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Posted 22 May 2007

Smart Code Generator-How to create Templates

, 13 Aug 2007
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Smart Code the Open Source Code Generator

Screenshot - Smart Code IDE


As described in the part one of this series, SmartCode uses a template engine to transform some kind of "model" into compilable code. In this second part of the series, I will teach how to build a template to generate stored procedures, and finally how to use the new Open Source Implementation of a CodeSmith-Style Code Generation Engine (TahoGen).

Also you can jump to the third part of the serie, to play with NHibernate and Smart Code.

Now Smart Code offer a new set of Templates to generate code for NHibernate + ASPX, the code is based on the NHibernate Best Practices with ASP.NET article. More info about these templates in the article named NHibernate Templates for Smart Code Generator.


Most of the real-world code generators, both commercial and open source releases, use script based templates and template engines to transform data from a format to another. In the .NET Framework, usually code generators templates are written in ASP.NET style <% %> syntax. And using .NET class, associated to an specific data model to transform this input, in an formatted output, specified by the template

SmartCode is a very flexible, powerful and open source code generator. The most new features of SmartCode is an alternative to tipical ASP.NET code styles.

The Templates are created in C# or VB.NET (or theoretically in any .NET language in which a dynamic-link library (DLL) may be created) and compiled as dlls. This is a very powerful paradigm, to allow you using Visual Studio to create, compile and debug the templates.

Template Libraries

Code-generation templates are organized in dlls. For a DLL to be considered an SmartCode library, it has to expose a certain interface, which will be specified in detail in the next section. To facilitate the creation of this interface, the SmartCode source package comes with base classes that already declare the necessary properties and methods, and which may be used to create libraries and templates by the use of class inheritance.

SmartCode in Action

In SmartCode Each Template look like this (in VB.NET):

Imports System
   Imports SmartCode.Template

   Public Class Sample3
     Inherits TemplateBase

     Public Sub New()
            MyBase.Name = "Sample3"
            MyBase.CreateOutputFile = True
            MyBase.Description = "This template demonstrates " & _ 
                                 "using static and dynamic contents."
            MyBase.OutputFolder = "Samples\Sample3"
            MyBase.IsProjectTemplate = False
        End Sub

        Public Overloads Overrides Function OutputFileName() As String
            Return Table.Code + "_Sample3.txt"
        End Function

        Public Overloads Overrides Sub ProduceCode()
            WriteLine("Table: " + Table.Name)
            For Each column As SmartCode.Model.Column In Table.AllColumns
                WriteLine("Column: {0}: {1}", column.Name, column.NetDataType)
        End Sub
End Class

The code listed is a sample template that will write out all of the column names from any table.
I we apply this template, to the SQL Server Northwind Employees table, the resulting output would be.

Table:          : Employees
EmployeeID      : System.Int32
LastName        : System.String
FirstName       : System.String
Title           : System.String
TitleOfCourtesy : System.String
BirthDate       : System.DateTime
HireDate        : System.DateTime
Address         : System.String
City            : System.String
Region          : System.String
PostalCode      : System.String
Country         : System.String
HomePhone       : System.String
Extension       : System.String
Photo           : System.Byte[]
Notes           : System.String
ReportsTo       : System.Int32
PhotoPath       : System.String

Getting Started

As described SmartCode uses a template engine to transform some kind of model, the SmartCode Model, into output code, given the output specified by a template

Internal Core Model

The internal core model is the core of SmartCode generator architecture. This contains a set of classes that make it easily manipulate the public methods and properties, to generate outputs.
The next figure show the basic Internal Core Model

SmartCode Classes

In order to add the SmartCode engine in the game, you class must inherits from a class TemplateBase, the engine, using reflection features, calls the Run Method defined by:

System.Collections.ArrayList Run(SmartCode.Model.Domain domain, 
                         SmartCode.Model.NamedObject entity)

Passing the context domain and entity objects, defined by each selected object in the Setting Code Generation Dialog.

Where "Delete Row by primary Key", "Insert One Row" and the other one are Templates and the objects, below each node are the Entities assigned.

The Run method return to Engine an ArrayList of values between them, the Output Code and Filename, to create the output file contents.

