Unit Testing [Serializable]

A common struggle with unit testing is figuring when to just assume somebody else’s code works. One such example is serializability: for simple classes, it should “just work” so we shouldn’t need to write a unit test for each of them. However, I still wanted to be able to verify that all classes in certain namespaces were marked as [Serializable], so I wrote the following test:

[TestCase(typeof(Money), "Solutionizing.Domain")]
[TestCase(typeof(App), "Solutionizing.Web.Models")]
public void Types_should_be_Serializable(Type sampleType, string @namespace)
{
    var assembly = sampleType.Assembly;

    var unserializableTypes = (
        from t in assembly.GetTypes()
        where t.Namespace != null && t.Namespace.StartsWith(@namespace, StringComparison.Ordinal)
        where !t.IsSerializable && ShouldBeSerializable(t)
        select t
        ).ToArray();

    unserializableTypes.ShouldBeEmpty();
}

After we have a reference to the Assembly under test, we use a LINQ to Objects query against its types. If a type matches our namespace filter, we make sure it’s serializable if it should be. Finally, by using ToArray() and ShouldBeEmpty() we’re given a nice error message if the test fails:

TestCase 'Solutionizing.Tests.SerializabilityTests.Types_should_be_Serializable(Solutionizing.Domain.Money, Solutionizing.Domain)'
failed:
 Expected: <empty>
 But was:  < <Solutionizing.Domain.Oops>, <Solutionizing.Domain.OopsAgain> >
 SerializabilityTests.cs(29,0): at Solutionizing.Tests.SerializabilityTests.Types_should_be_Serializable(Type sampleType, String namespace)

I use a few criteria to determine if I expect the type to be serializable:

private bool ShouldBeSerializable(Type t)
{
    if (IsExempt(t))
        return false;
    if (t.IsAbstract && t.IsSealed) // Static class
        return false;
    if (t.IsInterface)
        return false;
    if (!t.IsPublic)
        return false;

    return true;
}

Other than IsExempt(), the code should be more or less self-explanatory. If you had never bothered to check how static classes are represented in IL, now you know: abstract (can’t be instantiated) + sealed (can’t be inherited). Also, note that !IsPublic will cover compiler-generated classes for iterators and closures that we don’t need to serialize.

The final piece is providing a way we can exempt certain classes from being tested:

private bool IsExempt(Type t)
{
    return exemptTypes.Any(e => e.IsAssignableFrom(t));
}

private Type[] exemptTypes = new []
{
    typeof(SomeClassWithDictionary), // Wrapped dictionary is not serializable
    typeof(Attribute) // Metadata are never serialized
};

Of course, this isn’t a replacement for actually testing that custom serialization works correctly for more complicated objects, particularly if your classes may depend on others that aren’t covered by these tests. But I have still found this test to be a useful first level of protection.

Review: Pragmatic Unit Testing In C# with NUnit (2nd Edition)

I’ve written hundreds of tests, read dozens of articles and listened to several presentations on unit testing, but until recently had never actually read a book dedicated to the subject. In reviewing my options, I was told repeatedly that I should start with Pragmatic Unit Testing (In C# with NUnit) from The Pragmatic Programmers, part of the three-volume Pragmatic Starter Kit. In the context of that starter kit, I found the book to be an excellent introduction to unit testing; however, a developer with sufficient experience could probably get by with a quick glance over the summary provided as Appendix C (which is available online).

But before I get into the book, let me start by applauding the idea of the Pragmatic Starter Kit. As I entered industry after receiving my degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science, it became clear that I was terribly unprepared for building quality software. Academia provided a solid foundation of theory and some (basic) techniques to structure code (OO, FP, etc), but provided precious little guidance for scaling projects beyond a few thousands lines of code. Version control was given one lecture and a trivial assignment (in CVS), the unit testing lecture did little to convince me that it actually had value, and automated testing was never even mentioned (in fact, build processes in general were scarcely discussed). These are the gaps that the Pragmatic Starter Kit aims to fill with practical advice from the field, and if Pragmatic Unit Testing is any indication the entire series should be required reading for new graduates (or even sophomores, really).

As one would expect from an introductory volume, the book begins with an excellent overview (PDF) of what unit testing is and why it matters. There are also several pages dedicated to rebuttals to common objections like “It takes too much time to write the tests”, “It’s not my job to test my code”, and my personal favorite “I’m being paid to write code, not to write tests”, which is answered brilliantly:

By that same logic, we’re not being paid to spend all day in the debugger either. Presumably we are being paid to write working code, and unit tests are merely a tool toward that end, in the same fashion as an editor, an IDE, or the compiler.

