Monday, April 27, 2009

Using Fiddler with Visual Studio 2008

Fiddler is a great tool but when I tried to use it to monitor a Visual Studio 2008 web app running locally on my Vista 64-bit computer, it did not work.

I searched around some and finally found this blog posting. Within the comments a fellow suggested changing the URL to this syntax:


I assume this is intercepting traffic in between Fiddler and VS2008. Whatever the case, it works!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Smart Redirection

I have a situation where I have a test server running on my home network. I was using it to host just one application but when I wanted to do so with 2 or more, I ran into a problem because external URLs could only be redirected to the root folder.

After some experimenting I found a simple solution that seems to work very well:

  1. In the root of Inetpub/wwwroot either remove "default.htm" or change the priority order so that "default.aspx" appears first.
  2. Install into this root folder the two files shown below, Default.aspx and Default.aspx.cs
  3. Then with your IP redirection, use this format: http://your_local_IP_address?app=folder_name - Example:

It's not perfect in that it requires one to add the "app" parameter & value but other than that, it works well. If someone has a simpler solution, I'd love to see it!

Here's the contents of the two required files:

<%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeFile="Default.aspx.cs" Inherits="_Default" %>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">

<html xmlns="">
<head runat="server">
<form id="form1" runat="server">


using System;
using System.Web;

public partial class _Default : System.Web.UI.Page
protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
string targetFolder = "/MyMajorTestApp"; // Default app to run, in case not "app" parameter is provided
if (Request.Params["app"] != null)
targetFolder = "/" + Request.Params["app"];

HttpContext.Current.Response.Redirect(targetFolder, true);

Friday, April 24, 2009

2 Ways to Load jQuery from an ASP.Net Master Page

If you're getting started with using jQuery in ASP.Net, you'll probably come across a situation where you would like to load it from a Master Page so that it's available globally for all Content Pages. When you do so you'll find that you get assorted errors for different reasons.

After reading many articles and much trial & error I have determined two different approaches to get it working. Note: My preference is to separate all code from the markup as much as possible. So directly in the root of all my projects is a folder called "Javascript". Inside it I always place [at least] these 3 files:
  • jquery-1.3.2.js
  • jquery-vsdoc.js
  • main.js

Approach #1: Entirely from the Markup Page

<head runat="server">
<asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="placeHolder1" runat="server">
<script src="<%= Page.ResolveUrl("~/JavaScript/jquery-1.3.2.js") %>" language="javascript" type="text/javascript"></script>
<asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="ContentPlaceHolder1" runat="server">
<script src="<%= Page.ResolveUrl("~/JavaScript/jquery-vsdoc.js") %>" language="javascript" type="text/javascript"></script>
<asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="ContentPlaceHolder2" runat="server">
<script src="<%= Page.ResolveUrl("~/JavaScript/main.js") %>" language="javascript" type="text/javascript"></script>

<body onload="$(document).ready(main)">

Approach #2: Entirely from Server-side Code

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)

string jScript = "$(document).ready(main);";
ScriptManager.RegisterStartupScript(Page, Page.GetType(),
Guid.NewGuid().ToString(), jScript, true);


private void AddScript(string src)
HtmlGenericControl genCtrl = new HtmlGenericControl();
genCtrl.TagName = "script";
genCtrl.Attributes.Add("type", "text/javascript");
genCtrl.Attributes.Add("language", "javascript");
genCtrl.Attributes.Add("src", src);

I hope this helps others! Please be aware that most everything above applies generically to all Javascript code, not just jQuery.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Upgrading Crystal Reports Files from VS2005 to VS2008

I just upgraded a fairly large project from Visual Studio 2005 to 2008. Everything went fairly smoothly but I did encounter hundreds of errors when I got around to upgrading the Crystal Reports data files.

In VS2005 I have a pair of files for each report:
  • ReportName.rpt
  • ReportName.xsd
where "ReportName" changes accordingly.

In VS2008, when you bring an XSD file into a project it creates 3 other files:
  • ReportName.Designer.cs
  • ReportName.xsc
  • ReportName.xss
I didn't know the purpose of this trio but assumed they were necessary in VS2008.

In point of fact, all the conflicts occured within the ".Designer.cs" files. There are global variables in each one that cause repeat definitions of the same variables, which is not allowed.

So I did a little research and came across this blog entry. I ended up following just the first part, which was to delete the ".Designer.cs" and ".xss" files. Plus, because all the ".xsc" files were empty, I deleted them too.

Lo and behold, I rebuilt the solution but these excess files were never recreated. More importantly, the reports worked perfectly once again!

Update: One problem I've discovered with the above procedure is that you still end up with one warning message per report like this:

The custom tool 'MSDataSetGenerator' failed while processing the file 'Reports\Templates\MTHOBRK3.xsd'.

The application still runs but I don't like any such warning messages to be present. After a little trial & error I found this to be the ultimate solution:
  1. Delete the .xsc & .xss files only.
  2. Replace the entire contents of each .Designer.cs file with the following:
#pragma warning disable 1591

namespace Website.Reports.Templates
public partial class NewDataSet

#pragma warning restore 1591

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Using runat="server" with HTML Elements

ASP.Net developers know that in their markup pages they can use a combination of HTML Elements and ASP.Net Controls. The syntax is mildly different but there is one major distinction:

ASP.Net Controls always include the following: runat="server"

Whereas HTML Elements do not. Or at least that's what I thought!

I have a web app that utilizes a left menu to display modules to the user:

It works great, but before the user is logged in, it makes no sense to display it. Up until now I was just hiding the menu itself. This was fine but what was left was the table column behind. This is what it looked like:

What I really needed to do was hide the "td" element that contained the menu. But since it was pure HTML, I didn't think it was possible to access it from the server-side C# code.

How wrong I was! In fact, all I needed to do was add the runat="server" parameter and voila, I could access the element from C# using the "FindControl" method.

Now the entire space devoted to the menu is hidden and it looks much better. Sure it's just a little thing but sometimes those little UI improvements are what's most important to end users.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Last night I attended a great talk about jQuery given by Rod Paddock of Dashpoint Software. He was up from Austin, Texas and was a very entertaining speaker. Here's a summary of his talk.

This was part of the monthly speaker series organized by the .netBC Users Group. This time though it wasn't held at a BCIT facility but instead was at Microsoft's Richmond office. It's nowhere near as fancy as their Redmond head office but still was very nice.

I had never heard of jQuery prior to this talk. It's an open source Javascript library that abstracts software development to a higher level, thus making things easier and MUCH more straightforward. Quite frankly, Javascript development has been the bane of my life ever since I started building websites. I understand the basics but the freeform nature of it makes it very unwieldly. I've tried to learn more by looking at examples but there is so much spaghetti code out there that is purely dreadful. Oh sure, it might work, but how any other developer could take over such code would almost surely be a nightmare. This is something that a lot of younger developers don't think about much but is extremely important.

Another Javascript library that I have used extensively for some time is the AJAX Control Toolkit. It has served me well but it's clear now that Microsoft is going to be adopting jQuery big time so I'm committed to switching over all of my existing codebase to jQuery. It'll be a lot of work, but will be well worth it for the longterm!