the type of the trigger is the same as the type of the verifier. Instead we would write, in both C# and VB,
aStringLengthVerifier.AddTrigger("FirstName")

Now look at the second case involving Order and OrderDetail: C#
TriggerLink aLink = new TriggerLink( new TriggerItem(typeof(OrderDetail), "Quantity"), // TriggerItem "Order", false); // Navigation orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink);

Visual Basic
Dim aLink As New TriggerLink( _ New TriggerItem(GetType(OrderDetail), "Quantity"), _ "Order", False) orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink)

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This time we have a navigator. The navigator is indicated by the Order property, a property of OrderDetail that returns the Order instance to verify. Apparently DevForce can convert a nested property path into a TriggerTargetNavigator.

How It Works
Here in schematic form is how Verifiers, TriggerItems, and TriggerLinks come together under the control of a VerifierEngine when the triggering object and the verified object are different. Something in the trigger property implementation tells the VerifierEngine to verify95, supplying it with the means to identify the TriggerItem. The VerifierEngine finds a TriggerLink for that TriggerItem and also the Verifier to which that TriggerLink is attached. The VerifierEngine extracts the TriggerTargetNavigator and calls it, passing the trigger object as a parameter. The trigger object is the OrderDetail in our example. The navigator returns the object to verify (the Order). The VerifierEngine confirms that the object to verify is of the correct type (i.e., it matches the Verifier.ApplicableType). The VerifierEngine executes the Verifier, passing the trigger information (a TriggerContext) as one of the parameters.

Triggering Multiple Verifiers
We said that the “OrderTotalPrice” verifier consults the customer‟s credit limit when determining if the total price of the order is valid. If the user changes the customer‟s credit limit, she could render the order valid or invalid. Not just one order either. She could change the validity of all of the customer‟s outstanding orders. We might want to draw attention to this by adding a Customer.CreditLimit trigger to the “OrderTotalPrice” verifier. Here‟s some syntax: C#
TriggerLink aLink = new TriggerLink( new TriggerItem(typeof(Customer), "CreditLimit"), // TriggerItem "Customer.Orders", // Navigation true); // true = returns multiple targets orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink);

Visual Basic
Dim aLink As New TriggerLink( _ New TriggerItem(GetType(Customer), "CreditLimit"), _ "Customer.Orders", _ True) orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink)

Note that this time the third argument of the TriggerLink constructor is True. We had to add an additional argument to signal that this TriggerLink could return multiple objects to verify96. The VerifierEngine will execute the “OrderTotalPrice” verifier for each of the customer orders. If there are twenty customer orders, there will be twenty VerifierResults.
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We‟ll investigate how to engage the VerifierEngine in just a few moments. If we said False, the link would return a single target object – a collection of Order. The “OrderTotalPrice” verifier applies to a single Order instance, not a collection. There is a type mismatch between the verifier and the (collection) object returned from the TriggerLink; the VerifierEngine will raise a VerifierException indicating that the verifier‟s execution failed.

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TriggerLinks and Performance
We typically don‟t worry about how long it takes to set a property. Now that we‟ve introduced triggers that can provoke a series of verifications, we should pause and reflect. The navigator in this last example invoked the Orders property of a Customer instance. That Customer may have thousands of orders, none of them in the entity cache. Calling Customer.Orders in this situation usually means a trip to the data store. The UI could stall noticeably while DevForce runs out to the server to fetch the orders. The developer must be aware of this possibility if she is going to write fancy triggers like this one. She may want to confine it to entities in the cache or only retrieve the orders that are still open 97. The Customer.Orders property can‟t be changed. Fortunately, there is an alternative.

TriggerTargetNavigator Delegate
In our previous TriggerLink examples we specified the navigator with a nested property path. We could have used a TriggerTargetNavigator delegate, defined as follows.
public delegate Object TriggerTargetNavigator(Object pInstance); Public Delegate Function TriggerTargetNavigator(ByVal pInstance As Object) _ As Object

It‟s a simple method that takes one object – the triggering object – and returns another object – the object to verify98. Here is the same TriggerLink, rewritten to use a TriggerTargetNavigator delegate method called “aCustomerOrdersNavigator”. C#
TriggerLink aLink = new TriggerLink( new TriggerItem(typeof(Customer), "CreditLimit"), // TriggerItem aCustomerOrdersNavigator, // Navigation delegate true); // true = returns multiple targets orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink);

Visual Basic
Dim aLink As New TriggerLink( _ New TriggerItem(GetType(Customer), "CreditLimit"), _ aCustomerOrdersNavigator, _ True) orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger(aLink)

This method could use DevForce persistence operations to do the navigation but it doesn‟t have to. It can have any implementation that returns objects that match the verifier‟s target object type, the value of Verifier.ApplicableType.  Do not use an asynchronous delegate. Validation is not workflow. Validation is an inherently synchronous operation and the VerifierEngine is not thread safe. The navigator must return an object to verify; the application must pause until that object becomes available.

PropertyDescriptor Syntax
We have shown the TriggerItem in its “native form” as a .NET Type and a member name.

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There is no point in verifying closed orders. Remember that this object can be a collection of objects. The boolean TriggerLink.ReturnsMultipleTargets property tells the VerifierEngine whether to verify the items in the collection individually (true) or as a single object (false).

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The PropertyDescriptor alternative may be easier to enter, easier to read, and is certainly more type-safe because the developer does not have to code the member name as a string. Here‟s how to add the simple property trigger in a single statement using the PropertyDescriptor notation in either C# or Visual Basic:
aStringLengthVerifier.AddTrigger(Employee.PathFor(e=>e.FirstName))

Here‟s how to add the TriggerLink with PropertyDescriptor notation. C#
TriggerItem item = new TriggerItem(typeof(Customer), Customer.CreditLimtEntityProperty.Name); orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger( new TriggerLink(item, // TriggerItem Customer.PathFor(c=>c.Orders), // Navigation True)); // true = returns multiple targets Dim item As New TriggerItem(typeof(Customer), Customer.CreditLimtEntityProperty.Name) orderTotalPriceVerifier.AddTrigger( new TriggerLink(item, ‘ TriggerItem Customer.PathFor(c=>c.Orders), ‘ Navigation True)) ‘ true = returns multiple targets

VB

Non-Property Triggers
We tend to discuss triggers as if they were always property triggers. They usually are. But they don‟t have to be. It takes a TriggerItem to trigger verification. The TriggerItem consists of a Type and a String called the MemberName. The MemberName could be any string. Usually it is a property name but it need not be. It could be a method name. It could be a string with no intrinsic meaning at all. The VerifierEngine uses the “type-and-string” to find verifiers to evaluate. It is as if the engine had a dictionary of TriggerItems, each leading to a TriggerLink and each link leading to a Verifier99. The “reality” of the MemberName is irrelevant from this perspective. Any block of code can trigger verification. All it has to do is call a VerifierEngine in a trigger-like way as discussed in the section “Invoking Verification”. The DevForce Object Mapper generates property setter code that calls a VerifierEngine in a trigger-like way. You do the same when you write your own custom settable properties. You could put the same call logic inside a method. For example, you might trigger Order verification inside methods that add or remove OrderDetail items so that you can immediately test the effect of adds and deletes on the total price of an order. TriggerTiming (Preset, Postset) is a convention that you should follow but can adapt to your purpose. Your AddOrderDetail method could trigger verification in a Preset manner before adding the new item100. If validation fails, the method could discard the item before it did any harm.

VerifierEngine
The VerifierEngine is the primary entry point for verification services.
99

Actually, a TriggerItem could lead to multiple TriggerLinks and each of those links could be attached to multiple Verifiers. A single TriggerItem can launch an avalanche of verifications. You must supply a ProposedValue. It can be any kind of object such as the item to be added. It could be null.

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An application may have any number of VerifierEngines although most will only need one. Each VerifierEngine contains a list of verifiers and a set of methods that allow collections of these verifiers to be evaluated sequentially against an instance of a .NET class. The verified object could be a DevForce business object but it doesn‟t have to be. The object can be of any concrete type. Each verifier produces a VerifierResult. The engine accumulates these results in a VerifierResultCollection as it proceeds and returns the entire collection as its own result.

Adding Verifiers to a VerifierEngine
Verifiers can be added to a VerifierEngine in two ways:

12. The engine can discover them automatically by inspecting the .NET types for verifier attributes. 13. The developer can add them programmatically. The application can combine these methods. We got a taste of verifier discovery in the “Getting Started” started section. We‟ll cover it in more depth shortly. Programmatic management of an engine‟s verifiers is straightforward via the AddVerifier and RemoveVerifier methods. Verifiers can be added or removed from a VerifierEngine at any time. The engine raises a VerifiersChanged event when verifiers are added or removed. available on the verifier engine and will inform any subscriber of the addition or removal of any verifier 101.

Verifier Discovery
The VerifierEngine always discovers verifiers in the types it is asked to verify 102. When a VerifierEngine attempts to verify an instance of a type it has not seen before, it probes the type reflectively, looking for verifiers. The probing strategy is as follows. 14. Start with the most senior base class in the type‟s inheritance chain. 15. Look for instances of the VerifierAttribute103 class on members of that base class. These define the “attributed verifiers”. 16. Look for a static method decorated with the VerifierProviderAttribute104; Such a method must take a single parameter of type object – this is the “VerifierProviderContext” – and it must return an IEnumerable(Of Verifier). 17. The engine calls the VerifierProvider and adds the Verifier instances returned by that method to its list of verifiers for the base type. 18. Find the next class in the type‟s inheritance chain and return to step #2. 19. Stop when have descended to the type that initiated the discovery process. We have seen the attribute verifiers earlier.

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The event is also raised when triggers are added or removed from a verifier that has been registered in the engine. Automatic discovery is not always a good thing, and developers can disable an engine‟s automatic discovery. An engine with automatic discovery disabled can still perform discovery when asked to do so. DevForce provides a number of common verifiers in attribute form all of which descend from VerifierAttribute. The developer can add custom VerifierAttribute subclasses just as he can add custom Verifiers. Actually, there can be more than one such method in the class and the VerifierEngine will call each one.

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A VerifierProvider might look like this: C#
#region Verification

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#region GetVerifiers Method /// <summary>Get Verifiers.</summary> /// <param name="pVerifierProviderContext">Context in which these Verifiers are retrieved.</param> /// <returns>The verifiers.</returns> [VerifierProvider] public static IEnumerable<Verifier> GetVerifiers(Object pVerifierProviderContext) { List<Verifier> verifiers = new List<Verifier>(); verifiers.Add(GetHireDateRangeVerifier()); verifiers.Add(new BirthDateRangeVerifier()); verifiers.Add(GetBornBeforeHiredVerifier()); verifiers.Add(GetPhoneNumberVerifier(Employee.HomePhoneEntityProperty)); return verifiers; } #endregion #region Hire Date Verifier /// <summary>Get a GetHireDateRangeVerifier.</summary> /// <remarks> /// Demonstrates building a highly focused verifier /// by encapsulation a standard verifier /// and its configuration. /// </remarks> private static Verifier GetHireDateRangeVerifier() { Verifier v = new DateTimeRangeVerifier( typeof(Employee), // Type of the object being verified Employee.HireDateEntityProperty.Name, // Property trigger false, // Non-null value is not required MinHireDate, true, // starting min date (inclusive) MaxHireDate, false); // ending max date (exclusive) return v; } private static DateTime MinHireDate { get { return new DateTime(1990, 1, 1); } } private static DateTime MaxHireDate { get { return DateTime.Today.AddMonths(1); } } #endregion #region BirthDateRangeVerifier inner class /// <summary>Get the minimum BirthDate allowed.</summary> private static DateTime MinBirthDate { get { return new DateTime(1900, 1, 1); } }

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/// <summary>BirthDate Range Verifier</summary> /// <remarks> /// Illustrates changing the error messaging for a particular property. /// Have to subclass to take control of the messaging. /// Here the message is statically known so we override /// <see cref="M:Description"/>; /// if it were dynamic or if /// <see cref="T:DateTimeRangeVerifier"/> constructed the /// message dynamically, we would have overridden /// <see cref="M:VerifyValue"/> and manipulated the /// message while creating the <see cref="T:VerifierResult"/>. /// </remarks> private class BirthDateRangeVerifier : DateTimeRangeVerifier { /// <summary>Default Ctor,</summary> /// <remarks> /// BirthDate is not required, /// must be on or after global min date (<see cref="M:MinBirthDate"/>), /// and before today. /// </remarks> public BirthDateRangeVerifier() : base( typeof(Employee), // Type of the object being verified Employee.BirthDateEntityProperty.Name, // Property trigger false,// Non-null value is not required MinBirthDate, true, // starting min date (inclusive) DateTime.Today, false) { } // ending max date (exclusive) public override string Description { // ToDo: Localize get { return "Must be born after " + MinBirthDate.Year.ToString() + "; No time travellers allowed!"; } } } #endregion #region Born Before Hired Verifier /// <summary>Get a BornBeforeHiredVerifier.</summary> /// <remarks> /// Demonstrates comparing two property values /// by creating an instance of a /// <see cref="T:DelegateVerifier{TVerifiedObject}"/>. /// </remarks> private static Verifier GetBornBeforeHiredVerifier() { // ToDo: localize description string description = "Must be born before hired."; DelegateVerifier<Employee> v = new DelegateVerifier<Employee>(description, BornBeforeHiredCondition); v.AddTriggers(Employee.BirthDateEntityProperty.Name, Employee.HireDateEntityProperty.Name); v.ExecutionModes = VerifierExecutionModes.InstanceAndOnPostsetTriggers; return v; } /// <summary> /// The <see cref="T:VerifierDelegate{TVerifiedObject}"/> /// for the <see cref="M:GetBornBeforeHiredVerifier"/>. /// </summary> private static VerifierResult BornBeforeHiredCondition(

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Employee pEmp, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext) { if (pTriggerContext != null && // We are not checking the proposed value because don't expect to call it preset pTriggerContext.Timing == TriggerTiming.Preset) { throw new VerifierException("BornBeforeHired verifier not implemented for Preset"); } return new VerifierResult(pEmp.BirthDate < pEmp.HireDate); } #endregion #region Phone Number Verifier /// <summary>Get a GetPhoneNumberVerifier.</summary> /// <remarks> /// Encapsulates a standard RegexVerifier, subclassed so the description can be customized. /// </remarks> private static Verifier GetPhoneNumberVerifier(EntityProperty pPhoneEntityProperty) { return new PhoneNumberVerifier( pPhoneEntityProperty.EntityType, // Type of object being verified pPhoneEntityProperty.Name, // Trigger false, // Non-null value is not required NamedRegexPattern.USPhone); // Regex pattern to use } private class PhoneNumberVerifier : RegexVerifier { public PhoneNumberVerifier(Type pApplicableType, string pPropertyName, bool IsRequired, NamedRegexPattern pattern) : base( pApplicableType, pPropertyName, IsRequired, pattern ) { } public override string Description { get { return base.Description + " including area code [e.g., (206)555-1212, 206-555-1212, or 206.555.1212]."; } } } #endregion #endregion

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VerifierProviderContext
Observe that a VerifierProvider method has an object parameter called the “VerifierProviderContext”. This is an arbitrary object, open to the developer‟s imagination. The VerifierEngine will pass it along to each provider. The engine acquires this context object in one of two ways: From the VerifierEngine.DefaultVerifierProviderContext which the developer must have initialized before the engine starts its discovery process. As the second argument to VerifierEngine.DiscoverVerifiers(Type, Object). This is a method that forces verifier discovery for the given type. The VerifierProviderContext object could be anything. It could be a pre-calculated list of verifiers for the type. It could include the VerifierEngine itself so that the VerifierProvider can inspect and manipulate the other verifiers for this type. The application must set the VerifierEngine‟s DefaultVerifierProviderContext or call its DiscoverVerifiers method early. The engine starts auto discovery as soon as it receives a request to verify an instance of a type. That discovery could fail or populate the engine with the wrong verifiers if the developer doesn‟t make these calls first.

Recommended Verifier Loading Approach
We recommend that most applications rely on automatic discover to build up a VerifierEngine‟s list of verifiers. It is ok to add or remove verifiers from a VerifierEngine programmatically outside of the class being verified but you should have a good reason for the extra and unexpected complexity. Some business requirements call for configurable validation rules. Verifiers can be represented in metadata, saved to storage, retrieved when the application starts, and plugged in to a VerifierEngine.

Configuring New VerifierEngines Consistently
While most applications will have only one VerifierEngine, there are good use cases for having two or more. Wherever there are multiple engines there arises the need to ensure that they are all configured consistently and appropriately. We don‟t want a rogue programmer blithely instantiating new engines that lack a DefaultVerifierProviderContext or are missing some other critical setting. The application can attach a handler to the static event, VerifierEngineCreated, on the VerifierEngine class. The event is raised whenever there is a newly created engine. The new engine is passed in the VerifierEngineCreatedEventArgs so that the handler can configure it.

Invoking Verification
Verifiers do not execute themselves nor can they be executed on their own. They must belong to a (single) VerifierEngine and rely on that engine to make them do their validation work.

A VerifierEngine doesn‟t verify on its own either. Something has to tell it to verify. DevForce shouldn‟t perform any operation unless it is asked to do so. Verification is a potentially costly operation. Perhaps as important, DevForce would not know what to do when it was done verifying.

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Validation Through Verification

Only the application developer can know when to verify and what to do with the results. DevForce does provide an easy way to automate trigger verification of the properties of business objects. The developer simply launches the Object Mapper and turns Verification on 105. The Object Mapper generates “setter” code to call the VerifierEngine at the appropriate time. It is still up to the developer to invoke verification at other key moments in the application such as: Verification of entities just before they are saved. Trigger verification of custom, settable properties of business objects. Verification upon business object fetch or merge. Trigger verification of non-business objects. Fortunately, there are .NET events for all of the key business object moments and trigger verification of nonbusiness objects looks just like trigger verification of business objects. In every case, the developer calls one of the VerifierEngine.Execute overloads. The public Execute methods available at this time fall into three “Execution Modes”: Instance Verification Preset Trigger Verification Postset Trigger Verification We‟ll examine each mode in this following segments. We‟ll learn how calling the VerifierEngine‟s Execute method determines whether it will perform instance, preset, or postset verification. Before we do, it is important to remember that we do not call Verifiers; the VerifierEngine does that. When we tell it to execute in one of the three modes, it will iterate over its internal list of registered verifiers, evaluating each verifier that is enabled for the current mode. A Verifier will only be evaluated if its Verifier.ExecutionModes matches the current mode! For example, if a verifier‟s ExecutionModes = VerifierExecutionModes.Disabled, the verifier won‟t be evaluated at all, no matter how we call the VerifierEngine. Keep this in mind as you review the scenarios below.

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We saw how to do this in the “Getting Started” section.

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Validation Through Verification

Instance Verification
The following are the VerifierEngine.Execute overloads for instance verification: Execute Overload Instance Verification
1 2 3 Execute(object pInstance) Execute(object pInstance, VerifierContext pVerifierContext) Execute(object pInstance, IEnumerable<Verifier> pVerifiers, VerifierContext pVerifierContext)

Description

Validate an instance within the default VerifierContext Validate an instance within a particular
VerifierContext

Validate an instance with just the given list of 106 Verifiers . Validate within a particular VerifierContext.

The “Instance Verification” Execute overloads validate an entire instance. The VerifierEngine finds the Verifiers for the instance type keeps only those with the Instance flag set in their Verifier.ExecutionModes sorts them in execution order107 and evaluates them sequentially.

VerifierContext
Every verifier receives a VerifierContext object during its evaluation. The simplest Execute, which accepts only the object to verify, passes along a VerifierContext constructed by the VerifierEngine. The other signatures take a custom VerifierContext argument which the engine modifies before handing to the verifiers. One of the signatures lets you specify which verifiers the VerifierEngine should evaluate. These verifiers must be registered with the VerifierEngine and their Verifier.ApplicableType must match the type of the verified object.

When and Where to Verify an Instance
The business requirements dictate when and where to verify an instance. Many applications provide the ability to validate an entity at any time and then ensure that every entity passes validation before it can be saved. Accordingly, this author recommends: Prepare business objects for instance verification        
106 107

Generate a BaseEntity in the Object Mapper Make all business objects inherit from this BaseEntity Write a VerifyInstance method in that BaseEntity

Verify instances in your handler of the EntityManager.Saving event Make sure you have such a handler on every EntityManager Iterate through the entities to be saved, calling VerifyInstance on each one Accumulate the VerifierResults from each call Cancel the save if there are any VerifierResults. Report these results to the user.

All of the verifiers must have been registered with this engine or else the Execute method returns an exception. Verifiers are sorted by Verifier.SortValue ; ties are broken by the order in which they were loaded into the engine (Verifier.InitializationOrder).

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Validation Through Verification

These are basic techniques taught in the DevForce tutorials, demonstrated in DevForce movies, and incorporated (albeit in enriched form) in DevForce reference applications such as Cabana. Here is a simplified example of a VerifyInstance method. C#
/// <summary>Validate object for all instance Verifiers.</summary> protected virtual VerifierResultCollection VerifyInstance() { return this.VerifierEngine.Execute(this); }

Visual Basic
''' <summary>Validate object for all instance Verifiers.</summary> Protected Overridable Function VerifyInstance() As VerifierResultCollection Return Me.VerifierEngine.Execute(Me) End Function

Observe that each instance has access to a VerifierEngine; this is the VerifierEngine that belongs to its EntityManager.

Trigger Verification: Preset and Postset
Should we validate a value before we set the property or after we set the property? There is no universally correct answer to this question.

Preset Triggers
Some bad values should never enter the object. If the object property concerned the dosage level of a drug, we‟d want to prevent entry of an invalid value. Ten thousand milligrams of something could be fatal. We have to block that at the moment of data entry. We don‟t want the user to be able to move until the problem is corrected. We certainly don‟t want that dosage to appear in the business object ever – not even in cache. This is the right place for preset trigger verification. In preset verification, the VerifierEngine receives a “proposed value” from the caller. The engine creates a TriggerContext with TriggerContext.Timing set to TriggerTiming.Preset. It embeds the proposed value in the TriggerContext.ProposedValue. Then it makes calls on the verifier(s) linked to the trigger, passing in this TriggerContext so that the verifier (a) knows how it was triggered and (b) the value it should test. By convention, the code that asks for preset trigger verification should examine the VerifierResultCollection returned from the engine before doing anything more with the proposed value. If the results collection contains an errant result – if VerifierResultCollection.AreOk is false – the code should discard the proposed value.

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Validation Through Verification

The following are the VerifierEngine.Execute overloads for “preset” trigger verification: Preset Trigger Execute Signatures
1 Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, String pMemberName, Object pProposedValue)

Description Perform “preset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the pMemberName property of the pTriggerItemInstance. The property will be set to the pProposedValue unless the validation fails. Verifiers receive the default VerifierContext. We say that the property caused a “preset trigger validation”

2

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, String pMemberName, Object pProposedValue, VerifierContext pVerifierContext)

Perform “preset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the pMemberName property of the pTriggerItemInstance. Verifiers receive the given VerifierContext. Perform “preset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the given PropertyDescriptor which translates to a property of the pTriggerItemInstance. Verifiers receive the default VerifierContext. Perform “preset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the given PropertyDescriptor which translates to a property of the pTriggerItemInstance. Verifiers receive the given VerifierContext. Perform “preset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the given TriggerItem. Verifiers receive the default VerifierContext. Perform “preset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the given TriggerItem. Verifiers receive the given VerifierContext.

3

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, PropertyDescriptor pDescriptor, Object pProposedValue)

4

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, PropertyDescriptor pDescriptor, Object pProposedValue, VerifierContext pVerifierContext)

5

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, TriggerItem pTriggerItem, Object pProposedValue)

6

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, TriggerItem pTriggerItem, Object pProposedValue, VerifierContext pVerifierContext)

Setting a Preset Trigger
The natural place to trigger a preset validation is inside the setter of the property, before writing the incoming value into the object. The code should provide the incoming value as the “ProposedValue” parameter. The code may include a VerifierContext if it will help the triggered Verifier do its job but the context is optional and may be null. The VerifierEngine provides the Verifier with a TriggerContext object that (a) alerts the Verifier to the fact that it was triggered and (b) provides the contextual information it needs to do its evaluation, including the proposed value in this preset case. See the “TriggerContext” section for more information. If the verification fails – if any preset Verifier produces an errant VerifierResult – the property must do something. The .NET framework development guidelines suggest that it should throw an exception. There is a VerifierResultException108 for this purpose.

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Its constructor accepts a VerifierResultsCollection parameter that handlers can interpret and present intelligently.

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Validation Through Verification

A VerifierResultException should not terminate the application. DevForce handles the exception gracefully when it occurs during data binding; see the “Verification and WinForms User Interfaces” section. The developer must handle a VerifierResultException thrown outside of data binding.

Entity.BeforeSetValue
The Object Mapper generates an Entity.BeforeSetValue method that adheres to this recommendation precisely109. The method is virtual; developers can override it in a base entity class if they want different behavior or if they want to augment it with other behavior such as error logging.

Postset Triggers
“Life and death” properties are relatively rare. It is usually ok if the property value is invalid while the user is working with the object. We want the user to know the value is invalid. We want to block every attempt to save invalid data. But we can tolerate bad values for a while. For example, the employee‟s home city may be a required value. We may not be able to save the employee record until we have a complete and valid home address. We want the application to tell us about the omission in time to correct it. On the other hand, it isn‟t going to harm anything if it stays blank while the user is entering new employee information. If the user mistakenly enters the wrong city, she should be able to clear it. She may not know the name of the correct city; it is better to leave the city blank than to leave the incorrect city in place. This is fine as long as we prevent the user from saving the address. Summarizing the requirement: Permit entry of an invalid value but advise the user of that fact. Prevent saving of an object with an invalid value and tell the user about that. The rule – manifested in the Verifier - is the same in both cases. How we validate and what we do with the result depends upon the context. We covered the second scenario - block the save – when we discussed “instance validation” above. We want “postset” triggered validation to handle the first scenario. “Postset” means that the property has already been set with the incoming, invalid value from the user by the time we validate. There is no “proposed value” to worry about. We still want to validate the (now current) property value and tell the user if there is a problem.

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The appendix discusses the implementation of BeforeSetValue in detail.

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Validation Through Verification

The following are the VerifierEngine.Execute overloads for “postset” trigger verification: Postset Trigger Execute Signatures
1 Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, String pMemberName)

Description Perform “postset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the pMemberName property of the pTriggerItemInstance. Verifiers receive the default VerifierContext. We say that the property caused a “postset trigger validation”

2

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, String pMemberName, VerifierContext pVerifierContext)

Perform “postset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the pMemberName property of the pTriggerItemInstance. Verifiers receive the given VerifierContext. Perform “postset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the pMemberName property of the pTriggerItemInstance. Verifiers receive the given VerifierContext. Perform “postset” validation of verifiers on all objects that are linked to the given TriggerItem. Verifiers receive the given VerifierContext.