Developers are a proud lot, so the emphasis on testing as a powerful tool rather than a crutch is crucial.

Chapters 2 and 3 follow up with an introduction to testing with NUnit, first with a simple example and then with a closer look at structured testing with the framework. All the usual suspects are covered, including classic and constraint-based asserts, setup and teardown guidance, [Category], [ExpectedException], [Ignore] and more.

The most valuable chapters to a new tester will be chapters 4 and 5. The former provides the “Right BICEP” mnemonic to suggest what to test; the latter takes a closer look at the “CORRECT” boundary conditions (the B in BICEP) to test. The expanded acronyms are included in the aforementioned summary card (PDF). Even after you have a good handle on what to test, the mnemonics can still serve as a handy reminder, and starting out the overviews of each bullet are spot on. I also liked chapters 7–9, which give good guidance on qualities of good tests and how testing can be applied effectively to projects and to improve code, though the refactoring example was a bit longer than it probably needed to be.

In my opinion, the weakest parts of the book were chapters 6 and 10, on mocking and UI testing, respectively. The former starts out strong, but gets bogged down once it starts talking about tools. The reader would be better off skipping section 6.3 altogether in favor of a good Rhino Mocks or Moq introduction. The discussion of UI testing, on the other hand, covers too little on a number of topics to be of much value other than to raise awareness that you should test all parts of the application.

Overall I was quite pleased with the quantity and quality of material covered for an introductory volume, awarding four out of five donkeys. The authors make a good argument for testing and offer sound guidance for how to do it. However, if you’re already familiar with unit testing you may be better off reading The Art of Unit Testing or finding more specific material online.

Posted in .NET, Books. Tags: . 1 Comment »

SPWeb.AssociatedGroups.Contains Lies

While working on SPExLib (several months ago), I revisited this post, which presented a functional approach to a solution Adam describes here. Both posts include logic to add an SPWeb group association, which most simply could look something like this:

SPGroup group = web.SiteGroups[groupName];
if (!web.AssociatedGroups.Contains(group))
{
    web.AssociatedGroups.Add(group);
    web.Update();
}

While testing on a few groups, I noticed that the Contains() call lies, always returning false. This behavior can also be verified with PowerShell:

PS > $w.AssociatedGroups | ?{ $_.Name -eq 'Designers' } | select Name

Name
----
Designers

PS > $g = $w.SiteGroups['Designers']
PS > $w.AssociatedGroups.Contains($g)
False

Of course, it’s not actually lying—it just doesn’t do what we expect. Behind the scenes, AssociatedGroups  is implemented as a simple List<SPGroup> that is populated with group objects retrieved by IDs stored in the SPWeb‘s vti_associategroups property. The problem is that List<T>.Contains() uses EqualityComparer<T>.Default to find a suitable match, which defaults to reference equality for reference types like SPGroup that don’t implement IEquatable<T> or override Equals().

To get around this, SPExLib provides a few extension methods to make group collections and SPWeb.AssociatedGroups easier to work with and more closely obey the Principle of Least Surprise:

public static bool NameEquals(this SPGroup group, string name)
{
    return string.Equals(group.Name, name, StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase);
}

public static bool Contains(this SPGroupCollection groups, string name)
{
    return groups.Any<SPGroup>(group => group.NameEquals(name));
}

public static bool HasGroupAssociation(this SPWeb web, string name)
{
    return web.AssociatedGroups.Contains(name);
}

public static bool HasGroupAssociation(this SPWeb web, SPGroup group)
{
    if (group == null)
        throw new ArgumentNullException("group");
    return web.HasGroupAssociation(group.Name);
}

public static void EnsureGroupAssociation(this SPWeb web, SPGroup group)
{
    if (web.HasGroupAssociation(group))
        web.AssociatedGroups.Add(group);
}

The code should be pretty self-explanatory. The name comparison logic in NameEquals() is written to align with how SharePoint compares group names internally, though they use their own implementation of case insensitivity because the framework’s isn’t good enough. Or something like that.

There should be two lessons here:

  1. Don’t assume methods that have a notion of equality, like Contains(), will behave like you expect.
  2. Use SPExLib and contribute other extensions and helpers you find useful. :)
Posted in Object Model, SharePoint. Tags: , . Comments Off on SPWeb.AssociatedGroups.Contains Lies

Extension Methods on Types You Own?

