Forcing the min/max on HTML number inputs

HTML5 has fantastic new features — one of them is type="number" attribute for input tags, which (among other things) restricts the user to only entering numbers (and spawning the number keyboard on mobile phones) and giving a (not always useful) widget that lets you increase/decrease the number. Unfortunately, one piece is missing (at least from most browsers I’ve seen): restricting the input to numbers within the min/max range.

Fortunately, a little JavaScript (via jQuery) can fix that. Add the below to your site, and any input type="number" tags on your site will have their min/max values enforced.
Continue reading

Making the old new: Classic ASP and CSFBL

It’s embarrassing to say that my longest project, CSFBL (a web-based multiplayer baseball game), still has most of its interface written in Classic ASP. It’s also embarrassing to say that the web interface for CSFBL is a bit 1990s. I’ve had a lot of false starts moving forward to new technologies, having experimented on moving to WebForms, Castle MonoRail, and ASP.Net MVC (twice). The “next big thing” for CSFBL has, sadly, become a bit of phantomware similar to Duke Nukem 3D.

The hard part of moving to a new technology is getting rid of technical debt. I started coding CSFBL in 1999, using classic ASP and SQL Server. It’s amazing to think that some code is still the same as it was 17 years ago, but that’s not surprising for a product that’s been around for, well, 17 years. But it is what it is, and moving to something new means breaking something old and reliable — even if old and reliable is a beat-up old car that still runs great but is not so pretty to look at.

Taking a hard step backwards, I had to take stock and decide what is truly holding me back, and realized that it’s not the technology that holds me back, it’s that technical debt. So I experimented for a few hours, and then realized that my platform — Classic ASP and SQL Server — is already solid. I just needed to clean it up and make it work.

Classic ASP is more powerful than people give it credit for. I’ve done a lot with it over the years, even to the point of building a mini-ORM to make coding easier and modular. The newer code I’ve written is clean and functional. So why not take it all the way?

First, here’s three screenshots of a typical CSFBL page. The one on the left is the current (“legacy”) version, the other two are the new (“modern”) versions, built with Twitter Bootstrap, showing the desktop and mobile versions of the same page (fully responsive design so one page works for all devices).

CSFBL (legacy) CSFBL (modern, desktop) CSFBL (modern, mobile)

 

What a difference design makes… but how do we make that work in Classic ASP in a clean way?

Here’s the basic ASP template:

<%@ Language=VBScript %>
<% Option Explicit %>
<!-- #INCLUDE VIRTUAL="scripts/cTemplate.asp" -->
<%
	Response.Write template.GetHtmlHeader("Template")
	Response.Write template.GetPageHeader()
%>
	<div class="container" id="container-main">
		<div class="row">
			<h3>Template</h3>
		</div>
	</div>
<%
	Response.Write template.GetHtmlFooter()
%>

That’s a nice clean template. And the bulk of the work is done in the cTemplate class. What is that, you ask? It’s a class that allows us to do things like GetHtmlHeader() and GetPageHeader(). Here’s a snippet. The “htmlheader.html” files is a plain HTML file, with some curly braced tags for inserting the page title and timestamp of the CSS file (so we can better handle browser caching).

class cTemplate
	private m_htmlheaderfile
	private m_cssfile

	private sub Class_Initialize()
		set m_htmlheaderfile = new cFile
		m_htmlheaderfile.Load( Server.MapPath("/scripts/htmlheader.html") )

		set m_cssfile = new cFile
		m_cssfile.Load( Server.MapPath("/css/csfbl.css") )
	end sub

	private sub Class_Terminate()
		set m_htmlheaderfile = nothing
		set m_cssfile = nothing
	end sub

	public function GetHtmlHeader(title)
		dim output
		output = m_htmlheaderfile.GetText
		output = Replace(output, "{title}", title)
		output = Replace(output, "{csstimestamp}", CDbl(m_cssFile.DateLastModified))
		GetHtmlHeader = output
	end function
end class

dim template
set template = new cTemplate

What about things like querystring handling, since the URL of this page is “/team/awards.asp?teamid=###”? Simple — just parse the querystring, and load the team, and if it fails, send the person to a friendly “not found” page.

