Sunday, April 23, 2017

.NET Literacy Day 1: Vidly

The Course Project "Vidly" on GitHub

I made it through the first five videos in the The Complete ASP.NET MVC 5 Course, and even followed along building the shell of the Vidly app that we will be working on for this course. (I ended up spending the bulk of my time configuring Git, which I detailed in a separate blog.)

To introduce us to the course, instructor Mosh set up a video store app that he called "Vidly". It will have a login wrapper with two security levels, a paginated/sortable/searchable list of customers. We will be able to add/delete customers and edit the list of movies based on security level.

With pageant running, I was able to use TortoiseGit to push my local project up to BitBucket.

Here is check-in number 1

It is nothing to look at, really. It is just a simple MVC app with one object that has two properties. I'll go into the actual course material in tomorrow's post.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

.NET Literacy Day 1: Git / GitHub

Configuration Day: Git, Visual Studio 2017 and GitHub

Visual Studio 2017 has built-in support for Git and TFS. The tutorial talks about how to set up Git for your project. I don't even remember being asked to configure it. Either way, it automatically created a local git repo for my first project. I want my code to live in GitHub for safekeeping (and sharing). I found this stack overflow question that  appeared to have the commands I needed.

git init --bare repo.git
git push --mirror ssh://yourserver/~/repo.git

I had trouble authenticating on the remote GitHub repo from CMD.EXE. GitHub complained about validation because I didn't have the ssh agent running in the background to serve up the ppk key. I actually took care of this exact problem for a project, but I can't remember the ssh command to host the key (Did I do it from BASH? Probably...). I remember finding a lot of information on this topic before, but I also remember that SSH from DOS is a pain, so I abandoned this approach for some Windows-based tools.


I started by creating the remote repo on GitHub. The landing screen contained a lot of useful information, including how to push an existing repository from the command line. I wasn't familiar with the --bare or --mirror options from stack overflow.The instructions from BitBucket looked a lot more familiar:

git remote add origin
git push -u origin master

But... given the difficulty I was having with authentication from the command line, I opted to install some native Windows tools to help me out.

Git Tools for Windows

I'm not sure if Command-line Git was installed by Visual Studio, or if I did it at some point, but Git was available on the command line. (I'm working on a brand new laptop and don't remember installing it.) I have used Subversion and TortoiseSVN for source control for years, so I installed TortoiseGit for its familiar interface. I needed the putty keygen and pageant to serve the ssh key, so I installed PuTTY for Windows. Finally, I also installed Atlassian SourceTree, which is a very nice, free GUI. (Atlassian has its own cloud git service called BitBucket, which is nice, but I am sticking with GitHub for its ubiquity.)


There are plenty of tutorials that explain how pageant works, so I won't go into detail here. In a nutshell, I run pageant, add my PPK key (created with the PuTTY keygen), install the openSSH version of the same key on BitBucket and I'm off and running with whatever tools I want to use (except CMD LOL).

.NET Literacy Day 0: Udemy

The Plan: Online Learning 

I'm a huge fan of online learning. Among my favorites are, The Teaching Company, Pluralsight, Udemy and Code Academy. To learn .NET, I have turned to Udemy.

Udemy has piles of tutorials for ASP.NET. It is often hard to tell the good from the bad, and the recent from the dated. The ratings and number of students are a good place to start. I'll list a few of my favorites so far below.

 I decided to pick up a range of courses that cover C# basics, .NET 4.5 (4.5.1, 4.5.2, 4.6 and Core), courses featuring Visual Studio 2017 back to 2013. Prospective employers won't always be on the bleeding edge, so it is good to have exposure to environments that were new 3-5 years ago as they will be common today.

 A few weeks ago, I worked my way through an excellent course by Tom O., Beginner's Guide to OOP With C# and Visual Studio 2017. This was a phenomenal place to start. I am familiar with design patterns and other object oriented programming concepts, but only through the limited window of ColdFusion scripting. Tom walks you through polymorphism, inheritance, properties, interfaces, and abstract classes with fun examples. What I liked most was that he leaves gaps for us to fill on our own. In one lesson, he creates an archer object with a count of arrows property and a method to shoot them. Call the shoot method enough times and the arrow count will go negative. This bugged me, so I figured out how to stop it from happening. The example code is littered with little annoyances like this that will drive born-to-code developers nuts - in a good way! The best teachers give students the tools to solve problems and demonstrate without over-explaining.

The course I'm starting now is The Complete ASP.NET MVC 5 Course, by Mosh Hamedani. Mosh has some of the most used, highest rated courses on Udemy. From the introductory material that I've seen, he is pleasant and easy to understand. In the coming weeks, I will be posting riffs on (i.e. my own modifications of) the examples he gives in his lessons on GitHub. (I will be setting this up tomorrow.)