3

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, PropertyDescriptor pPropertyDescriptor, VerifierContext pVerifierContext)

4

Execute(object pTriggerItemInstance, TriggerItem pTriggerItem, VerifierContext pVerifierContext)

As always we must tell the VerifierEngine to perform verification. The VerifierEngine will give the triggered Verifier a TriggerContext just as it did for the preset trigger but this time there will be no proposed value; the verifier may have to fish the value out of the object. That shouldn‟t be hard. The Verifier typically knows the property it verifies and this property is usually the same property that triggered verification. A “First Name” StringLengthVerifier that is triggered by input of first name text will know how to examine the FirstName property of the Employee instance it verifies. DevForce removes the guess work if the Verifier inherits from PropertyValueVerifier (as StringLengthVerifier does). Every subclass of PropertyValueVerifier has a virtual VerifyValue method that receives both the instance to verify and the value to verify. It is slightly trickier if the instance triggering the verifier is different from the object instance verified. We encountered such a case when we considered a “TotalPriceVerifier” on Order that is triggered by a change to the price of one of its OrderDetails. Fortunately, the Order‟s “TotalPriceVerifier” can use the TriggerContext.TriggerItem.MemberName (“UnitPrice”) to dig the changed price value out of the TriggerContext.TriggerItemInstance (the OrderDetail instance). Relatively few verifiers involve such circuitous triggering. The vast majority of verifiers are PropertyValueVerifiers whose triggering and verified instances are the same object. Which leaves us with the small problem of invoking the VerifierEngine at the right time. As this is a postset trigger, we should call the engine immediately after the line that pushes the incoming value into the trigger object.

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide Entity.AfterSetValue

Validation Through Verification

That is what the Object Mapper does when it inscribes an Entity.AfterSetValue method into the generated property code 110. What happens if the verification fails? We invoked the verifier for a reason, presumably to alert the user to a problem. The AfterSetValue throws a VerifierResultException just as the BeforeSetValue does. DevForce and .NET handle this just fine if the exception occurs within data binding. The developer must handle the exception if it occurs anywhere else.
AfterSetValue is virtual so developers can override it in a base entity class if they want different behavior. We‟ll

consider an alternative implementation in the “Verification and WinForms User Interfaces” section. Remember that you can delay telling the user about invalid input and rely upon instance verification to catch it just before save. You won‟t need postset triggers if you go this route.

The Role of the Object Mapper
As we just noted, the Object Mapper includes the Entity.BeforeSet and the Entity.AfterSet methods in the code it generates for properties unless you specify otherwise. It also generates an Args parameter for those methods that specifies whether verification should be invoked preset and postset. By default, it is invoked in both situations.

Writing Verified Custom Business Object Properties
Developers often write custom business object properties. Such properties are usually ReadOnly, which is to say, they have a getter but no setter. Trigger validation is a non-issue if there is no setter. When the developer needs to write a settable property, her code probably should parallel the code generated by the Object Mapper.

Monitor Execution with the VerifierBatchInterceptor
Some applications need to monitor the progress of a VerifierEngine‟s execution and intervene at certain points. The VerifierEngine.BatchInterceptor is the way to do it. The engine calls the interceptor after evaluating each Verifier giving all of the visibility and opportunity it needs. An interceptor is a method that conforms to the VerifierBatchInterceptor delegate signature: C#
public delegate VerifierOnErrorMode VerifierBatchInterceptor( Object pInstance, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext);

Visual Basic
Public Delegate Function VerifierBatchInterceptor( _ ByVal pInstance As Object, _ ByVal pTriggerContext As TriggerContext, _ ByVal pVerifierContext As VerifierContext) As VerifierOnErrorMode

Because the interceptor‟s parameters are the same as the parameters of the Verifier methods, IsApplicable and Verify(), it has the same visibility into the verification process as they do.
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The appendix discusses the implementation of AfterSetValue in detail.

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The interceptor can

Validation Through Verification

see the last verifier evaluated by looking at the VerifierContext.Verifier. review and edit the accumulating VerifierResultCollection by looking at the VerifierContext.VerifierResults. terminate the current batch at any time by returning VerifierOnErrorMode.Stop. post-process the VerifierResults when the batch is done – because the engine will call it one last time with the VerifierContext.EndOfBatch flag set true. The following example shows how one could use an interceptor to curb run-away validations. In this case, it terminates the batch on the third error: C#
… VerifierEngine engine = new VerifierEngine(); engine.BatchInterceptor = MyBatchInterceptor; … private VerifierOnErrorMode MyBatchInterceptor( Object pInstance, TriggerContext pTriggerContext, VerifierContext pVerifierContext) { if ( pVerifierContext.VerifierResults.Errors.Count > 2 ) { pVerifierContext.VerifierResults.Add( new VerifierResult(false,"More than 2 errors encountered")); return VerifierOnErrorMode.Stop; } else { return VerifierOnErrorMode.Continue; } }

Visual Basic
… Dim engine As New VerifierEngine() engine.BatchInterceptor = AddressOf MyBatchInterceptor … Private Function MyBatchInterceptor( _ ByVal pInstance As Object, _ ByVal pTriggerContext As TriggerContext, _ ByVal pVerifierContext As VerifierContext) As VerifierOnErrorMode If pVerifierContext.VerifierResults.Errors.Count > 2 Then pVerifierContext.VerifierResults.Add( _ New VerifierResult(False,"More than 2 errors encountered")) Return VerifierOnErrorMode.Stop Else Return VerifierOnErrorMode.Continue End If End Function

Verification and WinForms User Interfaces
Now that the application is detecting invalid data and throwing exceptions, we had better think about how we want to handle those exceptions and tell the user what is going on.

UI Lockup
The UI is going to lock up the moment the user enters an invalid value into a verified UI control. That is any data entry control: TextBox, DataPicker, ComboBox, etc. The user will not be able to leave that control until she enters a value that passes validation – not even to close the form.

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Validation Through Verification

In this illustration, the user cleared the “Last Name”. The last name is required. The form displays an error bullet and prevents the user from moving out of the textbox.

How does the user recover? If this were a grid, she could press the [Esc] key; it is “standard” for grid controls to restore the previous value when the user presses “escape.” How many users know that? In any case, this TextBox is not in a grid and pressing [Esc] does nothing but ring an annoying bell. The user can press the standard key chord for “undo”: Ctrl+Z. How many users know that? No, the most users will just keep entering new values until they find one that lets them out of the field. Needless to say, a UI should apply the “lock up” enforcement technique sparingly. In the author‟s opinion, it makes sense only for a value the user must know and is sure to know a value that must be correct immediately and at all times. Dosage of a dangerous prescription drug would fit this bill. Few other properties qualify.

Unlock the UI with AutoValidate
Recall that the DevForce Entity.BeforeSetValue and Entity.AfterSetValue methods raise a VerifierResultException when the property fails validation. This exception bubbles up and out of the property setter.111 Data binding traps the exception112 and responds by locking up the form. Fortunately, WinForms .NET 2.0 makes it easy to change this response. The key is the System.Windows.Forms.UserControl.AutoValidate property which takes one of the System.Windows.Forms.AutoValidate enumerations. AutoValidate
Inherit

Description Do what the parent UserControl does. The parent is the UserControl that contains this UserControl. This is the default for new UserControl instances. If there is no parent, the value is the default, EnablePreventFocusChange.

EnablePreventFocusChange EnableAllowFocusChange Disable

Prevents the user from leaving the control until the value passes validation. Validate but permit the user to leave the control if validation fails. Does not validate. Generally not a good choice.
113

Inherit is the default value for all new UserControls . Inherit means that the UserControl is governed by the AutoValidate setting of its parent UserControls, the UserControl that contains it.

111 112

Thanks to the System.Diagnostics.DebuggerNonUserCodeAttribute that decorates the setter. During the data binding Validate event raised when the user attempts to leave the TextBox.

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Validation Through Verification

The outer UserControl, typically a Form, doesn‟t have a parent so it is governed by the EnablePreventFocusChange setting. If we never change the AutoValidate property on any UserControl, our application is governed by the setting in the Form which, as we have seen, is EnablePreventFocusChange, the setting that locks up the form. All UserControls within the Form are inheriting this behavior. If we change the Form‟s AutoValidate property to EnableAllowFocusChange, the widgets on the Form will no longer lock up when the setter throws an exception. Neither will widgets on the contained UserControls because they inherit the parent Form‟s setting. So the quick answer to UI lockup: Change the Form‟s AutoValidate property to EnableAllowFocusChange C#
this.AutoValidate = System.Windows.Forms.AutoValidate.EnableAllowFocusChange; // Can move

Visual Basic
me.AutoValidate = _ System.Windows.Forms.AutoValidate.EnableAllowFocusChange ' Can move

Improving the User‟s Experience
EnableAllowFocusChange and Preset Triggers
AutoValidate.EnableAllowFocusChange works great for property verifiers governed by preset triggers.

The user can move out of the TextBox. Yet she can still see the error bullet protesting the lack of a “last name”.

The TextBox remains cleared so we can see that there is a problem – or rather that there was a problem, that our intent to clear the name was invalid. The LastName property itself was never actually changed. A preset trigger prevents the property setter from updating the object. At the moment there is a discrepancy between the business object property value and the corresponding widget control display property on screen 114. We can see reveal the discrepancy and cure it by scrolling off of the “Nancy” employee and then returning to her. The TextBox refreshes with her current LastName property value which remains “Davolio”.

EnableAllowFocusChange and Postset Triggers
The behavior is different for verifiers evaluated in response to postset triggers.
113

UserControl is the base class for developer designed screens. System.Windows.Form inherits from UserControl. Individual “UI widgets” such as TextBox do not inherit from UserControl.

114

We could set the DevForce BindingDescriptor.CancelEditOnError for the binding to LastName to true; this would immediately restore the TextBox‟s display of the original value. The author dislikes that choice because it obscures what the user was trying to do by replacing the user‟s data entry. She sees a warning about a problem that is no longer the problem.

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Validation Through Verification

If we had a LastNameRequiredVerifier and set its ExecutionModes to InstanceAndOnPostsetTriggers, the LastName property value would be empty, just as it appears in the TextBox. A postset trigger causes validation after the property has been set with the “proposed value.” We can confirm this by scrolling off of the “Nancy” employee and then returning to her. The TextBox remains blank. The current LastName property value is empty. However, we are no longer aware of the latent validation error. Our application does not validate the Employee upon display … and that might be a user experience problem115. At least it is not a data integrity problem – or doesn‟t have to be. We must assume that the application follows our advice and ensures that every entity must survive “instance verification” before it can be saved. We further assume that the application has some mechanism to display errant entities and their problems. Perhaps a simple MessageBox will do. This Employee will not survive validation, will not be saved, and the user will be told why.

Questionable User Experience
This approach may be viable if little time can pass between data entry and instance verification. Some applications attempt a save whenever the user moves off the current screen. The user will never lose sight of the LastName error bullet and the save effort will reveal all latent problems with this employee. Many applications delay save and allow the user to move around among entities with pending changes. That‟s how our tutorial works. Users can make a change to “Nancy”, scroll to “Andrew” and make changes to him, then scroll back to “Nancy” to continue her updates. In this kind of workflow, the user may not remember that there is a problem with the “Nancy” object for minutes or hours. When the application finally tells the user about this problem, the mental context is long gone and the application will be perceived to be “unfriendly”. There is another, potentially greater risk. The user may make a critical business decision base upon what is visible on the screen. That data could be in error. The user won‟t know it if she scrolled off and then back on to the record. If this risk is serious, the application must behave differently whenever the UI displays a new object – a new Employee in our example.

Instance Verification Upon Display
One approach would be to perform instance verification whenever the currently displayed object is changed.

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We could write code to perform “instance validation” whenever the Employee changed. We could capture the VerifierResults and display them as well as light up bullets next to each widget. The code is not hard to write but it‟s not utterly trivial either. We‟ll describe an approach that achieves something of that effect using a different technique.

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide

DevForce Silverlight Apps

DevForce Silverlight Apps
Features described in the section are included with the DevForce Silverlight product. DevForce Silverlight is currently in beta release.

Chapter 9:

Overview - What is DevForce Silverlight?
DevForce Silverlight allows you to deliver line of business applications in the browser with the kind of responsiveness users expect from a desktop application. Developed for Microsoft Silverlight, the browser plug-in which powers rich application experiences, it allows you to leverage your existing DevForce experience with new tools and techniques to build serious applications. A few things to note about Silverlight, and thus about DevForce Silverlight: Silverlight is inherently n-tier. The client application executes in a sandbox on the browser, and must communicate with a service to retrieve and save data. The DevForce Silverlight Business Object Server (BOS) provides that service, and allows you quickly to have a Silverlight application retrieving and saving to a database, using the domain model and business objects you're already familiar with. Silverlight is inherently asynchronous. To avoid blocking the browser, Silverlight requires that all service communications be performed asynchronously. This can be a bit challenging at first, but DevForce Silverlight provides an asynchronous API very similar to the standard synchronous API, plus additional features to make asynchronous programming as easy as possible. In DevForce Silverlight, you have the EntityManager to hold your client-side entity cache and communicate with the BOS, just like you would in a standard DevForce application. The Domain Model is actually shared between the two environments, and DevForce handles the movement of your business objects between tiers. You use the standard EntityQuery syntax to build true LINQ queries, which can be directed against a back-end data source or against the local DevForce cache. Your queries run asynchronously against back-end data sources, or synchronously against the local cache. Key to it all is the shared domain model. The domain model used by the Silverlight application is the same domain model used on the server, or in any .NET DevForce application: not an anemic object model with an unfamiliar API. You can add business logic - via custom methods and properties, DevForce property interceptors, and DevForce verification - to your shared domain model. You can also choose to deploy logic which is applicable to the client-side or server-side only.

Creating a DevForce Silverlight Application
You can use several different approaches to create a Silverlight application with DevForce: 1. Use the DevForce Silverlight application template. You can find this project template by choosing File - New Project' or 'File - Add - New Project' in Visual Studio. The template is in the DevForce folder under both the Visual C# and Visual Basic project types. Its use will result in the creation of both the Silverlight and web application projects for your DevForce Silverlight application. From here you can work on UI and domain model features, or reference already created projects. You'll use the DevForce Object Mapper to create the domain model and the "linked" Silverlight domain model.

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2. Use the DevForce Object Mapper.

DevForce Silverlight Apps

In this approach, you start by creating a new model (or opening an existing one). In the "Project Settings" for the domain model you'll see a check box labelled “Create Silverlight Domain Model Project”; you can use this as a toggle to choose an existing Silverlight project in your solution, or to create a new one. Select “New project” and choose "Silverlight Application" as the project type in the resulting dialog. This will use the DevForce Silverlight application template to create the Silverlight and web application projects. These new projects will also be set to the selected value in the corresponding “Domain Model Project” and “Silverlight Project” dropdowns. You can then continue working in the Object Mapper as usual. 3. Use the standard Silverlight application template. The standard Visual Studio template for a Silverlight application will create both the Silverlight and web application (or web site) projects. If you want the web application to host your BOS, you will need to do the following: Add EntityService.svc and EntityServer.svc files to the project; Add all necessary IdeaBlade references; and Modify the web.config to include the appropriate settings for the BOS. You can find samples of the EntityService.svc, EntityServer.svc, and web.config files in the DevForce installation "SampleCode\Deployment\IIS Files" folder. You'll need to use the Object Mapper to create the domain model and the "linked" Silverlight domain model.

Silverlight IIS Deployment Steps
The requirements for deploying a Silverlight application to IIS will differ depending on the version of IIS and your operating system. These are general guidelines. 1. Ensure the XAP mime type is registered in IIS. The server must recognize the .XAP extension in order to serve a Silverlight application. See http://learn.iis.net/page.aspx/262/silverlight/ for more information on registering the mime type for different IIS versions. The DevForce BOS runs as a WCF service, so you must also ensure that WCF is registered with IIS. See the “Ensure That IIS and WCF Are Correctly Installed and Registered” topic in this document for more information: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa751792.aspx. Note that you do not need to create service files or configure endpoints – these are provided for you in the .svc files and in the DevForcegenerated web.config (or the samples provided). Create an application (or choose an existing one) in IIS. You can do this using the Internet Information Services Manager, or within Visual Studio to deploy to IIS on your local machine, or by creating a setup project within VS. The web site will normally host both the Silverlight application (the .html, .aspx, .xap files) and the DevForce BOS. (Hosting the BOS at the same site as the Silverlight application is not required, but requires additional setup steps not covered here.) Create bin, ClientBin, and log folders under the application folder.

2.

3.

4.

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5.

DevForce Silverlight Apps

Copy any .aspx files, the web.config, Global.asax, EntityService.svc and EntityServer.svc files to the application folder. Copy all necessary assemblies to the bin folder. The assemblies required by DevForce are: IdeaBlade.Core IdeaBlade.EntityModel IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Edm IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Server IdeaBlade.Linq IdeaBlade.Validation Note that if you modify the .aspx or Global.asax files you must also rebuild the Silverlight web application project and place the re-built assembly in the bin folder. (If you do not have other application code in the web project – such as the Entity Model or Domain Model – then the assembly is not needed at all. If you do have application code, then any file with server-side script, such as .svc, .aspx and .asax files, must be kept synchronized with the web project assembly in the bin folder.)

6.

The app.config (or ServiceReferences.ClientConfig) in the Silverlight application must contain the correct URL to the BOS. Since the app.config is an embedded resource in the application assembly you must modify the file as below, rebuild the assembly and repackage the XAP file. You‟ll need to change the <objectServer> element:

XML

<objectServer isDistributed="true" remoteBaseURL="http://myserver" serverPort="80" serviceName="myapp/EntityService.svc" />

Be sure to copy the corrected XAP file to the ClientBin folder of the application. 7. If you are deploying to IIS 7, also check that your web.config file contains a web.server section. As of DevForce Silverlight RC2, all DevForce-generated and sample Silverlight web.config files contain this section. If your web.config was generated in an older version of DevForce, paste the section below into your web.config file:

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DevForce Silverlight Apps

XML

<!-- The system.webServer section is required when hosting a Silverlight application under Internet Information Services 7.0. It is not necessary for previous versions of IIS. --> <system.webServer> <validation validateIntegratedModeConfiguration="false"/> <modules> <remove name="ScriptModule" /> <add name="ScriptModule" preCondition="managedHandler" type="System.Web.Handlers.ScriptModule, System.Web.Extensions, Version=3.5.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31BF3856AD364E35"/> </modules> <handlers> <remove name="WebServiceHandlerFactory-Integrated"/> <remove name="ScriptHandlerFactory" /> <remove name="ScriptHandlerFactoryAppServices" /> <remove name="ScriptResource" /> <add name="ScriptHandlerFactory" verb="*" path="*.asmx" preCondition="integratedMode" type="System.Web.Script.Services.ScriptHandlerFactory, System.Web.Extensions, Version=3.5.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31BF3856AD364E35"/> <add name="ScriptHandlerFactoryAppServices" verb="*" path="*_AppService.axd" preCondition="integratedMode" type="System.Web.Script.Services.ScriptHandlerFactory, System.Web.Extensions, Version=3.5.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31BF3856AD364E35"/> <add name="ScriptResource" preCondition="integratedMode" verb="GET,HEAD" path="ScriptResource.axd" type="System.Web.Handlers.ScriptResourceHandler, System.Web.Extensions, Version=3.5.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31BF3856AD364E35" /> </handlers> </system.webServer>

8.

If deploying to production, also remember to turn off any diagnostics or debugging settings in your web.config. Specifically check the <compilation debug="false"> element in the system.web section.

Questions and Answers
1. What is the "linked" Silverlight domain model? In order to provide a single "shared" domain model which can be used between application tiers, DevForce Silverlight creates two versions of the model - one compiled with .NET assemblies and one compiled with Silverlight assemblies. These two versions actually reference the same code files, and use the "linked" file feature of Visual Studio so that only a single copy of any file is required. The Object Mapper will perform this linkage for you: it will generate the domain model files into the .NET project, and then create links to these files in the Silverlight project. The result is that the domain model is available to both environments: a Customer class is the same whether it‟s defined in the client Silverlight application, or the server domain model assembly. One additional requirement also ensures that the types in your domain model can be shared: both the namespace and assembly names must be the same for the two assemblies holding the domain model. The Object Mapper also does this for you, so in most cases you don't need to be concerned with the implementation details. 2. Why is there an app.config in my Silverlight application, since Silverlight doesn't support configuration files? And why is it an embedded resource?

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DevForce Silverlight Apps

DevForce Silverlight, like any DevForce application, requires configuration information when starting. To get that configuration information in DevForce Silverlight you should ensure that a file named app.config is located in the Silverlight application project and marked as an embedded resource. DevForce, via the Object Mapper and build-time utilities, will automatically create this file and embed it for you, and keep it up to date, so there's usually nothing for you to do; just don't delete the file. Probing for configuration in DevForce Silverlight follows the same probing logic, where applicable, as in a standard DevForce application. 116 3. Where is the debug log? Unfortunately, a "client-side" debug log is not currently provided in the beta release of DevForce Silverlight. A debug log is generated on the BOS server, but it contains the usual server-side messages. A logging or tracing facility will be added in a future release. 4. Do I have to host the BOS from IIS? And must it be the same web site that's serving the Silverlight application? You can still host the BOS from either the console (ServerConsole.exe) or Windows Service (ServerService. exe) in DevForce Silverlight. You can also host the BOS from a different web site than the Silverlight application. In both scenarios you need to ensure that a policy file is in place to avoid getting a cross-domain access error. You'll find a sample clientaccesspolicy.xml file in the SampleCode\Deployment\Silverlight folder, along with a readme explaining how to deploy the file. 5. Can a single BOS support both Silverlight and .NET client applications at the same time? Unfortunately it cannot, at this time. Currently, a flag in the config file named “clientApplicationType” determines whether the BOS will communicate with Silverlight or standard .NET client applications. This flag is global to the BOS. This restriction may be removed in a future release. 6. How can I bind anonymously typed objects in my Silverlight application? The DynamicTypeConverter converts anonymously-typed objects to dynamically-typed objects for binding in Silverlight applications. Use the Convert(IEnumerable) method to convert one or more instances of an anonymous type to corresponding instances of a DevForce dynamic type. A DevForce "dynamic type" is a System.Type created dynamically at runtime. Generally the primary use for this conversion is in Silverlight applications, which do not support data binding to anonymous types. Projection queries are one common example in which return data will be anonymously-typed.

Troubleshooting
1. You attempt to Connect to the BOS from the Silverlight client and receive the exception "An error occurred while trying to make a request to URI 'http://localhost:9009/EntityService.svc'" Connection errors can have many causes, but the first thing to check, especially in a new application using the ASP.NET Development Server, is that the Silverlight application is actually "served" by the web application. You can see this by looking at the address bar in the browser. If it doesn't start with "http://" then the application is instead loading from the file system. Why is this a problem? Because, for security reasons, a Silverlight application cannot make service requests unless served by a web server. In DevForce Silverlight this means that the application cannot connect to, or make other requests of, the BOS; thus, data cannot be retrieved from or saved to the back-end data source. The problem is easily remedied by ensuring that the web application project is always the startup project in your solution.

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This logic is documented in an appendix to the “Hello DevForce” chapter of this Developers Guide, entitled “Probing Sequence for the App.Config File”.

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide
2.

DevForce Silverlight Apps

"No license found after probing all assemblies in the config file - Check for valid probeAssemblyNames in the config file." Possibly seen when double-clicking the “Error on page” icon in Internet Explorer and viewing the detailed error message. The probeAssemblyNames in the app.config embedded in the Silverlight application must be fully qualified assembly names. If not, since Silverlight is not able to load partial assembly names, no assemblies can be "probed" and no license found. DevForce will ensure the probeAssemblyName is correct if you set the updateFromDomainModelConfig setting in the file to either "Ask" or "Yes". This synchronization takes place at build time. The fully-qualified assembly name might look something like this: XML <probeAssemblyName name="FirstSilverlightApp, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null" />

Probed assemblies are used by DevForce not only for validation of the product license, but also to determine the location of the domain model classes and for custom interface implementations. 3. "*** License violation *** - 'Distributed BOS' not supported with the current license: StandardEF" You must have a license for DevForce Silverlight in order to develop Silverlight applications with DevForce. The Silverlight samples in the Learning Units were created with an SL license key and you'll be able to run the samples as long as you don't regenerate the domain model. Once you regenerate the model with your license key, the sample may stop working due to the license violation. 4. I get the following exception when trying to fetch: "Unable to locate type: XX.YY" This not-so-friendly message may be caused by a type name mismatch between your .NET and Silverlight domain model assemblies. DevForce will seamlessly transmit entities between the SL and BOS tiers, but it does this using what is essentially a "shared" domain model. DevForce expects to see entities having the same fully-qualified type name, for instance "DomainModel.Customer, DomainModel, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null", in both the .NET and Silverlight assemblies holding the model. This is why DevForce attempts to keep the assembly and namespace names in sync between the two projects, since without this type name equality, entities cannot move between tiers. This restriction will likely be removed in later releases of DevForce Silverlight. To fix the exception, ensure that the assembly and namespace names of the two projects containing the domain model are identical. 5. Why aren't my breakpoints working? This has nothing to do with DevForce, but we run into it from time to time. Double-check the Web properties on the web application project, and ensure that both ASP.NET and Silverlight debuggers are checked. 6. Your application was running initially and then crashes after a few minutes with an exception message such as: “Object reference not set to an instance of an object.. ---> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object”. You may have encountered a problem that occurs when the IIS application pool has recycled. One of the best ways to insure this does not happen is to create a new application pool that does not recycle on a time limited basis and then assign your application to that pool. 7. Your application had been running and then crashes after you make a change to one or more of the files in the application directory. The exception includes this message: “Could not load file or assembly 'App_Web_........”. You may have encountered a problem that occurs when files in the application folder no longer match the compiled version located in the “Temporary ASP.NET Files” folder. You can force a rebuild of your application by deleting the “bin” folder and then replace it with a copy or by running the “aspnet_compiler.exe” command with the “-c” switch. You can find the command by first browsing to the folder

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DevForce Silverlight Apps

“%SystemRoot%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\” and then open the v2.0.xxxxx subfolder (the numbers after v2.0 can vary) . Here is an example using the virtual directory name of the application: aspnet_compiler –v /MyApp -c

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide

Winform User Interfaces

WinForm User Interfaces
Features described in the section are included with the DevForce WinClient product, and apply to developers working with WinForm (not WPF) user interfaces. The features and facilities discussed in this chapter do NOT apply to Silverlight application development using the DevForce Silverlight product.

Chapter 10:

DevForce WinClient includes specific support for building WinForm user interfaces. ControlBindingManagers are provided to centralize all bindings to a particular business object type on a Form or UserControl. A special subclass of the .NET BindingList<T> class, the BindableList<T>, provides bi-directional binding refresh, facilitates sorts, and can be configured for automatic update as the contents of the DevForce WinClient local cache change. BindingDescriptors, DataConverters, and ViewDescriptors encapsulate your specifications for UI databinding behavior and facilitate reuse and consistency in your databindings across your user interface. UI designers ease and speed the layout of the UI view and the setup and configuration of data bindings. We‟ll detail all of these classes and facilities in this chapter.

