Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What I've learned from reading RESTful Web APIs

I've recently finished reading the book RESTful Web APIs by Leonard Richardson, Mike Amundsen, Sam Ruby.

Wish I've read this book before building an API. To summarize the things I would have done different (and you've should have done probably too):

  • Use standard naming conventions for properties from for example:
  • Don't use application/json but a custom format like application/
  • Make better use of the default HTTP Headers (e.g. the WWW-Authenticate and Link header)
  • Return errors as described in
  • Create hypermedia links in the HTTP headers to describe possible links. These links should also have standartized names from for example
  • If time allows; event create hypermedia profiles (this allows the server to change without breaking clients). One of the writers is also writing a book on how to create hypermedia driven clients for this.
  • Make sure to reuse as much standards as possible, we don't need another new standard. This enables us to reuse webcomponents (or at least parts of) between projects.
Hope this helps.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Development Setup

Last week my PC got upgraded. This blogpost serves as a reference for all the stuff I do to personalize Visual Studio and Fiddler.

First thing I do is disable 'Automatically adjust visual experience based on client performance' and 'Enable rich client visual experience', but keep 'Use hardware graphics acceleration if available' enabled. Speed is everything baby!

Then I customize the toolbar and add BC. Pro-tip; remove all toolbar button's you never use.

I always install the following plugins:

Setup the Rename Visual Studio Window Title plugin (to see which branch I'm working in):

Setup Scrum Power Tools (I use this for code reviews and workitem shortcuts in the toolbar):
  1. Assign the work item and backlog items to Shortcut #1 and Shortcut #2
  2. Customize the toolbar and add the button for Shortcut #1 and Shortcut #2 to the standard toolbar

This is what my final toolbar looks like:

I also use fiddler for API debugging. For API's its really important to see the HTTP method. To add this column, enable / add the following block in the Rules > Customize rules file:
public static BindUIColumn("Method", 60)
function FillMethodColumn(oS: Session): String {
   return oS.RequestMethod;

When you also retrieve large binary blocks, fiddler can really slow down when you accidentically click on one. The very powerfull Customize rules file, also has a solution for this. Add the following code inside the OnPeekAtResponseHeadersfunction. This will drop large response bodies, which slows down fiddler.
// This block enables streaming for files larger than 5mb
if (oSession.oResponse.headers.Exists("Content-Length"))
  var sLen = oSession.oResponse["Content-Length"];
  var iLen: Int32 = 0;
  if (!isNaN(sLen)){
    iLen = parseInt(sLen);
    if (iLen > 5120000) {
      oSession.bBufferResponse = false;
      oSession["ui-color"] = "brown";
      oSession["log-drop-response-body"] = "save memory";

Monday, September 22, 2014

Major update for the SBQueueManager

Also having problems managing the service bus for windows server?
With the latest update of the SBQueueManager you can handle it all.

The improvements include:

  • Topic support
  • Subscription support
  • New user right to manage queues and topics
  • Update queue and topic support
  • Less crashes
  • More feedback
Check it out!

And offcourse: source is available at Github:

Happy managing!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Automatically deploy services using TFS2010

All credits for this post goes out to: Hrusikesh Panda and Mike Hadlow (see references below).

To deploy Windows services with TFS2010 there are 2 major challenges; seperate the binaries on a per-project basis and automatically stop and start a service without changing the build workflow. Sounds hard? It isn't!

If you don't want any blabla and download the sample solution directly, goto github.

First add the following files to your Solution folder and make sure they will be committed to TFS:
DeployApplication.targets (this is a copy of the WebDeploy targets from Microsoft with an extra change to copy the .config file).
DeployService.targets (this stops the service, copies the files and starts the service, it also contains the location on where to put the files)
safeServiceStart.bat (helper to start a remote service)
safeServiceStop.bat (helper to stop a remote service)
you can simply add these files to the solution items (right click solution and click add existing item).

Edit the DeployService.targets for the right paths on the remote machine. The directory where the service is located should be available for the user running the build using a standard windows share (\\<servername>\<project directory>\<servicename>, the servername is determined during the build and can be configured for each build quality.

Copy the Deploy.targets into the project you want to deploy, unload the project file and edit it with visual studio. Lookup the following line:
<Import Project="$(MSBuildToolsPath)\Microsoft.CSharp.targets" />
And add this line below:
<Import Project="Deploy.targets" Condition="'$(DeployOnBuild)'=='True'" />
Save the file and reload the project

Once you've reloaded the project, edit the Deploy.targets (just double click on it) and change the service name and service location. Commit all changes to TFS.

