Category Archives: Projects

Idea wall

160403_Insulation

I have been a fan of cards on a wall for years. I buy the 1/2″ 4’x8′ sheets of insulation. In the past, they were about $8, but the latest at Home Depot is more like 14.

In my current setup, I added a few curtain rails along the top of my whiteboard. Then, I cut the insulation boards down to a smaller size and use them for “cork boards”.

Here is a recent example of one of my boards.
IMG_1755

Luke – What is this board for?

He came in this morning and asked why I had all the cards on the board. I figured it would be easier to show him than to explain it. I grabbed a clean board and we started “brainstorming” the treehouse he wants to build. He likes things a little more visual, so I printed some pics and attached them to the cards.
IMG_1757

When I first put the clean board up and told him it was for the treehouse, he was pretty skeptical. I believe he was thinking were going to actually start building the treehouse right now. However, once we got a few cards on the board, I think he got the idea. He is a fan now (although, I am sure he rather just have the treehouse)
IMG_1758

Here is an example of the top of the board where you can see the curtain rods. And, I know you are wondering… Yes, I did wrap the edge in a little Duct tape just to give it that professional look. 🙂
IMG_1761

Microservices – my recent journey

Summary


I have been watching videos and reading for the past couple months about Microservices. It is very timely, since I have been doing maintenance work on a monolith project, parts of which are more than 10 years old.

I wanted to create this page to have a place to reference some of the material I have found along the way.

Mastering Chaos – A Netflix Guide to Microservices

It is always good to gain more insight into how things work at Netflix. In this video, Josh Evans covers this history of the early Netflix to today, and some of where it is headed.

Little Boy Dominoes Topple Out of the Tent

Ok, this one is not so much about Microservices as it is just 24 seconds of funny. I saw this video as part of a talk where the lady was making the point that we don’t realize the impact of design decisions unless we measure (or in this case watch) our product (API) being used. The mom laughing as she films it and the final boy make me laugh every time.

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Spotify Engineering Culture part 1


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Spotify Engineering Culture part 2


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Challenges in Implementing MicroServices

This video is from Fred George. I have it set to begin where he starts talking about rivers, streams, and ponds. From there, he blends into the car rental application which is a great example of an incremental application.

Here is an expanded and more recent version of that same talk.

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Microservices • Martin Fowler


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A Day in the Life of a Netflix Engineer


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Microservices @ Spotify

Kevin Goldsmith going into more detail about how Spotify uses Microservices.

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Microsoft Azure Service Bus Brokered Messaging Deep Dive

Alan Smith – the same guy that does the PluralSight course on the same subject. With the speed of Azure, this may be a little dated, but I think the majority of it still applies.

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Agile is Dead • Pragmatic Dave Thomas


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Agile Product Ownership in a Nutshell

This is the same guy that did the Spotify culture videos.

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“The Eight Fallacies of Distributed Computing”

by Stephen Asbury. I liked this video where he is trying to shed some light on the issues of distributed computing. He is not saying, “Don’t do it”. Instead, I think he is just helping to remind us of the things to be aware of and code for.

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Wunderlist – Chat Fowler

From Homogeneous Monolith to Radically Heterogeneous Microservices Architecture

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Applying the Saga Pattern

Caitie McCaffrey

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Patterns and Practices for Real-World Event-Driven Microservices

This lady is from Jet (that wants to compete with Amazon) and they are a big Azure and F# shop

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Juval Lowy on Microservices

This is a very smart guy talking about Microservices and how to think of them. The volumne is a little low, but it is definately worth watching.
https://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/raw-tech/Juval-Lowy-On-Microservices
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Azure, SignalR, & Redis File Validation Site

Summary

This project was to develop a site to validate files. The user will drop a .csv file on the page (or click the Browse button to find a file). After the file is uploaded, it will be analyzed to determine if it matches the expected format.

This was an Azure project from the beginning, which made it fun. I was also able to use SignalR to provide immediate feedback to the user as the file was being analyzed. I use Redis on the server to store the results for the last 7 days. Purging old results is automatic, since Redis can expire a key after a set number of days.

The site uses FluentValidation for the many rules to check the file. This tool made some pretty complex validation much easier. It also helped eliminate what would have been a bunch of repetitious code.

