Posts Tagged ‘ASP.NET’

ASP.NET SignalR and Ext.NET MessageBus

Posted by dariosantarelli on October 20, 2013

Most of the modern web applications provides real-time functionalities (“real-time web“) through a set of technologies and practices that enable users to receive information as soon as it is published by its authors, rather than requiring that they or their software check a source periodically for updates.  Moreover, in very scalable and complex architectures, server-side code execution is often asynchronous. Just for example, let’s think to a task-based UI which submits a command like “book a plane ticket” to a web service. The server-side command processing could be performed after some hours: for example, the command could be just enqueued to a command-bus to be processed later. In scenarios like that, the client can’t count on an updated read model just after sending the command. As a consequence, in order to receive a feedback as soon as possible, all the involved clients should poll the server until the command execution reaches a significant state (e.g. in progress, completed, canceled etc.) and the read model is updated, ready for queries.

Before WebSockets, the classic implementations of this kind of real-time features were not so easy and they used to adopt strategies like forever frame (see “Comet“) or periodic/long polling. Today, all the modern browsers and web servers fully support WebSockets and they can extabilish bi-directional and persistent communications, so that a client can receive content through a “push” action performed by the server. In the ASP.NET world, SignalR is a growing new library that uses WebSockets under the covers when it’s available, and gracefully fallbacks to other techniques and technologies when it isn’t, while the application code stays the same. SignalR also provides a very simple, high-level API for doing server-to-client RPC (call JavaScript functions in clients’ browsers from server-side code) in an ASP.NET application, as well as adding useful hooks for connection management, e.g. connect/disconnect events, grouping connections, authorization.

Developers that are currently using the Ext.NET component framework can take advantage on SignalR by combining it with the Ext.NET MessageBus component. The MessageBus provides a simple and robust client-side infrastructure to propagate notifications to listening UI components. The reference scenario I’m talking about in this post is represented in the figure below:

1. The client browser extabilishes a persistent connection to a server-side SignalR application hub. After that the client mantains a reference to an auto-generated hub proxy.
2. The Ext.NET UI components submits commands to the server.
3. At any time of the server-side command execution, the server can use the SignalR hub to push notification messages back to all the involved clients via RPC.
4. Any client receiving a SignalR message through the hub proxy redirects the message to the Ext.NET Message Bus
5. On the basis of the specific type of message, the Ext.NET UI components are updated through a message handler function. In fact, each Ext.NET component has a MessageBusListeners property (client side handlers of MessageBus client side events) and a MessageBusDirectEvents property (server side handlers of MessageBus client side events).

Let’s have a look to a minimalistic example implemented in an ASP.NET MVC web application. Here’s the view :

@using Ext.Net;
@using Ext.Net.MVC;
    Layout = null;
    var X = Html.X();
<!DOCTYPE html>
        <title>SignalR and Ext.NET MessageBus example</title>
        <script src="@Url.Content("~/signalr/hubs")" type="text/javascript"></script>

.Add(X.Button().Icon(Icon.Add).Text("New customer")
      .DirectClickAction("AddCustomer", "Customers")) 

.Add(X.Button().Icon(Icon.Delete).Text("Delete customer")
      .DirectClickAction("DeleteCustomer", "Customers"))

.Add(X.GridPanel().Title("Customers").MarginSpec("10 0 0 0").Icon(Icon.User)
                      .Fields(fields =>
              .ColumnModel(columnModel =>
              .MessageBusListeners(new MessageBusListener 
                 Name = "Customers.*",
                 Handler = "this.getStore().reload();",
                 Buffer = 500

.Add(X.GridPanel().Title("Events log").MarginSpec("10 0 0 0").Icon(Icon.Report)
              .Fields(fields =>
                    .ColumnModel(columnModel =>
                        columnModel.Columns.Add(X.Column().Text("Event name").DataIndex("Name").Flex(1));
                        columnModel.Columns.Add(X.Column().Text("Event data").DataIndex("Data").Flex(1));
                    .MessageBusListeners(new MessageBusListener
                        Name = "Customers.*",
                        Handler = "this.getStore().add({ EventId: data.Id, DateTime: getFormattedDateTime(), 
                                   Name: name, Data: \"CustomerId: \" + data.CustomerId });"
<script type="text/javascript">      
var loadHub = function () {
    var hubProxy = $.connection.applicationHub;
    hubProxy.client.publish = function (name, message) {
        Ext.net.Bus.publish(name, message);
    $.connection.hub.start().done(function () {
            title: "Info",
            iconCls: "#Accept",
            html: "SignalR connection is active!"

