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 Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Core CSLA .NET 3.8 Video Series provides nearly 9 hours of high quality training content to build your skills around CSLA .NET - for any type of user interface. The focus of this series is not on user interface development, it is on the core concepts of CSLA .NET – the knowledge you need to build a solid business layer for any application.

This six part series provides an introduction to CSLA .NET, then dives into detail to show how to code each type of business object, including business, validation and authorization rules. You’ll also learn about the various options for implementing data access, and how to effectively utilize the data portal for 1-, 2- and 3-tier deployments of your applications.

I’m offering a special “pre-release” sale price of 33% off on the video series. Buy now with this heavy discount, and get each new video segment as they become available. Segments 1 and 2 are online now!

Act now, the discount will phase out as the entire series comes online!!

Here is a summary of the video segments:

In this video you will become familiar with the CSLA .NET framework's vision, goals and overall scope. You will be introduced to the various architectures supported by CSLA .NET, and the requirements necessary to build CSLA .NET applications.

Business Object Types
In this video you will learn how to implement each of the business object stereotypes supported by CSLA .NET. These include editable objects, lists of objects, read-only objects, read-only lists, name/value lists, command objects and more. At the end of this video you will understand the purpose behind each stereotype, and the coding structure to use when building business objects for each stereotype.

Data Access
This video details the various options supported by CSLA .NET for data access. You will learn how to put data access code into your business class, or into a separate data access assembly using a repository pattern, along with the pros and cons of each technique. You will also learn about the ObjectFactory attribute and base class, that can be used to create pluggable data access layers for an application.

Data Portal
In this video you will learn how to build 1-, 2- and 3-tier applications using CSLA .NET. CSLA .NET allows your UI, business object and data access code to remain the same in all these configurations, but there are numerous configuration options and choices you can make to optimize how your application works in each of these scenarios.

Business and Validation Rules
In this video you will learn how to implement business and validation rules in your business objects. This includes the use of validation attributes, common validation rules and custom business and validation rules. You will also learn how to implement and use synchronous and asynchronous business rules in your applications.

Authentication and Authorization
In this video you will learn about the various authentication and authorization techniques supported by CSLA .NET. Authentication options include Windows, ASP.NET Membership Provider and custom authentication. The CSLA .NET authorization subsystem supports per-property and per-type authorization, which is role-based by default, and can be customized.

Sunday, 29 November 2009 23:46:20 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer

I’m heading to Atlanta to talk about “Microsoft Oslo” – oh wait – to talk about the SQL Server Modeling at ALEMUG on Wednesday, December 2.

Actually I’ll be talking about MCsla, which is the prototype domain specific language and runtime I created for CSLA .NET using the SQL Server Modeling tools. It is a good topic, because I get to talk about designing and defining a DSL with a custom grammar, using the m.exe and mx.exe tools to compile DSL code into instance data, and then defining a schema so that data can be loaded into SQL Server tables. Tables that you can view (and edit) using “Quadrant”, or any other SQL Server tools of your choice.

In short, nearly every part of SQL Server Modeling gets used, and the DSL code actually executes as a WPF application – so it is an end-to-end prototype solution.

So if you are in the Atlanta area, maybe I’ll see you there!

Sunday, 29 November 2009 22:39:08 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Thursday, 26 November 2009

csla_logo1_42 In celebration of the holiday season the CSLA .NET training videos are on sale now through the end of the year.

Save 15% off the regular price on the following products from the CSLA .NET online store:

  • CSLA .NET for Silverlight video series (includes sample code)
  • Business object types video (includes sample code)
  • N-Tier data access video (includes sample code)

Don’t miss this opportunity to get a great deal on these invaluable CSLA .NET training materials!

Thursday, 26 November 2009 12:12:30 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Tuesday, 10 November 2009

If you go to you’ll see many compelling stories of people using Microsoft .NET to do cool things.

This includes Andy Schwartz, a colleague of mine at Magenic. Andy is not only a great technologist, but he has a couple real black belts in martial arts.

I love working with such great people! :)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 14:13:20 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Friday, 06 November 2009

In Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0 Microsoft is amping up the visibility of the “client profile” concept. In fact, when you install the 4.0 client profile on a machine, it doesn’t drag the rest of the framework to that client later – they just get the client profile. And when you create a WPF or Windows Forms project in VS10 you default to targeting the client profile.

That’s all good – great in fact!!

But I’ve fallen in love with the validation attribute concepts in System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.dll. These attributes are designed specifically to enable a UI framework author (or a business layer framework author – like me with CSLA .NET) to automatically create a rich user experience based on the attributes decorating business objects.

This concept was first fully realized in Silverlight 3 – a client technology – and is now fully supported in .NET 4.0 full profile. But it is a client side technology, and so should be in the client profile.

I’ve logged this issue on connect, and recommend you vote for this to be resolved:


Friday, 06 November 2009 15:41:13 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Thursday, 05 November 2009

CSLA .NET version 3.8.0 is now released and is available for download.