UI Data Binding
A primary concern of any UI is the movement of data between a UI control property such as the Text property of a TextBox and a corresponding value in a data item such as the FirstName property of an Employee object. We want to display “Nancy” in the TextBox when we she becomes the current Employee. We want to update her Employee object when the user changes her name to “Sally”. We could write the code to do this ourselves. We could fill the TextBox when “Nancy” becomes the current Employee. We could subscribe to the TextBox‟s Leave event and, in our handler, pull “Sally” from the TextBox to set the Employee‟s FirstName property. This is called “imperative” programming. It is tedious and error prone and difficult to refactor when we want to change the process or abstract it from the form. There are times when it is the right approach, but there should be a an easier and safer way for 90+% of cases … and there is. It‟s called “UI Data Binding”. “UI Data Binding” describes the mechanism by which UI control properties are “bound” to data item properties. “Binding” in this context means that data values are exchanged between the UI control property and the data item property in response to particular events recognized by the Data Binding infrastructure. Some events trigger the setting of the UI control property; some trigger the setting of the data item property. The exchanges happen automatically. We don‟t have to write the transfer code. Our job as programmers is to declare the mapping between each UI control property and a corresponding property of the data item. We map once and the infrastructure executes according to our plan. This is called “declarative” programming. There are objects galore in object-oriented programming and it‟s often difficult to follow what object we‟re talking about at any given moment. We‟ll follow Brian Noyce‟s convention of referring to the data bound object – the source and temporary repository of data displayed in the UI – as the data item. We say “data item”, not “business object”. Our data item examples usually are business objects but they don‟t have to be. We can bind to any application object including the parent form or control.

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide

Winform User Interfaces

NET Data Binding
.NET itself provides the basic DataBinding infrastructure. That infrastructure was greatly improved in .NET 2.0 as were the design tools to exploit it. DevForce WinClient builds on .NET Data Binding in ways we will explore later in this section. Most DevForce WinClient developers working with WinForms never bother learning raw .NET Data Binding because the DevForce WinClient extensions and adaptation make binding much easier and consistent. Nonetheless, there will be times when a solid understanding of native .NET Data Binding is helpful or even essential117. In this chapter we will cover just a few of those concepts and techniques and, at that, only in the context of the use cases that require their use or explanation. Here are a few resources for learning more about DataBinding in as it comes out of the .NET box. [Noyes] Noyes, B., 2006, DataBinding with Windows Forms 2.0, Boston, Addison Wesley. At last a book dedicated to Data Binding in .NET 2.0. Brian Noyes presents the definitive account of the subject in a clear, concise, professional, and enjoyable read. You need this book; and on this topic, you need no other. [MacDonald] MacDonald, M., 2006, Pro .NET 2.0 Windows Forms and Custom Controls, Berkeley: Apress. This detailed and lively examination of Windows Forms construction in NET 2.0 is the best WinForms resource so far. There is plenty of meat – over 1,000 pages - garnished with hard-to-find tips. The chapters include coverage of tool strips, DataGridView, .NET data binding, sound and video, threading, and interface styles. The appendix on ClickOnce is a bonus. [Petzold] Petzold, Charles, 2006, Programming Microsoft Windows Forms, Redmond, Microsoft Press. An excellent and approachable introduction to the Windows Forms features new in .NET 2.0. Strips away the crud generated by the .NET designers so we can see the bare bones, sinews, and muscles. Other books do more but they‟re also huge; Petzold‟s book is spare and focused.

NET v. DevForce WinClient UI Data Binding for WinForms
There remain serious shortcomings in the base .NET implementation and there are opportunities to wrap and extend .NET Data Binding that improve the development experience and facilitate proper separation of controller and view logic. DevForce WinClient UI Data Binding for WinForms aims to overcome the shortcomings and provide the helpful extensions. The main points are: Issue Bugs DevForce WinClient Solution There are a great many traps in the base .NET implementation. Actual data binding behavior isn‟t exactly as documented. Events don‟t fire when they are supposed to or don‟t fire at all. Data aren‟t written to the control or data item as prescribed. Some controls don‟t follow the rules. We catch and work around many of them so you don‟t have to. Many desirable behaviors only become available when the data item implements the appropriate interfaces. DevForce WinClient business objects do. The DevForce WinClient binding collection, BindableList(Of T), fills in many of the gaps.

Missing implementations

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Most notably when we must bind to non-data properties of a control (e.g., background color) or bind to .NET and third-party controls not yet supported by DevForce WinClient.

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Winform User Interfaces

Issue Inconsistency

DevForce WinClient Solution .NET and third-party UI controls are wildly inconsistent both in their property names and in their support for the data binding infrastructure. The unwary developer is in for a long and frustrating voyage of discovery if she sets out all on her own. Books and tutorials help. But wouldn‟t it be easier to let IdeaBlade do the grunt work? We‟ve encapsulated much of the bizarre and “nuanced” behavior inside consistent and simple DevForce WinClient APIs and DevForce WinClient Control Binders. You can always fiddle with the controls directly and even write your own Control Binders but DevForce WinClient‟s default behavior is usually just what you want. Text book examples always show binding to simple object properties like FirstName. What about anEmployee.Address.State.Abbreviation? You don‟t see that one often – for good reason. It doesn‟t work. Oh, it works some of the time. But never in grids, and the breakdowns are difficult to predict. The DevForce WinClient DataBinding collections take care of this important problem. The .NET DataBinding infrastructure applies to whole UI controls. It works well with loose controls – controls bound to a property of a single data item. All bets are off for behavior inside a UI control. Container controls – grids especially –observe different Data Binding rules that are imperfectly applied. Nested properties, for example are not supported. DevForce WinClient grid binding managers for WinForms strive to overcome these deficiencies for each of the supported grids, including the .NET DataGrid and DataGridView, the DeveloperExpress XtraGrid, and the Infragistics UltraGrid. Sometimes we need a UI control to respond to something in the data item that is not expressed – or not expressed appropriately – as a public property. Our first instinct is to add the needed property to the data item. That may not be possible; we can‟t add a property to a class we don‟t own (e.g., a .NET class). It may not be wise to add the property even if we could; proper delegation of responsibility tells us that we should not add a purely UI property (such as an image) to a business object class. DevForce WinClient provides the means to enrich the data item with bindable “dynamic properties” without altering the data item class itself. .NET 2.0 made it easier to add format and parse logic to a binding but the approach remains crude and does not encourage abstraction. Nor does .NET 2.0 provide an easy answer to the need to change the format and parse behavior dynamically in accord with business or application rules. You have to wire that up yourself.

Nested Properties

Grids

Dynamic Properties

DataConverters

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Winform User Interfaces

Issue Disorganization

DevForce WinClient Solution .NET does little to help you organize your data bindings logically. The standard approach is to pile data bindings onto the form with no apparent concern for how groups of bindings serve a common purpose. We can discover all bindings associated with a BindingSource with the expression:
aBindingSource.CurrencyManager.Bindings

But this is an after-thought at best and the collection returned cannot be manipulated directly – we can‟t add or remove items for example. The DevForce WinClient binding managers for WinForms provide an explicit mechanism for organizing bindings around a specific collection of data items and for a particular purpose. This is the foundation for later refactorings that facilitate maintenance and testing. Reuse Static analysis of an application with Data Binding reveals an immense amount of duplicate code. The CompanyName property, for example, may appear thirty or more times over as many screens. In most cases it is bound anew each time with an exact duplicate (one hopes) of the other twenty-nine parameters. The DevForce WinClient infrastructure for Winforms – ViewDescriptors in particular – provide the foundation for a clean refactoring to reusable and testable data bindings.

Most DevForce WinClient developers succeed admirably without ever dropping down to raw .NET Data Binding. Nonetheless it is vital to understand that we can do so comfortably – and probably will do so – without rocking the DevForce WinClient Data Binding boat in the slightest.

Data Binding with DevForce WinClient UI Designers For WinForms
DevForce WinClient UI Designers for WinForms are the easy way to bind data items to loose controls and grids. The designers can also deposit controls on the “form” canvas, giving them names that conform to our preferred conventions. The control population feature alone can save hours of tedium. The UI Designers may be found on the “IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient” tab of the Visual Studio Toolbox. A typical example looks like so:

 Drag the ControlBindingManager tool onto the canvas. A small icon representing an instance of the ControlBindingManager class appears in the component tray beneath the canvas.  Open its context menu (right-click with mouse) and see some choices118.

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The details of this scenario are covered at a sane and leisurely pace in other documentation.

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide

Winform User Interfaces

 Launch “Autopopulate”  Pick “Employee” as the entity class to bind. The Designer offers a list of Employee public properties. We select a few until it looks like so:

The designer has suggested some controls and control names for us. We push “Ok”. The labels and controls appear on the canvas. We do some cleanup: erase the photo label, re-label the manager, re-size and re-locate the image. We go back to the toolbox, open the “All Windows Forms” folder, and drag a BindingSource component on to the canvas. We examine the controlBindingManager1‟s property sheet, find “BindingSource”, and set it to the new instance, bindingSource1. Our Visual Studio design view now looks like this.

At this point we have controls governed by a ControlBindingManager which looks for Employee objects in a BindingSource. We don‟t have any employees in that source yet. We‟ll solve that next. We double click the form; Visual Studio hooks up the form‟s Load event to a Form_Load handler template. We add a single line to that handler that asks the default EntityManager to get every Employee and store the resulting list into the data source of our BindingSource instance:
bindingSource1.DataSource = DomainModelEntityManager.DefaultManager.Employees.ToList(); // C# bindingSource1.DataSource = _

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide

Winform User Interfaces

DomainModelEntityManager.DefaultManager.Employees.ToList() ' VB

We compile, run, and … there‟s our form.

We can now circle back and add more stuff, some navigation, some buttons, and pretty soon we have an Employee editor. DevForce WinClient offers a variety of UI Designers for WinForms that work more or less this same way. Each UI Designer is a .NET component that runs within the Visual Studio development environment and is accessible from the Visual Studio toolbox. A UI Designer generates .NET source code directly into the “Form1.Designer” class file which is the companion to the “Form1” class file we‟ve been modifying. 119. Here‟s a peek at the code generated in C#
… // // controlBindingManager1 // this.controlBindingManager1.BindingSource = this.bindingSource1; this.controlBindingManager1.BoundType = typeof(Entities.Employee); this.controlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mFirstNameTextBox, typeof(Entities.Employee), "FirstName")); this.controlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mLastNameTextBox, typeof(Entities.Employee), "LastName")); …

The generated code is not pretty but it works. Usually we just leave it alone unless we wish to learn how DevForce WinClient writes data binding code. This snippet will make more sense when we cover the DevForce WinClient data binding architecture for WinForms below. There will come a time when we have to dig in. The UI Designers are fine for quick, one-off screens that can be defined statically at design time. On the other hand, we‟ll write the code ourselves if we must change or add data bindings on the fly such as when a control toggles from read-write to read-only. We may discover that certain control logic appears repeatedly and want to re-factor. These and other reasons compel us to learn more about DevForce WinClient data binding for WinForms. It is not hard. We have the UI Designer output as a guide. We can mix generated and custom code as we deem appropriate. So let‟s leave Designers behind for now to explore the inner workings of DevForce WinClient data binding.

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These two files together define the entire “Form1” class. Each file defines a “Partial” class meaning that it contains a part of the definition of the class. The compiler assembles all the partial class files together into the finished class. “Partial Classes” is a .NET language feature introduced in .NET 2.0.

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide

Winform User Interfaces

DevForce WinClient Data Binding Architecture
In this chapter we unveil the DevForce WinClient data binding architecture that implements the MVC pattern. That architecture pursues certain goals: Organize bindings around their datasources. Strive for order, consistency, and simplicity in the face of heterogeneous controls and objects. Promote code re-use and easy maintenance. We‟ll hearken back to these goals as we explain what may seem initially a complex implementation model.

High-Level View
Figure 5 shows a high-level view of the DevForce WinClient WinForm data binding architecture. At the extreme left side of the figure you see the data source – which for the purpose of data binding, is a business object (no matter where the business object got its data from). At the extreme right side is the data target: a UI control like a TextBox, ComboBox, or DataGrid. Figure 5. DevForce WinClient Data Binding Architecture : High-Level View

DevForce EF WinForm Databinding Architecture High-Level View
Formatting

Data Source (Business Object)

DataConverter

DataBinder

Data Target (UI Control)

Validation

Parsing

A property may not have the same data type in the business object data source that it needs in the UI control. A DateTime or numeric property, for example, may be targetted for display and edit in a TextBox, which only understands string values. And even if the UI control designated to display the business object property accomodates the property‟s data type, the developer may want to permit (or require) it to be entered in a different form in the control. A social security number, for example, might be stored as 123456789 in the business object, but be entered as 123-45-6789 in the control. Because the data may need to take different forms in the source and target, data transformations must take place as it travels between the two. The transformation (if any) that takes place as data moves from the source to the target is known as formatting; the transformation that takes place as data moves from the target to the source is known as parsing. Closely related to parsing is validation. Parsing ensures that the entered value can be transformed into the data type required by the data source; validation ensures that the transformed value conforms to business rules. DevForce WinClient WinForm data binding interposes two objects between the source and the target: a DataConverter and a DataBinder. The DataConverter encapsulates information about formatting, parsing, and

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide

Winform User Interfaces

validation requirements. The DataConverter knows the data type of the value it will receive from (and deliver to) the data source; it knows how to transform that value into a variety of anticipated types and formats; and it knows those aspects of the data validity requirements that are appropriate for enforcement at the point-of-entry. The DataBinder, on the other hand, knows about a specific UI control and its requirements. The DataBinder uses information from the DataConverter to configure the UI control. It also tells the DataConverter what type it needs, leaving it to the latter to deliver the requested type. You‟ll learn more about DataConverters and DataBinders as you proceed through this chapter. Right now, let‟s zoom in just a bit to look at some additional details of the DevForce WinClient DataBinding architecture.

DevForce WinClient WinForm Data Binding Architecture – Zooming In
Figure 6 depicts the key components of the DevForce WinClient binding architecture. A BindingManager collects BindingDescriptors, each of which describes the binding of a single property to a single UI control (which might stand alone, or be embedded in a DataGrid column). The BindingManager receives data from a BindableList (often an EntityList) which collects instances of a single type (usually a business object type). BindingDescriptors encapsulate specifications about an object type and property; a UI control; and desired UI behavior (controlled by the DataConverter). Figure 6. DevForce WinClient Data Binding Architecture: Zooming In

The ViewDescriptor, you will note, marries the behavioral specs encapsulated in a DataConverter (which are specific only to a particular simple data type, like a String or a DateTime) to a specific property from a specific type -- usually a business object type. You can, in other words, use it to fix the UI behavior of the Employee.BirthDate, or any other specific property, from your business model. You can then reuse the ViewDescriptor as often as desired to present consistent property-specific UI behavior across your entire application, regardless of the number of different contexts in which that property needs to be exposed. You have but one specification to create and maintain. That‟s the quick summary of DevForce WinClient databinding. Now let‟s explore it in more detail.

DevForce WinClient Data Binding Definition Process
At the macro level data binding definition is a three step process 20. Set up one of the kinds of DevForce WinClient Binding Manager 21. Add binding descriptors to that manager 22. Create a BindingSource and assign it to the manager At run-time, we set the DataSource of the BindingSource and fill that DataSource with data items – probably business objects. We may subsequently tune the bindings as the application and session activities require.

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide The ControlBindingManager
We‟ll delve into these concepts by beginning with the ControlBindingManager.

Winform User Interfaces

We rely on a ControlBindingManager to help us manage the UI controls on a form or other container (user control, panel, etc.) that displays a single data item. That data item could be an Employee object, one among a list of Employee objects selected for display or editing. We can work with only one Employee data item at a time in such a container. That one data item is the “current” data item. A dialog devoted to editing a single employee typically features several “loose controls” layed out in some meaningful pattern across the canvas of the “form.” Each such control can display a single value of a single property of the “current” employee. The TextBox is a good example of a loose control. Its Text property can display a string associated with a single property of one object – an employee first name for example. A ComboBox is also a loose control. It displays a list of potential values in its drop-down but only one of those values belongs to the current data item and it is bound to the value accessed by a single property of the current data item. For example, the value of the State property of the current employee‟s home address, when bound to a ComboBox, appears as the selected item in the list of fifty states presented in that ComboBox. The ControlBindingManager manages the entire collection of Employee data item bindings to these loose controls. It can manage bindings to any number of controls, but all must be bound to employee objects in a single BindingSource, the BindingSource of Employee objects edited in this “form.” The managed controls may all belong to the same vendor control suite (e.g., .NET), or may belong to different vendor control suites. Specifically, you can mix and match .NET controls with Developer Express or Infragistics controls (or other controls for which you have written custom binders).

Grid Binding Managers
A grid is a special kind of container control with its own data source. It is a tabular container of other controls, one control per column. Each row represents a single object in the data source. Each table cell displays a property of the row object in the column‟s control.

The value in a cell can be data bound to a property in a data item just as with loose controls. The collection of all such bindings falls under the care of a DevForce WinClient binding manager. The ControlBindingManager is not a candidate for this job. There are a number of peculiarities to the grid binding process that necessitate a distinctive kind of binding manager, a grid binding manager. A grid control displays many data items simultaneously. Accordingly, the grid data binding mechanism must accommodate binding to properties of more than one data item at a time. The .NET grids we‟ve seen require that all column controls belong to the suite offered by the grid vendor. We can‟t mix .NET controls with DeveloperExpress controls in either a .NET or DevEx grid.

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide

Winform User Interfaces

Our ability to bind to a grid is often constrained. Outside the grid, we may choose from a wide spectrum of the vendor‟s controls. Inside the grid we are limited to just a few types of column control. 120 Column controls may look like their loose control cousins but they are usually crippled in annoying and peculiar ways. The data binding rules inside a grid differ from the data binding rules for controls outside the grid. There are different binding events, different format and parsing behaviors, and different phases in the value editing cycle. Grid architectures and APIs differ markedly from one grid vendor to the next. Consequently grid data binding is considerably more challenging than data binding of simple controls and it is infeasible to write a single binding manager that can handle every grid of every vendor. DevForce WinClient offers multiple grid binding managers, one per supported control suite. There are four such managers at this writing:
DataGridBindingManager (for the now deprecated .NET 1.1 grid) DataGridViewBindingManager (.NET 2.0 grid) XtraGridBindingManager (Developer Express “DXperience XtraGrid”) UltraGridBindingManager (Infragistics‟ “NetAdvantage UltraGrid”).

While the differences between the ControlBindingManager and these grid binding managers are important, the fundamental concepts are almost identical for all of them – a consistency intended by DevForce WinClient‟s data binding abstraction. Therefore, we can continue to explore the DevForce WinClient data binding architecture using the ControlBindingManager as our model with only occasional nods to the specific character of a grid binding manager.

A Guided Walk Through the DevForce WinClient DataBinding Architecture
In the next few pages we‟ll take a stroll through the menagerie of the DevForce WinClient Data Binding Architecture, identifying the creatures we encounter as we walk through the process of building a “form”.

The ControlBindingManager Revisited
We just met the ControlBindingManager. It manages a collection of bindings between UI controls and the current data item in a collection of bound data items. A ControlBindingManager can only manage bindings to data items of a single bound type. The data items may be derived from that type (as we‟ll discuss later) but they must “belong” to the same common type. One of our first steps when creating a binding manager is to specify its type 121. We can set the ControlBindingManager‟s BoundType property as in
mEmployeeCbm.BoundType = typeof(Model.Employee);

Or we can specify it in the manager‟s constructor
mEmployeeCbm = new ControlBindingManager(typeof(Model.Employee));

Do set the BoundType early in the definition of the binding manager; it is not something to change later.
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Some grid vendors enable us to develop new column control types that incorporate controls otherwise available only in loose form. The .NET DataGridView is especially flexible in this regard. We can extend DevForce WinClient to accommodate these new column controls. The type need not be a DevForce WinClient business object. It can be any object in any referenced assembly.

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BindingDescriptorCollection
We‟ve said that the ControlBindingManager manages data bindings. It would be more precise to say that it manages a collection of BindingDescriptors, each of which is responsible for a data binding. We can access that collection of descriptors via the manager‟s Descriptors property as in
ControlBindingDescriptorCollection descriptors = mPageCbm.Descriptors;

We can add and remove descriptors from this collection at will. So what is a descriptor?

BindingDescriptor
A binding descriptor defines the binding between a specific UI control on the form and a particular property of a data item.

We‟ll unpack the components of a binding descriptor in a moment; here‟s a preview to get the sense of how we could create one.
ControlBindingDescriptor aDescriptor; aDescriptor = new ControlBindingDescriptor( mFirstNameTextBox, typeof(Employee), "FirstName");

We see the essential ingredients are: a control the type of the data item the name of the data item property We could add this descriptor to the ControlBindingManager‟s collection.
descriptors.Add(bd);

We can create a descriptor and add it to the collection in a single line.
aDescriptor = descriptors.Add(mFirstNameTextBox, "FirstName");

Observe that: We omit the data item type because it must be the same as the bound type of the ControlBindingManager to which this descriptor collection belongs. The Add method returns the binding descriptor; we may want to adjust some of its properties before adding another. In words, we have a ControlBindingManager managing multiple data binding definitions that relate properties of UI controls to properties of an object of a specific bound type.

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Architecture Summary #1
Our Data Binding Architecture diagram at this point looks like this:

We‟ve mapped a group of UI controls to the properties of a single bound type, all under the care of binding manager. We‟re at roughly this stage when we emerge from the UI Designer. Next we associate this mapping with a container of data items, the BindingSource.

BindingSource
Data binding in action involves marshalling data between UI control properties and the properties of actual data item instances. A ControlBindingManager, defined for Employee objects, at some point must be given some real employee objects to bind. Those objects are, collectively, the datasource for the binding manager. The ControlBindingManager needs access to this datasource but we don‟t specify it directly122. Instead we specify a BindingSource that, in turn, holds our datasource. We can set the binding manager‟s BindingSource through a property:
mEmployeeCbm.BindingSource = mEmployeeBindingSource;

We might have set it when we created the ControlBindingManager as in
mEmployeeCbm = new ControlBindingManager(mEmployeeBindingSource);

A BindingSource must contain objects of the same type, just like a binding manager. Therefore, the newly constructed mEmployeeCbm can infer its BoundType from its BindingSource. .NET 2.0 introduced the BindingSource as the preferred means to maintain collections of data items. The BindingSource is a smart collection that does far more than hold data items. For example, it keeps a pointer to the “current” data item and provides methods for moving the pointer up and down the list; each move causes a new item to become “current” and, in the process, raises a host of events leading to an update of the UI. The programmer can sit back and enjoy the show. We access the collection of data items in the BindingSource by means of its DataSource property. A DevForce WinClient application should set the BindingSource.DataSource as soon as possible, even if there are no items in that DataSource. One approach would be to set its DataSource during construction. Consider the following:
mEmployeeEntityList = new EntityList<Employee>(); mEmployeeBindingSource = new BindingSource(mEmployeeEntityList, null); mEmployeeCbm = new ControlBindingManager(mEmployeeBindingSource);

We are Creating an empty EntityList to hold the Employee data items Creating a BindingSource based on this EntityList; the BindingSource discovers its bound type from the EntityList123.

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We used to in .NET 1.1, before the advent of the BindingSource.

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Creating a new ControlBindingManager with an Employee BoundType and a BindingSource called mEmployeeBindingSource. This is not a typical initialization sequence but it makes the essential points about the relationships among DataSource, BindingSource, and binding manager.

BindableList DataSource
A DevForce WinClient binding manager requires a list datasource whose contents are all of the same type (or derived from the same type) as the binding manager‟s bound type. We must provide a list datasource. If we only need to bind to one data item, we‟ll turn it into a one item list as in
mEmployeeEntityList = new EntityList<Employee>(new Employee[] { anEmployee });

The datasource list should be of a type derived from the DevForce WinClient BindableList<T>124 in order to take full advantage of DevForce WinClient Data Binding features such as nested and dynamic properties.
EntityList<T> is a typical choice in DevForce WinClient applications because it both derives from BindableList<T> and holds DevForce WinClient business objects.

Filling the DataSource
We don‟t have to fill the datasource with data items while we‟re setting up the bindings. In fact, this is rarely a good idea. We generally don‟t know which items to display until after the application starts, the “form” is loaded, and we‟ve given the user the chance to tell us what he wants to see. Suppose the user filled in a filter form that we resolved into a query. We might see code such as.
// Get selected employees and sort them. mEmployeeEntityList.ReplaceRange(pm.GetEntities<Employee>(filterQuery); mEmployeeEntityList.ApplySort("FullName", ListSortDirection.Ascending, false);

Note that we used the ReplaceRange method. Do not re-assign the EntityList as in
// Wrong!!! Don‟t do this !!!. mEmployeeEntityList = pm.GetEntities<Employee>(filterQuery);

This code changes the mEmployeeEntityList object reference. Meanwhile, the BindingSource.DataSource is still holding on to the previous entity list. The UI will show the Employees in that old list rather than the ones we fetched into mEmployeeEntityList! Do not re-assign the BindingSource.Datasource as in
// Wrong!!! Don‟t do this !!!. mEmployeeBindingSource.DataSource = pm.GetEntities<Employee>(filterQuery);

This “works” in the sense that the UI will show the newly retrieved employees. But again we‟ve changed the collection object that was the BindingSource‟s DataSource. This change can cause massive disruption to the data bindings. This can cause DevForce WinClient to break and remake all of the bindings when it is managing the BindingSource (as it is in our example).

123

The “null” parameter means there is no DataMember which, in turn, means that the BindingSource finds its contents in the DataSource. We‟ll consider the “DataMember” when we discuss BindingSource chaining in Master / Detail scenarios. If we don‟t supply such a list, DevForce WinClient will wrap the list in a BindableList<T> where T is the type of object in the list. We cover BindableList<T> in detail elsewhere in the chapter.

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If the binding manager is a grid binding manager, the end user‟s column adjustments (columns widened or moved, for example) could be lost. The effects are rarely fatal but they are disruptive and annoying to the users. Do use ReplaceRange()

Architecture Summary #2
Our Data Binding Architecture diagram at this point looks like this:

This is where we are after we‟ve mapped controls to a bound type, added a BindableList, and populated that list with business entities using the EntityManager. We could be looking at a filled in form right now.

BindingDescriptors Revisited
BindingDescriptors bind to the “data” property of a control
The acute observer may notice a slight discrepancy between the characteristics of a .NET Data Binding and those of a binding descriptor. A .NET data binding can bind a data item property to any public property of the control. We usually bind to the control‟s “data” property.
Text is the “data” property of a TextBox. For example, mFirstNameTexBox.Text returns a string bound to the FirstName property of an Employee data item

A DevForce WinClient binding manager assumes that you want to bind the “data” property of the control so we don‟t have to specify it125. This saves both time and heartache because the name of the “data” property is not always the same from one control to the next.

Binding to non-data properties of a control
.NET data binding itself supports binding to almost any UI control public property. We can bind to the background color of a TextBox if we want to. Of course this presupposes that there is corresponding property of the data item that returns a color appropriate for this purpose. Such properties are rare in most application objects, and even rarer still in business objects. Rare or not, we may want to bind to one of these other control properties. The control‟s ReadOnly or Enabled property is a common target for data binding. Also, as we‟ll learn, while the data item may not have an appropriate bindable property, we can simulate such a property with the DevForce WinClient “dynamic property” feature.

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In fact, we couldn‟t specify that property if we want to do so. A binding manager can only bind to the “data” property of a control, as we will shortly discusss.