$(document).ready(function () {


As you can see, the view is composed by the following Ext.NET components:

– A couple of buttons which send commands to the server (e.g. Add/Remove a customer)
– A grid panel which holds the current customer data
– A grid panel which holds trace data about messages received through the SignalR connection.

The integration between the client-side SignalR hub proxy and the Ext.NET components MessageBus is done through the loadHub javascript function: it wraps the SignalR hub named “applicationHub” so that all the received messages are redirected to the Ext.NET MessageBus and again to the listening UI components. Please note that the SignalR “publish” function and the Ext.NET MessageBus “publish” function accept the same parameters: the message name and the message data. For this reason, the integration between the two worlds is practically natural.

In the example above, the Store of the former GridPanel is reloaded each time its MessageBusListener intercepts any message whose name starts with the prefix “Customers.” . Please pay attention to the Buffer property: it’s very useful when the component is under message storming and we want the UI to be refreshed just after a specified delay during which no messages have been received.

What about server-side code? Well, the server-side code is not so relevant in this post. The most important thing to be considered here is that at some point of the server-side command execution, the code retrieves the SignalR hub, selects which clients will receive the RPC (for simplicity, in this example a message is sent to all connected clients) and finally pushes a message containing the data the client needs for updating UI. Here an example:

          .Clients.All.publish("Customers.Added", new CustomerAdded { ...<data for clients>... });

Useful links

Posted in .NET Framework, AJAX, ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, C#, Microsoft Technology, Programming, Web Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

[ASP.NET MVC 2] Splitting DateTime in drop-down lists and model binding

Posted by dariosantarelli on December 26, 2010

OK this is not the classic DateTime picker bound to a textbox… with a jQuery calendar ;).
If you need a custom datetime editor template that splits the datetime parts in drop-down lists like this…

<%= Html.EditorFor(model => model.BirthDate, “Date”) %>

…or like this…


<%= Html.EditorFor(model => model.EventDateTime, “DateTime”) %>

…then this post may help you. As you should know, in ASP.NET MVC 2 the default model binder has some difficulties to combine splitted datetime parts in the View. So, if you need to define a DateTime property in your model and make a custom editor template that splits the DateTime parts in different controls (e.g. TextBox and/or DropDownList), first you should read this smart solution by Scott Hanselman. The idea is to separate the way we render the month field, the day field, the year field etc. from the mechanism that will assemble them back in a DateTime structure for model binding.
Starting from the Global.asax, the first thing to do is to register the Scott’s Custom Model Binder and then specify all the available options (the strings there are the suffixes of the fields in your View that will be holding the Date, the Time, the Day etc.)

ModelBinders.Binders[typeof(DateTime)]  = new DateTimeModelBinder()
  Date = "Date", // Date parts are not splitted in the View
                 // (e.g. the whole date is held by a TextBox  with id “xxx_Date”)
  Time = "Time", // Time parts are not  splitted in the View
                 // (e.g. the whole time  is held by a TextBox with id “xxx_Time”)
  Day = "Day",  
  Month = "Month",
  Year = "Year",
  Hour = "Hour",
  Minute = "Minute",
  Second = "Second"

Now, let’s have a look to template editors. In Views\Shared\EditorTemplates directory we can put two simple templates: Date.ascx and DateTime.ascx. The former renders only the drop-down lists for the date part of the DateTime structure (Month, Day, Year), while the latter renders the time part too. Here the code for Date.ascx:

<%@ Control Language="C#" Inherits="System.Web.Mvc.ViewUserControl<System.DateTime>" %>
<%@ Import Namespace="System.Threading" %>

<%= Html.DropDownListFor(dateTime => dateTime.Month, Enumerable.Range(1, 12).Select(i => new SelectListItem                          
  Value = i.ToString(),                              
  Text = Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentUICulture.DateTimeFormat.GetMonthName(i),                             
  Selected = (i == Model.Month && Model != DateTime.MinValue && Model != DateTime.MaxValue)                         
}),"-- Month --")%>  /