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of using extension methods to make code more concise and expressive. This is particularly handy for enhancing APIs outside of your control, from the base class library to ASP.NET MVC and SharePoint. However, there are certain situations where it might be useful to use extension methods even though you have the option to add those methods to the class or interface itself. Consider this simplified caching interface:

public interface ICacheProvider
{
    T Get<T>(string key);
    void Insert<T>(string key, T value);
}

And a simple application of the decorator pattern to implement a cached repository:

public class CachedAwesomeRepository : IAwesomeRepository
{
    private readonly IAwesomeRepository awesomeRepository;
    private readonly ICacheProvider cacheProvider;

    public CachedAwesomeRepository(IAwesomeRepository awesomeRepository, ICacheProvider cacheProvider)
    {
        this.awesomeRepository = awesomeRepository;
        this.cacheProvider = cacheProvider;
    }

    public Awesome GetAwesome(string id)
    {
        var awesome = cacheProvider.Get<Awesome>(id);
        if(awesome == null)
            cacheProvider.Insert(id, (awesome = awesomeRepository.GetAwesome(id)));
        return awesome;
    }
}

So far, so good. However, as caching is used more often it becomes clear that there’s a common pattern that we might want to extract:

    T ICacheProvider.GetOrInsert<T>(string key, Func<T> valueFactory)
    {
        T value = Get<T>(key);
        if(value == default(T))
            Insert(key, (value = valueFactory()));
        return value;
    }

Which would reduce GetAwesome() to a single, simple expression:

    public Awesome GetAwesome(string id)
    {
        return cacheProvider.GetOrInsert(id, () => awesomeRepository.GetAwesome(id));
    }

Now I just need to decide where GetOrInsert() lives. Since I control ICacheProvider, I could just add another method to the interface and update all its implementers. However, after starting down this path, I concluded this was not desirable for a number of reasons:

  1. The implementation of GetOrInsert within each cache provider was essentially identical.
  2. Tests using a mocked ICacheProvider now needed to know if the code under test used GetOrInsert() or Get() + Insert(), coupling the test too tightly to the implementation. Furthermore, natural tests along the lines of “Should return cached value” and “Should insert value from repository if not cached” were replaced with a single implementation-specific test: “Should return value from GetOrInsert”.
  3. Most importantly, I came to realize that GetOrInsert() really just isn’t something that a cache does, so why should it be part of the interface?

So instead I have a handy GetOrInsert() extension method (conversion is left as an exercise for the reader) that I can use to clean up my caching code without needing to change any of my cache providers or tests for existing consumers.

The question is really analogous to whether or not Select() and Where() should be part of IEnumerable<T>. They are certainly useful ways to consume the interface, just as GetOrInsert() is, but they exist outside of what an IEnumerable<T> really is.

Posted in .NET. Tags: . Comments Off on Extension Methods on Types You Own?

Quick Tip: Parse String to Nullable Value

When you’re dealing with a system like SharePoint that returns most data as strings, it’s common to want to parse the data back into a useful numeric format. The .NET framework offers several options to achieve this, namely the static methods on System.Convert and the static Parse() methods on the various value types. However, these are limited in that they turn null string values into the default for the given type (0, false, etc) and they throw exceptions to indicate failure, which might be a performance concern.

Often, a better option is to use the static TryParse() method provided by most value types (with the notable exception of enumerations). These follow the common pattern of returning a boolean to indicate success and using an out parameter to return the value. While much better suited for what we’re trying to achieve, the TryParse pattern requires more plumbing than I care to see most of the time—I just want the value. To that end, I put together a simple extension method to encapsulate the pattern:

public delegate bool TryParser<T>(string value, out T result) where T : struct;

public static T? ParseWith<T>(this string value, TryParser<T> parser) where T : struct
{
    T result;
    if (parser(value, out result))
        return result;
    return null;
}

The struct constraint on T is required to align with the constraint on the Nullable<T> returned by the method.

We can now greatly simplify our efforts to parse nullable values:

var myIntPropStr = properties.BeforeProperties["MyIntProp"] as string;
var myIntProp = myPropStr.ParseWith<int>(int.TryParse);
if(myIntProp == null)
    throw new Exception("MyIntProp is empty!");

One quirk of this technique is that Visual Studio usually cannot infer T from just the TryParse method because of its multiple overloads. One option would be to write a dedicated method for each value type, but I would view this as unnecessary cluttering of the string type. Your mileage may vary.

Posted in .NET. Comments Off on Quick Tip: Parse String to Nullable Value

Selecting Static Results with Dynamic LINQ

Dynamic LINQ (DLINQ) is a LINQ extension provided in the VS 2008 Samples. Scott Guthrie provides a good overview here: Dynamic LINQ (Part 1: Using the LINQ Dynamic Query Library), but the executive summary is that it implements certain query operations on IQueryable (the non-generic variety), with filtering, grouping and projection specified with strings rather than statically-typed expressions.

