Thursday, 30 October 2008

Routed Commands

Although we have opted to use the DelegateCommand<T> class in our project, this article gives a good overview of the Command pattern used in WPF.

The Command Pattern In Windows Presentation Foundation

DelegateCommand<T> class implements ICommand rather than subclassing RoutedCommand. The problem with this is that CanExecute is fired only once. RoutedCommands listen to a number of events and fire CanExecute quite frequently.
DelegateCommand<T> offers the RaiseCanExecuteChanged() method which can be fired manually when some "significant" event happens.
Alternatively a timer could be used to call RaiseCanExecuteChanged() at regular intervals. The following code sample uses a DispatcherTimer to raise the event on the UI thread.
private void Window_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
_aTimer.Tick += new EventHandler(_aTimer_Tick);
_aTimer.Interval = new TimeSpan(0, 0, 1);
_aTimer.IsEnabled = false;

void _aTimer_Tick(object sender, EventArgs e)

These are the standard supplied commands:
ApplicationCommands—Close, Copy, Cut, Delete, Find, Help, New, Open, Paste, Print, PrintPreview, Properties, Redo, Replace, Save, SaveAs, SelectAll, Stop, Undo, and more

ComponentCommands—MoveDown, MoveLeft, MoveRight, MoveUp, ScrollByLine, ScrollPageDown, ScrollPageLeft, ScrollPageRight, ScrollPageUp, SelectToEnd, SelectToHome, SelectToPageDown, SelectToPageUp, and more

MediaCommands—ChannelDown, ChannelUp, DecreaseVolume, FastForward, IncreaseVolume, MuteVolume, NextTrack, Pause, Play, PreviousTrack, Record, Rewind, Select, Stop, and more

NavigationCommands—BrowseBack, BrowseForward, BrowseHome, BrowseStop, Favorites, FirstPage, GoToPage, LastPage, NextPage, PreviousPage, Refresh, Search, Zoom, and more

EditingCommands—AlignCenter, AlignJustify, AlignLeft, AlignRight, CorrectSpellingError, DecreaseFontSize, DecreaseIndentation, EnterLineBreak, EnterParagraphBreak, IgnoreSpellingError, IncreaseFontSize, IncreaseIndentation, MoveDownByLine, MoveDownByPage, MoveDownByParagraph, MoveLeftByCharacter, MoveLeftByWord, MoveRightByCharacter, MoveRightByWord, and more

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


An interesting series from Dan Crevier's Blog

DataModel-View-ViewModel Pattern Series

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Accessing Properties from abstract class

I wanted my abstract class to hook into the PropertyChanged event for any Property in the derived class that implements INotifyPropertyChanged.

I use reflection to get all the properties of the derived class then check that they implement the INotifyPropertyChanged interface before adding the event handler.

The Property must be defined in the "traditional" way rather than using the auto-property syntax otherwise the InitializeProperties method in the abstract class has no object to add the event handlers to.
public class Model : AbstractModel
private Till _till = new Till();
public Till Till
get { return _till; }
set { _till = value; }
public abstract class AbstractModel : INotifyPropertyChanged
public AbstractModel()

private void InitializeProperties()
PropertyInfo[] propertyInfoList = this.GetType().GetProperties();

foreach (PropertyInfo propertyInfo in propertyInfoList)
object observedObject = propertyInfo.GetValue(this, null);
if (observedObject is INotifyPropertyChanged)
(observedObject as INotifyPropertyChanged).PropertyChanged += new PropertyChangedEventHandler(BusinessPropertyChanged);

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Generic Constraints

ConstraintMeaning in Life
where T : structThe type parameter <T> must have System.ValueType in its chain of inheritance.
where T : classThe type parameter <T> must not have System.ValueType in its chain of inheritance (e.g., <T> must be a reference type).
where T : new()The type parameter <T> must have a default constructor. This is very helpful if your generic type must create an instance of the type parameter, as you cannot assume the format of custom constructors. Note that this constraint must be listed last on a multiconstrained type.
where T : NameOfBaseClassThe type parameter <T> must be derived from the class specified by NameOfBaseClass.
where T : NameOfInterfaceThe type parameter <T> must implement the interface specified by NameOfInterface.

