IronPython - high order functions as decorators for AOP

by DotNetNerd 20. September 2009 13:58

One of my favorite features from when I was playing around with F# was high order functions. A high order function is quite simply a function that takes a function as an argument and returnes a function. A basic sample just to get the point accross could be:

def Outer():
    innerText = "Hey dude! "
    def Inner(text):
        print innerText + text
    return Inner

myfunc = Outer()
myfunc("My function was called successfully")

This technique can be quite useful when composing functions, but also to wrap code and handle cross cutting concerns (e.g. like logging) through Aspect Oriented Programming. IronPython takes this concept a bit farther through what is called decorators. A decorator is to some extent similar to an attribute, and can be used to do AOP. Using decorators is as simple as defining a high order function and decorating the method that should be wrapped with @myHighOrderFunction like this:

def logging(function):
    def inner():
        print "Do pre call logging"
        print "Do post call logging"       
    return inner

def myfunc():
    print "Could do what interesting stuff you like"   

As you can see from the code it makes for a very straight foreward and elegant way og doing AOP.

UPDATE: I stumbled across this video with DevHawk where he actually shows a similar example during his talks here in DK.

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Community events and interesting stuff I have stumbled upon

by DotNetNerd 17. September 2009 18:56

Community events 

Over the last couple of months I have spent some time participating at usergroup events and listening to podcasts - to a larger extent than usual. Actually just today I was at "Dev Days - architecture that works", which was the first whole day ANUG event. The turnout was great and the speakers did a good job, so I think the foundation for more similar events was layed. Events like this and the passion that people display for their work is really what makes it so much fun to be a developer.

A few weekends ago I hosted my first codecamp which was about ASP.NET MVC, which will be followed up by a podcast this weekend - which will later be available at It's been a lot of fun and really giving to see how others approach things, and to be able to discuss issues with others that are of a technical nature, and therefore out of scope for everyday discussions with customers and projectmanagers.

Interesting stuff

Well, this post was actually meant to be build around a couple of links I wanted to give some attention, so here it goes.

I am hoping that I'll soon have more time to get back on track with blogging about IronPython - which has been parked for a couple of months because I have been busy moving and doing other stuff. A small but very cool link I found the other day actually gives you a chance to get started with IronPython withput having to install a bunch of stuff. Just go to and try it out - with my previous posts as a guide of course :-)

In another category a colleague of mine recommended a tool called Jing, which makes it possible to do short screencasts and either download them or upload them to a server and get a link that you can then pass around. Its actually just what I need in most cases when  need to show how a customer how to perform a task and it is hard to explain in words.

In the utilities category I was also recommended a tool that takes news pages that don't have rss feeds and actually exposes them as an rss feed anyway. The tool which is called feedity is not 100% all the time, but it actually does a pretty good job.

Last but not least I have a short list of podcasts that I listen to, and that I will highly recommend. They all publish casts pretty frequently, and all do a good job conveying discussions about what is happening in .NET

ANUGCast | Hanselminutes | stackoverflow | .Net Rocks! | Software engineering radio

IronPython – multiple inheritance and monkey patching

by DotNetNerd 16. July 2009 18:16

Multiple inheritance 

Besides the basic OOP stuff that I covered in my last post there are some things that you can do in IronPython which is not possible in languages like C# and java.

One nice thing that I have heard people moan about not having in other languages is multiple inheritance. Working with it is very straight forward in Python as the following sample illustrates:

class MyFirstClass:   
    def MethodOne(self, arg):
        print "1 " + arg

class MySecondClass:   
    def MethodOne(self, arg):
        print "1 Overwritten " + arg         
    def MethodTwo(self, arg):
        print "2 " + arg

class MyThirdClass(MySecondClass, MyFirstClass):
    def MethodThree(self, arg):
        print "3 " + arg

class MyFourthClass(MyFirstClass, MySecondClass):
    def MethodFour(self, arg):
        print "4 " + arg

Multiple inheritance is obtained simply by listing the classes that are to be inherited, where the order dictates the precedence of the members. This means that if the classes inherited have methods with the same signature, the first class takes precedence.

