Accepting Invalid SSL Certificates in .NET WCF Clients

There are times when SSL certificates are used to verify identity and to provide TLS and there are cases when only the wire encryption matters.  In the later case, I sometimes need to be able handle server certificates that are not valid by SSL’s standard rules.  This could be because the cert is not signed by a trusted certificate authority or is expired, etc.  When I encounter this problem and am for various reasons unable to deal with the root cause, there is a simple technique that allows you to plug in your own strategy to determine certificate validity.

Basically you do the following:

  • In a seam of bootstrapping code, you’ll want to add a ServerCertificateValidationCallback to the WCF ServicePointManager

Here’s a working example that accepts any SSL Certificate as valid:

ServicePointManager.ServerCertificateValidationCallback =
     (object sender, X509Certificate cert, X509Chain chain, SslPolicyErrors errors) 
          => true;

With this patched strategy in place, your WCF client will now accept any SSL certificate its given. Note that, in the lambda body, you can put in your own logic to interrogate the parameters for what you consider to be acceptable:

X509Certificate cert

X509Chain chain

SslPolicyErrors errors

The logic applied can be more or less rigorous than the default certificate validation strategy.  The beauty of this approach is in the power of its simple implementation.

Enjoy..

NTLM Authentication in Java with JCifs

In enterprise software development contexts, one of the frequent needs we encounter is working with FileSystems remotely via CIFS, sometimes referred to as SMB.  If you are using Java in these cases, you’ll want JCifs, a pure Java CIFS implementation.  In this post, I’ll show you how to remotely connect to a Windows share on an Active Directory domain and read/write a file.

In your pom.xml place this dependency:

<dependency>
    <groupId>jcifs</groupId>
    <artifactId>jcifs</artifactId>
    <version>1.3.17</version>
</dependency>

Here is a simple class with a main, you can run to see how it works:

import java.io.BufferedReader;
import java.io.IOException;
import java.io.InputStreamReader;
import java.net.MalformedURLException;
import java.net.UnknownHostException;
import java.util.logging.Level;
import java.util.logging.Logger;

import jcifs.UniAddress;
import jcifs.smb.NtlmPasswordAuthentication;
import jcifs.smb.SmbException;
import jcifs.smb.SmbFile;
import jcifs.smb.SmbFileInputStream;
import jcifs.smb.SmbFileOutputStream;
import jcifs.smb.SmbSession;

public class Program {

	public static void main(String[] args) throws SmbException, UnknownHostException, Exception {
	    
        final UniAddress domainController = UniAddress.getByName("DOMAINCONTROLLERHOSTNAME");
		 
	    final NtlmPasswordAuthentication credentials = new NtlmPasswordAuthentication("DOMAIN.LOCAL", "USERNAME", "SECRET");
	 
	    SmbSession.logon(domainController, credentials);
	    
	    SmbFile smbFile = new SmbFile("smb://localhost/share/foo.txt", credentials);
	    
	    //write to file
	    new SmbFileOutputStream(smbFile).write("testing....and writing to a file".getBytes());
	    
	    //read from file
	    String contents = readFileContents(smbFile);
	    
	    System.out.println(contents);

	}

	private static String readFileContents(SmbFile sFile) throws IOException {

		BufferedReader reader = reader = new BufferedReader(
				new InputStreamReader(new SmbFileInputStream(sFile)));

		StringBuilder builder = new StringBuilder();
		
		String lineReader = null;
		while ((lineReader = reader.readLine()) != null) {
			builder.append(lineReader).append("\n");
		}
		return builder.toString();
	}

}

As you can see its quite trivial to reach out across your network and interact with Files and Directories in Windows/Samba Shares. Being able to authenticate via NTLM is convenient and tidy for this purpose, not to mention the FileSystem API is straight forward and powerful.

Enjoy the power..

Meditation on JavaScript’s SetTimeout(), Recursion, and Execution Context

JavaScript’s setTimout and setInterval functions are for scheduling future work. They provide a way to schedule either a single or recurring execution of a function. In this article, we’ll play around with some fun and interesting capabilities that can be had using setTimeout.

To get going we’ll need a few examples in place.

Here is a a simple Calculator object that we can use for our testing. Note that it has 2 methods (add and multiply). It also contains a piece of state (value) that it uses to track its computational output.