The syntax for defining both inheritance and constraints is:

class FSM : AbstractFSM, INotifyPropertyChanged
where TState : struct
where TEvent : struct

To define multiple constraints for a single type parameter separate them with commas. It seems like "new()" has to be the last in the list.

private void CollectionConstructorTest()
where TVCollection : VCollection, new()
where TVClass : VClass, new()

WPF Cross-Thread Collection Binding

From the rather excellent QuantumBit Designs there are a series of articles about multithreading and collections.

The "grand solution" can be found here: WPF Cross-Thread Collection Binding - Part 4 - The Grand Solution

-Allows WPF to bind to a collection that is modified from any thread
-Allows WPF to bind to properties of items in the collection that are modified from any thread
-No lock required if used from a single worker thread
-Relatively simple (compared to some other attempts)

-Requires two lists internally
-The ObservableCollection list should not be modified
-Disposable or DependencyObjects should not be used

I've implemented the ObservableList in the test project InABind but we haven't confirmed the overhead involved of using ObservableList in place of ObservableCollection.

Memory Usage

The Sandstorm client app is currently using about 83mb of RAM at runtime. It also consumes up to 25% of CPU time when idle. When the app is minimised the CPU usage drops to 0%. The CPU usage is regardless of whether Sandstorm is being run from within the VS2008 IDE.

I ran a little test app and its RAM footprint topped out at 39mb when run inside the VS2008 IDE. Running as a standalone exe it used a more "modest" 23mb. Interestingly it used no CPU time when idle.

Finding memory leaks in WPF based applications

Avoiding WPF Memory leak with Databinding

A memory leak may occur when you use data binding in Windows Presentation Foundation

Martin and I concluded that we need to implement INotifyPropertyChanged on any class that will be involved in Databinding. The most likely route will be to derive all the relevant classes from a base class that implements INPC.

This tool has a "visual profiler" which shows a graph of CPU usage.

WPF Performance Tool

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


We've had a problem with classes that implement this interface failing to serialize. The solution would appear to be this attribute:


public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;
That attribute prevents the delegate field which the compiler emits to implement the PropertyChanged event from being serialized. Since a delegate internally stores hard references to its listeners, you need to prevent that delegate from being serialized. If the delegate were serialized then it would attempt to serialize the objects to which it points.

Expression Blend - with Diagnostics

There’s an interesting point in this post which states you can run Expression with the –diagnostics command line argument and it brings in a Debug menu with some interesting diagnostics/performance options

Sunday, 19 October 2008


Following on from the previous post where I noted that ObservableCollection<T>.CollectionChanged didn't do what I wanted, I've created my own version of ObservableCollection that exposes a new event ItemPropertyChanged. I then hook up to the PropertyChanged event of the business object as it is added to the collection. The new class adds a new property HasChanges which reflects the change status of any property in any business object in the collection.

The business object must implement INotifyPropertyChanged.
There is no "undo" mechanism to set the HasChanges flag back to false

public class MyObservableCollection : ObservableCollection
public new void Add(T item)
// If the class represented by T implements the INotifyPropertyChanged
// interface hook up the PropertyChanged event handler
if ((item as INotifyPropertyChanged) != null)
(item as INotifyPropertyChanged).PropertyChanged += new PropertyChangedEventHandler(OnItemPropertyChanged);

public bool HasChanges { get; set; }
public event PropertyChangedEventHandler ItemPropertyChanged;
public MyObservableCollection()
HasChanges = false;
protected void OnItemPropertyChanged(object sender, PropertyChangedEventArgs e)
HasChanges = true;
protected void OnPropertyChanged(string propertyName)
if (ItemPropertyChanged != null)
ItemPropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(propertyName));

If an object of this type is bound directly to the DataContext (or ObjectDataProvider) the HasChanges property can be referenced directly in the xaml.

