Developer .NET UPDATE—brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network

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September 19, 2003--In this issue:

1. Developer .NET Perspectives

  • Creating a New Section in the Community Starter Kit

2. Announcements

  • Active Directory eBook Chapter 4 Published!
  • Want to Get a Free SQL Mag Portfolio?

3. Event

  • New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show!

4. New and Improved

  • Object-Relational Mapping for Many Database Types
  • Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

5. Contact Us

  • See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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1. Developer .NET Perspectives

by Bill Sheldon, bills@interknowlogy.com

  • Creating a New Section in the Community Starter Kit
  • In "Making Minor Modifications to the Community Starter Kit" (http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=40289), I started discussing the ASP.NET Community Starter Kit's site-customization and administration tools. This kit is one of several starter kits that are available for free from the Microsoft ASP.NET Web site (http://www.asp.net). Although many people use these starter kits to initially implement a site that they customize, many more people look to the starter kits as a robust set of sample projects. As part of this column, I've been examining how to customize the Community Starter Kit with the goal of learning about its implementation so that you can mimic it in your customized applications.

    With this goal in mind, let's look at how to add a new section to the Community Web Site. Access the administration pages for your sample site by logging on as Admin and navigating to the main Admin page. Click the Edit Sections link, which brings you to a display that contains links to each of the primary pages associated with a section in the site.

    I showed you how to make modifications to an existing site (i.e., the default home page) in "Making Minor Modifications to the Community Starter Kit," so let's add a new section to the site. Click the Add New Section link. In the page that appears, you need to define key elements for your new section. In the Name text box, enter a name for your new section, such as CustomSection. The Community Starter Kit will use this name in the URL that's associated with the new section. However, this name has no relationship to the physical path for the actual implementation of the section. Remember that the Community Starter Kit manages all the pages as virtual references through the database. For more information about the kit's use of virtual references, see "Understanding the Community Starter Kit's Source Code" at the following URL:

    http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=39804

    Unlike when you edit an existing section, when you create a new section, you can define the type of section to create. When looking through the list of types, you'll notice that all the predefined section types are already present in the Community Starter Kit's default configuration. If you were to select one of the predefined section types, such as Articles, the kit would map a new database entry and use the existing Articles section's files. Thus, the kit would simply support having a second page formatted the same as the default Articles page, but which contained different data. For this example, you want to create a truly custom display that isn't based on any of the existing templates, so select Custom Module.

    Now, add your new section by clicking Add. From the Edit Sections page that appears, select the link to your new section. This link should take you to the overall framework for your new section. You'll notice that the central section has been replaced with an error message that states the customsection.acsx Web control is missing. The control is missing because you have to add a custom control to your Community Starter Kit's project files. Keep in mind that when you use the administration interface to add a section, you're working within the architecture of the community site. The administration interface simply lets you designate the default page in each section. The logon/logout page, search functionality, and other capabilities not represented in a default page aren't editable from the interface. In addition, although the administration interface lets you select which theme to apply, it doesn't support customizing the control that the section uses for the theme. Thus, to create a more customized set of pages, you need to use Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Architect (VSEA) to add pages outside the kit's framework.

    Let's begin by opening the Community Starter Kit in VSEA. In Solution Explorer, navigate through the project directory structure to Communities, Community1, CustomModules. The code expects to find custom modules in this location. Right-click the CustomModules directory in Solution Explorer, then select Add, Add Web User Control to start the Web User Control Editor. This editor is similar to the Page Editor, except that instead of working within a display grid, you're working in the equivalent of a word-processing UI. The Web User Control Editor will add elements to the upper left corner by default, so you'll need to insert linefeeds to move elements down and spaces and tabs to move them to the right.

    You can add any controls or input forms that you want to this .ascx page. You can include custom data-access logic, custom controls, and custom forms--basically, whatever custom code you want. I'm not going to go through the steps of creating a custom page. The key is that you can create your custom page within a User Web Control. The control can include links to other sections or pages that you create within your community site.

    Note that Web user controls and Web custom controls are two very different items. User Web Controls are project-specific objects that let you customize the look and feel of a portion of a page. Custom Web Controls are objects that let you create controls that you can add to VSEA, thereby letting you use those controls across different projects. For an introduction to User Controls and a comparison of Web user controls and Web custom controls, check out these URLs, respectively:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/vbcon/html/vbconintroductiontowebusercontrols.asp
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/vbcon/html/vbconwebusercontrolsvscustomwebcontrols.asp

    Although I've discussed ASP.NET applications in the past few issues of Developer .NET UPDATE, I want to mention that WinForm developers can also create a generic UI, then swap out the control structure within the display. WinForm applications can do this UI swapping within a frame called UserControls. A good introduction to UserControls is available at this URL:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/cpref/html/frlrfsystemwindowsformsusercontrolclasstopic.asp

    At this point, I could expand my coverage of the Community Starter Kit to go beyond working within the site's architecture. However, my current plan is to look at how to deploy this site from your development environment to your production environment, including how to deploy the site when a firewall separates those environments. I welcome any feedback or questions related to the Community Starter Kit and will happily cover any other topics you'd like.


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    2. Announcements
    (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

  • Active Directory eBook Chapter 4 Published!

  • The fourth chapter of Windows & .NET Magazine's popular eBook Windows 2003: Active Directory Administration Essentials is now available at no charge! Chapter 4 looks at what's inside Windows Server 2003 forests and DNS. Download it now!

    http://www.WindowsITlibrary.com/ebooks/administeringad/index.cfm?pc=adupd

  • Want to Get a Free SQL Mag Portfolio?

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    3. Event
    (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

  • New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show!
  • Learn more about the wireless and mobility solutions that are available today! Register now for this free event!

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    4. New and Improved
    by Sue Cooper, products@winnetmag.com

  • Object-Relational Mapping for Many Database Types
  • Evaluant announced Data Tier Modeler (DTM) 3.0, an object-relational mapping tool for Windows .NET Framework developers. You can design your applications by using Unified Modeling Language (UML) or XML, and DTM generates your data-access layer and your business objects source code in C# and generates SQL scripts to build or update your database. DTM lets you map all UML entities, such as relation, inheritance, interface, polymorphism, aggregation, composition, association classes, and singletons. DTM offers full integration with Visual Studio .NET. DTM supports Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, Microsoft Access, and MySQL databases. Contact Evaluant in France at sales@evaluant.com.

    http://www.evaluant.com

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    whatshot@winnetmag.com

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    5. Contact Us

  • About Developer .NET Perspectives -- bills@interknowlogy.com
  • About the newsletter -- kbemowski@winnetmag.com
  • About technical questions -- http://www.winnetmag.com/forums
  • About product news -- products@winnetmag.com
  • About your subscription -- Developer_dot_NET_update@winnetmag.com
  • About sponsoring UPDATE -- emedia_opps@winnetmag.com
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    Copyright 2003, Penton Media, Inc.