The next step is to install the service on the remote machine. (using installutil, or whatever method you like, in the sample we can install a service by running it with the -I command line argument). The automated deployment will only start and stop the service and is not able to install and delete the service. (In my case, the service is running as a domain user, and therefor I prefer to pre-install the service with the right credentials or else you'll have to enter the credentials in the deployment script).

To enable automatic deployment, create a new Build Configuration on your TFS2010 server and set it up with a scheduled trigger (or whatever trigger you want). In the process section add the following MSBuild arguments:
 /p:DeployOnBuild=True /p:DeploymentServerName=\\<server-to-deploy-to>
If you also want to configure transformations (change the .config file during deployment), have a look at SlowCheetah. This works without a problem with this configuration. To make sure SlowCheetah only works during deployment, I've edited the project file again and added AND '$(DeployOnBuild)'=='True' in the following line:
<Import Project="$(SlowCheetahTargets)" Condition="Exists('$(SlowCheetahTargets)') AND '$(DeployOnBuild)'=='True'" Label="SlowCheetah" />

(If you don't see this line, make sure you've installed SlowCheetah extension and added the transformations by right click on a .config file and click add transformations)


Happy deploying!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Running Transmission as a Windows service

I've recently updated my netbook server to a full-blown core i3 system with Windows 8.1. Transmission, the torrent client of my choice, can be very easily installed under windows as a service.

Follow these steps:

  1. Download the client and cygrunsrv  (both .zip). from:
  2. Extract the transmission executables to a folder (in my case c:\apps\transmission)
  3. Extract cygrunsrv to the same folder
  4. Starts a command prompt as administrator and go to the transmission directory (cd c:\apps\transmission)
  5. Execute cygrunsrv --install TransmissionBT --path c:/Apps/transmission/transmission-daemon.exe -a "--pid-file --foreground" -e HOME=c:/Apps/transmission/ -e TRANSMISSION_WEB_HOME=c:/Apps/transmission/web --stdout c:/Apps/transmission/log/transmissionbt.log --stderr c:/Apps/transmission/log/transmissionbt.error.log
To make the whole setup beyond awesome, install the chrome plugin .torrent to transmission. Now you can just right click every .torrent or magnet link and just sent it to transmission.

Happy leeching!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bind WPF controls to attributes using Caliburn Micro

To bind for example an DecimalUpDown control to a RangeAttribute specified in a domain model, or a maxlength to a StringLengthAttribute you need to change the automatic binding of Caliburn Micro.

The example below is for a DecimalUpDown, but you can use it for all kind of fun stuff. In my github working example you can also see a Textbox.

First we need to add an ElementConvention for out DecimalUpDown in the BootStrapper's Configure method. Override this method and add the following convention (edit 2014-03-26 added attribute check to prevent binding errors):
ConventionManager.AddElementConvention<DecimalUpDown>(DecimalUpDown.ValueProperty, "Value", "ValueChanged").ApplyBinding =
(viewModelType, path, property, element, convention) =>
    if (!ConventionManager.SetBindingWithoutBindingOrValueOverwrite(viewModelType, path, property, element, convention, DecimalUpDown.ValueProperty))
        return false;

    if (property.GetCustomAttributes(typeof (RangeAttribute), true).Any())
        if (!ConventionManager.HasBinding(element, DecimalUpDown.MaximumProperty))
            var binding = new Binding(path) {Mode = BindingMode.OneTime, Converter = RangeMaximumConverter, ConverterParameter = property};
            BindingOperations.SetBinding(element, DecimalUpDown.MaximumProperty, binding);

        if (!ConventionManager.HasBinding(element, DecimalUpDown.MinimumProperty))
            var binding = new Binding(path) {Mode = BindingMode.OneTime, Converter = RangeMinimumConverter, ConverterParameter = property};
            BindingOperations.SetBinding(element, DecimalUpDown.MinimumProperty, binding);

    return true;
As you can see the binding uses a RangeMaximumConverter and a RangeMinimumConverter. These are fairly simple with the AttributeConverter baseclass:
public sealed class RangeMaximumConverter : AttributeConverter<RangeAttribute>
    public override object GetValueFromAttribute(RangeAttribute attribute)
        return attribute.Maximum;
And the AttributeConverter base class:
public abstract class AttributeConverter<T> : IValueConverter
    where T : Attribute
    public object Convert(object value, Type targetType, object parameter, System.Globalization.CultureInfo culture)
        var property = parameter as PropertyInfo;

