Wednesday, May 14, 2008

DevExpress Appointment Template Exception: The file 'MyControl.ascx.cs' does not exist.

The DevExpress ASPxScheduler control is a nice calendar control. It seems to take a fair amount of code and study to get all the bits of code together you need to use it, but once it's together it presents a really nice interface to the user.

The control allows full customization of the appointment display. On the page that holds the calendar, you define, for example, a "VerticalAppointmentTemplate" item for the daily view, and give it the name of a user control you've defined in order to display an appointment in that particular view. Then the user has the ability to drag the appointment around and do other clever things with it for rescheduling, etc, and the calendar control handles the placement of your user control at the correct time on the calendar in the web page. Pretty nice!

So I set up my controls the way I wanted them, tested to make sure it worked, checked the code in, and sent it to QA to look at. Response: "The page errors out as soon as we navigate to it."


Further investigation revealed that an exception was being thrown, with the message "The file 'MyVerticalAppointment.ascx.cs' does not exist". For some reason, it wanted the source code for my user control, and I had no idea why. Like all of our other codebehinds, the code is compiled into an assembly that is published on the web site. No source code is put out there.

If you're an ASP.Net veteran from way back, this is probably throwing up all kinds of red flags for you, but I'm not. Googling for various terms in the exception didn't really turn up much, except that most of the similar solutions seemed to involve converting the file or the application to a web application, something I vaguely remember from around the time we upgraded to VS2005, but never really had to deal with. Besides, I knew that our application was already set up the way we needed it. There was no conversion to be done as far as I could tell.

So after futzing around with it for a while, my coworker pointed out an oddity in the user control. Instead of using a CodeBehind declaration to point to the code, it was using a CodeFile declaration.

That was the problem, of course. It wasn't that I had converted from a Web Application to Web Project or back again, it was simply that I had borrowed a piece of sample code from a DevExpress project that was using a CodeFile declaration, inappropriately for my project. Switched it to CodeBehind, didn't even have to recompile, and everything worked properly.

If it's useful, here's the stack trace of the exception that was thrown:

at System.Web.UI.TemplateParser.ProcessException(Exception ex) at System.Web.UI.TemplateParser.ParseStringInternal(String text, Encoding fileEncoding) at System.Web.UI.TemplateParser.ParseString(String text, VirtualPath virtualPath, Encoding fileEncoding) at System.Web.UI.TemplateParser.ParseFile(String physicalPath, VirtualPath virtualPath) at System.Web.UI.TemplateParser.ParseInternal() at System.Web.UI.TemplateParser.Parse() at System.Web.Compilation.BaseTemplateBuildProvider.get_CodeCompilerType() at System.Web.Compilation.BuildProvider.GetCompilerTypeFromBuildProvider(BuildProvider buildProvider) at System.Web.Compilation.BuildProvidersCompiler.ProcessBuildProviders() at System.Web.Compilation.BuildProvidersCompiler.PerformBuild() at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.CompileWebFile(VirtualPath virtualPath) at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.GetVPathBuildResultInternal(VirtualPath virtualPath, Boolean noBuild, Boolean allowCrossApp, Boolean allowBuildInPrecompile) at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.GetVPathBuildResultWithNoAssert(HttpContext context, VirtualPath virtualPath, Boolean noBuild, Boolean allowCrossApp, Boolean allowBuildInPrecompile) at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.GetVirtualPathObjectFactory(VirtualPath virtualPath, HttpContext context, Boolean allowCrossApp, Boolean noAssert) at System.Web.Compilation.BuildManager.CreateInstanceFromVirtualPath(VirtualPath virtualPath, Type requiredBaseType, HttpContext context, Boolean allowCrossApp, Boolean noAssert) at System.Web.UI.PageHandlerFactory.GetHandlerHelper(HttpContext context, String requestType, VirtualPath virtualPath, String physicalPath) at System.Web.UI.PageHandlerFactory.System.Web.IHttpHandlerFactory2.GetHandler(HttpContext context, String requestType, VirtualPath virtualPath, String physicalPath) at System.Web.HttpApplication.MapHttpHandler(HttpContext context, String requestType, VirtualPath path, String pathTranslated, Boolean useAppConfig) at System.Web.HttpApplication.MapHandlerExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute() at System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dreaming in Code, Scott Rosenberg

For a while, Scott Rosenberg at Wordyard would send a free copy of his book to anyone who was willing to review it. Thanks, Scott! Here's mine:

I look at this book and remember the many times I was in the same situation as the Chandler folks were in: A product with lots of amorphous design that you can't get coding on because every time a little code gets written, the designers pull back and say, "Whoa, whoa! That's not what we meant at all!" Then you get pulled back into another design meeting and the process starts all over again.

