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Posts tagged with 'csharp advent'

It's the first ever C# Advent 2021 awards! Every year, you all put out such great stuff. Every post is the best!

But, I wanted to do something to recognize the best of the best: the standouts from the latest Advent that have performed above and beyond, and give everyone a chance to revist them and give the Advent one last "hurrah".

Some of these rewards are based on stats like Google Analytics and Reddit upvotes. Some of them are completely arbitrary. I hope you enjoy!

☝ Most Reddit Upvotes

I make sure all of the articles are submitted to /r/csharp and /r/dotnet (with permission of the respective admins). Here are the posts that got the most (combined) upvotes (as of January 5th, 2022):

1. Don't Do That, Do This: The .NET 6 Edition - Dave Brock killed it with over 300 upvotes

2. String Interpolation Trickery and Magic with C# 10 and .NET 6 - Brant Burnett bringing in around 150 votes

3. Using DateOnly and TimeOnly in .NET 6 to Simplify Your Code - from Christopher C. Johnson, grabbing around 100 votes

🖱 Most Clicks from the C# Advent Site

I put Google Analytics on the C# Advent site for the first time this year. This award will favor the earlier participants, of course. Here are the posts that have been most clicked on from the site.

1. Fastest way to enumerate a List<T> from Gérald Barré got 292 clicks from 272 users

2. The shortest quine in C# 9 and 10 from Martin Zikmund got 276 clicks from 259 users

3. Using C# and Auto ML in ML .NET to Predict Video Game Ratings got 242 clicks from 225 users

🤓 Matt's Favorite

Every post is great and appreciated, but these in particular stuck out to me as especially interesting, fun, and/or useful. Got favorites of your own? Leave a comment below, tweet #csadvent, or write your own C# Advent Awards blog post!

1. Can You Teach C# as a First Language for Kids? - Excellent points made about the strengths and challenges, some great examples and ideas.

2. Fastest way to enumerate a List<T> - Straightforward topic, easy to understand, and introduced me to BenchmarkDotnet!

3. Parallel.ForEachAsync Deep Dive - Again, I was introduced to a tool that I wasn't aware of, and I can potentially make use of.

🐣 Best Newcomer

The best content from someone who has never been on the C# Advent before. The criteria is a combination of all the above.

1. Sarah Dutkiewicz - I can't believe it's Sarah's first time, but she killed it. She claimed day 1, which may be the most challenging day. AND she filled in for someone who dropped out, just two days later. Well done!

2. Matthew MacDonald - My favorite entry this year is from a first-timer.

3. Alvin Ashcraft - Another author who I can't believe is a first-timer! Check out Calling the Microsoft Graph API from WinUI

👴 Best Veteran

Same as above, except for those who have posted to the C# Advent before.

1. Brant Burnett - One of the first to sign up back in 2017, and he has delivered every year since. This year his post was especially popular: String Interpolation Trickery and Magic with C# 10 and .NET 6

2. Ed Charbeneau - Another great post this year. Ed is one of the most enthusiatic participants, and he always creates a great entry: Accessibility Test–Driven Blazor Components

3. Baskar Rao - He is a workhorse when it comes to the C# Advent. A unique topic this year: A Quick Peek of Accessibility Insights and Automating Desktop Applications

Honorable Mention to Roman Stoffel, just because I love the illustrations in Automated Tests Advice, C# Edition

Thank you to everyone who participated! I've already started planning enhancements for next year. Be sure to watch mgroves on Twitter, the C# Advent site, and this very blog for announcements when the calendar gets toward the last third.

Thank you Smashing Magazine for featuring the C# Advent in your Advent Calendars For Web Designers And Developers (December 2021 Edition) round-up.

Thank you Sergey Tihon for the inspiration.

A special extra thanks to Calvin Allen, who does a lot of behind-the-scenes work on C# Advent (including the domain name, LinkedIn, the new CsAdvent twitter account, testing, and much more) AND writes an Advent entry AND deserves accolades for all of it!

