There are some times when we want to check all installed fonts in the system and test a phrase to check how does it show in the display at some size.

There are many utilities for that, but it’s always better (and most satisfying) to build your own. And, even better, you can do it in WPF with no need of writing code, just use the builtin data binding features in the markup.

To do it, just open a terminal window, and type

dotnet new wpf -o FontsList

That will create a new WPF application in the FontsList folder. Now, you can change to the FontsList folder and type code . to open VS Code in the current folder.

Once you do that, you can edit the MainWindow.xaml file and add this code:

<Window x:Class="FontsList.MainWindow"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
    xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008"
    xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006"
    xmlns:local="clr-namespace:FontsList" mc:Ignorable="d" Title="MainWindow" Height="450" Width="800">
    <Grid>
        <Grid.RowDefinitions>
            <RowDefinition Height="40"/>
            <RowDefinition Height="*"/>
        </Grid.RowDefinitions>
        <Slider Minimum="5" Maximum="100" TickPlacement="BottomRight" x:Name="FontSlider" Value="48" />
        <Grid Grid.Row="1">
            <Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="0.5*"/>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="0.5*"/>
            </Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
            <ListBox HorizontalAlignment="Stretch" x:Name="Listbox" Margin="0,0,5,0" 
                VerticalAlignment="Stretch" ItemsSource="{Binding Source={x:Static Fonts.SystemFontFamilies}}" 
                IsSynchronizedWithCurrentItem="True"/>
            <GridSplitter HorizontalAlignment="Right" VerticalAlignment="Stretch" Width="5"/>
            <TextBox HorizontalAlignment="Stretch" VerticalAlignment="Stretch" 
                FontFamily="{Binding Path=SelectedItem, ElementName=Listbox, Mode=Default}" 
                FontSize="{Binding Path=Value, ElementName=FontSlider}" Grid.Column="1" 
                Text="The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" TextWrapping="Wrap"/>
        </Grid>
    </Grid>
</Window>

We are adding a grid with two rows. In the first row, we add the font size slider, that will be used to change the font size of the preview. In the second row, we will add another grid, with two columns: the font list and the preview.

The font list gets its items from the Windows class Fonts.SystemFontFamilies. The preview is a textbox there you can type the text you want to preview, with the FontFamily bound to the selected item of the listbox (the font you’ve selected) and the FontSize bound to the size slider.

Now we’re ready to run. No extra code is needed. Just type

dotnet run

In the terminal window and you will see the font list with a preview in the selected size:

Nice, no? Now you have your own fonts list in WPF with no code. It even has a splitter in the fonts grid, if you want to change the size of the font list and preview.

All the source code for this project is at https://github.com/bsonnino/FontsList

Once there was a time where Microsoft and Linux were enemies and who was developing in Windows didn’t develop for Linux and vice-versa. Time has passed and things have changed. And how they have changed!

Multi-platform development has evolved, Microsoft released .NET open source, and you can run it both on Linux and Mac (besides Windows, of course). You can use VS Code to develop your code in any of these platforms, and VS Code isn’t restricted to .NET Languages: you can develop in Python, Perl or even Clipper/Harbour, Cobol or Fortran. What a change!

Besides that, you can run a Linux distro directly in Windows, with no need of any VM, dual boot or Live CD. The key for that is WSL, the Windows Subsystem for Linux, that allows you to run a full Linux environment, including any Linux application without modification (you can even run Linux graphical apps with WSLg, that’s in test – the image below shows GIMP running on Windows)

And, just to make sure, it’s not an emulation of Linux. You are running the full distro directly on Windows. WSL uses a translation layer between Linux and Windows, to translate the calls between both OSs and WSL2 uses a Linux kernel for its magic. You can compare both versions of WSL here.

To develop in Linux, the first thing is to get Windows Terminal. This is the successor of the old Windows command line prompt and offers many improvements: customization, tabbed interface and it allows you to use multiple shell types: Windows command, Powershell, Linux prompt or even an Azure Cloud Shell. If you are using Windows 11, you already have it, as it’s installed by default. If you are still using Windows 10, you can get it from the Microsoft Store.

Once you have Windows Terminal installed, you must install WSL. Just open a command prompt window and type

wsl --install

This will install WSL in your machine. If that doesn’t work, you will have to install it manually, using the installation steps listed here.

With WSL installed, you need to install your preferred Linux distro. You can get it from the Microsoft Store:

Or you can install it directly from the command prompt. wsl --list lists all the available distros in your machine (you can install and use many distros) and wsl --list --online lists the available distros online:

To install an online distro, you must use

wsl --install -d <Distro>

If the distro isn’t available online or in the store, you still can install it, by getting the appx packages an manually installing it, as described here. One other way is to check if there is an alternate way to install it in WSL. For example, to install Linux Mint, you can go to the LinuxMintWSL Github and download the installer for it.

When you have WLS and the distros installed in your machine, you can click on the down arrow in the Terminal title bar and it will show them in the list, so you can select and open a command prompt for that distro:

The next step is to install dotnet 6.0. To do that, you should follow the instructions for your distro in

For Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu), you should run these commands on the bash prompt:

wget https://packages.microsoft.com/config/ubuntu/20.04/packages-microsoft-prod.deb -O packages-microsoft-prod.deb
sudo dpkg -i packages-microsoft-prod.deb
rm packages-microsoft-prod.deb

sudo apt-get update; \
  sudo apt-get install -y apt-transport-https && \
  sudo apt-get update && \
  sudo apt-get install -y dotnet-sdk-6.0

Once installed, you can get the installed version with

dotnet --version

Now, you can create and run a dotnet program in Linux. To show the available app types to create, you can run

dotnet new

This will list the common templates for a new app. To list all templates, you should use

dotnet new --list

We can create a new console app using this command:

dotnet new console -o simple-console

This command will create a new console app in the simple-console folder. We can change to this folder with cd simple-console and run the program with

dotnet run

This is already great but, unless you are already a VI or Emacs guru (which I am not 😃), you will have some trouble to modify it. I personally, think that the best way to modify a Linux program in WSL is to use VSCode. By typing code . in the command prompt, VS Code server will be downloaded and installed automatically and VSCode will open in your desktop

In this case, you won’t have VS Code for Linux running. When you are using VS Code from WSL, something different happens: VS Code will be split into two parts, a server (which runs on Linux) and a client (that runs on Windows). You will be editing the files on Windows, but saving them in Linux. You can see in VS Code status bar, at the bottom WSL: Mint, indicating that we are editing files in WSL. If you open a terminal in VS Code with Ctrl+`, you will see that it’s a bash prompt and not a command line or a Powershell prompt.

We can edit program.cs to show the OS version with:

Console.WriteLine($@"Hello World! 
Operating System: {System.Runtime.InteropServices.RuntimeInformation.OSDescription}");

When we save and run the program we will get

This is still great, but I doubt that’s what you want to do when your are developing a Linux app. Many times, we’ll want to develop a web api to serve our data. For that, we must change to the parent folder and create a new app with

dotnet new webapi -o webapi

If you change to the webapi folder and run it with dotnet run, you will see the endpoints for the API:

In our case, if we open a browser window and type

https://localhost:7219/swagger

We will see the swagger interface for our api:

We can test it and see that it works fine:

But we can also use the curl command to get the data. In the bash prompt, we can type

curl -X 'GET' \
  'https://localhost:7219/WeatherForecast' \
  -H 'accept: text/plain'

to get the api data (I got this command line from the swagget test window). If you do that, you will see a certificate error. We didn’t set the certificate for the web site, and we can bypass that with the -k flag:

curl -k -X 'GET' \
  'https://localhost:7219/WeatherForecast' \
  -H 'accept: text/plain'

As you can see, we are getting the json data for the weather forecast sample. You can still consume the api from our console app. All we have to do is change the program.cs file to

using System.Text.Json;

var handler = new HttpClientHandler();
handler.ServerCertificateCustomValidationCallback =
              (message, cert, chain, errors) => 
              { return true; };
using var client = new HttpClient(handler);
var json = await client.GetStringAsync("https://localhost:7219/weatherforecast");
var forecasts = JsonSerializer.Deserialize<List<WeatherForecast>>(json);
if (forecasts == null)
    return;
foreach (var forecast in forecasts)
    Console.WriteLine($"{forecast.date:dd/MM/yyyy}  {forecast.temperatureC}  {forecast.summary}");

public class WeatherForecast
{
    public DateTime date { get; set; }
    public int temperatureC { get; set; }
    public int temperatureF => 32 + (int)(temperatureC / 0.5556);
    public string? summary { get; set; }
} 

If you run the program, you will see something like this:

We are consuming the API from our console program in Linux, but we are running .NET, we can run the same program in Windows. One nice thing in WSL is that we can run Windows apps from Linux. If you type

explorer.exe .

It will open Windows Explorer with the current path open. If you copy the address in the address bar, you will see:

\\wsl.localhost\Mint\home\bruno\LinuxProg\simple-console

As you can see, the Linux folder is considered a new network. We can map the drive in Windows to use it, with a command like this one:

net use y: \\wsl.localhost\Mint

If you open a command prompt and type this command, you will have the y: drive available to use. You can then change to the program folder and type dotnet run to run the same program in Windows. If you do that, you will see that we can run the same program we’ve created in Linux in the Windows command prompt and consume the API that is still running in Linux.

As you can see, with .NET you can run the same program in Linux or in Windows and you can interact with the APIs that are running in Linux. You will be using the tools that you still know. You can even access one file system from the other seamlessly (the Windows file system is mounted in /mnt/c/ in Linux). You will be using the same C# language that you know and, most of the time, you don’t even need to know Linux APIs – .NET will take care of that for you.

The full code of this article will be in https://github.com/bsonnino/LinuxProg

Sometime ago I posted an article about Dotnet Try. This is a wonderful tool to document your code but, since then, a lot has changed.