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Fortunately, we can have both .NET data bindings and DevForce WinClient data bindings in the same “form” without conflict. If our Employee had an OutOfRangeBirthDateColor property, we could add a line to our “form” initialization method such as:
mBirthDateDateTimePicker.DataBindings.Add( "BackColor", EmployeeBindingSource, "OutOfRangeBirthDateColor");

DataConverters
A data converter massages data on route between the object property and the control property. It does so by means of the .NET data binding Format and Parse events. The Format event fires just as the object property data are about to be handed to the control property. We handle the event if we care how our data are displayed. We have many choices as illustrated in these examples:

The Parse event fires when data will flow in the reverse direction, that is, just as the changed input in the control is about to be handed to the object property. Parsing the input means converting it into a format acceptable to the data type of the receiving property. The parsing process is closely related to the formatting process. If we used a regex expression to format our data, we probably could use the same regex expression to control and parse the user‟s input. Were we confronted with input as shown below, we would accept the first, reject the second, and, depending on the sophistication of our parsing logic, might accept the third.

After successful parsing, we could pass the parsed product directly to the property, confident that we would not crash the application due to data type incompatibility. The property then should determine if the input is acceptable from a business standpoint. In other words, having parsed the input, we should now validate it. In principle, the object alone should validate the data. In practice, the user experience is terrible if there is a lengthy delay between user input and validation. Such delays are among the principle frustrations of browser-based applications.

Benefits of DataConverters
DataConverters abstract the management of formatting and parsing operations into an object. This abstraction works for loose controls and for grid columns; you don't have to approach them differently. The abstraction works for controls of different types and from different vendors. There is a great deal of variation in the databinding syntax and behavior among UI controls; events often don't fire (or fire properly). In DevForce WinClient, we have gone to considerable effort to discover and do the best thing for each control. The DataConverter unifies separate but related concepts of Editability, Display (format), Parsing (valid for a type), and Validation (valid from a business rules perspective). DataConverter objects can be pre-configured and held in a library prior to their use in any actual data binding. By contrast, if you hook up the events yourself (or add them to the data binding expression), you must wait until you have such a binding to do so. With a DataConverter, you configure and hold it; you retrieve and apply it when and where appropriate.

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By applying the behavioral specifications encapsulated in DataConverters to specific properties of specific business objects – for which marriage DevForce WinClient supplies the ViewDescriptor object -- you can pre-define UI behavior on a property-by-property basis and then apply it with absolute consistency across your entire UI – not matter how complex that UI becomes. The point of all of this is to facilitate development of scalable UI's that are consistent throughout and easy to maintain.

The base DataConverter class
There is a base DataConverter class. We can assign an instance of it to almost any ViewDescriptor. It is very flexible. It can format and parse for properties returning most data types. It works with virtually all of the single value UI controls. The base DataConverter class is also pretty limited. Although we can set editability, we are obliged to accept its default formatting and parsing behavior and there is no validation option. It is, after all, only a base class.

Many standard data converters
DevForce WinClient ships with a large number of specialized data converter classes that inherit from DataConverter. Among them are BooleanConverter, DateConverter, DateRangeConverter, NumericConverter, NumericRangeConverter, RegexConverter, TextConverter, … the list goes on.

The converter’s object property data type
As the names suggest, these converters translate to and from a particular object property data type, the converter‟s “base data type”. When we add a data converter to a ViewDescriptor, the converter‟s base data type must be compatible with the data type of the ViewDescriptor‟s object property. For example, a binding to the employee BirthDate or HireDate properties would likely use a data converter with a DateTime base type. The program might crash if we used a text data converter.

The converter’s control property data types
A rich data converter can format to and parse from a variety of control property data types. A converter that supports many control property types can support many controls. The DataConverter class is especially accomplished in this respect. A data converter can only be used with a compatible control. If we bind BirthDate to a TextBox, we must use a converter that can translate between DateTime and string because that‟s what the TextBox control‟s display property expects. If we bind to a Calendar control that takes a DateTime input, the converter should be able to pass the date straight through. The developer of a data converter anticipates the controls we might want to bind to and provides suitable conversions from the base data type.

Control-specific data converters
A data converter may be able to support many controls or it may be dedicated to just a few. It might specialize in a single control or a small family of controls to take advantage of the special properties of those controls. The ListConverter is an example of a control-specific data converter. It specializes in the controls, such as ListBox and ComboBox, that let the user pick one entry from a list of choices. These list controls have distinctive properties such as Datasource, DisplayMember, and ValueMember. The ListConverter recognizes these properties and exposes them to the developer for configuration. The developer sets them, statically or dynamically, and leaves it to the ListConverter to manage the user interaction.

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Developers can create their own data converters. The easiest way is to sub-class an existing converter and modify it to suit our needs. Alterations could include new validation checks, different formatting, more robust parsing, or better control over the visual aspects of the bound UI controls. A more challenging approach is to write an entirely new data converter, either by sub-classing from DataConverter or, bolder still, by implementing the IDataConverter interface.

Data converters and re-usable code
This discussion highlights another way the DevForce WinClient data binding architecture promotes re-usable code. We shouldn‟t have to write individual custom event handlers for each binding when we can see commonalities across a wide range of cases. DevForce WinClient captures those commonalities in the data converter. As we add new binding descriptors (or ViewDescriptors) to our UI, we‟ll use one or another flavor of data converter repeatedly, configuring each converter instance to meet the particular requirements of the object properties to which we will bind.

ViewDescriptors
A ViewDescriptor marries a DataConverter to a specific property of a specific business object:

The ViewDescriptor describes binding behavior in a completely portable manner for its target property. While a binding descriptor is tied to a particular control on one form (or to a single column of a particular grid), a ViewDescriptor is independent of any UI control and can be reused across any number of data bindings to any number of different UI controls. For a given business object property, you need only describe the desired behavior once.

ViewDescriptor Catalogs
With ViewDescriptors we can programmatically describe how a specific property of a business object type should be rendered by the UI before we layout a single screen. We can standardize the visual treatment of objects and object properties.

Inside the ViewDescriptor
The ViewDescriptor captures four pieces of view information: the type of the object to bind the property path from that type which leads to the property that will be bound the display name for this property the format, parse, and validation information (which is encapsulated in a DataConverter)

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ViewDescriptor’s Property Path
Digression: hiding the ViewDescriptor
Recall earlier that we can define a binding descriptor without explicitly referencing the embedded ViewDescriptor. We showed a constructor with parameters for specifying the control, object type, and property path. The data converter is so important that DevForce WinClient exposes it both as a property of the binding descriptor and as a parameter of a binding descriptor constructor overload.

C#

TextConverter aDataConverter = new TextConverter(IdeaBlade.UI.Editability.Optional, 40); ControlBindingDescriptor aControlBindingDescriptor = new ControlBindingDescriptor(mLastNameTextBox, typeof(Employee), "LastName", aDataConverter); | | | | Control ObjectType Property Path DataConverter Dim aDataConverter As New TextConverter(IdeaBlade.UI.Editability.Optional, 40) Dim aControlBindingDescriptor As New ControlBindingDescriptor( _ mLastNameTextBox, GetType(Employee), "LastName", aDataConverter) | | | | Control ObjectType Property Path DataConverter

VB

Internally, DevForce WinClient derives a display name from the property path so that all elements of the ViewDescriptor are complete. It is as if the model looked like this:

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To create the binding descriptor using an explicit reference to a ViewDescriptor, you would instantiate your ViewDescriptor and use a different overload of the ControlBindingDescriptor constructor:

C#

ViewDescriptor aViewDescriptor = new ViewDescriptor(typeof(Employee), "LastName", aDataConverter); ControlBindingDescriptor aControlBindingDescriptor = new ControlBindingDescriptor(mLastNameTextBox, aViewDescriptor); | | Control ViewDescriptor Dim aViewDescriptor As New ViewDescriptor(GetType(Employee), "LastName", aDataConverter) Dim aControlBindingDescriptor As New ControlBindingDescriptor( _ mLastNameTextBox, aViewDescriptor) | | Control ViewDescriptor

VB

The ViewDescriptor constructor used above does not call for the display name, but other overloads are available that do, and the DisplayName property, along with others, can of course be set after the ViewDescriptor is instantiated.

Formatting and Parsing
The careful reader observes that the binding instruction specifies the name of a property of a data source object type (the “FirstName” property of an Employee) and the name of a property of a specific UI control (the “Text” property of a TextBox). .NET uses reflection at run-time to discover the actual properties involved. See [Petzold, 262 ff] Take note! The compiler is unable to help us with standard .NET data binding because it cannot know until runtime if those properties actually exist for the data source or the UI Control. For now we shall keep with the fiction that we are binding to the properties themselves.

BindingSource - Binding to a List of Objects
Returning to our example, we can load the DataSource of the BindingSource with Employee objects and redefine the binding like so:
myTextBox.DataBindings.Add("Text", myBindingSource, “FirstName”)

CurrencyManager – Positioning within the list
At any given moment, all such data bindings channel data from a single data object within that DataSource, the object that the BindingSource says is Current. A typical UI would have some mechanism for moving the position up and down within the list. The .NET BindingNavigator is a convenient choice. We can bind it to the same BindingSource:
myNavigator.BindingSource = myBindingSource

Clicking the buttons moves us an object at a time within the Employees of the DataSource.

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Format and Parse
The Format event is fired in two ways: (1) when the data object becomes current so that the binding can initialize the control and (2) when there is a change to the bound property of the current data object (we‟ll see how that works shortly). Each Format event handler receives a value from the bound data object property, formats the value, and passes the formatted value on to the waiting control. The Parse event is fired after user input. From time to time we have discovered specific UI controls that do not fire the event properly. We do our best to insulate you from such aberrant behaviors. when the user changes focus to another control. The Parse event receives data from the control, parses it, and passes the parsed value on to the data object property if all went well. The following diagram summarizes these flows.

Data Binding v. Persistence
In most UIs we bind controls to business objects. It's important to remember that changing an in-memory business object and updating the persistent data source are different operations. When the user changes the employee‟s first name, data binding will update the employee entity‟s FirstName property. Neither .NET nor DevForce WinClient update the corresponding “FirstName” column for that employee‟s row in the Employee database table. Not automatically. The persistent data source remains ignorant of all our inmemory changes until we tell the DevForce WinClient EntityManager to save the modified entity.

Nested Property Paths
We can traverse a business object graph by navigating along the path of its relations to adjacent business objects as we learned in the section “Business Objects and Persistence.” The expression anEmployee.HomeAddress.City begins with an employee object, emp, and follows its HomeAddress relation property to an address object before invoking the City property of that address. The syntax is as graceful as anEmployee.FirstName which invokes a property of the emp object proper. We refer generally to an expression such as anEmployee.HomeAddress.City as a “nested property path” and to City as a “nested property.”

Formatting
Formatting is the process by which data is transformed on its way from a datasource to a UI control.

Datasource

Formatting

UI Control

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We introduced this topic in the last chapter. Let‟s revisit it again to understand the problem and learn how DevForce WinClient solves it with data converters.

Formatting in Native .NET
In native .NET, some formatting can be done in the constructors for a System.Windows.Form.Binding. In the statement below, the date formatting string “d” is passed into the Binding‟s constructor: C# VB
Binding aBinding = new Binding("Value", mEmployeesBS, "BirthDate", true, DataSourceUpdateMode.OnValidation, System.DateTime.Today, "d"); Dim aBinding As New Binding("Value", mEmployeesBS, "BirthDate", _ True, DataSourceUpdateMode.OnValidation, System.DateTime.Today, "d")

The signature of that particular overload is as follows:

C#

public Binding(string propertyName, object dataSource, string dataMember, bool formattingEnabled, System.Windows.Forms.DataSourceUpdateMode dataSourceUpdateMode, object nullValue, string formatString) Public Sub New(ByVal propertyName As String, ByVal dataSource As Object, ByVal dataMember As String, ByVal formattingEnabled As Boolean, ByVal dataSourceUpdateMode As System.Windows.Forms.DataSourceUpdateMode, ByVal nullValue As Object, ByVal formatString As String)

VB

Another overload adds a formatInfo parameter that takes a System.IFormatProvider:

C#

public Binding(string propertyName, object dataSource, string dataMember, bool formattingEnabled, System.Windows.Forms.DataSourceUpdateMode dataSourceUpdateMode, object nullValue, string formatString, System.IFormatProvider formatInfo) Public Sub New(ByVal propertyName As String, ByVal dataSource As Object, ByVal dataMember As String, ByVal formattingEnabled As Boolean, ByVal dataSourceUpdateMode As System.Windows.Forms.DataSourceUpdateMode, ByVal nullValue As Object, ByVal formatString As String, ByVal formatInfo As System.IFormatProvider)

VB

The IFormatProvider provides a mechanism for retrieving an object to control formatting. Binding also provides a Format event that can be handled. The handler can perform just about any desired transformation of the incoming data:

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C#

public void SetBindings() { Binding aBinding = new Binding("Text", mProductsBS, "UnitPrice"); aBinding.Format += new System.Windows.Forms.ConvertEventHandler(DecimalToCurrencyString); mUnitPriceTextBox.DataBindings.Add(aBinding); } private void DecimalToCurrencyString(object sender, System.Windows.Forms.ConvertEventArgs e) { if (e.DesiredType == typeof(string)) { e.Value = (System.Convert.ToDecimal(e.Value)).ToString("c"); } }

VB

Public Sub SetBindings () Dim aBinding As New Binding("Text", mProductsBS, "UnitPrice") AddHandler aBinding.Format, AddressOf DecimalToCurrencyString mUnitPriceTextBox.DataBindings.Add(aBinding) End Sub Private Sub DecimalToCurrencyString(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.ConvertEventArgs) If e.DesiredType Is GetType(String) Then e.Value = (CDec(e.Value)).ToString("c") End If End Sub

Formatting with DevForce WinClient DataConverters
DevForce WinClient DataConverters provide several different options for performing required formatting on a property value. At the most basic and straightforward end, converters for DateTime and Numeric types 126 provide a FormatString property that uses the formatting strings pre-defined in .NET. Table 17 shows the .NET formatting strings for DateTime types; Table 18 shows the .NET formatting strings for numeric types. In addition to the formatting strings shown in the table, you can define custom formatting strings for both DateTimes and numerics. Table 17. Formatting Strings for DateTime Types (from the .NET Framework Help File)
Format specifier d Name Short date pattern Long date pattern Short time pattern Long time pattern Full date/time pattern (short time) Full date/time pattern (long time) Description Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.ShortDatePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.LongDatePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.ShortTimePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.LongTimePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. Displays a combination of the long date and short time patterns, separated by a space.

D

t

T

f

F

Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.FullDateTimePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider.

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DateConverter, DateRangeConverter, NumericConverter, and NumericRangeConverter

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g

General date/time pattern (short time) General date/time pattern (long time) Month day pattern RFC1123 pattern

Displays a combination of the short date and short time patterns, separated by a space.

G

Displays a combination of the short date and long time patterns, separated by a space.

M or m

Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.MonthDayPattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.RFC1123Pattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. This is a defined standard and the property is read-only; therefore, it is always the same regardless of the culture used, or the format provider supplied. The property references the CultureInfo.InvariantCulture property and follows the custom pattern "ddd, dd MMM yyyy HH:mm:ss G\MT". Note that the 'M' in "GMT" needs an escape character so it is not interpreted. Formatting does not modify the value of the DateTime; therefore, you must adjust the value to GMT before formatting. Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.SortableDateTimePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. The property references the CultureInfo.InvariantCulture property, and the format follows the custom pattern "yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss".

R or r

s

Sortable date/time pattern; conforms to ISO 8601 Universal sortable date/time pattern

u

Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.UniversalSortableDateTimePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. Because it is a defined standard and the property is read-only, the pattern is always the same regardless of culture or format provider. Formatting follows the custom pattern "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ssZ". No time zone conversion is done when the date and time is formatted; therefore, convert a local date and time to universal time before using this format specifier. Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.FullDateTimePattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider. The time displayed is the universal time, rather than the local time, equivalent to the DateTime value.

U

Universal sortable date/time pattern Year month pattern Unknown specifier

Y or y

Displays a pattern defined by the DateTimeFormatInfo.YearMonthPattern property associated with the current thread or by a specified format provider.

Any other single character

Table 18. Formatting Strings for Numeric Types (from the .NET Framework Help File)
Format specifier C or c Name Currency Description The number is converted to a string that represents a currency amount. The conversion is controlled by the currency format information of the NumberFormatInfo object used to format the number. The precision specifier indicates the desired number of decimal places. If the precision specifier is omitted, the default currency precision given by the NumberFormatInfo is used. This format is supported for integral types only. The number is converted to a string of decimal digits (0-9), prefixed by a minus sign if the number is negative. The precision specifier indicates the minimum number of digits desired in the resulting string. If required, the number is padded with zeros to its left to produce the number of digits given by the precision specifier. The number is converted to a string of the form "-d.ddd…E+ddd" or "-d.ddd…e+ddd", where each 'd' indicates a digit (0-9). The string starts with a minus sign if the number is negative. One digit always precedes the decimal point. The precision specifier indicates the desired number of digits after the decimal point. If the precision specifier is omitted, a default of six digits after the decimal point is used. The case of the format specifier indicates whether to prefix the exponent with an 'E' or an 'e'. The exponent always consists of a plus or minus sign and a minimum of three digits. The exponent is padded with zeros to meet this minimum, if required. The number is converted to a string of the form "-ddd.ddd…" where each 'd' indicates a digit (0-9). The string

D or d

Decimal

E or e

Scientific (exponential)

F or f

Fixed-point

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starts with a minus sign if the number is negative. The precision specifier indicates the desired number of decimal places. If the precision specifier is omitted, the default numeric precision given by the NumberFormatInfo is used. G or g General The number is converted to the most compact of either fixed-point or scientific notation, depending on the type of the number and whether a precision specifier is present. If the precision specifier is omitted or zero, the type of the number determines the default precision, as indicated by the following list. Byte or SByte: 3 Int16 or UInt16: 5 Int32 or UInt32: 10 Int64 or UInt64: 19 Single: 7 Double: 15 Decimal: 29 Fixed-point notation is used if the exponent that would result from expressing the number in scientific notation is greater than -5 and less than the precision specifier; otherwise, scientific notation is used. The result contains a decimal point if required and trailing zeroes are omitted. If the precision specifier is present and the number of significant digits in the result exceeds the specified precision, then the excess trailing digits are removed by rounding. If scientific notation is used, the exponent in the result is prefixed with 'E' if the format specifier is 'G', or 'e' if the format specifier is 'g'. The exception to the preceding rule is if the number is a Decimal and the precision specifier is omitted. In that case, fixed-point notation is always used and trailing zeroes are preserved. The number is converted to a string of the form "-d,ddd,ddd.ddd…", where each 'd' indicates a digit (0-9). The string starts with a minus sign if the number is negative. Thousand separators are inserted between each group of three digits to the left of the decimal point. The precision specifier indicates the desired number of decimal places. If the precision specifier is omitted, the default numeric precision given by the NumberFormatInfo is used. The number is converted to a string that represents a percent as defined by the NumberFormatInfo.PercentNegativePattern property or the NumberFormatInfo.PercentPositivePattern property. If the number is negative, the string produced is defined by the PercentNegativePattern and starts with a minus sign. The converted number is multiplied by 100 in order to be presented as a percentage. The precision specifier indicates the desired number of decimal places. If the precision specifier is omitted, the default numeric precision given by NumberFormatInfo is used. The round-trip specifier guarantees that a numeric value converted to a string will be parsed back into the same numeric value. When a numeric value is formatted using this specifier, it is first tested using the general format, with 15 spaces of precision for a Double and 7 spaces of precision for a Single. If the value is successfully parsed back to the same numeric value, it is formatted using the general format specifier. However, if the value is not successfully parsed back to the same numeric value, then the value is formatted using 17 digits of precision for a Double and 9 digits of precision for a Single. Although a precision specifier can be appended to the round-trip format specifier, it is ignored. Round trips are given precedence over precision when using this specifier. This format is supported by floating-point types only. The number is converted to a string of hexadecimal digits. The case of the format specifier indicates whether to use uppercase or lowercase characters for the hexadecimal digits greater than 9. For example, use 'X' to produce "ABCDEF", and 'x' to produce "abcdef". The precision specifier indicates the minimum number of digits desired in the resulting string. If required, the number is padded with zeros to its left to produce the number of digits given by the precision specifier. This format is supported for integral types only.

N or n

Number

P or p

Percent

R or r

Round-trip

X or x

Hexadecimal

For more complex formatting tasks, DataConverters have a FormatCore method that can be overridden in a subclass.

Parsing
Parsing -- the complement of formatting -- refers to the transformation of a data item as it travels from a UI control to a datasource.

Datasource

Parsing

UI Control

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Parsing in Native .NET
System.Windows.Forms.Binding provides a Parsing event that can be handled to control this process.

C#

public void SetBindings() { Binding aBinding = new Binding("Text", mProductsBS, "UnitPrice"); aBinding.Parse += new System.Windows.Forms.ConvertEventHandler(CurrencyStringToDecimal); mUnitPriceTextBox.DataBindings.Add(aBinding); } private void CurrencyStringToDecimal( object sender, System.Windows.Forms.ConvertEventArgs e) { if (e.DesiredType == typeof(decimal)) { e.Value = decimal.Parse(e.Value.ToString()); } }

VB

Public Sub SetBindings () Dim aBinding As New Binding("Text", mProductsBS, "UnitPrice") AddHandler aBinding.Parse, AddressOf CurrencyStringToDecimal mUnitPriceTextBox.DataBindings.Add(aBinding) End Sub Private Sub CurrencyStringToDecimal(ByVal sender As Object, _ ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.ConvertEventArgs) If e.DesiredType Is GetType(Decimal) Then e.Value = Decimal.Parse(e.Value.ToString()) End If End Sub

Parsing with DevForce WinClient Data Converters
The RegexConverter, for string types, has a Regex property which takes a Regex string. This string imposes the specified structure upon data being typed into the control. The same converter, and the TextConverter as well, has a TrimWhitespace property which, if set to True, causes trailing spaces to be eliminated from the value as it passes to the data source. Both the RegexConverter and TextConverter also have a ParseEmptyStringAsNull property which, if set to True, converts an empty string to a Null. For more complex parsing tasks, DataConverters have a ParseCore method that can be overridden in a subclass.

Metadata
DevForce WinClient data binding framework is especially well-suited for binding to DevForce WinClient business object as evidenced by its use of the metadata present in business objects. For example, many business object properties map to database character columns with a maximum length. The Object Mapper captures such maxima and inscribes them as attributes to the corresponding properties of DevForce WinClient-generated business object classes. The “FirstName” column of the IdeaBladeTutorial Employee table has a 30 character maximum. The Object Mapper includes the MaxTextLength(30) attribute in code for the FirstName property in the EmployeeDataRow class. The UI Binding framework can pick this up and automatically configure the UI control to enforce the 30 char max. If the UI control does not support this feature, the UI Binding framework can still validate the length and display a message to the user if the entry is too long.

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We are not limited to binding to .NET controls. Third parties offer a great number of controls. Many provide a better user experience than their comparable .NET controls. Some are completely novel, offering innovative ways to interact with a user. DevForce WinClient data binding works with any control that has been “wrapped” in a descendent of the DevForce WinClient DataBinder class. Control interfaces are remarkably inconsistent both within .NET and across vendors. A DataBinder class adapts the idiosyncratic interface of a control to our standard data binding API. DevForce WinClient ships with DataBinders for .NET controls and for control suites from several popular vendors. The DevForce WinClient package includes a few well-wrapped custom controls of its own. You can write your own controls and build DataBinders for them rather easily. They will fall right into place among the other controls we can bind to manually. You can also add them to the list of controls offered by the Designers with a few tweaks to a configuration file. Writing a Designer is a different story. Of course it can be done. But Designers are highly specialized applications. To write them requires deep understanding of Visual Studio and a lot of patience in debugging. This enterprise is beyond the scope of current documentation.

Data Binding to Data Objects of Any Type
The BindingSource, introduced in .NET 2.0, greatly improves the developers‟ ability to bind to properties of any object or list of objects. True bi-directional data binding is possible only when the data objects implement property change notification. However, it is still useful to bind to data objects that do not provide such notification. Putting them in a BindingSource makes that possible. We tend to demonstrate data binding with business objects like employees and orders: no wonder, for business objects are the predominant interest of our user community. However, it is often useful to bind to other kinds of things and, in fact, we can bind to anything that exposes public properties such as: Abstract classes Interfaces Web services Forms and other controls Structures We should pause a moment to consider these possibilities.

Binding to Abstract Classes
It is not unusual for a portion of a UI to display a collection of disparate but similar entities. For example, a produce shipper might fill a grid with Vegetables, not caring in this context about the diversity of vegetable products he has to sell. There are final classes for each kind of vegetable, such as Potato, Onion, Carrot, etc. Each of them inherits from the abstract base class, Vegetable, which defines their common properties such as Name, LotNumber, Quantity, and Weight. In our example we‟ll display vegetables in a .NET DataGridView in six easy steps: 23. Target a DataGridBindingViewManager for vegetables and aim it at a DataGridView on the form. 24. Add columns bound to Vegetable properties. 25. Create a DevForce WinClient BindableList to hold the vegetables. We need this to get good binding behavior like nested and dynamic properties. 26. Fill the list with some vegetables from the database

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27. Create a BindingSource and set its DataSource to our vegetable BindableList. 28. Assign the vegetable BindingSource to the DataGridBindingViewManager. The UI Designers work with concrete classes only, not abstract or UI classes so we have to do this programmatically. We‟ll program this one in C# and the next one in VB:
// Step 1: Aim the DataGridViewManager (DGVM) at Vegetables and a grid. mVegetableDGVM.BoundType = typeof(Vegetable); // Binding to vegetables mVegetableDGVM.DataGridView = mVegetableDataGridView; // Attach to grid // Step 2: Add some Vegetable columns DataGridViewBindingDescriptorCollection dc = mVegetableDGVM.Descriptors; dc.Add("Vegetable", "Name"); // Add a column as {label}, {PropertyName} dc.Add("Lot", "LotNumber"); dc.Add("Qty", "Quantity"); dc.Add("Wt", "Weight"); // Step 3: Create BindableList<Vegetable> // to give our vegetable list good binding behavior. BindableList<Vegetable> bl = new BindableList<Vegetable>(); // Step 4: Fetch some vegetables and add „em to the list. DomainModelEntityManager em = DomainModelEntityManager.DefaultManager; bl.AddRange(em.Potatoes.ToList()); bl.AddRange(em.Onions.ToList()); bl.AddRange(em.Carrots.ToList());

// Step 5: Create BindingSource with our BindableList in it. mVegetableBindingSource = new BindingSource(); mVegetableBindingSource.DataSource = bl; // Step 6: Give the vegetables to the DataGridViewManager. mVegetableDGVM.BindingSource = mVegetableBindingSource;

The grid might look like this:

Binding to Interfaces
We often encounter two very different stored representations of a similar thing. For example, we might present the user with a cross-vendor catalog of products. The vendors have graciously given us access to their on-line catalogs. Each has a notion of “product” but they are all so different that it seems pointless to have them share the same abstract class. For whatever reason, we decide that each vendor will have its own Product class and those classes will implement the IProduct interface. The steps the same as for an abstract class implementation; this time we write it in VB.
' Step 1: Aim the DataGridViewManager (DGVM) at IProducts and a grid

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mProductDGVM.BoundType = GetType(IProduct) ' Binding to product interface mProductDGVM.DataGridView = dataGridView1 ' Attach to grid ' Step 2: Add some IProduct columns Dim dc As DataGridViewBindingDescriptorCollection = mProductDGVM.Descriptors dc.Add("Vendor", "Vendor") ' Add a column as {label}, {PropertyName} dc.Add("Product Name", "Name") dc.Add("Serial #", "SerialNumber") dc.Add("Qty", "Quantity") ' Step 3: Create BindableList<IProduct> ' to give our product list good binding behavior. Dim bl As BindableList(Of IProduct) = New BindableList(Of IProduct)() ' Step 4: Fetch some products and add 'em to the list. Dim pm As PersistenceManager = PersistenceManager.DefaultManager bl.AddRange(pm.GetEntities(GetType(Product_VendorA))) bl.AddRange(pm.GetEntities(GetType(Product_VendorB))) ' Step 5: Create BindingSource with our BindableList in it. mIProductBindingSource = New BindingSource() mIProductBindingSource.DataSource = bl ' Step 6: Give the products to the DataGridViewManager. mProductDGVM.BindingSource = mIProductBindingSource

The IProduct grid might look like this:

Binding to Web Services
Web service objects are great candidates for bi-directional data binding. Imagine that our application reserves a corner of screen real estate to display a web service. Maybe we show the weather forecast in the user‟s home zip code. Maybe we display up-to-the-minute stock quotes for the user‟s portfolio. May we need shipping rates for products on the order we‟re taking right now. If we turn the Web service into a DevForce WinClient business object, we can bind it bi-directionally just as we can bind to an entity mapped to a database object. We may choose to interact with the Web service directly, outside of the business object model. In this case we might wrap the class returned by the Visual Studio web service wizard in another class (e.g., myWebService) so that we can expose useful public properties (instead of public data members), raise PropertyChanged events, and provide some insulation from service failures. We drop instances of myWebService into a BindableList<myWebService> and make this the DataSource of a BindingSource. We can use the UI Designers if we wish because myWebService is a concrete class.