<%= Html.DropDownListFor(dateTime => dateTime.Day, Enumerable.Range(1, 31).Select(i => new SelectListItem                          
  Value = i.ToString(),                              
  Text = i.ToString(),                             
  Selected = (i == Model.Day && Model != DateTime.MinValue && Model != DateTime.MaxValue)                         
}), "-- Day --")%> /

<%= Html.DropDownListFor(dateTime => dateTime.Year, Enumerable.Range(DateTime.Now.Year-110, 110).Select(i => new SelectListItem                           
  Value = i.ToString(),                               
  Text = i.ToString(),                              
  Selected = (i == Model.Year && Model != DateTime.MinValue && Model != DateTime.MaxValue)                          
}), "-- Year --")%>

<%= Html.HiddenFor(dateTime => dateTime.Hour)%>
<%= Html.HiddenFor(dateTime => dateTime.Minute)%>
<%= Html.HiddenFor(dateTime => dateTime.Second)%>

That’s all!
Note that in the template editor above, the Hour, Minute and Second parts are rendered as HTML hidden fileds, because the Scott’s DateTimeModelBinder configured in the Global.asax expects a value for all the six parts of the splitted DateTime structure. It’s just a clean workaround to make the Scott’s model binder work without any change to the original code. In a real implementation hidden fields should be not required ;).

Now, what about validation? Well, both client-side and server-side validations are quite trivial: the server-side validation can be obtained through a custom ValidationAttribute that checks if the DateTime value is correct (e.g. the value should be not equal to DateTime.MinValue or DateTime.MaxValue).

[AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Field | AttributeTargets.Property, AllowMultiple = false, Inherited = true)]
public sealed class DateRequiredAttribute : ValidationAttribute
   public DateRequiredAttribute() : base() { }

   public override string FormatErrorMessage(string name)
     return string.Format(CultureInfo.CurrentUICulture, ErrorMessageString, name);
  public override bool IsValid(object value)
     DateTime dateTime = (DateTime)value;
     return (dateTime != DateTime.MinValue && dateTime != DateTime.MaxValue);           

The corresponding client-side validation adapter can be implemented by deriving the DataAnnotationsModelValidator class. It allows us to specify a remote validation rule from the client. In this scenario, the part of the DateTime structure that could be validated is the Date part.
So, we can create a SplittedDateRequiredValidator in order to check if each drop-down is holding a valid value. To accomplish this requirement, a simple solution is to make the client-side validator aware of the IDs of the <select> elements holding the DateTime’s Month, Day and Year values.

public sealed class SplittedDateRequiredValidator : DataAnnotationsModelValidator<DateRequiredAttribute>
   private string _message;
   private string _dayField;
   private string _monthField;
   private string _yearField;

   public SplittedDateRequiredValidator(ModelMetadata metadata, ControllerContext context, DateRequiredAttribute attribute)
                                        : base(metadata, context, attribute)
      _message = attribute.ErrorMessage;
       _dayField = metadata.PropertyName + "_Day";
       _monthField = metadata.PropertyName + "_Month";
       _yearField = metadata.PropertyName + "_Year";           

   public override IEnumerable<ModelClientValidationRule> GetClientValidationRules()
      ModelClientValidationRule rule = new ModelClientValidationRule
         ErrorMessage = _message,
         ValidationType = "splittedDateRequiredValidator"               

      rule.ValidationParameters.Add("dayFieldId", _dayField);
      rule.ValidationParameters.Add("monthFieldId", _monthField);
      rule.ValidationParameters.Add("yearFieldId", _yearField);

      return new[] { rule };

Before looking at javascript validator code, let’s register the SplittedDateRequiredValidator as the client-side validation adapter for all model properties decorated with the DateRequiredAttribute. To accomplish that, we have to put the following line of code in the Global.asax…

DataAnnotationsModelValidatorProvider.RegisterAdapter(typeof(DateRequiredAttribute), typeof(SplittedDateRequiredValidator));


Finally, the client-side validator will evaluate the selected index of the drop-down lists in order to ensure that the user has selected a valid date (note that the isValidDate function simply checks if the users has specified an existing date).