The following code can be used to test the above classes, and it also illustrates that a variable name can be reused for different types, which is a very basic feature of dynamic languages. Basic as it may be it is also one of the things that can make code really messy!

t = MyThirdClass()

t = MyFourthClass()

Monkey patching

I wrote in my last post that it is possible to modify objects and add methods to the instance itself. Besides that it is also possible to add methods to the class in the same way. Adding or overriding methods in this way is sometimes referred to as monkey patching. As with multiple inheritance it can get really messy, but used wisely it can also make code really simple and elegang. An obvious place to use this is for mocking when writing unittests. A simple way to illustrate the technique is to first create a class and two methods:

class MyFirstClass:   
    def MethodOne(self, arg):
        print "1 " + arg
def MethodTwo():
    return "Monkey patched to instance 2"
def MethodThree(self):
    return "Monkey patched to class 3"

Now the methods can be monkey patched onto the instance and class as the following code illustrates.

t = MyFirstClass()
t.MethodTwo = MethodTwo
MyFirstClass.MethodThree = MethodThree

print t.MethodTwo()
print t.MethodThree()

As the observant reader will notice it is required that MethodThree which is added to the class takes the self argument, where MethodTwo which is added to the instance does not.


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IronPython – OOP basics

by DotNetNerd 1. July 2009 14:12

A while ago I heard a podcast where it was discussed that some believe that languages like C#/java etc are actually not object oriented but that they are really oriented. This provoked my thinking quite a bit, since OOP was the corner stone during my education, and we wrote all code in Java.

As the discussion went on I ended up seeing their point – even though I (of course) would never admit that C# is not object oriented :) The key point is that everything in C# is based around classes because the language is statically typed around classes. In a language like IronPython it is actually possible to manipulate each object, add methods, fields etc.

Manipulating objects in this way is also known as monkey patching, and it is something I will look into in a later blogpost. Today I will start off with a basic example of how to write a class in IronPython.

The following piece of code shows a basic class with a private field, constructor, property and a public method:

from System import Console

class Customer(object):   
    "This class contains info about a customer"
    #Private field
    _saysText = " says: "     
    def __init__(self, name = "Christian"):
        self._name = name  
    def _getName(self):
        print "From within property getter"
        return self._name
    def _setName(self, value):
        print "From within property setter " + value
        self._name = value
    def _delName(self):
        print "From within property delete"
    Name = property(_getName, _setName, _delName) 
    def __getitem__(self, index):
        return self.Name[index]
    #Private method   
    def _Write(self, text):
        print self.Name + self._saysText + text
    #Public method
    def Say(self, text):

There are a few things that are worth noticing here. First of all you see that import statements explicitly state which classes are imported. A * can be used to import all classes, but this is seen as bad practice in IronPython.

Private is not a keyword in IronPython, but when a member is prefixed with an underscore (_) it is private by convention. The constructor and indexer is also named in a special way, which is what is know as magic methods. Magic methods are used instead of implementing interfaces like IComparable and for constructors, indexers and the like. Magic methods are easy to spot as they are pre- and postfixes with a double underscore. The constructor is defined with a default value for the name parameter, in the same way as you can use default in params in VB and in C# from vNext.

All methods start by taking a parameter called self. As you can probably guess, this is so it can access members located on itself – so it is used like “this” in C#, but here it is required to use it when accessing members from the object itself.

The biggest thing to notice is the way the property is constructed. Properties are quite special in IronPython compared to C#. Because the language is dynamic properties do not have to be declared up front, and this means that properties are only created when you want to do something when the property is actually called. Because this is the case there is also a delete part, which is called when the property is removed from the object.

Note that the class inherits object – this is required to use properties! This is no big issue though, because IronPython supports multiple inheritance.

When we have this in place we can use the class like you see here:

print Customer.__doc__

obj = Customer(name = "Jens")
obj.Say("I'm the king of the world!")
obj.Name = "Hans"
obj.Say("I'm the king of the world!")
print obj[0] + obj[1] + obj[2]
del obj.Name

Functions and statements do not have to be contained within a class, so this can be written directly beneath the code above where we declared the class.

