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# Monday, 23 January 2012

… without writing a LinqToSomething provider, of course. The Expression.<Func<T>> construction is sometimes a little frightening since we suppose to have to write some complex tree navigation in order to achieve the expression behavior, but this is not always true, there is scenarios in which we can use it without any complex tree visit. In this post we will see some real world examples using this strategy.

1) INotifyPropertyChanged without “magic strings”

This interface is implemented in its simplest form:

public string CustomerName
	   return this.customerNameValue;
	   if (value != this.customerNameValue)
		   this.customerNameValue = value;

We can leverage Linq.Expression here by this simple base class:

class PropertyChangeBase: INotifyPropertyChanged
	protected void SignalChanged<T>(Expression<Func<T>> exp)
		if (exp.Body.NodeType == ExpressionType.MemberAccess)
			var name = (exp.Body as MemberExpression).Member.Name;
			PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(name));
		   throw new Exception("Unexpected expression");
   #region INotifyPropertyChanged Members
   public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged = delegate { };

By deriving our class from this one, we can easily notify a property change by writing:


This allow us to leverage intellisense, and it is refactoring friendly, so we can change the name of our property without pain. The first project I seen using this technique was Caliburn Micro, but I’m not sure is the only one and the first. Same technique is used here to test the INotifyPropertyChange behavior.

2) Argument Verification

Really similar to the problem above, we want to avoid:

static int DivideByTwo(int num) 
   // If num is an odd number, throw an ArgumentException.
   if ((num & 1) == 1)
	   throw new ArgumentException("Number must be even", "num");

   // num is even, return half of its value.
   return num / 2;

In this case we are typing NUM, that is the name of the argument, as a literal string which is bad. We would preferably write something like this:

public void DoSomething(int arg1)
	Contract.Expect(() => arg1)

That again give us intellisense and refactoring awareness. You can find he code for this helper class here, and a brief description in this post.

3) The MoQ mocking library

The MoQ library is a .NET library for creating mock objects easy to use that internally leverage Linq.Expression to achieve such a readable syntax:

   mock.Setup(framework => framework.DownloadExists(""))

4) A generic Swap function:

The simplest way in creating a generic Swap function in c# is:

void Swap<T>(ref T a, ref T b)
   T temp = a;
   a = b;
   b = temp;

Unfortunately, this won’t work if we want swap two property of an object, or two elements of an array. We would like to write something like this:

   var t = new Test_() { X = 0, Y = 1 };
   Swapper.Swap(() => t.X, () => t.Y);
   Assert.AreEqual(0, t.Y);
   Assert.AreEqual(1, t.X);

or with arrays:

    int[] array = new[] { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 };
    Swapper.Swap(() => array[0], () => array[1]);
    Assert.AreEqual(2, array[0]);
    Assert.AreEqual(1, array[1]);

We can achieve this by a simple helper class using Linq.Expression:

public class Swapper
        public static void Swap(Expression<Func<T>> left, Expression<Func>T>> right)
            var lvalue = left.Compile()();
            var rvalue = right.Compile()();
            switch (left.Body.NodeType)
              case ExpressionType.ArrayIndex:
                  var binaryExp = left.Body as BinaryExpression;
                  AssignTo(rvalue, binaryExp);

              case ExpressionType.Call:
                  var methodCall = left.Body as MethodCallExpression;
                  AssignTo(rvalue, methodCall);
                  AssignTo(left, rvalue);

          switch (right.Body.NodeType)
              case ExpressionType.ArrayIndex:
                  var binaryExp = right.Body as BinaryExpression;
                  AssignTo(lvalue, binaryExp);

              case ExpressionType.Call:
                  var methodCall = right.Body as MethodCallExpression;
                  AssignTo(lvalue, methodCall);

