Scott Hanselman

NuKeeper for automated NuGet Package Reference Updates on Build Servers

July 10, '18 Comments [10] Posted in DotNetCore | NuGet | Open Source
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Last week I looked at "dotnet outdated," a super useful .NET Core Global Tool for keeping a project's NuGet packages up to date. Since then I've discovered there's a whole BUNCH of great projects solving different aspects of the "minor version problem." I love this answer "Why?" from the NuKeeper (inspired by Greenkeeper) project with emphasis mine. NuKeeper will check for updates AND try to update your references for you! Why not automate the tedious!

NuGet package updates are a form of change that should be deployed, and we likewise want to change the cycle from "NuGet package updates are infrequent and contain lots of package changes, therefore NuGet package updates are hard and dangerous..." to "NuGet package updates are frequent and contain small changes, therefore NuGet package updates are easy and routine...".

Certainly no one is advocating updating the major versions of your dependent NuGet packages, but small compatible bug fixes come often and are often missed. Including a tool to discover - and optionally apply - these changes in a CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment) pipeline can be a great timesaver.

Why do we deploy code changes frequently but seldom update NuGet packages?

Good question!

NuKeeper

NuKeeper is a .NET tool as well that you can install safely with:

dotnet tool install --global NuKeeper

Here it is running on my regularly updated podcast website that is running ASP.NET Core 2.1:

NuKeeper says I have 3 packages to update

Looks like three of my packages are out of date. NuKeeper shows what version I have and what I could update to, as well as how long an update has been available.

You can also restrict your updates by policy, so "age=3w" for packages over 3 weeks old (so you don't get overly fresh updates) or "change=minor" or "change=patch" if you trust your upstream packages to not break things in patch releases, etc.

NuKeeper is picking up steam and while (as of the time of this writing) its command line parameter style is a little unconventional, Anthony Steele and the team is very open to feedback with many improvements already in progress as this project matures!

The update functionality is somewhat experimental and currently does 1 update per local run, but I'm really enjoying the direction NuKeeper is going!

Automatic NuGet Updates via Pull Request

NuKeeper has a somewhat unique and clever feature called Repository Mode in that it can automatically issue a Pull Request against your repository with the changes needed to update your NuGet references. Check out this example PullRequest!

Anthony - the lead developer - points out that ideally you'd set up NuKeeper to send PRs for you. Automatic PRs are NuKeepers primary goal and use case!

The NuKeeperBot has automatically issued a PR with a list of packages to update

Again, it's early days, but between NuKeeper and "dotnet outdated," I'm feeling more in control of my package references than ever before! What are YOU using?


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Referencing .NET Standard Assemblies from both .NET Core and .NET Framework

August 21, '17 Comments [25] Posted in DotNetCore | NuGet | Open Source
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Lots of .NET Projects sharing a .NET Standard LibraryI like getting great questions in email but I LOVE getting great questions in email with a complete and clear code repro (reproduction) that's in a git somewhere. Then I can just clone, build (many many bonus points for a clean build) and check out the bug.

I got a great .NET Core question and repro here https://github.com/ScarlettCode/Example. I forked it, fixed it, and submitted a PR. Here's the question and issue and today's fix.

The project has a C# library project (an assembly) that is written to the .NET Standard 2.0. You'll recall that the .NET Standard isn't a runtime or a library in itself, but rather an interface. They are saying that this library will work anywhere that the .NET Standard is supported, like Linux, Mac, and Windows.

Here's that main .NET Standard Library called "Example.Data" written in C#.

Then he had:

  • Windows Forms (WinForms) application in VB.NET using .NET "full" Framework 4.6
  • Console Application also using .NET Framework 4.6
  • Console Application using .NET Core 2.0

Each of these apps is referring to the Example.Data library. The Example.Data library then pulls in a database access library in the form of Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.InMemory via NuGet.

WinForms app -> Data Access library -> Some other library. A->B->C where B and C are packages from NuGet.

The .NET Core console builds and runs great. However, when the other projects are run you get this error:

Can't load
Could not load file or assembly
'Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore, Version=2.0.0.0,
Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=adb9793829ddae60'
or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find
the file specified.

Pretty low level error, right? First thing is to check the bin folder (the results of the compile) for a project that doesn't run. Looks like there's no Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore there. Why not? It's assembly "C" downstream of "A" and "B". EntityFramework's assembly is referred to by the Example.Data assembly...but why didn't it get copied in?

The "full" Framework projects are using the older .csproj format and by default, they use package.config to manage dependencies. The newer projects can reference Packages as first-class references. So we need to tell ALL projects in this solution to manage and restore their packages as "PackageReferences."