Welcome to day 16 of the 2021 C# Advent! Make sure to check out all the other great Advent items that have been opened so far!

I have been working on an experimental tool called SqlServerToCouchbase. The goal is to help people automate their relational data moving and refactoring into a Couchbase JSON database as much as possible.

It is a .NET library that you can use (in, for example, a console project). It maps a relational concept like "table" to a NoSQL concept of "collection" (among other things). Couchbase is particularly suited to this, because Couchbase also supports SQL as a querying language (with JOINs / ACID / INSERT / UPDATE / etc), and has supported SQL for many years. If that sounds interesting to you, I’d love for you to leave your feedback, criticisms, suggestions, and even pull requests on GitHub.

What I want to focus on today, however, are three great .NET libraries that I used to help build SqlServerToCouchbase. Three wise gifts: SqlServer.Types (gold), Dynamitey (frankincense), and Humanizer (myrrh).

dotMorten.Microsoft.SqlServer.Types (Gold)

The gift of gold signified that the receiver was as important as a king.

Gold

SQL Server has many data types. Mapping these data types into C# types (and ultimately to JSON) is usually straightfoward.

  • varchar, nvarchar, text? string.

  • int, float, decimal, money? number.

  • bit? boolean.

  • Even XML can become a string.

But what about the other types? Spatial types, mainly: Geography and geometry? That’s what Microsoft.SqlServer.Types is for: to provide C# types that can store propietary SQL Server data type values.

However, notice the "dotMorten" part of the library name? Unfortunately, the official Microsoft.SqlServer.Types library is not a .NET Standard library. So, Morten Nielsen created the dotMorten.Microsoft.SqlServer.Types library.

There’s a code example below, but you won’t see the library in action explicitly.

// SqlServerFrom.cs
public IEnumerable<dynamic> QueryBulk(IDbConnection conn, SqlPipelineBase pipeline)
{
    return conn.Query(pipeline.Query, buffered: false);
}

// SqlToCb.cs
foreach(var row in rows)
{
    // ... snip ...
    await collection.UpsertAsync(documentKey, row);
    // ... snip ...
}

I use Dapper to query SQL Server data, store those results in C# dynamic objects, and then give those objects to the Couchbase .NET SDK (which ultimately serialized it to JSON).

That means that a row of SQL Server data, like this:

SELECT a.AddressID, a.SpatialLocation
FROM AdventureWorks2016.Person.Address a
WHERE a.AddressID = 1

Row of SQL Server data

Gets transformed into a Couchbase JSON document like this:

SELECT a.AddressID, a.SpatialLocation
FROM AdventureWorks2016.Person.Address a
WHERE a.AddressID = 1;
[ {
    "AddressID": 1,
    "SpatialLocation": {
      "HasM": false,
      "HasZ": false,
      "IsNull": false,
      "Lat": 47.7869921906598,
      "Long": -122.164644615406,
      "M": null,
      "STSrid": 4326,
      "Z": null
    }
} ]

So, even if a SQL Server database is using one of these less common data types, SqlServerToCouchbase can still move it.

Dynamitey

The second gift is frankincense. This is an expensive incense fit for a holy king.

Frankincense

Another challenge of SqlServerToCouchbase is getting the value of the primary key. In Couchbase, a document key exists as a piece of "metadata" about the document. However, in SQL Server, a primary key consists of one (usually) or more (uncommon) fields in a table. These fields can have ANY name. Usually it’s something like "ID", "AddressID", "ADDRESS_ID", etc. But it can vary from table to table.

Once I know the names of the fields, I need to examine the dynamic object to get the values of those fields. This is where I use Dynamitey.

Dynamitey is a utility library that provides extensions to the DLR, including:

  • Easy Fast DLR based Reflection (what I’m using it for)

  • Clean syntax for using types from late bound libraries

  • Dynamic Currying

  • Manipulation of Tuples

And more.