                  AssignTo(right, lvalue);

      private static void AssignTo<T>(T value, MethodCallExpression methodCall)
          var setter = GetSetMethodInfo(methodCall.Method.DeclaringType,methodCall.Method.Name);
              Expression.Call(methodCall.Object, setter, Join(methodCall.Arguments, Expression.Constant(value)))

      private static Expression[] Join(ReadOnlyCollection<expression> args,Expression exp)
          List<expression> exps = new List<expression>();
          return exps.ToArray();

      private static MethodInfo GetSetMethodInfo(Type target, string name)
          var setName = Regex.Replace(name, "get", new MatchEvaluator((m) =>
              return m.Value.StartsWith("g")?"set":"Set";
          var setter = target.GetMethod(setName);
          if (null == setter)
              throw new Exception("can't find an expected method named:" + setName);
          return setter;

      private static void AssignTo<T>(Expression<Func<T>> left, T value)
          Expression.Lambda<Func<T>>(Expression.Assign(left.Body, Expression.Constant(value))).Compile()();

      private static void AssignTo<T>(T value, BinaryExpression binaryExp)
          Expression.Lambda<Func<T>>(Expression.Assign(Expression.ArrayAccess(binaryExp.Left, binaryExp.Right), Expression.Constant(value))).Compile()();

This code leverages a samples by Takeshi Kiriya, I just added the ability in handling array to his own the original code.

5) Unit testing the presence of an attribute

Thomas Ardal talks in this post about how to easily unit test the presence of an attribute on a method of a class,  useful for example in MVC scenarios, or in others AOP circumstances.

A test leveraging his strategy is written as below:

    var controller = new HomeController();
    controller.ShouldHave(x => x.Index(), typeof(AuthorizeAttribute));

So we show five different simple application, I hope you find here some inspiration for your works, and feel free to write about your own ideas and enrich the list.

Monday, 23 January 2012 16:05:16 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback
C# | CodeProject | Linq

# Saturday, 17 December 2011

I would like to present here a little argument verification library that does not require you to type any string for specifying the name of the parameter you are checking. This lets the library faster to use, not intrusive in the actual method code, and refactor friendly. As a bonus you can use it by just embedding a single file. We can see below an example, just to get immediately to the point:

As we can see, there is no magic string at all. All the argument name are guessed thanks to the metadata contained in the linq Expression we use. For example the method at line 14 if called with a null value will report:

Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: arg1

The same happens to the more complex check we do at line 46, when we write:

Contract.Expect(() => array).Meet(a => a.Length > 0 && a.First() == 0);

We have a complex predicate do meet, described by a lambda, standing that the input array should have first element zero, and non zero length. Notice that the name of the parameter is array, but we need to use another name for the argument of the lambda ( in this case I used ‘a’ ), the library is smart enough to understand that ‘a’ actually refers to array, and the error message will report it correctly if the condition does not meet. Just to clarify, the message in case of failure would be:

Precondition not verified:((array.First() == 0) AndAlso (ArrayLength(array) > 1))
Parameter name: array

Well it is not supposed to be a message to an end real user, it is a programmer friendly message, but such validation error are supposed to be reported to a developer ( an end user should not see method validation errors at all, should he ? )

Well Meet is a cutting edge function we can use for complex validations. Out of the box, for simpler cases we have some functions too, as we can see on the IContract interface definition:

An interesting portion of the codebase proposed is the one renaming the parameter on the lambda expression, to achieve the reported message reflect the correct offending parameter. It is not so easy because plain string replacement would not work:we can have a parameter named ‘a’, seen in any place in the expression string representation and a plain replacement would resolve in a big mess, furthermore Expressions are immutable. So I found help on StackOverflow, and a reply to this question solved the problem, let see the “Renamer” at work ( Thanks to Phil ):

Basically is a reusable class that take the new name of the parameter and returns a copy of the input expression with the (single) argument changed.

To improve the library or just use it, please follow/check out the project on Bitbucket, suggestions and comments are always welcome.

Saturday, 17 December 2011 13:24:25 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback
CodeProject | CSharp | Linq | Recipes

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