//an object with methods
function Calculator (seed) {
    return {
          value: seed,
          add: function(b) {
            value = value || 0; //guard with default accumulator for addition
            this.value += b;
            console.log(this.value);
            return this;
          },
          multiply: function(b) {
            value = value || 1; //guard with default accumulator for multiplication
            this.value *= b;
            console.log(this.value);
            return this;
          }
    };
}
var calculator = new Calculator();

//basic math fluency
var twentyFive = calculator.add(1 + 1)
                           .add(3)
                           .multiply(5)
                           .value;

Now, let’s have some fun by giving all JavaScript objects in the runtime the ability to defer their own method execution until a time in the future. We do this by extending the Object prototype for the whole JavaScript runtime.

This implementation is as follows. Note that, that it imbues all objects with a new ability, to run future functions with themselves as the reciever.

if (typeof Object.prototype.later !== 'function') {
	Object.prototype.later = function (msec, method) {
		var that = this,
			args = Array.prototype.slice.apply(arguments, [2]);
		if (typeof method === 'string') {
			method = that[method];
		}
		setTimeout(function() {
			method.apply(that, args);
		}, msec);
		return that;
	};
}

Source: Douglas Crockford.

This in effect shims all objects with an additional behavior called “later”. It changes the receiver of the function call in the future to the object from which later() was invoked.

The function expects these things:

Parameter 1: The number of milliseconds to wait before executing

Parameter 2: Either a function or a string function name to execute

Additional Optional Parameters: The arguments for the method to be executed in the future

The later method takes in the parameters and schedules the function (parameter 2) with its arguments (parameters 3,4,5,…) to be executed in the specified milliseconds (parameter 1). Note that we use a closure to refer to the receiver (“this”) as “that” during the setup and scheduling phase of its execution. This ensures that the “this” inside of scope of execution is the object from which the .later() method is called. This overrides the pointer in setTimeout() for “this” from the default “global” JavaScript object to the object from which later() is invoked. This simple but elegant replacing of the execution context object is perhaps one of the most powerful features of JavaScript. Now that we’ve got this extension to the Object prototype in place, all objects in our system, including Calculator will have this behavior.

So let’s have some fun with the calculator by exercising the Chaining API it inherited from Object. Here are some tricks taking advantage of the fluent later() method’s ability to drive a series of asynchronous calls over the object from which the expression chain originates. Since calculator’s prototype is Object, it can drive its own api. This example demonstrates several different ways to invoke the later() method in a single expression chain. Let’s turn a calculator into an adding machine.

calculator
	//can pass a method name as a string.  targeting calculator.add
	.later(100, "add", 1)

	//can pass a method reference directly from the object
	.later(1000, calculator.add, 1)

	//can pass an anonymous function.
	.later(100, function(argument) {
		this.value += argument;
	}, 1)

    //close back onto chain originator
    .later(999, function(argument) { calculator.value += argument; }, 1);

//start an async message loop
calculator.later(0, function loop(argument) {
    this.value += argument;
    console.log(this.value);
    this.later(0, loop, argument);
}, "Looping");

Now lets have some fun with arrays.  Since JavaScript arrays inherit their prototype from Object, and we extended Object’s prototype with the later() method, arrays now also have the later() method.

Process an Array Asychronously:

var sequence = [1,2,3,4,5];
sequence.forEach(function(n) {
    sequence.later(0, function(i) {
    	console.log("got: " + i);
    }, n);
});

This is cool..

Now lets replace the execution context object with a new Calculator.

Driving Execution Over an Array – Compute Factorial:

[1,2,3,4,5].forEach(function(n) {
    return this.multiply(n).value;
}, new Calculator());

Lets Add Laterness:

//scheduled execution
[1,2,3,4,5].forEach(function(n) {
    this.later(100, this.multiply, n);
}, new Calculator());

Decaying Scheduled Array Processing:

[1,2,3,4,5].forEach(function(n) {
    this.wait = (this.wait || 0) + 1000 ;
    this.later(this.wait, this.multiply, n);
}, new Calculator());

Randomly Scheduled Array Processing:

[1,2,3,4,5].forEach(function(n) {
    this.later(Math.floor((Math.random()*1000)+1), this.multiply, n);
}, new Calculator());

Namaste…

Making Parallax Animation Effects With JavaScript

The Term “Parallax” means a difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle of inclination between those two lines. The positional difference between objects creates a visual illusion that is specific to the position of the observer.  A simple everyday example of parallax can be seen in the dashboard of motor vehicles that use a needle-style speedometer gauge.  When viewed from directly in front, the speed may show exactly 60; but when viewed from the passenger seat the needle may appear to show a slightly different speed, due to the angle of viewing.  This effect can be exploited when presenting content to trick the eyes into seeing multiple forced perspectives in the same scene.  When animated, the effects become visually interesting to people. Recently, I began a series of experiments to learn how parallax works.  In this article, I’ll walk you through the basics and leave you with a working example of a parallax web banner.  The code in this writeup, is available here.