Screens

Main Screen

When the user loads the site, this is the first screen they see. They can either drop a file on this page or click the browse button for a file picker dialog.
The User textbox and associated button was a temporary way of grouping SignalR messages. The name really should have been changed to Group instead of user. The idea is that everybody listening in Group “Fred” would receive the same messages. This is important because of the next screen.

150722_Clean

Receiving File Screen

As the file is being analyzed, results are being sent back to the browser. The top 5 errors encountered are entered in the green list (not sure why I made it green). The gauge animates to show the number of lines processed.
150722_ErrorsGreen

Upload Complete Screen

When the analysis is complete, the user will either see a green check mark indicating the file is good, or they will see the green check mark with the red “not” circle indicating there were problems. A DataTables grid appears at the bottom of the page where they can view all the errors (using paging).

150722_Failure

History List Screen

The user can view the history for the last 7 days. This screen had as much value to me as the developer as it did to the user. Before I added this screen, I would get an email saying some file didn’t validate. The email was not very descriptive as to why it didn’t validate and I was left searching log messages to figure out the problem. This screen allowed me to easily see why a file failed validation. I added a date picker to select the day and view the results.
150722_HistoryList

History Detail Screen

Once a file is clicked from the History List Screen, this screen displays the detailed error messages for that file.
150722_HistoryGrid

Code

Code Coverage

I know how rare it is to get 97% code coverage. I have been on projects where we were happy with 75-80% (and many where we had none). This was really helpful when we needed to do a version 1.1 of this project. I made the required changes, ran my tests. Some of them were broke, as they should have been, based on the new requirements. I fixed those tests and added a few more.
I highlighted the catch block above, since that is the code that is hardest for me to get code coverage on. I know many people would eliminate the try/catch and let it bubble up. That would “fix” the code coverage issue, but I am not really sure that is a fix. In my experience, I like to catch the error as close to where it happened as possible. Often, I can add parameters that were passed to the method in the error handler so I know what value it was working with when the error occurred.

CodeCover_141027

Code Execution Time

We all agree that our unit tests should be fast so they can be run often. However, this was another one of those rare cases that I don’t see on most projects. It ran all 130 tests in under 2 seconds.
TestsPassed_141002_1130

Technology / Tools

  • C#
  • SignalR
  • Redis
  • Azure
  • FluentValidation
  • AngularJS
  • DataTables
  • DropZone

NoSql, YesSql, MaybeSql – A hybrid approach

UPDATE: I don’t usually claim something as an original idea. Anything formed in my brain is just an amalgamation of the videos I have watched and the stuff I have read. For this idea of just creating a JSON field in each table, I don’t remember seeing it anywhere else before. That is why I thought it was neat when I was perusing the Octopus tables today, and I noticed they also include a JSON field in each table. They even went as far as to make theirs Not Null, which I didn’t do.
OctopusJson

Others can argue when to use Sql vs a NoSql solution. There is a time and place for each. I have went down both paths and there usually comes a time where the grass looks a little greener on the other side. Sql is great for creating related tables and helping to ensure referential integrity at the database level. However, it can be a little cumbersome to add one simple field to an existing table. Even if you are doing migrations from code, there is some work involved.

On the other hand, NoSql is great at handling this “jagged” data. You simple add new properties to your json object and store it. However, the problem I have had with NoSql in the past is that you have to put more thought into your data design up front to know how you will want to pull it out. Often, ad hoc queries require a full table scan. Some of these things may no longer be true, but who can keep up with how quickly things change around us?

Anyway, in some recent work, I stumbled across an approach that I think combines the benefits of both approaches. Others have probably been doing some version of this for years, but it just clicked for me the other day. The “trick” is to create a VARCHAR(max) field where we can store a json object. This gives me most of the relational goodness of Sql along with the ability to easily add “minor” fields, without touching the database. This will not work for “major” fields that are a key to another table or something that is going to be searched often. However, for something like adding a link to store the gravatar on a user record, this can be pretty sweet.

Finally, some code. Here is the script I use to create a table. The key is line 21, where I add my JsonData field. Any table that might need “extended” in the future gets this new field.

