.NET Projects You Should Be Follwing On Github

19. July 2015 04:51

API ASP.NET ASP.NET MVC C# Musings Web  0 Comments

Open-source has entirely change the programming and developers world. Today you can create any application, game, mobile app without spending a single penny. Thanks to open-source software and awesome community of developers and people behind them. As a .NET developer I have been developing enterprise applications for quite a long time and now I have shifted my focus towards developing products and understanding what it takes to make a successful product launch.

Back then, I used to spend most of my time in investigating the new technologies and what technology we should be using to get this thing done. I still do that today, not because it is the requirement of the project but because I have been asking a lot of questions. The list of projects I have compiled below are the projects that have helped me in learning lots of new things and insights of the programming and I hope this does the same for you as well.  Here is the list of awesome open-source project that you should be following on Github.


We all know about Paint.net, it is an awesome tool and a complete replacement of Photoshop (at least for me). And yet there is another project which is almost the same and open-source and it works on Linux and Mac. It uses Gtk# (Gtk sharp) to run on both Window and Linux platforms. This project is a must have if you are a .NET guy and want to get yourself into some serious programming. You will learn about the insights of using gtk# in your projects. Though Microsoft already took the steps to have .NET FX on Linux but still this project is a great learning source.

Official site: http://www.pinta-project.com/

Github: https://github.com/PintaProject/Pinta



I take a lot of screen shots and record screen casts as well for my personal use. But I used to use two different tools to get the work done. This is one of the tools that will not just take screen shots or just let you record your screen casts easily, it will also allow you to upload them to the 40 different image storing cloud services. Dive into the source code and see the awesomeness under the hood. Here is the project description as seen on Github.

ShareX is an open source program that lets you take screenshots or screencasts of any selected area with a single key, save them in your clipboard, hard disk or instantly upload them to over 40 different file hosting services. In addition to taking screenshots, it can upload images, text files and all other different file types.

Official site: https://getsharex.com/

Github: https://github.com/ShareX/ShareX


StackExchange - Data Explorer

You got a programming question, you Google it and it redirects it to StackOverflow. StackOverflow needs no introduction among programmers. StackOverflow is one of the Q&A site dedicated to the developers to get the answers for their problems. But it is just one site. In the recent years StackExchange has grew up and not just providing support for programmers but also helping folks from other fields. Now the data StackExchange has is available for anyone out there for free under creative-commons. If you are interested in looking into the source code that powers the user to query that immense amount of data bank then head over to Github and fork this project. StackExchange is all about Microsoft stack and this tool is also written in ASP.NET MVC3.

Official App: https://data.stackexchange.com/

Github: https://github.com/StackExchange/StackExchange.DataExplorer


Mini Blog

This is the minimalistic blog engine written in ASP.NET web pages by the author of BlogEngine.NET, Mads Kristensen. I started my bog with BlogEngine.NET and I had an amazing experience with it. MiniBlog is totally different in terms of features that are offered by BlogEngine.NET. This project will tell you the power of web pages and how you can write your own simple site without wasting much time.

Demo: http://miniblog.azurewebsites.net/ (with user name and password as demo).

Github: https://github.com/madskristensen/MiniBlog


Fluent Scheduler

If you want to run cron jobs or automated jobs in your application quietly, then this is the library you should be using. The documentation is pretty sleek and get you started in no time. But other than that you should take a look at the source code and see how nicely this has been done.

Github: https://github.com/jgeurts/FluentScheduler



A Micro-ORM used by StackExchange sites. This is a perfect replacement for EF. This is just a single file that you can drop in your project and get started.

Dapper is a single file you can drop in to your project that will extend your IDbConnection interface.

Github: https://github.com/StackExchange/dapper-dot-net



A .NET library to access MediaWiki API. The library is almost 3 years old but the source code will worth the look. Excerpt from Github:

LinqToWiki is a library for accessing sites running MediaWiki (including Wikipedia) through the MediaWiki API from .Net languages like C# and VB.NET.

It can be used to do almost anything that can be done from the web interface and more, including things like editing articles, listing articles in categories, listing all kinds of links on a page and much more. Querying the various lists available can be done using LINQ queries, which then get translated into efficient API requests.