If the collection object is intantiated by a Model class the Model will need to implement INotifyPropertyChanged and expose its own HasChanges property with its value set by wiring up the ItemPropertyChanged event:
public MyObservableCollection Abc { get; set; }

public Model()
Abc = new MyObservableCollection();
Abc.ItemPropertyChanged += new PropertyChangedEventHandler(BusinessPropertyChanged);
public bool HasChanges
get { return Abc.HasChanges; }
protected void BusinessPropertyChanged(object sender, PropertyChangedEventArgs e)
public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;
protected void OnPropertyChanged(string propertyName)
if (PropertyChanged != null)
PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(propertyName));

Friday, 17 October 2008


According to the documentation: "This event occurs when an item is added, removed, changed, moved or the entire list is refreshed."

However it does not occur if a property on an object in the collection changes, even if that object implements the INotifyPropertyChanged.

The new value of the object's property is reflected in the UI automatically (as you would expect of an ObservableCollection).

I wanted to know that something inside the collection had changed so that I could set a HasChanges property on the Model that the UI is bound to via its ObjectDataProvider. The intention was then to have a visual clue on the UI that was bound to the HasChanges property.

This posting doesn't have a solution, its simply a reminder not to try to use this event for this purpose in the future.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Walking the VisualTree

This isn't all my own code but I thought it might be handy to keep track of some code that walks the VisualTree recursively and also does something with event handlers.


public void AddHandlers(DependencyObject dependencyObject)
int childCount = VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(dependencyObject);
for (int childIndex = 0; childIndex < childCount; childIndex++)

DependencyObject childObject = VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(dependencyObject, childIndex);

// In this example we're only interested in TextBoxes
if (childObject is TextBox)
if ((childObject as TextBox).GetBindingExpression(TextBox.TextProperty).ParentBinding.UpdateSourceTrigger == UpdateSourceTrigger.PropertyChanged)
(childObject as TextBox).TextChanged += new TextChangedEventHandler(TextBox_TextChanged);

Monday, 13 October 2008

Page / Window Constructor

According to Rockford Lhotka:

"Putting code in a Page/Window constructor is bad. Yes, I know it is the “C# way”, but it is bad. The “VB way” of putting code in the Loaded event handler is better.


Because any exceptions thrown in the constructor prevent the page/window from loading at all, and you have to catch those exceptions in the code that is creating the page/window. In many navigation scenarios you can’t catch them, so the user gets an ugly WPF exception dialog.

However, if you do all your init work in the Loaded event handler, the page/window instance already exists. Navigation has already happened, so the “calling code” is no longer responsible for your page/window going haywire. Instead, you can actually handle the exception and show a nice dialog, explaining to the user what happened, and you can (if desired) navigate somewhere else or whatever."

Monday, 6 October 2008

Sorting a collection using Linq and 'SortExpression' string

Bruce suggested that we use LINQ to sort collections. I found the following code on Miron Abrahason's blog but haven't had the chance to try it out yet.

Already happened to you that you had a collection of object from type 'X' with some properties, and you had to sort it one time by property 'ID', and another time by property 'Name' ? You wished that you can sort it by just using a 'Sort Expression' ? If still not, I'm sure this moment will arrive sooner or later. Let me save you some time and an headache.

This is how it can be done:

public static IEnumerable Sort(this IEnumerable source, string sortExpression)
string[] sortParts = sortExpression.Split(' ');
var param = Expression.Parameter(typeof(T), string.Empty);
var property = Expression.Property(param, sortParts[0]);
var sortLambda = Expression.Lambda>(Expression.Convert(property, typeof(object)), param);
if (sortParts.Length > 1 && sortParts[1].Equals("desc", StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase))
return source.AsQueryable().OrderByDescending(sortLambda);
return source.AsQueryable().OrderBy(sortLambda);
catch (ArgumentException)
return source;

Just drop it in a static class, and you will be able to sort any collection that implement the interface IEnumerable.

Lets say you have a class 'User':
public class User
    public int ID { get; set; }
    public string Name { get; set; }

and a List collection: users. You can sort it however you want:
IEnumerable sortedUsersIEnumerable = users.Sort("ID desc");

List sortedUsersList = users.Sort("Name").ToList();

Sunday, 5 October 2008

WPF Keyboard Focus

Mark Smith posted a series of very practical series of three articles about this subject.

Part 1: It's Basically Focus
Part 2: Changing WPF Focus in Code
Part 3: Shifting focus to the first available element in WPF

Exceptions in Converters

Karl Shifflett says:

It is vital that your value converters not throw or be allowed to bubble exceptions because the data binding pipeline does not catch, swallow or handle these exceptions. Instead your users will get those messy exceptions messages because there is no method to catch and handle exceptions in XAML markup. Ensure that if your converter fails that you gracefully handle this conversion or convert back operation.

Validation and Conversion

The default order is for the ValidationRule to be called before the ConvertBack method of the IValueConverter. This means that the ValidationRule may have to do the same conversion as the converter before it can do the validation.

This order can be changed by specifying the ValidationStep.

Style="{StaticResource tbStyle}"
<Binding Path="Dob" Converter="{StaticResource dateFormattingConverter}">
<app:DobValidationRule ValidationStep="ConvertedProposedValue"/>

Resource inheritance

If dictionaries being merged have a duplicate key, the last one wins (unlike the case of having duplicate keys in a single dictionary).  Thus inheritance can be handled by the order in which the MergeDictionaries are loaded in the ResourceDictionary section Start by loading the BASE, then the next down etc.. and itll override every time it meets a duplicate.

For reference its on page 250ish in Martin's Unleashed book

Dynamic vs Static Resources :

SR means the resource is applied only once (the 1st time it’s needed).

DR means the resource is reapplied every time it changes.

The main difference between DR and SR is that any subsequent updates to the resource are reflected only to those elements that use DR.

SR and DR have different performance characteristics. DR requires more overhead than SR because of the extra overhead of tracking, while DR can potentially improve load time because SR are always loaded when the Window or Page loads, whereas the DR reference is only loaded when it’s actually used.

DR can also only set dependency properties whereas SR can be used almost anywhere

How are StaticResource and DynamicResource different

This was copied from!97DD5FD32788695B!142.entry for my own easy reference

Everyone one knows that StaticResource let’s one set a property of an element once.
If the Desktop Color is changed while the element’s application is running, the element keeps its original color:

        <SolidColorBrush Color="{StaticResource {x:Static SystemColors.DesktopColorKey}}" />

On the other hand, if the element’s color is set using a DynamicResource, it changes when the Desktop Color changes:

        <SolidColorBrush Color="{DynamicResource {x:Static SystemColors.DesktopColorKey}}" />

Why is that? The answer comes from the way these two Resource finders work:

    1.       StaticResource – Finds the resource given in by the ResourceDictionary key, and keeps the resource value;
    2.       DynamicResource – Finds the resource in the ResourceDictionary and keeps the key.

So, it is simple, really.
Since DynamicResource keeps the resource Key instead of the resource value, every event change fired from the resource lets the DynamicResource know that its value has changed.
This is why the DynamicResource reacts to the resource changes, while the StaticResource can’t know the resource has changed, since it only keeps the resource’s final value.

C# String Formatting

C# String Formatting

UPDATE: I show alternate ways to use string formats in WPF in this post:WPF String Formatting

This entry has been copied from SteveX ( for my own easy reference.

The text inside the curly braces is {index[,alignment][:formatString]}. If alignment is positive, the text is right-aligned in a field the given number of spaces; if it’s negative, it’s left-aligned.


There really isn’t any formatting within a string, beyond it’s alignment. Alignment works for any argument being printed in a String.Format call.
Sample Generates
String.Format(”->{1,10}<-”, “Hello”); -> Hello<-
String.Format(”->{1,-10}<-”, “Hello”); ->Hello <-


Basic number formatting specifiers:

Specifier Type Format Output (Passed Double 1.42) Output (Passed Int -12400)
c Currency {0:c} $1.42 -$12,400
d Decimal (Whole number) {0:d} System.FormatException -12400
e Scientific {0:e} 1.420000e+000 -1.240000e+004
f Fixed point {0:f} 1.42 -12400.00
g General {0:g} 1.42 -12400
n Number with commas for thousands {0:n} 1.42 -12,400
r Round trippable {0:r} 1.42 System.FormatException
x Hexadecimal {0:x4} System.FormatException cf90

Custom number formatting:

Specifier Type Example Output (Passed Double 1500.42) Note
0 Zero placeholder {0:00.0000} 1500.4200 Pads with zeroes.
# Digit placeholder {0:(#).##} (1500).42
. Decimal point {0:0.0} 1500.4
, Thousand separator {0:0,0} 1,500 Must be between two zeroes.
,. Number scaling {0:0,.} 2 Comma adjacent to Period scales by 1000.
% Percent {0:0%} 150042% Multiplies by 100, adds % sign.
e Exponent placeholder {0:00e+0} 15e+2 Many exponent formats available.

Group separator
see below

The group separator is especially useful for formatting currency values which require that negative values be enclosed in parentheses. This currency formatting example at the bottom of this document makes it obvious:


Note that date formatting is especially dependant on the system’s regional settings; the example strings here are from my local locale.

Specifier Type Example (Passed System.DateTime.Now)
d Short date 10/12/2002
D Long date December 10, 2002
t Short time 10:11 PM
T Long time 10:11:29 PM
f Full date & time December 10, 2002 10:11 PM
F Full date & time (long) December 10, 2002 10:11:29 PM
g Default date & time 10/12/2002 10:11 PM
G Default date & time (long) 10/12/2002 10:11:29 PM
M Month day pattern December 10
r RFC1123 date string Tue, 10 Dec 2002 22:11:29 GMT
s Sortable date string 2002-12-10T22:11:29
u Universal sortable, local time 2002-12-10 22:13:50Z
U Universal sortable, GMT December 11, 2002 3:13:50 AM
Y Year month pattern December, 2002

The ‘U’ specifier seems broken; that string certainly isn’t sortable.

Custom date formatting:

Specifier Type Example Example Output
dd Day {0:dd} 10
ddd Day name {0:ddd} Tue
dddd Full day name {0:dddd} Tuesday
f, ff, … Second fractions {0:fff} 932
gg, … Era {0:gg} A.D.
hh 2 digit hour {0:hh} 10
HH 2 digit hour, 24hr format {0:HH} 22
mm Minute 00-59 {0:mm} 38
MM Month 01-12 {0:MM} 12
MMM Month abbreviation {0:MMM} Dec
MMMM Full month name {0:MMMM} December
ss Seconds 00-59 {0:ss} 46
tt AM or PM {0:tt} PM
yy Year, 2 digits {0:yy} 02
yyyy Year {0:yyyy} 2002
zz Timezone offset, 2 digits {0:zz} -05
zzz Full timezone offset {0:zzz} -05:00
: Separator {0:hh:mm:ss} 10:43:20
/ Separator {0:dd/MM/yyyy} 10/12/2002


Specifier Type
g Default (Flag names if available, otherwise decimal)
f Flags always
d Integer always
x Eight digit hex.

Some Useful Examples

String.Format(”{0:$#,##0.00;($#,##0.00);Zero}”, value);

This will output “$1,240.00? if passed 1243.50. It will output the same format but in parentheses if the number is negative, and will output the string “Zero” if the number is zero.

