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Genesis Hybrid Smart Client Framework part II

, 19 Jun 2009
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This is part II of a VII part series. This article covers the basics of what the Genesis Smart Client is and serves as required reading before reading parts III - VII
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Genesis layers

Introduction - What is the Genesis Smart Client Framework

The Genesis Smart Client Framework is a application development framework that allows developers to develop modules of code that is hosted inside of the framework. The framework takes care of user security, application deployment and online data access for the developer as long as they use the Genesis Smart Client Framework API.

This article is part II of VII. Go to part I to see the index.

Please refer to our web site www.bluemarble.co.za for the most up to date information about the Genesis Smart Client Framework or any of our newsfeeds.
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In order to pursue our active interest in releasing this version of the Genesis Smart Client Framework as an open source product, we've created a profile on www.codeplex.com where we maintain the most recent copy of the source code. If you want the latest version of the Genesis Smart Client Framework source code go to our code plex profile or download the latest release from Code Plex.

The Back-end

The Genesis Smart Client Framework has a comprehensive server-side back-end that enables client access to the configuration meta-data, file access, web services and the database.

Configuration Meta-Data

Genesis Meta-Data

The Configuration Meta-Data is information that describes the user access profile. The user access profile is built up by analysing the user's security role access, then it searches for modules and commands that are visible to those roles. The results are sent to the Smart Client which is then responsible for displaying an user interface which contain only the configured menu and toolbar items. The Configuration Meta-Data also contains the login XML script to be executed after the user has successfully authenticated.

Configuration is done by managing the modules that are hosted inside of the Genesis Smart Client Framework, finding any commands that they contain and assigning security roles that are allowed to access the module/command.

* Commands are snippets of code contained in a module that can be secured to prevent execution by unauthorized users. This will be clarified in Part IV.

File Access

Genesis File System

The Smart Client uses the file access system to download the latest version of any modules hosted in the Genesis Smart Client Framework. The file access system is a ASP.NET web site that exposes files to the Smart Client, it allows files to be uploaded to the server by means of the Web Services. When deploying new code to the framework the developer will use the deployment function of the file access system which will automatically udpate the relevant configuration meta-data. Database backups are also made available through the file access system.

Web Services

Genesis Web Services

The Web Services provides the business logic that enables the Smart Client application to access the Configuration Meta-Data, and to interact with the Genesis Smart Client Framework core system. The Web Services is a ASP.NET Web Service site that exposes the web services to the Smart Client. There are base classes available for the developer to inherit for his/her own services that comply with the API. All online data access has to happen through Web Services to conform to the Smart Client requirements.

The Web Services also allow the developer to access the File Access system for uploading and downloading files from the Genesis Smart Client Core system.

Databases

The Genesis Smart Client Framework's database is a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database that contains all of the user and security information. It also contains the Configuration Meta-Data for the modules and commands hosted by the Genesis Smart Client Framework. There is a collection of CRL Stored Procedures and TSQL Stored Procedures and views. If a developer needs to access information in the Configuration Meta-Data database they can use any of the available views through linked servers.

Multiple application databases are supported by the Genesis Smart Client Framework and can be access through the Web Services. Currently there is only support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 databases.

The Client

The Smart Client application authenticates the user through the Web Services and updates itself by analyzing the Configuration Meta-Data for the authenticated user. Once the application is up to date, the user login XML script is executed and the user environment is prepared. The Genesis Smart Client Framework delivers a rich user experience by integrating a Microsoft Office 2007 styled ribbon with an intuitive navigation system.

Loader Application

The Loader application is a generic file synchronization utility. It checks an online XML file for available applications and their version numbers. It determines via a local cache if it has the required file(s) or if it has the latest version of said file(s). If the file needs to be updated, the Loader will download the file and update the local cache. Once the Loader has completed the synchronization it executes the default application.

The Loader is not the Smart Client application, the Loader is responsible for ensuring that the Smart Client application and any supporting resources are up to date.

The Smart Client

Genesis Start Page

The Smart Client application is responsible for authenticating the user, downloading the Configuration Meta-Data for the authenticated user. Downloading the most recent module libraries and supporting resources, and then to render the personalised user interface. It also manages the local execution of commands contained in the modules. Unless a user has the required security access, the Smart Client will not execute the code.

By referencing a set of client API's, the developer can develop a module with full integration into any Smart Client. The libraries contain all of the interfaces that the default Smart Client implements. In part IV you will learn how to write your own Smart Client implementation. Any module developed using the Genesis Smart Client Framework client API will function on any Smart Client application developed using the Genesis Smart Client Framework client API.

Programming Concepts

In order to provide a managable application framework some fundamental programming concepts have to be created and enforced. When a developer has to work within the bounds of a framework, it is not a good idea to restrict what the developer can achieve with his/her code. The framework development requirements have therefore been kept to a minimum.

Module

A module is a unit of code that the developer can host inside of the Genesis Smart Client Framework. A module is composed of a Smart Client library, Web Services and possibly a Database and/or Web Site.

The Smart Client library is a class library project that references the Genesis Smart Client Framework client API's. A Smart Client library is composed of Windows Forms, Web Service client proxies for the Web Services and Commands. The Windows Forms are standard windows forms which are rendered on a MDI surface. In order to access data developers must use the Web Service client proxies, which are simple wrapper classes on the standard Web Reference code generated by Visual Studio. The proxies handle the conversion to/from the correct types to simplify frequent access from the code. Commands are code snippets which are secured by the framework. Data access for the Windows Forms can be achieved through the use of Commands, however it is not enforced.

The Smart Client application renders a custom menu for each user, this menu is generated from the Configuration Meta-Data. The menu items are linked to Commands which are executed by the Smart Client application. Menu linked commands usually display a Windows Form, but can execute any function.

Command

Commands are units of code that are protected by the Genesis Smart Client Framework security layer. A user can be prevented from executing sections of code based on his/her user access profile. Commands are used to link code to the menu items that are rendered by the Smart Client application. Commands can be used for any code function that can receive parameters, and return a result. You can use a command to access online data through the Web Services or to manipulate the local system.

[Genesis.Common.Attributes.CommandCode("Common.WebBrowser.Show")] 
[Genesis.Common.Attributes.CommandDescription("This command shows the web browser")] 
[Genesis.Common.Attributes.CommandName("Web Browser")] 
public class ShowWebBrowser : Genesis.Common.Classes.CommandBase, Genesis.Common.Interfaces.ICommand 
{ 
	#region ICommand Members 
	void Genesis.Common.Interfaces.ICommand.Execute() 
	{ 
		Genesis.Client.Common.Forms.WebBrowser webBrowser = new Genesis.Client.Common.Forms.WebBrowser(); 
		webBrowser.Host = this.host; 
		bool hasUrl = false; 
 
	
		for (int i = 0; i < this.parameters.Count; i++) 
		{ 
			webBrowser.PageProperties.Add(
				new Genesis.Common.Classes.PageProperty(parameters[i].Name, parameters[i].Value));
			if (this.parameters[i].Name == "Url") 
			{ 
				hasUrl = true; 
			} 
		} 
 
		if (!hasUrl) 
		{ 
			webBrowser.PageProperties.Add(
				new Genesis.Common.Classes.PageProperty("Url", "http://localhost:1652/genesis.web/default.aspx?SessionGuid=" + this.host.GlobalDataSetFunctions.GetActiveSessionGuid().ToString())); 
		} 
 
		webBrowser.Navigate(); 
		base.host.CreateWindow(webBrowser); 
	} 
	
	#endregion 
} 

Web Service Client Proxy

A Web Service client proxy is a class that wraps the standard Web Reference code generated by Visual Studio into a type-safe, easy to use class. The base class that developers have to inherit from, automatically configures the web service address from the information contained in the Configuration Meta-Data for the user's access profile.

Managing the Genesis Smart Client Framework

To enjoy the full benefit of the Genesis Smart Client Framework, you have to understand how to configure the meta-data. This is the setup of the user security, the module and command configuration, user interface and resources.

User Security

User Security is handled by a user/role system. Roles are defined in the Genesis Smart Client Framework Configuration Meta-Data database, users are added and linked to roles. Configured Modules and Commands are linked to roles. When a user is authenticated, a list of modules and commands are returned to the Smart Client. The Smart Client checks for the required files and downloads the appropriate updates. Authorised sessions are logged in the Genesis Smart Client Framework database. Exceptions on the Smart Client are also logged in this database.

Deployments

Updating the Configuration Meta-Data and the module libraries is done with a packaging tool which collects all of the module information and creates a deployment package. This package is deployed using the deployment tool which will extract the module library and associated resources to the correct locations in the file host and update the Configuration Meta-Data.

The packaging tool collects the library files from configured locations, which can include the development binaries directories, and builds a deployment manifest. The files are all zipped to create the deployment package.

The deployment tool uploads the deployment package to the server, unzips the files into temporary directories and then executes the deployment manifest. The manifest is a set of instructions to copy/move/replace files and to perform database functions on the server.

Further Reading

This article is part II of VII. Go to part III to read about the server back-end.

Other information

Blue Marble is proud to be a Microsoft BizSpark startup company.

DISCLAIMER

The Genesis Smart Client Framework is a commercial closed source application. It is being provided on Code Project with all of the benefits that articles on Code Project grant its users (ie. Free and Fair use), however it must be noted that some modules contain a 3rd party control that we are unable to license via Code Project. Once all of the articles are uploaded, the code will be extracted to a seperate obfusicated library to protect our vendor's Intellectual Property. The full source code will be provided for this library, excluding the few lines that could compromise our License. An alternative will also be provided for developers who wish to use a completely free version.

DISCLAIMER UPDATE

An implementation of a standard Microsoft.NET controls user interface has been created and is available on Code Plex as of release 1.30.1024.0. This release complies with all of the Code Project article publishing terms and conditions.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)

About the Author

Stephan Johnson
Blue Marble
South Africa South Africa
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionWhat's exactly this mean? Pinmemberivanchain@hotmail.com22-Jun-09 22:00 
AnswerRe: What's exactly this mean? PinmemberStephan Johnson22-Jun-09 23:57 

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