I’ve never had a use for it, but a question on Stack Overflow caused me to take a second look…

…the selected groupbyvalue (Group) will always be a string, and the sum will always be a double, so I want to be able to cast into something like a List, where Result is an object with properties Group (string) and TotalValue (double).

Before we can solve the problem, let’s take a closer look at why it is being asked…

DynamicExpression.CreateClass

We can use the simplest of dynamic queries to explore a bit:

[Test]
public void DLINQ_IdentityProjection_ReturnsDynamicClass()
{
    IQueryable nums = Enumerable.Range(1, 5).AsQueryable();
    IQueryable q = nums.Select("new (it as Value)");
    Type elementType = q.ElementType;

    Assert.AreEqual("DynamicClass1", elementType.Name);
    CollectionAssert.AreEqual(new[] { typeof(int) },
        elementType.GetProperties().Select(p => p.PropertyType).ToArray());
}

DLINQ defines a special expression syntax for projection that is used to specify what values should be returned and how. it refers to the current element, which in our case is an int.

The result in question comes from DynamicQueryable.Select():

public static IQueryable Select(this IQueryable source, string selector, params object[] values)
{
    LambdaExpression lambda = DynamicExpression.ParseLambda(source.ElementType, null, selector, values);
    return source.Provider.CreateQuery(
        Expression.Call(
            typeof(Queryable), "Select",
            new Type[] { source.ElementType, lambda.Body.Type },
            source.Expression, Expression.Quote(lambda)));
}

The non-generic return type suggest that the type of the values returned is unknown at compile time. If we check an element’s type at runtime, we’ll see something like DynamicClass1. Tracing down the stack from DynamicExpression.ParseLambda(), we eventually find that DynamicClass1 is generated by a call to DynamicExpression.CreateClass() in ExpressionParser.ParseNew(). CreateClass() in turn delegates to a static ClassFactory which manages a dynamic assembly in the current AppDomain to hold the new classes, each generated by Reflection.Emit. The resulting type is then used to generate the MemberInit expression that constructs the object.

Dynamic to Static

While dynamic objects are useful in some situations (thus support in C# 4), in this case we want to use static typing. Let’s specify our result type with a generic method:

IQueryable<TResult> Select<TResult>(this IQueryable source, string selector, params object[] values);

We just need a mechanism to insert our result type into DLINQ to supersede the dynamic result. This is surprisingly easy to implement, as ParseLambda() already accepts a resultType argument. We just need to capture it…

private Type resultType;
public Expression Parse(Type resultType)
{
    this.resultType = resultType;
    int exprPos = token.pos;
    // ...

…and then update ParseNew() to use the specified type:

Expression ParseNew()
{
    // ...
    NextToken();
    Type type = this.resultType ?? DynamicExpression.CreateClass(properties);
    MemberBinding[] bindings = new MemberBinding[properties.Count];
    for (int i = 0; i < bindings.Length; i++)
        bindings[i] = Expression.Bind(type.GetProperty(properties[i].Name), expressions[i]);
    return Expression.MemberInit(Expression.New(type), bindings);
}

If resultType is null, as it is in the existing Select() implementation, a DynamicClass is used instead.

The generic Select<TResult> is then completed by referencing TResult as appropriate:

public static IQueryable<TResult> Select<TResult>(this IQueryable source, string selector, params object[] values)
{
    LambdaExpression lambda = DynamicExpression.ParseLambda(source.ElementType, typeof(TResult), selector, values);
    return source.Provider.CreateQuery<TResult>(
        Expression.Call(
            typeof(Queryable), "Select",
            new Type[] { source.ElementType, typeof(TResult) },
            source.Expression, Expression.Quote(lambda)));
}

With the following usage:

public class ValueClass { public int Value { get; set; } }

[Test]
public void DLINQ_IdentityProjection_ReturnsStaticClass()
{
    IQueryable nums = Enumerable.Range(1, 5).AsQueryable();
    IQueryable<ValueClass> q = nums.Select<ValueClass>("new (it as Value)");
    Type elementType = q.ElementType;

    Assert.AreEqual("ValueClass", elementType.Name);
    CollectionAssert.AreEqual(nums.ToArray(), q.Select(v => v.Value).ToArray());
}

Note that the property names in TResult must match those in the Select query exactly. Changing the query to “new (it as value)” results in an unhandled ArgumentNullException in the Expression.Bind() call seen in the for loop of ParseNew() above, as the “value” property cannot be found.