I can open up the .csproj file for the Framework projects and add this line within the first <PropertyGroup> like this to change the restore style:

 <RestoreProjectStyle>PackageReference</RestoreProjectStyle>

As Oren wisely says:

"Using .NET Standard requires you to use PackageReference to eliminate the pain of “lots of packages” as well as properly handle transitive dependencies. While you may be able to use .NET Standard without PackageReference, I wouldn’t recommend it."

I can also change the default within VS's Package Management options here in this dialog.

 <RestoreProjectStyle>PackageReference</RestoreProjectStyle> Default Package management format

Hope this helps.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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How to host your own NuGet Server and Package Feed

April 13, '16 Comments [39] Posted in NuGet | NUnit
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Local NuGet FeedHosting your own NuGet Server, particularly when you're a company or even a small workgroup is a super useful thing. It's a great way to ensure that the build artifacts of each team are NuGet Packages and that other teams are consuming those packages, rather than loose DLLs.

A lot of folks (myself included a minute ago) don't realize that Visual Studio Team Services also offers private NuGet Feeds for your team so that's pretty sweet. But I wanted to try out was setting up my own quick NuGet Server. I could put it on a web server in my closet or up in Azure.

From the NuGet site:

There are several third-party NuGet Servers available that make remote private feeds easy to configure and set-up, including Visual Studio Team Services, MyGet, Inedo's ProGet, JFrog's Artifactory, NuGet Server, and Sonatype's Nexus. See An Overview of the NuGet Ecosystem to learn more about these options.

File Shares or Directories as NuGet Server

Starting with NuGet 3.3 you can just use a local folder and it can host a hierarchical NuGet feed. So I head out to the command line, and first make sure NuGet is up to date.

C:\Users\scott\Desktop>nuget update -self
Checking for updates from https://www.nuget.org/api/v2/.
Currently running NuGet.exe 3.3.0.
NuGet.exe is up to date.

Then I'll make a folder for my "local server" and then go there and run "nuget init source dest" where "source" is a folder I have full of *.nupkg" files.

This command adds all the packages from a flat folder of nupkgs to the destination package source in a hierarchical layout as described below. The following layout has significant performance benefits, when performing a restore or an update against your package source, compared to a folder of nupkg files.

There's two ways to run a "remote feed" handled by a Web Server, rather than a "local feed" that's just a file folder or file share. You can use NuGet.Server *or* run your own internal copy of the NuGet Gallery. The gallery is nice for large multi-user setups or enterprises. For small teams or just yourself and your CI (continuous integration) systems, use NuGet.Server.

Making a simple Web-based NuGet.Server

From Visual Studio, make an empty ASP.NET Web Application using the ASP.NET 4.x Empty template.

New Empty ASP.NET Project

Then, go to References | Manage NuGet Packages and find NuGet.Server and install it. You'll get all the the dependencies you need and your Empty Project will fill up! If you see a warning about overwriting web.config, you DO want the remote web.config so overwrite your local one.

Nuget install NuGet.Server

Next, go into your Web.config and note the packagesPath that you can set. I used C:\LocalNuGet. Run the app and you'll have a NuGet Server!

You are running NuGet.Server v2.10.0

Since my NuGet.Server is pulling from C:\LocalNuGet, as mentioned before I can take a folder filled with NuPkg files (flat) and import them with:

nuget init c:\source c:\localnuget

I can also set an API key in the web.config (or have none if I want to live dangerously) and then have my automated build push NuGet packages into my server like this:

nuget push {package file} -s http://localhost:51217/nuget {apikey}

Again, as a reminder, while you can totally do this and it's great for some enterprises, there are lots of hosted NuGet servers out there. MyGet runs on Azure, for example, and VSO/TFS also supports creating and hosting NuGet feeds.

Aside: Some folks have said that they tried NuGet.Server (again, that's the small server, not the full gallery) a few years ago and found it didn't scale or it was slow. This new version uses the Expanded Folder Format and adds significant caching, so if you've only see the "folder full of flat nupkg files" version, then you should try out this new one! It's version 2.10+. How much faster is it? First request to /nuget (cold start, no metadata cache) before was 75.266 sec and after is 8.482 sec!

The main point is that if you've got an automated build system then you really should be creating NuGet packages and publishing them to a feed. If you're consuming another group's assemblies, you should be consuming versioned packages from their feeds. Each org makes packages and they flow through the org via a NuGet server.

Important! If you are using a Network Share with NuGet.Server, make sure you have the newest version because this file folder structure can give you MAJOR performance improvements!

How do YOU handle NuGet in YOUR organization? Do you have a NuGet server, and if so, which one?


