Visual Studio

  • Hacked by Chinese

    On our main product, in a branch on which I’m working on a Point of Sale product, something happened in the process of checking files into source control. In our case, we’re using Team Foundation Server. My guess is that the corruption happened on my hard drive for who knows what reason, but this is the beginning of the resulting solution file that ended up in TFS: a bunch of Chinese-looking characters instead of a project name.

    Microsoft Visual Studio Solution File, Format Version 10.00
    # Visual Studio 2008
    Project("{54435603-DBB4-11D2-8724-00A0C9A8B90C}") = "펐!蝀ጢ", "ProductNameFaxServiceSetup\ProductNameFaxServiceSetup.vdproj", "{DDA7A291-A5F6-4FEA-B11E-BBE90848167D}"
    Project("{FAE04EC0-301F-11D3-BF4B-00C04F79EFBC}") = "CompanyName.Claim.Common", "CompanyName.Claim.Common\CompanyName.Claim.Common.csproj", "{11EE0005-87E4-44E0-806A-0BCB382468F0}"
    Project("{FAE04EC0-301F-11D3-BF4B-00C04F79EFBC}") = "CompanyName.Claim.Modem", "CompanyName.Claim.Modem\CompanyName.Claim.Modem.csproj", "{FE62F256-5A9C-4212-8EFB-CCD0AC0D59AF}"

    It took a while to track down, because it manifested itself as missing projects, missing dependencies. I kept adding back things one at a time and then ending up with two more dependencies left to add. Finally, I just looked at the raw solution file and saw how it was messed up. I went back to find a file in the source control history that wasn’t messed up, got that specific version by change set, and then added the specific projects that had been added since then back to the solution.

    Thanks to source control, I was back up and running in no time.

    The title is from the phrase with which the Code Red worm defaced web sites it infected. We didn’t really get hacked by the Chinese.

  • Accessing a Control Without Being Able to See It on a Windows Form

    Menu Key Displayed on KeyboardA coworker of mine had a problem and came to me for help. She had a windows form with a control on it that she wanted to edit or delete, but couldn’t see the control. It was listed in the properties box in the list of controls on the form, but when she selected it, she wasn’t able to click it on the form, because it was behind another control.

    I hypothesized a solution, which worked, but requires the use of a less than frequent key on your keyboard, the menu key. Usually this key is two keys to the right of the space bar on windows keyboards, between Alt and Control. A picture of it is on the right.

    Note: As pointed out by Lee, in the comments, you can press Shift + F10 if your keyboard doesn’t contain the Menu Key.

    The Form With a Hidden Label Behind the Filename TextBox) Form with hidden label control

    Properties Window Listing the Hidden Control, HiddenLabel

    Properties window list of controls

    Select the control that you can’t see. It will be highlighted on the form.

    Form with Hidden Control Highlighted

    Label highlighted after selecting from properties windowThe hidden control becomes highlighted. Click into the title bar of the form. Press the menu key on your keyboard to display the context menu.

    Context Menu Being Displayed After Pressing the Menu Key

    bringtofrontSelect “Bring to Front” to display the control. It will now be visible and can be edited or removed.

    Hidden Control Moved

    Label after being brought to front and movedAs you can see, the control that was previously hidden is now visible and has been moved.

    I know this is a basic solution to an easy problem, but I had to figure it out, and I hope that someone searching may find this useful as well. The above example was a new form I was starting; it is not the actual application in question.

  • Using Reflection to Dynamically Generate ToString() Output

    Update: Added code to show “null” when a property is null, like Visual Studio does.

    If you’ve ever used Visual Studio in any iteration in any language, you have most likely used the immediate window. It’s insanely useful and lets you just type an instance of an object and if the object doesn’t have an overridden ToString() method (I’m back in C#/.Net world here for the purposes of this post), Visual Studio will dynamically generate output for you, so that you can see the current state of the object.

    Here is what Visual Studio’s output looks like on an object I have:

        base {CompanyName.CreditCard.Processor.Response}: {CompanyName.CreditCard.Processor.CreditDebit.SaleResponse}
        AddressVerificationSuccess: true
        AuthorizationCode: null
        AuthorizedAmount: 50
        CvvSuccess: false
        ReferenceNumber: null

    However, what if you want to be able to have ToString() generate this type of output for you, for the purposes of debugging, like using with Debug.WriteLine or Trace or any other logging framework? It is useful to be able to see later what the state of an object was during a problem situation. Sure, you can write your own ToString() code in every object to generate its state in string form, and then aggregate all the base objects using base.ToString(), but that is a lot of iterative, repetitious coding.

    My classes are simple data transfer objects and look like this:

    public class SaleResponse : Response
        public virtual bool AddressVerificationSuccess { get; set; }
        public virtual bool CvvSuccess { get; set; }
        public virtual string AuthorizationCode { get; set; }
        public virtual string ReferenceNumber { get; set; }
        public virtual decimal? AuthorizedAmount { get; set; }
    public class Response
        public virtual bool Success { get; set; }
        public virtual string ResponseMessage { get; set; }
        public virtual string TransactionID { get; set; }
        public virtual string GatewayResponseCodeText { get; set; }
        public virtual string IssuerResponseCodeText { get; set; }
        public virtual GatewayResponseCode GatewayResponseCode { get; set; }
        public virtual IssuerResponseCode IssuerResponseCode { get; set; }

    As you can see, Visual Studio didn’t even give me the contents of the base class, but I want this information. My ToString() method I’ve created in the SaleResponse object is the following:

    public override string ToString()
        var flags = System.Reflection.BindingFlags.Instance | System.Reflection.BindingFlags.Public | System.Reflection.BindingFlags.FlattenHierarchy;
        System.Reflection.PropertyInfo[] infos = this.GetType().GetProperties(flags);
        StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        string typeName = this.GetType().Name;
        sb.AppendLine(string.Empty.PadRight(typeName.Length + 5, '='));
        foreach (var info in infos)
            object value = info.GetValue(this, null);
            sb.AppendFormat("{0}: {1}{2}", info.Name, value != null ? value : "null", Environment.NewLine);
        return sb.ToString();

    Which generates the following output:

    AddressVerificationSuccess: True
    CvvSuccess: False
    AuthorizationCode: null
    ReferenceNumber: null
    AuthorizedAmount: 50
    Success: True
    ResponseMessage: null
    TransactionID: AXB234234
    GatewayResponseCodeText: null
    IssuerResponseCodeText: null
    GatewayResponseCode: ExpiredDevice
    IssuerResponseCode: Error

    What I like about this approach is that it grabs all the base object’s properties recursively. Obviously, there are performance concerns with doing reflection, so I wouldn’t use this constantly, but I think it’s a good way to write out the state of an object in the event of an error. Also, I made the example simple for this blog post, but obviously, you could put that code into an extension method for System.Object or just into a static utility class, adding an object parameter and replacing “this” with the name of the object parameter.