public class ben:harrell

May 18, 2010

DevExpress add PivotGridField error

Filed under: .NET, ASP.NET, C#, Uncategorized — benjamin harrell @ 5:24 pm

If you get the “Object must be of type String”  (or Int, etc) while adding a custom field to a Pivot Grid in DevExpress then check to see if you are using CustomGroupIntervals.  If you have a custom GroupInterval you must provide a GroupValue for EVERY case that your values might contain or else you will get this error.

private void grid_CustomGroupInterval(object sender, DevExpress.XtraPivotGrid.PivotCustomGroupIntervalEventArgs e)


if ( Convert.ToDecimal(e.Value) < 5)


e.GroupValue = “< 5%”;


else if (Convert.ToDecimal(e.Value) < 10)


e.GroupValue = “< 10%”;


else if (Convert.ToDecimal(e.Value) < 15)


e.GroupValue = “< 15%”;


else if (Convert.ToDecimal(e.Value) <= 20)


e.GroupValue = “<= 20%”;




e.GroupValue = “> 20%”;



August 14, 2008

PSConfig.exe Beware!

Filed under: .NET, Team Foundation Server — Tags: — benjamin harrell @ 9:09 pm

I’m at the end of a 2 day TFS 2008 install marathon (yes, the one with the “fixed” installer) and I needed to move my WSS 3.0 config database (wss_config) to a new database which requires essentially creating a new wss_config database with the proper settings and I found an article about using PSConfig.exe to create/configure everything magically for you.  Now remember this is a Microsoft tool, recommended in MSDN and installed by WSS 3.0 so of course I trust that it does what it says.  Well, let me just say this

NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER use this tool!

I ran it with the configdb command -create and oh yes I got my shiny new database but in the process it deleted my ENTIRE wwwroot folder.  I have no idea how or why but something is REALLY wrong deep down in this code.  If you wrote this code PLEASE feel free to contact me to discuss and I will gladly retract my statements but in the meantime save yourself the trouble.  I think STSAdm.exe might still do the job or perhaps you can do it from the Admin screens (not sure) but avoid this tool

September 18, 2007

SSIS Custom Component – ProvideComponentProperties vs ReInitializeMetadata

Filed under: .NET, Custom Source Component, database, Integration Servicees, SQL Server 2005, SSIS, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 9:47 am


I am currently working on a custom source component in SSIS that converts EBCDIC data to ASCII inline and one of the challenges I face is creating dynamic outputs and output columns based on the layout process of the source component.  Normally, when you want to additional outputs on your component you create them in by override ProvideComponentProperties like this:

public override void ProvideComponentProperties()
    // add the outputComponentMetaData.UsesDispositions = true;
   IDTSOutput90 output =     ComponentMetaData.OutputCollection.New();
   output.Name = “My New Output”;
   output.ExternalMetadataColumnCollection.IsUsed = true;

This works really well if all of your output information is available at design time (in the SSIS ui) but what happens if your dynamic outputs are determined at runtime?  ProvideComponentProperties is only called one time, when the component is added to designer surface.  In order to dynamically add outputs at a later point you must use ReInitializeMetaData which is called whenever Validate returns VS_NEEDSNEWMETADATA.

public override void ReinitializeMetaData()
   // add the output
   ComponentMetaData.UsesDispositions = true;
   IDTSOutput90 output = ComponentMetaData.OutputCollection.New();
   output.Name = “My New Output”;
   output.ExternalMetadataColumnCollection.IsUsed = true;

Note that I have not shown the additional work of adding columns to either of these scenarios, you will need to add that code yourself. 

July 14, 2007

SSIS Row Limits and DefaultBufferMaxRows (Part 2)

Filed under: .NET, Custom Source Component, database, Integration Servicees, SSIS — benjamin harrell @ 10:44 am

I believe the mystery is solved and I’m sad to say that (as usual) it was something silly but crucial.  In a custom source component you must create a new PipelineBuffer in order to write your rows out.  SSIS has provided a way for us to let the engine know when we are done adding rows with a simple method “SetEndOfRowset”.  The name says it all and even the MSDN documentation is clear that you must call this.  In addition, your error logs if you don’t call this method will say something like:

The PrimeOutput method on <your component> returned success, but did not report an end of the rowset. 