The first two likes show how you can access information about the class. The first line writes out the string that I put directly under the constructor – which is how documentation can be added and introspected directly in IronPython. The second like prints an overview of which members exist on the class, which is something you will use a lot to examine new classes as you work with them.

The rest should be pretty straight forward. A few things to note are that named parameters are used in the constructor, and that you could actually set and print any property on the object – name is only used here to illustrate that the code in the get/set/delete functions is run when the property is used.


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IIS and Server.MapPath

by DotNetNerd 24. June 2009 13:28

Today I experienced an issue with Server.MapPath which returned a path under inetpub/wwwroot, instead of returning the path relative to where my app was published. After a while I resolved to uncle google and found out that IIS apparently returns the path relative to the "Default Web Site" instead of relative to the actual site when the path is parallel to the sites physical path. I was kind of puzzled that I hadn't come accross this before, because it seems like something that would be a recurring issue. By noteing it here I hope to have it as a reminder for myself as well as it being a help to others, who might avoid pulling out a few hairs. 

Lately I have had a few requests to start writing in english, so as of today my posts will be written in english. I am hoping this will make my blog more usefull, and that it might result in more comments :-)


IronPython – kom godt igang med dynamiske sprog til .NET

by DotNetNerd 15. June 2009 10:30

Jeg besluttede mig for nylig for at kigge nærmere på IronPython, da det virker til at være et interessant sprog, som jeg kan lære noget af. Jeg anskaffede mig derfor bogen IronPython in Action, som jeg har et godt indtryk af indtil videre.

Hvorfor IronPython?

Personligt opstod min interesse for IronPython igennem at jeg havde set en del videoer og læst blogposts om DLR, som Microsoft har bygget for at .NET platformen kan understøtte dynamiske sprog. Et hvert paradigme har naturligvis sine forcer, så en helt oplagt pointe er at man kan vinde noget ved at lære et sprog der hovedsageligt har fokus inden for hvert paradigme.

Der er mere konkret to emner hvor jeg synes dynamiske sprog virker interessante, og det er i forhold til testframeworks og som scriptsprog der kan embeddes og bruges som DSL. Begge dele bliver dækket i IronPython in Action – om end jeg ikke er nået helt så langt endnu.

Noget der meget vel kan vise sig at være en stor bonus er desuden at Python sproget findes i en række forskellige implementationer (f.eks. CPython, PyPy, Jython og tinypy), og kan derved bruges på flere forskellige platforme, samtidig med at eksisterende frameworks vil kunne anvendes fra .NET applikationer.

Derudover blev jeg gjort opmærksom på af Søren Skovsbøll at Boo syntaksmæssigt ligner Pyton en hel del, og det kan derfor være et godt trinbræt til også at prøve det af.


For at komme igang skal man umiddelbart bruge to links – henholdsvis til selve IronPython installationen og til at få understøttelse i Visual Studio med IronPythonStudio. Installationen er rimeligt selvforklarende, så man er hurtigt igang. Derudover er her en god OOP guide, hvor man kan lære syntaksen og basal objekt orienteret programmering I IronPython.


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Repository design med LINQ – querying

by DotNetNerd 23. May 2009 18:38

Linq implementationer rettet imod databaser har gjort der nemt tilgængeligt at anvende lazy loading og at opbygge querys via komposition. “With great power comes great responsibility” fristes jeg til at skrive, da den meget integrerede brug af lazy loading gør at man skal huske selv at overveje hvornår querys skal omsættes til SQL og afvikles imod databasen. Det har udviklet sig til et best practice råd i MVChvor det direkte bryder med MVC mønstret idet man flytter logik til viewet – hvilket naturligvis kan være et lige så stort problem i andre framework.

I forlængelse af diskussionen omkring hvornår querys afvikles giver Linq anledning til at overveje hvordan man vil indkapsle sine querys? Den før omtalte Repository is dead: Long live repositoryblogpost omhandler netop diskussionen om man skal have en metode pr query eller om selve filtreringen er et argument der passes til metoder som T FindOne(Expression<Func<T, bool>> expression). Kort og sagt med andre ord er argumenterne for hver indkapsling vs Open Close Principle.

