Visual Studio 2012 RC released

by Edward 04 June 2012 09:24

To follow on from my post on the latest version of Visual Studio 11, now officially launching as Visual Studio 2012 that is coming later this year. Microsoft is still aiming for a 4th quarter of 2012 release, to go with the release of .Net Framework 4.5 and Windows 8. Here is some more details on the updated version of Visual Studio 2012.


A few highlights:

  • One thing I was not font of in the Beta release, was the dull grey theme. It now looks like the Visual Studio guys decided to enable themes and you can now brighten the background and make the status bar change color depending on your status. You can either choose the Light or Dark color theme for the Visual Studio UI. For more information, see Microsoft MSDM How to: Change the Fonts and Colors Used in the IDE.  
  • You can also search across the IDE for a specific word, phrase and choose from the dialog box or window what is associated with the item.
  • Use features of ECMAScript 5 and the HTLM5 DOM.
  • Provide IntelliSense for function overloads and variables.
  • Create UML class diagrams from existing code.
  • Run, monitor, and manage builds by using an enhanced interface.
  • Debug your build process more easily.
  • More integration with Sharepoint. For example creating lists and content types by using designers

What versions will be available for Visual Studio 2012:Visual Studio Ultimate 2012

  • Visual Studio Premium 2012
  • Visual Studio Professional 2012
  • Visual Studio Test Professional 2012
  • Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012

More details can be found on the Visual Studio 2012 RC webpage

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ASP.NET | Development Resources | Other | Technology

Make a Hashtag in a string clickable using Regex

by Edward 15 November 2011 19:09

I recently wanted to get hashtags from a string and convert this to a clickable link (think Twitter integration). There are several ways of doing this, but I wanted to use regex. I find using regex easier to use when manipulating string values, then say using a for loop to check for the hash for each word in a string. If you want to use the loop method, you will need to split the string and then loop through each word and then check for a hashtag at the beginning of the word, and then make it clickable using an ahref tag. You would possibly also have to encode '#' with '%23' to parse the string and display on the webpage.

Below is a small function that will take the input and replace a hashtag with a clickable link.

Code Sample:


public static string GetHashTag(string urlText)
            Regex urlregex = new Regex(@"(#)((?:[A-Za-z0-9-_]*))", RegexOptions.IgnoreCase 
               | RegexOptions.Compiled);
            return urlregex.Replace(urlText, "<a href=\"$1$2\" style=\"color: #f68b1f;\">$1$2</a>");

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ASP.NET | Other

Cache.Insert vs Cache.Add

by Edward 20 July 2011 19:40


Calling the Add method returns an object that represents the cached item. If the key already exists in the Cache the method will fail.


Calling the Insert method does not return an object. If the key already exists in the Cache it will overwrite the copy in the Cache.

object instance = (object) Cache["thekey"];
if (instance == null)
    instance = GetNewValueAndInsert(); // Get new data to insert into the cache
    Cache.Insert(key, instance, ...);
return instance;

It is important to know that only one instance of the Cache class is created per application domain, and it remains valid as long as the application domain remains active.

For more information, read the following MSDN article.

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Validating a Textbox for Decimal Values

by Edward 19 May 2011 18:32

It is always a good idea to try and validate any user input, before the page is submitted or a request is made to the database. This will cut down on unnecessary "back and forth" trips to the database, and also save on performance or showing nasty error pages, if you are not handling exceptions correctly.

To validate any user input, you can use the RegularExpressionValidator control provided with the .Net framework. If you need to validate other forms of input, such as query strings, cookies, or HTML input, you can use the System.Text.RegularExpressions.Regex class.

Here is small code snippet which will accept any numeric/decimal digits (e.g. 100.05), but not any alpha-numeric (e.g. £100.05). You must also have at least one digit before and one after the decimal place. It validates for a positive or negative currency amount. If there is a decimal point, it requires 2 numeric characters after the decimal point to be valid.

<asp:TextBox ID="txtAmount" runat="server" />
<asp:Button ID="btnSaveDetails" runat="server" Text="Submit" OnClick="btnSaveDetails_Click" />

<asp:RegularExpressionValidator ID="rvDecimal" ControlToValidate="txtAmount" runat="server"
ErrorMessage="Please enter a valid amount." ValidationExpression="^(-)?\d+(\.\d\d)?$">

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ASP.NET | Other | Technology

Useful list of ASP.Net Server Variables

by Edward 25 April 2011 07:44

Here is a list of server environment variables that can be accessed by using ASP.NET. These variables can tell us important details on the server environment in which the page is running or more information about visitors to the page.

