Tag: C#

Like most of us, my applications usually have a global unhandled exception handler, in order that the inevitable unhandled exception won’t crash the system.

The problem with this is that by the time you get to the exception handler, you’ve completely lost the context of what was happening. You’re in an isolated, global context, away from any window.

What you really want is to get immediate feedback when there’s been a problem, so you can react appropriately for the situation. For example, failure to load a customer list could be handled by trying again, up to a maximum number of attempts, before informing the user that the list couldn’t be loaded. By contrast, if they were trying to save an individual customer (presumably from a customer details window), you’d react differently.

Around a year ago, whilst contemplating this issue, I had an idea that turned out to be an excellent answer to the problem. It turned out that this wasn’t an original idea (it was too obvious for that), but as I hadn’t come across it before, I didn’t know that at the time.

In this post, I describe the Fallible type, and how it can be used (really easily) to simplify and improve your exception handling.

As part of some overall auditing in one of my projects, we recently added a LastUpdatedByUserID column to all of the major tables. As the name implies, this column stores the ID of the user who last updated the row. In order to keep an audit trail of the changes, for each table in the database, we have a corresponding TableName_Audit table that is updated (by triggers on the main table) every time the main table is modified.

I noticed that for one of the tables that had had the LastUpdatedByUserID column added, the script to regenerate the audit table hadn’t been run, so the audit table was missing the LastUpdatedByUserID column. This would entirely nullify the point of the column.

This led me to wonder if there were any other tables in the same state. rather than check this manually, I decided to write a script to do it, as this would be useful for future tables. Being a Linq type of person (I rarely write SQL any more), I decided to see if I could do this in LinqPad.

It took a bit of fiddling, but the end result was what I wanted, and paved the way for future queries.

A while back I blogged about a situation where thinking out of the box helped me write some code more quickly. In a nutshell, I needed to extract an exchange rate from an XML feed, and found that by using F# to do it, then translating the code back to C#, it was much easier than trying to write the code in C# in the first place.

I thought it might be interesting to revisit this in both languages, and compare the two experiences. I found this to be a significantly better sales pitch for F# than anything else I’ve seen.

If you’ve ever had to write or read a regular expression, you won’t need any convincing that a tool to make this easier would be useful!

If you aren’t familiar with regexs (as they are colloquially known) then it’s worth getting to know, as they can be amazingly useful at times. Sadly, they can also be amazingly difficult to write, and impossible to read afterwards!

Here are a few tips for taking away the pain.

Does this sound familiar…

User: Your app just crashed
You: What happened?
User: It crashed
You: (sigh) What were you doing at the time?
User: Using the app
You: (sigh) What specifically were you doing?
User: I was clicking in that box
You: Which box?
User: You know, the one on the window you get when you click the other button
…and so it goes on

Read how we managed to get useful information about errors without having to suffer speaking to the users!

Not a common requirement, but as it can happen, and was an interesting one to solve, I thought it worth documenting. The scenario is this: For a medical system, there are a number of treatment sites (ie bits of the human body) that must be checked. For each treatment site, there will be a number of check types that need to be done. We needed to display this information in a grid like this (this is a prototype, so only shows True and False, rather than having checkboxes that can be altered)… The treatment sites are listed in the first column, and are pulled from a database table. The interesting bit here is that the 2nd column onwards are not fixed, these are also pulled from a database table, making the grid dynamic. We don’t know in advance what columns will be needed (other than the first one of course).…

A hopefully enlightening story.

I had the need to get the latitude and longitude for UK postcodes. Knowing that another developer had recently done a lot of work doing similar things using the Google Maps API, I had a look at the code she had written. Following the Google guidelines, she had ended up adding wads of C# classes, defining the various data types that the API returns, as well as a lot of helper methods to parse the data. I had that horrible sinking feeling you get when you can see a small design requirement blow up out of all proportion.

Whilst contemplating the problem, I had an epiphany, and realised that I could solve the problem in a much simpler way, albeit with some initial effort. I thought the technique might be useful to others, but more significantly, thought that the idea of thinking outside of the box may be of interest.

OK, so hands up who knows the difference? Hmm, just as I thought, not many. Don’t worry about it, nor did I until just now! Rather than rambling on (as usual), I’ll just point you at a StackOverflow question where this was answered as clearly as this is likely to be answered anywhere! http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2876616/returning-ienumerablet-vs-iqueryablet By the way, if you just query your EF context and don’t explicitly convert your results, you’ll end up with an IQueryable<T>. If you use .AsEnumerable(), you’ll end up with an IEnumerable<T> (surprisingly enough).