.NET 6  and C#10 are here, Visual Studio Code is a nice environment for editing your code, and you can even edit your code in  the web. And a new feature has appeared to document your code: .NET Interactive. With it, you can create interactive notebooks and create interactive pieces of code, where you can share and try sample code.

Its use is very simple: just install the >NET Interactive extension in VS Code and you’re ready to go. Just press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+N and open a new notebook (you can choose C#, F# or even Powershell as the default language) and a new notebook is ready to use. If you want to open an existing notebook, just press Ctrl+Shift+P and select .NET Interactive: Open Notebook and open the existing notebook.

When you create a new notebook, you can add markdown or code cells. The markdown cells have text formatted with the Markdown syntax and the code cells can have code, in the selected language. You can run the code by clicking the arrow icon next to the cell or by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+Enter keys.

To display the values, you can use Console.WriteLineor simply declare a variable and put it in a single line like in

if you want to display more than  a single value, you can use the display function, like in

You can even mix languages in the notebook. If you add !#fsharp in the first line, you can add F# code, like in:

If you want to use javascript, you can use something like:

Getting data from an URL

You can get some data from an URL, using the command

#!value --from-url https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ageron/handson-ml2/master/datasets/housing/housing.csv --name housingPath

Once you have the data, you can display it with SandDance, with this code:

using Microsoft.Data.Analysis;
using Microsoft.ML;
using System.Collections.Generic;

var housingData = DataFrame.LoadCsv(housingPath);
housingData.ExploreWithSandDance().Display();

Using Nuget Packages

You can also use Nuget packages with the #r directive. For example, we can get the suppliers dataset as a Json file from the url “https://northwind.vercel.app/api/suppliers”, with this code:

#!value --from-url https://northwind.vercel.app/api/suppliers --name suppliersJson

Then we can show the data as C# classes with:

#!share --from value suppliersJson
#r "nuget:Newtonsoft.Json"

using Newtonsoft.Json;

public record Address(string Street, string City, string Region, string PostalCode, string Country, string Phone);
public record Supplier(string Id, string CompanyName, string ContactName, string ContactTitle, Address Address);
var suppliers = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<List<Supplier>>(suppliersJson);
suppliers

As you can see there are multiple possibilities. I even created the notebook for this article (you can download it at https://github.com/bsonnino/CSharpNotebooks) based on my last article, about Linq in .NET 6. You can use it as a notebook for you, as a learning tool, as a prototype tool, or even as a tool for sharing knowledge.

The notebook for this article is at https://github.com/bsonnino/CSharpNotebooks

A nice improvement in .NET is the introduction of LINQ, in .NET 4.5. With that, working with data was simplified a lot and, when I go to a language that doesn’t have something like it, I feel lost (having to deal with for and foreach became painful for me :-).

The features available in LINQ made my code more synthetic and readable, but sometimes, there was something that wasn’t easily attained with the default features. Microsoft heard that and introduced new features, many of them I was expecting since a long time. These new features  came with no huge announcements, but, nevertheless, they are very nice improvements.

Index and Range parameters

Index and Ranges were introduced in C#8, they can ease a lot when you must get a subrange of an array or list:

var arr = Enumerable.Range(1,100).ToArray();
Console.WriteLine($"[{string.Join(",",arr[10..15])}]");
Console.WriteLine(arr[^1]);
var list = new List<int>(arr);
Console.WriteLine(list[^1]);
Console.WriteLine(list[^5]);

When you run this code, you will get something like this:

[11,12,13,14,15]
100
100
96

This is nice, but when you wanted to work with Linq, you were not able to use indexes and ranges. Until now. .NET 6 allows using Ranges and Indices in Linq queries. This is very nice, because when you wanted a subrange of an IEnumerable, you should do something like:

list.Skip(10).Take(5)

Now, you can do the same with:

list.Take(10..15)

Or take the last 10 elements with

list.Take(^10..)

You can also take a single element with ElementAt using Indices. To get the last element in the list, you can use:

list.ElementAt(^1)

Chunking

One thing that is very common is to divide our data in chunks, in order to present it in pieces, so the user does not have to scroll long lists of information. Until now, you had to program that by hand, which could lead to errors. With the new Chunk method, you can split your data in chunks. For example, if you want to split the data in blocks of seven elements, you can do:

var chunked = list.Chunk(7);

With this code, you will obtain something like

[1,2,3,4,5,6,7]
[8,9,10,11,12,13,14]
[15,16,17,18,19,20,21]
[22,23,24,25,26,27,28]
[29,30,31,32,33,34,35]
[36,37,38,39,40,41,42]
[43,44,45,46,47,48,49]
[50,51,52,53,54,55,56]
[57,58,59,60,61,62,63]
[64,65,66,67,68,69,70]
[71,72,73,74,75,76,77]
[78,79,80,81,82,83,84]
[85,86,87,88,89,90,91]
[92,93,94,95,96,97,98]
[99,100]

And you can get one chunk with

chunked.ElementAt(3)
chunked.ElementAt(^1)

Zipping

Sometimes you want to combine three Enumerables into one. Combining Enumerables is done using the Zip method, which allowed to combine only two items at once. .NET 6 introduced the possibility of zipping three sequences at once (if you want more sequences, you must chain Zip functions). For example, if you have these three enumerables:

var list1 = Enumerable.Range(1,100).Select(i => $"ID {i}").ToList();
var list2 = Enumerable.Range(1,100).Select(i => $"Name {i}").ToList();
var list3 = Enumerable.Range(1,100).Select(i => $"Address {i}").ToList();

You can combine it into an IEnumerable of tuples with three elements each with:

var zipped = list1.Zip(list2,list3);

One note, here: in .NET 5 you could use a function to zip two sequences int another one and generate anything else than a tuple. .NET 6 didn’t change that and, if you want to zip the three IEnumerables into an IEnumerable of a class, for example, you must still do something like this:

var zipped1 = list1.Zip(list2, (l1, l2) => new { ID = l1, Name = l2 })
    .Zip(list3, (l1, l2) => new { ID = l1.ID, Name = l1.Name, Address = l2 });

DistinctBy, ExceptBy, UnionBy, InterceptBy

One thing that I use a lot is the distinct operator, to get unique values in a sequence. Until now, when I had a class and wanted to get distinct values in a class by some field, and I’m not interested in the other fields, I had to do something like:

public record Person(string Name, int Age);
var people = new List
{
    new Person("John", 30 ),
    new Person("Peter", 40),
    new Person("Mary", 20 ),
    new Person("Jane", 30 ),
    new Person("Larry", 50),
    new Person("Anne", 50 ),
    new Person("Paul", 20),
};
var distinctByAge = people.GroupBy(p => p.Age).Select(g => g.Key);

That worked fine, but lacked clarity – the intent was not explicit and it was hard to understand – Why this GroupBy is there ?

In .NET 6, the DistinctBy comes to solve that. Now, you can use something like this to get the distinct values :

var distinctAges = people.DistinctBy(p => p.Age).Select(p => p.Age);

Now the intent is clear and the code is easier to follow.

You can also use ExceptBy, to filter a sequence depending on another, like in

var excludedAges = new List<int> {30,40};
var people1 = people.ExceptBy(excludedAges, p => p.Age);

One note, here. Due to the way ExceptBy is coded (it uses a HashSet), it will only add the first duplicate element in the result. In our code, it should show:

Person { Name = Mary, Age = 20 }
Person { Name = Larry, Age = 50 }
Person { Name = Anne, Age = 50 }
Person { Name = Paul, Age = 20 }

But it only shows:

Person { Name = Mary, Age = 20 }
Person { Name = Larry, Age = 50 }

If you want all items that don’t match the excluded ages, you should still go with:

var people2 = people.Where(p => !excludedAges.Contains(p.Age));

If you want to join two sequences, removing duplicates between them, you can use the UnionBy method. This code joins the two lists into another, removing the duplicates:

var people3 = new List<Person>
{
    new Person("John", 20 ),
    new Person("Peter", 25),
    new Person("Paul", 20 ),
    new Person("Ringo", 22 ),
    new Person("George", 23),
    new Person("Anne", 50 ),
    new Person("Mark", 20),
};
var people4 = people.UnionBy(people3, p => p.Name);

If you want the have the names present in both lists, you can use the IntersectBy method:

var includedAges = new List<int> {30,40};
var people5 = people.IntersectBy(includedAges, p => p.Age);

In the same way of the ExceptBy, the duplicates are not included. If you want to include them, you should use:

var people6 = people.Where(p => includedAges.Contains(p.Age));

MaxBy and MinBy

When using the methods Max and Min, the sequences should implement the IComparable interface, so they could be compared and the maximum and minimum evaluated. That posed a problem, especially if the class you wanted to compare didn’t implement the IComparable interface. Now, with MinBy and MaxBy you don’t have to use the IComparable and can use something like:

var minByAge = people.MinBy(p => p.Age);
var maxByAge = people.MaxBy(p => p.Age);

This code won’t show all the elements with minimum age. To get that, you should use something like

var minAge = people.Select(p => p.Age).Min();
var allMinByAge = people.Where(p => p.Age == minAge);
var maxAge = people.Select(p => p.Age).Max();
var allMaxByAge = people.Where(p => p.Age == maxAge);

FirstOrDefault, LastOrDefault, SingleOrDefault with a default parameter

These three functions returned Default(T) if the element was not found or the list was empty. This could pose a problem or extra checks if the element was not found. Now, we can set a default value when the element is not found and, in this case, we don’t have to deal with null checks:

var firstOrDefault = people.FirstOrDefault(p => p.Age == 25,new Person("Unknown",25));
var lastOrDefault = people.LastOrDefault(p => p.Age == 25,new Person("Unknown",25));
var singleOrDefault = people.SingleOrDefault(p => p.Age == 25,new Person("Unknown",25));

In all the three cases, the code will return a Person with name Unknown and Age = 25

TryGetNonEnumeratedCount

When you have an IEnumerable and you use the Count() method, it will enumerate the collection, even if it has another method to get the count in another way, thus penalizing the performance. For that, .NET 6 implemented the TryGetNonEnumeratedCount method to try to use another method to get the count, if available. This function will return true if a faster method was available, or false, if not. That way, you can take an action to use something more performant and avoid multiple enumerations. For example:

IEnumerable<Person> people7 = people;
Console.WriteLine(people7.TryGetNonEnumeratedCount(out int count));

Will return true, because The List implements the Count property to get the count. When  you have an IEnumerable, result of a Linq operation, like in

var people6 = people.Where(p => includedAges.Contains(p.Age));
Console.WriteLine(people6.TryGetNonEnumeratedCount(out int count1));

It will return false and the count1 variable will have the actual count of the sequence.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several improvements to Linq in .NET 6. They were not huge improvements, but brought some ease to the development. I’m sure that I will use them a lot.