First, let’s layout what we want to accomplish.

  • Mountains (far texture) – We want to build a scene that uses a scrolling landscape to provide the feeling of panning or having it spin around you.  (Note that I’ve modified this image to seamlessly scroll.  Here’s the technique ref.)
  • Sun (back texture) – We want to have a sun fixed in the sky in a position similar to the direction that the light in the landscape is coming from.
  • Cloud (mid texture) – We want to have clouds moving across our sky.
  • Girl (close texture) – We want a central figure of a person (our girl) at the front to hold our users’ attention and give the illusion that she’s in the scene.

Preview Results:

Parallax In Action Screenshot
Screenshot

We’ll begin with these 4 images.  Each is considered a texture that will be layered onto our stage, which in this case will be an HTML5 Canvas. With these images in our project, we can now write the code to bring them together and animate the scene.

Textures
Texture Images To Be Used As Sprites

First, we’ll make our markup. This is a minimal HTML file, with only a canvas element that will serve as our rendering stage for the scene.

<html>
  <head>
    <link rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' href='https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/meyer-reset/2.0/reset.min.css' />
    <link rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' href='style.css' />
  </head>
  <body onload="init();">
  	<script src="pixi.js"></script>
    <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.10.2.min.js"></script>
	  <script src="http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/underscore.js/1.4.4/underscore-min.js"></script>
    
    <script type='text/javascript' src='script.js'></script>

    <div id=container; align="center">
      <p id="caption">
        Its A Beautiful World
      </p>
      <canvas id="game-canvas" width="1024" height="512"></canvas>
    </div>
  </body>
</html>

Next, we’ll write the JavaScript to bring it to life.

function init(){

  var WIDTH = 1024;
  var HEIGHT = 512;
  var stage = new PIXI.Stage();

  // let pixi choose WebGL or canvas
  var renderer;
  var back, far, mid, close;

  // target render to something on dom
  renderer = PIXI.autoDetectRenderer(WIDTH, HEIGHT, document.getElementById("game-canvas"));

  //sun texture
  var backTexture = PIXI.Texture.fromImage("sun1.gif");
  back = new PIXI.Sprite(backTexture, WIDTH, HEIGHT);
  back.position.x = 20;
  back.position.y = 7;

  //mountain texture
  var farTexture = PIXI.Texture.fromImage("mountain-04.jpg");
  far = new PIXI.TilingSprite(farTexture, WIDTH, HEIGHT);
  far.position.x = 0;
  far.position.y = 0;
  far.tilePosition.x = 0;
  far.tilePosition.y = 0;

  //cloud texture
  var midTexture = PIXI.Texture.fromImage("cloud1.gif");
  mid = new PIXI.Sprite(midTexture, WIDTH, HEIGHT);
  mid.position.x = WIDTH - 40;
  mid.position.y = -10;

  //girl texture
  var closeTexture = PIXI.Texture.fromImage("girl_character.gif");
  close = new PIXI.Sprite(closeTexture, WIDTH, HEIGHT);
  close.position.x = 512 - 256;
  close.position.y = 15;

  //add textures to stage in order from back to front
  stage.addChild(far);
  stage.addChild(back);
  stage.addChild(mid);
  stage.addChild(close);

  //render stage
  renderer.render(stage);

  //start animation loop
  requestAnimFrame(update);

  //recursive animation looper
  function update() {

    //move the far sprite to the left slowly
    far.tilePosition.x -= 0.128;

    //move the mid sprite to the left a little faster
    mid.position.x -= 0.37;
    if (mid.position.x < 0 - 512)
      mid.position.x = WIDTH + 512;

    renderer.render(stage);

    requestAnimFrame(update);
  }
}

Note that I’ve commented each stanza in this script to help you understand what’s happening. The code flow is generally this:

  1. Set dimensions for the stage (HEIGHT/WIDTH variables)
  2. Instantiate the stage.
  3. Instantiate a renderer targeted to the canvas element in the DOM
  4. Create sprites for the textures. Note that the far texture is a TilingSprite, so it’s position is manipulated by using the tilePosition attribute instead of the position attribute like the regular sprites.
  5. Place the stage into the renderer.
  6. Then finally, we start the animation loop by feeding the recursive update callback to the requestAnimFrame function given to us by PIXI. A more thorough look at the update function is required:

    1. Since we want the far texture to scroll to the left slowly, we decrement by .128px its position on the x axis each time the update function is called.
    2. Since we want the mid texture to scroll to the left more quickly, we decrement by .37px (a larger number) its position on the x axis each time the update function is called.

When brought together, the effects can be visually interesting. I say interesting, because the effect can be pleasant or disorienting depending upon how you’ve positioned the sprites and how quickly they are moving. The basic approach that I’m showing here can be used as the foundation for side-scrolling video games. There are also many potential uses for Web Banners, Presentations, Data Visualization, Rich User Interfaces, and more.

Result:

Hopefully you find this useful, or if nothing else instructive. You can get my code here

Namaste..

XML Interoperability of Serialized Entities in Java and .NET

Abstract:

In order to exchange structured data directly between the platforms, we must be able to easily take the marshalled or serialized definition of the object and turn it into an object in memory.  There are standard ways of marshalling of objects to XML in both Java and .NET.  I have found it a little frustrating in the past when I’ve had to adopt large frameworks or external machinery in order to easily move structured data between the JVM and CLR.   It seems that we should be able to bring these worlds together in a simple set of OOTB idioms, while providing a convenient way (one liner) to move back and forth between object and stringified forms.   For this I have created a minimal helper class for both languages that does the following:

  • Provides a common API between languages for moving between XML string and Objects (entities)
  • Provides adaptation capabilities between canonical XML representations for both Java’s JAXB and .NET’s XmlSerializer
  • Provides a façade to the underlying language and framework mechanics for going between representations
  • Implementation of SerializationHelper.java
  • Implementation of SerializationHelper.cs

The Need for Interoperable Xml Representation of Entities in Java and .NET

Both the Java and .NET ecosystems provide many ways to work with XML, JSON, Binary, YAML, etc. serialization.  In this article I’m focused on the base case between the standard platform-level mechanisms for moving between XML and Object graphs in memory.  The Web Services stacks in both platforms are of course built on top of their respective XML binding or serialization standards.  The standards however differ, in some slight but important ways.  Here I do not seek to build a bullet proof general purpose adapter between languages.  I’ll leave that to the WS-* ppl.  However, I think there is a common and often overlooked ability to do marshalling with XML with little to no additional framework or specialized stack.  Here are some scenarios that make sense with this kind capability.

  • Intersystem Messaging
  • Transforming and Adapting Data Structures
  • Database stored and shared XML
  • Queue-based storage and shared XML
  • File-based storage and shared XML
  • Web Request/Response shared XML

The Specifications:

Java:

JAXB (Java XML Binding)

JSR: 222

.NET

XmlSerializer

Version >= .NET 2.0

First, we need to understand the default differences between the XML output by JAXB and XmlSerializer. To start we’ll create the same entity in both Java and C#. Then we can compare them.

The entity: DataObject

.NET Entity Class:

[Serializable]
public class DataObject
{
   public string Id { get; set; }
   public string Name { get; set; }
   public bool Processed { get; set; }
}

Java Entity Class:

public class DataObject implements Serializable {

	private String id;
	private String name;
	private boolean processed = false;

	public String getId() {
		return id;
	}

	public void setId(String id) {
		this.id = id;
	}

	public String getName() {
		return name;
	}

	public void setName(String name) {
		this.name = name;
	}

	public boolean isProcessed() {
		return processed;
	}

	public void setProcessed(boolean processed) {
		this.processed = processed;
	}
}

Java Entity XML:

<DataObject>
  <id>ea9b96a6-1f8a-4563-9a15-b1ec0ea1bc34</id>
  <name>blah</name>
  <processed>false</processed>
</DataObject>

.NET Entity XML:

<DataObject xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
  <Id>b3766011-a1ab-41bf-9ce2-8566fca5736f</Id>
  <Name>blah</Name>
  <Processed>false</Processed>
</DataObject>

The notable differences in the XML are these:

  • xsi and xsd namespaces are put in by .NET and not by Java
  • The casing of the element names are different.  In fact, they follow the style convention used to create the entity.  The property naming styles between the languages are as follows:
    • Java: CamelCase
    • .NET: PascalCase

Let’s have a look at how we can use a class called SerializationHelper to round-trip objects to xml and back objects. We want it to easily dehydrate (stringify) and rehydrate (objectify) data objects.

