Rory Primrose

Learn from my mistakes, you don't have time to make them yourself

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Executing build tasks without a build server – Example scenario

My last few posts have described the process of building an application that can manage custom build tasks without the availability of a full TFS environment (here, here and here). This post will look at how I use this application and all its tasks to manage the product version of a Visual Studio solution. The product I originally wrote BuildTaskExecutor (BTE) for is the .Net port of my old VB6 Switch program which is now hosted out on Codeplex (here).

The build tasks I want to execute when this solution compiles are:

  • Increment the build number of the product version
  • Check out from TFS as required
  • Sync updated product version into wix project
  • Check out from TFS as required
  • Rename wix output to include the product version
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Executing build tasks without a build server – Implementation

My previous post outlines my design requirements for a set of build task actions. I want to execute these tasks for my personal projects that do not have the backing of a fully functional TFS deployment. This post will look at how to implement these requirements using a console application.

Neovolve.BuildTaskExecutor (or BTE) is the application that will execute specific tasks based on command line parameters. It implements MEF for the extensibility support so that additional tasks can be added at any time with zero impact on the application itself.

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Executing build tasks without a build server – Design

At work we run TFS2010 with build controllers, build agents and lab management. I have customised the build workflow so that we can get a lot more functionality out of the automated build process. Some of these customisations are things like:

  • Finding the product version number
  • Incrementing the product version number
  • Updating the build name with the new product version
  • Updating files prior to compilation
  • Updating files after compilation
  • Building Sandcastle documentation
  • Deploying MSIs to remove servers
  • Filtering drop folder output (no source, just build output like configuration files, documentation and MSIs)
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WPF and the link that just won’t click

I’ve been playing with WPF over the last month. It has been great to finally work on a program that is well suited to this technology. One of the implementation details that has surprised me is that the Hyperlink control doesn’t do anything when you click the link.

I can only guess what the design reason is behind this. The only thing the control seems to do is fire off a RequestNavigate event. Every implementation of this control in a form then needs to manually handle this event to fire off the navigation uri. This is obviously going to be duplicated effort as each usage of the hyperlink control will execute the same logic to achieve this outcome.

I have put together the following custom control for my project to suit my purposes.

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Neovolve ReSharper Plugins 2.0 released

It has been a few years since I have updated my ReSharper plugin project that was originally released three years ago. The reason for the project was that ReSharper natively converts CLR types (System.Int32) to its alias (int). StyleCop also adds this support in its ReSharper plugin. Unfortunately nothing in the marketplace provides a conversion from an alias type to its CLR type.

I always prefer the CLR types over the alias type names. This allows me to easily identify what is a C# keyword and what is a type reference.

The original 1.0 (and subsequent 1.1) version provided the ability to switch between C# alias types and their CLR type equivalents using ReSharper’s code cleanup profile support. This version adds code inspection and QuickFix support. It also adds better support for type conversions in xmldoc comments.

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Tip for building a private domain controller for Lab Management with Network Isolation

There are obvious benefits by using Lab Management for testing your software. It is a fantastic environment for test teams to test the software written by a development team.

The requirement I had with my test labs was that I need to use domain controlled security within the test lab as this is what is used in production. I also do not want any impact on the development or production domains. The solution is to use a domain controller (DC) within the lab environment rather than reference the domain hosting the lab environment.

Having a test DC means that it needs to be isolated from the hosting network. This avoids AD, DNS and DHCP conflicts between the development and test networks. Lab management can be configured for network isolation to get around this problem. This means that the private DC will have a network connection that is private to the lab, while all the other machines in the lab will have one NIC for the private lab network and a second NIC for access out to the hosting environment. This setup can be seen in the SCVMM network diagram below with the machine at the top of the diagram being the private DC.

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Beware of lifetime manager policy locks in Unity

I have created a caching dependency injection slice in order to squeeze more performance from the DAL in a workflow service. What I found was that the service always hit a timeout when the caching slice was put into the Unity configuration. I spent half a day working with AppFabric monitoring, event logs and all the information I could get out of diagnostic tracing for WCF, WF, WIF and custom sources. After not being able to get any answers along with futile debugging efforts, I realised that I could profile the service to see where the hold up was.

The profiler results told me exactly where to look as soon as I hit the service at got a timeout exception.image

All the time is getting consumed in a single call to Microsoft.Practices.Unity.SynchronizedLifetimeManager.GetValue(). The first idea that comes to mind is that there is a lock on an object that is not being released. Reflector proves that this is exactly the case. image

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TFS and WF4 - The diff noise problem

For a long time the most popular post I have on this site is about how to configure Visual Studio to use WinMerge as the merge/diff tool for TFS rather than using the feature poor out of the box software. Sometimes the nature of the files under development result in version differences that have a lot of noise regardless of the diff/merge tool that you use.

Unfortunately WF is one of the common offenders. I absolutely love WF, but am disappointed that designer state information is persisted with the workflow definition rather than in a user file that is merged in the IDE. The result of this is that the activity xaml file changes if you collapse a composite activity, such as the Sequence activity. The actual workflow definition has not changed, but it is a new version of the file as far as a diff tool and TFS goes.

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BusinessFailureScope activity with deep nested support

I wrote a series of posts late last year about a custom WF activity that collates a set of business failures that child evaluator activities identify into a single exception. At the time, the only way I could get the child evaluator activities to communicate failures to the parent scope activity was by using a custom WF extension to store the failures and manage the exception throwing logic.

The relationship between the parent scope activity and child evaluator activity works like this. The parent scope activity registers all the child evaluator activities with the extension in order to create a link between them. The extension then holds on to the failures from the child activities so that it can throw an exception for them as a set when the parent scope completes. If there was no link between the parent scope and a child evaluator then the extension would throw the exception directly for the singular failure.

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