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide Binding to Controls as Data Objects

Winform User Interfaces

We are accustomed to thinking of business objects as the data objects in a data binding. We might easily forget that controls themselves can be data objects. Our form might have information that we should display in the UI. The form‟ public properties might expose the name of the user, the step name in a workflow, and the parameters of a query filter. We can write
mFormBindingSource.DataSource = myForm

and display these properties in controls on the form itself for the user to see and, perhaps, change.

When to Use .NET Data Binding Instead
A UI widget‟s data property is its most important property but not the only one with a visible effect. Color, font style, visibility, and location are just a few of the additional properties of a typical UI control. We can bind to these properties with .NET data binding and it may be useful to do so. For example, we might want to set TextBox text against a different background color when the value is out of the normal range. In DevForce WinClient today we can only bind to the control‟s display property. Fortunately, non-data properties rarely need formatting, parsing, or validation so many of the extended capabilities of DevForce WinClient data binding are not needed. Regular .NET data binding works fine in most of these cases if we manage the object-tocontrol binding carefully.

When Not to Use Data Binding at All
Most UI widgets are on screen so that users may view and change data. Here‟s an example of ComboBox that sets the employee‟s manager. If I pick “Buchanan, Steven”, Janet‟s manager will change from Andrew to Steven.

Sometimes a UI widget is on screen for other reasons, such as to navigate from one object to the next. Below left we see Janet again. The ComboBox shows we are about to select “Nancy Davolio”. When we click, the form changes to display Nancy‟s record, as we can see on the right. We‟ve just “navigated” from the “Janet” to the “Nancy” employee.

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In the first case, we used the ComboBox to change the value of an object and we used data binding to do it. In the second, no values were touched; we used the ComboBox to move from one object to another but we didn‟t use data binding to marry the control to the datasource. Same gadget, same business object; different purpose, different technique.127 Both DevForce WinClient and native .NET data binding are intended to facilitate the exchange of data between a control and an object property as in case #1 where the ComboBox changes the employee‟s Manager property. Both DevForce WinClient and .NET data binding are the wrong tool when the control serves a different purpose as in case #2, where it shifts from one employee object to another.

UI Architecture
A detailed discussion of UI design is outside the scope of this guide. It will suffice to note here that Model-ViewController architecture has gained, justifiably, a very good reputation. While few applications today attempt rigorously to separate View and Controller (or Presenter) logic -- because the benefit gained from doing so is often not worth the effort it takes or the complexity it introduces -- the separation of Model logic from View and Controller logic is another matter. This separation contributes greatly toward making code easier to write, understand, test, and maintain. It facilitates the consistent application of business rules, facilitates code re-use, and provides many other benefits. In a DevForce WinClient application, the Business Object Model discussed in earlier chapters is so fundamental that the separation of Model from the UI view and control classes is practically automatic.

Nested Property Paths
We can traverse a business object graph by navigating along the path of its relations to adjacent business objects as we learned in the section “Business Objects and Persistence.” The expression anEmployee.HomeAddress.City begins with an employee object, emp, and follows its HomeAddress relation property to an address object before invoking the City property of that address. The syntax is as graceful as anEmployee.FirstName which invokes a property of the emp object proper. We refer generally to an expression such as anEmployee.HomeAddress.City as a “nested property path” and to City as a “nested property.”

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For both ComboBoxes, we provide a BindableList (or EntityList) as the DataSource, and specify the FullName property as the ComboBox‟s DisplayMember. For the “Change the Manager” ComboBox, we bind the Employee‟s Manager property to the ComboBox‟s ValueMember: but for the navigation-only ComboBox, we set no such data binding. In both cases, selecting a new item moves the position pointer in the ComboBox‟s DataSource; for navigation purposes, that‟s all the effect we need.

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The BindableList(of T)
DevForce WinClient includes a class, IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T), that subclasses and extends .NET‟s System.ComponentModel.BindingList(Of T) to support dynamic management of binding properties and the creation of managed (or “live”) lists. The BindableList supports all of the list management features of the BindingList -including methods such as InsertItem(), RemoveItem(), ClearItems(), ResetBindings(), etc., and the events AddingNew and ListChanged – but adds additional support for manipulating the property list of contained items. The latter feature forms the basis of DevForce WinClient‟s support both for nested property references using dot notation (Order.Customer.LastName), and for runtime-only properties on business objects. BindableList(Of T) also supports the attachment of ListManagers. These watch the PersistenceManager cache for newly appearing items or newly modified items, adding them to the managed list if they meet specified criteria. The BindableList(Of T) can contain items of any type, including interfaces and abstract types. A subclass of BindableList(Of T), the EntityList(Of T), is designed specifically for working with DevForce WinClient business (Entity) classes.128 In a WinForms application, you'll normally assign the BindableList (or one of its subclasses) to a System.ComponentModel.BindingSource.DataSource, leaving the BindingSource.DataMember unassigned. When constructing a IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.BindingManager, you can assign the BindableList to the BindingSource.DataSource, or place the BindableList in a BindingSource and then set the IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.BindingManager.BindingSource property. The IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T).PropertyDescriptors for a BindableList contain the System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptors appropriate for objects of the ItemType. By default, the list's PropertyDescriptorList is one maintained globally by the IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorList class. You may choose to maintain a private PropertyDescriptorList instead by setting the list's IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T).UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors property to False. We discuss this in greater detail later in this chapter.

BindableList(of T) Versus System.ComponentModel.BindingList
As mentioned above, the DevForce WinClient BindableList subclasses System.ComponentModel.BindingList. But exactly how does it improve upon it? It does so in several ways: 1. 2. 3. 4. By supporting dynamic properties and altered collections of properties; By providing enhanced facilities for sorting; By supporting the use of ListManagers that can discover newly added or altered instances of the contained type and add them to specified lists; By fixing a memory leak.

Support for Dynamic Properties and Altered Collections of Properties
First of all, BindableList(Of T) implements two important interfaces that BindingList does not. One, System.ComponentModel.ITypedList, is a .NET interface; the other, IdeaBlade.Util.IAdaptiveList, is a DevForce WinClient interface. The first provides support for the dynamic management of PropertyDescriptors; that is, it provides the foundation for altering the published schemas of items contained in the list. Suppose, for example, that you have a Ball object with properties of Color, Material, and Diameter. But for some particular purpose you want to expose a list of such Ball objects and have the contained objects appear not to have a Color property. For another purpose you want a list of Ball objects that have not only the properties Color, Material, and Diameter, but also a Bounceability property – even though Bounceability isn‟t a property that is defined in the Ball class itself. You want the consumers of this second list to find a Bounceability property, and you‟re willing to take care of making

128

Another class, the ReadOnlyEntityList(Of T), acts as a wrapper around EntityList(Of T), preventing items from being directly added or removed by a consumer.

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sure it reports a correct value. You want this special property to be a first-class citizen in every respect, including being one to which a data binding can be set. ITypedList provides the means to accomplish these objectives. It provides a GetItemProperties() method that can return whatever collection of properties (or more precisely, PropertyDescriptors) you want consumers to see. However, for this to work, a consumer must use this GetItemProperties() method to obtain the list of properties (rather than using reflection against the contained objects). DevForce WinClient binding facilities always use GetItemProperties() to determine what properties are available for binding, and this is the basis for DevForce WinClient‟s support of deeply nested property references (e.g., anEmployee.Manager.Manager.LastName) and also for dynamic properties. ITypedList is a great start, but it would be of little use without a mechanism for actually altering the list of PropertyDescriptors reported by a list. Left to its own devices, even the BindableList(Of T) will report only (and all of) those PropertyDescriptors that it finds intrinsically associated with its contained type. (That is, for our Ball object it will report Color, Material, and Diameter, the set of properties defined in the Ball class.) But how to add and remove properties? That capability is provided by implementation of the IdeaBlade.Util.IAdaptiveList interface. IAdaptiveList provides three methods -- AddPropertyDescriptor(), GetPropertyDescriptor(), and RemovePropertyDescriptor() – and a Boolean property, UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors(). AddPropertyDescriptor() and RemovePropertyDescriptor(), as their names imply, permit PropertyDescriptors to be added to and removed from the collection published by ITypedList.GetItemProperties(). GetPropertyDescriptor() permits you to get the PropertyDescriptor associated with a given property path (like “anEmployee.Manager.Manager.LastName”, the last name of an employee‟s boss‟s boss). DevForce WinClient keeps a global dictionary of PropertiesDescriptors by entity type. You call AddPropertyDescriptor() against a particular BindableList, but the PropertyDescriptor you add, under normal circumstances, also gets added to the global dictionary, under the collection of PropertyDescriptors for the type contained in that particular BindableList. That means that the next BindableList you create to contain that type will also report any properties you added or removed using AddPropertyDescriptor() or RemovePropertyDescriptor() against some other list. This is usually the behavior you want: when you add a property dynamically, you want it to be present in all collections of the type to which you added it. Nevertheless, there are occasions when that is not what you want. Instead you want to manipulate the set of PropertyDescriptors exposed only by a particular BindableList. For that circumstance, you can set the UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors() property of the list to False (away from its default of True). When you set UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors() to False, the collection of PropertyDescriptors reported for the contained type starts out being the same as the collection maintained in the global PropertyDescriptors list; but subsequent adds and removes affect only the local BindableList, which now maintains a separate copy of the PropertyDescriptors collection for the contained type, instead of obtaining that collection, upon demand, from the global list.

Enhanced Facilities for Sorting
System.Component.BindingList provides a method, ApplySortCore(), which must be overridden by a derived class to provide sort capability on the list. BindableList(Of T) does override this method, and in addition provides five overloads of an ApplySort method that uses it. You can call ApplySort() with a string-valued property name, a PropertyDescriptor, or a System.Collections.Generic.IComparer(Of T). (The latter permits complex sorts, including multi-column sorts.) Three of the overloads support a pKeepListSorted parameter. By setting this to true, your list stays sorted even as new items are added and existing items are changed.

Support for List Managers
The third pillar of BindableList(of T)‟s superiority over BindingList consists in its support for ListManagers. Each BindableList(of T) has a ListManager property which, if defined, is an object instantiated from a class that implements IdeaBlade.Util.IListManager. This ListManager watches some external environment – which might be a file system, the DevForce WinClient cache, or anything else – for new instances of the type contained in the BindableList. It checks these new instances – or existing instances whose state has changed – against specified criteria. If the ListManager discovers an instance that meets the criteria, it adds that instance to the BindableList(Of

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T) that it is managing. A given ListManager can manage multiple BindableLists(Of T), adding instances as needed to all of them. In DevForce WinClient, ListManagers are frequently used with EntityLists (which subclass BindableList and are discussed in more detail later in this section) to watch the DevForce WinClient PersistenceManager cache. As new business objects appear there that meet specified criteria, they are added to the managed EntityLists.

BindingList Memory Leak
The System.ComponentModel.BindingList shares a general problem related to containers which are consumers of events published by their containees. Naturally, a BindingList, acting as a container, acquires strong references to the objects it contains. But it also listens for a PropertyChanged event on contained objects which (like DevForce WinClient business objects) implement the System.ComponentModel.INotifyPropertyChanged interface. In order for the contained objects to be able to notify the containing lists when one of their property values changes, they must themselves hold a strong reference to the containing list. In short, the list holds strong references to the contained objects; and the contained objects each hold a strong reference to the list. It‟s like two wrestlers desperately clutching each other by the throat. The container can‟t be garbage-collected as long as anything else holds a reference to any of the objects it contains. In the example below, a System.ComponentModel.BindingList, aList, is instantiated and populated with a few Order objects. Then, inside a loop, aList is cloned a thousand times. Each clone, after being instantiated, immediately goes out of scope. But the Order objects it contains each holds a strong reference back to it. And since those Order objects remain alive in the original list aList, their strong references to the clone lists also remain alive, preventing the clone lists from being garbage collected. The Assert statement succeeds invariably, indicating a memory buildup in excess of 100,000 bytes attributable directly to the activities of the method.

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C#

public void BindingListMemoryLeak() { // Show the leak in the BindingList (as opposed to our bindable list) IList<Order> aList = FillOrderList(new BindingList<Order>(), true); // Instantiate the CloneList logic so any effect that has // on memory won’t be counted CloneList(aList); long memStart = GC.GetTotalMemory(true); for (int i = 1; i < 1000; i++) { IList<Order> orders = CloneList(aList); // Change a property value to raise PropertyChanged event. // This will ensure that the PropertyChanged event handler // is hooked up even if optimizations delay that until // the handler is needed. orders[2].Company = "test xxxxxx"; } long memEnd = GC.GetTotalMemory(true); long dif = memEnd - memStart; Assert.IsTrue(dif > 100000); } private BindingList<Order> FillOrderList(BindingList<Order> pList, bool pRegisterListChanged) { if (pRegisterListChanged) { pList.ListChanged += new ListChangedEventHandler(ListChangedHandler); } pList.Add(new Order("Test1", 1)); pList.Add(new Order("Test2", 2)); pList.Add(new Order("Test3", 3)); pList.Add(new Order("Test4", 4)); return pList; }

VB

Public Sub BindingListMemoryLeak() ' Show the leak in the BindingList (as opposed to our bindable list) Dim aList As IList(Of Order) = FillOrderList(New BindingList(Of Order)(), True) ' Instantiate the CloneList logic so any effect that has ' on memory won’t be counted CloneList(aList) Dim memStart As Long = GC.GetTotalMemory(True) For i As Integer = 1 To 999 Dim orders As IList(Of Order) = CloneList(aList) ' Change a property value to raise PropertyChanged event. ' This will ensure that the PropertyChanged event handler ' is hooked up even if optimizations delay that until ' the handler is needed. orders(2).Company = "test xxxxxx" Next i Dim memEnd As Long = GC.GetTotalMemory(True) Dim dif As Long = memEnd - memStart Assert.IsTrue(dif > 100000) End Sub Private Function FillOrderList(ByVal pList As BindingList(Of Order), ByVal pRegisterListChanged As Boolean) As BindingList(Of Order) If pRegisterListChanged Then AddHandler pList.ListChanged, AddressOf ListChangedHandler End If pList.Add(New Order("Test1", 1)) pList.Add(New Order("Test2", 2)) pList.Add(New Order("Test3", 3)) pList.Add(New Order("Test4", 4)) Return pList End Function

DevForce WinClient‟s BindableList prevents this problem by some clever programming. Notification to the lists about property value changes in their contained objects is accomplished by way of an intermediate object. The

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contained Order objects hold strong references to the intermediate object; but the intermediate object has only a weak reference to the containing list.
Weak Reference Intermediary Strong Reference

List

Contained Object

Because of that, the (IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList) clone lists are able to be garbage-collected even when other objects continue to hold references to the objects they contain; and minimal memory buildup occurs. Here‟s the corresponding test for the DevForce WinClient BindableList. It succeeds when captive memory does not build up; and it succeeds reliably. C#

public void BindableListMemoryLeak() { IList<Order> aList = FillOrderList(new BindableList<Order>(), true); CloneList(aList); long memStart = GC.GetTotalMemory(true); for (int i = 1; i < 1000; i++ ) { IList<Order> orders = CloneList(aList); orders[2].Company = "test xxxxxx"; } long memEnd = GC.GetTotalMemory(true); long dif = memEnd - memStart; Assert.IsTrue(dif < 2000); } //FillOrderList is the same as that shown in the previous example

VB

Public Sub BindableListMemoryLeak() Dim aList As IList(Of Order) = FillOrderList(New BindableList(Of Order)(), True) CloneList(aList) Dim memStart As Long = GC.GetTotalMemory(True) For i As Integer = 1 To 999 Dim orders As IList(Of Order) = CloneList(aList) orders(2).Company = "test xxxxxx" Next i Dim memEnd As Long = GC.GetTotalMemory(True) Dim dif As Long = memEnd - memStart Assert.IsTrue(dif < 2000) End Sub 'FillOrderList is the same as that shown in the previous example

Sorting a BindableList(Of T)
The BindableList‟s ApplySort() method has several overloads. Let‟s examine them, in order, to learn more about the sorting facilities of the BindableList.

IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Developers Guide
Figure 7. Overloads of BindableList(Of T).ApplySort()

Winform User Interfaces

Overload
1 Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pPropertyName As String, ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection, ByVal pKeepListSorted As Boolean) Member of: IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T)

Action and Parameters
Sorts the list based on the property name and direction specified. Parameters: pPropertyName: Name of the property on which to sort pDirection: The sort direction pKeepListSorted: Whether to keep the list sorted Sorts the list based on the System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor and direction specified. Parameters: pProperty: PropertyDescriptor on which to sort pDirection: The sort direction pKeepListSorted: Whether to keep the list sorted Sorts the list based on the System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor and direction specified. Parameters: pProperty: PropertyDescriptor on which to sort pDirection: The sort direction Sorts the list based on the natural comparator for the IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T).ItemType. Parameters:

2

Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pProperty As System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor, ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection, ByVal pKeepListSorted As Boolean) Member of: IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T)

3

Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pProperty As System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor, ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection) Member of: IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T)

4

Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection) Member of: IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T)

5

Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pComparer As System.Collections.Generic.IComparer(Of T), ByVal pKeepListSorted As Boolean) Member of: IdeaBlade.Util.BindableList(Of T)

pDirection: The sort direction Sorts the elements in the list using the specified comparer. Parameters: pComparer: The IComparer implementation to use when comparing elements. pKeepListSorted: Whether to keep the list sorted

The first-listed overload takes a string-valued property name, a direction, and a boolean indicator of whether you want the sort order to be maintained as new items are added to the list, or as contained items change:

C# VB

public void ApplySort(string pPropertyName, System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection pDirection, bool pKeepListSorted)

Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pPropertyName As String, ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection, ByVal pKeepListSorted As Boolean)

The second-listed overload takes essentially the same pieces of information, except that you specify the sort property using a PropertyDescriptor rather than a string-valued property name:

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C# VB

public void ApplySort(System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor pProperty, System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection pDirection, bool pKeepListSorted)

Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pProperty As System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor, ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection, ByVal pKeepListSorted As Boolean)

The third-listed overload is like the second, but omits the parameter specifying whether you want the sort order maintained (and performs only a one-time sort):

C# VB

public void ApplySort(System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor pProperty, System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection pDirection) Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pProperty As System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor, ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection)

The fourth-listed overload requires only the sort direction, and sorts on the contained type‟s “natural comparator”. A type has a “natural comparator” if it implements the System.IComparable interface. DevForce WinClient business entities, by default, do not; but simple types like strings and integers do, and you could certainly choose to implement the interface on one of your business classes. Like the third-listed overload, this one performs only a one-time sort.

C# VB

public void ApplySort(System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection pDirection) Public Sub ApplySort(ByVal pDirection As System.ComponentModel.ListSortDirection)

If you use this overload, be sure the contained type implements IComparable! If it does not, your results may be strange and unusual. The last-listed overload of ApplySort(), like #4, uses a System.Collections.Generic.IComparer(Of T); except here you specify it, instead of using one that‟s built into the contained type. C# public void ApplySort(System.Collections.Generic.IComparer<T> pComparer, bool pKeepListSorted) VB Public Sub ApplySort( _ ByVal pComparer As System.Collections.Generic.IComparer(Of T), _ ByVal pKeepListSorted As Boolean) This overload is far and away the most flexible and powerful of the five. Let‟s begin looking at it by implementing a hard-coded ascending sort of Employees on LastName, FirstName. C# public class EmployeeLastNameFirstNameAscendingComparer : IComparer<Employee> { public int Compare(Model.Employee x, Model.Employee y) { int retVal = 0; if (x.IsNullEntity & y.IsNullEntity) { //Both are null; don't change their order retVal = 0; } else if (x.IsNullEntity & ! y.IsNullEntity) {

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//x is null and y is not; make x first retVal = -1; } else if (! x.IsNullEntity & y.IsNullEntity) { //y is null and x is not; make y first retVal = 1; } else { //Neither is null; do the comparison. //Start by comparing the LastNames. retVal = string.Compare(x.LastName, y.LastName, true, System.Globalization.CultureInfo.CurrentCulture); //Note that we‟ve used an overload of String.Compare that //takes a CurrentCulture parameter. This will ensure that //our sort works even our app is moved to a different //country and language, where the rules for sorting may //be different. if (retVal == 0) { //Same LastName; let the FirstName determine the ordering. retVal = string.Compare(x.FirstName, y.FirstName, true, System.Globalization.CultureInfo.CurrentCulture); } } return retVal; } } VB Public Class EmployeeLastNameFirstNameAscendingComparer Implements IComparer(Of Employee)

Winform User Interfaces

Public Function Compare(ByVal x As Model.Employee, ByVal y As Model.Employee) As Integer _ Implements System.Collections.Generic.IComparer(Of Model.Employee).Compare Dim retVal As Integer If x.IsNullEntity And y.IsNullEntity Then 'Both are null; don't change their order retVal = 0 ElseIf x.IsNullEntity And Not y.IsNullEntity Then 'x is null and y is not; make x first retVal = -1 ElseIf Not x.IsNullEntity And y.IsNullEntity Then 'y is null and x is not; make y first retVal = 1 Else 'Neither is null; do the comparison. 'Start by comparing the LastNames. retVal = String.Compare(x.LastName, y.LastName, True, _ System.Globalization.CultureInfo.CurrentCulture) 'Note that we‟ve used an overload of String.Compare that 'takes a CurrentCulture parameter. This will ensure that 'our sort works even our app is moved to a different 'country and language, where the rules for sorting may 'be different. If retVal = 0 Then

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'Same LastName; let the FirstName determine the ordering. retVal = String.Compare(x.FirstName, y.FirstName, True, _ System.Globalization.CultureInfo.CurrentCulture) End If End If Return retVal End Function End Class

Winform User Interfaces

We could use the above IComparer to sort a BindableList of Employee objects in a statement like the following: C# VB mEmployees.ApplySort(new LastNameFirstNameComparer(), true); mEmployees.ApplySort(New LastNameFirstNameComparer(), True)

Fair enough, but perhaps you see a problem: We could end up writing a lot of such IComparers, and would have to anticipate every desired sort. So let‟s cut to the chase and look at a very general IComparer. This one works on any business object (Entity) type; will sort on any number of properties; and allows for specifying the sort direction desired on each included property. Now that’s an IComparer you can really ride into town on!

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using IdeaBlade.Persistence; using IdeaBlade.Util; /// <summary> /// Arbitrary n-column sort /// </summary> /// <remarks>This version works with all properties: simple, calculated, nested.</remarks> public class MultiPropertyComparer<T> : IComparer<T> where T : Entity public MultiPropertyComparer(BindableList<SortProperty<T>> pSortProperties) { mSortProperties = pSortProperties; } public int Compare(T x, T y) { int retVal = 0; if (x.IsNullEntity & y.IsNullEntity) { //Both are null; don't change their order retVal = 0; } else if (x.IsNullEntity & ! y.IsNullEntity) { //x is null and y is not; make x first retVal = -1; } else if (! x.IsNullEntity & y.IsNullEntity) { //y is null and x is not; make y first retVal = 1; } else { //Neither is null; do the comparison foreach (SortProperty<T> aSortProperty in mSortProperties) { IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyComparer<T> comparer = new IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyComparer<T>(aSortProperty.Descriptor, aSortProperty.Direction); retVal = comparer.Compare(x, y); if (retVal != 0) { break; } } } return retVal; } #region Private Fields private BindableList<SortProperty<T>> mSortProperties; #endregion }

VB

Imports IdeaBlade.Persistence Imports IdeaBlade.Util ''' <summary> ''' Arbitrary n-column sort ''' </summary> ''' <remarks>This version works with all properties: simple, calculated, nested.</remarks> Public Class MultiPropertyComparer(Of T As Entity) Implements IComparer(Of T) Public Sub New(ByVal pSortProperties As BindableList(Of SortProperty(Of T))) mSortProperties = pSortProperties End Sub Public Function Compare(ByVal x As T, ByVal y As T) As Integer _ Implements System.Collections.Generic.IComparer(Of T).Compare Dim retVal As Integer If x.IsNullEntity And y.IsNullEntity Then

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'Both are null; don't change their order retVal = 0 ElseIf x.IsNullEntity And Not y.IsNullEntity Then 'x is null and y is not; make x first retVal = -1 ElseIf Not x.IsNullEntity And y.IsNullEntity Then 'y is null and x is not; make y first retVal = 1 Else 'Neither is null; do the comparison For Each aSortProperty As SortProperty(Of T) In mSortProperties Dim comparer As New IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyComparer(Of T) _ (aSortProperty.Descriptor, aSortProperty.Direction) retVal = comparer.Compare(x, y) If retVal <> 0 Then Exit For End If Next End If Return retVal End Function #region "Private Fields" Private mSortProperties As BindableList(Of SortProperty(Of T)) #end Region End Class

Here‟s the SortItem class used by our MultiPropertyComparer: C#

using System.ComponentModel; using IdeaBlade.Persistence; using IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorFns; public class SortItem<t> where t: entity { public SortItem(string pPropertyPath, ListSortDirection pDirection) { mDirection = pDirection; mDescriptor = GetPropertyDescriptor(typeof(t), pPropertyPath); } public SortItem(PropertyDescriptor pDescriptor, ListSortDirection pDirection) { mDescriptor = pDescriptor; mDirection = pDirection; } public PropertyDescriptor Descriptor { get { return mDescriptor; } set { mDescriptor = value; } } public ListSortDirection Direction { get { return mDirection; } set { mDirection = value; } } #region Private Fields private PropertyDescriptor mDescriptor; private ListSortDirection mDirection; #endregion

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}

VB

Imports System.ComponentModel Imports IdeaBlade.Persistence Imports IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorFns Public Class SortItem(Of t As entity) Public Sub New(ByVal pPropertyPath As String, ByVal pDirection As ListSortDirection) mDirection = pDirection mDescriptor = GetPropertyDescriptor(GetType(t), pPropertyPath) End Sub Public Sub New(ByVal pDescriptor As PropertyDescriptor, ByVal pDirection As ListSortDirection) mDescriptor = pDescriptor mDirection = pDirection End Sub Public Property Descriptor() As PropertyDescriptor Get Return mDescriptor End Get Set(ByVal value As PropertyDescriptor) mDescriptor = value End Set End Property Public Property Direction() As ListSortDirection Get Return mDirection End Get Set(ByVal value As ListSortDirection) mDirection = value End Set End Property #region "Private Fields" Private mDescriptor As PropertyDescriptor Private mDirection As ListSortDirection #end Region End Class

Here are a few sample usages of the MultiPropertyComparer: 1. C# Sort Employees ascendingly by LastName, FirstName, passing the sort properties as string-valued names:
BindableList<SortItem<Employee>> SortItems = new BindableList<SortItem<Employee>()>(); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Employee>("LastName", ListSortDirection.Ascending)); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Employee>("FirstName", ListSortDirection.Ascending)); mEmployees.ApplySort(new MultiPropertyComparer<Employee>(SortItems), true); Dim SortItems As New BindableList(Of SortItem(Of Employee)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Employee)("LastName", ListSortDirection.Ascending)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Employee)("FirstName", ListSortDirection.Ascending)) mEmployees.ApplySort(New MultiPropertyComparer(Of Employee)(SortItems), True)

VB

2.