The sample code for this article is at https://github.com/bsonnino/LinqImprovements

You have an old .NET app and would like to upgrade to .NET 6, to be up-to date with the latest features and go forward with the app.

Every time you think about it, you notice that you have no time to do it and there are more important things to do. And you see that you’re stuck with an old .NET version. But, in this case, Microsoft has helped you to be able to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions. Now, you have the .NET upgrade assistant to help you to migrate to the latest .NET version: the >NET upgrade assistant.

With it, you can migrate your old .NET app to .NET 6 with very simple steps. It may not be a full migration, but it’s a starting point, which eases a lot the migration.

The first step is have dotnet installed in your machine. If you haven’t done so, you can install it from https://dotnet.microsoft.com/en-us/download/dotnet/6.0. Once installed, you can check the installed version by opening a terminal window and  typing the dotnet --versioncommand.

Then, you should install the upgrade assistant with

dotnet tool install -g upgrade-assistant

Once installed, you can use it with

upgrade-assistant

To demonstrate the procedure, I will use the project DiskAnalisys, from https://github.com/bsonnino/DiskAnalysis. This is a .NET 4.5 project and has many features that need to be upgraded: the FolderPicker, Charts, etc. The first step is to clone the project and run the solution in Visual Studio.

When you click the start button, you will be asked for a folder to analyze and, then, a list of files will be shown, ordered by size. On the other tabs, you can see a chart for the extensions and another for the contribution of each file for the total size:

You can check the .NET version in the properties for the project:

Now we can upgrade the project. Open a terminal window, change to the solution’s directory and type

upgrade-assistant analyze diskanalysis.sln

This will show a report for the upgrade of the project:

If you want the detailed output, you can use the -v option to the command line. In the project’s folder, you can see two files, AnalysisReport.sarif, a json file with the report and upgrade-assistant.clef, a copy of what was output to the screen.

The report shows that the project can be updated, so we will update it with

upgrade-assistant upgrade diskanalysis.sln

That will show the steps that will be followed in the upgrade:

You will move from one step to the other by pressing 1. The steps are:

1. Back up project

Backup the project, so it can be used, if the upgrade fails. The program asks for the path for the backup then copies the project

2. Convert project file to SDK style

Converts the csproj file from the old style to the new style. The new file is changed to something like this:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk">
  <PropertyGroup>
    <TargetFramework>net452</TargetFramework>
    <OutputType>WinExe</OutputType>
    <GenerateAssemblyInfo>false</GenerateAssemblyInfo>
    <UseWPF>true</UseWPF>
    <ImportWindowsDesktopTargets>true</ImportWindowsDesktopTargets>
  </PropertyGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <AppDesigner Include="Properties\" />
  </ItemGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <PackageReference Include="DotNetProjects.Wpf.Toolkit" Version="5.0.31" />
    <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.CSharp" Version="4.7.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="System.Data.DataSetExtensions" Version="4.5.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="WPFFolderBrowser" Version="1.0.2" />
  </ItemGroup>
</Project>

3. Clean up NuGet package references

This task will clean up the NuGet package references and add the reference to Microsoft.DotNet.UpgradeAssistant.Extensions.Default.Analyzers

4. Update TFM

This task will change the target framework in the csproj to net6.0-windows

5. Update NuGet Packages

This step will check if there are updates in the NuGet packages, update them and add a reference to Microsoft.Windows.Compatibility in the csproj

When you press 1 to go to the next step, the following steps are skipped

6. Add template files
7. Upgrade app config files
a. Convert Application Settings
b. Convert Connection Strings
c. Disable unsupported configuration sections
8. Update source code

a. Apply fix for UA0002: Types should be upgraded
b. Apply fix for UA0012: ‘UnsafeDeserialize()’ does not exist

And the conversion is finished. You must only press 1 to go to the last step:

9. Move to next project

There were no changes in the source code, just in the csproj. If you have your project still opened in Visual Studio, it will ask you to reload it. If you reload it, you will see that it changed to .NET 6 (if you are using VS 2019 you won’t see that, because VS 2019 doesn’t support .NET 6). If you go to the Solution Explorer, you will see that there are two warnings in the dependency packages:

The WPF Toolkit and the WPF Folder Browser packages don’t have the versions for .NET 6, but we’ll run the project to see if it runs fine. Once you run it, you can see that it woks fine, the same way as it did originally. But this time, you get a .NET 6 app running.

We can fix the issues and have a full .NET 6 app running with some extra effort. The WPF Toolkit has been updated and you can use the new packages from https://github.com/dotnetprojects/WpfToolkit. You just have to remove the old package and add the package DotNetProjects.WPF.Toolkit.DataVisualization. For the WPF Folder Browser, you don’t have an updated package, but you can use the source code from https://github.com/McNeight/WpfFolderBrowser.

Clone the repository, run the Upgrade Assistant in the project, to convert it to .NET 6 the same way you did with the main project and add it to the solution. Remove the WPFFolderBrowser package form the project and add a reference for the modified project. When you rebuild the solution, you will get an error Error CA0052 : No targets were selected.

You must edit the project file and remove this property group:

<PropertyGroup Condition=" '$(Configuration)|$(Platform)' == 'Debug|AnyCPU' ">
   <RunCodeAnalysis>true</RunCodeAnalysis>
   <CodeAnalysisRules>
   </CodeAnalysisRules>
   <CheckForOverflowUnderflow>true</CheckForOverflowUnderflow>
   <CodeAnalysisRuleSet>AllRules.ruleset</CodeAnalysisRuleSet>
 </PropertyGroup>

Once you do that, the project compiles fine, but when you try to run it, you get an error saying that WPFFolderBrowserDialog was not found. The only change here is to change the namespace in MainWindow.xaml.cs to WpfFolderBrowser.

Now you can run the project, it runs fine and there are no more compatibility issues.

As you can see, the upgrade assistant eases the migration to .NET 6 a lot. Sometimes, you will need an extra effort to have your app running, but it’s surely easier than doing it by hand. This is a nice step to evolve your apps and port them to the latest version of .NET.

The full code for this article is at https://github.com/bsonnino/UpgradeAssistant

Introduction

One of the interesting things that C#9 brought is the introduction of Code Generators. When compiling the code, the C# compiler can generate extra code and add it to your project, thus complementing your code. This has a lot of possible uses:

  • Add an attribute to your code to generate boilerplate code: you can add an attribute to a private member and the code generator will add the property and the INotifyPropertyChanged to your class.
  • Discover the dependencies needed at compile time and wire them in the executable. This can improve execution time, because wiring the dependencies using reflection is very slow. In this case, the dependencies would be already set up.
  • Parse files and generate code for them: you could have a json file with data and the compiler would add the classes without the need of creating them manually. Once the file has changed (and thus the class structure), a new class would be created.

One interesting use of this feature was used by the Windows SDK Team for using the Win32 APIs in our C# code. Instead of using the traditional PInvoke (which you must go to http://pinvoke.net to get the signatures and structures, add them as external methods and call them), you can use C#/Win32, developed to simplify the usage of Win32 APIs.

Using C#/Win32

To use C#/Win32, you must have .NET 5.102 installed in your machine and you must be using Visual Studio 16.8 or newer. With these prerequisites, you can create a new console application in the command line with:

dotnet new console -o UseWin32

This line will create a new console project in the UseWin32  folder. Then you must add the CsWin32  NuGet package with:

dotnet add package Microsoft.Windows.CsWin32 --prerelease

Now you are ready to open the project in Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code and use it. This first project will  enumerate the files in the current directory. Yes, I know that .NET already has methods to do that, but we can also do it using Win32.

Create a new text file and name it NativeMethods.txt. In this file, add the names of the thre API functions that we need:

FindFirstFile
FindNextFile
FindClose

Now, we are ready to use these methods in our program. In Program.cs, erase everything and add this code:

using System;
using System.Linq;
using Microsoft.Windows.Sdk;

var handle = PInvoke.FindFirstFile("*.*", out var findData);
if (handle.IsInvalid)
    return;

We are using another feature of C#9, Top Level Statements. We can see that CsWin32 has generated a new class named PInvoke  and has added the FindFirstFile  method. If you hoveer the mouse over it, you will see something like this:

As you can see, it has added the function and  also added the documentation for it. If you right-click in the function and select Go to Definition, it will open the generated code:

We can then continue the code to enumerate the files:

using System;
using System.Linq;
using Microsoft.Windows.Sdk;

var handle = PInvoke.FindFirstFile("*.*", out var findData);
if (handle.IsInvalid)
    return;
bool result;
do
{
    Console.WriteLine(ConvertFileNameToString(findData.cFileName.AsSpan()));
    result = PInvoke.FindNextFile(handle, out findData);
} while (result);
PInvoke.FindClose(handle);

string ConvertFileNameToString(Span<ushort> span)
{
    return string.Join("", span.ToArray().TakeWhile(i => i != 0).Select(i => (char)i));
}

This code opens the enumeration with FindFirstFile. If the returned handle is invalid, then there are no files in the folder, so the program exits. Then, it will print the file name to the console and continue the enumeration until the last file, when it calls FindClose, to close the handle. The filename is returned as a structure named __ushort_260, that can be converted to a Span<ushort> with the AsSpan method. To convert this to a string, we use the ConvertFileNameToString method, that uses Linq to convert it to a string: it takes all the items until it finds a 0, converts them to an IEnumerable<char> and then uses string.Join to convert this to a string.