Now that it's clear how that SmartCode works, we can concentrate on the implementation of the TemplateBase abstract class

Templates interface

A DLL file is considered an SmartCode Template library, whenever it directly or not inherits from a class SmartCode.Template.TemplateBase, and has implemented the following properties:

  • Name: The name of the template. For example: "Sample3". MyBase.Name = "Sample3" (VB.NET)
  • Description: The description of what the template does. For example: "This template demonstrates using static and dynamic contents".
    MyBase.Description = "This template demonstrates using" & _ 
                         " static and dynamic contents."
  • OutputFolder: The relative path of the folder in which to place the file with the generated code. It is relative because, as explained in the section on code-generation results, before generating code SmartCode Studio asks in which folder to place the generated files. For example: "Samples\Sample3". MyBase.OutputFolder = "Samples\Sample3"
  • CreateOutputFile: Whether a file is to be created as part of the code-generation process. Although it is typical for a template to generate code to be placed in a single file, there may be certain templates that need to generate multiple files.
    MyBase.CreateOutputFile = True
    IsProjectTemplate: If template is created for run for each entity or only for project.
    MyBase.IsProjectTemplate = False 'Run once, only by Project

TemplateBase is an abstract class you must Implement the next Methods

  • OutputFileName: The actual name of the file in which to store the generated code. This property would only be available after the ProduceOutString method(see below) is called. For example: "Client_Sample3.sql".
    Public Overloads Overrides Function OutputFileName() As String
        Return Table.Code + "_Sample3.txt"
    End Function
  • ProduceCode: The routine that generates the code and places it in the internal StringBuilder property "code". To generate the code, this method uses the internal properties "Entity" and "Domain", which SmartCode will set prior to invoking it. Entity and Domain are properties of types Table and Domain, respectively.
    Public Overloads Overrides Sub ProduceCode()
        WriteLine("Table: " + Table.Name)
          For Each column As SmartCode.Model.Column In Table.AllColumns
                WriteLine("Column: {0}: {1}", column.Name, column.NetDataType)
    End Sub

When you are done with the code compile, and the dll to be available to SmartCode Studio.

Writing Our Template

Now that it's clear how that Templates libraries structure, we can begin writing our template. A good idea to start with our template is build how the output we like. Here is an example GetRowByPrimaryKey stored procedure for the Products table from Northwind database.

All code is available in the source package of SmartCode

CREATE PROCEDURE usp_Products_GetRowByPrimaryKey
     @ProductID int
[Products].[ProductID] as ProductID,
[Products].[ProductName] as ProductName,
[Products].[SupplierID] as SupplierID,
[Products].[CategoryID] as CategoryID,
[Products].[QuantityPerUnit] as QuantityPerUnit,
[Products].[UnitPrice] as UnitPrice,
[Products].[UnitsInStock] as UnitsInStock,
[Products].[UnitsOnOrder] as UnitsOnOrder,
[Products].[ReorderLevel] as ReorderLevel,
[Products].[Discontinued] as Discontinued,
[T0].[CategoryName] as CategoryID_CategoryName, [T0].[Description] as CategoryID_Description,
    [T1].[CompanyName] as SupplierID_CompanyName, [T1].[ContactName] as SupplierID_ContactName
FROM [Products]      LEFT OUTER JOIN
Categories AS T0  ON  T0.[CategoryID] =
           [Products].[CategoryID]      LEFT OUTER JOIN
Suppliers AS T1  ON  T1.[SupplierID] = [Products].[SupplierID]
      [ProductID] = @ProductID

To Build the list of primary key parameters, we can get these values from Table.PrimaryKeyColumns() (IList<column>) Method, this is an List of Column that represent each Primary Key in the current context object. Here is an simple example of code to extract the information

string inputParameters = String.Empty;
foreach (Column column in Table.PrimaryKeyColumns())
  inputParameters += "    " + Common.GetSqlParameterLine(column);
inputParameters = Common.Substring(inputParameters, Environment.NewLine.Length + 1);
WriteLine(" ({0} {1} {0})", Environment.NewLine, inputParameters);

Where GetSqlParameterLine is an rutine defined in Common class that returns the type of the field as a T-SQL type, like varchar(length-of-field).

There is a method worth noting, called WriteLine, in the class TemplateBase. In the core libraries, it is used to write the generated code into the StringBuilder code property, line by line. It appends a new-line character to the string it receives as a parameter and then adds it to the value of the code property. There is also a parameter-less WriteLine, which just adds a new-line character to the value of the code property.

Now we need build the body of the Store procedure, we can split up into 4 parts:

  • The local columns defined in products table
foreach (Column columm in Table.AllColumns())
     selectStm.AppendFormat("    [{0}].[{1}] as {2},{3}", Table.Name, columm.Name, columm.Code, Environment.NewLine);
  • The list of values (LOV) an very nice feature added to SmartCode Model, that allow you lookup for values in parent tables, as shows the next image:

    SmartCode LOV

    int i = 0;
    foreach (Reference reference in Table.InReferences){
      foreach (ReferenceJoin join in reference.Joins){
         //Searchs for LOV
         foreach (Column lovColumn in join.LOV){
             if (lovColumn.Name != join.ParentColumn.Name){
                selectStm.AppendFormat("    [T{0}].[{1}] as {2}_{3},{4}", 
                           i, lovColumn.Name, join.ChildColumn.Code, 
                           lovColumn.Code, Environment.NewLine);
      i += 1;
    //Remove the '\n,'
    selectStm = new StringBuilder(Common.Substring(selectStm.ToString(), Environment.NewLine.Length + 1));
    //Write the code
  • The From Part, you can access to external 'InReferences' to build a more complex FROM.
    i = 0;
    string alignment = "";
    foreach (Reference reference in Table.InReferences)
        if  (reference.Alignment == Reference.AlignmentType.Inner)
             alignment = " INNER JOIN ";
        else if (reference.Alignment == Reference.AlignmentType.Left)
             alignment = " LEFT OUTER JOIN ";
        else if (reference.Alignment == Reference.AlignmentType.Right)
             alignment = " RIGHT OUTER JOIN ";
        selectStm.AppendFormat("    {0} {1} AS T{2} ",alignment +
                  Environment.NewLine , reference.ParentTable.Name, i);
        string onJoin = "";
        foreach (ReferenceJoin join in reference.Joins)
            onJoin += String.Format(" ON  T{0}.[{1}] = [{2}].[{3}] AND", i,
                      join.ParentColumn.Name, Table.Name,
            onJoin += Environment.NewLine;
        //Remove the last AND
        onJoin = Common.Substring(onJoin, Environment.NewLine.Length + 3);
        i += 1;
  • And the Where Part
    string keyCondition = String.Empty;
    foreach (Column column in Table.PrimaryKeyColumns())
        keyCondition += String.Format(" [{0}] = @{1} AND {2}", column.Name, column.Code, Environment.NewLine);
    keyCondition = Common.Substring(keyCondition, (Environment.NewLine.Length + 5));
    WriteLine("    WHERE {0}({0} {1} {0})", Environment.NewLine, keyCondition);

    Project Level Templates

    In the last sections we have learn to generate code running templates assigned to entities, But else in the practices usually we have to generate code for all objects contained in the domain e.g. the list of all tables in the database; a simple way to make this easier is create a new the template with next code:

    foreach (Table table in Domain.ConnectionInfo.Tables)
    And assign the template to any, and only one, entity and run it.

    With SmartCode we have the option to assign a template to project level, to run only one time, each time that we run the code generation, we can found this template in the second tab called "Project Templates", in the main "Setting Code Generation" dialog, as shows the next figure:

    SmartCode Project Level templates

    To be available the template in this tab we need to assign true to the property IsProjectTemplate. The next code show how to build a project level template, notice that AllStoreProcedures call other templates to build the code to create only one file with the code for DeleteRowByPrimaryKey, Insert and Update for each table of the Domain.

    public class AllStoreProcedures : TemplateBase
        // Constructor.
        public AllStoreProcedures()
            this.IsProjectTemplate = true;
            this.createFile = true;
            this.description = "Generates all stored procedure for all entities in the domain";
   = "AllStoreProcedures";
            this.outputFolder = @"Stored Procedures\AllStoreProcedures";
        public override string OutputFileName()
            return Domain.Name + "_AllSps.sql";
        public override void ProduceCode()
            foreach (Table table in Domain.ConnectionInfo.Tables)
                if (table.IsTable && table.PrimaryKeyColumns().Count > 0)
                    RunTemplate(new DeleteRowByPrimaryKey(), table);
                    RunTemplate(new Insert(), table);
                    RunTemplate(new Update(), table);
        private void RunTemplate(TemplateBase template, Table table)
            System.Collections.ArrayList results = template.Run(Domain, table);
            //The code prop, containts the output string. append the results,
            //look for Run

    CodeSmith Compatibility

    Is an extension of SmartCode based in TahoGen, an Open Source Implementation of a CodeSmith-Style Code Generation Engine, this implementation can parse any CodeSmith Template, giving a starting point for thier migration to SmartCode from CodeSmith.

