Infragistics WPF controls

Introducing RavenDB: Welcome to the world of NoSQL

Relational Databases If you are a software developer then you probably have some sort of experience with a traditional RDBMS (Relational Database Management System).  SQL or structured query language is the language that you use to retrieve data from a SQL based database system.  SQL based database systems are based on relational algebra.  You initiate queries to retrieve sets or intersections of data.  These databases are defined by their schema.  The schema defines tables, columns, relationships, constraints, and keys.  SQL databases have been around for a long time and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  There is a time and place to use this type of system.  Typical uses include Data warehousing, data reporting, and application data storage.   Complexities of SQL based database systems With SQL based database systems you often need a database administrator to facilitate maintenance on the server.  In a clustered database environment, concurrency can become an issue when you need to combine data from multiple database systems into one central database.  Issues of replication or redundancy and back up disaster recovery requires an administrator that fully understands the way that SQL schema's and programming work. SQL to objects and objects to SQL When programming in SQL based databases, there is a fundamental challenge of pulling data from a database using SQL and transforming the set based results into an object's properties.  The same difficulties must be resolved when saving object properties back to the SQL database.  For the past 10+ years it has been up to the developer to write custom code to handle these issues.  Recently, ORM systems have assisted developers with this issue.  The schema still requires the developer to map object properties to database columns.  If the schema changes, you have to change database stored procedures, functions, as well as application code that deals with selecting and inserting and updating data.  The functions that facilitate relational databases create difficulties that must be solved to use the systems effectively. Repository pattern The repository pattern exists to provide a way to retrieve data from a routine that provides a layer of abstraction between the call and the underlying database server.  This is usually implemented by some interfaces and specific repository classes.  This adds to the amount of infrastructure boiler plate code that must be used in each application to simply retrieve data from an SQL database. Ditching the schema Recently there has been a lot of talk about NoSQL based databases.  When I first heard about this concept, I was very skeptical on how this would work.  I had been working with SQL for the past 10 years and it's what I've been used to.  I decided I would take a look at RavenDB to see what all the fuss was about.  RavenDB has changed my views on the issue. There are times when you have no need to worry about the way that your data is stored.  There are some instances in which you have no need to generate reports on data or utilize relationships.  Some times you simply need the ability to store an object's state and retrieve it later for use in your application.  This illustrates a perfect time to utilize NoSQL and RavenDB. Saving data the SQL way To save data in a typical RDBMS, you must create a SQL INSERT or UPDATE statement and traverse the properties values of the object that you wish to save to the database.  If the schema ever changes, you must change all application code that saves or retrieves data from a database. Setting up RavenDB Embedded  You must start by adding RavenDB to your solution.  I did this by using the Nuget package manager.  There are 3 ways to run RavenDB.  You can run RavneDB as an HTTP service, a Windows service, or when using RavenDB in a .NET application, you can run the RavenDB embedded server which allows RavenDB to execute as an in process DLL service.  This requires no server to run.  You simply point to a folder on your file system to save the data. Please note that when you save data to RavenDB, the objects are serialized to JSON for storage.  Here is a screen shot of how to get to the Nuget package manager.  Keep in mind that you want to add RavenDB once you have your solution open in Visual Studio.   Once you launch the package manager Search for RavenDB and choose the embedded server. The nuget package manager will discover and download the other package dependencies like the RavenDB client and Database packages. When you run RavenDB in Embedded mode, the DataDirectory property of the DocumentStore should be the directory that you wish to store the data saved to the database. Once you have a valid document store, you need to create a session to preform the save and query operations. The session object provides a way of saving and accessing data in the document store.   Querying data in RavenDB You can use Linq to query data from a RavenDB database.  Linq provides a strongly typed way of querying a RavenDB database by specifying object properties in the query.   Here is a complete example of saving and querying a RavenDB database. The example is a console application.   The application is made up of a Customer class, a DataAccessLayer class, and the main program class. The program will create an instance of the Customer class and save that object to the RavenDB database.  Next, the program will query the database to retrieve a Customer object with the ID of the object that was just saved.  The program will print the two Id's for comparison and await for the user to press a key to end the program. Customer.cs using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Text; namespace RavenDBExample { public class Customer { public Guid Id; public string CustomerName; public string CustomerAddress; } } DataAccessLayer.cs using Raven.Client; using Raven.Client.Embedded; using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Text; using System.Threading.Tasks; namespace RavenDBExample { public static class DataAccessLayer { private static EmbeddableDocumentStore _documentStore; public static void SaveCustomer(Customer customer) { if (_documentStore == null) CreateDocumentStore(); using (IDocumentSession session = _documentStore.OpenSession()) { // Operations against session session.Store(customer); // Flush those changes session.SaveChanges(); } } private static void CreateDocumentStore() { _documentStore = new EmbeddableDocumentStore { DataDirectory = "Data" }; if (_documentStore == null) throw new NullReferenceException("Error creating document store"); _documentStore.Initialize(); } public static Customer LoadCustomer(Guid guid) { if (_documentStore == null) CreateDocumentStore(); using (IDocumentSession session = _documentStore.OpenSession()) { var customer = session.Query<Customer>().Where(cust => (cust.Id == guid)).FirstOrDefault(); return customer; } return null; } } } Program.cs using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Text; using System.Threading.Tasks; namespace RavenDBExample { public class Program { public static void Main(string[] args) { var customerToSave = new Customer { Id = Guid.NewGuid(), CustomerName = "John Doe", CustomerAddress = "1234 Mystery Street, Somewhere, California, 55555" }; DataAccessLayer.SaveCustomer(customerToSave); var existingCustomer = DataAccessLayer.LoadCustomer(customerToSave.Id); if (existingCustomer == null) throw new NullReferenceException("Unable to load the customer"); Console.WriteLine("The CustomerID that was saved = {0} . The CustomerID loaded = {1} .", customerToSave.Id, existingCustomer.Id); Console.ReadKey(); } } }   There are other features as well such as change tracking. Change tracking occurs when you retrieve an object from the database, all changes to that object are tracked. You can later call save changes on the session to save the changes to the object. This concludes a high level discussion of NoSQL vs SQL database systems and specifically how to use the RavenDB document database. As you can see, if you have no need to apply relational algebra or care about the schema of a database then NoSQL based databases like RavenDB can be extremely useful. Download the full application example below (2.42 mb)   kick it on      

