A form-entry Tag Helper

Writing line of business applications usually means creating a lot of forms for data entry. Writing the HTML for them over and over again is tedious and also means copy-pasting the layout structure into every single form. Copy-pasting works fine as long as we one is happy with the design, but when it needs to be altered (beyond what’s possible by CSS), all forms in the application need to change. To remedy this, I created a form-entry tag helper. Now creating an entry for a field in a form is as simple as <form-entry asp-for="LocationName" />.

Using the default scaffolding in Visual Studio, I would get a form that repeats the same pattern over and over again, for each property of the view model.

<form asp-action="Create">
    <div asp-validation-summary="ModelOnly" class="text-danger"></div>
    <div class="form-group">
        <label asp-for="Name" class="control-label"></label>
        <input asp-for="Name" class="form-control" />
        <span asp-validation-for="Name" class="text-danger"></span>
    <div class="form-group">
        <label asp-for="Address" class="control-label"></label>
        <input asp-for="Address" class="form-control" />
        <span asp-validation-for="Address" class="text-danger"></span>
    <div class="form-group">
        <label asp-for="City" class="control-label"></label>
        <input asp-for="City" class="form-control" />
        <span asp-validation-for="City" class="text-danger"></span>
    <div class="form-group">
      <input type="submit" value="Create" class="btn btn-default" />

Using my form-entry tag helper, the code required is substantially less.

<form asp-action="Create">
    <div asp-validation-summary="ModelOnly" class="text-danger"></div>
    <form-entry asp-for="Name" />
    <form-entry asp-for="Address" />
    <form-entry asp-for="City" />
    <div class="form-group">
        <input type="submit" value="Create" class="btn btn-default"/>

Renaming Kentor.AuthServices Nuget packages to Sustainsys.Saml2

Last year I left Kentor for new adventures as an independent consultant. I got the Kentor.AuthServices project with me, but of course need to rename it as it is not associated with Kentor any more. So how does one rename a library and nuget packges with 100k+ downloads and users all over the world? Simply releasing new versions under the new Sustainsys.Saml2 name will leave a lot of users stale on the last version with the old name. So what I did was to release dummy packages that kicks off the migration process.

The last release with functionality in the Kentor.AuthServices name was 0.22.0. I then did a huge renaming operation and published new packages named Sustainsys.Saml2 with version 0.23. Finally I published dummy Kentor.AuthServices 0.23 packages that brings in the Sustainsys.Saml2 0.23 packages and shows a readme with migration instructions.

Expression Bodied vs. Auto Read-Only Properties

C#6 brought some nice short-hand ways of handling properties. I really like them, because they take away much boilerplate code. But as with all new tools, it’s easy to use them wrongly until they are familiar.

These are two attempts to declare a readonly property that preserves the time stamp of when the object was created. They look similar, but only one of them is right.

class SomeClass
  public DateTime CreationTimeA => DateTime.UtcNow;
  public DateTime CreationTimeB { get; } = DateTime.UtcNow;

When Code Coverage Betrayed Me

I’m a fan of code coverage as a way to ensure that there are covering tests. One area that I tend to rely heavily on Code Coverage for is to catch any tests that are no longer working correctly due to changes in the production code. That often works out well, but today I got betrayed by the code coverage engine.

The code that I worked on contained an if statement with a multi-step && expression.

bool IsAllWrong(int importantValue, bool b)
  bool a = importantValue == GetAnswer();
  bool c = false;
  bool d = false;
  if (!a && !b && !c && !d)
    return true;
  return false;

Of course I had tests that made the evaluation fail both because of importantValue and b. So what happend later was that GetAnswer() was updated, without the test for when importantValue being updated. Of course (my bad) that test had set b to true, causing the evaluation to fail on b, causing true to be returned. So the test passed, but not due to the thing I wanted to test. In a complex application, this is bound to happen every now and then. But usually, the code coverage scores will reveal that there is an execution path not covered. But not this time! The trustworthy code coverage analysis betrayed me!

Kentor.AuthServices v0.20.0 Released

Half a years worth of pull requests with great features have finally been baked into an official release of Kentor.AuthServices which is now available on Nuget. The most important fixes are improved active/passive handling for the Owin middleware and full support for SHA256/384/512 as it is time to leave SHA1.

First of all I would like thank all contributors and users that have had to wait for this while I’ve been on parental leave. A special thanks to Explunit who has made a lot of valuable contributions as well as reviewing pull requests and taken part in design discussions.

Breaking Changes

The public API of AuthServices is getting more and more stable, but nevertheless there are some breaking changes.

  • The Owin Middleware is now once again Passive by default
  • The Owin Middleware will act as Active during Logout, even if it is configured as passive. This can be disabled with the StrictOwinAuthenticationMode compatibility setting.
  • On .NET 4.6.2 and later AuthServices now by default generates SHA256-based signatures and only accepts SHA256 or stronger signatures.
  • The “clever” ReturnUrl expansion has been removed as it proved to create more problems than it solved.
  • ReturnUrl open redirect issue fixed.
Software Development is a Job – Coding is a Passion

I'm Anders Abel, an independent systems architect and developer in Stockholm, Sweden.

profile for Anders Abel at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Code for most posts is available on my GitHub account.

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