Key names can be retrieved from SQL Server by querying INFORMATION_SCHEMA.KEY_COLUMN_USAGE. I can use those names to get the values like so:

// append key values together with :: delimeter
// for compound keys
var keys = await _config.GetPrimaryKeyNames(tableSchema, tableName, _dbFrom);
var newKey = string.Join("::", keys.Select(k => Dynamic.InvokeGet(row, k)));

If a primary key is made up of one column and the row has a value of "1", then that becomes the document key in Couchbase. If a primary key is made up of multiple columns, with values of "123" and "456", that becomes a document key in Couchbase of "123::456".

If it weren’t for Dynamitey, I’d have to create C# classes for every table. And that greatly reduces the amount of automation.

Humanizer

The third gift is myrrh. Another expensive gift. This one is fit for a holy, but also human king.

Myrrh

Humanizer is a .NET library that manipulates string, dates, numbers, etc, for display to a human. There are many things it can do, but I use it for pluralization.

When making the transition from relational to Couchbase, one of the things you must consider is when to embed data into documents. For instance, in relational, you may have two tables (Person and EmailAddress) in order to support a situation where a person has more than 1 email addresses.

SELECT p.BusinessEntityID, p.FirstName, P.LastName
FROM AdventureWorks2016.Person.Person p
WHERE p.BusinessEntityID = 1

SELECT e.EmailAddress
FROM AdventureWorks2016.Person.EmailAddress e
WHERE e.BusinessEntityID = 1

Relational modeling

(In this example, there’s only 1 email address, but the model supports more).

In a document database like Couchbase, it’s often preferable (though not required) to embed those email addresses into an array in the person document. Something like:

{
  "BusinessEntityID" : 1,
  "FirstName" : "Ken",
  "LastName" : "Sánchez",
  "????" : [
    { "EmailAddress" : "[email protected]"}
  ]
}

But what do I put into the "????" in that JSON? If I use the name of the table ("EmailAddress"), that implies that there’s only one. I would rather it be called "EmailAddresses". Hence, I use Humanizer to pluralize it:

spec.ArrayAppend(From.TableName.Pluralize(), docToEmbed.ContentAs<dynamic>(), true);

So, now it becomes:

{
  "BusinessEntityID" : 1,
  "FirstName" : "Ken",
  "LastName" : "Sánchez",
  "EmailAddresses" : [
    { "EmailAddress" : "[email protected]"}
  ]
}

Thanks for checking out these three libraries! I hope these will help you some day. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2021 C# Advent.

What is the C# Advent?

The C# Advents in 2018 and 2017 were so much fun. It's now time to sign up for 2019.

Just like last year, each day of the Advent calendar will have up to TWO blog posts. That means that there is a maximum of FIFTY slots! So, tell your C# friends and let's fill up this calendar.

A little history: I heard about the F# Advent Calendar, a tradition that's been carried on since 2010 (2014 in English). I think this is a great idea, and so I organized one for C#! (I asked Sergey Tihon for permission!). If you are running other developer advent calendars, just let me know and I will link to them here:

Let's Get Started

I need you to write a C# blog post, create a video, write an article, etc.

Here are the rules:

  1. Reserve a slot on Twitter (with hash tag #csadvent) or leave a comment on this post. You do not have to announce your topic until the day you reserve.
  2. Prepare your content (in English).
  3. Add a link in your content that links back to here, so that your readers may find the entire advent. You can host your content anywhere you'd like: your own site, dev.to, hackernoon, medium, wordpress, youtube, dzone, etc.
  4. Publish your content on the specified date. Your content must be related to C# in some way, but otherwise the content is completely up to you. I've posted a few ideas below to get your creativity flowing.
  5. Share your post on Twitter with hashtags #csharp and #csadvent

Below are all the slots, and who has claimed each date.

I will do my best to keep this up to date. The slots will be first come first serve. I also allowed last year's authors to get first crack. I will claim the last remaining spot for myself. I will prepare a post just in case someone has to drop out.