I'm over that now. The company that I work for understands that the important thing is to get something out there that people can get their teeth into, to figure out whether it's any good or not. I think to myself that the bad old days are over...but it scares me to think that a lot of other coders still have to cope with the same sort of situation: the eternal debate between the designers, architects, and coders over who's fault it is that the code is buggy and the users hate the application.

Whether it was his original intention or not, Rosenberg brought back the intense frustration of these times with his description of the flailing of the Chandler product. I suspect a non-coder, and maybe even a lot of coders would look at it differently, thinking that hey, they were trying to do it right for a change, get the design down before they do the coding so the rest of it is just simple plugging and chugging, stuff any code monkey could do. It never works that way, though.

I get the feeling that what Rosenberg was really looking for was a happy ending. You spend lots of money, do the project right, maybe have some interesting pitfalls along the way, then you release the application, everyone loves it, the world changes, and the book ends. It didn't work that way, unfortunately, and a lot of the second half of the book leaves the realm of Chandler to discuss the philosophy of coding, bringing up agile development and the mythical man-month.

But in the end, it's very difficult to separate the software application from the book, and ultimately, since the ending of the one was vague and ambiguous, not with a bang but with a whimper, the ending of the other is too. Still, the book is one-of-a-kind; a detailed, unflinching look at a single software development effort. Every development team should be so lucky as to have a retrospective like this to look back on.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blog anniversary!

Four years ago I took the plunge and started blogging. And today...well, I probably have just about the same number of readers as I did then :) But I've done some posts I've liked along the way. These days I'm a lot more likely to Twitter any thoughts I have rather than try to compose a few hundred words about them, with pretty much minimal posting other than what I think might come in handy for someone searching for a specific term on Google. But I'll keep it going. It's often useful for me even when it's not for anyone else!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Startup secrecy

SHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Please NO talking about the company to anyone. No blogging, talking, posting, emailing about the company’s particulars, etc…

A note I got today warning us of the terrific need for secrecy around the company that was created at the Bloomington Startup Weekend this past weekend. I ended up not being able to participate in any meaningful sense, except maybe for a few hours on Friday night, so I don't know what any of the big secrets are that they need to keep, but one thing I do know is that

there is no business model that is so unique and different that no one has ever thought about it before.

Creating a successful business is about execution, and sweat equity, not about the new and exciting business model. All this sort of insistence on secrecy does is shut down any potential buzz that would be created. I mean, you've got 75 or so people who are probably, or hopefully, really excited about the application they've put together. They should be blogging, twittering, discussing how excited they are about the company. That is a lot of people for a small town like Bloomington - the buzz would probably have a multiplicative effect and people might even start up a buzz about a buzz, so to speak. But they're blowing it by telling everyone that they can't post, can't talk, can't even email.

The PR people and/or the lawyers are probably telling them that they need to present a consistent message, need to prevent any chance of being sued for patent infringement, need to be safe, need to be careful. Sorry, folks, being careful isn't how you create a successful startup. That comes from being bold and taking chances.

I got a separate note telling me I needed to fill out more forms in order to claim the share of the company that I qualified for on Friday night. Meh. I don't think I'll bother.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bloomington Startup Weekend

Wow, looks like the Bloomington Startup Weekend is proceeding apace. It was announced today as an official part of the Startup Weekends that have been going on around the country - there was one in West Lafayette, wonder if their company made boilers - after a voting process where more than 150 people voted for Bloomington over various other cities. They're looking for around 70 people signing up, with all sorts of different skills: developers, designers, PR people, lawyers, managers; and once the group gets together on Feb. 8th, they'll brainstorm some ideas for a product, and hopefully go ahead and get it built! Good luck to them. I'm sure I'll sign up, and maybe even make some useful contributions, although I need to clear it with my boss first. I have a feeling that the weekends in places like New York tended to be from dissatisfied people working at Merril Lynch or IBM or places like that, but I work for a company that may have less employees than this weekend will have attendees, and it's a really cool company too. (Want a job at Envisage?) So I'm not looking to make my fortune from this weekend, but it should be fun.

The week before that we'll have a geek dinner, so I'm guessing the Startup Weekend will be a topic of conversation there too. Hope to see you at El Norteno!