150721_SqlPerson

Here is the C# code for the Person object.

public class Person : EntityBase
{
    public long PersonId { get; set; }
    public long TenantId { get; set; }
    public string FirstName { get; set; }
    public string LastName { get; set; }

    public Person_NoSql NoSql { get; set; }

    public Person()
    {
        NoSql = new Person_NoSql();
    }

    public string JsonData
    {
        get { return JsonConvert.SerializeObject(NoSql); }
        set { NoSql = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<Person_NoSql>(value); }
    }

    public class Person_NoSql
    {
        public string UrlAvatar { get; set; }
        public string AnyOtherField { get; set;}
    }
}

The code to use the new property is pretty simple.

Person person = mgr.GetPerson(personId);

if (!ReferenceEquals(null, person))
{                       
    FirstName = person.FirstName;
    LastName = person.LastName;

    UrlAvatar = person.NoSql.UrlAvatar;
    AnyOtherField = person.NoSql.AnyOtherField;
}

I am using Dapper for the data layer. When it sees a JsonData field returned from a query, it maps it to the JsonData string property on the object. As far as Dapper knows, this is just another string field.

That is pretty much it. I thought this would be a longer post, but in the words of the great “Forrest Gump”, That’s all I have to say about that

Sql Server Stored Procedure Template

Summary

Have you ever written that “perfect” piece of code to handle some situation? You spend hours reading blogs and other code, and you finally pull it all together in a version that works in your project. In your mind, you know that since you just spent a few hours on this, there is no way you are going to forget it. In a future project when you will need this same code, you will just “remember” it was in xyz project. Well, for me, I start out that way, but I soon realize that I can’t remember where I did it. To my credit, I usually at least remember that I did it, I just don’t know where. While I love BareGrep as much as anybody, it is a bit like Google. If you don’t enter the right search terms, you still don’t find it.

So this post (and future posts like it) are an attempt to put that code in “one place” where I hope to be able to find it down the road. If the chunk of code is not worth a blog post, then it must not have been that impressive after all. 🙂

This morning, I was trying to to implement error handling in my catch block. I found a chunk of code I had used in the past, and it was rolling back transactions, which reminded me that I had forgot to put that in the current sproc I was working on. At that point, I started this post. Below are some notes that should be helpful to me in the future. I hope they will benefit you as well.

Header Comment

Include some kind of comment. I include a PRINT statement, which helps in the SqlCmd (future post) script that calls this. This also includes the DROP/CREATE approach which I like to do for sprocs.

/*
  Revision History
    4Jul15  ScottB  Initial Version
*/
PRINT 'ProceduresCall_spt.sql'

SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO

SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO

-- http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms190324(v=sql.100).aspx
IF (OBJECT_ID(N'call.Call_spt', 'P') IS NOT NULL ) BEGIN
   DROP PROCEDURE call.Call_spt
   PRINT '   Dropped';
END
GO

SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO
CREATE PROCEDURE call.Call_spt
	@xml XML
AS
...

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Initial Variables

Declare a couple variables at the very beginning that will be needed later. The @tranCount is needed to be able to commit and rollback transactions. The @tenantId is needed in the Error handler, so we set it outside the BEGIN TRY (not sure if this is necessary in TSQL, but it would be in C#).

BEGIN
	SET NOCOUNT ON;

	DECLARE @tranCount INT = @@TRANCOUNT;
	-- Default to System, but it should get reset below.
    DECLARE @tenantId INT = 1; 

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BEGIN TRANSACTION ?? / COMMIT

As close as possible to your actual Insert or Update, you need a block like this. It handles the situation where we were already in a transaction (possibly from a calling sproc).

IF (@tranCount = 0) BEGIN
   BEGIN TRANSACTION
END ELSE BEGIN
   SAVE TRANSACTION Call_spt
END

-- Insert or Update ...

IF (@tranCount = 0) BEGIN
   COMMIT TRANSACTION 
END

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Catch Block

This next block is assuming that the prior code was in a TRY CATCH block.