Dim team
Set team = new cTeam
team.Load(utility.ParseInteger(Request.QueryString("teamid")))

If team.ID = 0 Then
	Server.Transfer "/notfound.asp"
End If

That “utility” is an instance of another class, with utilities to do similar things in repetitive ways, like parsing integers.

The point is this: classic ASP isn’t bad. Like any technology, it can be mis-used. But when used properly, there’s a lot that can be gained with a small amount of work — especially when moving from a legacy codebase to a clean codebase.

For a functional comparison of the two pages above — both working on the same Classic ASP/MSSQL platform, and both using the same SQL back-end — try the following two links. The only difference between the two is the HTML/CSS/JS rendered.

Legacy: http://www.csfbl.com/teamawards.asp?teamid=5
Modern: http://dev.csfbl.com/team/awards.asp?teamid=50

What’s my Programmer Competency (take 2)

I stumbled across an old blog post of mine, What’s your Programmer Competency?, where I outlined my self-analysis results using Sijin Joseph‘s Programmer Competency Matrix. I figured it was worth revisiting this and see how much things have changed in the eight years since that original blog post.

The Programmer Competency Matrix is measured on a scale from 0 to 3, with 3 being highest.

  • Computer Science: 1.3. Back in 2008, I was a 1. The reasons for the low number today is the same as eight years ago: my computer skills were not learned in the classroom, but in the real world. I’m not a computer scientist (as per the academic definition of computer science). But that’s not a bad thing, because most of the business world doesn’t need computer scientists!
  • Software Engineering: 2.7. Now we’re cooking. The only reason this isn’t a 3 is because I don’t have much experience in automated functional testing and UI testing. This is one area where I’ve continually developed my skills over the years, and the past 8 years have been no exception to that.
  • Programming: 2.9. This is a huge category so I won’t give myself a 3.0, but I’ve got most things in this category nailed. Reusable code? Check. Published frameworks? Check. Ridiculously well-organized code? Absolutely!
  • Experience: 2.3. I’ve got a lot of experience in the technologies that I work with, and I have light experience in a lot of other technologies. Not having experience in things like Erlang and Prolog drags down my score here, but I’m not selling myself as an Erlang or Prolog expert, so I’m happy with my score.
  • Knowledge: 2.4. If my career track was 100% development (and not more of a development/management split) this score would have been higher, but I’ve long ago accepted that part of my value is not just my programming knowledge, but my ability to interact with and communicate with people, not just machines — which is why I’m not spending my entire days sitting behind a computer writing code.

Not bad for a guy who started off as an infrastructure engineer, became a programmer out of necessity and curiosity, and ultimately made a career out of it all. Who would have thought this would happen when I was 12 years old hacking an Atari 800?

Microsoft’s PowerBI Knowledge Base offers lorem ipsum (and little more)

From a co-worker:

This is a screenshot of Microsoft’s new PowerBI dashboard platform. I needed to talk to their tech support so I clicked the “contact support” link and got this screen. Again, this is not a preview, or a beta, but rather their live support request form for a production product.

Look closely, and those informative knowledge base articles have topics like “Article 1” and “Long test article”, not to mention the ubiquitous, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…” I wonder if they used the Lorem Ipsum generator for the text?

Microsoft PowerBI Knowledge Base fail

Which SSRS reports are being run through Dynamics CRM?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM uses SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) for its reporting platform. It’s a fairly decent integration, but it lacks one visible aspect from CRM: what reports are being run?

Getting detailed report execution (who requested the report, what parameters were used at runtime) would require digging deep, but if you just want to know which reports were run and when they were run, you can do it from two SQL queries.

For a list of all reports run for a CRM instance, use the SQL below. Replace “CRM_MSCRM” with the name of your CRM database, and CRM_ReportServer with the name of your SSRS reporting database.

with ReportNames as (
	select r.name, '{' + cast(r.reportid as nvarchar(40)) + '}' as reportid
	from CRM_MSCRM..FilteredReport r
)
SELECT
	rn.Name,
	E.TimeStart,
	E.TimeEnd,
	E.Status
FROM CRM_ReportServer.dbo.Catalog C with(nolock)
left outer join ReportNames rn on c.Name = rn.ReportID
LEFT OUTER JOIN CRM_ReportServer.dbo.ExecutionLog  E with(nolock) ON C.ItemID = E.ReportID
WHERE C.type=2
and rn.Name is not null
order by e.TimeStart desc

If you want a count of all reports run, along with the first/last date they were run, use the following (again replacing CRM_MSCRM and CRM_ReportServer as necessary): Continue reading

Forcing IIS to rewrite all requests to HTTPS

I often need to ensure that an IIS web site uses HTTPS instead of HTTP. The easiest way to do this is with a URL rewriting rule. The rule I use is below.