The implementation of this class in both Java and C# provides the following api:

String serialize(Object object)
Object deserialize(String str, Class klass)

This is useful for quickly reversing objects to XML and visaversa.

I’ll walk you through how to use it with some tests.

Round Tripping (Java Usage):

@Test
public void can_round_trip_a_pojo_to_xml() throws Exception
{
	SerializationHelper helper = new SerializationHelper();
	DataObject obj = buildDataObject();

	String strObj = helper.serialize(obj);

	DataObject obj2 = (DataObject) helper.deserialize(strObj, DataObject.class);

	Assert.isTrue(obj.getId().equals(obj2.getId()));
	Assert.isTrue(obj.getName().equals(obj2.getName()));

}

Round Tripping (C# Usage):

[TestMethod]
public void can_round_trip_a_poco_to_xml()
{
    SerializationHelper helper = new SerializationHelper();
    DataObject obj = BuildDataObject();

    string strObj = helper.serialize(obj);

    DataObject obj2 = (DataObject)helper.deserialize(strObj, typeof(DataObject));

    Assert.IsTrue(obj.Id.Equals(obj2.Id));
    Assert.IsTrue(obj.Name.Equals(obj2.Name));
}

No problem. A simple single line expression reverses the representation. Now lets see if we can move the stringified representations between runtimes to become objects.

Adapting .NET XML to Java (Java Usage):

@Test
public void can_materialize_an_object_in_java_from_net_xml() throws Exception
{
	SerializationHelper helper = new SerializationHelper();

	String netStrObj = Files.toString(new File("DOTNET_SERIALIZED_DATAOBJECT.XML"), Charsets.UTF_8);

	DataObject obj2 = (DataObject) helper.deserialize(netStrObj, DataObject.class);

	Assert.isTrue(obj2.getName().equals("blah"));
}

Behind the scenes here there is a StreamReaderDelegateunder the hood in the SerializationHelper that is intercepting the inbound XML and camel-casing the names before it attempts to bind them onto the DataObject instance directly.

SerializationHelper.java:

public class SerializationHelper {

	public String serialize(Object object) throws Exception{
		StringWriter resultWriter = new StringWriter();
		StreamResult result = new StreamResult( resultWriter );
		XMLStreamWriter xmlStreamWriter =
		           XMLOutputFactory.newInstance().createXMLStreamWriter(result);

		JAXBContext context = JAXBContext.newInstance(object.getClass());
		Marshaller marshaller = context.createMarshaller();
		marshaller.marshal(new JAXBElement(new QName(object.getClass().getSimpleName()), object.getClass(), object), xmlStreamWriter);

		String res = resultWriter.toString();
	    return res;
	}

	public Object deserialize(String str, Class klass) throws Exception{

        InputStream is = new ByteArrayInputStream(str.getBytes("UTF-8"));
        XMLStreamReader reader = XMLInputFactory.newInstance().createXMLStreamReader(is);
        reader = new CamelCaseTransfomingReaderDelegate(reader, klass);

		JAXBContext context = JAXBContext.newInstance(klass);
		Unmarshaller unmarshaller = context.createUnmarshaller();

		JAXBElement elem = unmarshaller.unmarshal(reader, klass);
		Object object = elem.getValue();

		return object;
	}

	//adapts to Java property naming style
	private static class CamelCaseTransfomingReaderDelegate extends StreamReaderDelegate {

		Class klass = null;

        public CamelCaseTransfomingReaderDelegate(XMLStreamReader xsr, Class klass) {
        	super(xsr);
        	this.klass = klass;
        }

        @Override
        public String getLocalName() {
            String nodeName = super.getLocalName();
            if (!nodeName.equals(klass.getSimpleName()))
            {
            	nodeName = nodeName.substring(0, 1).toLowerCase() +
            			   nodeName.substring(1, nodeName.length());
            }
            return nodeName.intern(); //NOTE: intern very important!..
        }
    }
}

Note the deserialize method is able to do just-in-time fixup of the property name xml nodes to ensure they meet the expection (a camelCased fieldname) of the default jaxb unmarshalling behavior.