Github: https://github.com/svick/LINQ-to-Wiki

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Getting Started With ASP.NET 5 On Ubuntu

16. June 2015 22:59

.NET Framework ASP.NET ASP.NET MVC C# Microsoft  Ubuntu Visual Studio Web  6 Comments

Ever since the .NET stack went open source last year, there is a huge excitement among the developers about the .NET stuff and developing apps using .NET which are no longer limited to Windows platform. I tried to install ASP.NET VNext on Ubuntu VM in which I terribly failed in the first go. Why? because the tutorial I used was quite old and I messed up the installation of pre-requisites. But I get everything working in the second try. So here are the steps and commands that will get you started with ASP.NET VNext on Ubuntu.

I am setting up a fresh VM for development on Ubuntu 14.04.2 LTS

Installing Mono

First thing is to install Mono. For folks who are new to Linux environment, Mono is a community driven project which allows developers to build and run .NET application on Linux platforms. Here is the set of commands that I have to execute to install Mono.

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 3FA7E0328081BFF6A14DA29AA6A19B38D3D831EF

echo "deb http://download.mono-project.com/repo/debian wheezy main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mono-xamarin.list
sudo apt-get update

Install the latest version of Mono available.

sudo apt-get install mono-complete

To check if Mono is successfully installed or to determine the version of Mono on you machine run the below command in the terminal.

mono --version

Installing LibUV

As stated on Github:

Libuv is a multi-platform asynchronous IO library that is used by the KestrelHttpServer that we will use to host our web applications.

Running the below command will install LibUV along with the dependencies require to build it.

sudo apt-get install automake libtool

Getting the source and building and installing it.

curl -sSL https://github.com/libuv/libuv/archive/v1.9.0.tar.gz | sudo tar zxfv - -C /usr/local/src
cd /usr/local/src/libuv-1.9.0
sudo sh autogen.sh
sudo ./configure
sudo make 
sudo make install
sudo rm -rf /usr/local/src/libuv-1.9.0 && cd ~/
sudo ldconfig

Here is a note at Githb repo that explains what the above set of commands are doing.

NOTE: make install puts libuv.so.1 in /usr/local/lib, in the above commands ldconfig is used to update ld.so.cache so that dlopen (see man dlopen) can load it. If you are getting libuv some other way or not running make install then you need to ensure that dlopen is capable of loading libuv.so.1

Getting .NET Version Manager (DNVM)

DNVM is a command line tool which allows you to get new build of the DNX (.NET Execution Environment) and allows you to switch between them. To get DNVM running fire the below command in the terminal.

curl -sSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/aspnet/Home/dev/dnvminstall.sh | DNX_BRANCH=dev sh && source ~/.dnx/dnvm/dnvm.sh

To check if the DNVM is successfully installed on your machine, type DNVM in the terminal. The output should be something like this:

At any point of time if you want to list out the installed DNX runtimes, run the below command

dnvm list

The next step after this, is to upgrade the DNVM so you can use the dnx and dnu commands. Run the following command in the terminal

dnvm upgrade

Once this is done, we are all set to run ASP.NET VNext application on Ubuntu box. Clone the aspnet/Home repository from Github. If you don't have Git installed then install it with this simple command.

sudo apt-get install git

For simplicity, I have created a new directory on Ubuntu desktop named vnext. You can name the directory as you wish. Navigate to this directory in the terminal and clone the aspnet/Home repository.

git clone https://github.com/aspnet/Home.git

After cloning of repository is done, navigate to the 1.0.0-beta4 directory.

You can see three sample applications that you can test. For this tutorial I am going to checkout HelloMvc application. Get inside the HelloMvc directory and then, run the command 

dnu restore

This will take some time to execute. I didn't face this problem but there is a chance that someone will. When you run this command, the project.json.lock file gets created and the restore of the package will start. In the end when the restore is finalizing, it may say permission is denied. To resolve this error you can change the permission of the folder by running the following command.

sudo chmod -R 755 HelloMvc

You should always change permission to 755 for directories and 644 for files.

After the execution is completed, you can start the server by running the command.

dnx . kestrel

This command will work for both web and mvc application. If you plan to test out the console application then you can run the following command.

dnx . run

The server runs at port 5004. Fire up the browser and type in http://localhost:5004/

Hope this is helpful for the first time users of Linux.

Currently rated 5.0 by 1 person

Recurring Tasks Inside ASP.NET Applications Using HangFire

15. June 2014 22:46

ASP.NET ASP.NET MVC C# SQL Server Web  1 Comment

This is open-source at its best. Running background task to work in context with ASP.NET was and is still a big deal for few developers. I user QueueUserWorkItem to schedule emails when a new comment is added on my blog. This makes sure that the UI is responsive and the user can close or navigate to other post. I have been working on enterprise applications for many years now and most of the long running tasks are running in the background i.e. windows services.

