Welcome back everybody, and sorry for the slight delay in posts, I just have a lot of work nowadays, and can rarely find enough time to write. The apropos of this one is that I recently passed the 70-516 exam: Accessing Data with Microsoft.NET Framework 4.
It was an interesting exam, and with a little effort to concentrate on the questions (I got bored really soon after the nth one about how would you to this and that in the shiny new Entity Framework) it is easy. I really did nothing to prepare, except that I embraced the EF 4 in my everyday works – I built some production web apps with that nowadays – and read the title Pro Entity Framework 4.0 from Appress. I think MeasureUp and the rest provides little help if you are experienced with the given technology, or if you have seen more than two Microsoft exams – but you are free to try, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
My next goal is the WCF 4.0 exam, and the MCPD in ASP.NET 4, so I will wait for the 70-523 to come out. They say it will be available quite soon – possibly in late October.
The other area which interests me is architecture (software, of course). I read Dino Esposito’s book on .NET architecture, and it acted (at least for me) as a phonebook for other important books on the topic, so I bought Martin Fowler’s Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture, and digesting that now. I plan to post some of the material here, too because I used to learn by writing down what I read – and it just works.
Some quick info for those who are still tuned: I started a Bsc on economy informatics, which takes my weekends, continuing sociology (only one year left), building up my company (we’re spending our days interviewing wannabe salesmen, and trying to find a suitable office in town), and working on a bunch of web applications and CMS systems. In the spare time, I’m learning architecture. Oh, and I bought a Kindle for the purpose – much faster delivery than waiting one-two weeks for a book to arrive in Hungary…
So be prepared for some posts to come along.
Today, I’ve passed the exam 70-561, ADO.NET Application Development, which completes my second MCTS certification. I must confess that this one was the most difficult so far, and took the most time to fulfill. I expected simple questions, but found monstrous ones, and found myself trying to figure out a single question for minutes.
However, I’ve only studied for a week (and have two years of experience building data-driven apps), so I might have been lucky to pass. As you could read it in the syllabus, the exam focused mostly on data modifying and querying, with a large percentage of synchronization-related questions. The Training Kit was useful for preparing, but you definitely need to dig through some MSDN articles, because there are serious white spots in the book.
All in all, the exam was though, and you should prepare for it more than a week, it won’t hurt your performance on it!
The next goal is the WCF exam, 70-503. I’ll start publishing posts as I review the topics, but first I’ll need to complete my university exams (you know, sociology), so there will be a slight delay, but I’ll take that one before the second shot offer expires (30th June).
And finally, some bad news: there won’t be any posts published about the Entity Framework. It’s a very useful feature, but I’m tired of trying to understand it wholly, sorry.
When you are working with the Sync Framework (a topic of a coming soon post), you will inevitably run into issues related to data modified both on the client and the server, more clearly: update conflicts. There are five types of update conflicts, defined in the ConflictType enumeration:
- ClientInsertServerInsert: both the client and the server insert a row with the same primary key.
- ClientUpdateServerUpdate: the client and server changes the same row (this is the most common conflict type).
- ClientUpdateServerDelete: the client updates a row, which have been deleted on the server earlier.
- ClientDeleteServerUpdate: the client deletes a row, which have been updated on the server.
- ErrorsOccurred: an error prevents the change from being applied.
To detect errors during synchronization, you should use the ApplyChangeFailed event of your provider class. This returns an ApplyChangeFailedEventArgs object, which exposes information about the rows in conflict, the error, and lets you specify the Action to take. The Action can be a member of the ApplyAction enumeration, which defines the following set of them:
There might be times when you’d wish to receive a notification about a change in the returned results of a command. In these times, you would use the SqlDependency class, living in System.Data.SqlClient. For it to work, you should enable SQL Service Broker for your database, because raising notifications requires you to do so.
As I stated, SqlDependency can be used to query whether or not a given SqlCommand’s result changed (or any related changes have occurred in the database, such as a failure). There are two ways to get notified about changes: query the HasChanges property of the current SqlDependency instance, which is a Boolean value informing you about changes in the database. The other, more robust approach is to use the OnChange event of it. It returns an instance of SqlNotificationEventArgs, which exposes the following properties:
- Info: gets the reason of the notification.
- Source: gets the source of the notification.
- Type: the SqlNotificationType of the notification. Can be Change, Subscribe or Unknown.
Now that you know the basics, here’s an example:
In this post, we’ll examine two ways of how to cache data in a .NET Framework application. For ASP.NET web apps, we’ll use SqlCacheDependency, and for desktop applications, we’ll consider using the Local Data Cache.
When dealing with ASP.NET applications, you have multiple choices to cache data, by using one of the state management techniques (I have written multiple posts about them, so search for them), but for now, we’ll consider using the Cache class. Before you’d write any data caching code, you should start in the web.config, as usual. Take a look at the following block:
<sqlCacheDependency pollTime=”1000” enabled=”true”>
<add connectionStringName=”aString” name=”databasename”/>
After this, you should place something similar to your data access class:
The topic of data integrity is an important one. You should always make sure that your data is in a consistent state, particularly during modifications. To do this, you should use the built-in functionality of the DataSet class, which allows you to deal with cascading updates and deletes, manage constraints, and the rest.
There are two key classes in this part of the framework: UniqueConstarint and ForeignKeyConstarint. Both of them defines rules that must be applied to the data stored in the DataSet (as long as the EnforceConstaint property is set to true). Let’s start with the ForeignKeyConstraint, because it’s slightly more complex than the other one.
You set up a ForeignKeyConstraint like this:
ForeignKeyConstraint fkc = new ForeignKeyConstraint(parentColumn, childColumn);
After you have declared it, it behaves in the exact same manner as if it was set up in the data source. There are four actions which can take place when you delete the foreign key column, depending on how you set the DeleteRule property. Also, the UpdateRule can be set to the same values, which are:
Now this one seems to be a huge topic, but have no fear, we’ll overcome it. The “may include, but is not limited to” section says: update data by using stored procedures, update DataSets to data source, managing concurrency.
Updating data by using stored procedures is not the hardest task in our lives. Simply build a SqlCommand object, set the CommandType to StoredProcedure, and use parameters (always use parameterized SQL commands, because SQL injection attacks will haunt you in your dreams if you wouldn’t do so). I think this one is out.
To update DataSets (and all the related stuff) is a bit more complicated. You should use DataAdapters (or TableAdapters, strongly typed or not) to solve this issue. DataAdapters expose some properties related to updated data, such as UpdateCommand, or DeleteCommand and InsertCommand. If you remember what I wrote about the states of DataRows, you can easily put the pieces together. If not, here’s a brief refresher:
When you call the Update method of the DataAdapter, it will treat DataRows differently, based on their RowState property. On the ones marked Deleted, it will call the DeleteCommand. In a similar way, Modified rows will be processed by the UpdateCommand, and Added will be by the InsertCommand. Watch out of this, because there may be exam questions lurking out there on this topic.