Me and my colleague Pål Fossmo was invited to give a talk on the Composite Application Guidance (codenamed Prism) on the MSDN Live March 2009 tour. It was great fun, but man we spent many hours preparing for this event! Given the fact that there were 2 of us given the talk, one could assume that this meant just half the work. But, no. So many hours of discussing what to include, how to do the talk, who does what, synchronizing the talk, rehearsal…
And we thought we had it all figured out as we started out in Stavanger on March 5th. But the feedback from the session suggested that maybe we ought to change the talk a bit. The score wasn’t as good as we’d hoped and we knew we could do better. So we spent the weekend adjusting the talk for Bergen on March 10th. The tip from MSDN General Rune G was clear; more code equals higher score. So we added some quality time in Visual Studio to the talk and the score went up. I must admit that I was perhaps the one that resisted to take “live coding” into the talk in the first place, but seeing the score from Stavanger and Bergen made it pretty clear that this was a bad call. The reason for my resistance was perhaps the fear of ‘something’ going wrong during live coding; staying in PowerPoint is safe, jumping around in Visual Studio is a lot more risky. So many things can go wrong and to stand in front of the crowd with an app that crash and burn is just not much fun. Believe me; I’ve tried it. The demo-God was nice to us though, and I think we got away with some nice demos on how to get started with Prism.
We spent about half of the talk in PowerPoint and rest was demo. The slides focus on the what and why of Prism, while the how was in Visual Studio. Since one of the key concepts of Prism is the use of an IoC/D I-container, we decided to spend about 8-10 minutes explaining the concepts of Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control using some example code in PowerPoint. Rune Grothaug will publish a screen-recording of the session we did in Oslo, and I guess will be available in a couple of days (I’ll update this article with a link to the recording when it’s available). If you want to take a look on the slides, you can download them here (for you non-Norwegian speaking out there; sorry, the slides are (mostly) in Norwegian, but if you’d like a copy in English just let me know and I’ll translate and upload it).
The goal of the demo was to show off some of the key concepts in Prism; modules, regions, views and communication. As we started to prepare for this talk, we quickly found the need of a very lightweight and small app that we could demo. The reference application that comes with Prism is really good, and I highly recommend everyone to take a walk around the code from the Patterns & Practices team. It’s nicely done and I think most of us can learn a lot just be reading this code. But alas the reference app is nice and well done; we still wanted something smaller and more fit to our purpose, so we decided to roll our own little composite application. And since Pål is a big fan of Twitter, he built a nice little Twitter client using the concepts from Prism. The demo app, called ‘Kvittre’, consists of a shell with 4 regions and in the main app we had 3 modules; one for the login view, one for posting tweets, and one for listing tweets from those you follow.
For the live demo we wanted to show how to build a module, and since TinyUrl is a popular service to shorten down url’s in tweets we decided to build a module that could take an url, ask the TinyUrl service for a shortened version, and then insert the tiny url into the message. And to demo that you could build a module separate from the ‘main solution’, we coded the module in a separate solution. To test-run the module we added a ‘host application’ project that contained a bootstrapper and a region to host the view from the module. When the module was tested and looked okay, we deployed it back to Kvittre. Kvittre was set up with a DirectoryModuleCatalog that would load any module in a given catalog. Since the 4th region in the Kvittre shell was set up to host the TinyUrl module, the module was loaded and displayed in Kvittre. Then we used an EventAggregator for communicating between modules and wrapped it up by demoing some unit testing of the Login method in the Presenter class of the LoginView. If you want to check out the code, it’s all wrapped up and ready for download right here.