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Posts Tagged ‘C#’

WCF Services – Dispose can cause you problems

Posted by ipwright83 on November 7, 2013

Normally when you’re working with something that implements IDisposable you should always call Dispose() on it. Unfortunately there are a whole bunch of classes that implement IDisposable implicitly. What that means is that you don’t see Dispose in intelli-sense, which makes it quite difficult to check. The general rule is if it’s going to deal with Stream/Connections/GDI/Databases there will probably be a dispose in there somewhere. The simplest way to do this is to wrap the code in a using statement to ensure that Dispose is called even if there is an error.

Once such example of this is the WCFClient. You would normally expect to write something like the following

using(PaymentPortTypeClient client = new PaymentPortTypeClient())
    // Do Stuff

Unfortunately however for WCF the base class System.ServiceBase.ClientBase can throw an Exception in Dispose if the connection failed to open for any reason. This is a bit of a pain, so instead we need to conditionally dispose depending on the connection state.

A little helper for achieving this:

/// Use the service safely such that it will correctly dispose itself upon success or failure.
/// The delegate to execute safely 
public static void Use<T>(UseServiceDelegate codeBlock) 
   // Ensure that the factory has been initialized 
   IClientChannel proxy = (IClientChannel)channelFactory.CreateChannel(); 
   bool success = false; 
       success = true; 
       if (!success) 

At this point assuming you’ve placed the method in a class called Service you can use the following code to safely call the same code that Dispose would on your connection:

Service.Use<PaymentPortType>(proxy =>
   // Do Stuff

Posted in C# | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Windows 8 Style Progress Bar

Posted by ipwright83 on June 1, 2012

I recently saw a preview of Windows 8, I didn’t see very much of it but one of the things I did see really caught my eye. The new file transfer progress bar that is in use. For those of you who haven’t seen it a screenshot is included below. Not only does it report progress, but it shows you the current rate of transfer and how that has varied over time.

I wondered whether or not this was something that Microsoft would be releasing, a question on StackOverflow led to ‘maybe’, but chances are it would only be avaliable for Windows 8 anyway. I could see some real potential for this sort of feedback for the application I contribute toward at my workplace, many of the customers won’t be using Windows 8 for some time. I love writing custom tools to make my development life easier, so I thought why not write a new progress bar mimicking this behaviour?

I could have chosen to do this in WinForms and GDI. This would have been well in the realm of comfort although probably tedious ensuring things were pixel perfect. I have been trying to learn some WPF in my spare time, and one of the big problems, is coming up with small isolated projects that are interesting and achievable, I felt like this fit the bill so got started during my lunch breaks and evenings.

I originally thought that I’d just inherit from a ProgressBar and modify some visuals (I actually did do this in the end) but when I discovered I had to use templates this gave me some shivers, I struggle with the bindings still in XAML and didn’t felt like I could easily seek answers to the wrong implementation. So I started off writing a purely code based solution – ProgressGraph.cs.

Although it was fairly easy, and did seem to work, it felt like it was breaking the WPF paradigm. I hadn’t touched a piece of XAML and I’m sure it had bugs in it. I loaded up Reflector to see how ProgressBase.cs had been implemented, and extended this implementation to include the relevant Rate based information that I needed – RateBase.cs. This is a reusable class that you can build your own templates for if you so wish. I’d learnt a few things on the way, a little about DependencyProperties, I was reminded that co-ordinates were based from the top-left and initally had forgotten to use the Dispatcher.

I then started writing my template, which was relatively easy actually once I knew what the bindings should be (note to self… controls don’t appear if you forget to apply the template!). I wanted to do as much as possible in the XAML and using converter’s where possible, I managed to achieve much of this when I stumbled across a blog about a Javascript based multi-converter. This allows me to do much of the calculation within the XAML itself. The only aspect I’m less pleased with is how I’ve handled updating the graph as this had to be done in the code behind. I don’t want to pollute the RateBase with a property of historical values, but I do need to store these somewhere to produce a graph. It works at least and I managed to achieve most of it in XAML which wasmy aim.

Keep an eye out for the next post where I’ll be sharing a link to the source and compiled version…

Posted in C#, WPF | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Visual Studio – File Navigation Extension

Posted by ipwright83 on May 30, 2012

One of the most frustrating things I found when I upgraded to Visual Studio 2010 was the navigation. I work with a fairly large solution with hundreds of files, many of which I can’t locate via the solution explorer as I just can’t remember where they are. To make this harder, sometimes the file names don’t match the class names and other times the name is the compound of several words that I can’t quite remember the combination of.

Within Visual Studio 2008 I used to use Resharper, and I almost exclusively used this for the file searching capabilties. It was quick and supported camel case searching. I’d previously used other solutions but found them to be slower and not as lightweight. Once I upgraded to VS2010 however I found that the search had been disabled in the express version.

Not wanting to sacrifice the brilliant searching I decided to write my own Visual Studio addin (I found this much harder than I anticipated, hence the extension doesn’t get many updates). It does exactly what I wanted, in a performant way and is avaliable to anyone who wants it. It allows searching by name or camel case and supports wildcards, with filtering as you type and highlighting of the matching criteria, bumping the best matches to the top of the list.