    Please refer to NHibernate samples in the TaHoGen Directory of source package.

    In order to maintain the basic structure for Templates and support asp like style the next extensions has been implemented.

    • Project SmartCode.Model.Mapping (Beta), implement an object model using get/set properties and clasess like the basic CodeSmith Schema.
    • TaHoGen.Core.dll provided by Philip Laureano. It is a 100% free open source generation engine.

    The differences between the template language provided by TahoGen and CodeSmith are minimal. Let see the next header

    <%@ CodeTemplate  Language="C#" TargetLanguage="C#"  Description="Generates a C# class for use with NHibernate."%>
    <%@ Property Name="SourceTable" Type="SmartCode.Model.Mapping.CS.TableSchema" Category="Context" Description="Table that the mapping file" %>
    <%@ Property Name="Namespace" Type="System.String" Default="MyNamespace.Data" Category="Object" Description="The class namespace %>

    The template reads 2 properties SourceTable of the type SmartCode.Model.Mapping.CS.TableSchema provided by SmartCode.Model.Mapping.dll and Namespace of type System.String.

    The values of SourceTable is provided for the next code of the NHibernateClass template:

    public override PropertyTable GetCustomPropertyTable()
        PropertyTable properties = new PropertyTable();
        SmartCode.Model.Mapping.CS.CSMap csMap = new SmartCode.Model.Mapping.CS.CSMap(Domain);
        SmartCode.Model.Mapping.CS.DatabaseSchema databaseSchema = csMap.DatabaseSchema;
        properties["SourceTable"] = csMap.GetTableByName(Table.Name);
        return properties;

    Has you been see the code set the SourceTable of the template, after Map the SmartCode.Model objects to SmartCode.Model.Mapping.CS objects, to be compatible with the CodeSmith objects model.

    The Core Template Libraries

    The SmartCode package comes with a Beta core sets of template libraries for generating code in C#, that use stored procedures to access and modify data.

    • Stored Procedures Libraries: These templates generate SQL Server 2000 scripts for creating stored procedures that insert, delete, update, and search for records in tables.
    • Common Data Libraries (TypedDataset): This template generate code for XSD to Render to TypedDataSet objects used to transport data between the tiers
    • Data Tier Libraries: These templates generate code for supporting the data access classes
    • Business Tier Libraries: These templates generate code for supporting the access to Data Tier


    In this article we have view the huge benefits of using templates to avoid repetitive coding tasks. SmartCode Model provide the Object Model, SmartCode Studio provide the IDE to customize your Model and you.... provide the Imagination, Creativity and Inspiration.

  • License

    This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

    A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


    About the Author

    Danilo Mendez
    Web Developer
    United States United States
    Danilo is the creator of SmartRules, a Business Rules Engine. He is an industry consultant working primarily with companies interested in implementing dynamic rules programming concepts to add flexibility to their architectures on web, CE, and desktop platforms. He operates his own website, Kontac, where you will find more information.

    To contact Danilo, email him at

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    Comments and Discussions

    QuestionPart 1 and Part 3 links are broken Pin
    Hammad Raza26-Dec-14 0:51
    memberHammad Raza26-Dec-14 0:51 
    QuestionHow do you add/remove elements from the SC UI? Pin
    wgpubs15-Mar-08 13:55
    memberwgpubs15-Mar-08 13:55 
    Generalvery good article, but i have a problem. Pin
    k_hammami20058-Aug-07 23:37
    memberk_hammami20058-Aug-07 23:37 
    GeneralRe: very good article, but i have a problem. Pin
    serban201030-Sep-10 9:51
    memberserban201030-Sep-10 9:51 
    GeneralDll Error Pin
    jhtang23-May-07 11:48
    memberjhtang23-May-07 11:48 
    GeneralRe: Dll Error Pin
    Danilo Mendez23-May-07 12:00
    memberDanilo Mendez23-May-07 12:00 
    GeneralRe: Dll Error Pin
    Philip Laureano23-May-07 14:07
    memberPhilip Laureano23-May-07 14:07 
    GeneralRe: Dll Error Pin
    fwsouthern23-Jun-07 13:37
    memberfwsouthern23-Jun-07 13:37 
    GeneralRe: Dll Error Pin
    Philip Laureano24-Jun-07 4:27
    memberPhilip Laureano24-Jun-07 4:27 

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