DateClaimed byContent
Dec 1, 2019 Brant Burnett Simon Painter  IAsyncEnumerable Is Your Friend, Even In .NET Core 2.x Hacking C#: Programming for the Truly Lazy
Dec 2, 2019 Luis Antonio Beltran Chris Ayers 2FA with Twilio Authy and C# (special guest: Xamarin) Dependency Injection, Architecture, and Testing
Dec 3, 2019 Kelson Ball Morgan Kenyon An Example of Partial Function Application in C# The Difference Between IEnumerable and IQueryable Explained
Dec 4, 2019 Ryan Overton Carl Layton Default Interface Methods in C#: Love 'em or Hate 'em? The Outbox Pattern in C#
Dec 5, 2019 Dave Cook Manuel Grundner To Null, or not to Null?!? The journey of porting pretzel to .NET Core
Dec 6, 2019 Lukáš Lánský Simon Timms Coverage-Driven Test Selection Machine Learning for Boring Applications
Dec 7, 2019 Chase Aucoin Kendall Miller Aurora Serverless with Entity Framework Core Better String Formatting with String Interpolation
Dec 8, 2019 Matt Eland Jeremy Sinclair Experimental C# with Scientist .NET Creating a Simple Wizard Component with Blazor
Dec 9, 2019 Meziantou Cecilia Wirén Thread-safe observable collection in .NET Overflow on integers - count with this security risk!
Dec 10, 2019 Andrew Lock James Hickey .NET Core, Docker, and Cultures - Solving a culture issue porting a .NET Core app from Windows to Linux Modular Monoliths And Composite UIs With .NET Core Razor Class Libraries
Dec 11, 2019 DotNetCoreShow Roman Stoffel The .NET Core Podcast - Episode 40 - Noda Time with Jon Skeet C# Loves Code Patterns
Dec 12, 2019 Brian Jackett James Curran Creating a C# Azure Function to Call Microsoft Graph Cleanup Scaffolded Code with modelbuild
Dec 13, 2019 Barret Blake Ed Charbeneau, Daniel Roth, Chris Sainty, Egil Hansen The Nightmare Before Blazor Getting Started with Blazor: All There is to Know From the Experts
Dec 14, 2019 Benjamin Howarth Martin Zikmund   A Christmas C# riddle
Dec 15, 2019 Jonathan Danylko Hilary Weaver-Robb 10 More Useful C# Extension Methods for 2019 Refactoring RestSharp Sample Tests to Make Them More Maintainable
Dec 16, 2019 Shahed Chowdhuri Ian Bebbington ASP .NET Core code sharing between Blazor, MVC and Razor Pages The Seven GUIs of Christmas
Dec 17, 2019 Joe Zack Chris Sainty Streaming process output to a browser, with SignalR and C# Introduction to Blazor Component Testing
Dec 18, 2019 Garo Yeriazarian Stuart Turner Vertically Sliced Command Line Tools in C# and .NET Core 3.1 Improving Code Readability with Linq (and MoreLinq)
Dec 19, 2019 Baskar Rao Stephen Lorello How to use Subscriptions in GraphQL C# Santa’s Nexmo Helper
Dec 20, 2019 Andrea Angella Layla 15 reasons why you should learn C# in 2020 Get off the naughty list with Twilio Autopilot, Azure Functions and Table Storage
Dec 21, 2019 Muhammad Azeez Patrick Lioi How do Object Relational Mappers (like Entity Framework) work? Patterns for using Entity Framework in C# 8
Dec 22, 2019 James Bender Eric Potter Refactoring for Testability – A Christmas Miracle! C# Strings with Ranges, and Indexes
Dec 23, 2019 Andrew Craven Lee Englestone Microservices and Outside-in Tests Using C# and Docker Compose Compiling Code without Visual Studio
Dec 24, 2019 Thomas Carpe Azmat Ullah Khan   PDF Digital Signatures with Itext7, Bouncy Castle and .NET Core
Dec 25, 2019 Mike Jolley Calvin Allen Adding HATEOAS to an ASP.NET Core API C# 8 is old news. Onward, to C# 9!