You can find the shortcut under the ‘Edit->Find and Replace->VS File Nav’ option and can re-bind the shortcut using Edit.VSFileNav.

Feel free to have a play and leave some feedback.

Visual Studio Gallery – VSFileNav

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Memory Leak within XmlSerializer

Posted by ipwright83 on May 3, 2012

Within the product I work on we used XML based serialization for some of our classes, the original aim was to provide a way of storing settings that was human readable to make debugging and upgrades easier in the future, while avoid the deprecated SOAP serialization. Unfortunately XML serialization brings about it’s own problems, most recently of which we discovered was leaking memory.

I discovered the memory ramping via Process Explorer, if you don’t have this tool I recommend downloading it for free from the SysInternals suite.

This lead down a road to our XML serialization helper class. By commenting out parts of the code eventually the problem was isolated to a section of code along the following line:

private XmlSerializer GetSerializer(Type type, XmlRootAttribute root)
   return new XmlSerializer(type, root);

When you construct a new XmlSerializer it will generate a temporary assembly on the disk (not however if you generate the xml serialization assemblies when you build via SGen). Normally these assemblies are loaded up into the AppDomain and then cached, however not in the case of this specific constructor call. It never caches the assembly, instead it’s re-created every time and therefore leaks memory.

The solution is fairly simple, create your own cache, in our case we made the cache based upon the Type name, and the name of the XmlRootAttribute:

private readonly Dictionary cache = new Dictionary();

private XmlSerializer GetSerializer(Type type, XmlRootAttribute root)
    String key = type.AssemblyQualifiedName + "|" + root.ElementName;
    XmlSerializer result;

    if (cache.TryGetValue(key, out result))
        return result;

    result =  new XmlSerializer(type, root);
    cache.Add(key, result);
    return result;

Note that the code above isn’t threadsafe, you’d need some form of locking if you were to call this over multiple threads. This however solved our problem and gave us a nice flat memory profiler for de serialization.

Some useful links I discovered on my way:

Microsoft’s Tess Ferrandez – .NET Memory Leak: XmlSerializing your way to a Memory Leak
Microsoft Support – Memory usage is high when you create several XmlSerializer objects in ASP.NET
Microsoft Connect – XmlSerializer memory leak

A little later I’ll be discussing Binary serialization, why I’d like to move to it instead of XML serialization and how we can work around the issue of human readability.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Multiple Input Devices – Controlling the accelerator pedal

Posted by ipwright83 on April 27, 2012

My work machine has a couple of input devices, mainly to try and reduce the onset of RSI. I’ve got an EM500 Ergonomic Computer Mouse and a Logitech MX600 Laser Mouse


The Ergonomic mouse by the way is brilliant and really helps prevent RSI ensuring that you’re wrist is better supported and more naturally placed. There was one significant problem with it however, the sensitivity was much less than my MX600. This meant if ever myself or a fellow developer wanted to use the MX600 on my machine there was a speed conflict. Either the MX600 had the speed of a Ferrari and you had to be very careful not to twitch the accelerator pedal too much, or the EM500 had the speed of a tortoise.

Changing the speed of the mice in control panel quickly became a hassle, so I had a quick look around to see if there were any applications that would automatically switch it based on the device. I found one but unfortunately it cost $15 and therefore would have been a lot of hassle getting it ordered. I figured it surely can’t be that hard to write my own can it?


I started off by looking for libraries – it’s always better reusing existing code than writing something from scratch. I quickly came across RawInputSharp which is a port of a C++ library for monitoring mouse input. I had an attempt at getting the demo’s in the library working, the compiled version worked fine, but whenever I tried to built it from source it just wouldn’t work. I left it alone and came back to it a few weeks later and discovered the problem was due to the build configuration (the target platform if I remember off the top of my head). I got it all working and was then able to register for mouse events.

public void MouseSpeedSwitch(){
   // Register for the mice
   this.mouseInput = new RawMouseInput();

A little special handling later to fire the necessary updates:

/// Handle the Mouse Move Events and Update the Mouse Speed 
protected const int WM_INPUT = 0x00FF; 
protected override void WndProc(ref Message m) 
   switch (m.Msg) 
      case WM_INPUT: // Read in new mouse values. 
         if (this.mouseInput != null) 
    base.WndProc(ref m); 

At this point I had mouse events and the ID’s of the devices every time I moved a mouse within my application. I made a minor change to the original library which suddenly switched the application to detecting mouse events globally in the operating system, regardless of whether the mouse was in my application or not. Brilliant!

public void RegisterForWM_INPUT(IntPtr hwndTarget) 
   rid.usUsagePage = 0x01;
   rid.usUsage = 0x02; //mouse
   rid.dwFlags = 0x00000100; // Register for events outside the current window

Things were starting to look good at this point. A few simple methods later to retrieve the names of mice from the registry and update the mouse speed and the application was almost complete. I then wrote a little very simple UI so I could use my application:

Once added into the Startup folder in the start menu, I no longer needed to worry about changing the speed of my mouse. Everything would be done automatically 🙂

Feel free to download the application, it’s free to use for both personal and commercial use – currently hosted here.

Posted in C#, Events, Mouse, Tools | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »