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Sunday, July 2, 2017PrintSubscribe
Advanced Search 3.0, Integrated Deployment, Enhanced Baskets & Lookups

Release 8.6.3.0 is here! While the revision number is minor, some major features are contained in this release.
 
First on the headline is brand new Advanced Search 3.0 for Touch UI. Major upgrades were required for the Form Rendering Engine to support dynamically created forms. Survey capabilities have been greatly expanded in order to support the functionality required for Advanced Search. 
 
One important aspect of every app is dealing with deployment. The new Publish capabilities introduced in 8.6.3.0 make it easy to get your apps running on the cloud or a dedicated server. Read on below for more information.
 
A large number of other enhancements and fixes are also included in this release.

Advanced Search 3.0

The original implementation of Advanced Search for Touch UI was a custom solution. The introduction of modal pages in release 8.6.0.0 necessitated a rewrite of the functionality. The new implementation in release 8.6.3.0 brings integration with the latest features available in Touch UI - lookups, basket lookups, date inputs, modal forms, surveys, and custom form templates.
 
The new default layout for Advanced Search will read a story to the user. Use Tab, Enter, or arrow keys to quickly navigate through field values. Push Enter key to perform the Search.
 
Advanced Search 3.0 now correctly handles typed inputs. A date picker will be displayed for date fields. Lookups are used for every field to allow the user to select existing values.
 
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For fields in a “Match All” group, the lookups will be cross-dependent on each other and apply filters to available values based on the current selection. This greatly helps the user explore and understand the dataset without having to perform searches.

Integrated Publishing/Deployment

A major step of every app is to deploy it to the web. Release 8.6.3.0 makes it easy to bring the app to your users with the push of a button.
 
The “Publish” action in previous releases would simply compile the app and open the target folder. In the new release, the action will now display the list of options below.
  image

The “File System” option allows publishing directly a folder in the file system.
 
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The “FTP” option allows publishing the app directly to an FTP-enabled server.
 
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Publishing to Microsoft Azure is covered in great details in the brand new tutorials at  

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLy2g3SjvDe2YbSdvoXilUh9BvkllO50jh

Integrated publishing to the cloud if the foundation of the mobile application deployment in the upcoming release 8.7.0.0.  Only Code On Time will allow creating a server-side application that becomes automatically mobile and capable of working entirely offline in the release 8.8.0.0. Consult our roadmap for more details at http://codeontime.com/roadmap.

Each Publish option offers the ability to specify overrides for app settings that will be applied when Publish is complete. Here are some of the options:

  • Primary and membership connection strings
  • Enabling remote debug messages
  • Blob adapter configurations

Support for Microsoft Visual Studio 2017

The app generator now fully supports Visual Studio 2017.

Rich Text Format

Support for rich text has been now introduced in the grid, list, and cards presentation styles. Forms display a keyboard freindly rich text editor. We will be making a few enhancements in the follow-up releases (toolbar, formattings options, etc.) in the coming weeks.

Identity Server OAuth Provider

You can now use Identity Server 4 for the purpose of user authentication based on Microsoft Identity technology.

Microsoft Graph OAuth Provider (Windows Live, Outlook, Office, SharePoint, Azure AD)

This releases also introduces new options that allow authentication of users via Microsoft Azure Active Directory. We are preparing video tutorials that will explain how that works.

Additional Enhancements

  • Baskets are now displaying the selected items inline with the text input for a more compact presentation. Selected options are eliminated from the list of options available for selection.
  • Powerful client-side caching in database lookups brings performance of applications to a new level.
  • Changing models will no longer rebuild data model from the database - much faster for users using remote database servers.
  • Project backups are now zipped, reducing Backup folder size by ~90%.
  • Published projects are now backed up and zipped.
  • New ServiceRequestHandler class allows extending “_invoke” API with new custom handlers.
    Web.config modification instructions now support “SetAttribute” command. See example below:
        SetAttribute: /configuration/system.web/pages
        validateRequest:false
  • Azure Blob Adapter updated to use API version 2015-12-11.
  • Sitemaps defined in CMS now support “CSS Class” property.
  • It is now possible to control default modal behavior using touch-settings.json file using “ui.modal.max” and “ui.modal.when” properties.. See example below:
    {
      "ui": {
        "modal": {
          "max": "lg",
          "when": "sm"
        }
      }
    }
  • Added ability to set thumbnail size in touch-settings.json using the “ui.thumbnail.width” and “ui.thumbnail.height” properties.
  • New icons in the app generator.
  • Warning shown under connection string when it differs from the membership connection string.
  • Only one connection string is created in web.config if primary and membership connection string are equal.
  • Updated translations for Portuguese - thank you Nielsen Batista!
  • Updated translations for German - thank you Peter Teutsch!
  • Added tag “lookup-collapsible” to automatically collapse ListBox and RadioButtonList controls when the user makes a selection. A  chevron is displayed to expand the lookup again.
  • Custom button support in surveys.
  • ExportBase.ToClientUrl() is now overridable to allow customization of IQY files.
  • Calendar Input will focus next field after the date is selected on DateTime fields on desktop devices.
  • Basket lookups will hide values that have already been selected.
  • Lookup controls will expand faster to ensure text does not scroll as the user types.
  • Enhanced support for conversion of strings to date values. For example, type in “011215” to get Jan 12, 2015.
  • Close button added to Calendar Input when mouse is primary pointer.
  • Blob Adapter values are stored in the web.config as app settings.
  • Many-to-many field processing is moved before “After” business rules, and after “Before” business rules, to ensure rules use the correct values.
  • Tag “open-on-tap” will open a lookup dropdown instead of focusing on text input.
  • Tag “lookup-distinct” allows reducing the available lookup options to distinct values.
  • Custom JavaScript files will now be read and appended to the framework when placed under ~/js folder. ApplicationServices.ConfigureScripts() allows controlling which scripts are included.
  • Custom Cascading Stylesheet files (CSS) will be read and appended to the library when placed under ~/css folder.
  • Surveys are now loaded from ~/js/surveys folder. When using survey called “mysurvey”, API will pick up files in this order:
  • Survey definition: mysurvey.min.js, mysurvey.js
  • Survey rules: mysurvey.rules.min.js, mysurvey.rules.js
  • Survey template: mysurvey.html
     

Miscellaneous Fixes:

  • Fixed dedicated login redirect issue with projects using ASPX page implementation.
  • Fixed issue “Error 500: Dangerous request in form” when a form is submitted with HTML formatted values.
  • Fixed issue with Membership Manager not updating LoweredRoleName column.
  • Fixes with page sizing after device rotation.
  • Custom Membership supports optional PasswordQuestion/Answer.
  • Charts are now supported with custom controllers.
  • Blob Adapters with Source Field value containing spaces is now supported.
  • MyProfileBusinessRules properly inherits from SharedBusinessRules when the feature is enabled.
  • Fixed “Unable to get property ‘1’ of undefined” error in Project Designer.
  • Disabled discard changes prompt in MyProfile controller.
  • Fixed issue with Model class objects using Turkish “i” in field names.
  • Export action ignores DataView fields.
  • Tag “action-call-disabled” now works.
Friday, August 26, 2016PrintSubscribe
Deploying Web Site Factory Project to Azure

Microsoft Azure is composed of a collection of integrated cloud services. It enables easy storage of databases and deployment of web applications to the Internet, without having to deal with the hassle of infrastructure maintenance. When it comes time to offer your application to a larger number of users, your services can be scaled easily to fit your needs. Azure offers pay-as-you go services to scale up or down to match demand.

Let’s deploy a sample Northwind Web Site Factory project to Azure using Visual Studio 2015.

Start the app generator, click on the project name, and press “Develop” to open the project in Visual Studio.

Opening Northwind project in Visual Studio.

In the Solution Explorer (F4), right-click on the “WebSite” node and press “Publish Web App”.

Publishing a web app from Visual Studio.

In the list of publish targets, select “Microsoft Azure App Service”.

Publishing to Microsoft Azure App Service.

If you have not logged into your Microsoft account, enter your credentials in the login window that appears and proceed to log in.

In the App Service window, press “New..” to create a new resource group for your application.

Creating a new resource group for Azure.

Assign a Web App Name to this deployment. Next to App Service Plan, press “New…”.

Specifying a web app name and app service plan for the azure deployment.

Select an app service plan suitable for your deployment. Every tier provides different compute capabilities and features at different price points.

Please note that a dedicated (non-shared) app service plan must be selected in order for reports to be generated. The smallest available size that enables the use of reporting is “Basic – 1” (B1).

Configuring an app service plan for the web app.

Press “OK” to save the app service plan. Then, click “Create” to create the required Azure resources.

When the process is complete, the Publish screen will open with pre-filled values. Leave the values as default and press “Next” to configure settings.

The Publish configuration has been automatically populated.

Check the box next to “Remove additional files at destination”. This will ensure that the deployment directory will match the local directory.

Enabling removal of additional files at the destination.

Press “Publish” to deploy your application to the cloud. When publish is complete, the application will open in your default web browser.

Including Report Viewer DLLs

If Reporting is enabled in the web application, a server error will be displayed. ReportViewer DLLs must be included in the published app.

Open File Explorer by pressing Win+E, and navigate to

C:\Windows\assembly\GAC_MSIL\Microsoft.ReportViewer.WebForms

Open the folder for the version of Report Viewer required by your application. Applications using “.NET 4.6” require version 12.

Right-click on the DLL file and press “Copy”.

Creating a copy of the ReportViewer DLL.

In Visual Studio’s Solution Explorer, right-click on “WebSite” project node and press “Add | New Folder”.

Adding a new folder to the project.

Assign the name “bin” to the folder. Right-click on the new folder and press “Paste”.

Pasting Report Viewer DLL to the bin folder.

The DLL will copy into the “bin” folder.

Copy two more DLLs, found at these locations:

  1. C:\Windows\assembly\GAC_MSIL\Microsoft.ReportViewer.Common
  2. C:\Windows\assembly\GAC_MSIL\Microsoft.ReportViewer.ProcessingObjectModel

Next, re-publish the app by right-clicking on the “WebSite” node and pressing “Publish Web App”.

Publishing the web app with report viewer DLLs.a

Then, press “Publish” to initiate the process. Once complete, the app will open in your web browser and open the home page of your application running in the cloud.

Friday, September 12, 2014PrintSubscribe
Announcing Workflow Register

Workflows in Line-of-Business Applications

Workflow is a repeatable pattern of business activity.  Business applications mirror the real-world patterns through data collection performed in sequences of user-interface screens.

Software developers create hard-coded data structures and data entry forms based on the input from business users. A line-of-business application represents the current understanding of a business process by a development team.

A successful line-of-business application eventually evolves to match the requirements of business processes in organization. The dynamic nature of a business life-cycle will require constant tweaks and fine tuning even in a successful implementation.

Application customization and deployment are very expensive and frequently disruptive. Line-of-business applications must include built-in tools to allow changing application behavior without modifying the core application code.

Procedural Workflows

Many software packages include implementations of procedural workflows. Procedural Workflow allows non-developers to describe sequences of application operations with optional conditions and loops. Procedural workflows can be presented as visual workflow diagrams or text-based scripts. Procedural workflows offer a great tool that allows altering application behavior without changing the core application.

Complexity of procedural workflows grows exponentially when business users are trying to express various exceptions that exist in real-world business processes. Procedural workflows do not offer the means of limiting access to data.

State Machine Workflows

State Machine workflows are composed of rules triggered by the state of data, user identity, and time. Each rule defines a test that allows inspecting the state of data. If the test has passed, then the rule is “triggered”. The triggered rules affect application behavior. If there is no state test, then a rule is considered to be “triggered” by the mere fact of association with the current user identity.

A state-driven rule effects a specific type of application functionality. For example, a rule with Allow type can define a filter that reduces a set of records to a smaller subset based on user identity. If the rule is “triggered”, then the filter is applied to any SQL statement reading data from the application database.  A rule with Transform type may remove data modification actions from a data entry form. If the rule is triggered, then the end user will not be able to Edit, Delete, Import or create New data records.

A large collection of rules affecting application behavior can be developed. Developers organize related rules in groups. Groups of rules are associated with users and optional schedules. Association of end users with rule groups and scheduling can be outsourced to application administrators.

The standard end user experience is defined by the implementation of line-of-business application. The rules of the state machine workflow will alter user experience based on user identity, time, and state of data.

State-based rules hide the complexity of the real-world business processes by breaking them down into small and manageable bits of functionality. State-based rules are great when it comes to implementing real-world exception. A state-based rule can define data filters, user interface alterations, business rule injection, and much more.

Adaptive Line-of-Business Apps

For the past few years we have worked on an integrated solution that will enable declarative state-machine workflows in the generated applications out-of-the-box. The goal is to enable adaptive customization of live apps without making changes to the code that require re-deployment.

We have identified the following customization requirements that must be available in a live application:

  1. Ability to define Allow/Deny filtering rules that can be applied to any data retrieved by application.
  2. Ability to create customization rules applied to XML definition of a data controller.
  3. Ability to replace an entire data controller with a substitute.
  4. Ability to create “content” and “data” pages in a live app.

Several prototypes have been developed but appeared too complex to operate.

Meanwhile developers working with Code On Time had an option to implement requirements (1), (2), and (3) on their own:

  1. Dynamic Access Control Rules - http://codeontime.com/learn/security/multi-tenant-applications/dynamic-access-control-rules
  2. Data Controller Virtualization - http://codeontime.com/learn/workflow/virtualization-node-set-plugins
  3. Substitution of controllers - http://codeontime.com/learn/data-controllers/virtualization

Requirement (4) can be satisfied in SharePoint Factory and DotNetNuke Factory Projects. Both products are content management systems that allow creating pages at runtime.