Many years ago, I started working on a .NET project using the then "brand new" MVC 5. In this blog, I even kept track of the MVC 5 books that were coming out (and shamed the upcoming publications whose release dates slipped over and over again LOL!) I'm very excited to finally come back around to this topic.

Friday, April 21, 2017

My Quest for .NET Literacy


I have flirted with C# and ASP.NET over the years, but I've finally reached a point where I want to jump into the stack with both feet. I will be documenting my journey here and on GitHub.


My first web development job started with ASP Classic back in 2000, thanks to a friend with an ambitious start-up. Unfortunately, the start-up went belly-up after a year, so I went back to a previous employer in a new role, as their web developer. Macromedia ColdFusion already had a foothold there. My boss was open to ASP, but I soon realized that rewriting their existing code would be a colossal waste of time with little net gain. Besides, ColdFusion was very easy to pick up. Look at query syntax...

In ASP Classic:

sSQL = "SELECT foo FROM bar"
sConnString="Provider=SQLOLEDB;Server=SOMESERVER\SQL2008R2;Database=WebDB;Uid=sa; Pwd=Password;"

Set connection = Server.CreateObject("ADODB.Connection")

...and in ColdFusion:

<cfquery datasource="datasource" name="someQuery" timeout="60">

On learning an equally simple CFMAIL tag replaced the rats nest of CDONTS code, I was hooked. Thus started a now 16 year career in web development, rooted in ColdFusion.

So, Why ASP.NET and C#?

In a nutshell, employability. ColdFusion jobs are harder and harder to find these days. We are fast becoming the COBOL programmers of the 21st Century.

While ColdFusion 2016 is nice enough to work with, the Microsoft stack is light-years ahead... Visual Studio vs Eclipse/ColdFusion Builder, .NET libraries vs CF libraries, Entity Framework vs roll-your-own service/gateway patterns, MVC vs FW1, ColdBox, ColdSpring, yadda-yadda... there is just no comparison. Add to that the quality and quantity of .NET online instructional resources, experts, and open source projects... The whole ecosystem is so much healthier.

To be fair, ColdFusion is far easier for a novice to pick up, thanks to its loose syntax and curious occasionally-typed variables, but these same features also lead to bad habits that newbies should avoid. Forget to define your function parameters? Meh. Its CF. You don't have to. (Good luck debugging THAT code.) Didn't scope your variable? CF will take a shot at finding it ( cycling through every scope. Woohoo! Efficiency!) SO... While it is easier, I can't recommend ColdFusion as a good starting point for serious developers. You're far better off starting with a more rigid, structured language and picking up CF afterward if you need it for a particular job.


C# and ASP.NET literacy.

"Come again?"
To be clear, this won't be ASP.NET and C# for ColdFusion developers. This is just me eating the .NET elephant one bite at a time. Also, while individual posts may be useful for beginners, don't expect that by following each post from beginning to end, you will reach the same target that I do. I have a lot of experience and will be skipping over some fundamentals. The upcoming blog posts will simply be a running commentary as I learn. I have found that explaining concepts as I learn them helps cement them in place. If my posts happen to help new coders come to terms with these new concepts, then its wins all around.

Brien Malone

Thursday, February 16, 2017

ES6 Arrow Notation 'this' Scope Bug with FiddleJS

I just ran into an interesting bug. I've been ramping up on ReactJS and as part of that, one of our senior devs recommended that I get a handle on ECMAScript 6. He pointed me to a nice ECMAScript 6 course on Pluralsight that I really enjoyed.

One of the exercises explored the "this" behavior inside arrow notation and how it differs from behavior within traditional function definitions.
'use strict';
var price = 5.99, quantity = 10;
var productView = {
   price : 9.99,
      quantity : 10,
      traditionalFunction() {
        return this.price;
      arrowNotation : () => this.price

console.log('Traditional Notation ', productView.traditionalFunction());
console.log('Arrow Notation ', productView.arrowNotation());

In JSFiddle, the traditional notation returned the expected result (9.99), but the arrow notation says 'undefined' instead of 5.99.

Running this same code in Chrome or Firefox (or even Plunkr) worked fine!

I thought maybe I needed to add babel to pre-compile down to ES5, but according to the babel website, JSFiddle already runs it for you. I'm not at all familiar with Babel, but the Babel "Try It Out" tool translates the arrow notation into the traditional notation, but swaps "undefined" for this.

Ah-ha! It turns out Babel _is_ the problem. The 'undefined' message is Babel's behavior. Apparently someone else noticed this almost a year ago (Mar 2016), but it wasn't addressed in the forum. I added my two cents and the screen shots above to the thread. When I have more time, I'll dig around to find the bug reporting channels.