Selecting Anonymous Types

So we can select dynamic types or existing named types, but what if we want to have the benefits of static typing without having to declare a dedicated ValueClass, as we can with anonymous types and normal static LINQ? As a variation on techniques used elsewhere, let’s can define an overload of Select() that accepts an instance of the anonymous type whose values we will ignore but using its type to infer the desired return type. The overload is trivial:

public static IQueryable<TResult> Select<TResult>(this IQueryable source, TResult template, string selector, params object[] values)
{
    return source.Select<TResult>(selector, values);
}

With usage looking like this (note the required switch to var q):

[Test]
public void DLINQ_IdentityProjection_ReturnsStaticClass()
{
    IQueryable nums = Enumerable.Range(1, 5).AsQueryable();
    var q = nums.Select(new { Value = 0 }, "new (it as Value)");
    Type elementType = q.ElementType;

    Assert.IsTrue(elementType.Name.Contains("AnonymousType"));
    CollectionAssert.AreEqual(nums.ToArray(), q.Select(v => v.Value).ToArray());
}

However, if we try the above we encounter an unfortunate error:

The property ‘Int32 Value’ has no ‘set’ accessor

As you may or may not know, anonymous types in C# are immutable (modulo changes to objects they reference), with their values set through a compiler-generated constructor. (I’m not sure if this is true in VB.) With this knowledge in hand, we can update ParseNew() to check if resultType has such a constructor that we could use instead:

    // ...
    Type type = this.resultType ?? DynamicExpression.CreateClass(properties);

    var propertyTypes = type.GetProperties().Select(p => p.PropertyType).ToArray();
    var ctor = type.GetConstructor(propertyTypes);
    if (ctor != null)
        return Expression.New(ctor, expressions);

    MemberBinding[] bindings = new MemberBinding[properties.Count];
    for (int i = 0; i < bindings.Length; i++)
        bindings[i] = Expression.Bind(type.GetProperty(properties[i].Name), expressions[i]);
    return Expression.MemberInit(Expression.New(type), bindings);
}

And with that we can now project from a dynamic query onto static types, both named and anonymous, with a reasonably natural interface.

Due to licensing I can’t post the full example, but if you’re at all curious about Reflection.Emit or how DLINQ works I would encourage you to dive in and let us know what else you come up with. Things will get even more interesting with the combination of LINQ, the DLR and C# 4’s dynamic in the coming months.

HTTP Error Codes in WatiN 1.3

One of the biggest surprises when I started working with WatiN was the omission of a mechanism to check for error conditions. A partial solution using a subclass has been posted before, but it doesn’t quite cover all the bases. Specifically, it’s missing a mechanism to attach existing Internet Explorer instances to objects of the enhanced subtype. Depending on the site under test’s use of pop-ups, this could be a rather severe limitation. So let’s see how we can fix it.

As WatiN is open source, one option is to just patch the existing implementation to include the desired behavior. I’ve uploaded a patch with tests here, but the gist of the patch is quite similar to the solution referenced above:

protected void AttachEventHandlers()
{
    ie.BeforeNavigate2 += (object pDisp, ref object URL, ref object Flags, ref object TargetFrameName, ref object PostData, ref object Headers, ref bool Cancel) =>
    {
        ErrorCode = null;
    };
    ie.NavigateError += (object pDisp, ref object URL, ref object Frame, ref object StatusCode, ref bool Cancel) =>
    {
        ErrorCode = (HttpStatusCode)StatusCode;
    };
}

/// <summary>
/// HTTP Status Code of last error, or null if the last request was successful
/// </summary>
public HttpStatusCode? ErrorCode
{
    get;
    private set;
}

Before every request we clear out the error code, with errors captured as an enum value borrowed from System.Net.

We complete the patch by placing calls to our AttachEventHandlers() method in two places:

  1. The constructor that accepts an existing SHDocVw.InternetExplorer handle.
  2. The CreateNewIEAndGoToUri() method used by every other constructor.

At this point we can now assert success:

using (IE ie = new IE("https://solutionizing.net/"))
{
    Assert.That(ie.ErrorCode, Is.Null);
}

Or specific kinds of failure:

using (IE ie = new IE("https://solutionizing.net/4040404040404"))
{
    Assert.That(ie.ErrorCode, Is.EqualTo(HttpStatusCode.NotFound));
}

See the patch above for a more complete set of example tests.