Variable Description
ALL_HTTP Returns all HTTP headers sent by the client. Always prefixed with HTTP_ and capitalized
ALL_RAW Returns all headers in raw form
APPL_MD_PATH Returns the meta base path for the application for the ISAPI DLL
APPL_PHYSICAL_PATH Returns the physical path corresponding to the meta base path
AUTH_PASSWORD Returns the value entered in the client's authentication dialog
AUTH_TYPE The authentication method that the server uses to validate users
AUTH_USER Returns the raw authenticated user name
CERT_COOKIE Returns the unique ID for client certificate as a string
CERT_FLAGS bit0 is set to 1 if the client certificate is present and bit1 is set to 1 if the cCertification authority of the client certificate is not valid
CERT_ISSUER Returns the issuer field of the client certificate
CERT_KEYSIZE Returns the number of bits in Secure Sockets Layer connection key size
CERT_SECRETKEYSIZE Returns the number of bits in server certificate private key
CERT_SERIALNUMBER Returns the serial number field of the client certificate
CERT_SERVER_ISSUER Returns the issuer field of the server certificate
CERT_SERVER_SUBJECT Returns the subject field of the server certificate
CERT_SUBJECT Returns the subject field of the client certificate
CONTENT_LENGTH Returns the length of the content as sent by the client
CONTENT_TYPE Returns the data type of the content
GATEWAY_INTERFACE Returns the revision of the CGI specification used by the server
HTTP_<HeaderName> Returns the value stored in the header HeaderName
HTTP_ACCEPT Returns the value of the Accept header
HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE Returns a string describing the language to use for displaying content
HTTP_COOKIE Returns the cookie string included with the request
HTTP_REFERER Returns a string containing the URL of the page that referred the request to the current page using an <a> tag. If the page is redirected, HTTP_REFERER is empty
HTTP_USER_AGENT Returns a string describing the browser that sent the request
HTTPS Returns ON if the request came in through secure channel or OFF if the request came in through a non-secure channel
HTTPS_KEYSIZE Returns the number of bits in Secure Sockets Layer connection key size
HTTPS_SECRETKEYSIZE Returns the number of bits in server certificate private key
HTTPS_SERVER_ISSUER Returns the issuer field of the server certificate
HTTPS_SERVER_SUBJECT Returns the subject field of the server certificate
INSTANCE_ID The ID for the IIS instance in text format
INSTANCE_META_PATH The meta base path for the instance of IIS that responds to the request
LOCAL_ADDR Returns the server address on which the request came in
LOGON_USER Returns the Windows account that the user is logged into
PATH_INFO Returns extra path information as given by the client
PATH_TRANSLATED A translated version of PATH_INFO that takes the path and performs any necessary virtual-to-physical mapping
QUERY_STRING Returns the query information stored in the string following the question mark (?) in the HTTP request
REMOTE_ADDR Returns the IP address of the remote host making the request
REMOTE_HOST Returns the name of the host making the request
REMOTE_USER Returns an unmapped user-name string sent in by the user
REQUEST_METHOD Returns the method used to make the request
SCRIPT_NAME Returns a virtual path to the script being executed
SERVER_NAME Returns the server's host name, DNS alias, or IP address as it would appear in self-referencing URLs
SERVER_PORT Returns the port number to which the request was sent
SERVER_PORT_SECURE Returns a string that contains 0 or 1. If the request is being handled on the secure port, it will be 1. Otherwise, it will be 0
SERVER_PROTOCOL Returns the name and revision of the request information protocol
SERVER_SOFTWARE Returns the name and version of the server software that answers the request and runs the gateway
URL Returns the base portion of the URL

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Adding Padding or Space to Display a String

by Edward 26 March 2011 17:19

A simple but unknown to many developers is the two methods for padding available in the String class. Using these two methods you can add padding to the left or to the right of a string to achieve a desired length. A real world example will be to add a '0' to a string value when a area code must be a specific length.

The two methods for this example is as follows:

String.PadLeft : Right aligns and pads a string from the left.
String.PadRight : Left aligns and pads a string from the right.

The following example shows how to indent strings using method for padding:


string originalString = "123";
Console.WriteLine(originalString.PadLeft(3, '0'));


string originalString = "123";
Console.WriteLine(originalString.PadRight(3, '0'));

You should also understand that this does not format the original value, for example formatting a integer to decimal, but just 'append' a character either on the left or the right of the string.

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How to read the version number from the assembly

by Edward 19 February 2011 17:15

I was recently working on a project where it was important to display the version number of the code on the page for testing purposes as well as making sure the correct set of code goes to production. If you don't use a build server, or just copy your code over to your hosting space, then the following might be of help. By using reflection you can get the major, minor, build, and revision numbers of the assembly and the display it on your web page, or use however you need too.

The following code sample will help you with getting the version number of your application.

        private static void Main(string[] args)
            //Get Application version details
            ApplicationDetails applicationDetails = new ApplicationDetails();
            string versionNumber = applicationDetails.GetVersion();
    class ApplicationDetails
/// <summary>
/// Gets the version.
/// </summary>
public string GetVersion()
return GetType().Assembly.GetName().Version.ToString();



You can set the version number to auto increment, by setting it in the properties window of your application.

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ASP.NET | Development Resources | Other

Looping and Iterating

by Edward 31 December 2010 10:44

When using recursions in Applications, you should always think about why you are not using iterations. Non-optimised code within the loops can result in exacerbated performance issues, ranging from increased memory usage to CPU spikes, causing your application to slow down or fail. You should also consider replacing recursion with looping, because each recursion adds data to stack. You should always study your code for recursive calls that can be converted to a ‘loop’ equivalent.