Sort Employees ascendingly by LastName, FirstName, passing the sort properties as PropertyDescriptors:

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BindableList<SortItem<Employee>> SortItems = new BindableList<SortItem<Employee>()>(); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Employee>(EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.LastName, ListSortDirection.Ascending)); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Employee>(EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.FirstName, ListSortDirection.Ascending)); mEmployees.ApplySort(new MultiPropertyComparer<Employee>(SortItems), true); Dim SortItems As New BindableList(Of SortItem(Of Employee)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Employee)( _ EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.LastName, ListSortDirection.Ascending)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Employee)( _ EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.FirstName, ListSortDirection.Ascending)) mEmployees.ApplySort(New MultiPropertyComparer(Of Employee)(SortItems), True)

VB

3. C#

Sort Employees descendingly by the count of Orders on which they acted as SalesRep; then ascendingly by their TotalOrderRevenue:129
BindableList<SortItem<Employee>> SortItems = new BindableList<SortItem<Employee>()>(); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Employee> (PropertyDescriptorFns.GetPropertyDescriptor(typeof(Employee), "Orders.Count"), ListSortDirection.Descending)); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Employee> (PropertyDescriptorFns.GetPropertyDescriptor(typeof(Employee), "TotalOrderRevenue"), ListSortDirection.Ascending)); mEmployees.ApplySort(new MultiPropertyComparer<Employee>(SortItems), true); Dim SortItems As New BindableList(Of SortItem(Of Employee)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Employee) _ (PropertyDescriptorFns.GetPropertyDescriptor( _ GetType(Employee), "Orders.Count"), ListSortDirection.Descending)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Employee) _ (PropertyDescriptorFns.GetPropertyDescriptor( _ GetType(Employee), "TotalOrderRevenue"), ListSortDirection.Ascending)) mEmployees.ApplySort(New MultiPropertyComparer(Of Employee)(SortItems), True)

VB

4.

Sort Products ascendingly by the CompanyName of the product Suppler, then descendingly by the UnitsInStock, UnitsOnOrder, and ReorderLevels:

129

We have used the GetPropertyDescriptor() method in this case to get the necessary PropertyDescriptors, rather than looking for them in the EntityPropertyDescriptors collection, because neither Orders.Count nor TotalOrderRevenue can be found in the latter. TotalOrderRevenue isn‟t there because it‟s a custom property, and the Object Mapper, keeping the clean separation between the developer- and DataRow-level classes, only generates EntityPropertyDescriptors for properties that are defined in the latter. The developer can manually add EntityPropertyDescriptors to the developer-level class, but the above code sample does not assume this has been done. The case of Orders.Count is different. Like TotalOrderRevenue, it has no EntityPropertyDescriptor in the EmployeeDataRow class; nor is there one in the Order class, since Count is not a property of Order, but of the ICollection (list) in which the Employee‟s Orders reside. GetPropertyDescriptor() buffers both kinds of issue, returning a PropertyDescriptor that will do the desired job.

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BindableList<SortItem<Product>> SortItems = new BindableList<SortItem<Product>()>(); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Product> ("Supplier.CompanyName", ListSortDirection.Ascending)); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Product>("UnitsInStock", ListSortDirection.Descending)); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Product>("UnitsOnOrder", ListSortDirection.Descending)); SortItems.Add(new SortItem<Product>("ReorderLevel", ListSortDirection.Descending)); mProducts.ApplySort(new MultiPropertyComparer<Product>(SortItems), true); Dim SortItems As New BindableList(Of SortItem(Of Product)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Product)("Supplier.CompanyName", _ ListSortDirection.Ascending)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Product)("UnitsInStock", _ ListSortDirection.Descending)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Product)("UnitsOnOrder", _ ListSortDirection.Descending)) SortItems.Add(New SortItem(Of Product)("ReorderLevel", _ ListSortDirection.Descending)) mProducts.ApplySort(New MultiPropertyComparer(Of Product)(SortItems), True)

VB

Manipulating the List of PropertyDescriptors for a BindableList(of T)
DevForce WinClient keeps a global list of System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptors for each business entity. You could list the PropertyDescriptors for an Order entity with the following code: C#

IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorList pdList =; IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorList.Get(typeof(Order)); foreach (System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor descriptor in pdList) { Console.WriteLine(descriptor.Name); } Dim pdList As IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorList = IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorList.Get(GetType(Order)) For Each descriptor As System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptor In pdList Console.WriteLine(descriptor.Name) Next

VB

When binding objects in a BindableList, .NET consults this list to determine what properties are available for binding on the objects it contains.130 Furthermore, DevForce WinClient provides functions to manipulate this list: PropertyDescriptors can be added to it and removed from it. This not only facilitates DevForce WinClient‟s support for binding to nested properties (e.g., Order.Customer.CompanyName); it also makes it possible to define new properties at runtime, and then to bind objects in the UI to them. Thus, properties that serve only a UI function only, and which therefore do not belong in the business model, need not be defined where they do not belong. Suppose, for example, that on your Orders form you wish to highlight the FreightCost when it exceeds a specified threshold for a given order. Specifically, you want to do this by changing the BackColor and ForeColor properties of the control displaying FreightCost to a color combination that will cause the control to stand out. You could define FreightCostBackColor and FreightCostForeColor properties on your Order business object; but such properties are completely specific to the user interface. With DevForce WinClient, instead of doing that, you can define the desired properties at runtime, assigning them to your Order business object. You can then bind the

130

This happens because the BindableList supports the .NET interface ITypedList, which is respected by the .NET WinForm binding facilities (but not by the .NET WebForm facilities!).

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BackColor and ForeColor properties of the TextBox displaying the FreightCost to these dynamically defined properties. Here is the code to define and bind the BackColor property. (The code for the ForeColor property is similar.) C#


mOrders.AddPropertyDescriptor("FreightCostBackColor", typeof(Order), FreightCostBackColorGetter, null);


private object FreightCostBackColorGetter(object pObject) { Order currentOrder = (Order)pObject; if (System.Convert.ToDecimal(currentOrder.FreightCost) >= 100) { return Color.DarkRed; } else { return System.Drawing.SystemColors.Window; } }

VB


mOrders.AddPropertyDescriptor("FreightCostBackColor", _ GetType(Order), AddressOf FreightCostBackColorGetter, Nothing)


Private Function FreightCostBackColorGetter(ByVal pObject As Object) As Object Dim currentOrder As Order = CType(pObject, Order) If CType(currentOrder.FreightCost, Decimal) >= 100 Then Return Color.DarkRed Else Return System.Drawing.SystemColors.Window End If End Function

Notice that the AddPropertyDescriptor() method of the mOrders EntityList (or BindableList) requires a Getter delegate that is called whenever a value is needed for the new property. In this case we check to see if the FreightCost is $100 or more. If so, we return the color DarkRed 131; otherwise, we return the standard BackColor value for a TextBox control. We can then use .NET databinding to bind the BackColor property of a FreightCostTextBox to the FreightCostBackColor property of our Order object.

C# VB

this.mFreightCostTextBox.DataBindings.Add("BackColor", mOrdersBS, "FreightCostBackColor"); Me.mFreightCostTextBox.DataBindings.Add("BackColor", mOrdersBS, "FreightCostBackColor")

There is another way we could accomplish the same result: by subclassing a DevForce WinClient DataConverter, teaching it to watch for high values, and writing a custom DevForce WinClient DataBinder to use the information. We‟ll explore that in a later section of this chapter.

Global v. Private PropertyDescriptorList
As previously mentioned, DevForce WinClient maintains a global list of PropertyDescriptors for entity types. This is initialized at application startup to include all those properties that are defined in the classes for the various entity types (Employee, Order, Customer, etc.). However, DevForce WinClient also allows the developer to modify this list, and provides methods to do so. The IdeaBlade.Util.PropertyDescriptorFns.BuildPropertyDescriptor() method,

131

We‟ve hard-coded the color for this example to make what we‟re doing more concrete; but in actual practice, this should be avoided due to the problems it can create for color-blind users. It would be better to defer to another color property in the System.Drawing.SystemColors collection, as we have done for the default color in the example.

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for example, permits a new property descriptor to be added to the list; the AddPropertyDescriptor() method on the BindableList(Of T) does the same. When a new PropertyDescriptor is added to the global list (by either method), the property described then “appears to exist” on objects of the specified type. But it only does so when certain protocols are followed both by the list containing the type and by other objects that use the list. The first must implement a System.ComponentModel interface named ITypedList; the second must either use the GetItemProperties() method specified by that interface, or use the PropertyDescriptors collection property of the BindableList.132 The good news is that not only DevForce WinClient, but more and more third party control and library vendors, support the use of the ITypedList interface. For this reason, you may find (for example) that your report writer (assuming it is a modern, object-friendly one) may recognize your object‟s nested and dynamic properties without any special “training”. BindableList(Of T) includes a boolean property, UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors, that determines whether objects that reference it should use the global list or a private list (BindableList.PropertyDescriptors). UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors defaults to True. When a developer sets this property to False, the BindableList makes a private copy of the global PropertyDescriptorsList for its contained type. That private list can then be manipulated (by adding, removing, or changing PropertyDescriptors) without affecting the behavior of other lists that contain the same type. Regardless of the setting of UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors, the appropriate list of descriptors is available through the BindableList‟s PropertyDescriptors property. If the UsesGlobalPropertyDescriptors property is set to true, PropertyDescriptors returns the global PropertyDescriptorList associated with list; otherwise, it returns the list's private PropertyDescriptorList. ITypedList specifies the implementation of a GetItemProperties() method to “return the System.ComponentModel.PropertyDescriptorCollection that represents the properties on each item used to bind data”. Any class or object that uses GetItemProperties() to determine what properties are supported on the objects in a given BindingList will get the correct list.

Binding to Entities in a BindableList(of T) Using a DevForce WinClient BindingManager
When binding to DevForce WinClient Entities (business classes), you typically will collect your objects in an EntityList(Of T).133 EntityList(Of T) subclasses BindableList(Of T) and adds a few methods and properties specifically useful when working with Entities. With the combination of DevForce WinClient Entities stored in an EntityList() feeding a DevForce WinClient BindingManager, you get the full capabilities of DevForce WinClient databinding: bi-directional binding, nested

132

There are at least two approaches to obtaining the PropertyDescriptors collection for a BindableList that don’t work properly. Neither approach is used within DevForce WinClient, of course, but either might be used by a third-party component. One would be simply to use reflection directly against the type contained in the list. The other would be to use GetItemProperties() incompletely, not bothering to recurse the PropertyDescriptors found. Either approach might produce a list of PropertyDescriptors that is missing some or all of the nested or dynamic properties. In some cases, calling AddPropertyDescriptor() on the BindableList from inside the code executed by the third-party component (e.g., in the Page_Load handler of a report class) will get the component to recognize a complex property it would otherwise not see.

133

DevForce WinClient itself uses a wrapper class, ReadOnlyEntityList(Of T), for nested property collections (such as Employee.Orders). Although the consumer of a ReadOnlyEntityList can edit the objects it contains, it cannot add or remove items to or from such a list by direct means (i.e., Add() or Remove()). However, DevForce WinClient always attaches an EntityListManager to the ReadOnlyEntityLists it uses when generating code for nested property collections. Because of the attached ListManager, any items newly appearing in the PersistenceManager cache (whether because of being fetched from a datasource, imported from a different PersistenceManager, restored from an locally persisted EntitySet, or newly created) will automatically be added to the nested property collections if they meet the collection‟s critieria. The same will be true of pre-existing objects that are modified in such a way as to make them meet the collection‟s criteria, when previously they did not. You can declare and instantiate ReadOnlyEntityLists for your own use, with or without EntityListManagers, whenever you want to provide an EntityList that cannot be grown or shrunk.

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properties, dynamic properties, insulation from valueless idiosyncracies of the object models of supported thirdparty controls, and bindings collected together in a BindingManager‟s Descriptors collection for easy reference and maintenance.

Binding to Non-Entities in a BindableList(of T) Using a DevForce WinClient BindingManager
DevForce WinClient BindingManagers require BindableList(Of T) data sources. However, the BindableList(Of T) – unlike its subclass, the EntityList(Of T) – does not require the objects it contained to be DevForce WinClient entities. They can, in fact, be objects of any type. By collecting non-entity objects in a BindableList(Of T), therefore, you can enable their participation in DevForce WinClient data binding. You will then enjoy the benefits of having all your bindings to that type collected conveniently in a single location: the BindingManager‟s Descriptors collection. You will be able to use nested property references, add dynamic properties, and even implement special types of ListManagers. Be aware, however, that you may not automatically get all the features associated with DevForce WinClient databinding if you bind to non-entity classes. Specifically, the bi-directional databinding behavior that you see when binding to DevForce WinClient Entities -- change the value of property in the business object: watch its display value in the UI change automatically – depends upon the Entity‟s implementation of the INotifyPropertyChanged interface. If you write your own (non-Entity) business class and implement this interface, you can get the bi-directional binding behavior. If you bind to some other type that doesn‟t implement it, you won‟t.

When Not to Use a BindableList(of T)
The BindableList(Of T) carries overhead associated with its data binding and eventing behaviors. If you‟re not going to databind and don‟t need a ListManager, but still want a list to host objects of a single type, use the .NET System.Collections.Generic.List(Of T). If you‟re not going to databind, don‟t need a ListManager, and need a collection that can accommodate items of more than one type, use System.Collections.ArrayList.

EntityPropertyDescriptors
EntityPropertyDescriptors are useful in databinding associated with Winform user interfaces. Their generation is optional in DevForce WinClient Object Mapper, and should be turned off (as unnecessary) if you are not using Winforms in your UI. All data binding is a process of mapping from UI widgets to the properties of a data object. How do we identify the data object properties to bind? .NET requires us to provide the name of the property as a string. DevForce WinClient followed suit. Moreover DevForce WinClient extends .NET data binding so that we bind not only to simple properties of the data object but also to properties of objects related to the data object. For example, we can easily bind to an Employee‟s home state name by specifying the nested property path to the state name as a string, e.g., “HomeAddress.State.Name”. There are two salient problems with this approach: 29. We can easily mis-type the property path, or remember it incorrectly. 30. We may change the property name in the future, invalidating the string property path. The compiler can‟t catch our mistake in either case. IntelliSense can‟t help us at all. Test cases might reveal the problem but test coverage of UI is notoriously poor. Most likely we‟ll discover the problem during manual testing or rely upon the poor customer to tell us that the application crashed. This is not a small, manageable risk. A decent sized object model may have hundreds of bound properties. No one can check them all. No one can remember them all.
EntityPropertyDescriptors to the rescue.

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EntityPropertyDescriptors are strongly-typed objects that serve both as .NET PropertyDescriptors and

as a means to identify property paths for data binding. The expression, EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.HomeAddress.State.Name returns a DevForce WinClient AdaptedPropertyDescriptor for the property that returns the value of an employee‟s home state name.
EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.HomeAddress.State.Name.PropertyPath yields the nested property path string we need to perform data binding, “HomeAddress.State.Name”.

“Ridiculous!” you say. The expression is about twice as long as the string we need for binding. You continue, “I‟m all for strong-typing but not at just any cost”. Well it‟s not as bad as it first seems. First, a simple code snippet can be a big help; you can add one name “epd”, for example; then you can type “epd” followed by a tab and get “EntityPropertyDescriptors” with the cursor positioned at the end, ready for you to enter a period. Second, IntelliSense helps us walk the object graph.

This is a huge timesaver. If you‟re like us, you rarely know the property names well enough to be certain of what they are or how they are spelled. Property specification in a case-sensitive language like C# is particularly error prone without the assistance of IntelliSense. We have found that we can enter a property path more than three times as fast with EntityPropertyDescriptors than we can by typing the string alone. You get speed, confidence, and compile-time type-safety in one fell swoop!

Where do EntityPropertyDescriptors properties come from?
The Object Mapper creates an EntityPropertyDescriptors property for each of the business object properties it generates.  Open the EmployeeDataRow class  Scroll to the region at the bottom  Open that region. You‟ll see each of the Employee “simple properties” represented with an EntityPropertyDescriptors property such as C# /// <summary>Gets the … AdaptedPropertyDescriptor … for LastName.</summary> public AdaptedPropertyDescriptor LastName { get { return Get("LastName"); } }

Extend the EntityPropertyDescriptors class
It‟s great that the Object Mapper creates these EntityPropertyDescriptors properties for the generated entity properties. What about the custom properties we add to the final class? You should be able to type EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.Age or EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.Age just as you can enter EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.LastName. And you can!  Open the Employee class  Scroll to the region at the bottom

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 Open that region.

Winform User Interfaces

You‟ll see a template for extending the EntityPropertyDescriptors class with properties that correspond to your custom Employee properties. You can uncomment that template and start extending. C# public static partial class EntityPropertyDescriptors { public partial class EmployeePropertyDescriptor : AdaptedPropertyDescriptor { /// <summary>Gets the … AdaptedPropertyDescriptor … for Age.</summary> public AdaptedPropertyDescriptor Age { get { return this.Get("Age"); } } }

The EntityPropertyDescriptors is a class with inner classes
There is something curious about this EntityPropertyDescriptors class. First, it‟s a static class (Shared in VB.Net). That alone is not strange but when we look at its public methods we see only static properties returning singleton instances of other classes.

Second, these other classes are all defined inside the EntityPropertyDescriptors class itself and therefore visible and accessible only if prefixed by “EntityPropertyDescriptors”. Thus, to get at an EmployeePropertyDescriptor, we must write “EntityPropertyDescriptors.EmployeePropertyDescriptor”. Third, there are as many of these inner classes as there are business object entities. Fourth, each of these classes is defined in the DataRow class of its corresponding business object entity class. Fifth, each of these classes is a “partial class” (as is EntityPropertyDescriptors itself). Evidently, IdeaBlade expects us to extend each inner class in a file other than the one where the class was defined. That is precisely what we do when we extend the EmployeePropertyDescriptor class by adding a property corresponding to the Employee custom Age property. We code our property in the Employee class file rather than the EmployeeDataRow class file where the Object Mapper put the other EmployeePropertyDescriptor properties. This should not be a surprise. The Object Mapper owns the DataRow class and we developers are forbidden to change anything in this class file on pain of losing our work. We‟re supposed to enter our custom code in the “final” class. Only by defining the EmployeePropertyDescriptor as a partial class can we define it in both the DataRow and the “final” Employee class files. Partial classes were added to .NET in version 2.0.

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Finally, most properties in these inner classes return an AdaptedPropertyDescriptor . That is a class you‟ve probably never seen before although it‟s been in DevForce WinClient since 2001.

What is an AdaptedPropertyDescriptor?
An AdaptedPropertyDescriptor is an object that both describes and gives access to an object property. The Employee class has a LastName property which means you can write expressions at design time like anEmployee.LastName and anEmployee.LastName = “Smith” to get and set the property. Sometimes your code needs to talk about that LastName property. You can talk about it with an AdaptedPropertyDescriptor object. Actually, you can do more than talk about it. You can pass that object around and use it anywhere to both get and set any Employee instance‟s LastName. This ability to treat an object property as an object in its own right is extremely valuable to framework developers. It‟s at the heart of how data binding works. An AdaptedPropertyDescriptor is a DevForce WinClient construct that derives from the .NET PropertyDescriptor abstract class. It augments the PropertyDescriptor class with, among other things, a PropertyPath property that returns the string path which extends from the root object to the end point of the descriptor.

Name versus PropertyPath
Do not confuse the AdaptedPropertyDescriptor.Name with the AdaptedPropertyDescriptor.PropertyPath. The Name is the name of the property. The PropertyPath is the string representation of the path to that property. The two are the same for simple properties of a business object.
EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.LastName.Name returns “LastName” EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.LastName.PropertyPath .

and so does

However, they differ markedly for nested properties:
EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.Manager.LastName.Name returns “__Manager_LastName” EntityPropertyDescriptors.Employee.Manager.LastName.PropertyPath returns “Manager.LastName”.

“__Manager_LastName” is the name of a “dynamic property”. It‟s the name of a property created by DevForce WinClient at runtime so that a UI control can be data bound to a value of a property on an object related to the bound data object. The bound object in this case is the current employee object; call her “Nancy Davolio”. Her related object is her manager, “Andrew”. His last name is “Fuller”. The “LastName” property returns “Davolio”; the “__Manager_LastName” property returns “Fuller”. Why DevForce WinClient creates dynamic properties and how it does so is beyond the scope of this topic. I wouldn‟t even have broached the subject except that you were bound to confuse the “Name” with the “PropertyPath” and discover the difference.

New Methods of AdaptedPropertyDescriptor
We added two new methods to the AdaptedPropertyDescriptor so that an AdaptedPropertyDescriptor can discover or create child AdaptedPropertyDescriptors. C# public AdaptedPropertyDescriptor Get(string pPropertyName) public T Get<T>(String pPropertyName) where T : AdaptedPropertyDescriptor You put these methods to work when you add a custom property to one of the EntityPropertyDescriptors inner classes.

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Multi-Level Undo with Checkpoints
Many applications could benefit from a robust, cross-entity undo feature. Simple dialogs, for example, may present opportunities to modify several entities perhaps of different types. If the user cancels, we have to reverse all those changes and restore the world to its pre-dialog state. There is a lot of booking to do if we want to handle this manually. Imagine a more complex case, a “New Account Wizard” in which the user steps through a series of screens, adding a customer account, an address, some contacts, etc. In each step the user creates or modifies at least one business object but often many more and of different entity types. The user may need to back up a step or two, discarding changes page by page. DevForce WinClient applications can set a “checkpoint” at each step and “roll-back” to an earlier step if the user clicks “Cancel” or “Back.” When the Wizard opens, we call “BeginCheckpoint” just before presenting the first page. DevForce WinClient starts recording the user‟s changes as they affect entities in or entering the PersistenceManager cache. Such changes could include: Fetched entity Created entity Modified entity Entity undo Deleted entity Removed entity Re-attached entity Entity merged into the PM from another PM or EntitySet If the user cancels a Wizard step, we call RollBackCheckpoint, and the PersistenceManager restores its entity cache to the state when we began the checkpoint. We can maintain a stack of checkpoints. We call BeginCheckpoint for step one; the user makes some changes and proceeds to step 2 where we call BeginCheckpoint again. The PersistenceManager records a boundary in the checkpoint log and increases the checkpoint “depth” by one. Now we can rollback either to the first or the second checkpoint, depending upon how much activity we want to discard. On the other hand, if the user presses “Ok” and completes the Wizard successfully, we can save all modified entities and prevent rollbacks prior to the save point by calling PersistenceManager.SaveChanges(). We don‟t have to save the changes to close a checkpoint “session.” If we call ClearCheckPoints(), the PersistenceManager discards the checkpoint log and stops logging entity cache activity. The user‟s changes are still pending in cache – they are not in the database - but we have erased our checkpoints and can no longer rollback. We might think of a DevForce WinClient checkpoint as an in-memory transaction along the lines of the more familiar database transaction. The BeginCheckpoint, RollbackCheckpoint, and SaveChanges correspond approximately to “Begin Transaction”, “Rollback Transaction”, and “Commit Transaction.” We can nest checkpoints just as we nest database transactions. We can rollback to any pending checkpoint as we can rollback to any pending transaction depth. Why is there a ClearCheckPoints() method but no Commit() method? There is no “Commit” because we feared a potentially fatal confusion. “Commit,” for most of us, implies a degree of permanence that an in-memory transaction cannot match. We expect a durable modification of the database after a database “commit”. In contrast, entity changes are still pending and tenuous after ClearCheckPoints(); they will be lost if the application terminates before we persist them explicitly with SaveChanges().

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We might regard a “checkpoint” as a kind of “snapshot”. A checkpoint differs from the everyday meaning of “snapshot” in one key respect: a “checkpoint” records changes to the entity cache; a snapshot would record the entire cache. Checkpoints are comparatively lightweight. The snapshot of a large entity cache could hold thousands or millions of entities while the equivalent checkpoint held only a few. A snapshot might be too large to hold in memory; a checkpoint is compact and easily held in memory. Checkpoints are efficient, especially for the SaveChanges and ClearCheckPoints operations; the PersistenceManager just throws away the log. Rollback is a bit more expensive because the PersistenceManager must reverse the logged changes; in most cases rollbacks are rare and the changes are few. The new PersistenceManager checkpoint signatures are: Method
BeginCheckpoint() RollbackCheckpoint() RollbackCheckpoint(int pCount) RollbackCheckpoints() ClearCheckpoints()

Description Start “checkpointing” (first call) or add a new checkpoint level (subsequent calls). Returns the new checkpoint depth. Rollback one checkpoint. Restores the entity cache to its state one checkpoint ago. The method returns the new checkpoint depth. Rollback “pCount” number of checkpoints ago; returns the new depth. Rollback all checkpoints and stops checkpointing. Restores the entity cache to the state prior to the first checkpoint. Stop checkpointing and discard the checkpoint log. The entity cache remains in its current state. Roughly equivalent to a “commit”.134 True if the PersistenceManager is maintaining checkpoints. Integer of the current checkpoint depth. The first BeginCheckpoint is depth one; each subsequent call increases the depth by one and each RollbackCheckpoint() reduces it by one. The depth is zero when checkpointing stops.