For Windows Forms and Web Forms users there are not any major new features, but some of the bug fixes may be valuable. Upgrading from 3.7 to 3.8 should be painless for these UI types (as well as XML services and workflow interfaces).

If you use WPF or Silverlight, you will almost certainly want to take a look at the features in 3.8. The downside is that there are several breaking changes in the XAML controls, but the upside is that the new XAML control implementations are far superior to previous versions. Controls impacted include:

  • PropertyStatus – now supports a “pull model” so a UI control can bind to properties of PropertyStatus, rather than having PropertyStatus directly manipulate the UI control’s IsReadOnly and IsEnabled properties. Also in Silverlight, PropertyStatus now makes use of the Silverlight 3 binding capabilities.
  • InvokeMethod – can now be triggered by any UI event, and can invoke a couple different method signatures on the DataContext. Also, MethodParameter is now bindable. The end result is that InvokeMethod provides really good support for both the CslaDataProvider model and the MVVM design pattern.
  • Execute – a new control that is a trigger action that works in the Blend 3 Interactivity model. This is very similar to InvokeMethod, but works with the Blend 3 scheme.
  • ViewModelBase<T> – provides a base class to make it easy to build a viewmodel class when using the MVVM pattern.
  • ViewModel<T> – provides a base class to make it easy to build a viewmodel class that works with InvokeMethod/Execute when using the MVVM pattern.
  • CslaDataProvider – the ObjectInstance property is now bindable, so it is possible to create master-detail (parent-child) relationships in the UI between different data provider controls.

See this blog post for more MVVM information.

Other important or interesting features include:

  • Support for System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations validation attributes. This blog post has information about the change.
  • A CSLA .NET specific model binder for ASP.NET MVC, enabling the use of CSLA .NET rule methods and DataAnnotation validation attributes in the same object, with the UI displaying combined results.
  • Performance enhancements for MobileFormatter, including the use of binary XML. This forum thread has some great comparative information around binary XML and compression.
  • Better support for altering the behavior of IsDirty when using managed backing fields. This blog post has good information about using the changes.
  • All the samples have been updated to build with 3.8.0, and the MVVMexperiment projects for WPF and Silverlight illustrate most of the new MVVM features.

There are also numerous bug fixes, including a solution to the memory leak issue with BusyAnimation and a null reference issue with LINQ to CSLA. See the change logs for more details about bug fixes.

Thursday, 05 November 2009 20:48:50 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Wednesday, 04 November 2009

Of course I’m referring to Windows Forms, which is about 8 years old. Even in dog years that’s not old. But in software years it is pretty old I’m afraid…

I’m writing this post because here and in other venues I’ve recently referred to Windows Forms as “legacy”, along with asmx and even possibly Web Forms. This has caused a certain amount of alarm, but I’m not here to apologize or mollify.

Technologies come and go. That’s just life in our industry. I was a DEC VAX guy for many years (I hear Ted Neward laughing now, he loves these stories), but I could see the end coming years before it faded away, so I switched to the woefully immature Windows platform (Windows 3.0 – what a step backward from the VAX!). I know many FoxPro people who transitioned, albeit painfully, to VB or other tools/languages. The same with Clipper/dBase/etc. Most PowerBuilder people transitioned to Java or .NET (though much to my surprise I recently learned that PowerBuilder still actually exists – like you can still buy it!!).

All through my career I’ve been lucky or observant enough to jump ship before any technology came down on my head. I switched to Windows before the VAX collapsed, and switched to .NET before VB6 collapsed, etc. And honestly I can’t think of a case where I didn’t feel like I was stepping back in time to use the “new technology” because it was so immature compared to the old stuff. But every single time it was worth the effort, because I avoided being trapped on a slowly fading platform/technology with my skills becoming less relevant every day.

But what is “legacy”? I once heard a consultant say “legacy is anything you’ve put in production”. Which might be good for a laugh, but isn’t terribly useful in any practical sense.

I think “legacy” refers to a technology or platform that is no longer an area of focus or investment by the creator/maintainer. In our world that mostly means Microsoft, and so the question is where is Microsoft focused, where are they spending their money and what are they enhancing?

The answers are pretty clear:

  • Azure
  • Silverlight
  • WPF (to a lesser degree)
  • WCF

These are the areas where the research, development, marketing and general energy are all focused. Ask a Microsoft guy what’s cool or hot and you’ll hear about Azure or Silverlight, maybe ADO.NET EF or ASP.NET MVC and possibly WPF or WCF. But you won’t hear Windows Forms, Web Forms, asmx web services, Enterprise Services, Remoting, LINQ to SQL, DataSet/TableAdapter/DataTable or numerous other technologies.

