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I’ve recently been asked to develop a solution for sending bulk and transactional emails using either SendGrid or ConstantContact APIs. AND I have to get it implemented by August 1, 2012!!!

Since I have not actually developed any real-world solutions in VS2010 yet and I don’t really have anyone to talk to (I’m the only developer here), I thought I should try to find something online that will help me out. (At this time, I really wished I had finished those books I started earlier!)

My first thoughts…

Do I write a Desktop App? Do I write a Web App? How do I get started?

The business doesn’t really know what they want. Requirements state “front-end application that allows business users the ability to create new campaigns”. If I write a Desktop App, they will only be able to access if they have the app installed on their PC or can access a PC with the app installed. We have a lot of users who work offsite, and some even use personal PCs. So at this time, I’m thinking…Web App.

Now to find some help on creating Web App to send emails, I do a few searches and come across random blog posts about SendGrid and ConstantContact. At some point in the search I find a blog posting where someone references a tutorial on MVC3.

MVC…hmm…it’s very similar to something I used in the past called Castle Monorail (VS2005 and .net 2.0).

So I decide to get started on this tutorial I found on MVC3.

http://www.asp.net/mvc/tutorials/getting-started-with-aspnet-mvc3

I’ve just finished the first chapter and I have to say this is a great tutorial so far. I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn MVC3 who has never used MVC in the past should try out this tutorial.

I hope I can get through the rest of the chapters quickly and be able to start on this application.

If anyone out there has any suggestions on using SendGrid or ConstantContact, please shoot me a message…I think I’ll be using SendGrid but may have to use ConstantContact for a lower cost solution.

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Chapter 1 of Professional ASP.NET Design Patterns by Scott Millet

“There are no problems, only solutions.” –John Lennon

And We, Developers, provide these solutions. If we encounter something that other developers have already solved, we are sure to find a pattern involved in their solution.

Design patterns are simply blueprints for our solutions.

The original book Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software known as the Design Patterns Bible is a collection of 23 patterns organized into 3 groups…written by the Gang of Four (Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides). Millet’s book promises to cover the practical knowledge necessary for us to use these design patterns.

The 3 Design Groups:

  • Creational – object construction and referencing
  • Structural – object relationships
  • Behavioral – object communications

Design patterns are necessary in expressing the intent of our solutions and promote good object-oriented design. By using and understanding design patterns, we can effectively communicate with our peers so that they can quickly decipher our solutions. Explaining the structure of our solution can be as little as saying the name of the design pattern used.

We must first thoroughly understand our problem before we can apply a pattern. We don’t always need to use a pattern. In some situations, the use of patterns can over-complicate the solution. We don’t need to apply patterns to everything we do. Each of the GoF patterns were designed to solve a particular problem.

The foundation for design patterns are the fundamental design principles. When we follow these principles, our code becomes more adaptable, flexible, and maintainable.

Common Design Principles:

  • Keep It Simple Stupid [KISS] – As the name implies, we must remember to keep our code simple and not over-complicate.
  • Don’t Repeat Yourself [DRY] – We should avoid repetition and not duplicate logic in the system. Abstraction
  • Tell, Don’t Ask – We should be telling our objects what to do instead of asking about them and deciding for ourselves what they should do. Loose coupling and encapsulation
  • You Ain’t Gonna Need It [YAGNI] – We should code only the functionality we need and nothing we think we might need in the future. TDD
  • Separation of Concerns [SoC] – We should try to dissect our code into distinct features or behaviors so that we can easily reuse and maintain these features or behaviors.

S.O.L.I.D. Design Principles (from the book Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C# by Robert Martin [Uncle Bob]):

  • Single Responsibility Principle [SRP] – Objects should each have a single responsibility and a single reason to change.
  • Open-Closed Principle [OCP] – The internal behavior of a class should not be changed when adding new features or extending the class.
  • Liskov Substitution Principle [LSP] – A derived class should behave as its parent class.
  • Interface Segregation Principle [ISP] – Interfaces contain only the methods needed by the client.
  • Dependency Inversion Principle [DIP] – Code to an interface or abstract class rather than an implementation.

Dependency Injection [DI] – linked to DIP. Dependent classes (constructor, method, or property) are inverted to abstract classes or interfaces.

Inversion of Control [IoC] – linked to DIP. Control is inverted…the service is injected into the client instead of the client obtaining the service.

Fowler’s Enterprise Design Patterns (Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler)

Fowler has categorized the patterns and provided a common language. We will see implementations of his patterns later.

(At this point in Chapter 1, I get a bit confused by the purpose of Chapter 1. We are supposed to be learning about the high-level basics of design patterns and principles, and yet at this point in the chapter we learn that in Chapter 3 we will learn about layering and using the traditional approach to separating the presentation, business logic, and data access layers. And since I’ve not read Fowler’s book, I’m not entirely sure if this and the next few sections relate to his patterns, but I’m guessing they are related. The next few pages introduce us to what we will learn later in the book.)

Domain Logic Patterns – Organizing Business Logic (learn more in Ch 4)

  • Transaction Script – Linear, procedural fashion…business use cases mapped to methods
  • Active Record – Matches closely to underlying structure
  • Domain Model – Abstraction of real objects

Object Relational Mapping – entity persistence and data retrieval (learn more in Ch 7)

  • Unit of Work – Maintains and coordinates transactional changes to objects as one action, and will roll back the entire transaction if a problem occurs.
  • Repository – Abstract, logical collection of objects (or aggregates) representing business entities.
  • Data Mapper – Hydrate objects from raw data and transfer info from objects back to database.
  • Identity Map – Ensures every database object is loaded only once.
  • Lazy Loading – Only load the database object when needed.
  • Query Object – GoF interpreter design pattern. OO query abstracted from database…properties and classes not tables and columns…with a translator to generate the SQL.

Web Presentation Patterns – separate presentation logic from business logic (learn more in Ch 8 )

  • Model-View-Presenter
  • Model-View-Controller
  • Front Controller
  • Page Controller

Base, Behavioral, and Structural Patterns – other patterns found in Fowler’s book

  • Null Object Pattern [aka Special Case] – Alleviates the need to check for NULL.
  • Separated Interface – Keeps interfaces in separate namespace or assembly to ensure concrete implementations hidden from the client.
  • Gateway – Access complex resources (API) via simple interfaces.

Design Methodologies

Test-driven Development [TDD] – Our tests shape the design of our solutions by writing tests first, then writing enough code to make our tests pass, and finally refactor to clean up our code. We end up with tests confirming the behavior of our code as well as documentation on what our code should or should not be doing.

Books on TDD:
Test Driven Development: By Example by Kent Beck
The Art of Unit Testing: With Examples in .NET by Roy Osherove
Professional Enterprise .NET by Jon Arking and Scott Millett

Domain-driven Design [DDD] – We first develop a full understanding of our business requirements, and then incorporate all the rules, logic, and business terminology into an abstract representation called a domain model.

Books on DDD:
Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software by Eric Evans
Applying Domain-Driven Design and Patterns: With Examples in C# and .Net by Jimmy Nilsson
.Net Domain-Driven Design with C#: Problem – Design – Solution by Tim McCarthy

Behavior-driven Design [BDD] – TDD and DDD rolled up into a process that focuses on the system’s behavior…how it should behave not just that it works.

The next chapter promises to teach us how to read the GoF patterns and understand how to choose a pattern to use.

I’m realizing now that I’ve been applying many of these patterns to my code without actually understanding the reasoning behind it.

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