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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Using Anonymous Types Outside of Local Context with Dynamic Keyword

Anonymous types that have been introduced in C# with .NET 3.5 is a convenient and powerful feature and can be used to simplify and speed up development without sacrificing code quality or violating coding standards.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Using jQuery to Consume ASP.NET MVC JSON Services

Since the inception of ASP.NET Web Services have been an important part of any professional web developer's tool set. Starting .NET 3.5 Web Services became even more useful as it became possible to call Web Services asynchronously from a browser using JavaScript and ASP.NET AJAX.

However for the last two years the alternative ASP.NET MVC framework has been drawing more and more attention from the development community due to its good implementation of the MVC design pattern and adherence to web standards and bleeding edge web technologies.

For many experienced ASP.NET developers accustomed to Web Services especially accompanied with ASP.NET AJAX framework a natural question occurs: how to implement similar approach with ASP.NET MVC framework and its natural JavaScript companion jQuery?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fix for Bing Maps not working in Firefox 4+

UPDATE
Apparently that problem exists for Firefox 5 also and perhaps will apply for the future versions too. So the solution below should be considered a best practice for using Bing Maps 6.x with Firefox 4+.

Recently I've upgraded from Firefox 3.6 to Firefox 4 and while doing regression testing I've notice that apparently Bing Maps has some issues in Firefox 4. In particular I saw a JavaScript error that said "p_elSource.attachEvent is not a function":


The problem at this point looks like this:
  1. the error happens in Bing's JavaScript itself; and
  2. it only happens in Firefox 4 browser. Other browsers like IE 8 & 9, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Firefox 3.6 don't produce that problem.
Since the page where I saw an error belonged to a web application I've been working on I had to fix the problem. Initial search on the Internet did not bring up anything useful except that a few other people also stepped on this problem. I tried Bing Maps interactive SDK and it worked all right. That told me the Bing Maps script itself does work but it clearly depends on some other condition that does not necessarily happen on other pages like mine.

What's that condition? I looked at the difference between Firefox browser and the other browsers. When in Firefox Bing Maps dynamically loads another JavaScript file atlascompat.js. Apparently that file is required since it contains a definition for the attachEvent function that caused an error and must be loaded first before the main Bing Maps script. So that's the condition I've been looking for! Now the picture got clearer:
  1. the error happens in Bing's JavaScript itself; and
  2. it only happens in Firefox 4 browser. Other browsers like IE 8 & 9, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Firefox 3.6 don't produce that problem;
  3. it happens when the atlascompat.js is not present on a page at the moment when the main Bing Maps script is being loaded.
Now why the error is happening on my page and not on the Bing Maps SDK page? Apparently the conditions #3 is not satisfied since my page contains a whole bunch of other scripts and the atlascompat.js did not load before the main Bing Maps script due to internal differences that have been introduced in Firefox 4. Now I have a complete picture of the problem and can come up with a solution for it.

The solution is simple: since the Bing Maps itself cannot load the atlascompat.js reliably I need to help it and just add a reference to the atlascompat.js script on my page before a reference to the main Bing Maps script. This can be easily accomplished with a few line of code like below:

if ((Page.Request.Browser.Browser.IndexOf("Firefox") >= 0) && (Page.Request.Browser.MajorVersion >= 4))
{
   // add script reference on a page
   // use technique that is suitable for your application
}


Notice that the browser version is more or equal 4 to cover the future versions of Firefox too (for version 5 this solution is confirmed). In my case I've added the code above into a GetScriptReferences method of an IScriptControl that was responsible for rendering the Bing Maps on a page.

Friday, February 11, 2011

.NET Reflector is becoming a paid-for product

As you may already have learned the famous .NET Reflector created by Lutz Roeder almost a decade ago that was always free to use is becoming a paid-for product thanks to Red Gate Software. The decision is confirming the worst suspicions many had when first heard about Lutz's agreement with the Red Gate and has already created a massive controversy in development communities.

For those who do not remember the .NET Reflector was born in the beginning of 2000s and has quickly become one of the must-have tool for every serious professional .NET developer. A large users community has quickly formed around the tool and many great add-ons have been written by inspired developers. Reflector has influenced great many developers' careers and earned community recognition. Scott Hanselman included the program in his "Ultimate Developer Tool List".

The Reflector's success was growing for over half a decade when out of a sudden the original author of .NET Reflector announced about his decision to stop developing the product and give it over to Red Gate Software in August 2008. One part of the agreement was that
...Red Gate will continue to provide the free community version... [of .NET Reflector]
confirmed by James Moore of Red Gate Software but many had skepticism about that part of the agreement from the very beginning.

During the period of Red Gate's ownership there were not many real improvements to the Reflector except for the annoying built-in "time-bomb" feature forcing one to upgrade to the newer version of the product even though the installed version worked perfectly. Some time ago a paid-for "Pro" version was announced with an obvious reason to raise some money for the owner but based on the Red Gate's plea was not successful among developers. One of the suggested explanations for that is that paid-for functionality was not really of any interest (more creativity, please, Red Gate) for professionals and beside there were already free add-ons doing similar things.

So now Red Gate wants to charge $35 for "a perpetual license, with no time bomb or forced updates" for the version 7 that will come out in early March and promises some new features in V7.

Red Gate claims that they need money to "keep .NET Reflector up-to-date and relevant" and cannot do that "without revenue coming in". That may be true for the Red Gate Software but there is a proven recipe for that: how about make the product open source, put it on Code Plex or any other similar location and let the community take care of its relevancy? To make it even more interesting let's make it a challenge: you, Red Gate, charge for your new shiny V7 but give away the previous version to the open source community and let's see which version survives in a few years. I personally have no doubts on the results.

There is a discussion going on about the Reflector's future on Red Gate's user forum. However if you are a professional developer that uses and loves Lutz Roeder's Reflector I encourage you to share your opinion and vote for the Reflector's future right here in my blog on the right side or answer polls on LinkedIn here and here. Please share the poll with your friends and colleagues.


UPDATE

Interesting list of open-source alternatives to Reflector on Stack Overflow: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2425973/open-source-alternatives-to-reflector

To my taste the closest to .NET Reflector user experience is provided by the ILSpy. I am going to try and compare it with the Reflector.


Another UPDATE of May 1, 2011
Apparently free Reflector's lifespan is going to end on May 30, 2011. Today I've started my free copy and saw this alert:



UPDATE of May 31, 2011
Free version of Reflector is finally dead. Now those who does not want to switch to a paid version has to consider alternatives. A couple of new alternatives include:

JustDecompile

Telerik has recently released a beta version of their new JustDecompile, designed to enable easy .NET assembly browsing and decompiling. While Telerik is not know for free software, this product is featured as being free. According to Telerik, "Unlike Open Source alternatives, Telerik JustDecompile benefits from a dedicated development team, which is focused on continuously improving the product in line with your feedback. Telerik is recognized as one of the leading providers of .NET development tools and JustDecompile will benefit from our years of experience in the field."

dotPeek

JetBrains, an author of an extremely popular ReSharper Visual Studio add-in, has recently released a beta version of the dotPeek which is another new and free .NET decompiler with search features from JetBrains. dotPeek has gone public for the first time on Wednesday, May 11, as JetBrains opened an Early Access Program (EAP) that implied regular publishing of pre-release builds. According to JetBrains they are going to keep the product free.


Final Thought

JetBrain's dotPeek has become my tool of choice for the time being. It's functional, free and being updated frequently. For those who also uses JetBrain's ReSharper starting version 6 the dotPeek functionality is built-in and available through the Navigate/To Decompiled Source menu.