BEGIN CATCH

    DECLARE @xstate INT = XACT_STATE();
    IF @xstate = -1 BEGIN
       ROLLBACK TRANSACTION
    END
    IF @xstate = 1 AND @tranCount = 0 BEGIN
       ROLLBACK TRANSACTION
    END
    IF @xstate = 1 AND @tranCount > 0 BEGIN
       ROLLBACK TRANSACTION Call_spt
    END

    PRINT 'Error ' + CONVERT(varchar(50), ERROR_NUMBER()) +
          ', Severity ' + CONVERT(varchar(5), ERROR_SEVERITY()) +
          ', State ' + CONVERT(varchar(5), ERROR_STATE()) + 
          ', Procedure ' + ISNULL(ERROR_PROCEDURE(), '-') + 
          ', Line ' + CONVERT(varchar(5), ERROR_LINE());
    PRINT ERROR_MESSAGE();        

    EXEC tenant.ReThrowError_spt @tenantId

    RETURN -1;
END CATCH	

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Footer for all pages on site

Summary


During the testing portion of a recent server move, I wanted to be sure the user knew they were on the test server. It seemed simple enough, and the solution I ended up with was not difficult.

There was one “critical” piece that probably cost me an extra couple hours, and it turned out to be one of those “one liners”. It is the second line in the snippet below (urlCompression…)

Example

Example Footer
I realize the orange has a certain “Home Depot” look to it, but I wanted it to be clear for the user. I even got to use a marquee for the first time in more than 10 years (they were hot, back in the day).

This article is a step-by-step with screen shots, but I was getting an Error 500 when I enable the rule.

I added this to the bottom of the web.confg files.

    <system.webServer>
     <urlCompression doDynamicCompression="false" />
        <rewrite>
            <outboundRules>
                <rule name="AddPageFooter" preCondition="IsHtml" enabled="true">
                    <match filterByTags="None" pattern="&lt;/body>" />
                    <action type="Rewrite" value="&lt;marquee loop=&quot;1&quot; behavior=&quot;alternate&quot; style='background-color: #ff5500; color: white; width=100% text-align: center; font-size: 14pt; padding: 5px;'&gt;Test Site (not Home Depot)&lt;/marquee&gt;" />
                </rule>
                <preConditions>
                    <preCondition name="IsHtml">
                        <add input="{RESPONSE_CONTENT_TYPE}" pattern="^text/html" />
                    </preCondition>
                </preConditions>
                <customTags>
                    <tags name="body" />
                </customTags>
            </outboundRules>
        </rewrite>
    </system.webServer>

Here is the html I used for the message before I encoded it (using the
string encoder at http://www.whatsmyip.org)
I believe the “text-align” was a holdover from where I started with a div. It should probably come out, but this is already deployed, so I will leave it.


<marquee loop="1" behavior="alternate" style='background-color: #ff5500;
color: white; width=100% text-align: center; font-size: 14pt; 
padding: 5px;'>Test Site (not Home Depot)</marquee>

Example
Test Site (not Home Depot)

Trello Interface for Daily Printed ToDo Page

Summary


This project had two major goals. First, I wanted to filter Trello cards based on tags.
If you are not familiar with Trello, it is described as

.. the fastest, easiest way to organize anything, from your day-to-day work, to a favorite side project, to your greatest life plans.

It is an easy way to organize information into lists, which is how my mind works. This video gives a nice introduction.

One current drawback with Trello is the lack of support for Tags. They do provide 6 different color coded labels. This is nice, but just not enough. Although I am not a perfect follower of the David Allen method of Getting Things Done, I do try to organize my tasks using his methods.

In addition to adding a “little GTD” to Trello, I also wanted to output a page that was formatted for a printer. The idea is that I would print the page each morning and carry it with me throughout the day. I would mark it up, add notes and new tasks. I would draw a line through completed tasks and even have a place to Doodle during meetings. Then, at the end of the day or the next morning before I print a new page, I would update Trello with the notes from the paper.

Description

One issue I am sure the Trello dev team has encountered with tags is the fact that cards are usually viewed by more than one user. Each user wants “their own” tags that makes sense to them. However, as a team, users may want a common set of tags.