<rule name="Redirect to HTTPS" stopProcessing="true">
    <match url="(.*)" />
    <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">
        <add input="{HTTPS}" pattern="^OFF$" />
    </conditions>
    <action type="Redirect" url="https://{HTTP_HOST}/{R:1}" redirectType="Permanent" />
</rule>

This will redirect any request that is not “HTTPS” to an “HTTPS” address.

Query a SQL server to find the progress of a database restore

This just came in from a co-worker. Too valuable not to share!

In case you might want to monitor the progress of a database restore on your SQL server, this query shows the progress in percentage, elapsed time, etc…

SELECT
	r.session_id,
	r.command,CONVERT(NUMERIC(6,2),r.percent_complete) AS [Percent Complete],
	CONVERT(VARCHAR(20),DATEADD(ms,r.estimated_completion_time,GetDate()),20) AS [ETA Completion Time],
	CONVERT(NUMERIC(10,2),r.total_elapsed_time/1000.0/60.0) AS [Elapsed Min],
	CONVERT(NUMERIC(10,2),r.estimated_completion_time/1000.0/60.0) AS [ETA Min],
	CONVERT(NUMERIC(10,2),r.estimated_completion_time/1000.0/60.0/60.0) AS [ETA Hours],
	CONVERT(VARCHAR(1000),(SELECT SUBSTRING(text,r.statement_start_offset/2,
		CASE WHEN r.statement_end_offset = -1 THEN 1000 ELSE (r.statement_end_offset-r.statement_start_offset)/2 END)
		FROM sys.dm_exec_sql_text(sql_handle)))
FROM sys.dm_exec_requests r WHERE command IN ('RESTORE DATABASE','BACKUP DATABASE')

With that, you can really tell how far along a SQL restore is!

Stopping Internet Explorer 11 from showing the mobile express version of Dynamics CRM 2011

If you have a Dynamics CRM 2011 installation, and users have started using Internet Explorer 11 (either by upgrading from IE10, or by installing Windows 8), then you’ve undoubtedly noticed that, when an IE11 user goes to your CRM site, they are greeted by the Mobile Express version, rather than the standard site. There are a few manual workarounds to this:

  • Downgrade from IE11 to IE10 (not an option for Windows 8).
  • Add your CRM domain name to the compatibility list in IE11 (not an option if you don’t want the entire domain to be in compatibility mode, or if you have group policy settings which prohibit this).
  • Instruct users to go to https://yourcrmdomain.com/main.aspx.

That third bullet is interesting… If you go to the root of your CRM domain name in IE11, you will be redirected to the Mobile Express site. If you go to the “main.aspx” page on the root, you go to the full CRM site. Which got me thinking… How can we identify IE11 users accessing the Mobile Express site, and redirect them to /main.aspx?

The solution is in IIS’s URL Rewrite library, which, if you don’t already have, you should get, because I’ve used it before to fix issues related to Dynamics CRM (not to mention its multitude of other uses).

Here’s what our rewrite rule will do:

The full IIS rewrite rule is below. You can drop this into the web.config in the root of your Dynamics CRM 2011 web site, or set it up manually using the URL Rewrite wizard. Either way, when you’re done, you’ll always get the full version of Dynamics CRM when using the IE11 browser.

<rule name="Redirect IE11 from mobile site to main.aspx" patternSyntax="Wildcard" stopProcessing="true">
 <match url="*m/default.aspx" />
 <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll" trackAllCaptures="false">
 <add input="{HTTP_USER_AGENT}" pattern="*; rv:11.0) like Gecko" />
 </conditions>
 <action type="Redirect" url="https://crm.innovatix.com/main.aspx" redirectType="Temporary" />
</rule>

By the way, there is only one gotcha: You can’t use IE11 and deliberately go to the Mobile Express site. A small price to pay to fix a much larger problem.