Alternates:

  • IF ALL FIFTY SLOTS FILL UP, please leave a comment or tweet with #csadvent anyway and I'll put you on this standby list:
  • Standby list:
    • Myself.
    • You, if you want to be.

Some ideas/topics to help inspire you:

  1. Blazor - C# for the browser
  2. Your latest open source contribution - show the community how you contributed and why
  3. Your favorite C# language feature - it doesn't even have to be a new feature, just blog about something you love about C#
  4. Introduce your favorite NuGet package / library. Even if it's a library you take for granted, not everyone has heard about it.
  5. How to avoid a pitfall you found with performance/memory/etc
  6. Integration/deployment of a C# application with Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, TeamCity, Azure, etc
  7. Write a "how to" for one of the many tools discussed in an episode of the Cross Cutting Concerns podcast or the DotNetBytes podcast
  8. Interview someone about C# and post the audio or a transcript.
  9. Implement a simplified example of a design pattern in C#

Thanks to everyone who is participating!

If you were an author of a C# Advent blog post in 2018, you get a chance to sign up earlier than the general public.

Tweet #csadvent or leave a comment below with the date you want to blog on. Each day has up to TWO slots. If someone has already claimed the day you want, that day may still be available.

The general call for C# Advent authors will go out soon, so please claim your dates as soon as possible. Just like last year, you do NOT have to pick a topic right now. If you DO want to pick a topic, I will pencil it in, but you are free to change it at any time up until the date you pick.

Merry Christmas! This is the last day of the C# Advent. Make sure to check out all of the other great posts from 2017 and 2018. If you want to be involved next year, look for C# Advent 2019 author sign ups at the end of October 2019, and look for blog posts to start showing up on December 1st, 2019.

What is a background job?

A background job is some code that runs apart from the normal flow of your program. It could be run asynchronously and/or on another thread. As an ASP.NET MVC developer, I tend to think of it as any task that runs outside of an MVC action being invoked.

There’s two kinds of background jobs that I’m aware of:

  • Scheduled - a task that runs every N minutes, or every Y hours, etc. This is what I’m going to show in this post today. It’s great for making periodic checks, ingesting data from some other source, etc.

  • Fire and forget - Some other piece of code kicks off a process to run in the background. It doesn’t block the code (fire), and the code doesn’t wait for a response (forget). This is great for potentially time consuming operations like checking inventory, sending emails, etc, that you don’t need a user to wait for.

What you usually need to do to create background jobs

In my experience, I’ve seen background jobs take a few different forms.

  1. Separate Windows service (or Linux daemon, whatever). A console/service program that’s running in addition to your ASP.NET program. This works fine for scheduled jobs.

  2. Queueing mechanisms like Kafka or Rabbit. The ASP.NET program will put messages into these queues, which will then be processed by some other program. This is fine for fire-and-forget.

  3. Background jobs running within the ASP.NET process itself. In my experience, I’ve used Quartz.NET, which can run within the ASP.NET process. There’s also FluentScheduler (which I’ve not used, and doesn’t seem to come with database integration out of the box?)

With all these options in the past, I’ve experienced deployment difficulties. The wrong version of the service gets deployed, or isn’t running, or fails silently, or needs to be deployed on multiple servers in order to provide scalability/availability etc. It’s totally possible to overcome these challenges, of course. (I should also note that in my experience with Quartz.NET, I never used it in embedded form, and the last time I used it was probably 6+ years ago).

But if I just need a handful of background jobs, I’d much rather just make them part of the ASP.NET system. Yes, maybe this goes against the whole 'microservice' idea, but I don’t think it would be too hard to refactor if you decided you need to go that route. I solve my deployment problems, and as you’ll see with Hangfire (with Couchbase), it’s very easy to scale.