 You would think that this error message would be enough to warn any developer that they were missing a key line of code but sadly that wasn’t the case.  In my case I had actually allocated 2 buffers, 1 for data rows and 1 for error rows.  I set a breakpoint on my SetEndOfRowset call and watched it execute so I just knew this wasn’t my problem.  But I forgot the second buffer!  So just a note to all you brave souls commanding bits on the SSIS battlefield.  Call SetEndOfRowset for EACH buffer you allocate. Good Luck! 

March 1, 2007

Reporting Services 2005 Rotation and Orientation

Filed under: .NET, ASP.NET, C#, Reporting Services 2005, SQL Server 2005, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 4:54 pm

As many of you might have figured out by now Reporting Services 2005 doesn’t support rotating objects or multiple orientation (as in per sub report).  Depending on your situation there might still be an answer.  I was in a situation recently where I need certain pages of a report in landscape and some in portrait.  I was told that this is not possible out of the box in Reporting Services 2005 but have since found a workaround that might work for you.  Microsoft has done a great job with making SSRS an open architecture and the web services are a key part of this approach.  Behind the scenes of your Report Viewer control (in “remote” mode) it is actually making a request to the Render command of the SSRS Web Service.  So to pull of the rotation of a report I created a new web page with a web reference to the ReportService.  I then request the report in IMAGE format and store the byte[].  I create a new Bitmap object and stream in the byte[] so that I have full control over my newly created report Image in GDI.NET.  Bitmap supports a RotateFlip method that has just what we need and then I save the Bitmap to the Response.OutputStream object.  You are probably familiar with the concept of pointing an Image to an ASPX page that dynamically generates the bytes of the Image and this solution is no different.  Once you have an ASPX that can generate a rotated Image of the report then you treat it just like any other Image in the Report or on a WebForm.

This solution was adapted from Bryan Kelly’s post on Programmatically Printing RS 2000 Reports found HERE

The source code for the page is below:

 using System;
using System.Data;
using System.Configuration;
using System.Collections;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.Security;
using System.Web.UI;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls.WebParts;
using System.Web.UI.HtmlControls;
using System.Drawing.Imaging;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices; // For Marshal.Copy
using System.IO;
using System.Web.Services.Protocols;

public partial class ASR_ReportAsImage : System.Web.UI.Page
    ReportService.ReportingService rs;
    private byte[][] m_renderedReport;
    private System.Drawing.Graphics.EnumerateMetafileProc m_delegate = null;
    private System.IO.MemoryStream m_currentPageStream;
    private System.Drawing.Imaging.Metafile m_metafile = null;
    int m_numberOfPages;
    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
        rs = new ReportService.ReportingService();
        rs.Credentials = System.Net.CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials;

    public byte[][] RenderReport(string reportPath)
        // Private variables for rendering
        string deviceInfo = null;
        string format = “IMAGE”;
        Byte[] firstPage = null;
        string encoding;
        string mimeType;
        ReportService.Warning[] warnings = null;
        ReportService.ParameterValue[] reportHistoryParameters = null;
        string[] streamIDs = null;
        Byte[][] pages = null;

        // Build device info based on the start page
        deviceInfo =
           String.Format(@”<DeviceInfo><OutputFormat>{0}</OutputFormat></DeviceInfo>”, “emf”);

        //Exectute the report and get page count.

        // Renders the first page of the report and returns streamIDs for
        // subsequent pages
        firstPage = rs.Render(
           out encoding,
           out mimeType,
           out reportHistoryParameters,
           out warnings,
           out streamIDs);
        // The total number of pages of the report is 1 + the streamIDs        
        m_numberOfPages = streamIDs.Length + 1;
        pages = new Byte[m_numberOfPages][];

        // The first page was already rendered
        pages[0] = firstPage;

        for (int pageIndex = 1; pageIndex < m_numberOfPages; pageIndex++)
            // Build device info based on start page
            deviceInfo =
                 “emf”, pageIndex + 1);
            pages[pageIndex] = rs.Render(
               out encoding,
               out mimeType,
               out reportHistoryParameters,
               out warnings,
               out streamIDs);

        return pages;

    public bool PrintReportAsImage()
        this.RenderedReport = this.RenderReport(“/ASR Prototype/ASR_TransactionOverview”);

        // Wait for the report to completely render.
        if (m_numberOfPages < 1)
            return false;

        for (int i = 0; i < m_renderedReport.Length; i++)
            //write all of the pages to stream….

