Archive for May, 2011

The Smart Client Object Model

May 27, 2011 2 comments

The Service Object Model Producer generates the communication layer between the server and a client side. It’s based on Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and generates the needed services and contracts to expose your object model, as well as an enhanced proxy which allows us developers to create Smart-Clients without having to take care of all communication aspects.

This communication layer is absolutely standard WCF, so you can configure it as you wish using your desired addresses, bindings and configurations. Likewise, since the generated services and contracts are standard WCF services you don’t have to use the generated proxy, you could perfectly consume those web services using the Microsoft Visual Studio generated proxy.

However, the generated proxy is in fact a little more than a just a proxy. It’s in fact a remote version of the generated Business Object Model (BOM), and since it takes care of all communication aspects, it actually provides Smart-Client developers the same development experience as when developing a rich client: you’re manipulating Customers, Orders, Products, and not Channels, Endpoints and Factories, and that’s why we named it the Smart-Client Object Model (SCOM).

Using CodeFluent Entities, the Service Object Model Producer – with its generated services, contracts and Smart-Client Object Model – is the way to create Smart-Clients. Furthermore, the generated SCOM can also be used in Silverlight 2 and upper, so the same Smart-Client Object Model can be used for all your Smart-Clients whether they are standard .NET apps (Windows Forms, WPF, etc.) or Silverlight Apps.


Want to know more? Here’s a set of links that might be of interest to you:

CodeFluent Entities: What gets installed?

May 26, 2011 2 comments

Have you ever taken a look in your installation directory and wondered what’s all that stuff? Well here’s a quick description of all exes Smile

CodeFluent.Build.exe (aka the builder)

That’s the most important, it’s the one that actually builds your model! It takes a model as a parameter, and generates the code by calling all the producers you declared in it.

More information here: CodeFluent Builder

CodeFluent.Import.exe (aka the importer)

This one is pretty neat: it allows you to create a CodeFluent Entities model starting from an existing database or model.

More information here: CodeFluent Importer, Migrating Data

CodeFluent.Modeler.Portable.exe (aka the portable modeler)

That’s a standalone version of the Visual Studio Integrated Modeler. It’s basically for users without Visual Studio who which to get a graphical representation of a model.

More information here: CodeFluent Modeler

CodeFluent.Runtime.ServiceHost.exe (aka the service hoster)

This is a generic service that can be used to host any kind of services, including WCF ones. It takes care of all the plumbing, service registration, start, stop, multi threading, log, etc… It supports CodeFluent Generated services as well as other manually coded services. A developer has a minimum effort to do to host any piece of .NET code in a Windows Service fashion. It also supports a command line/console mode which is often handy in development phases. You can print your traces and exceptions directly on the console. It also embeds a special out-of-the-box WCF exception handler that is capable of displaying WCF server errors without using any other external tool like the Service Trace Viewer.

More information here: Service Hoster

CodeFluent.View.exe (aka the Meta Model Explorer)

Provides a user interface to load a model and explore the inferred model so you can see what CodeFluent Entities understood from your model before it generates anything. This tool gets very handy when you’re trying stuff, writing complicated methods or aspects, since you can validate that it behaves as expected without having to generate over all the time.

More information here: Meta Model Explorer


As explained in a previous post, that’s a licensing tool. First it allows you to activate the product but also to retrieve developer builds other than the official ones available in your account page, on the web site.

The Model Grid

One of the new features of the Modeler is the Model Grid which provides developers a grid view of their model. This way you can get a complete transversal view of all concepts you defined in your model (all defined entities, methods, properties, rules, enums, etc.).

To open the Model Grid, select your model (or one of its namespaces) in the solution explorer and click “Show Model Grid” in its contextual menu:


The Model Grid is in fact a dockable Visual Studio pane, so you can dock it wherever you want, let it float, or tab it as a document, it’s all up to you Smile. Once opened you’ll see all your entities and enumerations listed in the grid:


Using selectors on the left hand side of the grid, you’ll be able to view in the grid some more concepts. (Selectors are in fact XPath expressions on the inferred model, check-out The CodeFluent Entities API documentation article for more information on this.) For instance, clicking on the “Methods” selector, selects all methods on all entities that you defined (“/entity/method”). Leaving your mouse a second on a selector will display a tooltip indicating which selector it is, as well as showing it’s XPath query upon the inferred model.