        if (property == null)
            return new ArgumentNullException("parameter").ToString();

        if (!property.IsDefined(typeof(T), true))
            return new ArgumentOutOfRangeException("parameter", parameter,
                "Property \"" + property.Name + "\" has no associated " + typeof(T).Name + " attribute.").ToString();

        return GetValueFromAttribute((T)property.GetCustomAttributes(typeof(T), true)[0]);

    public object ConvertBack(object value, Type targetType, object parameter, System.Globalization.CultureInfo culture)
        throw new NotSupportedException();

    public abstract object GetValueFromAttribute(T attribute);
You can find a working example in GitHub.

Happy coding,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Using WiX installers the right way

Wix is the way to go for creating installers for your visual studio projects. Because Wix is rather complex to start with, I want to give you a working example so you can start building your own installers. You can also skip this short description and go directly to the source code.

What we will setup in this post is:
  1. Heat.exe (automatically include your dll files)
  2. Transformations (automatically edit the file generated by heat.exe)
  3. Service installers (register your windows service)
  4. Custom forms (manipulate your config file)
First off, we need to setup head.exe so it automatically detects when new dll's are added to your service. To do that, we need to edit the pre-build event:
$(WIX)bin\heat.exe" dir "$(SolutionDir)MyWindowsService\$(OutDir)." -srd -sreg -nologo -scom -srd -sfrag -ag -cg "Binaries" -dr "INSTALLDIR" -t "$(ProjectDir)XslTransform.xslt" -var var.MyWindowsService.TargetDir -o "../../Binaries.wxs

This will generate a Binaries.wxs in your installer dir.
The next trick is to use transformations to edit the generated file. For example: we want to install a windows service and remove vshost.exe files. This is done with the XslTransform.xslt file.

The following example creates a service:
<xsl:template match="wix:Component[wix:File[@Source='$(var.MyWindowsService.TargetDir)\MyWindowsService.exe']]">
  <xsl:apply-templates select="node() | @*" />
  <wix:ServiceInstall Id="MyServiceInstall" DisplayName="[SERVICENAME]" Description="[SERVICENAME]" Name="[SERVICENAME]" ErrorControl="ignore" Start="auto" Type="ownProcess" Vital="yes" Interactive="no" Account="[SERVICEUSER]" Password="[SERVICEPSWD]" />
  <wix:ServiceControl Id="MyServiceControl" Name="[SERVICENAME]" Start="install" Stop="both" Remove="uninstall" Wait="yes"/>
  <util:User Id="user" CreateUser="no" Name ="[SERVICEUSER]" Password="[SERVICEPSWD]" LogonAsService="yes" />
After installation, the service is running with the parameters from the product.wxs file.

The following example manipulates the app.config file:
<xsl:template match="wix:Component[wix:File[@Source='$(var.MyWindowsService.TargetDir)\MyWindowsService.exe.config']]">
  <xsl:apply-templates select="node() | @*" />
  <util:XmlFile Id="AppConfigSetSetting1" File="[INSTALLDIR]MyWindowsService.exe.config" Action="setValue" Name="value" Value="[SETTING1]" ElementPath="//configuration/appSettings/add[\[]@key='setting1'[\]]" Sequence="1" />
  <util:XmlFile Id="AppConfigSetSetting2" File="[INSTALLDIR]MyWindowsService.exe.config" Action="setValue" Name="value" Value="[SETTING2]" ElementPath="//configuration/appSettings/add[\[]@key='setting2'[\]]" Sequence="1" />
Custom forms is a whole different deal. You need to copy code from the original source and add it to your installer. No need to worry, I've got a good basic installer flow defined below. It is based on the WixUI_Common template without the license window.
 <UI Id="CustomInstallerUI">
  <TextStyle Id="WixUI_Font_Normal" FaceName="Tahoma" Size="8" />
  <TextStyle Id="WixUI_Font_Bigger" FaceName="Tahoma" Size="12" />
  <TextStyle Id="WixUI_Font_Title" FaceName="Tahoma" Size="9" Bold="yes" />

  <Property Id="DefaultUIFont" Value="WixUI_Font_Normal" />
  <Property Id="WixUI_Mode" Value="InstallDir" />