Private Strikes Again

It’s wonderful that we have the option to make our own patched build with the desired behavior, but what if we would rather use the binary distribution? Well through the magic of inheritance we can get most of the way there pretty easily:

public class MyIE : IE
{
    public MyIE()
    {
        Initialize();
    }
    public MyIE(object shDocVwInternetExplorer)
        : base(shDocVwInternetExplorer)
    {
        Initialize();
    }
    public MyIE(string url)
        : base(url)
    {
        Initialize();
    }

    // Remaining c'tors left as an exercise

    // Property named ie for consistency with the private field in the parent
    protected InternetExplorer ie
    {
        get { return (InternetExplorer)InternetExplorer; }
    }

    protected void Initialize()
    {
        AttachEventHandlers();
    }

    // AttachEventHandlers() and ErrorCode as defined above
}

But as I suggested before, this is where we run into a bit of a snag. The IE class also provides a set of static AttachToIE() methods that, as their name suggests, return an IE object for an existing Internet Explorer window. These static methods have the downside that they are hard-coded to return objects of type IE, not our enhanced MyIE type. And because all the relevant helper methods are private and not designed for reuse, we have no choice but to pull them into our subclass in their entirety:

    public new static MyIE AttachToIE(BaseConstraint findBy)
    {
        return findIE(findBy, Settings.AttachToIETimeOut, true);
    }
    public new static MyIE AttachToIE(BaseConstraint findBy, int timeout)
    {
        return findIE(findBy, timeout, true);
    }
    public new static MyIE AttachToIENoWait(BaseConstraint findBy)
    {
        return findIE(findBy, Settings.AttachToIETimeOut, false);
    }
    public new static MyIE AttachToIENoWait(BaseConstraint findBy, int timeout)
    {
        return findIE(findBy, timeout, false);
    }

    private static MyIE findIE(BaseConstraint findBy, int timeout, bool waitForComplete)
    {
        SHDocVw.InternetExplorer internetExplorer = findInternetExplorer(findBy, timeout);

        if (internetExplorer != null)
        {
            MyIE ie = new MyIE(internetExplorer);
            if (waitForComplete)
            {
                ie.WaitForComplete();
            }

            return ie;
        }

        throw new IENotFoundException(findBy.ConstraintToString(), timeout);
    }

    protected static SHDocVw.InternetExplorer findInternetExplorer(BaseConstraint findBy, int timeout)
    {
        Logger.LogAction("Busy finding Internet Explorer matching constriant " + findBy.ConstraintToString());

        SimpleTimer timeoutTimer = new SimpleTimer(timeout);

        do
        {
            Thread.Sleep(500);

            SHDocVw.InternetExplorer internetExplorer = findInternetExplorer(findBy);

            if (internetExplorer != null)
            {
                return internetExplorer;
            }
        } while (!timeoutTimer.Elapsed);

        return null;
    }

    private static SHDocVw.InternetExplorer findInternetExplorer(BaseConstraint findBy)
    {
        ShellWindows allBrowsers = new ShellWindows();

        int browserCount = allBrowsers.Count;
        int browserCounter = 0;

        IEAttributeBag attributeBag = new IEAttributeBag();

        while (browserCounter < browserCount)
        {
            attributeBag.InternetExplorer = (SHDocVw.InternetExplorer) allBrowsers.Item(browserCounter);

            if (findBy.Compare(attributeBag))
            {
                return attributeBag.InternetExplorer;
            }

            browserCounter++;
        }

        return null;
    }

The original version of the first findInternetExplorer() is private. Were it protected instead, we would only have had to implement our own findIE() to wrap the found InternetExplorer object in our subtype.

I won’t go so far as to say private methods are a code smell, but they certainly can make the O in OCP more difficult to achieve.

So there you have it, two different techniques for accessing HTTP error codes in WatiN 1.3. At some point I’ll look at adding similar functionality to 2.0, if it’s not already there. And if someone on the project team see this, feel free to run with it.

Posted in .NET. Tags: . Comments Off on HTTP Error Codes in WatiN 1.3

Script to Enable HTTP Compression (Gzip/Deflate) in IIS 6

One of the easiest ways to improve web site performance is to enable HTTP compression (often referred to as GZIP compression), which trades CPU time to compress content for a reduced payload delivered over the wire. In the vast majority of cases, the trade-off is a good one.

When implementing HTTP compression, your content will break down into three categories:

  1. Content that should not be compressed because it is already compressed: images, PDF files, audio, video, etc.
  2. Static content that can be compressed once and cached for later.
  3. Dynamic content that needs to be compressed for every request.

Excluding already-compressed content will need to be considered regardless of the techniques used to compress categories 2 and 3.