Sys.Mvc.ValidatorRegistry.validators.splittedDateRequiredValidator = function (rule) {        
  var dayFieldId = rule.ValidationParameters.dayFieldId;    
  var monthFieldId = rule.ValidationParameters.monthFieldId;    
  var yearFieldId = rule.ValidationParameters.yearFieldId;    
  return function (value, context) {                
    var dayIdx = $get(dayFieldId).selectedIndex;        
    var monthIdx = $get(monthFieldId).selectedIndex;        
    var yearIdx = $get(yearFieldId).selectedIndex;        
    if (dayIdx === 0 || monthIdx === 0 || yearIdx === 0) return false;        
    else return isValidDate(parseInt($get(yearFieldId).value), monthIdx, dayIdx);     

isValidDate(y, m, d) {
var date = new
Date(y, m – 1, d);
var convertedDate = “”
+ date.getFullYear() + (date.getMonth() + 1) + date.getDate();
var givenDate = “”
+ y + m + d;
return (givenDate == convertedDate);

Ok let’s put everything together!
Assuming that our model defines a property ”BirthDate” like this…

[DateRequired(ErrorMessage = “Invalid date. Please specify valid values!”)]
public DateTime BirthDate { get; set; }

… if we put the following code in our View…

<% Html.EnableClientValidation(); %>

<%= Html.EditorFor(m => m.BirthDate, “Date”) %><br />
<%= Html.ValidationMessageFor(m => m.BirthDate)

…the output would be, for example, the following…


Posted in ASP.NET MVC | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

[ASP.NET MVC 2] Handling timeouts in asynchronous controllers

Posted by dariosantarelli on October 16, 2010

An important feature of the ASP.NET MVC framework is the possibility of creating asynchronous controllers. As in Asynchronous Pages in ASP.NET 2.0, the aim is to avoid a “thread starvation” in your web application, preventing web clients to receive a bad 503 status code (Server too busy). In fact, when the Web Server receives a request, a thread is taken from the application threadpool mantained by the .NET Framework. In a synchronous scenario, this thread lives (and can’t be reused) until all the operations complete. Well, asynchronous pipeline is better when the logic creates bottlenecks waiting for network-bound or I/O-bound operations. Considering that an asynchronous request takes the same amount of time to process as a synchronous request, minimizing the number of threads waiting for blocking operations is a good practice, particularly appreciated by your Web server when it’s bombarded by hundreds of concurrent requests. Now, have a look to this simple asynchronous controller:

public class CustomersController : AsyncController



   public void ListAsync()



     Task.Factory.StartNew(() =>


       try { AsyncManager.Parameters["result"] = new MyServiceClient().GetCustomers(); }

       catch (Exception ex) { … }

       finally { AsyncManager.OutstandingOperations.Decrement(); }




   public ActionResult ListCompleted(List<Customer> result)


     return View("List", result);




   protected override void OnException(ExceptionContext filterContext)


     if (filterContext.Exception is TimeoutException)


       filterContext.Result = RedirectToAction("TryAgainLater");

       filterContext.ExceptionHandled = true;





By default, ASP.NET MVC won’t call the ListCompleted method until the AsyncManager associated with the request says that there is no outstanding asynchronous operations. But it’s possible that one or more asynchronous operations might never complete!!! Moreover, if the callback for one of your asynchronous operations throws an exception before it calls the AsyncManager.OutstandingOperations.Decrement() method, the request will keep waiting a decrement until it times out! So, putting the AsyncManager.OutstandingOperations.Decrement() call inside a finally block would be fine :).
The AsyncManager object has a built-in default timeout set to 45 seconds, so if the count of outstanding operations doesn’t reach zero after this long, the framework will throw a System.TimeOutException to abort the request. If you want to set a different timeout you can use the AsyncTimeout filter for specifying a different duration. If you want to allow asynchronous operations to run for an unlimited period, then use the NoAsyncTimeout filter instead.

Finally, we have to say that most applications will have an ASP.NET global exception handler that will deal with timeout exceptions in the same way as other unhandled exceptions. But if you want to treat timeouts in a custom way, providing a different feedback to the user, you can create your own exception filter or you can override the controller’s OnException() method (e.g. to redirect users to a special “Try again later” page).

Posted in ASP.NET | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »