Saturday, February 16, 2008

ASP.Net 3.5 Extension Dynamic Data, SQL Compact Edition 3.5, Linq, IIS7

It's been a while since my last blog, I went back to Indonesia visiting our families while celebrating Chinese New Year 2008 ;) It's never enough for holiday and i got the side effect of post holiday syndrome (need more holidays) :P Btw, happy chinese new year for you guyz, wish all good things happen this year of 2008 ;)

Back into the reality and the subject ;)

I have been tracking all my family financial and expense information in an excel file until last december 2007 where I thought that it will be great if i can create some .Net apps for this, while i can learn some new stuffs as well.
At that time, SQL Compact Edition 3.5 just came out so i downloaded and installed it, i got some problems with it but finally managed to use it and migrated all my data from excel file to the SQL CE (created a small app for this).

After the database is done, the next thing to do is the User Interface app.
I read Scott Gu's blog post about the ASP.Net Dynamic Data some time ago which is quite perfect for me since i only need a simple app to manage the data. So i downloaded the extension and watched the introduction video. You have to check it out to see what it can do.

Steps :

  1. Install the ASP.Net 3.5 extension
  2. Create a new project using a new template project for website : Dynamic Data Website, it will generate all the files needed for the site.
  3. Since i'm using SQL CE, the linq to sql file has to be generated manually using SqlMetal.exe (use VS 2008 Command prompt and type sqlmetal.exe to see the user guide). Include the generated dbml files to the project
  4. Open the [dbml file name].designer.cs file and add a parameterless constructor with the database connection string for the sdf file or get it from web.config file :
    public MyData() : base (@"Data Source='D:\MyDatabase.sdf';Password='mypassword'")

  5. Since by default SQL CE is not intended for web application, you will need to add a global.ascx file and add this line below in the application_start to get it working
    AppDomain.CurrentDomain.SetData("SQLServerCompactEditionUnderWebHosting", true);
  6. Compile the app and run ;)
The result is quite amazing, it displays all the tables and their relationships in the database (generated by sqlmetal) and it provides most of the functionalities such as edit, delete, insert that I need :D

When deploying the app into IIS 7, i encountered some problems and found the solutions below :
1. Configuring ASP.Net 3.5 into IIS7
2. Precompilation problem with Dynamic Data

The name "Dynamic Data" said it all, it is able to display your data dynamically no matter how many tables with different structures by using only few template files and also very extensible for your own customization.

Give it a try and see for your self ;)


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