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 

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 

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" });
}
else
    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 (= 1.0.0.0)'.
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" });
}
else
    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" });
}
else
    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.

References

Currently rated 3.3 by 6 people

Turn Your Google Drive Folder In An Online Album Viewer

4. May 2014 15:09

API ASP.NET MVC C# Projects Web 

Working with Google Drive API is fun. The documentation is good and will let you get started with the API pretty quickly. I have my whole complete family album on OneDrive, but the API is still a bit hard to use as compared to Google Drive API or maybe it is just for me. But while playing around with Drive API I ended up creating a small razor based web page application which will allow you to show your folder as an online web album. I have the source code at Github.

To get started register your application on the Google Developer Console. Here is a complete guide on how to use the Google APIs.

Copy the API keys and save it on the notepad. The basic usage example on the Google Drive API reference page uses a file called client_secrets.json which actually holds the API key. You can find this file in the bin folder.

{
  "installed": {
    "client_id": "524339914714.apps.googleusercontent.com",
    "client_secret": "_Lq8D_Ai-T2IbhU8m2zXlQa"
  } 
}

You also have to enable the Drive API before you start using it.

I created a wrapper around the Google Drive API so I can use it in my other projects. Here is the complete code of my GoogleDrive class.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Web;
using Google;
using Google.Apis.Auth.OAuth2;
using Google.Apis.Download;
using Google.Apis.Drive.v2;
using Google.Apis.Drive.v2.Data;
using Google.Apis.Logging;
using Google.Apis.Services;
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using System.Threading;
//using Google.Apis.Upload;

public class GoogleDrive
{
    DriveService service = null;
    public GoogleDrive()
    {
        Run().Wait();
    }


    private File GetFileByID(string fileID, DriveService service)
    {
        File file = service.Files.Get(fileID).Execute();
        if (file.ExplicitlyTrashed == null)
            return file;
        return null;
    }

    public string GetFolderID(string FolderName)
    {
        FilesResource.ListRequest request = service.Files.List();
        request.Q = "title = '" + FolderName + "'";
        FileList files = request.Execute();
        return files.Items[0].Id;
    }
    public List<File> ListFolderContent(string FolderID)
    {
        ChildrenResource.ListRequest request = service.Children.List(FolderID);
        List<File> files = new List<File>();
        //request.Q = "mimeType = 'image/jpeg'";

        request.Q = "'" + FolderID + "' in parents";

        do
        {
            try
            {
                ChildList children = request.Execute();

                foreach (ChildReference child in children.Items)
                {
                    files.Add(GetFileByID(child.Id, service));
                }

                request.PageToken = children.NextPageToken;

            }
            catch (Exception e)
            {
                request.PageToken = null;
            }
        } while (!String.IsNullOrEmpty(request.PageToken));
        return files;
    }

    public List<File> ListRootFileFolders()
    {
        List<File> result = new List<File>();
        FilesResource.ListRequest request = service.Files.List();
        do
        {
            try
            {
                FileList files = request.Execute();

                result.AddRange(files.Items);
                request.PageToken = files.NextPageToken;
            }
            catch (Exception e)
            {
                request.PageToken = null;
            }
        } while (!String.IsNullOrEmpty(request.PageToken));
        return result;
    }

    public byte[] DownloadFile(string fileID)
    {
        File file = service.Files.Get(fileID).Execute();
        var bytes = service.HttpClient.GetByteArrayAsync(file.DownloadUrl);
        return  bytes.Result;
    }


    private async Task Run()
    {
        try
        {
            GoogleWebAuthorizationBroker.Folder = "Files";
            UserCredential credential;
            using (var stream = new System.IO.FileStream("client_secrets.json",
                System.IO.FileMode.Open, System.IO.FileAccess.Read))
            {
                credential = await GoogleWebAuthorizationBroker.AuthorizeAsync(
                    GoogleClientSecrets.Load(stream).Secrets, DriveConstants.Scopes, "user", CancellationToken.None);
            }

            var drvService = new DriveService(new BaseClientService.Initializer()
            {
                HttpClientInitializer = credential,
                ApplicationName = "Drive API Sample",

            });

            if (drvService != null)
            {
                service = drvService;
            }
        }
        catch { }
    }
}

The Storage class uses Biggy for the document storage. You have to manually add the names of the folder (considered as albums) on settings page. This will get added/appended in settings.json file in the Data folder which is in the web root of DriveGallery. Here is my settings file.

{"AlbumName":"Atlassian"}
{"AlbumName":"DivX"}
{"AlbumName":"Envato"}
{"AlbumName":"Disqus"}

Settings page from where I can add the names of folders/albums. No view and delete options as of now, but I will soon add it.

The added albums will be listed on the main/default page. The user will then have to click the name of the album to view the contents which should only images. At the moment there is no check which prevents it to show other files rather than only image files.

Google Drive is slow when it comes to handle high amount of data. Google Drive storage is not like Azure or Amazon storage. It’s different and will not get you large results in appropriate time. If you want to use Drive Gallery make sure that you don’t use more than 25-50 images in a folder. Querying 25-50 files in a single go will be long but not more than if you have more than 50. Better option is to break your folder in parts like volume I & II or Part 1 or 2.

I will try to make it look more attractive but for the moment it solves the purpose for me. Click on the View button to view the album. The View page accepts a query string name, which has the name of the folder/album. Google Drive API does not understand the name of the folder, so I have to get the folder id from the name. I will use the GetFolderID method of the GoogleDrive class which gives me the folder id. The received folder id is then passed to ListFolderContent method which will list all the files in the folder.

Please note that, for the moment there is no check to retrieve only images from the folder. GoogleDrive.cs class is a generic version of the class I am using in my other projects. You just need to be sure that you have only images in the folder and not any other file.

Click the View button to view the full size image in the browser else click the Download button to download it directly. Basically Drive API does not have any property which holds the value of the URL to view the image online. So I tweaked the thumbnail URL in the ViewURL property so I can view the images online without having to download it.

public class Albums
{
    public string Id { get; set; }
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public string AlbumName { get; set; }
    public string DownloadURL { get; set; }
    public string ViewURL
    {
        get
        {
            return ThumbnailLink.Replace("=s220", "=s4000");
        }
    }
    public string ThumbnailLink { get; set; }
}

Taking the ThumbnailLink property and replace the =s220 to =s4000 does the trick.

Note: The URLs are not permanent, it will change when the request expires.

Properties of the Album class:

  • Id: File/Image id.
  • Tilte: Title of the image/file.
  • AlbumName: Name of the album/folder.
  • DownloadURL: Download URL of the image/file. Original Drive API property name: DownloadUrl.
  • ViewURL: URL which allows user to view the image in the browser.
  • ThumbnailLink: URL of the thumbnail image. Original Drive API property name: ThumbnailLink.

The duration of the operation depends on the amount of images you have in your folder. The lesser the number of images the fast the query will get executed. Here just for fun I have used Biggy JSON store to save the content details of the folder. If you want to remove it from your implementation, please do so. You may have to change some functions in order to get all other things working fine.

You can download the complete source code from Github. I am still working on it to make it more flexible and good looking. As I am not a designer and I seriously lack when it comes to web designs. Thanks to Twitter bootstrap to make it look a bit good.

Currently rated 5.0 by 1 person

JSON Based Document Storage Using Biggy In ASP.NET MVC

3. May 2014 13:51

API ASP.NET MVC C# Web 

While working with a small web based project many developers will take advantage of web.config and XML files to read settings for the application. Using web.config is a good way but you cannot change the settings from within the application and when done manually it causes the website to restart. XML is good but many of us has a problem when it comes to update the details in XML. Biggy is an awesome library developed by Rob Conery to work with document storage. It does a lot well more than you can think of if you are not following the project closely on Github. For now I am just going to show you how you can use Biggy to save your application data in JSON based document storage. 

The library is not available on NuGet, so you have to download or fork the whole solution from Github and then build it. Create a new MVC application and add the reference of the Biggy assemblies you just build. 

Remove Newtonsoft.Json assembly that is added in your project by default when it is created by Visual Studio. The version of assembly seems to be incompatible with Biggy. Instead use the one which accompanies Biggy. 

Add a new model in your application and name it settings. The settings may depend on your application, as I am using it for my blog I have settings like blog name, blog description, posts per page and disable comments after 'x' days. 

public class Settings
{
    public string BlogName { get; set; }
    public string BlogDescription { get; set; }
    public string PostsPerPage { get; set; }
    public string CommentDays { get; set; }
}
I am manually building my view but you can use scaffolding if you wish to save your time. On submit of the form, the details will be sent to the server where my controller method will save the settings in the JSON file. Here is my view and controller code.
@model BiggyJSONDataStore.Models.Settings
@{
    ViewBag.Title = "Settings Page";
   }

<div class="row">
    @using (Html.BeginForm("Settings", "Home", FormMethod.Post))
    {
        <label>Blog Name</label>
        @Html.TextBoxFor(m => m.BlogName, new { @id = "blogname" })
        <br />
        <label>Blog Description</label>
        @Html.TextBoxFor(m => m.BlogDescription, new { @id = "blogdesc" })
        <br />
        <label>Posts per Page</label>
        @Html.TextBoxFor(m => m.PostsPerPage, new { @id = "postsperpage" })
        <br />
        <label>Disable comments after</label>
        @Html.TextBoxFor(m => m.CommentDays, new { @id = "commentdays" })
        <label>days</label><br />
        <input id="btnSave" type="submit" value="Save Settings" />
    }
</div>
When the first time the page is loaded I want to check if there are settings in the file or not. If settings are there then render my view with settings. So the default GET view will look like this.
IBiggyStore<Settings> settingStore = new JsonStore<Settings>(dbPath: HttpRuntime.AppDomainAppPath);
try
{
    var data = settingStore.Load().Single();
    return View(data);
}
catch { }

return View();
The settingStore object is being created and creates a new file in the Data folder in the application root. the dbPath parameter specifies where the file (JSON file in this case) is saved, which is the web root. The Load() method of the settingStore will load all the data in the JSOn file. In this case I have only single set of setting so I will use the Single() method to get the single setting record and not IEnumerable<Settings>.
IBiggyStore<Settings> settingStore = new JsonStore<Settings>(dbPath: HttpRuntime.AppDomainAppPath);

var store = new BiggyList<Settings>(settingStore);

var newSettings = new Settings();

newSettings.BlogName = setting.BlogName;
newSettings.BlogDescription = setting.BlogDescription;
newSettings.PostsPerPage = setting.PostsPerPage;
newSettings.CommentDays = setting.CommentDays;

store.Add(newSettings);
store.Update(setting);

return View();
The above code will add a new settings to the JSON file.
{"BlogName":"Midnight Programmer","BlogDescription":"Programming For Fun","PostsPerPage":"10","CommentDays":"90"}

At this point if you keep pressing save button by entering different values a new entry will be added to the JSON file. To avoid this you have to update the details instead of adding it over and over again in the JSON file.

IBiggyStore<Settings> settingStore = new JsonStore<Settings>(dbPath: HttpRuntime.AppDomainAppPath);

var store = new BiggyList<Settings>(settingStore);

var newSettings = new Settings();

Settings data = null;
try
{
    data = settingStore.Load().Single();
}
catch { }


if (data != null)
{
    data.BlogName = setting.BlogName;
    data.BlogDescription = setting.BlogDescription;
    data.PostsPerPage = setting.PostsPerPage;
    data.CommentDays = setting.CommentDays;
    store.Update(data);
}
else
{
    newSettings.BlogName = setting.BlogName;
    newSettings.BlogDescription = setting.BlogDescription;
    newSettings.PostsPerPage = setting.PostsPerPage;
    newSettings.CommentDays = setting.CommentDays;
    store.Add(newSettings);
    store.Update(setting);
}

return View();

As you can see that the store object Add method is not called but only the Update method is called in case if the data object is not null.  

If you plan to save multiple records in the file, then make sure you use identifier in order to get the required details.

References:

Biggy - Github

Currently rated 5.0 by 1 person

Getting Started With Glimpse In ASP.NET MVC

25. June 2013 22:43

ASP.NET ASP.NET MVC 

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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