Some of those other technologies aren’t legacy – they aren’t going away, they just aren’t sexy. Raw ADO.NET, for example. Nobody talks about that, but ADO.NET EF can’t exist without it, so it is safe. But in theory ADO.NET EF competes with the DataSet (poorly, but still) and so the DataSet is a strong candidate for the “legacy” label.

Silverlight and WPF both compete with Windows Forms. Poor Windows Forms is getting no love, no meaningful enhancements or new features. It is just there. At the same time, Silverlight gets a new release in less than 12 month cycles, and WPF gets all sorts of amazingly cool new features for Windows 7. You tell me whether Windows Forms is legacy. But whatever you decide, I’m surely spending zero cycles of my time on it.

asmx is obvious legacy too. Has been ever since WCF showed up, though WCF’s configuration issues have been a plague on its existence. I rather suspect .NET 4.0 will address those shortcomings though, making WCF as easy to use as asmx and driving the final nail in the asmx coffin.

Web Forms isn’t so clear to me. All the buzz is on ASP.NET MVC. That’s the technology all the cool kids are using, and it really is some nice technology – I like it as much as I’ll probably ever like a web technology. But if you look at .NET 4.0, Microsoft has done some really nice things in Web Forms. So while it isn’t getting the hype of MVC, it is still getting some very real love from the Microsoft development group that owns the technology. So I don’t think Web Forms is legacy now or in .NET 4.0, but beyond that it is hard to say. I strongly suspect the fate of Web Forms lies mostly in its user base and whether they fight for it, whether they make Microsoft believe it continues to be worth serious investment and improvement into the .NET 5.0 timeframe.

For my part, I can tell you that it is amazingly (impossibly?) time-consuming to be an expert on 7-9 different interface technologies (UI, service, workflow, etc). Sure CSLA .NET supports all of them, but there are increasing tensions between the stagnant technologies (most notably Windows Forms) and the vibrant technologies like Silverlight and WPF. It is no longer possible, for example, to create a collection object that works with all the interface technologies – you just can’t do it. And the time needed to deeply understand the different binding models and subtle differences grows with each release of .NET.

CSLA .NET 4.0 will absolutely still support all the interface technologies. But it would be foolish to cut off the future to protect the past – that way lies doom. So in CSLA .NET 4.0 you should expect to see support for Windows Forms still there, but probably moved into another namespace (Csla.Windows or something), while the main Csla namespace provides support for modern interface technologies like WPF, ASP.NET MVC, Silverlight, etc.

I am absolutely committed to providing a window of time where Windows Forms users can migrate their apps to WPF or Silverlight while still enjoying the value of CSLA .NET. And I really hope to make that reasonably smooth – ideally you’ll just have to change your base class types for your business objects when you switch the UI for the object from Windows Forms to XAML – though I suspect other minor tweaks may be necessary as well in some edge cases.

But let’s face it, at some point CSLA .NET does have to drop legacy technologies. I’m just one guy, and even with Magenic being such a great patron it isn’t realistic to support every technology ever invented for .NET :)  I don’t think the time to drop Windows Forms is in 4.0, because there are way too many people who need to migrate to WPF over the next 2-3 years.

On the other hand, if you and your organization aren’t developing a strategy to move off Windows Forms in the next few years I suspect you’ll eventually wake up one day and realize you are in a bad spot. One of those spots where you can’t hire anyone because no one else has done your technology for years, and nobody really remembers how it works (or at least won’t admit they do unless you offer them huge sums of money).

I don’t see this as bad. People who want stability shouldn’t be in computing. They should be in something like accounts receivable or accounts payable – parts of business that haven’t changed substantially for decades, or perhaps centuries.

Wednesday, 04 November 2009 21:20:16 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Monday, 02 November 2009

When I sit down to work on CSLA .NET I look at the wish list, and I tend to order my work based on a few priorities:

  1. Is it a bug with no workaround?
  2. Will it help a Magenic client/project?
  3. Is it fun/interesting/intellectually stimulating to me?
  4. Will it help make the lives of a reasonable number of users better?
  5. Is it easy (low-hanging fruit)?
  6. Does it make CSLA more "complete"? (like the recent MVVM work)

And there are some anti-priorities:

  1. Is it boring? Or worse, boring and time consuming?
  2. Does it increase complexity without amazing payoff in productivity/flexibility?
  3. Does it increase my testing/support surface area?
  4. Does it focus on "legacy" technologies (now including Windows Forms, Remoting, asmx, Enterprise Services and maybe Web Forms)?
  5. Does it solve a problem that's already been solved? (like ORM stuff or UI framework stuff)

These priorities are especially important during point releases, but they certainly factor into major releases (like 4.0) as well. Though the "fun factor" becomes a much bigger priority for major releases, and tactical things like bug fixes or specific Magenic client requirements are usually not as big an issue.

I guess this is one advantage of working on a free framework. Since I’m not directly making money by selling the framework, I can prioritize what I do based on my own intellectual stimulation and fun as much as anything else.

Monday, 02 November 2009 10:25:17 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
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