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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NuGet Package of the Week: A different take on ASP.NET MVC Forms with ChameleonForms

February 17, '15 Comments [32] Posted in ASP.NET MVC | NuGet | NuGetPOW | Open Source
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One of the nice things about any modular system (like ASP.NET) is the ability to swap out the parts you don't like. As the authors of ChameleonForms state, HTML forms is a pain. It's repetitive, it's repetitive, and it's boring. While ASP.NET MVC's Form Helpers help a lot, they felt that helper methods like Html.EditorForModel didn't go far enough or give you enough flexibility. ChameleonForms adds its own templating model and attempts to be as DRY as possible. It also takes a number of issues head on like better handling for drop-down lists and lists of radio buttons, and it even supports Twitter Bootstrap 3 to you can bang out HTML forms ASAP.

ChameleonForms also is a nice example of a tidy and well-run small open source project. They've got a public Trello backlog board, excellent documentation, a continuous integration build, a good example project, and of course, they're on NuGet. Check out the other projects that the folks in the "MRCollective" work on as well, as they've got their own GitHub organization.

NuGet Install ChameleonForms

Often ChameleonForms tries to use C# for the whole form, rather than switching back and forth from Div to Html Helper. For example:

@using (var f = Html.BeginChameleonForm()) {
using (var s = f.BeginSection("Signup for an account")) {
@s.FieldFor(m => m.FirstName)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.LastName)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.Mobile).Placeholder("04XX XXX XXX")
@s.FieldFor(m => m.LicenseAgreement).InlineLabel("I agree to the terms and conditions")
}
using (var n = f.BeginNavigation()) {
@n.Submit("Create")
}
}

This is the whole form using usings for scoping, and it's nice and clean.  How about a comparison example? Here's standard ASP.NET MVC:

@using (Html.BeginForm())
{
<fieldset>
<legend>A form</legend>
<dl>
<dt>@Html.LabelFor(m => m.RequiredString, "Some string")</dt>
<dd>@Html.TextBoxFor(m => m.RequiredString) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(m => m.RequiredString)</dd>
<dt>@Html.LabelFor(m => m.SomeEnum)</dt>
<dd>@Html.DropDownListFor(m => m.SomeEnum, Enum.GetNames(typeof(SomeEnum)).Select(x => new SelectListItem {Text = ((SomeEnum)Enum.Parse(typeof(SomeEnum), x)).Humanize(), Value = x})) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(m => m.SomeEnum)</dd>
<dt>@Html.LabelFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox)</dt>
<dd>@Html.CheckBoxFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox) @Html.LabelFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox, "Are you sure?") @Html.ValidationMessageFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox)</dd>
</dl>
</fieldset>
<div class="form_navigation">
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />
</div>
}

And here is the same form with ChameleonForms.

@using (var f = Html.BeginChameleonForm()) {
using (var s = f.BeginSection("A form")) {
@s.FieldFor(m => m.RequiredString).Label("Some string")
@s.FieldFor(m => m.SomeEnum)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox).InlineLabel("Are you sure?")
}
using (var n = f.BeginNavigation()) {
@n.Submit("Submit")
}
}

But these are basic. How about something more complex? This one has a bunch of variety, a number overloads and customizations, as well as a FileUpload (note that the form is a Multipart form):

@using (var f = Html.BeginChameleonForm(method: FormMethod.Post, enctype: EncType.Multipart))
{
<p>@f.LabelFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox).Label("Are you ready for: ") @f.FieldElementFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox) @f.ValidationMessageFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox)</p>
<p>@f.FieldElementFor(m => m.RequiredStringField).TabIndex(4)</p>
using (var s = f.BeginSection("My Section!", InstructionalText(), new{@class = "aClass"}.ToHtmlAttributes()))
{
using (var ff = s.BeginFieldFor(m => m.RequiredStringField, Field.Configure().Attr("data-some-attr", "value").TabIndex(3)))
{
@ff.FieldFor(m => m.NestedField).Attr("data-attr1", "value").TabIndex(2)
@ff.FieldFor(m => m.SomeEnum).Attr("data-attr1", "value")
@ff.FieldFor(m => m.SomeEnum).Exclude(SomeEnum.SomeOtherValue)
}
@s.FieldFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox).AsDropDown()
using (var ss = s.BeginSection("Nested section"))
{
@ss.FieldFor(m => m.FileUpload).Attr("data-attr1", "value")
}
@s.FieldFor(m => m.RequiredStringField).OverrideFieldHtml(new MvcHtmlString("Custom html <b>she-yeah</b>!"))
@s.FieldFor(m => m.TextAreaField).Cols(60).Rows(5).Label("Some Label").AutoFocus().TabIndex(1)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox).InlineLabel("Some label").WithHint("Format: XXX")
@s.FieldFor(m => m.SomeCheckbox).AsRadioList().WithTrueAs("True").WithFalseAs("False")
@s.FieldFor(m => m.ListId)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.ListId).AsRadioList()
@s.FieldFor(m => m.SomeEnums)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.SomeEnumsList).AsRadioList()
@s.FieldFor(m => m.Decimal)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.Int).AsInputGroup().Append(".00").Prepend("$")
@s.FieldFor(m => m.DecimalWithFormatStringAttribute)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.NullableInt)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.Child.ChildField)
@s.FieldFor(m => m.Child.SomeEnum).AsRadioList()
@s.FieldFor(m => m.RequiredStringField).Disabled()
@s.FieldFor(m => m.RequiredStringField).Readonly()
}
using (var n = f.BeginNavigation())
{
@n.Submit("Submit")
@n.Reset("Reset")
}
}