Since version 5, IIS has included support for both kinds of HTTP compression. This can be enabled through the management interface, but you will almost certainly want to tweak the default configuration in the metabase (see script below). While IIS works great for compressing static files, its extension-based configuration is rather limited when serving up dynamic content, especially if you don’t use extensions (as with most ASP.NET MVC routes) or you serve dynamic content that should not be compressed. A better solution is provided in HttpCompress by Ben Lowery, a configurable HttpModule that allows content to be excluded from compression by MIME type. A standard configuration might look something like this:

<configuration>
  ...
  <blowery.web>
    <httpCompress preferredAlgorithm="gzip" compressionLevel="normal">
      <excludedMimeTypes>
        <add type="image/jpeg" />
        <add type="image/png" />
        <add type="image/gif" />
        <add type="application/pdf" />
      </excludedMimeTypes>
      <excludedPaths></excludedPaths>
    </httpCompress>
  </blowery.web>
  ...
</configuration>

To supplement the compressed dynamic content, you should also enable static compression for the rest of your not-already-compressed content. The script should be pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll draw attention to a few things:

  • The tcfpath variable at the top is currently set to IIS’s default location, which you are free to change.
  • The extlist variable accepts a space-delimited list of file extensions that should be compressed. Again, only include files types that are not already compressed, as recompressing a file wastes cycles and can actually make some files larger.
  • There are a few other metabase properties that can also be set, including compression level, but these are the bare minimum.
  • I have been told repeatedly that IISRESET should be sufficient to apply the metabase changes, but I could not get it to work as consistently as manually restarting the IIS Admin Service — YMMV.
  • If all goes well, the nice arrow at the end will point to True.

If you have anything else to add, or have problems with the script, please let me know.

@echo off
set adsutil=C:\Inetpub\AdminScripts\adsutil.vbs
set tcfpath=%windir%\IIS Temporary Compressed Files
set extlist=css htm html js txt xml

mkdir "%tcfpath%"

echo Ensure IIS_WPG has Full Control on %tcfpath%

explorer "%tcfpath%\.."
pause

cscript.exe %adsutil% set w3svc/Filters/Compression/Parameters/HcDoStaticCompression true
cscript.exe %adsutil% set w3svc/Filters/Compression/Parameters/HcCompressionDirectory "%tcfpath%"
cscript.exe %adsutil% set w3svc/Filters/Compression/DEFLATE/HcFileExtensions %extlist%
cscript.exe %adsutil% set w3svc/Filters/Compression/GZIP/HcFileExtensions %extlist%

echo Restart IIS Admin Service - IISRESET does not seem to work
pause

echo Close Services to continue...
Services.msc

cscript.exe %adsutil% get w3svc/Filters/Compression/Parameters/HcDoStaticCompression

echo Should be True -----------------------------^^

pause
Posted in .NET. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Script to Enable HTTP Compression (Gzip/Deflate) in IIS 6

Is Functional Abstraction Too Clever?

I received a rather interesting comment on a recent Stack Overflow answer:

This code seems too clever by half. Is it art? – PeterAllenWebb

The code in question was a functional solution to an algorithm described approximately as follows:

Draw n−1 numbers at random, in the range 1 to m−1. Add 0 and m to the list and order these numbers. The difference between each two consecutive numbers gives you a return value.

Which I solved like this, with n = slots and m = max:

static int[] GetSlots(int slots, int max)
{
    return new Random().Values(1, max)
                       .Take(slots - 1)
                       .Append(0, max)
                       .OrderBy(i => i)
                       .Pairwise((x, y) => y - x)
                       .ToArray();
}

Using a few extension methods:

  • Values() returns an infinite sequence of random values within the specified range.
  • Append() takes a params array and appends its arguments to the original sequence.
  • Pairwise() generates a sequence from calculations on pairs of consecutive elements in the original sequence.

I can see how one would think the code is clever; however, I’m not sure what would qualify it as too clever. Every method call has a well-defined purpose and maps directly to part of the original algorithm:

  1. From random numbers in the range 1 to m−1…
  2. …draw n−1.
  3. Add 0 and m to the list…
  4. …and order these numbers.
  5. The difference between each two consecutive numbers…
  6. …gives you a return value [in the array].

As far as I’m concerned, a solution couldn’t get much clearer than this, but that’s easy enough for me to say—what do you think? Is there a better way to express the algorithm? Would an imperative solution with shared state be more readable? How about maintainable?

For example, one could add the requirement that the random numbers not be repeated so that the difference between adjacent numbers is always nonzero. Updating the functional solution is as simple as adding a Distinct() call:

    return new Random().Values(1, max)
                       .Distinct()
                       .Take(slots - 1)
                       ...

To me, this is the value proposition of functional programming. By expressing the algorithm in terms of common operations, we’re able to spend more time thinking about the problem than the details of the solution. A similar change in an imperative implementation would almost certainly have been more involved and prone to error.