If you use this code, you will see that FindClose(handle) has an error. That’s because the FileClose function receives a parameter of type HANDLE, while the handle variable is of the FileCloseSafeHandle type and both are not compatible (FileCloseSafeHandle has a handle field, but it’s protected and cannot be used). The solution, in this case, is to dispose the handle variable, that will call FindClose. This code shows how this is done:

using var handle = PInvoke.FindFirstFile("*.*", out var findData);
if (handle.IsInvalid)
    return;
bool result;
do
{
    Console.WriteLine(ConvertFileNameToString(findData.cFileName.AsSpan()));
    result = PInvoke.FindNextFile(handle, out findData);
} while (result);

We are using here the C#8’s Using Statement, so we don’t need to use a block. When you run this code, you will see the enumeration of the files in the console:

Function callbacks

As you can see, there is no need to dig to use the Win32 APIs, but there are some APIs that are more complex and use a callback function. These can also be used in the same way. to see that, we can enumerate all resources in an executable. To do that, we load the executable with LoadLibraryEx. Once loaded, we use EnumerateResourceTypes to enumerate all resource types and, for every resource type, we enumerate the resources with EnumerateResourceNames.

Create a new project with

dotnet new console -o EnumerateResources

Then add the CsWin32 NuGet package with

dotnet add package Microsoft.Windows.CsWin32 --prerelease

Then, open the project in Visual Studio and add a new text file and name it NativeMethods.txt. Add these functions in the file:

LoadLibraryEx
FreeLibrary
EnumResourceTypes
EnumResourceNames

In Program.cs, erase all text and add this code:

using System;
using Microsoft.Windows.Sdk;

var hInst = PInvoke.LoadLibraryEx(@"C:\Windows\Notepad.exe",
    null, LoadLibraryEx_dwFlags.LOAD_LIBRARY_AS_DATAFILE);
try
{

}
finally
{
    PInvoke.FreeLibrary(hInst);
}

This code calls LoadLibraryEx to load Notepad. The LOAD_LIBRARY_AS_DATAFILE constant was changed to an enum. This function returns the Instance handle, that will be used to enumerate the resources. At the end, we free the instance using FreeLibrary.

Now, we’ll start to enumerate the resources with:

var hInst = PInvoke.LoadLibraryEx(@"C:\Windows\Notepad.exe",
    null, LoadLibraryEx_dwFlags.LOAD_LIBRARY_AS_DATAFILE);
try
{
    PInvoke.EnumResourceTypes(hInst, EnumerateTypes, 0);
}
finally
{
    PInvoke.FreeLibrary(hInst);
}

You can see that the second parameter in EnumerateResourceTypes is a callback function (which I don’t even know the signature :-)). Let’s see if Visual Studio will help us with this. We type Ctrl-. and it will propose us to create the method. We select it and it is created:

BOOL EnumerateTypes(nint hModule, PWSTR lpType, nint lParam)
{
    throw new NotImplementedException();
}

We can add our code to enumerate the types:

BOOL EnumerateTypes(nint hModule, PWSTR lpType, nint lParam)
{
    Console.WriteLine(PwStrToString(lpType));
    PInvoke.EnumResourceNames(hModule, lpType, EnumNames, 0);
    return true;
}

This code will write the resource type to the console and enumerate the resources for that type. We are using a function, PwStrToString to convert the resource name (a PWSTR) to a string:

string PwStrToString(PWSTR str)
{
    unsafe
    {
        return ((ulong)str.Value & 0xFFFF0000) == 0 ?
            ((ulong)str.Value).ToString() :
            str.AsSpan().ToString();
    }
}

This struct has a Value property, that can be an integer or a string. To know which of them we must use, we test against the high order byte and see if it’s empty. If it is, then the value is an integer and we convert it to a string. If not, we convert it to a Span and get the string from it. All this code must be marked as unsafe, as we are working with the pointers.

EnumerateResourceNames has a callback, which we get the signature in the same way we did before, by using Visual Studio refactoring:

BOOL EnumNames(nint hModule, PCWSTR lpType, PWSTR lpName, nint lParam)
{
    Console.WriteLine("  " + PwStrToString(lpName));
    return true;
}

Now the program is complete and we can run it to list all notepad’s resources:

As you can see, working with the Win32 API is much easier now, we don’t have to use custom P/Invokes, everything is at one place and all we have to do is to add the functions we want to the NativeMethods file. This is really a great and welcome improvement.

Ah, and if you want to know what those resource type numbers are, you can find them here.

  • 4 – Menu
  • 5 – Dialog
  • 6 – String
  • 9 – Accelerator
  • 16 – Version
  • 24 – Manifest

All the source code for this article is at https://github.com/bsonnino/UseWin32

 

With .NET 5.0, two small features were introduced to Asp.NET and were almost unnoticed: Open Api and HTTPRepl. Open Api is not something new, it’s been available for a long time, but it had to be included explicitly in a new project. Now, when you create a new project, it’s automatically included in the project and you can get the Api documentation using Swagger.

Now, when you create a new project with

dotnet new webapi

You will create a new WebApi project with a Controller, WeatherController, that shows 10 values of a weather forecast:

It’s a simple app, but it already comes with the OpenApi (Swagger) for documentation. Once you type the address:

https://localhost:5001/swagger

You will get the Swagger documentation and will be able to test the service:

But there is more. Microsoft introduced also HttpRepl, a REPL (Read-Eval-Print Loop) for testing REST services. It will scan your service and allow you to test the service using simple commands, like the file commands.

To test this new feature, in  new folder create a webapi app with

dotnet new webapi

Then, open Visual Studio Code with

code .

You will get something like that:

Then, delete the WeatherForecast.cs file and add a new folder and name it Model. In it, add a new file and name it Customer.cs and add this code:

public class Customer
{
    public string CustomerId { get; set; }
    public string CompanyName { get; set; }
    public string ContactName { get; set; }
    public string ContactTitle { get; set; }
    public string Address { get; set; }
    public string City { get; set; }
    public string Region { get; set; }
    public string PostalCode { get; set; }
    public string Country { get; set; }
    public string Phone { get; set; }
    public string Fax { get; set; }
}

Create a new file and name it CustomerRepository.cs and add this code:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Collections.ObjectModel;
using System.Linq;
using System.Xml.Linq;

namespace HttpRepl.Model
{
    public class CustomerRepository
    {
        private readonly IList<Customer> customers;

        public CustomerRepository()
        {
            var doc = XDocument.Load("Customers.xml");
            customers = new ObservableCollection<Customer>((from c in doc.Descendants("Customer")
                                                            select new Customer
                                                            {
                                                                CustomerId = GetValueOrDefault(c, "CustomerID"),
                                                                CompanyName = GetValueOrDefault(c, "CompanyName"),
                                                                ContactName = GetValueOrDefault(c, "ContactName"),
                                                                ContactTitle = GetValueOrDefault(c, "ContactTitle"),
                                                                Address = GetValueOrDefault(c, "Address"),
                                                                City = GetValueOrDefault(c, "City"),
                                                                Region = GetValueOrDefault(c, "Region"),
                                                                PostalCode = GetValueOrDefault(c, "PostalCode"),
                                                                Country = GetValueOrDefault(c, "Country"),
                                                                Phone = GetValueOrDefault(c, "Phone"),
                                                                Fax = GetValueOrDefault(c, "Fax")
                                                            }).ToList());
        }

        #region ICustomerRepository Members

        public bool Add(Customer customer)
        {
            if (customers.FirstOrDefault(c => c.CustomerId == customer.CustomerId) == null)
            {
                customers.Add(customer);
                return true;
            }
            return false;
        }

        public bool Remove(Customer customer)
        {
            if (customers.IndexOf(customer) >= 0)
            {
                customers.Remove(customer);
                return true;
            }
            return false;
        }

        public bool Update(Customer customer)
        {
            var currentCustomer = GetCustomer(customer.CustomerId);
            if (currentCustomer == null)
                return false;
            currentCustomer.CustomerId = customer.CustomerId;
            currentCustomer.CompanyName = customer.CompanyName;
            currentCustomer.ContactName = customer.ContactName;
            currentCustomer.ContactTitle = customer.ContactTitle;
            currentCustomer.Address = customer.Address;
            currentCustomer.City = customer.City;
            currentCustomer.Region = customer.Region;
            currentCustomer.PostalCode = customer.PostalCode;
            currentCustomer.Country = customer.Country;
            currentCustomer.Phone = customer.Phone;
            currentCustomer.Fax = customer.Fax;
            return true;    
        }

        public bool Commit()
        {
            try
            {
                var doc = new XDocument(new XDeclaration("1.0", "utf-8", "yes"));
                var root = new XElement("Customers");
                foreach (Customer customer in customers)
                {
                    root.Add(new XElement("Customer",
                                          new XElement("CustomerID", customer.CustomerId),
                                          new XElement("CompanyName", customer.CompanyName),
                                          new XElement("ContactName", customer.ContactName),
                                          new XElement("ContactTitle", customer.ContactTitle),
                                          new XElement("Address", customer.Address),
                                          new XElement("City", customer.City),
                                          new XElement("Region", customer.Region),
                                          new XElement("PostalCode", customer.PostalCode),
                                          new XElement("Country", customer.Country),
                                          new XElement("Phone", customer.Phone),
                                          new XElement("Fax", customer.Fax)
                                 ));
                }
                doc.Add(root);
                doc.Save("Customers.xml");
                return true;
            }
            catch (Exception)
            {
                return false;
            }
        }

        public IEnumerable<Customer> GetAll() => customers;

        public Customer GetCustomer(string id) => customers.FirstOrDefault(c => string.Equals(c.CustomerId, id, StringComparison.CurrentCultureIgnoreCase));

        #endregion

        private static string GetValueOrDefault(XContainer el, string propertyName)
        {
            return el.Element(propertyName) == null ? string.Empty : el.Element(propertyName).Value;
        }
    }
}

This code will use a file, named Customers.xml and will use it to serve the customers repository. With it, you will be able to get all customers, get, add, update or delete one customer. We will use it to serve our controller. The Customers.xml can be obtained at . You should add this file to the main folder and then add this code:

<ItemGroup >
  <None Update="customers.xml" CopyToPublishDirectory="PreserveNewest" />
</ItemGroup>

This will ensure that the xml file is copied to the output folder when the project is built.