Now to go from XML produced by the default JAXB serializer to .NET objects with the same api. To do this I’ll switch back to C# now.

Adapting Java XML to .NET (C# Usage):

[TestMethod]
public void can_materialize_an_object_in_net_from_java_xml()
{
    string javaStrObj = File.ReadAllText("JAVA_SERIALIZED_DATAOBJECT.XML");

    SerializationHelper helper = new SerializationHelper();

    DataObject obj2 = (DataObject)helper.deserialize(javaStrObj, typeof(DataObject));

    Assert.isTrue(obj2.getName().equals("blah"));
}

In this case, I’m using a custom XmlReader that adapts the XML from Java style property names to .NET style. The pattern in Java and .NET is roughly the same for adapting the XML into a consumable form. This is the convenience and power that using an intermediary stream reader gives you. It basically applies changes to the node names it needs to bind them to the correct property names. The nice thing is that this happens just-in-time, as the XML being deserialized into a local Object.

Here is the C# implementation of the same SerializationHelper api in .NET.

SerializationHelper.cs:

public class SerializationHelper
{

    public string serialize(object obj)
    {
        using (MemoryStream stream = new MemoryStream())
        {
            XmlSerializer xs = new XmlSerializer(obj.GetType());
            xs.Serialize(stream, obj);
            return Encoding.UTF8.GetString(stream.ToArray());
        }
    }

    public object deserialize(string serialized, Type type)
    {
        using (MemoryStream stream = new MemoryStream(Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(serialized)))
        {
            using (var reader = new PascalCaseTransfomingReader(stream))
            {
                XmlSerializer xs = new XmlSerializer(type);
                return xs.Deserialize(reader);
            }
        }
    }

    private class PascalCaseTransfomingReader : XmlTextReader
    {
        public PascalCaseTransfomingReader(Stream input) : base(input) { }

        public override string this[string name]
        {
            get { return this[name, String.Empty]; }
        }

        public override string LocalName
        {
            get
            {
                // Capitalize first letter of elements and attributes.
                if (base.NodeType == XmlNodeType.Element ||
                    base.NodeType == XmlNodeType.EndElement ||
                    base.NodeType == XmlNodeType.Attribute)
                {
                    return base.NamespaceURI == "http://www.w3.org/2000/xmlns/" ?
                           base.LocalName : MakeFirstUpper(base.LocalName);
                }
                return base.LocalName;
            }
        }

        public override string Name
        {
            get
            {
                if (base.NamespaceURI == "http://www.w3.org/2000/xmlns/")
                    return base.Name;
                if (base.Name.IndexOf(":") == -1)
                    return MakeFirstUpper(base.Name);
                else
                {
                    // Turn local name into upper, not the prefix.
                    string name = base.Name.Substring(0, base.Name.IndexOf(":") + 1);
                    name += MakeFirstUpper(base.Name.Substring(base.Name.IndexOf(":") + 1));
                    return NameTable.Add(name);
                }
            }
        }

        private string MakeFirstUpper(string name)
        {
            if (name.Length == 0) return name;
            if (Char.IsUpper(name[0])) return name;
            if (name.Length == 1) return name.ToUpper();
            Char[] letters = name.ToCharArray();
            letters[0] = Char.ToUpper(letters[0]);
            return NameTable.Add(new string(letters));
        }

    }
}

I think it’s important to have a thorough understanding and good control of the basics of serialization. In some cases, we’re just consuming a serialized object from a message queue, a file, or a database. The ability to move entities between process and stack boundaries should be easy.

It should take only 1 line of code.

Dev flow with integrated SublimeREPL

Here is a short screencast that I made to demonstrate what I believe are some of the more useful features and techniques of working in Sublime Text 2 and the python repl.  Specifically, I wanted to show others who might need the dots connected to understand just what the intended usage flow of SublimeRepl is.

The following is covered:

  • Where to find your Sublime Text 2 keymap file.
    • How to add a keymapping
    • I’ll post my example below
  • Use the REPL to work with objects loaded from the open file buffer.
  • Use the built-in key mappings for transferring current file to the REPL.

