Fixing Visual Studio 2012 defaults

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Annoyances, How Do I...

One of the biggest pet peeves I experienced when switching to Visual Studio 2012 was the fact that the default command buttons were changed.  In going for a cleaner look, many of the main command buttons most developers use most frequently, was removed from the toolbar interface and buried in the menu structure instead.

Personally, the buttons I find myself using most frequently are the Navigate Backwards and Navigate Forwards (image ), Comment Selected Lines and Uncomment Selected Lines (image ) and lastly Increase Line Indent and Decrease Line Indent (image ).

The Navigate functions are still there, but the Comment and Indent functions are buried deep within the Edit/Advanced menu.  While it’s true that the Comment functions do have hot keys attached to them, I hardly consider Ctrl+K,Ctrl+C for a single click to be useful to most developers save the few that know the hotkeys by heart.

As for the Indent commands, they don’t have any hotkeys and you’d have to click through Edit/Advanced/Indent to get the action.  Though small annoyances, these can be addressed by simply adding the commands back to the command bar.  Here’s how to do just that:

  1. Click Tools on the menu bar.
  2. image  
  3. On the popup menu, click “Customize”.
  4. After the Customize dialog window opens, click over to the “Commands” tab.
  5. Select the “Toolbar” radio button.
  6. In the dropdown to the right of the Toolbar radio button, select the “Standard” toolbar to work with.
  7. The toolbar’s controls will be previewed in the bottom left of the dialog window.
  8. To the right of the preview, click the “Add Command” button.
  9. image  
  10. In the Add Command dialog window that opens up, select the “Edit” category to the left.
  11. On the right, scroll down through the commands and locate the “Line Indent” command.
  12. Select the command and click the “OK” button.
  13. image
  14. The command will be added to the top of the Controls preview.
  15. image  
  16. Repeat steps 8 through 12 for the “Line Unindent”, “Selection Comment” and “Selection Uncomment” commands as well.  The interface doesn’t allow multi-select, though that would be nice touch in a future update.
  17. Once you have all the commands, use the “Move Up” and “Move Down” buttons to the right to arrange the commands in the order you wish them to appear on the toolbar.
  18. image  
  19. When you’re happy with the arrangement, click the “Close” button.  Your new toolbar should now reflect your favorite buttons again. 🙂
  20. image



How do I – Scroll the Telerik RadGridView to the top after a data refresh?

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in How Do I...

What seems like a very simple thing to do, and quite frankly it should be, turned out to be a little more tricky than I thought. Setting the Scene The app has a RadGridView control that displays information from a SQL database. The data is presented to the control via a simple Linq2SQL DataSet. Given that the RadGridView control has a .CurrentRow property which is updatable, logic dictates that a simple statement such as this:

 1:  grdContentSources.CurrentRow = grdContentSources.Rows[0];
would take care of moving the cursor to the top after the data refresh. Alas, it doesn’t. Next I experimented with disconnecting the data source, filling the table adapter and then reconnecting the data source to the grid, but that didn’t work either. Internet searches, especially the very helpful Telerik support site, indicated that we should be using the .IsCurrent() method of the row instead. So this should solve the problem, right?
 1:  grdContentSources.Rows[0].IsCurrent = true;
Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the problem either. Then I found an obscure comment from “Jack”, and Admin on the Telerik team, that pointed me towards the .ChildRows collection for sorted data instead. Since I did have some sorting on the grid, I tried it and it worked! Here’s the complete code:
 1:  Cursor.Current = Cursors.WaitCursor;
   2:  this.crawlManDBDataSet.vwContentSourceCrawlHistory.Clear();
   3:  this.vwContentSourceCrawlHistoryTableAdapter.Fill(
   4:    this.crawlManDBDataSet.vwContentSourceCrawlHistory);
   5:  grdContentSources.ChildRows[0].IsCurrent = true;
   6:  Cursor.Current = Cursors.Default;
Since the operation takes some time, in line 1 we set the cursor to the hour glass. In line 2 we clear the source table for the grid. In line 3 we refill the table to get refreshed data. This reflects back onto the grid as it triggers a .Changed() event to refresh the grid view. Line 5 is where the magic happens as we simply set the .IsCurrent property of the .ChildRows[0] row to be true. Using zero takes the grid back to the top. We could set this to any value within the range of the grid e.g. we could have used:
 1:  grdContentSources.ChildRows[
   2:    grdContentSources.ChildRows.Count - 1].IsCurrent = true;
in order to scroll the grid to the bottom instead.



SharePoint boundaries and limits

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Blog

There are many boundaries and limits that you will generally not run into, in the SharePoint world.  One such boundary that I ran into the other day is 500 content sources per Search Service App.  Being aware of these could help you plan architecture for your designs and systems correctly so that the need for adjusted architecture later on, is negated.

For 2010, start here:

SharePoint Server 2010 capacity management: Software boundaries and limits



InfoPath AND OR logic with boolean types and bit values in C based languages – Why your checkboxes are not working as expected

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Annoyances

OK, that’s a massive title for this blog post. 🙂 Nevertheless, if you’re having trouble with your InfoPath check boxes not having the desired effect in rules, then read on.