HangFire is not limited to ASP.NET applications, you can even use it in your console applications.

HangFire is an open-source project which allows us to run recurring tasks within the ASP.NET application. No need of scheduling tasks and windows services. Everything will be within the ASP.NET application. When a new comment is added on my blog, an email is sent to my inbox as a notification to moderate it. In a normal scenario it will take a bit more than a normal time to add a comment because an email is also being sent to my inbox. To overcome this problem, I queued the mail process in the background like so:

bool commentSave = _db.AddComment(comment);
if (commentSave)
    System.Threading.ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem(s=> BlogEmail.SendEmail(comment));
    return Json(new { message = "Thanks for your comment. The comment is now awaiting moderation" });
    return Json(new { message = "There is an error while saving comment. Please try again later" });

As soon as a comment is added, user will be prompted that comment is added in the DB but the process of sending the email is scheduled in the background. But this approach has a drawback. What if the email sending is failed? As the admin of my blog, will I be able to see the status of the process? HangFire resolves all these questions and it comes with an awesome HangFire monitor which displays the status of all the background tasks in real-time. I will discuss about the HangFire monitor later in this post, but first let's get started with HangFire.

Installing HangFire

HangFire is available on NuGet. Firing the below command will automatically add the references in your project and takes care of all the configuration.

Install-Package HangFire
Attempting to resolve dependency 'HangFire.SqlServer (= 0.9.1)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'HangFire.Core (= 0.9.1)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'Common.Logging (= 2.1.2)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'Newtonsoft.Json (= 5.0.0)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'ncrontab (= 1.0.0)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'Dapper (= 1.13)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'HangFire.Web (= 0.9.1)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'CronExpressionDescriptor (= 1.10.1)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'WebActivatorEx (= 2.0.1)'.
Attempting to resolve dependency 'Microsoft.Web.Infrastructure (='.
Installing 'Common.Logging 2.1.2'.
Successfully installed 'Common.Logging 2.1.2'.
Installing 'ncrontab 1.0.0'.
Successfully installed 'ncrontab 1.0.0'.
Installing 'HangFire.Core 0.9.1'.
Successfully installed 'HangFire.Core 0.9.1'.
Installing 'Dapper 1.13'.
Successfully installed 'Dapper 1.13'.
Installing 'HangFire.SqlServer 0.9.1'.
Successfully installed 'HangFire.SqlServer 0.9.1'.
Installing 'CronExpressionDescriptor 1.10.1'.
Successfully installed 'CronExpressionDescriptor 1.10.1'.
Installing 'WebActivatorEx 2.0.1'.
Successfully installed 'WebActivatorEx 2.0.1'.
Installing 'HangFire.Web 0.9.1'.
Successfully installed 'HangFire.Web 0.9.1'.
Installing 'HangFire 0.9.1'.
Successfully installed 'HangFire 0.9.1'.
Adding 'Common.Logging 2.1.2' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'Common.Logging 2.1.2' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'ncrontab 1.0.0' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'ncrontab 1.0.0' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'HangFire.Core 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'HangFire.Core 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'Dapper 1.13' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'Dapper 1.13' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'HangFire.SqlServer 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'HangFire.SqlServer 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'CronExpressionDescriptor 1.10.1' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'CronExpressionDescriptor 1.10.1' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'WebActivatorEx 2.0.1' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'WebActivatorEx 2.0.1' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'HangFire.Web 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'HangFire.Web 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.
Adding 'HangFire 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.
Successfully added 'HangFire 0.9.1' to HangfireDemo.

I am using HangFire with ASP.NET MVC application. Here are the few things that you need to configure before you dive in. When installing HangFire via NuGet, it adds HangFireConfig.cs under App_Start folder. HangFire supports Redis, SQL Server, SQL Azure or MSMQ. I am using SQL Server in this demo. The reason we require this storage because it is being used by the HangFire monitor to display the real-time data of the jobs. To configure HangFire to use SQL Server, open HangFireConfig.cs file and change the connection string as per your SQL Server installation.

JobStorage.Current = new SqlServerStorage(
    @"Server=GHOST\SERVER; Database=Jobs;user id=sa; password=pass#w0rd1;");

When the application first starts, all required database objects are created. 