Indkapsling og dermed også genbrug af querys anser jeg ihvertflad som vigtigt, men der er andre måder at gøre det på end ved at lave et repository med “en metode pr. query”. Den første tanke er tit at man kan lave en service ovenpå sine repositories som indeholder querylogikken. Det vil imidlertid betyde at en sådan service blot bliver et gennemstillingslag for simple querys – og det er kode jeg ikke kender nogen der synes er sjovt at skrive.

Filtre som extention methods en elegant måde at skrive querys der kan genanvendes og skabes via komposition ved hjælp af piping f,eks new Repository<Customer>().FindAll().WithAddress(adr).WithNumberOfChildren(2); Som altid er der imidlertid “no such thing as a free dinner”, da det ikke sikrer at querys bliver afviklet. Her er min konklusion indtil videre at jeg vil vise tilbage til den tidligere nævnte best practice, og lade det være udviklerens ansvar.



Repository design med LINQ – object-relational mappers

by DotNetNerd 10. May 2009 14:25

Object-Relational Mappers eller bare ORM’s er værktøjer der håndterer det at mappe imellem relationelle data i en database til objekter som vi gerne vil arbejde med dem (og tilbage igen naturligvis). Der findes efter hånden et hav af forskellige ORM eller ORM-lignendene værøtøjer hvor nogen af de mest udbredte er SubSonic, LightSpeed, NHibernate, LINQ to SQL og LINQ to Entities.

Personligt er det de 3 sidstnævnte jeg hovedsageligt har erfaring med, og hvor NHibernate er det jeg primært anvender idag. Der er mange ting at vurdere når man vælger et ORM, men det der normalt afgør ens valg er kompatibilitet med andre teknologier, hvor “tungt” frameworket er og hvor fleksibelt det er. Med fleksibilitet menes her normalt hvordan man kan beskrive sine mapninger og hvilke typer mapninger der er mulige. Det er eksempelvis ikke alle der understøtter mange-til-mange relationer.

Som helt kort guideline vil jeg idag anbefale NHibernate hvis man skal have mest mulig fleksibilitet, LINQ to Entities hvis man vil have best mulig kompatibilitet med .NET teknoligier (især kommende teknologier) og en af de sidst hvis man gerne vil have et mere letvægts ORM der er let at gå til.

Jeg skal muligvis passe på med at kalde LINQ to SQL/Entities for ORM’s, da især Microsoft argumenterer for at de er noget lidt andet. De fleste anser dem dog som ORM’s, og jeg vil også argumentere for at det er hvad produktet er “at it’s core”.

En anden udbredt misforståelse er at LINQ i sig selv er en database teknologi og har noget med et ORM at gøre. Det er imidlertid forkert, da LINQ udelukkende som navnet (Language INtegrated Query) antyder er et sprog til at skrive querys imod en eller anden for for datastore. LINQ providerne til SQL/Entities udgør imidlertid hvad jeg vil kalde ORM’s, da de netop håndterer mapning og persistering af data i databaser.

Der findes en version af LINQ to NHibernate, som efter min mening giver den bedste blanding af et gennemprøvet og fleksibelt modelleringsværktøj i NHibernate, sammen med et lækkert query sprog i LINQ. Til komplekse querys har det imidlertid stadig nogle fejl og mangler, så træerne vokser ikke ligefrem ind i himlen.

En af de ting der bliver talt en del om idag, og som især LINQ to SQL/Entities bliver kritiseret for ikke at give er en Persistence Ignorent domænemodel.

“Persistence ignorance (PI) is a property of "ordinary classes where you focus on the business problem at hand without adding stuff for infrastructure-related reasons.”

Det vil sige om man skal skrive kode i selve modellen der beskriver hvordan objekterne mappes, og om valget af ORM stiller nogen krav til ens øvrige kode.

PI er især et fokusområde for agile udviklere, og det er heldigvis et område Microsoft har fået øjnene op for, således at de har arbejdet på at opnå PI med LINQ to Entities i v2. Lige som afsluttende bemærkning kan jeg nævne at successen med at implementere det nok kommer til at afgøre mit valg af ORM fremover.