KEYMAPPING CODE

{ "keys": ["f8"],
  "command": "repl_open",
  "caption": "Python",
  "mnemonic": "p",
  "args": {
              "type": "subprocess",
              "encoding": "utf8",
              "cmd": ["python", "-i", "-u", "$file"],
              "cwd": "$file_path",
              "syntax": "Packages/Python/Python.tmLanguage",
              "external_id": "python"
           }
}
debugging in two row layout
debugging in two row layout

Namaste…

Hacking C#’s Lambda Expressions Into Hash Rockets

c# loves RubyAs I move between C# and Ruby, I have found my brain’s internal syntax parser always needing to switch gears and repurpose its understanding of Fat Arrow, =>. In Ruby, it provides a visually salient means of expressing key => value pairing within a Hash. C# on the other hand uses it to indicate the opening of a lambda expression’s body block, x => x + y. Its notable that in other languages, such as Coffee Script, it has a similar meaning. In any case, the lines sometimes blur as I’m dreaming up new ways to make C# look and behave more like my favorite dynamic language.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to repurpose C#’s lambda expression syntax for creating key,value pairs.  My goal is be able create nestable enumerable graph structures with a syntax like this:

var rockets = __.Rocketize(
                               foo => "asdf",
                               bar => 42,
                               biz => new Business{ Name = "AMD" },
                               now => DateTime.Now,
                               fun => new Func(() => return new Awesome(source: "Joel Holder")),
                               sub => __.Rocketize(a => 'b',
                                                   c => 'd',
                                                   e => 'f'),
                               xml => File.ReadAllText(@"data.xml"),
                               web => new Uri("https://uberpwn.wordpress.com/"),
                               ___ => typeof(__),
                               tru => (2*2+3*3)/(5*5) == 1,
                               etc => "..."
                          );

First we need a few functions that leverage the Expression API to provide a means of taking in a series of lambda expressions. Internally, we will convert each expression’s AST into a named key and value of Func<> that  returns an optional state object.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Linq.Expressions;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading;

namespace HashRocket
{
    public class __
    {
        public static IEnumerable<KeyValuePair<object, Func<object, object>>> Rocketize(params Expression<Func<object, object>>[] exprs)
        {
            return exprs.Select(expr =>
            {
                var key = expr.Parameters.FirstOrDefault() != null
                            ? expr.Parameters.FirstOrDefault().Name
                            : DateTime.Now.Ticks.ToString();
                return Rocketize(key, expr).First();
            });
        }
        public static IEnumerable<KeyValuePair<object, Func<object, object>>> Rocketize(object key, params Expression<Func<object, object>>[] exprs)
        {
            return exprs.Select(expr =>
            {
                var fn = expr.Compile();
                return new KeyValuePair<object, Func<object, object>>(key, fn);
            });
        }
    }
}

Now that we have this in place, we can run a few tests to show off the behavior. Note that I’ve opted for IEnumerables of KeyValuePair instead of a Dictionary or Hashtable. This just a personal preference, in that I wanted to support multiple objects with the same key within the data structure.

using System;
using System.Linq;
using Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UnitTesting;

namespace HashRocket.Tests
{
    [TestClass]
    public class Tests
    {
        [TestMethod]
        public void Can_Convert_Lambda_Into_Kvp()
        {
            //arrange
            var testInput = "asdf";

            //act
            var rocket = __.Rocketize(input => input).First();

            //assert
            Assert.IsTrue(rocket.Key.Equals("input"));
            Assert.IsTrue(rocket.Value(testInput).Equals("asdf"));
        }

        [TestMethod]
        public void Can_Convert_Multiple_Lambdas_Into_Multiple_Kvps()
        {
            //arrange
            var testInputs = new object[] {"asdf","zxcv",2};

            //act
            var rockets = __.Rocketize(foo => foo + "qwer0",
                                       bar => bar + "qwer1",
                                       biz => biz + "qwer2").ToList();

            //assert
            for (var i = 0; i < rockets.Count; i++)
            {
                Assert.IsTrue(rockets[i].Value(testInputs[i]).Equals(testInputs[i] + "qwer" + i));
            }
        }
}

What’s surprisingly cool about this approach is that it becomes very easy create configuration objects with lambda syntax that can be passed directly into objects for initialization. If you’re familiar with this pattern in Ruby or JavaScript, you’ll appreciate the power and elegance it also affords to C#. To better understand the benefits and potential tradeoffs to using this trick, see Jeremy Skinner’s article on the topic.

Namaste..