IsCheckpointing GetCheckpointDepth()

A few points of additional interest: The scope of a checkpoint session is a single PersistenceManager.
PersistenceManager.Clear(), like SaveChanges, clears the checkpoints and stops checkpointing.

The checkpointing records changes to entity persistable state contained in the fields mapped to data source columns. Checkpointing does not capture or restore data in custom fields that you may have added to your business object‟s custom class. At this writing, the checkpoints are not included in the PersistenceManager‟s EntitySet nor are they accessible directly as data. Therefore, we cannot preserve checkpoints when the application terminates and restore them when we re-launch.

UI Designers
DevForce WinClient provides a number of UI designers, mostly for BindingManagers. A ControlBindingManager designer facilitates visual selection and autopopulation of loose controls (from third-party control suites as well as

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Note that clearing a single checkpoint, or any number less than all of them, is not supported. Changes subsequent to a given checkpoint may depend upon changes made after earlier checkpoints. It is therefore not possible to support the “commit” of changes made since a more recent checkpoint while still permitting rollbacks to earlier checkpoints. If you clear checkpoints, you must clear them all.

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native .NET); grid-oriented BindingManagers perform a similar function for the .NET 2.0 DataGridView, the .NET 1.1 DataGrid, the Developer Express XtraGrid, and the Infragistics Ultragrid. DevForce WinClient also provides a NullableDatePicker control that corrects certain deficiences in the .NET DateTimePicker.

BindingManagerDesigners
The DevForce WinClient BindingManager designers permit easy selection of business object properties for data binding; automatic (but overridable) selection of appropriate UI controls for those properties; basic configuration of the controls through DataConverter settings; and round-trippable autopopulation of forms and UserControls with the selected controls. The ControlBindingManager handles loose controls (TextBoxes, DatePickers, ComboBoxes, and the like) for both native .NET controls and those from Developer Express and Infragistics. If you have more than one of these control suites available on your machine, all appropriate controls from the installed suites will be available for selection. However, the ControlBindingManager will make its default choices from one of the suites which you have designated as the preferred suite. Grid controls are complex and require their own dedicated BindingManager. DevForce WinClient provides these for the grids already enumerated. Working with the grid designers is an experience very similar to that of working with the ControlBindingManager. A primary design goal for the DevForce WinClient BindingManagers and their designers was to provide as homogeneous an experience as possible across different control types and control suites. You will find that working in the ControlBindingManager with controls from third-party control suites is very similar to working with similar native .NET controls; that working with the DataGridViewBindingManager is very similar to working with the ControlBindingManager; and that working with grid BindingManagers for third-party grids is very similar to working with the DataGridViewBindingManager for the .NET grid control, the DataGridView. We have attempted to insulate you, as much as possible, from the innumerable, often trivial but nonetheless draining and timeconsuming, differences in the available UI widgets. That way, you can keep your focus on providing needing functionality for your end users!

Working with the ControlBindingManager
To begin the process of working the a ControlBindingManager, select that control from the IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient panel in the Toolbox, drag the control onto the design surface of a form or UserControl, and drop it.

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Winform User Interfaces

A visual representation of the control will appear in the Component Tray, with the name ControlBindingManager1 if it is the first such ControlBindingManager that you have dropped on your form. Clicking on the Smart Tag on the control will produce a menu like that shown at right: Generally your first step will be to Autopopulate Controls. Clicking that option will produce a dialog like the following, which asked “Bind to which object type?” Select the type whose properties you wish to bind to UI controls, and click OK. You‟ll see a dialog similar to the following:

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Winform User Interfaces

You should see your business model assembly in the upper window; if you don‟t, make sure you have generated it with the DevForce WinClient object mapper, compiled it, and added a reference to it in your user interface project!

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Winform User Interfaces

Note that custom properties (like Age), and relation properties (like Manager, DirectReports, and Orders) are all displayed. Note also that many properties are displayed at expandable nodes, indicating that drill-down is available. In the following picture, we‟ve expanded a few of those expandable nodes. The Address property, being string-valued, exposes a Length property to which a binding can be set. BirthDate, a DateTime property, can be expanded multiple levels; if you like, you can find to the Hours part of the TimeOfDay represented in the date!

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Winform User Interfaces

If you expand the Manager property, which derives from a recursive relationship on the underlying Employee table135, you see all the Employee properties repeated, one level down – since the Manager is yet another Employee. You can drill in as far as you like, binding to the employee‟s manager‟s manager‟s manager‟s manager‟s LastName if you like.

To construct a binding to one of the properties in the tree, you simply drag the property into the window in the Autopopulation tab, where it will become a row in a grid. In the picture below, we‟ve dragged the simple properties LastName, FirstName, BirthDate, and Photo into the grid, along with the custom property age, the nested property Manager.Photo, the relation property Manager, and the Count property of the Orders list. For each, the BindingManager designer identified the data type, selected an appropriate Control, applied an appropriate control name, and assigned an appropriate DataConverter.

If you click the checkbox labelled “Show All Properties”, more properties will appear in the tree. Now you‟ll see all of the public properties defined for your Employee object: Column descriptors, the RdbEntity property

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Each Employee record has a ReportsToEmployeeId column that contains the primary key for some other Employee record, indicating a reporting relationship.

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ForceSqlDistinct, row properties like HasErrors and IsDetached, Entity properties like IsDeserializing and IsNullEntity, and others. It‟s unusual to bind to these properties, but if you have the use case, we‟ve got the time.

Suppose we drag an additional property, LastFirst, into the AutoPopulation grid; but this time we inspect the ComboBox that appears in the ControlType column. The designer has chosen a TextBox for this property; but it gives us the opportunity to override that selection with other controls from the .NET suite that might be suitable candidates for a string-valued property.

Now please note the Preferences button at the bottom of the Configure Databindings dialog. If you click that, you‟ll see the Control Suite dialog shown at right. Here you indicate which, if any, of the third-party control suites supported by DevForce WinClient whose controls you want available for selection.

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Winform User Interfaces

At left we‟ve indicated we want controls from the Developer Express control suite, version 6.1.3, to be available for selection. We‟re also about to indicate that we want the same control suite to be the preferred one, from which default assignments will be made. Having done that, if we now drag a string-valued property into the Autopopulation grid, see what happens:

Now the default choice is a DevExpress TextEdit control, and the selection list includes candidate controls from the DevExpress suite as well as the .NET suite. You can select as many supported control suites as you have installed. If DevForce WinClient isn‟t able to find the indicated control suite on your machine, it will complain when you check the box.

Binding to Relation Properties
If you are very observant you may have noticed that the control type assigned to the Manager property that we dragged over from the property tree was a ComboBox. A Manager is a complex object in its own right that we can‟t display directly. We can display a photo of the Manager, or her LastName, or the like, but not the Manager object itself. Furthermore, as a one-to-one relation property, an Employee‟s Manager must be one from a finite list. It‟s a known list, too: the set of Employees.136 DevForce WinClient has figured out that a ComboBox will provide a very convenient medium for changing the value of the Employee‟s Manager property: the form will display a list of potential Managers (or more accurately, a specific property of those potential Managers), and selecting one from the ComboBox will change the Manager assigned to the Employee. There‟s still a bit of configuration to do before that will work, however. The ComboBox needs a DataSource – a list of Employees who can act as Managers – and it needs to know what property of those potential managers to display in its dropdown list. We can supply these pieces of information by configuring the DataConverter assigned to the ComboBox.

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In this case, the Employee table relates recursively to itself, via the ReportsToEmployeeId foreign key; so the candidate Managers also reside in the Employee table. But we would have a similar situation, so far as use of the ControlBindingManager is concerned, if looking, let‟s say, at the Customer property of an Order object. Again there is a oneto-one relation, though in that case the objects pointed to by the foreign key column happen to reside in a different table (the more common situation).

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DevForce WinClient selected the ListConverter subclass of DataConverter for the ComboBox. If you click on the button in the rightmost column of the Manager property row, you‟ll see the following dialog:

We need to set the DisplayMember property, and provide a ListSource. Clicking in the DisplayMember value column reveals a dropdown list of properties from the entity type to be represented in the ComboBox; in this case, an Employee. We simply select the desired display property from the list.

For List Source, if there is an appropriate candidate list – specifically, a .NET BindingSource – available, we can select it from another dropdown. For those times when there is no appropriate BindingSource available, the Create List button is provided. Clicking that button will create a BindingSource, dropping it in the Component Tray for the form or UserControl we‟re working on. We‟ll have to remember to populate it with business objects in our code. In .NET, when configuring a ComboBox, you normally specify values for three properties of the control: 1. 2. 3. the DataSource, which needs a collection of objects to display; a DisplayMember, which is the name of a property on those objects, to expose for inspection in the dropdown list; and a ValueMember, which is the name of a property to which the control will be bound.

But note, in the ListConverter for the Manager property, that the ValueMember property of the ComboBox is set to some property named “__Self”, and that it is disabled. Since we‟re configuring a ComboBox to permit the end user to specify a particular Employee as Manager, the thing we want to return is an Employee object – not the Id of an employee object, or some such. “__Self” is a special property that DevForce WinClient creates dynamically on business entities. It represents, and returns, the host object itself. The bottom line is: you can leave the ValueMember alone. It‟s already correct.

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Autopopulating the Container
Once you‟ve configured everything as desired, you can click the Ok button to autopopulate your form or UserControl. The BindingManager will drop controls into the container, with appropriate accompanying labels, and you have but to move them about a bit to get the layout you want.

Round-Tripping with the ControlBindingManager
It‟s not a one-way street. You can return to the ControlBindingManager designer to tweak the configurations and to add or remove properties. Remember the Smart Tag menu associated with the ControlBindingManager‟s icon in the Component Tray? Previously we chose the Autopopulate Controls option. But what does that Configure Databindings option do? As it so happens, all it does is to display the same Configure Databinding dialog as did the Autopopulate option – except that it selects the Existing Bindings tab instead of the Autopopulate tab. There‟s not a great deal of difference between what you see on the two tabs. But on the Existing Bindings tab you can create a binding to an existing control, as opposed to causing a new control to be generated. Because of that, dragging a property from the property tree on to the Existing Bindings grid won‟t result in the assignment of a control or a DataConverter.

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Code Generated by the BindingManagerDesigner
The ControlBindingManager designer is integrated with Visual Studio, and as such must play by specific rules laid out by Microsoft for Visual Studio designers. Chief among the requirements is that it any code it generates must land in the designer code file associated with the form or UserControl (e.g., the EmployeeForm.Designer.cs or EmployeeForm.Designer.vb file associated with an EmployeeForm.cs or EmployeeForm.vb file). There are strict rules governing just where the code generated there must be placed. Object instantiations come first, followed by BeginInit() calls, followed by control configuration code, followed by commands to add the instantiated controls to the container, followed by EndInit() calls, followed by variable declarations. It is well to get at least somewhat familiar with the layout of things in the designer code file, as the time may come when you wish to move some of the generated code out of there and bring it under your explicit control, and the code in the designer file can be instructive about how DevForce WinClient databindings are configured in code. Here are code statements generated by the ControlBindingManager as configured in the preceding material, by section:

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C#

Object Instantiations

Dim ListConverter1 As IdeaBlade.UI.ListConverter = _ New IdeaBlade.UI.ListConverter(GetType(Model.Employee), _ IdeaBlade.UI.Editability.[Optional]) Me.mFetchDataForOfflineWorkCheckBox = New System.Windows.Forms.CheckBox Me.ControlBindingManager1 = New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingManager Me.mLastNameLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mLastNameTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mFirstNameLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mFirstNameTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mBirthDateLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mBirthDateDateTimePicker = New System.Windows.Forms.DateTimePicker Me.mAgeLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mAgeTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mOrdersCountLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mOrdersCountTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mPhotoLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mPhotoPictureBox = New System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox Me.mManagerPhotoLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mManagerPhotoPictureBox = New System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox Me.mManagerLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mManagerComboBox = New System.Windows.Forms.ComboBox Me.mManagersBS = New System.Windows.Forms.BindingSource(Me.components)

BeginInit() Calls

((System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize)this.mEmployeesBindingNavigator).BeginInit(); this.mEmployeesBindingNavigator.SuspendLayout(); ((System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize)this.ControlBindingManager1).BeginInit(); ((System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize)this.mPhotoPictureBox).BeginInit(); ((System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize)this.mManagerPhotoPictureBox).BeginInit(); ((System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize)this.mManagersBS).BeginInit();

Control Configuration Code

// //ControlBindingManager1 // this.ControlBindingManager1.BoundType = typeof(Model.Employee); ListConverter1.DisplayMember = "LastFirst"; ListConverter1.ListSource = this.mManagersBS; this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mLastNameTextBox, typeof(Model.Employee), "LastName")); this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mFirstNameTextBox, typeof(Model.Employee), "FirstName")); this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mBirthDateDateTimePicker, typeof(Model.Employee), "BirthDate")); this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mAgeTextBox, typeof(Model.Employee), "Age")); this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mOrdersCountTextBox, typeof(Model.Employee), "Orders.Count")); this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mPhotoPictureBox, typeof(Model.Employee), "Photo")); this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mManagerPhotoPictureBox, typeof(Model.Employee), "Manager.Photo")); this.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add(new IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor(this.mManagerComboBox, typeof(Model.Employee), "Manager", ListConverter1)); // //mLastNameLabel // this.mLastNameLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(8, 32); this.mLastNameLabel.Name = "mLastNameLabel"; this.mLastNameLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(100, 23); this.mLastNameLabel.TabIndex = 10;

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this.mLastNameLabel.Text = "Last Name"; this.mLastNameLabel.TextAlign = System.Drawing.ContentAlignment.MiddleLeft; // //mLastNameTextBox // this.mLastNameTextBox.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(112, 32); this.mLastNameTextBox.Name = "mLastNameTextBox"; this.mLastNameTextBox.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(150, 20); this.mLastNameTextBox.TabIndex = 11; <Many more omitted>

Commands to Add the Instantiated Controls to the Container
this.Controls.Add(this.mManagerComboBox); this.Controls.Add(this.mManagerLabel); this.Controls.Add(this.mManagerPhotoPictureBox); this.Controls.Add(this.mManagerPhotoLabel); this.Controls.Add(this.mPhotoPictureBox); this.Controls.Add(this.mPhotoLabel); this.Controls.Add(this.mOrdersCountTextBox); this.Controls.Add(this.mOrdersCountLabel); this.Controls.Add(this.mAgeTextBox); this.Controls.Add(this.mAgeLabel); this.Controls.Add(this.mBirthDateDateTimePicker); this.Controls.Add(this.mBirthDateLabel); this.Controls.Add(this.mFirstNameTextBox); this.Controls.Add(this.mFirstNameLabel); this.Controls.Add(this.mLastNameTextBox); this.Controls.Add(this.mLastNameLabel);

EndInit() Calls
CType(Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator.ResumeLayout(False) Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator.PerformLayout() CType(Me.ControlBindingManager1, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() CType(Me.mPhotoPictureBox, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() CType(Me.mManagerPhotoPictureBox, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() CType(Me.mManagersBS, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit()

Variable Declarations
internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingManager ControlBindingManager1; System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mLastNameTextBox; System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mFirstNameTextBox; System.Windows.Forms.DateTimePicker mBirthDateDateTimePicker; System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mAgeTextBox; System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mOrdersCountTextBox; System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox mPhotoPictureBox; System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox mManagerPhotoPictureBox; System.Windows.Forms.ComboBox mManagerComboBox; System.Windows.Forms.Label mLastNameLabel; System.Windows.Forms.Label mFirstNameLabel; System.Windows.Forms.Label mBirthDateLabel; System.Windows.Forms.Label mAgeLabel; System.Windows.Forms.Label mOrdersCountLabel; System.Windows.Forms.Label mPhotoLabel; System.Windows.Forms.Label mManagerPhotoLabel; System.Windows.Forms.Label mManagerLabel; System.Windows.Forms.BindingSource mManagersBS;

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VB

Object Instantiations

Dim ListConverter1 As IdeaBlade.UI.ListConverter = _ New IdeaBlade.UI.ListConverter(GetType(Model.Employee), _ IdeaBlade.UI.Editability.[Optional]) Me.mFetchDataForOfflineWorkCheckBox = New System.Windows.Forms.CheckBox Me.ControlBindingManager1 = New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingManager Me.mLastNameLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mLastNameTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mFirstNameLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mFirstNameTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mBirthDateLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mBirthDateDateTimePicker = New System.Windows.Forms.DateTimePicker Me.mAgeLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mAgeTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mOrdersCountLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mOrdersCountTextBox = New System.Windows.Forms.TextBox Me.mPhotoLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mPhotoPictureBox = New System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox Me.mManagerPhotoLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mManagerPhotoPictureBox = New System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox Me.mManagerLabel = New System.Windows.Forms.Label Me.mManagerComboBox = New System.Windows.Forms.ComboBox Me.mManagersBS = New System.Windows.Forms.BindingSource(Me.components)

BeginInit() Calls

CType(Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).BeginInit() Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator.SuspendLayout() CType(Me.ControlBindingManager1, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).BeginInit() CType(Me.mPhotoPictureBox, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).BeginInit() CType(Me.mManagerPhotoPictureBox, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).BeginInit() CType(Me.mManagersBS, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).BeginInit()

Control Configuration Code
' 'ControlBindingManager1 ' Me.ControlBindingManager1.BoundType = GetType(Model.Employee) ListConverter1.DisplayMember = "LastFirst" ListConverter1.ListSource = Me.mManagersBS Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mLastNameTextBox, GetType(Model.Employee), "LastName")) Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mFirstNameTextBox, GetType(Model.Employee), "FirstName")) Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mBirthDateDateTimePicker, GetType(Model.Employee), "BirthDate")) Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mAgeTextBox, GetType(Model.Employee), "Age")) Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mOrdersCountTextBox, GetType(Model.Employee), "Orders.Count")) Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mPhotoPictureBox, GetType(Model.Employee), "Photo")) Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mManagerPhotoPictureBox, GetType(Model.Employee), "Manager.Photo")) Me.ControlBindingManager1.Descriptors.Add( _ New IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingDescriptor( _ Me.mManagerComboBox, GetType(Model.Employee), "Manager", ListConverter1)) ' 'mLastNameLabel ' Me.mLastNameLabel.Location = New System.Drawing.Point(8, 32) Me.mLastNameLabel.Name = "mLastNameLabel" Me.mLastNameLabel.Size = New System.Drawing.Size(100, 23)

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Me.mLastNameLabel.TabIndex = 10 Me.mLastNameLabel.Text = "Last Name" Me.mLastNameLabel.TextAlign = System.Drawing.ContentAlignment.MiddleLeft ' 'mLastNameTextBox ' Me.mLastNameTextBox.Location = New System.Drawing.Point(112, 32) Me.mLastNameTextBox.Name = "mLastNameTextBox" Me.mLastNameTextBox.Size = New System.Drawing.Size(150, 20) Me.mLastNameTextBox.TabIndex = 11 <Many more omitted>

Commands to Add the Instantiated Controls to the Container
Me.Controls.Add(Me.mManagerComboBox) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mManagerLabel) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mManagerPhotoPictureBox) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mManagerPhotoLabel) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mPhotoPictureBox) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mPhotoLabel) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mOrdersCountTextBox) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mOrdersCountLabel) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mAgeTextBox) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mAgeLabel) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mBirthDateDateTimePicker) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mBirthDateLabel) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mFirstNameTextBox) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mFirstNameLabel) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mLastNameTextBox) Me.Controls.Add(Me.mLastNameLabel)

EndInit() Calls

CType(Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator.ResumeLayout(False) Me.mEmployeesBindingNavigator.PerformLayout() CType(Me.ControlBindingManager1, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() CType(Me.mPhotoPictureBox, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() CType(Me.mManagerPhotoPictureBox, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit() CType(Me.mManagersBS, System.ComponentModel.ISupportInitialize).EndInit()

Variable Declarations
Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend Friend WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents WithEvents

ControlBindingManager1 As IdeaBlade.UI.WinForms.ControlBindingManager mLastNameTextBox As System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mFirstNameTextBox As System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mBirthDateDateTimePicker As System.Windows.Forms.DateTimePicker mAgeTextBox As System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mOrdersCountTextBox As System.Windows.Forms.TextBox mPhotoPictureBox As System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox mManagerPhotoPictureBox As System.Windows.Forms.PictureBox mManagerComboBox As System.Windows.Forms.ComboBox mLastNameLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mFirstNameLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mBirthDateLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mAgeLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mOrdersCountLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mPhotoLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mManagerPhotoLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mManagerLabel As System.Windows.Forms.Label mManagersBS As System.Windows.Forms.BindingSource

When migrating code out of the designer code file, you will need the declarations, instantiations, and configuration statements, though you may or may not need the BeginInit() and EndInit() statements. Without doubt, the statements of most interest in the above are the statements that configure the ControlBindingManager (boldfaced). There is a high likelihood that, even if you do not start out configuring bindings by hand, you will at some point find yourself doing so, in order to use more advanced capabilities of DevForce WinClient data binding and/or to

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Winform User Interfaces

facilitate re-use of your databinding code. Many of the capabilities of DataConverters are available only from code, and ViewDescriptors can only be used in code to create databindings.

Working with the DataGridViewBindingManager
Working with the DataGridViewBindingManager (DGVBM) is very similar to working with the ControlBindingManager, except that properties dragged into the binding window will get bound to columns of the DataGridView instead of loose controls.137 Notice that there is no “Autopopulate controls” option on the DGVBM‟s Smart Tag menu; nor are there separate tabs for autopopulating and working with existing bindings. You can work with an existing grid control, already present in the container (form or UserControl); or use the Create Grid button to have the designer create the grid on your behalf. It is best to let the DGVBM generate columns into the grid for you. Once it has done so, you can manipulate the display properties of the columns using the .NET visual designer for the grid. 138 DevForce WinClient will retain and work harmoniously with the settings you establish using the visual grid designer.

Working with the DataGridBindingManager
The DataGridBindingManager is designed for use with the .NET 1.1 DataGrid control (which was obsoleted by the .NET 2.0 DataGridView control). It is included for those who need to work with legacy forms that use the older grid. If you are working entirely in .NET 2.0, you might want to consider deleting the DataGridBindingManager icon from the toolbox.139 That way you will not select it accidentally when you mean to be working with the newer DataGridView.

Working with BindingManagers for Third-Party Grids
DevForce WinClient supports the Developer Express XtraGrid control with a BindingManager called the XtraGridBindingManager, and the Infragistics UltraGrid control with an UltraGridBindingManager. As mentioned at the beginning of this section on BindingManagers, we have done everything possible to make the experience of configuring this grid very similar to that of configuring the .NET DataGridView.

Synchronizing GridBindingManagers with UI Grid Designers
As of DevForce WinClient version 3.3, the developer can simultaneously use DevForce WinClient GridBindingManagers to data bind grids to business objects and use the grid vendors UI Design tools to style the grid. The DevForce WinClient GridBindingManagers retain columns and styles that you set with the grid vendor‟s design tools, so you can now style the grid in the designer (where previously you could only do so in code). The behaviors described in this section are supported beginning with the following grid versions: .NET 2.0 DataGridView; Infragistics v6.2.2 UltraGrid; and DevExpress v6.2 XtraGrid.

Designing a grid in Visual Studio “Design View”
The DevForce WinClient GridBindingManager designers can generate and display columns in the corresponding design time Grid. The result of a design “session” might look like this:

137 138

More accurately, the properties will get bound to controls embedded in cells of the DataGridView‟s columns. This capability made its debut in DevForce WinClient version 3.3. Previous to that, configuration – but not creation – of the grid had to be done in code. Just select it and press the DELETE key.

139

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GridBindingManager designers stay synchronized with their corresponding design time grid layouts If a Grid‟s design time layout changes, so will the GridBindingManager‟s and vice versa. Caveat: If you delete a column in the grid designer, you must re-open the GridBindingManager designer so that it can detect the change. You may have to delete the column again in the GridBindingManager to ensure that the column actually disappears from the grid. You can add an unbound grid column (columns that are not data bound to a data object property). Unbound columns do not appear in the GridBindingManager‟s column listing but their positions and settings are respected.

Runtime behavior
Columns specified in a GridBindingManager do not replace the columns designed into the grid. The GridBindingManager first tries to correlate its grid columns with those found in the grid itself. Where there is a match, the GridBindingManager simply hooks up the data binding; it preserves the grid column‟s visual styles, title, and position. If the GridBindingManager holds a column that it cannot find in the grid, it adds that column to the grid and styles it in the DevForce WinClient prescribed default manner. These columns appear after (to the right of) the columns that were designed into the grid.

More on Third-Party WinForm Control Suites
Third-party UI control suites offer richer and more capable WinForm controls than those provided natively in .NET. This is wonderful in itself but, in choosing to build with such suites, the developer faces an additional, often steep learning curve. We have no choice but to dive into the vendor‟s documentation if we wish to exploit the suite‟s full range of styling and behavioral options. The vendor rarely follows the .NET standards for data binding and almost always raises events in an idiosyncratic way. DevForce WinClient can ease our development with two popular suites: Developer Express‟s “DXperience” and Infragistics “NetAdvantage”. We‟ve figured out many of the intricacies of these products and have developed product-specific analogs to the tools and architectural elements we described for the .NET controls. We‟ve just begun to develop this section of the UI chapter. There are only a few fragments. We will expand upon it in a coming DevForce WinClient Developers Guide release.

Developer Express “DXperience”
DevForce WinClient offers support for v.6 of the Developer Express WinForm control suite.

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Most of the controls in this suite are (or were) branded with the “Xtra” prefix so we‟ll find that DevForce WinClient constructs similarly prefixed, e.g., XtraGridManager.

Infragistics “NetAdvantage”
DevForce WinClient offers support for v.6 of the Infragistics WinForm control suite. Most of the controls in this suite are (or were) branded with the “Ultra” prefix so we‟ll find that DevForce WinClient constructs similarly prefixed, e.g., UltraGridManager.

Nested Grids in the UltraGridBindingManager
The UltraGridBindingManager class has an AddRelationBand method that implements a nested grid in an Infragistics UltraWinGrid whose data binding is managed by an UltraGridBindingManager instance. To implement such a grid, invoke this AddRelationBand method on the parent UltraGridBindingManager instance. For example, we want to display all Product objects belonging to a given Category when the user clicks a Category row of an UltraWinGrid. Assume the following: An UltraGridBindingManager instance called categoryUltraGridBindingManager that displays Category business objects. An UltraGridBindingManager instance called productUltraGridBindingManager that displays Product business objects belonging to a Category. We‟ve bound grid columns to properties of the Category and Product business objects in their respective binding managers. We‟ve dropped a Category grid on the Form; we did not create a Product grid on the Form. Never create a nested grid; the parent (outermost) grid will generate the nested grid(s) dynamically. We add a single line to our Form initialization logic:
categoryUltraGridBindingManager.AddRelationBand( productUltraGridBindingManager, "Product", "Products")

Note that: We add a relation band to the parent Grid Binding Manager. The parameters are o o o The subordinate Grid Binding Manager (productUltraGridBindingManager). The title of the nested grid (“Product”). The Relation Property of the parent object that returns the nested grid objects (“Products”).