  <DialogRef Id="SettingsDlg" />
  <DialogRef Id="BrowseDlg" />
  <DialogRef Id="DiskCostDlg" />
  <DialogRef Id="ErrorDlg" />
  <DialogRef Id="FatalError" />
  <DialogRef Id="FilesInUse" />
  <DialogRef Id="MsiRMFilesInUse" />
  <DialogRef Id="PrepareDlg" />
  <DialogRef Id="ProgressDlg" />
  <DialogRef Id="ResumeDlg" />
  <DialogRef Id="UserExit" />

  <Publish Dialog="BrowseDlg" Control="OK" Event="DoAction" Value="WixUIValidatePath" Order="3">1</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="BrowseDlg" Control="OK" Event="SpawnDialog" Value="InvalidDirDlg" Order="4"><![CDATA[WIXUI_INSTALLDIR_VALID<>"1"]]></Publish>

  <Publish Dialog="ExitDialog" Control="Finish" Event="EndDialog" Value="Return" Order="999">1</Publish>

  <Publish Dialog="WelcomeDlg" Control="Next" Event="NewDialog" Value="InstallDirDlg">NOT Installed</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="WelcomeDlg" Control="Next" Event="NewDialog" Value="VerifyReadyDlg">Installed AND PATCH</Publish>

  <Publish Dialog="InstallDirDlg" Control="Back" Event="NewDialog" Value="WelcomeDlg">1</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="InstallDirDlg" Control="Next" Event="SetTargetPath" Value="[WIXUI_INSTALLDIR]" Order="1">1</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="InstallDirDlg" Control="Next" Event="DoAction" Value="WixUIValidatePath" Order="2">NOT WIXUI_DONTVALIDATEPATH</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="InstallDirDlg" Control="Next" Event="SpawnDialog" Value="InvalidDirDlg" Order="3"><![CDATA[NOT WIXUI_DONTVALIDATEPATH AND WIXUI_INSTALLDIR_VALID<>"1"]]></Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="InstallDirDlg" Control="Next" Event="NewDialog" Value="SettingsDlg" Order="4">WIXUI_DONTVALIDATEPATH OR WIXUI_INSTALLDIR_VALID="1"</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="InstallDirDlg" Control="ChangeFolder" Property="_BrowseProperty" Value="[WIXUI_INSTALLDIR]" Order="1">1</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="InstallDirDlg" Control="ChangeFolder" Event="SpawnDialog" Value="BrowseDlg" Order="2">1</Publish>

  <Publish Dialog="SettingsDlg" Control="Back" Event="NewDialog" Value="InstallDirDlg">1</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="SettingsDlg" Control="Next" Event="NewDialog" Value="VerifyReadyDlg"></Publish>

  <Publish Dialog="VerifyReadyDlg" Control="Back" Event="NewDialog" Value="InstallDirDlg" Order="1">NOT Installed</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="VerifyReadyDlg" Control="Back" Event="NewDialog" Value="MaintenanceTypeDlg" Order="2">Installed AND NOT PATCH</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="VerifyReadyDlg" Control="Back" Event="NewDialog" Value="WelcomeDlg" Order="2">Installed AND PATCH</Publish>

  <Publish Dialog="MaintenanceWelcomeDlg" Control="Next" Event="NewDialog" Value="MaintenanceTypeDlg">1</Publish>

  <Publish Dialog="MaintenanceTypeDlg" Control="RepairButton" Event="NewDialog" Value="VerifyReadyDlg">1</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="MaintenanceTypeDlg" Control="RemoveButton" Event="NewDialog" Value="VerifyReadyDlg">1</Publish>
  <Publish Dialog="MaintenanceTypeDlg" Control="Back" Event="NewDialog" Value="MaintenanceWelcomeDlg">1</Publish>

  <Property Id="ARPNOMODIFY" Value="1" />

 <UIRef Id="WixUI_Common" />
The custom SettingsDlg.wxs looks like this:

Last but not least, to fix 'ICE80: This 32BitComponent '' uses 64BitDirectory INSTALLDIR' you can add '-arch x64' to the Compiler parameters in the project properies' Tool Settings.
The heat.exe searches for all binaries in the output folder. This causes problems with build servers. In TFS2012 you can enable that the build server puts the binaries in seperate folders. I don't have TFS2012 running so I can't try this.

Full source is available at GitHub, so you can simply test and edit it yourself:



PS: Next blog post is also in progress, Caliburn Micro and Attribute binding :)