Here’s what happens if I enable it on the SoftFluent.CarRental example model:


By default, a set of predefined selectors are available but you can remove or even add your own new extra ones by doing a right-click in the grid, and opening the “Selectors Chooser”.


The same is possible for the columns of the grid. By default, only the “Name” column is displayed but you can add extra-columns thanks to the “Columns Chooser”. By the way, the “Columns Chooser” is also a great way to view all available attributes on all CodeFluent concepts Smile


Please note, that as of today (build 50518.593) the Model Grid is still being developed and is subject to change.

Model and Database Explorer

Since mid-March, the Modeler ships a new feature known as the Model and Database Explorer which, as the name suggests, lets you explore databases (or XMI and Enterprise Architects models) directly from Visual Studio. The tool provides built-in support for the following databases:

  • Access 2007/2010,
  • Access / Jet,
  • OLE DB,
  • Oracle,
  • SQL Server,
  • SQL Azure,
  • SQL Server CE.

It provides a centralized way to view any databases supported by CodeFluent Entities (either for import or generation purposes) so you don’t have to switch from tool to tool, and you’ll see precisely what CodeFluent Entities sees and understands from those databases (detected tables, keys, constraints, etc.)

For instance, once you generated and deployed your scripts on your online SQL Azure database, within Visual Studio you can explore the generated database, including its data. Talking about viewing data, unlike Microsoft’s SQL Azure Database Manager, Guids and Blobs can be viewed in the explorer Winking smile

To use it, right-click on your CodeFluent Entities project in the Solution Explorer, and select Model and Database Explorer:


By default the default connection string of your project is available. If you want to explore a new data source, either add it to your project connection strings, or make a right click on left pane and click Connect:


Select your database engine type, and provide the connection string to it. You’ll then be able to navigate through your database.


Notice the Data property in the property grid pane? If you click on its “…” button, a new window will pop-up showing all contained data of the current table. This way it provides a unified and quick way for developers to view their data from Visual Studio and on multiple platforms.

Oracle And The 30 Characters Limit

CodeFluent users define their business logic in a platform independent model where each concept will be translated into an actual component by what we call producers and which are basically code generators.

Therefore the business logic is decoupled from technical aspects, even though it’s still possible to include platform specific stuff in your model if you need to.

However, the targeted platforms have their limitations such as Oracle supporting identifiers up to 30 characters in length. So what happens if I define a 40 character long entity?

Well the Oracle Producer will automatically take care of it: the corresponding table identifier will be trimmed-down to a unique 30 characters long identifier. The same logic applies to all identifiers (columns, stored procedures, views, etc.), so that you can model your application regardless of the underlying technology, while at the same time, if needed, you still can define platform specific stuff in your model like a PL-SQL stored procedure for instance.

This way your model is freed from such limitations, and if later on you want to change your persistence layer implementation from Oracle to SQL Server or vice versa, switch your producers and you’re good to go 🙂

Many-To-Many Relations in CFQL

CFQL actually provides built-in support for Many-To-Many relations, which often seems unnatural to developers. As a consequence, a common mistake is to write raw SQL to access a value contained in a Many-To-Many relation property, when in fact it can be done without any extra work.

For instance, in the following example a User can have several Roles, and one Role can be assigned to several Users. Nevertheless, if you want to load all users with a role name containing a specific token, instead of writing a raw SQL query, you could do it in a single line CFQL query, such as:

<Email typeName="Email" collectionKey="true"/>
<Password />
<Roles typeName="RoleCollection"/>
<cf:method name="LoadByRoleToken" body="load(string token) where Roles.Name contains @token" />

<Id />
<Name collectionKey="true" />
<Users typeName="UserCollection" />

As you can see in the example above, you can access entity properties using dots even on collection properties 🙂

New Online Documentation Release: R11

A new version (R11) of the product documentation was released!

This new version includes:

Interested in some extra articles? Comment this post and tell us what you’d like to see in the next release!