This year we have finally arrived to a solution that will become integrated in the apps created as Azure Factory, Mobile Factory, Web App Factory, or Web Site Factory projects.

The solution will be rolled into a single feature called “Workflow Register”.

It will include an integrated Content Management System (CMS) as a core component of generated apps. CMS will allow creating dynamic “data” and “content” pages at runtime.

“Data” pages will include markup that uses “data-“ attributes to define data views. For example, master-detail page at  http://demo.codeontime.com/northwind/Pages/Categories.aspx is defined as follows:

<div data-flow="NewRow">
    <div id="view1" data-controller="Categories" data-view="grid1" data-show-in-summary="true"></div>
</div>
<div data-flow="NewRow" style="padding-top: 8px">
    <div data-activator="Tab|Products">
        <div id="view2" data-controller="Products" data-view="grid1" 
            data-filter-source="view1" data-filter-fields="CategoryID" 
            data-page-size="5" data-auto-hide="container" data-show-modal-forms="true"></div>
    </div>
</div>

“Content” pages may contain arbitrary HTML.

Here is the screen shot of a “content” page based on popular Bootstrap framework, which will be integrated in the Code On Time release 8.0.9.0 due out at the end of September 2014.

CodeOnTimeBootstrap

If workflow Register is enabled in a project, then the app generator will install a custom database schema to the primary database. The tables will have “ease_” prefix. The schema includes tables to support the following features:

  • Workflows - specifies Allow, Deny, Transform, Define rules that are applied to various application components, such as pages, menu items, controllers, etc.
  • Content Management System – provides storage for dynamic content, such as pages and menu items.
  • Register - global registry that associates user identity references (user IDs and roles) with workflows and optional schedules.
  • Permissions – a collection of  workflow rules associated with users.

Register

The purpose of workflow Register is to enable management of various permissions by application administrators at runtime.

All users will have access to the Register entries associated with their user ID. Only administrators will have access to all entries in the Register.

Entries created by administrators have “Approved” status.  Users will also be able to assign workflows to themselves. Such entries will be created with “Pending” status. Only “Approved” workflow register entries will be taken into account by the application framework.

A person assigning a workflow to a user or role does not need to know the details of workflow implementation. An entry in Register may read:

Workflow Human Resources is assigned to John Doe on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday starting on November 15, 2014 and ending on February 1, 2015.

User John Doe will have have access to human resources pages on the specified dates. The workflow may allow or deny access to data records exposed on the pages.

Developers will be able to create workflow rules that delegate management of Register entries to the users other than administrators.

Workflow Register comes with pre-defined data controllers and management pages exposed through “Register” menu option in generated apps.

Workflows

Workflows are collections of rules defined by application developers. A developer can create a set of pre-defined workflows as a part of application at design time.  New workflow rules can be created and existing ones can be customized at runtime as needed.

Rules may affect application behavior in multiple ways. For example:

  • A filter that allows or denies access to data can be specified
  • New pages can be made available to end users
  • Data controller actions defined in the application can be dynamically altered at runtime.
  • New SQL, JavaScript, and Email business rules can be introduced in data controllers.

The rule definition system if very simple and exceptionally extensible to fit the most demanding customization requirements.

Content Management System

Content management system allows populating an application with new “content” and “data” pages.

CMS may also store images, style sheets, JavaScript, and any other files or documents.

Application workflows determine access to the content. Content may be publicly available or limited to specific individuals or groups of users.

Permissions

Permissions are collections of  workflow rules matched to a user identity.

Permissions are evaluated by application framework when users access various applications resources. Application framework matches workflow Register entries with the user identity and resource type. Matched workflow rules are automatically engaged by application framework.

For example, if “Allow” rule defines a filter limiting visibility of customer records, then the filter is included in SELECT statements executed by the framework when application tries to read a list of customers.

If a workflow assignment has an associated schedule, then permission engagement will be time-sensitive.

Permissions are created by application framework on-demand directly from the workflow Register entries. Permissions are refreshed when associated workflows are changed.

Availability

We are planning to release various components of Workflow Register with each upcoming release.

The upcoming release 8.0.9.0 due out by the end of month in September will include several elements of Workflow Register:

  • Support for content pages.
  • Support for declarative data pages.
  • Integrated Bootstrap framework to allow creation of compelling responsive content pages.
  • One-to-One entities support in data controllers. This particular feature is introduced to support “ease_” database tables.

Our production schedule indicates that Workflow Register will become available in November of 2014 or a sooner.

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