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Repository design med LINQ - DDD principper

by DotNetNerd 3. May 2009 19:50

I Eric Evans bibel om Domain Driven Design skriver han "any object internal to an aggregate is prohibited from access except by traversal from the root". Det vil altså sige at man skal have et repository pr aggregate root, og at interne objekter kun må tilgås via navigation for at sikre indkapsling. Derudover må externe objekter kun må holde referencer til rooten og transient references til value objekter.

Kunsten ved at designe sine repositories på den måde er at få defineret sine aggregate roots rigtigt. Laver man et design hvor man anser en klasse som værende en del af en aggregate, og man senere erfarer at der skal kunne søges på properties på objektet og vises lister af dem, vil det kræve en refaktorering, da denne nu må være root.

Nogen typer systemer er karaktaristiske ved at næsten alle klasser kan ses som lister og er søgbare - i den typer systemer vil repository designet begynde at ligne en en-til-en mapning med de tabeller man har i databasen. Man kan imidlertid argumentere for at så længe det forhold opstår af den årsag er det ikke symptom på at designet er databasedrevet, men blot den naturlige måde at designe systemet på. Service orienterede løsninger vil som eksempel i mange tilfælde fungere naturligt på den måde.

Personligt kan jeg godt lide DDD måden at tænke repositories på, da det sikrer indkapsling og lægger op til at persistence ignorence ved at man undgår at repositories blot afspejler databasestrukturen. Dog vil jeg understrege ordet principper - da disse ofte er til for at blive brudt.

Jeg er jævnligt løbet på systemer hvor granuleringen af klasser og metoder bliver unaturligt hvis man følger fremgangen slavisk. Her kan det eksempelvis være en mulighed at lade repositories have metoder til at søge efter objekter der er interne i en aggregate - selvom det bryder direkte med ovennævnte principper.

Andre gange kan det virke helt naturligt at anskue dataaccess som mapning af tabeller - både fordi den teknologi man anvender til dataaccess låner sig bedre til det, og i systemer der af natur er meget datadrevne. RAD og udvikling af prototyper kan også i sig selv som princip være en modsætning, da det at designe repositories omkring aggregates kræver mere designmæssigt omhu.



Repository design med LINQ

by DotNetNerd 3. May 2009 13:19

Repositories er omdrejningspunktet i de fleste webapplikationer, og et godt repository design er derfor vigtigt. Jeg tror de fleste har prøvet at fortryde et designvalg i forhold til repositories og tænkt “why didn’t I take the blue pill”.

Da jeg startede som udvikler lærte jeg, ligesom så mange andre, at bygge et dataaccess lag hvor man typisk havde en klasse der håndterede adgang til en enkelt tabel i databasen. Det betød at database designet leakede ud i hele applikationen som blev databasedrevet. Sidenhen er ORM’s og DDD blevet mere udbredt og PI (Persistence Ignorance) tilstrebes. Samtidig er LINQ blevet den foretrukne måde at udtrykke querys på, hvilket giver en række nye design muligheder/beslutninger.

Derudover er der forskellige “skoler” med hensyn til om man mener querys bør indkapsles i et repository, eller om de skal ses som en del af ens business logic, og måske ligefrem være fuldgyldige objekter. Transaktioner og validering har desuden stor indflydelse på hvordan det kan være hensigtsmæssigt at designe sit repository - og hvordan det samlede design har indvirkning på hvordan applikationen struktureres.

For nylig læste jeg så en række blogposts der kan findes via CodeBetter’s “Reposptiry is dead: Long live repository”, hvor der netop blev diskuteret repository design, hvilket fik mig til også at tænke en ekstra gang over designet i mit nuværende projekt. Med udgangspunkt i de ting vil jeg derfor skrive en lille serie posts om emnet, hvor jeg i vilkårlig rækkefølge vil se på emner som:

  • DDD principper
  • Object-Relational Mappers
  • Repositories som singletons
  • Querying: fleksibilitet og indkapsling

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Who am I?

My name is Christian Holm Diget, and I work as an independent consultant, in Denmark, where I write code, give advice on architecture and help with training. On the side I get to do a bit of speaking and help with miscellaneous community events.

Some of my primary focus areas are code quality, programming languages and using new technologies to provide value.

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