            System.IO.MemoryStream memstream = new System.IO.MemoryStream(m_renderedReport[i], false);
            System.Drawing.Bitmap oBitmap = new System.Drawing.Bitmap(memstream, true);
            //now rotate the bitmap 90 degrees
            //write it to the output stream
            Response.ContentType = “image/jpeg”;
            oBitmap.Save(Response.OutputStream, ImageFormat.Jpeg);

        return true;

    // Method to draw the current emf memory stream
    private void ReportDrawPage(Graphics g)
        if (null == m_currentPageStream || 0 == m_currentPageStream.Length || null == m_metafile)
        lock (this)
            // Set the metafile delegate.
            int width = m_metafile.Width;
            int height = m_metafile.Height;
            m_delegate = new Graphics.EnumerateMetafileProc(MetafileCallback);
            // Draw in the rectangle
            Point destPoint = new Point(0, 0);
            g.EnumerateMetafile(m_metafile, destPoint, m_delegate);
            // Clean up
            m_delegate = null;
    private bool MoveToPage(Int32 page)
        // Check to make sure that the current page exists in
        // the array list
        if (null == this.RenderedReport[m_currentPrintingPage – 1])
            return false;
        // Set current page stream equal to the rendered page
        m_currentPageStream = new MemoryStream(this.RenderedReport[m_currentPrintingPage – 1]);
        // Set its postion to start.
        m_currentPageStream.Position = 0;
        // Initialize the metafile
        if (null != m_metafile)
            m_metafile = null;
        // Load the metafile image for this page
        m_metafile = new Metafile((Stream)m_currentPageStream);
        return true;
    private bool MetafileCallback(
       EmfPlusRecordType recordType,
       int flags,
       int dataSize,
       IntPtr data,
       PlayRecordCallback callbackData)
        byte[] dataArray = null;
        // Dance around unmanaged code.
        if (data != IntPtr.Zero)
            // Copy the unmanaged record to a managed byte buffer
            // that can be used by PlayRecord.
            dataArray = new byte[dataSize];
            Marshal.Copy(data, dataArray, 0, dataSize);
        // play the record.     
        m_metafile.PlayRecord(recordType, flags, dataSize, dataArray);

        return true;
    public byte[][] RenderedReport
            return m_renderedReport;
            m_renderedReport = value;


October 7, 2006

TreeView Render Speed

Filed under: .NET, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 10:15 pm

Here is a quick tip when doing large updates and adds to the Windows Forms Treeview control. Use the beginupdate() method to “turn off” rendering and then after your changes are complete use the endupdate() method to turn rendering back on which will then render all of your changes.

Sometimes it is necessary to do this for a control that doesn’t have these wonderful methods but no to worry you can easily derive a control, add your own “flag” variable and then just override the OnPaint method and if your variable is set to not render then simply return from OnPaint. I have also added the Begin and EndUpdate methods below for setting the variable. If you want to force the control to repaint then you can call EndUpdate( true ). Here is a sample :

public class FastDrawTreeView : System.Windows.Forms.TreeView
private bool _disableRendering = false;

public void BeginUpdate()
_disableRendering = true;

public void EndUpdate(bool redraw)
_disableRendering = false;
if (redraw)

protected override void OnPaint(PaintEventArgs e)
if (_disableRendering)

July 29, 2006

ASP.NET 2.0 where are my references!!!!

Filed under: .NET, Technology, Visual Studio — benjamin harrell @ 6:27 pm

ASP.NET 2.0 web projects have references but don’t show them as a ‘References’ folder in the project.  This might be a preference setting buried somewhere in the options page but for now it is easy enough just to right-click the project and choose the menu item ‘Property Pages’.  You will get a screen like below where you can manage both project and web references.   