String.Format(”{0:(###) ###-####}”, 8005551212);

This will output “(800) 555-1212?.

WPF ComboBox Data Binding

Binding a enum property (PaymentFrequency) to a WPF ComboBox.
This property provides the ItemsSource for the combobox by building a dictionary of enum (key) and enum.ToString (value).
   public enum PaymentFrequency
Expose this as a Property and Dictionary for Binding purposes:
      public PaymentFrequency Frequency { get; set; }

      public IDictionary<PaymentFrequency, string> FrequencyList
            IDictionary<PaymentFrequency, string> frequencyList = new Dictionary<PaymentFrequency, string>();
            foreach (PaymentFrequency pf in Enum.GetValues(typeof(PaymentFrequency)))
               frequencyList.Add(pf, pf.ToString());
            return frequencyList;
The corresponding xaml (not forgetting the UpdateSourceTrigger=PropertyChanged if the ComboBox is inside a DataGrid as discussed here):
      <ComboBox ItemsSource="{Binding Path=FrequencyList, Mode=OneTime}"
                SelectedValue="{Binding Path=Frequency, UpdateSourceTrigger=PropertyChanged}">
For Internationalisation purposes it would be better to use Resource Strings to provide the descriptions for the combobox. I used a prefix of "PF_" on all the strings to ensure they are unique:

PF_DayOfPlay Day of Play 
PF_Monthly Monthly 
PF_None  None 
PF_Quarterly Quarterly 
PF_Weekly Weekly
Then modify the FrequencyList getter:
      public PaymentFrequency Frequency { get; set; }

      public IDictionary<PaymentFrequency, string> FrequencyList
            IDictionary<PaymentFrequency, string> frequencyList = new Dictionary<PaymentFrequency, string>();
            foreach (PaymentFrequency pf in Enum.GetValues(typeof(PaymentFrequency)))
               frequencyList.Add(pf, ResourceStrings.ResourceManager.GetString("PF_" + pf.ToString()));
            return frequencyList;
A final tweak is to sort the descriptions displayed in the combobox into alphabetic order based on the translated strings.
      public PaymentFrequency Frequency { get; set; }

      public IDictionary<PaymentFrequency, string> FrequencyList
            IDictionary<PaymentFrequency, string> frequencyList = new Dictionary<PaymentFrequency, string>();
            foreach (PaymentFrequency pf in Enum.GetValues(typeof(PaymentFrequency)))
               frequencyList.Add(pf, ResourceStrings.ResourceManager.GetString("PF_" + pf.ToString()));
            return frequencyList.OrderBy(f => f.Value).ToDictionary(f => f.Key, f => f.Value);
The ComboboxDataBinding example project includes this code and can be downloaded from GoogleCode.

CompareTo method

CompareTo() is very easy to understand but I just seem to have a blind spot about it.

int result = instance.CompareTo(obj);

Less than zeroinstance is less than obj
Zeroinstance is equal to obj
Greater than zeroinstance is greater than obj

For thisUse this
if (instance < obj)if (instance.CompareTo(obj) < 0)
if (instance <= obj)if (instance.CompareTo(obj) <= 0)
if (instance == obj)if (instance.CompareTo(obj) == 0)
if (instance > obj)if (instance.CompareTo(obj) > 0)
if (instance >= obj)if (instance.CompareTo(obj) >= 0)

Sorting Generic Collections

You can simplify the sorting by using the anonymous delegate as shown below and you don't need to implement IComparable interface:

(Note: For a simpler technique using LINQ see: Sorting Generic Collections - Redux)
List persons = new List();
persons.Add( new Person("Tom",30) );
persons.Add(new Person("Harry", 55));

// sort in ascending order
persons.Sort( delegate(Person person0, Person person1)
} );

// sort in descending order
persons.Sort( delegate(Person person0, Person person1)
} );