For completeness, here are the implementations of the extension methods used:

public static IEnumerable<int> Values(this Random random, int minValue, int maxValue)
{
    while (true)
        yield return random.Next(minValue, maxValue);
}

public static IEnumerable<TResult> Pairwise<TSource, TResult>(
    this IEnumerable<TSource> source,
    Func<TSource, TSource, TResult> resultSelector)
{
    TSource previous = default(TSource);

    using (var it = source.GetEnumerator())
    {
        if (it.MoveNext())
            previous = it.Current;

        while (it.MoveNext())
            yield return resultSelector(previous, previous = it.Current);
    }
}

public static IEnumerable<T> Append<T>(this IEnumerable<T> source, params T[] args)
{
    return source.Concat(args);
}

This also reminds me that Jimmy posted a similar Append() method as part of his latest post on missing LINQ operators. I used to use a version similar to his, but have found the params version to be more flexible (and easier to implement). Its Prepend() counterpart is similarly trivial:

public static IEnumerable<T> Prepend<T>(this IEnumerable<T> source, params T[] args)
{
    return args.Concat(source);
}
Posted in .NET. Tags: . Comments Off on Is Functional Abstraction Too Clever?

Refactoring with Iterators: Prime Factors

Andrew Woodward recently posted a comparison of his test-driven Prime Factors solution to one written by Uncle Bob. In the comments, someone suggested that Andrew use an iterator instead so I thought I’d give it a try.

First, let’s repost the original code:

private const int SMALLEST_PRIME = 2;

public List<int> Generate(int i)
{
    List<int> primes = new List<int>();
    int divider = SMALLEST_PRIME;
    while (HasPrimes(i))
    {
        while (IsDivisable(i, divider))
        {
            i = AddPrimeToProductsAndReduce(i, primes, divider);
        }
        divider++;
    }
    return primes;
}

private bool IsDivisable(int i, int divider)
{
    return i%divider == 0;
}

private bool HasPrimes(int i)
{
    return i >= SMALLEST_PRIME;
}

private int AddPrimeToProductsAndReduce(int i, List<int> primes, int prime)
{
    primes.Add(prime);
    i /= prime;
    return i;
}

By switching our method to return IEnumerable<int>, we can replace the primes list with an iterator. We will also remove the AddPrimeToProducts functionality from that helper method since we don’t have the list any more:

public IEnumerable<int> Generate(int i)
{
    int divider = SMALLEST_PRIME;
    while (HasPrimes(i))
    {
        while (IsDivisable(i, divider))
        {
            yield return divider;
            i = Reduce(i, divider);
        }
        divider++;
    }
}

private int Reduce(int i, int prime)
{
    return i / prime;
}

I think this is a good change for three reasons:

  1. There’s nothing about the problem that requires a List<int> be returned, we just want a sequence of the factors.
  2. AddPrimeToProductsAndReduce suggested that it had a side effect, but exactly what wasn’t immediately obvious.
  3. It’s much easier to see what values are being included in the result.

That said, I think we can clean this up even more with a second iterator. Specifically, I think we should break out the logic for our candidate factors:

private IEnumerable<int> Divisors
{
    get
    {
        int x = SMALLEST_PRIME;
        while (true)
            yield return x++;
    }
}

Which allows us to separate the logic for generating a divider from the code that consumes it:

public IEnumerable<int> Generate(int toFactor)
{
    foreach (var divider in Divisors)
    {
        if (!HasPrimes(toFactor))
            break;

        while (IsDivisable(toFactor, divider))
        {
            yield return divider;
            toFactor = Reduce(toFactor, divider);
        }
    }
}

We should also eliminate the negation by flipping HasPrimes to become IsFactored:

public IEnumerable<int> Generate(int toFactor)
{
    foreach (var divider in Divisors)
    {
        if (IsFactored(toFactor))
            break;

        while (IsDivisable(toFactor, divider))
        {
            yield return divider;
            toFactor = Reduce(toFactor, divider);
        }
    }
}

private bool IsFactored(int i)
{
    return i <= 1;
}

This does introduce a (very) minor inefficiency in that the Divisors enumerator will MoveNext() one extra time before breaking out of the loop, which could be mitigated by checking IsFactored both before the foreach and after the while loop. Less readable, insignificantly more efficient…take your pick.

The other advantage to breaking out the logic to generate Divisors is that we can easily pick smarter candidates. One option is to skip even numbers greater than 2. An even better optimization takes advantage of the fact that all primes greater than 3 are of the form x±1 where x is a multiple of 6:

private IEnumerable<int> Divisors
{
    get
    {
        yield return 2;
        yield return 3;
        int i = 6;
        while (true)
        {
            yield return i - 1;
            yield return i + 1;
            i += 6;
        }
    }
}

Implementing this sort of logic in the original version would have been much more difficult, both in terms of correctness and readability.

Posted in .NET. Tags: , . Comments Off on Refactoring with Iterators: Prime Factors