 Project Properties Page

July 27, 2006

Usability and ASP.NET Site Navigation

Filed under: .NET, Design, Uncategorized, Usability — benjamin harrell @ 6:50 pm

I recently started looking into ASP.NET Site Navigation and the sitemap controls.  Orginally, discounted the sitemap control as something you would drop on a page called sitemap and never touch again but boy was I wrong.  Site Navigation is an entire API for controlling site naviation in a consitent and near drag and drop manner.  And as usual, the 2.0 team hit another home run witht he Provider model allowing you to drive your Sitemap data from any source (XML out of the box but there are already multiple SQL implementations but my favorite is Jeff Prosise’s found here for MSDN magazine).  So what does this have to do with Usability?  Well, today I noticed something very related to Usability in the real world and it immediately hit me that we as developers make the same mistake all the time.  What cardinal Usability sin am I talking about?  Don’t put it there if I am not supposed to use it! I noticed an irate man yanking on a fancy, obvious door ‘pull bar’ and in small print next to it was printed ‘Push’.  Sure it makes for a great joke and even a classic Far Side but this really is a design/usability error!  Why wasn’t there a flat panel that said ‘Push’ on it?  Why the pull bar!!!  Ok so what does this have to do with Site Navigation….well, only the coolest feature in my opinion:

 ASP.NET 2.0’s site navigation provides a feature called security trimming. When obtaining site map information with security trimming enabled, only those site map nodes that the currently logged on user has authorization to visit are available. That means the site’s TreeView or Menu will contain just those sections accessible by the currently logged in user.

I pulled this from a great series on Site Navigation here

Really all you have to do is turn on SecurityTrimming in the web.config as shown below:

 <siteMap defaultProvider=”XmlSiteMapProvider” enabled=”true”>
     <add name=”XmlSiteMapProvider”      
       description=”Default SiteMap provider.”  
       securityTrimmingEnabled=”true” />  

That’s it!  Of course you have the ability to override for certain items but I’ll leave that as an exercise to the reader.  Now all we need is a good visual studio Add-In to generate a sitemap file or SQL database script from my current website project…I guess I better get that project started!

July 26, 2006

Web Parts Manager personalization without SQLExpress

Filed under: .NET, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 3:15 pm

Earlier I posted about wanting to put personalization on a separate SQL instance (not local).  Well, this gives me a chance to say thanks to the MSDN2 team for making more information available in .NET 2.0.  I was a little worried during the BETA because of so many empty pages but MSDN is loaded with good information and plenty of walkthroughs!  There is even a MSDN WIKI found here .  OK here is the answer I promised: 

Personalized settings are not tied to a single browser session. Because they are stored in long-term storage, the application can retrieve a user’s settings each time the user visits a specific page.

Personalization uses an ASP.NET application services database to store personalization data. By default, ASP.NET creates this database automatically in a subfolder named “app_data” when an ASP.NET application first uses personalization or one of the other application services such as roles, membership or profiles. Also by default, ASP.NET creates the database as a single SQL Server Express database file that contains the database schema for all of the application services. Using the Web.config file, you can configure your application so that a separate database file is created for personalization. Further, in the Web.config file, you can specify a SQL Server database to store the application services data instead of using the default SQL Server Express database file.

The mechanism for storing and retrieving personalization data consists of a provider component and a data store. ASP.NET includes a default Microsoft SQL provider and database. You can also create a custom provider and configure it to use any data store.  (THANK GOD!  gotta love the new provider model)

essentially this is the web.config section you need under <system.web>

(the MSDN entry is here for the element)

<webParts><personalization ><providers>

<remove name=AspNetSqlPersonalizationProvider />        

<add connectionStringName=my_connection_stringname=AspNetSqlPersonalizationProvider



Some of this was information was found in a really good article on personalization here . 


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odd sql 2005 connection error

Filed under: .NET, Technology — benjamin harrell @ 2:46 pm

An error has occurred while establishing a connection to the server.  When connecting to SQL Server 2005, this failure may be caused by the fact that under the default settings SQL Server does not allow remote connections. (provider: SQL Network Interfaces, error: 26 – Error Locating Server/Instance Specified)

 If all else looks correctly configured then this might be a control using personalization that uses SQLExpress by default.  An example of such a control is the WebPartsManager, this control is a wonderful control in ASP.NET 2.0 and allows for the web part behavior on a page but if you enable the personalization in the properties screen (default is enabled) then this control will attempt to use SQLExpress to store its personalization info.  This might be fine for some sites but not everyone wants to run SQLExpress in production so I disabled personalization for now until I can figure out how to point personalization to a SQL Instance on another server.  I’ll post that as soon as I figure it out, in the meantime if anyone has the answer please fill me in.

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