To simplify this explanation, I’m going to use a simple form with two check boxes and a button. The form looks like this:


As you can see, it’s a pretty simple form. The two check boxes simply bind to two fields and our data structure looks like this:


When we right click on each of the check boxes thus:


and then click “Check Box Properties” on the popup menu, we’d see the properties as expected thus:


As expected, the default state of the check box is “Cleared” and the value corresponding to that state is “FALSE”. The inverse is true of the Checked state having the value TRUE. This is all as it should be thus far.

Now let’s suppose that we want to hid the Button if either of the two check boxes are unchecked i.e. set to FALSE. We do this via the Rules on the Button control. If we look at the rule defined in this case, we see it looks like this:



As we can see, the rule is pretty simple and straight forward. Given that both check box controls have a default value of Cleared i.e. FALSE, we would expect the form, when loaded, to hide the button, correct?

This is unfortunately, not the case however, as you can see from here:


Check checking the first box, the button is still there:


When we uncheck the first box, the button disappears, as we expect it to.


Rechecking the box, shows the button again, even though it shouldn’t since the second box is unchecked. The same behavior is found when dealing with the second check box.

So what could possibly be the problem here?

The issue here is the way in which InfoPath deals with the Boolean data type. Keep in mind that InfoPath was developed with C# and C++. All C based derivative languages share the same common handling for null values. In C based languages, a boolean value is defined thus:

bool myValue;

The thing to note is that a boolean value is represented by a single bit in the data stream which is either turned off i.e. false or turned on i.e. true. In C based languages however, the declaration of a variable such as the above, does NOT assign any value to the variable and the value is considered to be unknown or NULL until assigned.

We can debate the merits of null values all day long, but the short of it is that a boolean value could actually have 3 values per se.

We have already looked at our Check Box control in detail and we have found that it can either have a Checked or Cleared value representing TRUE or FALSE. The control itself does not have any way to represent a null value, but we must remember that the control is almost certainly bound to a data value somewhere. The data value is a distinctly different object value that is synched with the value of the check box. As such, it’s governed by a separate set of rules so let’s take a look at the data field properties.

When we locate field1 and right click it, and click “Properties” on the popup menu we see this:


The fact that the Default Value property of the data field allows a value of “(Blank)” to be assigned means that the data field can represent null values. This is where state comes into play. If we consider the fact that the check box control can only have TRUE or FALSE values (Checked or Cleared), and we keep in mind that the data field value is synched with the control value, then what is happening here?

The answer lies in the timing of synchronization between the check box control and the data field. In order to preserve resources and cut down traffic, most controls are event driven. That means that the control doesn’t actually update it’s underlying data field value unless the value of the control itself changes. As such, when the form is first loaded, the check box has a value of Cleared i.e. FALSE while the data field does not have any value and as a result, InfoPath assigns the “(Blank)” or null value to the field. This results in a mismatch of state i.e. the data field value does not represent the visual value displayed in the check box.

Due to the fact that InfoPath rules operate on the underlying data field values rather than their bound control values, the formatting rule we had defined for the Button would be checking if the check boxes had a FALSE value. Since upon first load their value is in fact null rather than false, the rule fails the check and does not hid the button as we expected.

When the check box is checked, the TRUE value is synched with the data field and when it is unchecked, the FALSE value from the check box is synched back to the data field. That is why after checking and then unchecking the check box, the button is hidden as expected.

Though I believe allowing “(Blank)” to be a valid value for the data field is a design flaw, the reality is that it’s unlikely to change so we need to be aware of this kind of behavior when designing InfoPath forms.

Special thanks to Chuck for working through this logic with me until we were able to identify what was causing this odd behavior.



SPFarm.Local is null in SharePoint 2010 causing C# Console App to throw a “Object reference not set to an instance of an object” error

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Blog

This one is one of the more annoying errors you’ll encounter in SharePoint development. The simple reason for that is because the error you’re receiving is bogus. I mean, sure it’s a “valid” error since the SPFarm.Local is actually null and you’re trying to reference it, but it doesn’t actually lead you anywhere. As a SharePoint developer/admin/architect, you will often be faced with the need to iterate content in the farm. Every good SharePoint developer knows that it all starts with the simple statement:

SPWebService svc = SPFarm.Local.Services.GetValue<SPWebService>(“”);
This should NEVER fail, unless you don’t actually have a SharePoint farm on your DEV box, but naturally you do, right? 🙂 So then why would you ever see the below from your debugger window? image[18] The problem stems from the architectural nature of SharePoint. SharePoint as you know, has been purely x64 based since the 2010 version. Add to that the fact that most utilities we write in the C# world to pull information from SharePoint, are Console apps, and you have the ingredients for our problem which is caused by Windows attempting to run a x86 based app under a x64 based architecture. Now where this should normally work, it doesn’t in this case. The real problem is that no architectural error is thrown. The code simply returns null and does not work. It can lead to many frustrating hours of debugging. Since console apps are by their very nature x86 based, it’s very easy to make the mistake of compiling your console app to the x86 architecture. If we go to the project properties for this console app, we’d find the following: image The “Platform target” is the setting we’re interested in. By default Visual Studio 2010 will set this value to x86 for console apps. It’s easy to forget to reset this value when quickly knocking out a console app. Here’s how this should be set: image Once we make this simple change and press F5, we’ll be able to step past the problematic line of code and continue on our merry way. Hopefully this article will save someone some time and frustration.