DataBinders
DataBinders are classes that tailor the DevForce WinClient data binding architecture to particular Windows

Forms UI controls. They buffer idiosyncracies and syntactical differences among controls to that your data binding experience is a smoother and swifter ride. DevForce WinClient provides DataBinders for most of the scalar native .NET controls. DevForce WinClient provides a DataBinder for one non-scalar .NET control, the DataGridView.

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DevForce WinClient also provides DataBinders for the Developer Express and Infragistics control suites. If, in your UI, you mix the use of controls from these suites with .NET controls and/or with each other, you will discover particular benefit from the buffering of annoying syntactical differences that DataBinders provide.

Custom DataBinders
You can write your own UI controls. If your custom control inherits from a .NET control or one of the supported third-party controls, the data binding architecture will use the matching DataBinder for your control automatically. This is often all you need. If the matching DataBinder does not work for you or if you have written a control from scratch, you may need to write your own DataBinder. Your custom DataBinder can inherit from an existing DevForce WinClient DataBinder or from the DataBinder class itself.

Troubleshooting
Third-Party Control Suites
Upgrading a Suite and Assembly Redirection
Each DevForce WinClient release references a specific release of the vendor‟s controls. We cannot coordinate our release schedule with those of third-party vendors. We do our best to keep up but we may lag a month or more behind and, in that interim, the vendor may unleash a torrent of update patches, each with a new build number. We cannot simply refer to their control suites by assembly name. We have to refer to them by their strong names. We can only certify our product to work with the controls that we‟ve tested. Thus, our DLLs are locked to specific versions of their DLLs. Third-party control updates can break our code but most of the time the changes are transparent to DevForce WinClient. Our focus is on the mechanics of binding to their controls. We usually are indifferent to the vendor‟s improvements and repairs to control styles and behavior. You, on the other hand, may want the latest control suite update – and want it right now because your application is over a bug or infelicity. What to do? Fortunately, .NET offers a technique called “Assembly Redirection”. With redirection you get to say, in effect, “when the application asks for 3.2.1.3 of this DLL, please use the 3.2.2.0 version instead.” If .NET can find that version, your application can continue. While we cannot guarantee that our code will work with this alternate version it is certainly worth a try; our Technical Support may be able to confirm that other customers are doing just fine with the vendor‟s release. DevForce WinClient provides a tool named the Assembly Binding Redirector which is automatically launched during installation if a non-supported version of a supported control suite is discovered on the target machine. The tool compares assembly names in the discovered version against those in supported versions. Where there is a match, it suggests redirecting references contained in the DevForce WinClient assemblies to the corresponding assemblies in the discovered, installed version. It does so by adding assembly binding redirection statements to the machine.config file on the target machine. (A backup is made of machine.config before any changes are made.) The Assembly Binding Redirector is also available on the IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient Start menu (Start / All Programs / IdeaBlade DevForce WinClient / Tools), so you can run it at any time after installation as well. For the curious, more detail on assembly binding redirection is available in the DevForce WinClient Installation Guide.

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UI Performance Tuning
UI performance tuning often involves decisions and strategies about when to load data, and what data to load. Sometimes developers write code that loads data that isn‟t needed; sometimes we don‟t load data (in an efficient way) that we are going to need momentarily.

Pre-Loading Data
If UI performance is sluggish due to data loading, consider pre-loading data using one or more span queries so that subsequent data retrievals can be satisfied from the local cache. A very common scenario where a span query can be helpful occurs when displaying nested properties in a grid. Suppose, for example, that you display a set of Orders in a datagrid. You fetch all the needed Orders in a single query:

C# VB
Dim mOrders As New EntityList(Of Order) Dim mOrdersBindingSource As New BindingSource aDataGridViewBindingManager.BindingSource = mOrdersBindingSource mOrdersBindingSource.DataSource = mOrders mOrders.ReplaceRange(PersistenceManager.DefaultManager.GetEntities(Of Order)())

But in each row of the datagrid you have directed DevForce WinClient to display, among other Order properties, the nested property Customer.CompanyName. DevForce WinClient can‟t supply the value of that property without retrieving the Customer object where it lives, so as each row of the grid is populated, DevForce WinClient has to submit a database query for the associated Customer object. If the Orders grid displays 100 Orders, you‟ve directed the issuance of 100 distinct Customer queries! Much better than this would be to use a span query to retrieve the Orders and the necessary Customers at the same time: C#
IdeaBlade.Persistence.Rdb.RdbQuery aSpanQuery = new IdeaBlade.Persistence.Rdb.RdbQuery(typeof(Order)); aSpanQuery.AddSpan(EntityRelations.Customer_Order); mOrders.ReplaceRange(PersistenceManager.DefaultManager.GetEntities<Order>(aSpanQuery)); Dim aSpanQuery As New IdeaBlade.Persistence.Rdb.RdbQuery(GetType(Order)) aSpanQuery.AddSpan(EntityRelations.Customer_Order) mOrders.ReplaceRange(PersistenceManager.DefaultManager.GetEntities(Of Order)(aSpanQuery))

VB

Now, as the datagrid is being populated, the Customer associated with each Order can be retrieved at light-speed from the local cache.

The TraceViewer: Watch What Data Is Being Loaded, and How
Sometimes you may not be aware of what data is being loaded during particular processes. In this, the DevForce WinClient TraceViewer can be extremely helpful. See the Object Persistence chapter for details.

Don‟t Load What You Don‟t Need
Sometimes complex forms with many tab pages or panels slow down because you are letting them load data that isn‟t currently being displayed. In these cases, consider a strategy wherein you keep track of which containers are visible at a given moment, and only load the data for those as the user navigates through collections of objects. This can be accomplished by instantiating redundant BindingSources whose source lists are of the right type, but empty.

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When a given container goes invisible, set the BindingSource(s) for its BindingManager(s) to the ones with the empty lists. When it becomes visible again – as a TabPage does by becoming the selected tab – reassign the BindingSource(s) to the ones with the real data – and keep that data current!

Don‟t Load What You Don‟t Need, Part 2
If you have a table with a large BLOB column and have contexts in your application where you need to display other properties of the same entity, but not the BLOB, consider segregating the BLOB column into a separate table related one-to-one with the main table. When object mapped, the BLOB column will then become a relation property of the main object, and the host object for that relation property will not be retrieved unless the BLOB relation property is specifically referenced in your data bindings or code.

If Control Configuration is the Bottleneck, Use SuspendLayout()
If data loading isn‟t the bottleneck, but instead the instantiation and configuration of controls, consider using the SuspendLayout() and ResumeLayout() methods that are routinely used in the code generated by the Visual Studio Form and UserControl designers. These suppress redundant and unnecessary layout events while your code is adjusting property values for a control (including a container control).

Large BindingSource loads are Slow
It can be very slow to load large numbers of objects into the DataSource of a BindingSource bound to a grid. The databinding apparatus may process each property of each grid row as it is added. The grid may perform better if it only has to bind to the objects that are actually shown after you‟ve loaded the BindingSource. You might try suspending the binding events while the loading the BindingSource (more accurately, while loading the DataSource of the BindingSource). The BindingSource has a RaiseListChangedEvents property for that purpose. Here's an example how to use it: C#
aBindingSource.RaiseListChangedEvents = false; aEntityList.ReplaceRange(GetEntityList()); // aBindingSource’s DataSource aBindingSource.RaiseListChangedEvents = true; aBindingSource.ResetBindings(false); // Do DataBinding now aBindingSource.RaiseListChangedEvents = False aEntityList.ReplaceRange(GetEntityList())' aBindingSource’s DataSource aBindingSource.RaiseListChangedEvents = True aBindingSource.ResetBindings(False) ' Do DataBinding now

VB

DevForce WinClient Assemblies for WinForm Support
Support for WinForm development is provided from the following assemblies: Assembly IdeaBlade.UI IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms.Design IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms.DevExpressControls.vX_X IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms.DevExpressControls.vX_X.Design Numerous assemblies targetted at different versions (X_X) of the DevExpress control suite Numerous assemblies targetted at different versions Comments

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(X_X) of the DevExpress control suite

IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms.DotNetControls IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms.DotNetControls.Design IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms.InfragisticsControls.vX_X IdeaBlade.UI.Winforms.InfragisticsControls.vX_X.Design IdeaBlade.Util Numerous assemblies targetted at different versions (X_X) of the DevExpress control suite) Numerous assemblies targetted at different versions (X_X) of the DevExpress control suite) As distinguished from IdeaBlade.Core. IdeaBlade.Util contains, in particular, the BindableList<T> class.

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide

Web Applications

Web Applications
DevForce provides object mapping and a persistence framework that are as useful in web applications as in WinForm and WPF applications. For a web application, you deploy DevForce server-side. Communication between the client and server tiers occurs between the user‟s browser and IIS; server-side, requests for data are handed off to a two-tier DevForce application which communicates with the back end data sources.

Chapter 11:

The DevForce ASPDataSource Component
The datasource controls provided with ASPNET, notably the Object DataSource, are not designed to work with objects that contain business logic, making them unsatisfactory for work with IdeaBlade business objects. By contrast, the DevForce ASPDataSource control is an ASP.NET data source control designed to work with rich business objects. The ASPDataSource control is used at both run time and design time. Data binding occurs at run time. At design time, functionality has been provided to allow Visual Studio 2005 developers to graphically create web pages using common controls like the .NET DetailsView and GridView and third-party controls like the Developer ExpressASPxGridView and ASPxPivotGrid, and the Infragistics UltraWebGrid.

Using the ASPDataSource in Development
The UI developer drags an ASPDataSource control onto a Web Form and interacts with it. In Visual Studio, the ASPDataSourceDesigner exposes a Configure Data Source Wizard to permit the developer to configure an instance of the ASPDataSource. When a control such as a .NET GridView bound to an ASPDataSource control requests schema information about its data source, the schema information is created and returned. This allows information to be returned not only about the simple properties backed by table columns, but also about custom computed properties. At runtime, the Web Form interacts with the ASPDataSource to perform the actual databinding. This work is handled by the ASPDataSourceView, an instance of which is managed by the ASPDataSource control.

Overridable Methods for Select, Update, Insert, and Delete
Every ASP.NET DataSource control, whether provided in Visual Studio (e.g., the ObjectDataSource) or by a third party vendor, allows the developer to specify methods and parameters for Select, Update, Insert, and Delete methods. In many implementations, this is done by having the user select from a dropdown list supplied by a wizard (as provided by the .NET ObjectDataSource) or by having the developer type in the method name into a property sheet for the DataSource control (as done with the previous DevForceDataSource). The required parameters for the CRUD method were specified in the code and were collected at runtime using a ParameterCollection Editor. We found that typing in the CRUD method name and then making sure that the parameters specified in the code matched the parameters collected by the Parameter Colllection Editor was a process that was both error-prone and difficult to debug. For the ASPDataSource, we decided to take a different approach. We have declared four abstract methods for Select, Update, Insert, and Delete which must be overridden by the developer to be used. By requiring the developer to use overridable methods, many incorrectly written methods produce compilation errors rather than runtime errors, and mysterious reflection errors are avoided. Here are the signatures for the four abstract methods:

C# public virtual IEnumerable SelectEntities(IOrderedDictionary parameters,

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide
DataSourceSelectArguments pSelectArgs)

Web Applications

public virtual int InsertEntity(IOrderedDictionary parameters, IDictionary newvalues)

public virtual int UpdateEntity(IOrderedDictionary parameters, IDictionary keys ,IDictionary values, IDictionary oldvalues)

public virtual int DeleteEntities(IOrderedDictionary parameters, IDictionary keys, IDictionary oldvalues)

The EntityAdapterManager Class
The code for each instance of an ASPDataSource control is contained in an EntityAdapterManager class. In the Instructional Unit for this feature, there are three ASPDataSource controls: mEmployeeSelectorAdapterManager, a DropDown control, mEmployeeEditorAdapterManager, a DetailsView control; and mOrderAdapterManager, a GridView control. Every instance of an EntityAdapterManager has a read-only EntityTypeName (e.g, Employee or Order) and an AdapterManagerAssemblyName (e.g., Web.Model, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null)

The Configure Data Source Wizard
To prevent errors caused by mistyping the name of the EntityAdapterManager class, the developer is encouraged to use a wizard. The ASPDataSource control has a wizard that provides a dropdown giving the developer the choice of which EntityAdapterManager to use.

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Web Applications

After the developer has selected an EntityAdapterManager, the EntityTypeName and EntityAssemblyName properties are computed.

Parameter Collection Editor
The ASPDataSource control uses a Parameter Collection Editor to configure the parameters for each CRUD method. For example, in the Instructional Unit, the EmployeeEditorAdapterManager needs the ID of the currently selected employee in the DropDown list at the top of the Web Form to be able to perform its SelectEntities method.

Retrieving Schema Information
The ASPDataSource supplies schema information to the web control to which it is attached. A DetailsView control, for example, needs to know the name, datatype, and other property information about the fields of the Entity that it is editing. A GridView needs to know the same kind of information for the columns in its GridView. To signal its ability to supply this information, an ASPDataSource control communicates its CanRefresh property. Then, the WebControl calls into the ASPDataSource control to invoke the GetFields() function to get this schema information. Once the Web Control has this information, it can display this information to the UI developer.

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Web Applications

Third Party Support
The ASPDataSource control works well with a variety of .NET Web Controls such as the DropDownList, DetailsView, and GridView; it works equally well with well-known third-party web controls such as the ASPxGridView and ASPxPivotGrid from Developer Express, and the UltraWebGrid from Infragistics. We suspect that the ASPDataSource will work with many other third-party controls that we have not specifically tested.

IdeaBlade DevForce Developers Guide

Business Object Server

Business Object Server
Business Object Server Architecture
The “Business Object Server” BOS is a deployable wrapper around a singleton instance of the DevForce EntityService class. Each wrapper suits a different deployment scenario of which there are three included in the Enterprise edition of the product:

Chapter 12:

BOS Deployment Console Application Windows Service IIS Server

DevForce Assembly Executable ServerConsole.exe ServerService.exe - not applicable -

An IIS deployment doesn‟t need its own executable. It identifies the EntityService startup assembly in a <service> tag of the Web.config such as <service name="EntityService"> <endpoint address="" binding="customBinding" bindingConfiguration="compressedBinaryBinding" contract="IdeaBlade.EntityModel.IEntityServiceContract" /> </service>

The EntityService class itself is part of the IdeaBlade.EntityModel.Server.dll which must be deployed to the executing directory of the physical server. Each of the three BOS deployments “wakes up” in a different way:

BOS Deployment Console Application Windows Service IIS Server

Wake up When ServerConsole.exe is launched When the ServerService.exe Windows Service starts. When a EntityManager asks for service.

All three deployments The Business Object Server “wakes up” depending upon the nature of its deployment. The singleton EntityService instance creates and manages one or more EntityServer instances. A EntityService creates its first EntityServer when a EntityManager asks for BOS services. One is plenty for many applications. But some applications will need more; to understand why, we must understand the nature and purpose of “Datasource Extensions”.

Datasource Extensions
Every EntityManager is associated with a “Datasource Extension” (called the “extension” for short). The “Extension” marks a collection of one or more data sources, each the repository of a set of business object classes mapped to objects in that data source.

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Business Object Server

Our application integrates entities from each of these sources in a single, unified business model.

Deployment Extensions
There are excellent reasons to have multiple extensions. Many IT shops follow a rigorous deployment regime in which each new version of the application progresses through a gauntlet of “environments” such as the development, test, stage, and production environments. Each environment has its own incarnation of the application data sources. Following our illustration, “Test” has three data sources that parallel the “Development”sources; they differ only in their “connection strings” (or Web Service equivalents). DevForce supports this regime through named extensions. The “Test” extension identifies its data sources just as the “Development” extension has its sources. A full-blown diagram might look like so:

Tenant Extensions
Extensions are also a good way to segment data sources by client in a “multi-tenant application”. Multi-tenant applications are typical of Application Service Provider (ASP) scenarios in which each customer‟s data are managed in isolated datasources. When the user logs in, the application identifies the user‟s parent customer and knows which set of data sources is appropriate for that user. The application can then instantiate a EntityManager that draws upon just those data sources. The “Datasoure Extension” is the ideal representation for a customer-specific data source set as in this depiction of a three-tenant scenario with customers “A”, “B”, and “C”:

Extensions and EntityServers
Let‟s stick with the multi-tenant, ASP scenario for awhile. When the application client determines the customer, it creates a EntityManager dedicated to the data sources applicable to that customer by including the customer‟s “Datasource Extension” name in the constructor.
msManager = new EntityManager(true, "A"); // Connect to customer "A"

Now the client application tries to login or fetch entities with this EntityManager. The EntityManager contacts the EntityService. The EntityService checks among its EntityServers for one that is associated with

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Business Object Server

extension “A”. It doesn‟t find one so it creates a new EntityServer instance for extension “A” and adds it to its collection. This EntityServer now serves every EntityManager presenting the “A” extension. When the EntityService encounters EntityManagers with unknown extensions – “B” and “C” for example –, it creates more EntityServers. The three-tenant scenario could look like this:

Review
The components intrinsic to and orbiting the Business Object Server have confusingly similar names. Here‟s a brief review BOS-Related Components Business Object Server
EntityService

Purpose and Function The deployed incarnation of the EntityService. Shipped in three flavors: console application, Windows Service, and IIS. A singleton instance of this class handles the DevForce “Business Object Server” functions on a physical middle tier. It creates and manages one or more EntityServers, each identified by its “Datasource Extension”. Performs server functions pertainting to a set of data sources. Those data sources are collectively identified by a “Datasource Extension.” The EntityService routes EntityManager requests to the EntityServer whose extension matches the EntityManager‟s extension. The client-side manager of business objects. The EntityManager executes in the client-layer of the application. It makes requests for entities, authentication, and other services to the EntityService which routes those requests to the EntityServer whose “Datasource Extension” matches the requesting EntityManager‟s extension. We haven‟t discussed this yet but we are about to. See “EntityService Startup and Shutdown”.

EntityServer

EntityManager

EntityServiceApplication

EntityService Startup and Shutdown
Our application may need to do some initial processing when the singleton EntityService starts up. It might need to launch auxiliary server-side processes for example. Perhaps it should alter the in-memory copy of the IdeaBlade Configuration file before creating its first EntityServer.

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Perhaps our application should run server-side clean-up code when it shuts down. For example, it might shut down the auxiliary services it started or send an email alert reporting that the service is coming down. Out of the box the Business Object Server wakes up and goes straight to work. We need to do a little programming if we want these startup and shutdown behaviors. We will create and register a sub-class of the DevForce EntityServiceApplication class to do our pre- and post-processing. One of the first steps for a new EntityService singleton is to acquire the singleton instance of a class that derived from EntityServiceApplication. Such a class has two methods of obvious purpose:
public virtual void OnServiceStartup(object sender, ServiceStartupEventArgs e) public virtual void OnServiceShutdown(object sender, EventArgs e)

The EntityService looks for a EntityServiceApplication class in an assembly named in one of the global probe assembly names listed in the IdeaBlade Configuration File. It asks for a singleton instance of the first such class it discovers. If it can‟t find such a class, it obtains the singleton instance from the base EntityServiceApplication class in the DevForce EntityModel library. The EntityService then calls the EntityServiceApplication.OnServiceStartup method. When the EntityService terminates, its finalizer calls OnServiceShutdown. Invoking OnServiceShutdown inside the EntityService finalizer all but guarantees that the method will be called, even if the EntityService dies by exception. Make sure that your implementation “cannot fail” and does not raise an exception of its own – a no-no inside finalizers.

Adding custom pre- and post- behaviors
There are two steps to adding custom behavior: Write a subclass of EntityServiceApplication that overrides these methods. The overrides should call the base EntityServiceApplication class methods. Identify its assembly in the server-side IdeaBlade Configuration File. Mention the assembly in the top level, “global” probe assembly path. If the class is in an assembly named “Server”, the XML might read:

XML <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <configuration> <ideaBlade.configuration version="5.00"> <probeAssemblyNames> <probeAssemblyName name="Server" /> </probeAssemblyNames> </ideaBlade.configuration> </configuration>

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EntityServer Startup and Shutdown
The EntityService singleton calls EntityServiceApplication methods when it starts and stops. Remember that there is only one instance of a EntityService on a given physical middle tier. This EntityService instance creates and manages one or more EntityServer instances that do the heavy-lifting for a set of data sources at the behest of client EntityManagers. As this is written, there are no EntityServer equivalents to “OnServiceStartup” or “OnServiceShutdown”. We can imagine scenarios that justify “OnServerStartup” and “OnServerShutdown” methods as well as methods for other EntityServer events. We are prepared to add them to the EntityServiceApplication class when we have concrete use cases for them. Please let us know if you have such cases.

Remote Service Method Call (RSMC) Methods
EntityManager has an InvokeServerMethod() method that facilitates the running of server-side-only methods. The following signatures are available for the EntityManager‟s InvokeServerMethod() method:
// Old signatures public Object InvokeServerMethod( String pTypeName, String pMethodName, params Object[] pArgs) public Object InvokeServerMethod( ServerMethodDelegate pDelegate, params Object[] pArgs)

Use the first overload when the method to be invoked does not reside in any client-side assembly (e.g., DomainModel.dll). When the method is available client-side, the second overload can be used, and tends to be a bit less vulnerable to the introduction of errors in the type and method names. First overload:

C# string typeName = "DomainModel.OrderSummary,DomainModel"; string methodName = "GetNumberOfOrders"; int num = (int)_em1.InvokeServerMethod(typeName, methodName, 10, new DateTime(1995, 1, 1), new DateTime(1999, 1, 1)); //pArgs

VB

Second overload:

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C# ServerMethodDelegate delegate = new ServerMethodDelegate(OrderSummary.GetNumberOfOrders); int num = (int)_em1.InvokeServerMethod(delegate, 10, new DateTime(1995, 1, 1), new DateTime(1999, 1, 1)); //pArgs

Here is the method to be invoked server-side. Note the [AllowRpc] attribute, without which the InvokeServerMethod call will result in an exception.

C# [AllowRpc] public static Object GetNumberOfOrders(IPrincipal pPrincipal, EntityManager pPm, params Object[] pArgs) { return GetOrderCount(pPm, pArgs); }

VB

Push Notification
The “push” feature allows client applications to “subscribe” to server-side code running on the BOS, and to receive periodic user-defined notifications from the server throughout the client‟s lifetime. This feature is not available in DevForce Silverlight.

A client calls one of the EntityManager‟s RegisterCallback overloads to register or subscribe to a push service. It supplies information both about the server method to be monitored and its own method to be called for notification of server activity. Additional parameters supply a userToken that uniquely identifies a particular subscription request, and user-defined arguments to be passed to the service.

C# public void RegisterCallback(ServerNotifyDelegate serverDelegate, ClientNotifyDelegate clientDelegate, Object userToken, params Object[] clientArgs);

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Once registered, the client remains subscribed to the service until either calling CancelCallback or closing. The push “service” is somewhat analogous to the familiar server-side method callable by the InvokeServerMethod call. The method must have a ServerNotifyDelegate signature, and will use the passed INotificationManager to communicate with subscribers.

C# public delegate void ServerNotifyDelegate(Guid serviceKey, INotificationManager notificationManager, EntityManager serverEntityManager);

The method runs on its own thread, and can perform any processing desired, including starting additional threads or processes. The method is currently started upon first client subscription, and stopped after the last client unsubscribes. To obtain information about its subscribers, it can use the INotificationManager.GetSubscribers method. This will return all current subscribers, and include the IPrinicipal of the client and any client arguments passed. The INotificationManager.Send method is used to send service-defined data to subscribers – allowing either a broadcast to all subscribers or to only an individual.

These “broadcasts” are received by client applications in the method specified when registering the callback.

C# public delegate void ClientNotifyDelegate(object pUserToken, params Object[] pArgs);

The data passed must be serializable (and currently has the same restriction as with the InvokeServerMethod in that Entities may not be directly passed or returned). A Learning Unit entitled “Server Push Notification” contains examples of this feature.

BOS Hosting Details
Transports
The EntityService and EntityServers are all implemented as WCF services. If your BOS is hosted by either the ServerConsole.exe or ServerService.exe, you can choose to use either HTTP (including HTTPS) or “net.tcp” transports. (You can also choose “net.pipe” for named pipe cross process communication on a single machine, but this is only useful during development.) Note that to use TCP you must specify a remoteBaseUrl beginning with “net.tcp://” since this is the new naming convention used by WCF.

Configuration
In the app.config file on the server, use the ObjectServer element to configure a BOS with DevForce defaults. Example:

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XML <objectServer isDistributed="true" remoteBaseURL="http://localhost" serviceName="EntityService" serverPort="9009" sessionEncryptionKey="" />

You will probably need to manually open the port used by your service. If using Windows Firewall, use the “Add Port” button on the Exceptions tab. Be sure to choose a TCP port even if you‟re using the HTTP protocol. If you do use named pipes, remember it works on the localhost only, and do not specify a serverPort. For more advanced scenarios, you‟ll need a ServiceModel configuration section in your app.config file to configure the service. Some possible reasons you might want to use this approach would be to add channel security or modify default settings (eg, for buffer sizes and timeouts).

Advanced Service Configuration Details
You can skip this section if you don‟t think you have the need, or the WCF knowledge, to customize the service configuration using an app.config. Read on if you want the details to help understand what defaults are provided. The BOS services require a custom message encoder called GzipMessageEncoding, which transmits all messages in compressed binary format. Because we use a custom message encoder we cannot use the standard WCF bindings such as “basicHttpBinding”, “wsHttpBinding”, “netTcpBinding”, etc., but instead use the “customBinding” type, which requires that we explicitly specify all elements in the binding. We default to a customBinding stack containing the following binding elements: 1) gzipMessageEncoding and 2) a transport as specified by the protocol scheme in the RemoteBaseURL (HttpTransportBindingElement, HttpsTransportBindingElement, TcpTransportBindingElement, or NamedPipeTransportBindingElement). The BOS actually consists of at least two services: 1) the “EntityService” which functions as a factory for creation of EntityServers, and 2) a EntityServer for each data source extension used. For each service, a single endpoint is created with an address based on the URI built from elements in the ObjectServer section of the app.config file. For an EntityServer, the address includes the name “EntityServer” followed by the data source extension. The transport is assigned based on the protocol scheme, and the MaxReceivedMessageSize is set to the maximum value – allowing for up to 2G to be transmitted in a fetch or save. All other transport values default based on the type of transport used. The GzipMessageEncoding uses the defaults for the underlying BinaryMessageEncoding, with the MaxArrayLength ReaderQuota set to the maximum value – this is again to allow for large amounts of data to be fetched and saved. Default timeout values are used for open, close, send and receive. If using net.tcp, a ServiceThrottlingBehavior is used to set the MaximumConcurrentCalls and MaximumConcurrentSessions to 100 (from the default of 10).

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Configuration for IIS Deployment
You must use a web.config file to configure the BOS when hosted by IIS. We provide sample web.config files in the SampleCode\Deployment\IIS folder. The sample files should be sufficient for most uses – see the descriptions above regarding modifying the server app.config file if you need more information or must customize the configuration. If you have the .NET 3.0 SDK installed, use the Service Configuration Editor to help edit this file. The sample web.config also configures diagnostic message logging. You can use the Service Trace Viewer utility, available with the SDK, to view the log. If you‟re familiar with WCF, y