Here is my original list of tags:

  • +call = Calls that need to be placed
  • +dead = Brain dead tasks for when we can’t focus.
  • +dash = Things that can be done in under 15 minutes
  • +email = Emails that need to be sent
  • +errand = Things we need to do/get while out
  • +focus = Requires dedicated time and concentration
  • +paper = Tasks that only require a pen & paper (Brainstorming)

The idea is that I would just enter “+call” anywhere in the description and then I could filter all the cards that contained that tag. This works for a single user, but one of the huge benefits of Trello is that other people are viewing and editing those same cards.

The Kludge I came up with to solve this issue was to “prefix” the tag with the user initials. Now, my tag list became:

  • +jsb-call = Calls that need to be placed
  • +jsb-email = Emails that need to be sent
  • +jsb-errand = Things we need to do/get while out
  • +jsb-focus = Requires dedicated time and concentration

(I dropped a few out that I was no longer using)
I add these tags in the card description. Now, I just needed an easy way to filter the cards. This is where the Trello REST API steps up.

Proof of Concept

For my POC, I created a Winforms applicaiton. Here is a screen capture:
DailyActions01
Yes, I went a little crazy with the colors, but I never claimed to be a designer (I can’t even match a pair of socks). If it helps any, remember that the goal is for the page to be printed. That is the reason for the underscores before each task. The calendars don’t really do anything on the web page, but are just there as a reference on the printed page. I also included the tag list as a reminder on the page.
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Page Template

I created an html template for the page. The body of the template is shown below. The CSS is also included in the page, but I left it out for this example.

<body>
    <div>
        <div style="float: right;">
            <div style="text-align: right;">
                <table>
                    <tr valign="top">
                        <td>
                            <span id="datePrior" style="font-size: 7px;"></span>
                        </td>
                        <td>
                            <span id="dateNext" style="font-size: 7px;"></span>
                        </td>
                    </tr>
                </table>
                <table>
                    <tr valign="top">
                        <td>
                            <span id="dateCurrent" style="font-size: 10px;"></span>
                        </td>
                        <td>
                            <div style="text-align: left;">
                                <span class="TagCaption">Tags</span><br />
                                <span class="TagList">+{{TagPrefix}}-call</span><br />
                                <span class="TagList">+{{TagPrefix}}-email</span><br />
                                <span class="TagList">+{{TagPrefix}}-errand</span><br />
                                <span class="TagList">+{{TagPrefix}}-focus</span><br />
                                <span class="TagList">+{{TagPrefix}}-next</span><br />
                                <span class="TagList">+{{TagPrefix}}-waiting</span><br />
                            </div>
                        </td>
                    </tr>
                </table>
            </div>
            <h2 class="CaptionCall">Appointments / Calls</h2>
            {{call}}
            <h2 class="CaptionAssigned">Assigned To Me</h2>
            {{@me}}
        </div>
        <div style="float: left;">
            <h1>{{Date}}<span class="Time">{{Time}}</span></h1>
            <h2 class="CaptionFocus">Focus</h2>
            {{focus}}
            <h2 class="CaptionNext">Next Actions</h2>
            {{next}}
            <h2 class="CaptionNote">Notes</h2>
        </div>
    </div>
</body>

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View Objects

I created my own objects that contain only the few properties I care about for my view.


    public class TrelloBoard
    {
        public string Id { get; set; }
        public string Text { get; set; }
        public string OrgText { get; set; }
    }

    public class TrelloList
    {
        public string Id { get; set; }
        public string Text { get; set; }
    }

    public class TrelloCard
    {
        public string OrgText { get; set; }
        public string BoardText { get; set; }
        public string ListText { get; set; }
        public string Text { get; set; }
        public string Url { get; set; }
    }

CreatePage Method

Here is the method called to replace the tokens in the template. It looks for some specific tokens. If it finds a token that is not one of the pre-defined values, it calls the method to query Trello for that value.

private void CreatePage(ITrelloData data)
{
    try
    {
        string templateFile = Path.Combine(Application.StartupPath, "DailyActions_Template.html");
        string htmlFile = Path.Combine(Application.StartupPath, "DailyActions.html");

        string html = File.ReadAllText(templateFile);

        string regEx = "{{.*?}}";