How hangfire works

You can find more details and documentation about Hangfire at Hangfire.io. Really, there are only three steps to setting up Hangfire with ASP.NET Core:

  1. Tell ASP.NET Core about Hangfire

  2. Tell Hangfire which database to use

  3. Start firing off background jobs

In Startup.cs, in the ConfigureServices method:

services.AddHangfire(x => x.UseCouchbaseStorage(configuration, "familyPhotos_hangfire"));

Then, in Startup.cs, in the Configure method:

app.UseHangfireServer();

I’m using Couchbase in this example, but there are options for SQL Server and other databases too. I happen to think Couchbase is a great fit, because it can easily horizontally scale to grow with your ASP.NET Core deployments. It also has a memory-first architecture for low latency storage/retrieval of job data. Generally speaking, even if you use SQL Server as your "main" database, Couchbase makes a great companion to ASP.NET or ASP.NET Core as a cache, session store, or, in this case, backing for Hangfire.

The configuration variable is to tell Hangfire where to find Couchbase:

var configuration = new ClientConfiguration
{
    Servers = new List<Uri> { new Uri("http://localhost:8091") }
};
configuration.SetAuthenticator(new PasswordAuthenticator("hangfire", "password"));

(In my case, it’s just running locally).

Steps 1 and 2 are down. Next, step 3 is to create some background jobs for Hangfire to process. I’ve created an ASP.NET Core app to assist me in the cataloging of all my family photographs. I want my application to scan for new files every hour or so. Here’s how I create that job in Hangfire:

RecurringJob.AddOrUpdate("photoProcessor", () => processor.ProcessAll(), Cron.Hourly);

Note that I didn’t have to implement an IJob interface or anything like that. Hangfire will take any expression that you give it (at least, every expression that I’ve thrown at it so far).

Step 3 done.

Hangfire is just a NuGet package and not a separate process. So no additional deployment is needed.

How do I know it’s working?

Another great thing about Hangfire is that is comes with a built-in dashboard for the web. Back in Startup.cs, in Configure, add this code:

app.UseHangfireDashboard("/hangfire", new DashboardOptions
{
    Authorization = new[] {new HangfireAuthorization()}
});

I’m using my own HangfireAuthorization implementation because Hangfire only gives permission to local users by default.

Then, you get a nice dashboard right out of the box, showing you a realtime and history graph.

Hangfire dashboard

From this dashboard, you can also look at a more detailed history of what’s run and what’s failed.

Succeeded jobs

You can even kick off recurring jobs manually.

Recurring jobs

This is only the start

If you’re thinking about adding background jobs to your ASP.NET Core solution, why not give Hangfire a try?

Some more things for you to explore:

  • Scaling: every ASP.NET Core site that gets deployed with Hangfire that points to the same database will be able to process jobs too. As your ASP.NET Core site scales out, hangfire scales out with it. This is another reason that Couchbase is a good fit, because it’s also easy to scale out as your site grows.

  • Cloud: If you are deploying your site as an app service, note that Azure will shut down ASP.NET processes if they haven’t been used in a while. This means Hangfire will shut down with them. There are a couple of ways to deal with this. Check out the Hangfire documentation.

  • Retries: Hangfire will retry failed jobs. Design your background job code to expect this.

  • Hangfire Pro: The commercial version of Hangfire is called Hangfire.Pro, and it comes with some interesting looking batch capabilities. I’ve not needed any of this functionality yet, but for more advanced cases you might need this.

  • Couchbase: a NoSQL data platform that has a built-in memory-first cache layer, SQL support, text search, analytics, and more. There are lots of options for working with Couchbase in .NET. For this post, I used the Hangfire.Couchbase library (available on NuGet).

Matthew D. Groves

About the Author

Matthew D. Groves lives in Central Ohio. He works remotely, loves to code, and is a Microsoft MVP.

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