The following code snippet makes use of recursive calls to accomplish a small task of string concatenation.

        static Array arr = GetArrayOfStrings();

        static int index = arr.Length - 1;
        String finalStr;

        public Validate()
            finalStr = Recursive(index);

        /// <summary>
        /// Recursives the specified index.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="index">The index.</param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        string Recursive(int index)
            if (index <= 0)
                return string.Empty;
                return (arr.GetValue(index) + Recursive(index - 1));

        private static Array GetArrayOfStrings()
            //code here
Rewritten, the following code now avoids creating new data on the stack for each successive call and avoids an additional method call to itself.

        static Array arr = GetArrayOfStrings();

        static int index = arr.Length - 1;
        String finalStr;

        /// <summary>
        /// Concates the specified array.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="array">The array.</param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        string Concate(Array array)
            StringBuilder sBuilder = new StringBuilder();

            for (int i = array.Length; i > 0; i--)

            return sBuilder.ToString();

        private static Array GetArrayOfStrings()
            //code here

The following key points summarises how you can improve iteration and loop efficiency(From MSDN):

  • Avoid repetitive field or property access.
  • Optimize or avoid expensive operations within loops.
  • Copy frequently called code into the loop.
  • Consider replacing recursion with looping.
  • Use for instead of foreach in performance-critical code paths.


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Finalize and Dispose Guidelines

by Edward 23 December 2010 20:50

Difference between Finalize and Dispose:

Finalize Method(): Releases unmanaged resources and performs other cleanup operations before the SmiConnection is reclaimed by garbage collection.

void Finalize ();

Dispose Method(): Closes the connection to the database. It is intended for use by SQL Server.  For other databases, use the hosting mechanism provided by that database.

void Dispose ();

The following are guidelines/recommendations for using Finalize and Dispose(From MSDN):

  • Call Close or Dispose on classes that support it.
  • Use the using statement in C# and Try/Finally blocks in Visual Basic .NET to ensure Dispose is called.
  • Do not implement Finalize unless required.
  • Implement Finalize only if you hold unmanaged resources across client calls.
  • Move the Finalization burden to the leaves of object graphs.
  • If you implement Finalize, implement IDisposable.
  • If you implement Finalize and Dispose, use the Dispose pattern.
  • Suppress finalization in your Dispose method.
  • Allow Dispose to be called multiple times.
  • Call Dispose on base classes and on IDisposable members.
  • Keep finalizer code simple to prevent blocking.
  • Provide thread safe cleanup code only if your type is thread safe.


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ASP.NET | Other

Generate a Random Password Using C#

by Edward 01 November 2010 20:15

Every website that holds important or sensitive data, should have some type of password policy. In my example below you can generate your own random password, that will be secure and not easy to read. For example when a new user is created and you can't think of a password, or you need the password to be as random as possible. This password generator method will generate secure, random password examples for you to use.

Select the password length, and the type(eg: if you do not want symbols in your password), and your password will be generated for you.

This is how you would call the password generator method:

            Debug.WriteLine("Type 1: " + GenerateRandomPassword(20, 1));
            Debug.WriteLine("Type 2: " + GenerateRandomPassword(20, 2));
            Debug.WriteLine("Type 3: " + GenerateRandomPassword(20, 3));
            Debug.WriteLine("Type 4: " + GenerateRandomPassword(20, 4));

The method that generates the password(this is for example purposes):

        /// <summary>
        /// Generates the random password.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="passwordLength">Length of the password.</param>
        /// <param name="type">The type of password needed.</param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        private static string GenerateRandomPassword(int passwordLength, int type)
            const string allowedChars = "abcdefghijkmnopqrstuvwxyz";
            const string allowedCharsWithCaps = "abcdefghijkmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ";
            const string allowedCharsWithCapsAndNumbers = "abcdefghijkmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0123456789";
            const string allowedCharsWithCapsAndNumbersAndSymbols = "abcdefghijkmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0123456789!@$?_-";

            char[] chars = new char[passwordLength];
            Random rd = new Random();
            string passwordCombinations;

            switch (type)
                case 1:
                    passwordCombinations = allowedChars;
                case 2:
                    passwordCombinations = allowedCharsWithCaps;
                case 3:
                    passwordCombinations = allowedCharsWithCapsAndNumbers;
                case 4:
                    passwordCombinations = allowedCharsWithCapsAndNumbersAndSymbols;
                    passwordCombinations = allowedChars;

            for (int i = 0; i < passwordLength; i++)
                chars[i] = passwordCombinations[rd.Next(0, passwordCombinations.Length - 1)];

            return new string(chars);

Quick Tip: Including numbers and symbols in a mixed case password will generally create a more secure password, which would be exponentially harder to recover using a brute force password discovery method. Also remember that this code sample is for demostration only, to give you a starting point on creating passwords.

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ASP.NET | Other

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