Syncfusion Essential Studio for WinRT Beta and Metro Studio product reviews

Syncfusion Essential Studio for WinRT Beta Syncfusion has been a major player in the 3rd party development component market for a while now.  Their products include .NET development UI controls for ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Mobile, WinForms, WPF, Silverlight, and more.  The newest tool release is a suite of controls that are made for Windows 8 WinRT development.  The product is called Essential Studio for WinRT and it's made up of a plethora of highly attractive, cutting edge controls that are specifically designed for WinRT and touch interfaces.   20 Highly optimized controls Syncfusion Essential Studio for WinRT comes with 20 control that are designed with touch control and performance in mind.  The controls are vast and provide everything that you need to developing cutting edge user interfaces for your Windows 8 applications such as dashboards, maps, charts, and more. Microsoft Office document creation from within your WinRT applications The Studio suite comes with controls that allow your application to create Microsoft documents like Word, Excel as well as Adobe PDF documents on the fly.  The controls are completely independent and do not require Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat to be installed on the machine.  This is an incredible value which will allow applications to create receipts, invoices, work orders, or any other sort of document that you'd find in a standard line of business application. Samples included As with their other products, Syncfusion has bundled many sample applications (with source code) to help you to get up and running with the tools in no time.  The samples are written in C#/VB.NET and XAML.  Creating Windows 8 Graphics with Metro Studio Syncfusion has also offered a free product called Syncfusion Metro Studio.  Metro Studio is an extremely useful application that provides a huge selection of "Metro" style art snippets that you can edit.  This is a tremendous solution that helps you to add graphics to you Windows 8 applications.  The best part is it's FREE! The artwork is divided into logical groups for you to choose the art that best suites your needs.   When you select a graphic, you are presented with the option to edit the image.  Here you can change the size and color.  You can also preform transformations like rotate.  Syncfusion Metro Studio allows you to output the edited image as standard image files as well as XAML.   As you can see, Syncfusion have provided two extremely useful tools for Windows 8 developers and not only are they first class tools, they are also free! Check them out today! Syncfusion Essential Studio for WinRT Beta  Syncfusion Metro Studio