You can find the scripts inside the downloaded package HangFire.SqlServer.0.9.1\Tools\install.sql. The jobs and monitor will be using this database to show me the real-time status of the jobs running in the background. To view the HangFire monitor, simply navigate to http://<sitename>/hangfire.axd. As it is a handler, you can see it in your web.config file. Let's see it in action:

The navigation pane on the right, lets you see the jobs and their status. It let's you even see the queues which are currently running. 

Scheduling the Jobs

Scheduling jobs using HangFire is easier then I thought it would be. Talking about the same example from my blog which sends email in my inbox when a new comment is added. If I want to schedule the mail send process as a background job I can do it easily using the BackgroundJob class.

bool commentSave = _db.AddComment(comment);
if (commentSave)
    BackgroundJob.Enqueue(() => BlogEmail.SendEmail(comment));
    return Json(new { message = "Thanks for your comment. The comment is now awaiting moderation" });
    return Json(new { message = "There is an error while saving comment. Please try again later" });

As I require it to run only once I just have queue it using the BackgroundJob.Enqueue() method. I can also delay the execution of the job using the Schedule method of the BackgroundJob class.

bool commentSave = _db.AddComment(comment);
if (commentSave)
    BackgroundJob.Schedule(() => BlogEmail.SendEmail(comment), TimeSpan.FromMinutes(60));
    return Json(new { message = "Thanks for your comment. The comment is now awaiting moderation" });
    return Json(new { message = "There is an error while saving comment. Please try again later" });

What if the email sending is failed? The SendMail method throws an exception that the mail sending is failed. HangFire will handle this by default and it will retry automatically 3 more times after a consecutive delay after each retry. But if I want to retry it more than 3 times then I can make use of the AutomaticRetry attribute and pass the number of retries I want, something like this:

[AutomaticRetry(Attempts = 5)]
public bool SendEmail(Comment comment)
    //Email code

Let's say if I do have another method that I want to run every minute (it's an overkill for my blog) then I will make use of RecurringJob class.

RecurringJob.AddOrUpdate(() => Storage.PunchIt(), Cron.Minutely);

Cron enum allows me to schedule a job daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, hourly and minutely. Now as my job is schedule in the background, time to take a look at HangFire monitor.

I have no idea why my Recurring Jobs screen is showing Next and Last execution time as 44 years ago. But you can see the Succeeded Jobs with a minute interval (#5 and #4). HangFire uses persistent storage and therefore you can trigger the job at your will or remove it when you feel like it. That means you configure the job in the code and manage it from the HangFire monitor.

What else you can do with HangFire

I just showed you how easy it can be scheduling jobs using HangFire. But there are more advanced topics which you should be looking into for more complex implementation. HangFire supports logging, dependency injection using Ninject, multiple queue processing and more.


Currently rated 3.3 by 6 people

MSDN Style Syntax Highlighting In ASP.NET

30. June 2013 01:03

ASP.NET  0 Comments

There are many syntax highlighting plugins available on the web right now. Majority of the sites are using javascript based Syntax Highlighter from Alex Gorbatchev. I am using it for my current blog and BlogEngine.NET has it as a default syntax highlighter. It is good because it has a lot of themes to offer and you can also customize according to the look and feel of your blog or site. Moreover it has support for multiple languages which makes it acceptable among most of the bloggers and developers.

I also like the way MSDN and Codeplex style their code. Although it has some flaws like moving the code to the next line if it exceeds the length of the pre or div tags. The library MSDN and Codeplex are using for syntax highlighting is ColorCode. ColorCode is open-source and supports every language specific to Microsoft. The way ColorCode works is totally different than that of any other syntax highlighting library. Javascript based syntax highlighter use CSS for different styles whereas ColorCode uses in-line CSS to  set styling for the code.

To install ColorCode you can use NuGet command or add ColorCode reference as a library downloadable from Codeplex. NuGet command:

PM> Install-Package ColorCode

Only Microsoft stack languages are supported by ColorCode. Here is the complete list:

  • XML
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • SQL
  • C#
  • VB.NET
  • ASPX (C#)
  • C++
  • PHP
  • PowerShell
  • Typescript
  • FSharp

As I mentioned earlier that this library uses in-line CSS and therefore you cannot use it in the windows forms application. You can use the webbrowser control in windows forms application if you want code to render correctly.

This is a sample basic usage of ColorCode.

string code = File.ReadAllText(Server.MapPath("~/Test.txt"));
string finalCode = new CodeColorizer().Colorize(code, Languages.CSharp);
codediv.InnerHtml = finalCode;

First line of the code will read all the text from a file. The second line will initialize a new CodeColorizer class Colorize method which will take 2 parameters, first is the code for which we want the syntax highlighting for and the second parameter is language. I now have the finalCode string which has the code with syntax highlighting. This is the output I have in my browser window.

It looks pretty good from the front but behind the scenes it’s not that pretty.

ColorCode is an open-source library and is hosted on Codeplex.


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Getting Started With Glimpse In ASP.NET MVC

25. June 2013 22:43


When I heard about Glimpse, I thought it like to be another MiniProfiler like stuff or a combination of MiniProfiler and this. But it seems to be more robust diagnostic tool for developers. Here is my experience with this awesome diagnostic tool.

What is Glimpse?

Glimpse is a diagnostic tool for ASP.NET applications which let you see detailed diagnostic information of your web application. Glimpse knows everything your server is doing and displays it straight away to you in your browser. Currently Glimpse is supported for ASP.NET – Web Forms and MVC and PHP and other languages are in queue as well. If you want to contribute to the project as it is open-source, you can contact the project developers here. The Glimpse project is still under development and there are more that 70 bugs reported at Github.

Getting Glimpse & Getting Started

I have used MiniProfile in the past and the major difference between the two tools I noticed is that in MiniProfile you have to make changes in the code to profile or view the diagnostic information. On the other hand Glimpse is just simply plug and play library. If you are going to give Glimpse a try make sure that you use NuGet to get the library. Glimpse comes with lots of configurations and setting them out manually in the application will be a pain just like ELMAH. As we are now living in post-NuGet era, we must use the power of NuGet to do all the hard work and configuration for us. You can get Glimpse depending on the type of project you have. To add Glimpse in MVC application fire the below NuGet command.

PM> Install-Package Glimpse.MVC

For Web Forms

PM> Install-Package Glimpse.ASP

After the command gets completed, take a look at the web.config file where you can see all the configurations. Without paying more attention to the configs, run the application to see Glimpse in action. Unlike MiniProfiler, there were no changes in the code. Before you can actually see Glimpse in action you have to turn it on, and to turn Glimpse on navigate to the URL http://localhost:XXXX/glimpse.axd 

A cookie is set when Glimpse is turned on. This cookie tells the server to send the diagnostic data to the application. Here is how it looks on my home page.

The above screenshot gives you a summarized information of what your application and server is doing. The summary part is distributed in three parts i.e. HTTP, HOST and AJAX. The HTTP segment shows the summary of the diagnostic information that flows over HTTP. In the HOST segment you can also see the name of the controller and action name. AJAX segment shows zero count as there are no AJAX call yet in my application which communicates with the server. This is just a summary which is visible at the bottom right hand corner of the web page. To view more detailed diagnostic information hover the mouse over any of these segments and you get one level more information.

If this is not enough for you then click on the big g icon at the bottom right corner.

The screenshot above just covering one tab out of 12 tabs which have complete diagnostic information about the application.

What else it can do?

Glimpse has extensions that will let you get information about EF, nHibernate, Ninject and many more. You can view the complete list of extensions here which you can use to see what these libraries are doing behind the scenes. Check out the complete list of extensions here.

Moving to production

Glimpse is a diagnostic tool and is very powerful from a developer’s perspective. When moving the website or web application to the production servers, no developer would want to leave Glimpse working on the landing page of your site. So before you move to production you have to turn Glimpse off. To turn off Glimpse you can navigate to the same URL which you have used earlier to turn it on. This is the easy option available, but anyone with the Glimpse handler URL can easily turn it on!? The best approach is to change the setting in the web.config file, so even if the third person has the URL of the Glimpse handler he will never be able to turn it on. To turn off Glimpse permanently set defaultRuntimePolicy to Off. The line in your web.config after the change will look like this.

<glimpse defaultRuntimePolicy="Off" endpointBaseUri="~/Glimpse.axd">

Once this property is set to Off, there is no way a user can turn Glimpse on without changing its value back to On. Glimpse has a lot more options to explore which I can’t cover in single blog post. I am looking forward on using some extensions now for Ninject and Entity Framework.


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