Monday, May 30, 2011

Partitioning .NET code…

CodeBetter.com has an article up currently on Partitioning .NET code, an issue which I'm intrigued with, and had recently had to actually do.

My thing was, that the company I work for, has a rather large framework system in place for a lot of our development efforts, especially where intranets are concerned. I was adding functionality to this system, and started having troubles keeping track of my efforts.

I mean, there were a number of aspects that this system had going on:

  • HTTP Modules (entirely code based, and defined in the WEB.Config as opposed to ashx-style handlers)
  • Worker classes
  • Security
  • Data Layer
  • Sandboxes for the home page
  • Interfaces project for custom additions to the system

This was in addition to the base web-forms (things like the home page, the master page, content pages, administration pages, calendar pages, etc.), and the add-ins for specific clients (recently a client wanted a new sandbox which displayed a random image from a selected list of images that had been uploaded into the application).

Now, originally, I had two projects. The first was the framework, and the second was the interface project. This "worked" but it was hard to grok in its entirety.  This was mainly because there were just so many moving parts to the thing.

So, I did what I felt was the most reasonably solution, I yanked it apart into discrete bits of functional DLLs. Then, I took those DLLs and broke them into logical Namespaces. For example, I have a number of HTTP modules in the system. Two of the categories that they can be broken into is serving images or serving other files from the database.  To handle this, I added a FILE namespace and an IMAGE namespace into the .HttpModules namespace of my library project.

What all this means is that I have a number of library projects for the core functionality that hides in the system, and those DLLs are then broken up into Namespaces around specifics types of those core functionalities.

This works, since I have two ways to extend this project. I can either use stand-alone DLLs, that are instantiated at run-time, or I can use a second project which uses ASCX files that again, I can load in at run-time.

But, the important thing from my point of view, is that I can easily determine where a code object belongs in my core-package. This makes new development, bug fixes and testing much easier. And, I'm also not loading a bunch of classes into the memory space unless absolutely necessarily.

The only thing with how dynamic this whole system ultimately is, is that it's actually hard to test from within the VS IDE. I have to deploy the projects to a test web-server in order to fully access all of its disparate parts. But, that's more of the fact that objects are being late-bound into the application, rather than any thing to do with the partitions into separate DLLs.

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