Then, in the Controllers folder, delete the WeatherForecastController and add a new file, CustomerController.cs and add this code:

using System.Collections.Generic;
using HttpRepl.Model;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;

namespace HttpRepl.Controllers
{
    [ApiController]
    [Route("[controller]")]
    public class CustomerController : ControllerBase
    {
        [HttpGet]
        public IEnumerable<Customer> Get()
        {
            var customerRepository = new CustomerRepository();
            return customerRepository.GetAll();
        }

        [HttpGet("{id}")]
        public IActionResult GetCustomer(string id)
        {
            var customerRepository = new CustomerRepository();
            Customer customer = customerRepository.GetCustomer(id);
            return customer != null ? Ok(customer) : NotFound();
        }

        [HttpPost]
        public IActionResult Add([FromBody] Customer customer)
        {
            if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(customer.CustomerId))
              return BadRequest();
            var customerRepository = new CustomerRepository();
            if (customerRepository.Add(customer))
            {
                customerRepository.Commit();
                return CreatedAtAction(nameof(Get), new { id = customer.CustomerId }, customer);
            }
            return Conflict();
        }

        [HttpPut]
        public IActionResult Update([FromBody] Customer customer)
        {
            if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(customer.CustomerId))
              return BadRequest();
            var customerRepository = new CustomerRepository();
            var currentCustomer = customerRepository.GetCustomer(customer.CustomerId);
            if (currentCustomer == null)
                return NotFound();
            if (customerRepository.Update(customer))
            {
                customerRepository.Commit();
                return Ok(customer);
            }
            return NoContent();
        }

        [HttpDelete("{id}")]
        public IActionResult Delete([FromRoute]string id)
        {
            if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(id))
              return BadRequest();
            var customerRepository = new CustomerRepository();
            var currentCustomer = customerRepository.GetCustomer(id);
            if (currentCustomer == null)
                return NotFound();
            if (customerRepository.Remove(currentCustomer))
            {
                customerRepository.Commit();
                return Ok();
            }
            return NoContent();
        }
    }
}

This controller will add actions to get all customers, get add, update or delete one customer. The project is ready to be run. You can run it with dotnet run and, when you open a new browser window and type this address:

https://localhost:5001/swagger

You will get something like this:

You can test the service with the Swagger page (as you can see, it was generated automatically wen you compiled and ran the app), but there is still another tool: HttpRepl. This tool was added with .NET 5 and you can install it with the command:

dotnet tool install -g Microsoft.dotnet-httprepl

Once you install it, you can run it with

httprepl https://localhost:5001

When you run it, you will get the REPL prompt:

If you type the uicommand, a new browser window will open with the Swagger page. You can type lsto list the available controllers and actions:

As you can see, it has a folder structure and you can test the service using the command line. For example, you can get all the customers with get customer or get one customer with get customer/blonp:

You can also “change directory” to the Customer “directory” with cd Customer. In this case, you can query the customer with get blonp:

If the body content is simple, you can use the -c parameter, like in:

post -c "{"customerid":"test"}"

This will add a new record with just the customer id:

If the content is more complicated, you must set the default editor, so you can edit the customer that will be inserted in the repository. You must do that with the command:

pref set editor.command.default "c:\windows\system32\notepad.exe"

This will open notepad when you type a command that needs a body, so you can type the body that will be sent when the command is executed. If you type post in the command line, notepad will open to edit the data. You can type this data:

{
  "customerId": "ABCD",
  "companyName": "Abcd Inc.",
  "contactName": "A.B.C.Dinc",
  "contactTitle": "Owner",
  "address": "1234 - Acme St - Suite A",
  "city": "Abcd",
  "region": "AC",
  "postalCode": "12345",
  "country": "USA",
  "phone": "(501) 555-1234"
}

When you save the file and close notepad, you will get something like this:

If you try to add the same record again, you will get an error 409, indicating that the record already exists in the database:

As you can see, the repository is doing the checks and sending the correct response to the REPL. You can use the same procedure to update or delete a customer. For the delete, you just have to pass the customer Id:

Now that we know all the commands we can do with the REPL, we can go one step further: using scripts. You can write a text file with the commands to use and run the script. Let’s say we want to exercise the entire API, by issuing all commands in a single run. We can create a script like this (we’ll name it TestApi.txt)

connect https://localhost:5001
ls
cd Customer
ls
get 
get alfki
post --content "{"customerId": "ABCD","companyName": "Abcd Inc.","contactName": "A.B.C.Dinc"}"
get abcd
put --content "{"customerId": "ABCD","companyName": "ACME Inc"}"
delete abcd
get abcd
cd ..
ls

And then open HttpRepl and run the command

run testapi.txt

We’ll get this output:

As you can see, with this tool, you get a very easy way to exercise your API. It’s not something fancy as a dedicated program like Postman, but it’s easy to use and does its job.

The full code for the project is at https://github.com/bsonnino/HttpRepl

 

Times have changed and Microsoft is not the same: Edge, the new Microsoft browser has been remodeled and now it’s using the Chromium engine, an open source browser engine developed by Google.

With that, it has also changed the way you can develop browser apps – you will be able to use the same browser engine Microsoft uses in its browser to develop your browser apps. In order to do that, you will have to use the new WebView control. The new WebView control is not tied to a specific Windows version or development platform: You can use it in any Windows version, from 7 to 10 or use it in a Win32, .NET (core or full framework) or UWP app.

This article will show how to use it and interact with it in a WPF app. We will develop a program that will search in the Microsoft docs site, so you will be able to easily search there for information.

Introduction

Using the new WebView2 control in a .NET app is very simple, it’s just a matter of adding a NuGet package and you’re already setup. In Visual Studio, create a new WPF app. Right click the dependencies node in the Solution Explorer and select “Manage NuGet Packages” , the select the Microsoft.Web.WebView2 package. Then, in MainWindow.xaml, add the main UI:

<Grid>
    <Grid.RowDefinitions>
        <RowDefinition Height="40"/>
        <RowDefinition Height="*"/>
    </Grid.RowDefinitions>
    <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal">
        <TextBlock Text="Search Text" Margin="5" VerticalAlignment="Center"/>
        <TextBox Text="" x:Name="SearchText" Margin="5" VerticalAlignment="Center"
                 Width="400" Height="30" VerticalContentAlignment="Center"/>
        <Button Content="Find" Width="65" Height="30" Margin="5" Click="ButtonBase_OnClick"/>
    </StackPanel>
    <wpf:WebView2 x:Name="WebView" Grid.Row="1" Source="" />
</Grid>

You will have to add the wpf  namespace to the xaml:

xmlns:wpf="clr-namespace:Microsoft.Web.WebView2.Wpf;assembly=Microsoft.Web.WebView2.Wpf"

As you can see, we are adding a textbox for the text to search and a button to activate the search. In the WebView control, we left the Source property blank, as we don’t want to go to a specific site. If we wanted to start with some page, we would have to fill this property. For example, if you fill the Source property with  https://docs.microsoft.com you would have something like this:

 

Navigating with the WebView

As you can see, it’s very easy to add a browser to your app, but we want to add more than a simple browsing experience. We want to make our app a custom way of browsing. To do that, we will use the following button click event handler:

private void ButtonBase_OnClick(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(SearchText.Text))
        return;
    var searchAddress =
        $"https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/search/?terms={HttpUtility.UrlEncode(SearchText.Text)}";
    WebView?.CoreWebView2?.Navigate(searchAddress);
}

We’ll take the text the user will want to search, create an URL for searching in the Microsoft docs website and then navigate to it. Once we do that, we can search the docs, just by typing the wanted text and clicking the button:

We can also add back and forward navigation by adding these two buttons:

<StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Grid.Row="0" HorizontalAlignment="Right" TextElement.FontFamily="Segoe MDL2 Assets">
    <Button Content="&amp;#xE0A6;" Width="30" Height="30" Margin="5" ToolTip="Back" Click="GoBackClick"/>
    <Button Content="&amp;#xE0AB;" Width="30" Height="30" Margin="5" ToolTip="Forward" Click="GoForwardClick"/>
</StackPanel>

The click event handler that will allow the browser to navigate to the previous or next page in history is:

private void GoBackClick(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    if (WebView.CanGoBack)
        WebView.GoBack();
}

private void GoForwardClick(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    if (WebView.CanGoForward)
        WebView.GoForward();
}

Once you have this code in place, you are able to use the two buttons to navigate in the browser history.

Customizing the page

One thing that bothers me in this app is the fact that we have several items in the page that don’t belong to our search: the top bar, the footer bar, the search box, and so on. Wouldn’t it be nice to clean these items from the page when we are showing it? Well, there is a way to do that, but we’ll have to resort to JavaScript to do that: when the page is loaded, we’ll inject a JavaScript script in the page that will remove the parts we don’t want. For that, we must create this code:

        async void InitializeAsync()
        {
            await WebView.EnsureCoreWebView2Async(null);
            WebView.CoreWebView2.DOMContentLoaded += CoreWebView2_DOMContentLoaded;
        }

        private async void CoreWebView2_DOMContentLoaded(object sender, CoreWebView2DOMContentLoadedEventArgs e)
        {

            await WebView.ExecuteScriptAsync(
                @"
window.onload = () => {
  var rss = document.querySelector('[data-bi-name=""search-rss-link""]');
  console.log(rss);
  if (rss)
    rss.style.display = 'none'; 
  var form = document.getElementById('facet-search-form');
  console.log(form);
  if (form)
    form.style.display = 'none';  
  var container = document.getElementById('left-container');
  console.log(container);
  if (container)
    container.style.display = 'none';  
  var hiddenClasses = ['header-holder', 'footerContainer'];
  var divs = document.getElementsByTagName('div');
  for( var i = 0; i < divs.length; i++) {
    if (hiddenClasses.some(r=> divs[i].classList.contains(r))){
      divs[i].style.display = 'none';
    }
  }
}");
        }

We have two parts in this code: initially, we ensure that the CoreWebView2 component is created and then we set a DomContentLoaded event handler, that will be called when the HTML content is loaded in the browser. In the event handler, we will inject the script and execute it with ExecuteScriptAsync. That is enough to remove the parts we don’t want from the page. The JavaScript code will retrieve the parts we want to hide and set their display style to none. This code is called from the constructor of the main window:

public MainWindow()
{
    InitializeComponent();
    InitializeAsync();
}

 

You can also see the console.log commands in the code. You can debug the JavaScript code when browsing by using the F12 key. The developer window will open in a separate window:

As you can see from the image, the top bar was removed, we now have a cleaner page. You can use the same technique to remove the context menu or add other functionality to the browser. Now we will get some extra info from the page.

Communicating between the app and the browser

When we are browsing the results page, we can get something from it. We can copy the results to the clipboard, so we can use them later. To do that we must use the communication between the app and the WebView. This is done by a messaging process. The app can send a message to the WebView, using something like

WebView?.CoreWebView2?.PostWebMessageAsString("message");

The WebView will receive the message and can process it by adding an event listener like in

window.chrome.webview.addEventListener('message', event => {
  if (event.data === 'message') {
    // process message
  }
});

When we want to send messages in the other direction, from the WebView to the app, we can send it from JavaScript, using

window.chrome.webview.postMessage(message);

It will be received by the app with an event handler like

WebView.CoreWebView2.WebMessageReceived += (s, args) =>
{
  data = args.WebMessageAsJson;
  // Process data
}

That way, we can have full communication between the app and the WebView and we can add the functionality we want: copy the results from the results page to the clipboard. The first step is to add the button to copy the results in MainWindow.xaml:

<StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal">
    <TextBlock Text="Search Text" Margin="5" VerticalAlignment="Center"/>
    <TextBox Text="" x:Name="SearchText" Margin="5" VerticalAlignment="Center"
             Width="400" Height="30" VerticalContentAlignment="Center"/>
    <Button Content="Find" Width="65" Height="30" Margin="5" Click="ButtonBase_OnClick"/>
    <Button Content="Copy" Width="65" Height="30" Margin="5" Click="CopyClick"/>
</StackPanel>

The click event handler will send a message to the WebView:

private void CopyClick(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    WebView?.CoreWebView2?.PostWebMessageAsString("copy");
}

We must inject some code in the web page to receive and process the message, this is done by using the AddScriptToExecuteOnDocumentCreatedAsync method to inject the code when the page is loaded, in the InitializeAsync method:

        async void InitializeAsync()
        {

            await WebView.EnsureCoreWebView2Async(null);
            WebView.CoreWebView2.DOMContentLoaded += CoreWebView2_DOMContentLoaded;
            await WebView.CoreWebView2.AddScriptToExecuteOnDocumentCreatedAsync(@"
window.chrome.webview.addEventListener('message', event => {
  if (event.data === 'copy') {
    var results = [...document.querySelectorAll('[data-bi-name=""result""]')].map(a => {
            let aElement = a.querySelector('a');
            return {
                title: aElement.innerText,
                link: aElement.getAttribute('href')
            };
        });
    if (results.length >= 1){
      window.chrome.webview.postMessage(results);
    }
    else {
      alert('There are no results in the page');
    }
  }
});");
            WebView.CoreWebView2.WebMessageReceived += DataReceived;
        }

The JavaScript code will add the event listener, that will get all results in the page using the querySelectorAll  method, and then it will map it to an array of objects that have the title and link of the result, then will send this array to the app with postMessage. In the case that there are no results in the page, an alert message is shown. The code also sets the event handler for the WebMessageReceived event:

void DataReceived(object sender, CoreWebView2WebMessageReceivedEventArgs args)
{
    var data = args.WebMessageAsJson;
    Clipboard.SetText(data);
    MessageBox.Show("Results copied to the clipboard");
}

The handler will get the sent data with the args.WebMessageAsJson, then it will send it to the clipboard as text, where it can be copied to any program. Now, when you run the program, do a search and click the Copy  button, you will have something like this in the clipboard:

[
    {
        "title": "Getting started with WebView2 for WinForms apps - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/gettingstarted/winforms"
    },
    {
        "title": "Microsoft Edge WebView2 Control - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/"
    },
    {
        "title": "Getting started with WebView2 for WinUI apps - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/gettingstarted/winui"
    },
    {
        "title": "Getting started with WebView2 for WPF apps - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/gettingstarted/wpf"
    },
    {
        "title": "Versioning of Microsoft Edge WebView2 - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/concepts/versioning"
    },
    {
        "title": "Distribution of Microsoft Edge WebView2 apps - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/concepts/distribution"
    },
    {
        "title": "Getting started with WebView2 for Win32 apps - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/gettingstarted/win32"
    },
    {
        "title": "Release Notes for Microsoft Edge WebView2 for Win32, WPF, and WinForms - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/releasenotes"
    },
    {
        "title": "Use JavaScript in WebView2 apps - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/howto/js"
    },
    {
        "title": "Microsoft Edge WebView2 API Reference - Microsoft Edge Development",
        "link": "https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/webview2-api-reference"
    }
]

Now we have an app that can browse to a page and interact with it.

Conclusion

There are many uses to this feature and the new Chromium WebView is a welcome addition to our toolbox, we can interact with the web page, retrieving and sending data to it.

The full source code for this article is at https://github.com/bsonnino/WebViewWpf

Introduction

You have an old, legacy app (with no tests), and its age is starting to show – it’s using an old version of the .NET Framework, it’s difficult to maintain and every new feature introduced brings a lot of bugs. Developers are afraid to change it, but the users ask for new features. You are at a crossroad: throw the code and rewrite everything or refactor the code. Does this sound familiar to you ?

I’m almost sure that you’re leaning to throw the code and rewrite everything. Start fresh, use new technologies and create the wonderful app you’ve always dreamed of. But this comes with a cost: the old app is still there, functional, and must be maintained while you are developing the new one. There are no resources to develop both apps in parallel and the new app will take a long time before its finished.

So, the only way to go is to refactor the old app. It’s not what you wanted, but it can still be fun – you will be able to use the new technologies, introduce good programming practices, and at the end, have the app you have dreamed. No, I’m not saying it will be an easy way, but it will be the most viable one.

This article will show how to port a .NET 4 WPF app and port it to .NET 5, introduce the MVVM pattern and add tests to it. After that, you will be able to change its UI, using WinUI3, like we did in this article.

The original app

The original app is a Customer CRUD, developed in .NET 4, with two projects – the UI project, CustomerApp, and a library CustomerLib, that access client’s data in an XML file (I did that just for the sake of simplicity, but this could be changed easily for another data source, like a database). You can get the app from here, and when you run it, you get something like this:

The first step will be converting it to .NET 5. Before that, we will see how portable is our app, using the .NET Portability analyzer. It’s a Visual studio extension that you can download from here. Once you download and install it, ou can run it in Visual Studio with Analyze/Portability Analyzer Settings:

You must select the platforms you want and click OK. Then, you must select Analyze/Analyze Assembly Portability, select the executables for the app and click OK. That will generate an Excel file with the report:

As you can see, our app can be ported safely to .NET 5. If there are any problems, you can check them in the Details tab. There, you will have a list of all APIs that you won’t be able to port, where you should find a workaround. Now, we’ll start converting the app.

Converting the app to .NET 5

To convert the app, we’ll start converting the lib to .NET Standard 2.0. To do that, right-click in the Lib project in the Solution Explorer and  select Unload Project, then edit the project file and change it to:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk">
  <PropertyGroup>
    <TargetFrameworks>netstandard2.0</TargetFrameworks>
  </PropertyGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <Content Include="Customers.xml">
      <CopyToOutputDirectory>PreserveNewest</CopyToOutputDirectory>
    </Content>
  </ItemGroup>
</Project>

The project file is very simple, just set the taget framework to netstandard2.0 and copy the item group relative to the xml file, so it’s included in the final project. Then, you must reload the project and remove the AssemblyInfo  file from the Properties folder, as it isn’t needed anymore (if you leave it, it will generate an error, as it’s included automatically by the new project file).

Then, right click the app project in the Solution Explorer and select Unload Project, to edit the project file:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk">
  <PropertyGroup>
    <OutputType>WinExe</OutputType>
    <TargetFramework>net5.0-windows</TargetFramework>
    <UseWPF>true</UseWPF>
    <GenerateAssemblyInfo>false</GenerateAssemblyInfo>
  </PropertyGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <ProjectReference Include="..\CustomerLib\CustomerLib.csproj">
      <Name>CustomerLib</Name>
    </ProjectReference>
  </ItemGroup>
</Project>

We are setting the output type to WinExe, setting the target framework to net5.0-windows, telling that we will use the .net 5 features, plus the ones specific to Windows. If we don’t do that, we wouldn’t be able to use the WPF features, that are specific to Windows and set UseWPF to true. Then, we copy the lib’s ItemGroup to the project. When we reload the project, we must delete the Properties folder and we can build our app, converted to .NET 5. It should work exactly the way it did before. We are in the good path, porting the app to the newest .NET version, but we still have a long way to go. Now it’s time to add good practices to our app, using the MVVM Pattern.

The MVVM Pattern

The MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel) pattern was created on 2005 by John Gossman, a Microsoft Architect on Blend team, and it makes extensive use of the DataBinding feature existent in WPF and other XAML platforms (like UWP or Xamarin). It provides separation between data (Model) and its visualization (View), using a binding layer, the ViewModel.

The  ViewModel  is a class that implements the INotifyPropertyChanged interface:

public interface INotifyPropertyChanged 
{ 
  event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged; 
}

It has just one event, PropertyChanged that is activated when there is a change in a property. The Data binding mechanism present in WPF (and in other XAML platforms) subscribes this event and updates the view with no program intervention. So, all we need to do is to create a class that implements INotifyPropertyChanged and call this event when there is a change in a property to WPF update the view.

The greatest advantage is that the ViewModel is a normal class and doesn’t have any dependency on the view layer. That way, we don’t need to initialize a window when we test the ViewModel. This image shows the basic structure of this pattern:

The model communicates with the ViewModel by its properties and methods. The ViewModel communicates with the View mainly using Data Binding, it receives Commands from the View and can send messages to it. When there are many ViewModels that must communicate , they usually send messages, to maintain a decoupled architecture. That way, the Model (usually a POCO class – Plain Old CSharp Object) doesn’t know about the ViewModel, the ViewModel isn’t coupled with the View or other ViewModels, and the View isn’t tied to a ViewModel directly (the only tie is the View’s DataContext property, that will bind the View and the ViewModel. The rest will be done by Data Binding).

We could implement all this infrastructure by ourselves, it’s not a difficult task, but it’s better to use a Framework for that. There are many MVVM frameworks out there, each one chooses a different approach to implement the infrastructure and select one of them is just a matter of preference. I’ve used MVVM Light toolkit for years, it’s very lightweight and easy to use, but it isn’t maintained anymore, so I decided to search another framework. Fortunately, the Windows Community Toolkit has provided a new framework, inspired on MVVM Light, the MVVM Community Toolkit.

Implementing the MVVM Pattern

In our project, the Model is already separated from the rest: it’s in the Lib project and we’ll leave that untouched, as we don’t have to change anything in the model. In order to use the MVVM Toolkit, we must add the Microsoft.Toolkit.Mvvm NuGet package.

Then, we must create the ViewModels to interact between the View and the Model. Create a new folder and name it ViewModel. In it, add a new class and name it MainViewModel.cs.  This class will inherit from ObservableObject, from the toolkit, as it already implements the interface. Then we will copy and adapt the code that is found in the code behind of MainWindow.xaml.cs:

 

public class MainViewModel : ObservableObject
{
    private readonly ICustomerRepository _customerRepository;
    private Customer _selectedCustomer;

    public MainViewModel()
    {
        _customerRepository =  new CustomerRepository();
        AddCommand = new RelayCommand(DoAdd);
        RemoveCommand = new RelayCommand(DoRemove, () => SelectedCustomer != null);
        SaveCommand = new RelayCommand(DoSave);
        SearchCommand = new RelayCommand<string>(DoSearch);
    }

    public IEnumerable<Customer> Customers => _customerRepository.Customers;

    public Customer SelectedCustomer
    {
        get => _selectedCustomer;
        set 
        { 
            SetProperty(ref _selectedCustomer, value); 
            RemoveCommand.NotifyCanExecuteChanged(); 
        } 
    }

    public IRelayCommand AddCommand { get; }
    public IRelayCommand RemoveCommand { get; }
    public IRelayCommand SaveCommand { get; }
    public IRelayCommand<string> SearchCommand { get; }
    private void DoAdd()
    {
        var customer = new Customer();
        _customerRepository.Add(customer);
        SelectedCustomer = customer;
        OnPropertyChanged("Customers");
    }

    private void DoRemove()
    {
        if (SelectedCustomer != null)
        {
            _customerRepository.Remove(SelectedCustomer);
            SelectedCustomer = null;
            OnPropertyChanged("Customers");
        }
    }

    private void DoSave()
    {
        _customerRepository.Commit();
    }

    private void DoSearch(string textToSearch)
    {
        var coll = CollectionViewSource.GetDefaultView(Customers);
        if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(textToSearch))
            coll.Filter = c => ((Customer)c).Country.ToLower().Contains(textToSearch.ToLower());
        else
            coll.Filter = null;
    }
}

We have two properties, Customers and SelectedCustomerCustomers  will contain the list of customers shown in the DataGrid. SelectedCustomer will be the selected customer in the DataGrid, that will be shown in the detail pane. There are four commands, and we will use the IRelayCommand interface, declared in the toolkit. Each command will be initialized with the method that will be executed when the command is invoked. The RemoveCommand uses an overload for the constructor, that uses a predicate as the second parameter. This predicate will only enable the button when there is a customer selected in the DataGrid. As this command is dependent on the selected customer, when we change this property, we call the NotifyCanExecuteChanged method to notify all the elements that are bound to this command.

Now we can remove all the code from MainWindow.xaml.cs and leave only this:

public MainWindow()
{
    InitializeComponent();
    DataContext = new MainViewModel();
}

We can run the program and see that it runs the same way it did before, but we made a large refactoring to the code and now we can start implementing unit tests in the code.

Implementing tests

Now that we’ve separated the code from the view, we can test the ViewModel without the need to initialize a Window. That is really great, because we can have testable code and be assured that we are not breaking anything when we are implementing new features. For that, add a new test project and name it CustomerApp.Tests. In the Visual Studio version I’m using, there is no template for the .net 5.0 test project available, so I added a .Net Core test project, then I edited the project file and changed the TargetFramework to net5.0-windows. Then, you can add a reference to the CustomerApp project and rename UnitTest1 to MainViewModelTests.

Taking a look at the Main ViewModel, we see that there is a coupling between it and the Customer Repository. In this case, there is no much trouble, because we are reading the customers from a XML file located in the output directory, but if we decide to replace it with some kind of database, it can be tricky to test the ViewModel, because we would have to do a lot of setup to test it.

We’ll remove the dependency using Dependency Injection. Instead of using another framework for the the dependency injection, we’ll use the integrated one, based on Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection. You should add this NuGet package in the App project to use the dependency injection. Then, in App.xaml.cs, we’ll add code to initialize the location of the services:

public partial class App
{
    public App()
    {
        Services = ConfigureServices();
    }

    public new static App Current => (App) Application.Current;

    public IServiceProvider Services { get; }

    private static IServiceProvider ConfigureServices()
    {
        var services = new ServiceCollection();

        services.AddSingleton<ICustomerRepository, CustomerRepository>();
        services.AddSingleton<MainViewModel>();

        return services.BuildServiceProvider();
    }

    public MainViewModel MainVM => Services.GetService<MainViewModel>();
}

We declare a static property Current to ease using the App  object and declare a IServiceProvider, to provide our services. They are configured in the ConfigureServices method, that creates a ServiceCollection and add the CustomerRepository and the main ViewModel to the collection. ConfigureServices  is called in the constructor of the application. Finally we declare the property MainVM, which will get the ViewModel from the Service Collection.

Now, we can change MainWindow.xaml.cs to use the property instead of instantiate directly the ViewModel:

public MainWindow()
{
    InitializeComponent();
    DataContext = App.Current.MainVM;
}

The last change is to remove the coupling between the ViewModel and the repository using Dependency Injection, in MainViewModel.cs:

public MainViewModel(ICustomerRepository customerRepository)
{
    _customerRepository = customerRepository ??  
                          throw new ArgumentNullException("customerRepository");
    _customerRepository = customerRepository;
    AddCommand = new RelayCommand(DoAdd);
    RemoveCommand = new RelayCommand(DoRemove, () => SelectedCustomer != null);
    SaveCommand = new RelayCommand(DoSave);
    SearchCommand = new RelayCommand<string>(DoSearch);
}

With that, we’ve gone one step further and removed the coupling between the ViewModel and the repository, so we can start our tests.

