Creating Super Printer-Friendly Pages

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Sunday, January 21, 2007 11:42:55 AM in: Web General

Don't you just hate it? You find a good article somewhere on the Internet and you decide to print it so you can read it later. But when you read it, you find out that all the links in the article are missing. All you see is something like "Click here to read this other very interesting document". On the web site, the word here links to some kind of other document, but on paper that is pretty useless. The only option you have left is to revisit the original article, find the link and follow it.

Fortunately, with a little bit of JavaScript and some DOM modification, it's easy to improve your user's experience, even long after they have visited your site and printed parts of the content.

Read on ...

Measuring the Size of Uploaded Images

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Saturday, January 20, 2007 2:17:26 PM in: ASP.NET 2.0

In an earlier snippet I showed you how to measure the size of an image on disk. In a more recent post I explained how to work with an in-memory representation of an uploaded file and attach it to an e-mail message.

If you combine the two concepts you end up with a solution that allows you to check the dimensions of an uploaded file, so you can reject it if it doesn't have the correct dimensions before you save it to disk.

Read on ...

Building Layered Web Applications with Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 - Part 1

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Sunday, January 14, 2007 5:19:16 PM in: ASP.NET 2.0

Update!! - I have written a new series on N-Layer design targeting ASP.NET 4.5 and Entity Framework 5. You can check out the new series here.

Update!! 12-24-2008 - I have written a new series on N-Layer design as a major follow up to this one. It builds on the foundation created in this first series, but digs much deeper into concepts like Validation, Sorting, Paging, Concurrency and Security. You can check out the new series here.

Update!! 04-25-2007 - There is now also a VB.NET version of the code available for download. You find the download at the end of this article. For more information about the translation, check out this blog post.

This is part 1 of the article series "Building Layered Web Applications" that shows you how to build N-Layer applications with Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0. These articles teach you how to design, build and use custom business objects in your web application. The target audience for this series are developers that are ready to make the switch from using SqlDataSource controls to ObjectDataSource controls with custom business objects. Experience with ASP.NET 2 and C# is necessary while some knowledge about object oriented design certainly helps. The design I am going to show you in these articles is a simplified version of a design you would use in a real world application. It doesn't feature all the necessary functionality your application needs, but instead focuses on the underlying concepts.

What's important to realize is that this is *my* take at layered design for web applications. I won't say this is *the* design for the problem, or the only right one. In fact, I am sure some will judge this as "not the right one". However, it's a design that has worked for me in the past and still works today. It works best in many day-to-day small to medium sized web sites. You know, the kind of sites many of you (including myself) are building right now.

Part one deals with the design of the application: what business objects do you need to fulfill the requirements of the application? What should these objects be capable of and how do they look? How do these business objects interact with other parts of the system? Part two then shows you how to implement the code for these objects, while part three deals with using the business objects in a real-world web application.

The entire series (including this current article) can be found here:

The article uses a SQL Server 2005 Express database which is easy to use in development scenario's. However, the downloads for this series also come with the T-SQL scripts to recreate the database in SQL Server 2000 or SQL Server 2005. You'll find the download link at the end of this article. Besides the forementioned SQL scripts and database, the download also contains the full source for the demo application in C#.

Read on ...

Something New to Discover Every Day...

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Thursday, January 11, 2007 3:03:16 PM in: Imar's Blogs
I didn't know it before, but it turns out I am an Iron Man....
Read on ...

Storing Uploaded Files in a Database or in the File System with ASP.NET 2.0

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Saturday, January 6, 2007 4:12:08 PM in: ASP.NET 2.0

Update 2010/08/10: I just posted an article featuring a new version of this application based on the Provider Model design pattern. You can find the article here.

A common requirement in web sites is handling client files that are uploaded through the browser. Whether these files come from a protected Admin section where content managers can upload files, or from a public section doesn't matter; you need a way to retrieve and store these files in your system somewhere so they are available for viewers.

Allowing a user to upload a file is easy; just drop a FileUpload control on your page and .NET will handle the rest for you. However, it's after the file gets uploaded to the server where things get interesting. One of the things you have to take into account is where you're going to store the uploaded file. Two common places are the hard drive of your server and a database. There has been a lot of debate on the Internet about the best way to store your files. Some say the file system is the only acceptable option, while others really like the database solution.

In this article I'll show you how to store files both ways. I'll discuss the pros and cons of each solution, and show you the code you need to save your uploaded files. As a sample application, I'll build a small web site that allows you to upload files and store them at a location that you determine. You can decide where the files are stored through a simple setting in the web.config file. Depending on this setting, files are either stored directly at the hard drive of your server or in a database. You can even change this setting at run-time without affecting existing files.

Read on ...

Using the ValidatorCallout control in Combination with ASP.NET 2 Templated Controls

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Saturday, December 16, 2006 3:50:45 PM in: ASP.NET 2.0

Now that the release date for the final version of ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 is getting closer (RC1 was released on December 14 2006), I decided to dig a little deeper in its feature set and see what it has to offer. I also looked at the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit and the new controls that are part of this toolkit.

One of those new controls is the ValidatorCallout extender control that displays a big yellow call out with the error message.

Read on ...

Sending Attachments Directly From a FileUpload Control

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Friday, December 8, 2006 3:25:45 PM in: ASP.NET 2.0

With previous versions of ASP.NET you couldn't attach an uploaded file directly to a mail message. Instead, you needed to save the file to disk, attach it to the mail message and then when sending the message succeeded you had to clean up the old file again.

This not only meant a lot of work, it also had some security implications. Because the file needed to be written to disk, the account used by the web server required write permissions to a folder to store the attachments.

Now, with the new constructors for the Attachment class from the System.Net.Mail namespace, these problems are gone....

Read on ...

Building a Simple Rating Control for ASP.NET 2.0

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Wednesday, December 6, 2006 12:21:34 PM in: .NET General

UPDATE: 16-7-2008 I have updated the control and wrote a new article about it. This new release fixes a few bugs and comes with a better sample web site to try out the control. Check out the new article here.

To show visitors of your site how other visitors feel about the content you're presenting on your site, it's good idea to let your visitors rate your content.

Many web sites take this approach. For example, Amazon uses a 5 star rating approach to rate the articles they're selling. Microsoft's MSDN site uses a nine-bar graph to display the quality of their (technical) articles. My own site uses a five-bar graph to let users rate an article (in the left hand column). Since there are many uses for a rating feature, it makes sense to encapsulate the rating mechanism in a custom ASP.NET Server Control. This article shows you how to build such a control.

Read on ...

Changing the Login Control to Display a List of Users

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Wednesday, December 6, 2006 10:07:10 AM in: ASP.NET 2.0

A while ago I saw this post on the P2P Wrox forum (near the middle of the thread) where the poster asked for a way to replace the standard TextBox in the asp:Login control with a list of user names from the system. He didn't mind the lowered security implications of this solution and instead wanted to make it a little easier for users to login. With his proposed solution, a user can pick a name from the list, enter a password and log in. I guess fewer things to remember means fewer calls to the helpdesk.

It turns out this is actually quite easy to do.

Read on ...

Implemented Google Search

Posted by: Imar Spaanjaars at Wednesday, December 6, 2006 7:55:13 AM in: Imar's Blogs
This week I finally had the time to change the Search page of my web site. Up until this week, searches were performed with a custom search solution, that understood a simple form of boolean logic. However, that solution certainly had its limitations.
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