        MatchCollection tokenList = Regex.Matches(html, regEx, RegexOptions.IgnoreCase);

        foreach (Match match in tokenList)
        {
            switch (match.Value.ToLower())
            {
                case "{{date}}":
                    {
                        string date = dateTimePicker1.Value.ToLongDateString();
                        html = html.Replace(match.Value, date);
                        break;
                    }
                case "{{time}}":
                    {
                        string time = dateTimePicker1.Value.ToLongTimeString();
                        html = html.Replace(match.Value, time);
                        break;
                    }
                case "{{tagprefix}}":
                    {
                        html = html.Replace(match.Value, txtTagPrefix.Text);
                        break;
                    }
                default:
                    {
                        List<TrelloCard> cards = data.GetCardsForQuery(match.Value);
                        html = html.Replace(match.Value, GetActionsHtml(cards));
                        break;
                    }
            }
        }

        File.WriteAllText(htmlFile, html);

        webBrowser1.Navigate(htmlFile);
    }
    catch (Exception ex)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("Exception: " + ex.ToString());
    }
}

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GetCardsForQuery Method

public List<TrelloCard> GetCardsForQuery(string token)
{
    // Returns an ordered list of Trello cards that have only the
    // properties from the the Board and List that are required
    // for the view.

    // Remove the token delimiters.
    string query = token.Replace("{", "").Replace("}", "");

    // Trello uses the "@" for specific queries.  If this is not one of 
    // those queries, we need to add the tag prefix (user initials) and
    // surround the query with quotes.
    if (!query.Contains("@"))
    {
        query = """ + "+" + _tagPrefix + "-" + query + """;
    }

    List<TrelloCard> retVal = new List<TrelloCard>();
    List<TrelloBoard> boards = new List<TrelloBoard>();
    List<TrelloList> lists = new List<TrelloList>();

    IEnumerable<Card> cards = _trello.Cards.Search(query, 1000);

    foreach (var card in cards)
    {
        TrelloCard trelloCard = new TrelloCard
        {
            Url = card.Url,
            Text = card.Name
        };

        TrelloBoard trelloBoard = boards.Find(b => b.Id == card.IdBoard);
        if (trelloBoard == null)
        {
            trelloBoard = new TrelloBoard { Id = card.IdBoard };
            Board board = _trello.Boards.WithId(card.IdBoard);
            trelloBoard.Text = board.Name;
            trelloBoard.OrgText = _trello.Organizations.WithId(board.IdOrganization).DisplayName;
            boards.Add(trelloBoard);
        }
        trelloCard.BoardText = trelloBoard.Text;
        trelloCard.OrgText = trelloBoard.OrgText;

        TrelloList list = lists.Find(b => b.Id == card.IdList);
        if (list == null)
        {
            list = new TrelloList { Id = card.IdList };
            list.Text = _trello.Lists.WithId(card.IdList).Name;
            lists.Add(list);
        }
        trelloCard.ListText = list.Text;

        retVal.Add(trelloCard);
    }

    retVal = retVal.OrderBy(o => o.OrgText + "-" + o.BoardText + "-" + o.Text).ToList();

    return retVal;
}

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GetActionsHtml Method

Returns an Html unordered list grouped by Organization and Board.

private string GetActionsHtml(List<TrelloCard> actionList)
{
    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();

    string org = "";
    string board = "";
    foreach (TrelloCard nextAction in actionList)
    {
        if (nextAction.OrgText != org)
        {
            if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(org))
            {
                sb.Append("</ul>");
                board = ""; // Since the Org is changing, clear the board.
            }
            sb.AppendFormat("<div class='Organization'>{0}</div>", nextAction.OrgText);
            sb.AppendLine();

            if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(board))
            { sb.Append("</ul>"); }
            sb.AppendFormat("<div class='Board'>{0}</div>", nextAction.BoardText);

            sb.AppendLine();
            sb.Append("<ul>");

            org = nextAction.OrgText;
            board = nextAction.BoardText;
        }
        sb.AppendFormat("<li>_ <a href='{0}' target='trello'>{1}</a><span class='List'>{2}</span></li>",
            nextAction.Url, nextAction.Text, nextAction.ListText);
        sb.AppendLine();
    }
    sb.Append("</ul>");
    sb.AppendLine();

    return sb.ToString();
}

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Future Plans

  • Convert to Asp.Net MVC site, allow others to use it.
  • Schedule page to be ran daily and emailed

Technology

Visual Basic 6 Programming

Visual Basic was fun. I considered using VB2 for one project, but without database support, it was not the right fit. When VB3 came along with database support, I was in. I lived through the VB4 16/32 bit issues and fought the DLL Hell that was just a part of life back then. When VB6 finally came along and was so solid that the programs actually ran and did what we expected, it was very refreshing. I programmed in Visual Basic for many years.