For the tests, we will use two libraries, FluentAssertions, for better assertions and FakeItEasy, to generate fakes. You should install both NuGet packages to your test project. Now, we can start creating our tests:

public class MainViewModelTests
{
    [TestMethod]
    public void Constructor_NullRepository_ShouldThrow()
    {
        Action act = () => new MainViewModel(null);

        act.Should().Throw<ArgumentNullException>()
            .Where(e => e.Message.Contains("customerRepository"));
    }

    [TestMethod]
    public void Constructor_Customers_ShouldHaveValue()
    {
        var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
        var customers = new List<Customer>();
        A.CallTo(() => repository.Customers).Returns(customers);
        var vm =  new MainViewModel(repository);

        vm.Customers.Should().BeEquivalentTo(customers);
    }

    [TestMethod]
    public void Constructor_SelectedCustomer_ShouldBeNull()
    {
        var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
        var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);

        vm.SelectedCustomer.Should().BeNull();
    }
}

Here we created three tests for the constructor, testing the values of the properties after the constructor. We can continue, testing the commands in the ViewModel:

[TestMethod]
public void AddCommand_ShouldAddInRepository()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);

    vm.AddCommand.Execute(null);
    A.CallTo(() => repository.Add(A<Customer>._)).MustHaveHappened();
}

[TestMethod]
public void AddCommand_SelectedCustomer_ShouldNotBeNull()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.AddCommand.Execute(null);
    vm.SelectedCustomer.Should().NotBeNull();
}

[TestMethod]
public void AddCommand_ShouldNotifyCustomers()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    var wasNotified = false;
    vm.PropertyChanged += (s, e) =>
    {
        if (e.PropertyName == "Customers")
            wasNotified = true;
    };
    vm.AddCommand.Execute(null);
    wasNotified.Should().BeTrue();
}

[TestMethod]
public void RemoveCommand_SelectedCustomerNull_ShouldNotRemoveInRepository()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.RemoveCommand.Execute(null);
    A.CallTo(() => repository.Remove(A<Customer>._)).MustNotHaveHappened();
}

[TestMethod]
public void RemoveCommand_SelectedCustomerNotNull_ShouldRemoveInRepository()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.SelectedCustomer = new Customer();
    vm.RemoveCommand.Execute(null);
    A.CallTo(() => repository.Remove(A<Customer>._)).MustHaveHappened();
}

[TestMethod]
public void RemoveCommand_SelectedCustomer_ShouldBeNull()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.SelectedCustomer = new Customer();
    vm.RemoveCommand.Execute(null);
    vm.SelectedCustomer.Should().BeNull();
}

[TestMethod]
public void RemoveCommand_ShouldNotifyCustomers()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.SelectedCustomer = new Customer(); 
    var wasNotified = false;
    vm.PropertyChanged += (s, e) =>
    {
        if (e.PropertyName == "Customers")
            wasNotified = true;
    };
    vm.RemoveCommand.Execute(null);
    wasNotified.Should().BeTrue();
}

[TestMethod]
public void SaveCommand_ShouldCommitInRepository()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.SaveCommand.Execute(null);
    A.CallTo(() => repository.Commit()).MustHaveHappened();
}

[TestMethod]
public void SearchCommand_WithText_ShouldSetFilter()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.SearchCommand.Execute("text");
    var coll = CollectionViewSource.GetDefaultView(vm.Customers);
    coll.Filter.Should().NotBeNull();
}

[TestMethod]
public void SearchCommand_WithoutText_ShouldSetFilter()
{
    var repository = A.Fake<ICustomerRepository>();
    var vm = new MainViewModel(repository);
    vm.SearchCommand.Execute("");
    var coll = CollectionViewSource.GetDefaultView(vm.Customers);
    coll.Filter.Should().BeNull();
}

Now we have all the tests for the ViewModel and have our project ready for the future. We went step by step and finished with a .NET 5.0 project that uses the MVVM pattern and have unit tests. This project is ready to be updated to WinUI3, or even to be ported to UWP or Xamarin. The separation between the code and the UI makes it easy to port it to other platforms, the ViewModel became testable and you can test all logic in it, without bothering with the UI. Nice, no ?

The full source code for the project is at https://github.com/bsonnino/MvvmApp

 

In the last post I showed how to use Xaml Islands to modernize your .NET app. As you could see, there are a lot of steps and the procedure is a little clumsy. But now it’s getting better, Microsoft has introduced WinUI 3 and, with that, things are getting better: you don’t need special components to add your WinUI code, you can use the WinUI components directly in you app. But there is a pitfall – right now, when I’m writing this article (end of 2020), Win UI 3 is still in preview and you need the preview version of Visual Studio to use it. You can install the preview version side-by-side with the production version, there is no problem with that. You can download the preview version from here. Once you download and install the preview version of Visual Studio, you need to download the WinUI3 templates to create new apps. This is done by installing the VSIX package from here. Now we are ready to modernize our app from the last post with WinUI3. In Visual Studio Preview, create a new app. We’ll create a new blank, packaged desktop app:\

clip_image002

When you create that app, Visual Studio will create a solution with two projects: a WPF app and a package app that will create a MSIX package that will allow your program to run in a sandbox and to send it to Windows Store:

clip_image003

If you run the application right now, the package will install the app, with a button in the center of the window, that will change its text when clicked. We’ll change the app to show our photos. The first step is to add the Newtonsoft.Json NuGet package. The MVVM Light package wasn’t ported to .NET 5.0, so we’ll use the MVVM framework from the Community toolkit (https://github.com/windows-toolkit/MVVM-Samples). In the NuGet package manager, install the Micosoft.Toolkit.MVVM package. Once you installed these packages, you can copy the Converters, Model, Photos and ViewModels paths from the WPFXamlIslands project from my Github. If you build the application, you will see some errors. Some of them are due to the conversion to WinUI3 and other ones are due to the use of the new MVVM Framework. Let’s begin converting the files for the framework. The MVVM Toolkit doesn’t have the ViewModelBase class, but has the similar ObservableObject. In MainViewModel.cs, changed the base class of the viewmodel to ObservableObject:

public class MainViewModel : ObservableObject

Then, we must change the IoC container that is used in MVVM Light to the one used in the MVVM toolkit. For that, you must add this code in App.xaml.cs:

/// <summary> 
/// Gets the current <see cref="App"/> instance in use 
/// </summary> 
public new static App Current => (App)Application.Current; 

/// <summary> 
/// Gets the <see cref="IServiceProvider"/> instance to resolve application services. 
/// </summary> 
public IServiceProvider Services { get; } 

/// <summary> 
/// Configures the services for the application. 
/// </summary> 
private static IServiceProvider ConfigureServices() 
{ 
  var services = new ServiceCollection(); 
  services.AddSingleton<MainViewModel>(); 
return services.BuildServiceProvider(); 
}

This code will configure the service collection, adding the instantiation of MainViewModel as a singleton, when required and will configure the service provider. We should call the ConfigureServices method in the constructor, like this:

public App() 
{
  Services = ConfigureServices();
  this.InitializeComponent();
  this.Suspending += OnSuspending; 
}

Now, we can get a reference to the ViewModel, when we need it, as the DataContext for the view. In MainWindow.xaml.cs, when you try to set the DataContext like this, you get an error, saying that DataContext is not defined:

public MainWindow()
{
    this.InitializeComponent();
    DataContext = App.Current.Services.GetService(typeof(MainViewModel));
}

That’s because the Window in WinUI isn’t a UIElement and thus, doesn’t have a DataContext. There are two workarounds to this issue:

  • Use x:Bind, that doesn’t need a DataContext for data binding
  • Set the DataContext to the main element of the window

So, we’ll choose the second option and initialize the DataContext with this code:

public MainWindow()
{
    this.InitializeComponent();
    MainGrid.DataContext = App.Current.Services.GetService(typeof(MainViewModel));
}

The next step is to remove the ViewModelLocator, as it won’t be needed. One other error is in the converter. The namespaces in the WinUI have changed, and we must change them to use the code. System.Windows.Data has changed to Microsoft.UI.Xaml.Data and System.Windows.Media.Imaging has changed to Microsoft.UI.Xaml.Media.Imaging (as you can see, there was a change from System.Windows to Microsoft.UI.Xaml).

Besides that, in WinUI, the interface IValueConverter is implemented, but the signatures of Convert and ConvertBack are different, so we have to change the signature of the methods (the code remains unchanged):

public object Convert(object value, Type targetType, object parameter, string language)
{
    string imagePath = $"{AppDomain.CurrentDomain.BaseDirectory}Photos\\{value}.jpg";
    BitmapImage bitmapImage = !string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(value?.ToString()) &&
                              File.Exists(imagePath) ?
        new BitmapImage(new Uri(imagePath)) :
        null;
    return bitmapImage;
}

public object ConvertBack(object value, Type targetType, object parameter, string language)
{
    throw new NotImplementedException();
}

Now we can add the FlipView to the main window. In this case, we don’t need any component nor setup in the code behind – all the code is in MainWindow.xaml:

<Grid x:Name="MainGrid">
 <FlipView ItemsSource="{Binding Photos}">
   <FlipView.ItemTemplate>
     <DataTemplate>
       <Grid Margin="5">
         <Grid.RowDefinitions>
           <RowDefinition Height="*" />
           <RowDefinition Height="40" />
         </Grid.RowDefinitions>
         <Image Source="{Binding PhotoUrl}" Grid.Row="0" Margin="5"
             Stretch="Uniform" />
         <TextBlock Text="{Binding UserName}" HorizontalAlignment="Center" VerticalAlignment="Center" Grid.Row="1"/>
       </Grid>
     </DataTemplate>
   </FlipView.ItemTemplate>
 </FlipView>
</Grid>

With that, we can run the program and we get another error:

clip_image005

We get a DirectoryNotFoundException because of the package. When we are using the package, the current directory has changed and it’s not the install folder anymore, so we have to point to the full path. This is done with a code like this:

public MainViewModel()
{
    var fileName = $"{AppDomain.CurrentDomain.BaseDirectory}Photos\\__credits.json";
    Photos = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject&lt;Dictionary&lt;string, PhotoData&gt;&gt;(
        File.ReadAllText(fileName),
        new JsonSerializerSettings
        {
            ContractResolver = new DefaultContractResolver
            {
                NamingStrategy = new SnakeCaseNamingStrategy()
            }
        }).Select(p =&gt; new PhotoData() { PhotoUrl = $".\\Photos\\{p.Key}.jpg", UserName = p.Value.UserName });
}

Now, when you run the app, it should run ok, but I got a C++ exception:

clip_image007

In this case, I just unchecked the “Break when this exception is thrown” box and everything worked fine:

clip_image009

We now have our app modernized with WinUI3 components, there is no need to add a new component to interface, like XamlIslands and everything works as a single program. There were some things to update, like components that weren’t ported to .NET 5, new namespaces and some issues with the path, but the changes were pretty seamless. WinUI3 is still in preview and there will surely be changes before it goes to production, but you can have a glance of what is coming and how you can modernize your apps with WinUI 3.

All the code for this article is at https://github.com/bsonnino/WinUiViewer