C# 5.0: INotifyPropertyChanged with the [CallerMemberName] attribute

WPF/Silverlight and the INotifyPropertyChanged interface Greetings and welcome to another post on Today's topic is about an interface that all WPF and Silverlight developers have grown to love.  The INotifyPropertyChanged interface facilitates notifying the data binding mechanisms of WPF and Silverlight of a property value change in your ViewModel to your view.  Here is a simple illustration.   ClassicViewModel.cs using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.ComponentModel; using System.Linq; using System.Text; using System.Threading.Tasks; namespace INotifyPropertyChangedExample { public class ClassicViewModel { private string _personName; public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged; public string PersonName { get; set { if (value != _personName) _personName = value; //No type safety here. If you make a mistake you will have problems. OnPropertyChanged("PersonName"); } } public void OnPropertyChanged(string property) { if (property == null) throw new ArgumentNullException("property"); if (PropertyChanged != null) PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(property)); } } } When calling the method to raise the property changed event, you would need to pass the property name as a string to the handler.  If you made any mistake in typing the property name, you would have to take time to debug your data binding. A new and improved solution C# 5.0 has provided some nifty compiler level attributes to assist with this scenario. The [CallerMemberName] attribute of the System.Runtime.CompilerServices namespace can be used as an optional method parameter.  When a method is called and there is no value specified for the parameter that is decorated with this attribute, you are provided with the name of the member that called the method.  This takes the risk of a typing mishap out of your hands and allows you to rely on the compiler to provide this information to you!  Here is an updated example! ImprovedViewModel.cs using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.ComponentModel; using System.Linq; using System.Runtime.CompilerServices; using System.Text; using System.Threading.Tasks; namespace INotifyPropertyChangedExample { public class ImprovedViewModel : INotifyPropertyChanged { private string _personName; public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged; public string PersonName { get { return _personName; } set { if (value != _personName) _personName = value; OnPropertyChanged(); } } public void OnPropertyChanged([CallerMemberName] string property = null) { if (PropertyChanged != null) PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(property)); } } }   As you can see, this is a great little addition to the C# language that will make your life a little easier. I'd like to thank Patrick Steel for his article in MSDN magazine that inspired this article.  Please check out his article for more uses of this and other new attributes and features of the C# 5.0 language. kick it on

Mono 3.0 released. New improvements include asynchronous programming, Mac OS X and iOS support, ASP.NET MVC 4, Entity Framework and more

Mono 3.0 released On 10/22/2012 Miguel de Icaza blogged about the latest release of the Mono .NET project.  As you may already know, the Mono project is an open source port of the Microsoft .NET framework which allows cross platform support for .NET applications with support for such systems as Linux and Mac OS X / iOS. The Mono 3.0 release includes improved support for asynchronous programming which was introduced in .NET 4.5.  These improvements help developers to create fast, responsive applications.  The ability to keep the user interface of an application responsive while executing time consuming tasks is extremely important as applications are moving to smart phones and tablets.  The release also includes improvements that will strengthen Mono's support for Mac OS X and iOS development. Developers can also look forward to added support to Microsoft's open sourced stacks which includes technologies like: ASP.NET MVC 4, ASP.NET WebPages, Entity Framework, Razor View Engine, and System.Json. You can read about other improvements to the garbage collector and more here: Miguel de Icaza's blog post The offical Mono project's release notes  kick it on        

About the author

My name is Buddy James.  I'm a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer from the Nashville, TN area.  I'm a Software Engineer, an author, a blogger (, a mentor, a thought leader, a technologist, a data scientist, and a husband.  I enjoy working with design patterns, data mining, c#, WPF, Silverlight, WinRT, XAML, ASP.NET, python, CouchDB, RavenDB, Hadoop, Android(MonoDroid), iOS (MonoTouch), and Machine Learning. I love technology and I love to develop software, collect data, analyze the data, and learn from the data.  When I'm not coding,  I'm determined to make a difference in the world by using data and machine learning techniques. (follow me at @budbjames).  

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