ChameleonForms also has a special NuGet package if you're using TwitterBootstrap that changes how forms with the BeginChameleonForm method render.

ChameleonForms also has some convenient extra abilities, like being able to automatically infer/create a [DisplayName] so you don't have to. If you're doing Forms in English and your preferred Display Name will end up just being your variable name this can be a useful time saver (although you may have opinions about its purity.)

So instead of the tedium of:

[DisplayName("Email address")]
public string EmailAddress { get; set; }

[DisplayName("First name")]
public string FirstName { get; set; }

You can just say this once, picking just one...this is an example where they use HumanizedLabels.

HumanizedLabels.Register(LetterCasing.AllCaps) => "EMAIL ADDRESS"
HumanizedLabels.Register(LetterCasing.LowerCase) => "email address"
HumanizedLabels.Register(LetterCasing.Sentence) => "Email address"
HumanizedLabels.Register(LetterCasing.Title) => "Email Address"

If you've got a lot of Forms to create and they're just no fun anymore, you should definitely give ChameleonForms a try. If you're a Twitter Bootstrap shop, doubly so, as that's where ChameleonForms really shines.

I'll do a few other posts exploring different ways to for Forms in ASP.NET MVC in the coming weeks. Be sure to explore the NuGet Package of the Week Archives as well!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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NuGet Package of the Week: Polly wanna fluently express transient exception handling policies in .NET?

January 13, '15 Comments [13] Posted in NuGet | NuGetPOW
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LOL at my own post title. Pardon me.

Install-Package Polly

Michael Wolfenden has a very clever open source library called Polly. Polly is a .NET 3.5 / 4.0 / 4.5 / PCL library that allows developers to express transient exception handling policies such as Retry, Retry Forever, Wait and Retry or Circuit Breaker in a fluent manner.

Handling exceptions can be a hassle sometimes. Not just setting the try/catches up, but deciding on the policy for the catch can make the exception management code more complex than the method itself!

Polly has a fluent interface to make expressing rules like that much easier. For example:

// Single exception type
Policy
.Handle<DivideByZeroException>()

// Single exception type with condition
Policy
.Handle<SqlException>(ex => ex.Number == 1205)

// Multiple exception types
Policy
.Handle<DivideByZeroException>()
.Or<ArgumentException>()

// Multiple exception types with condition
Policy
.Handle<SqlException>(ex => ex.Number == 1205)
.Or<ArgumentException>(ex => x.ParamName == "example")

Then you can add Retry() logic, which is fantastic.

// Retry multiple times, calling an action on each retry 
// with the current exception and retry count
Policy
.Handle<DivideByZeroException>()
.Retry(3, (exception, retryCount) =>
{
// do something
});

Even do retries with multiplicative back off!

// Retry a specified number of times, using a function to 
// calculate the duration to wait between retries based on
// the current retry attempt, calling an action on each retry
// with the current exception, duration and context provided
// to Execute()
Policy
.Handle<DivideByZeroException>()
.WaitAndRetry(
5,
retryAttempt => TimeSpan.FromSeconds(Math.Pow(2, retryAttempt)),
(exception, timeSpan, context) => {
// do something
}
);

Once you have set up a policy, you execute on it.

Policy
.Handle<SqlException>(ex => ex.Number == 1205)
.Or<ArgumentException>(ex => ex.ParamName == "example")
.Retry()
.Execute(() => DoSomething());

Polly also supports the more sophisticated "Circuit Breaker" policy. For more information on the Circuit Breaker pattern see:

Circuit breaker tries and then "Trips the circuit breaker" so you'll get a BrokenCircuitException for some amount of time. This is a great way to give an external system to chill for a minute if it's down. It also externalizes the concept so that you could theoretically handle a down database the same as you handle a down external web API.

// Break the circuit after the specified number of exceptions
// and keep circuit broken for the specified duration
Policy
.Handle<DivideByZeroException>()
.CircuitBreaker(2, TimeSpan.FromMinutes(1))

You can explore the code, of course, up on Github in the Polly repository. Go give the Polly project a star. They've recently added async support for .NET 4.5 as well!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.