This is a small example of a function I wrote to be able to log messages that contained binary information. A big part of our programming was serial communications, and the low ASCII chars wreaked havoc on the log files.
I am not offering this as the perfect example of VB6 programming. However, it does show that we had a convention for naming variables and parameters. It also include error handling, which was automatically added and removed from a VB6 Addin I wrote (we called it CodeBuddy).


Public Function wb_ConvertFromBinary(pstrMsg As String) As String
   On Error GoTo ErrorHandler:

   Dim intLoop As Integer
   Dim intLen As Integer
   Dim strReturn As String
   Dim strChar As String
   Dim blnBinary As Boolean
   
   intLen = Len(pstrMsg)
   blnBinary = False
   
   For intLoop = 1 To intLen
   
      strChar = Mid(pstrMsg, intLoop, 1)
      If Asc(strChar) < 32 Then
         blnBinary = True
         strChar = "<" & Right("00" & Asc(strChar), 3) & ">"
      End If
      strReturn = strReturn & strChar
      DoEvents
   Next intLoop

   If blnBinary Then
      strReturn = "BIN:" & strReturn
   End If
   
   wb_ConvertFromBinary = strReturn
   
   Exit Function
ErrorHandler:
   wb_LogError "WBSCommon/wb_ConvertFromBinary", Err.Description, Err.Number, Erl

End Function

SSH Interface to Siemens HiPath 4000 Phone Switch

Summary

The purpose for this project was to change the class of service for a specific extension on a Siemens HiPath 4000 Phone Switch. It connects with the switch over the network using SSH.

Description

The heavy lifting on this project is provided by the Jscape SSH component. We had used their Telnet component on another project, and found it very reliable and pretty easy to implement.

TODO: Code Samples and Screen shots.

Technology

BooksForLuke – Web Site

BflLogo

Summary

This site is more of a landing page than an actual site. The purpose of this page was to give people an easy way to contact us to donate books or find out more about what we are doing.

Banner Design

Since the site is just one page, I figured if I got help with a decent banner, I could put together the rest of the site. I created a project on 48HoursLogos asking for help with designing the banner. Here is the initial page I created to help the designers see how simple this site really was. (The original name was TammyBook.com). I was only asking them for something to replace the TammyBook.com banner at the top.
TammyBook_com
Here are some of the submissions I received.
Img07
Img06
Img05
Img04
I like them all and they each have their strengths. However, when I saw the last one with the children, I was hooked.  I had thought about a building block to convey the idea that this site is about children.  I worked with the designer, and he came up with the next version.

Img03
This is closer, but the block didn’t look like the classic building block I was thinking of. I found a picture on Google and uploaded it for him to see what I was thinking.

This was the final contest winner. He added the “lines” in the block and produced this.
Good design to me is like obscenity. I may not be able to describe it, but I know it when I see it. This one just worked for me.
Img02

With his banner, the site currently looked like this. I thought it looked pretty good. The font used is Kristen ITC. It is intended to be a “child” font and considering the site, seemed right to me. Here is what the site looked like with the new banner.

BflWeb01

Since my designer had raised the bar of how the site should look, I asked if he would suggest any other changes on the site. He came up with this.

BooksForLuke_140219a

I was “nearly” convinced. I liked the the new site. My only concern was that it may look a little “too polished” and we might lose the personal connection with the visitors. I submitted the two versions in a FeedBack Army project to get some feedback from other people. To my surprise, some people actually preferred the first site, but the majority liked the new site.

Amazon Email

When a visitor fills out the form on the site, we receive an email Using the Amazon SES SMTP Interface.

Technology

  • Asp.Net MVC, C#, Razor
  • Amazon SES SMTP