Too many scripts will slow us down

by Ishai Hachlili 1. March 2009 09:01

I’ve been ‘away’ from this blog for a while. It’s been a very interesting year for me but I’ve been neglecting this blog for too long.

If you’ve read the previous posts, you can see I’m not a big fan of the Asp.Net postbacks and update panels. Too much information is sent back and forth for small actions that can be easily done in javascript.

As I’ve shown before, there are hugh performance benefits to using client side rendering in a web app. Instead of sending the entire HTML for every request, we load javascript code for creating that HTML once and after that we just send the data for subsequent requests.

One of the side effects of moving from server side rendering is that you start getting more and more javascript files. I’ve been using JQuery for a while, there are a lot of great plugins for JQuery, but loading all of those include files introduces some problems:

  1. More scripts = more requests = more loading time
  2. Managing includes can become messy

Using a Script Combiner to reduce the number of requests
Ideally you want to have only one js file and one css file, but you don’t want to have your files merged while you’re developing, a hugh file will be a pain to work with. The solution is to merge all the scripts into one big file later, either in the build process or at run time.
if you use the same scripts for all pages in your app (or if you have a one page app), merging during the build process is a good solution but I needed different files for different pages.

Asp.Net AJAX 3.5
If you’re using Asp.Net AJAX 3.5, achieving this is very simple. The scripts from Microsoft will already be combined by default and to add your own scripts all you need to do is include your scripts using the ScriptManager.

<asp:ScriptManager runat="server" ID="ScriptManager1" >
            <asp:ScriptReference Path="~/JScript1.js" />
            <asp:ScriptReference Path="~/JScript2.js" />

Script Combiner - The Other Solution
If you don’t use Asp.Net AJAX and don’t want those scripts loaded (or you’re still using 2.0) you can create your own handler to combine scripts.
Here’s a project I foundby Omar Al Zabir (Who wrote the excellent book Building a Web 2.0 Portal with ASP.NET 3.5 and co-founded PageFlakes)
You might want to change the way you decide which scripts to load, I use an xml configuration file to specify the location of each script file and which js files should be loaded based on the page name that’s passed to the handler. (I use the page name as the key for now). I also have a separate path for the minified version and the debug version, and based on a config I use the right one

   <Script name=”jquery” minPath=”Scripts/JQuery/jquery.1.2.6.min.js” debugPath=”Scripts/JQuery/jquery.1.2.6.js”/>
   <Script name=”jqvalidation” minPath=”Scripts/JQuery/plugins/jquery.validate.min.js” debugPath=”Scripts/JQuery/plugins/jquery.validate.js”/>
   <Page name=”home” Scripts=”jquery,jqvalidation” />

There are several benefits when using this custom handler

  • You can use it for css files too
  • It compresses the js files using gzip
  • The files are only read from the file system once and are then cached on the server for subsequent requests
  • You can easily add versioning to the handler and set client side caching to never expire.

Tags: ,

AJAX | Asp.Net | Javascript

Upgrading ASMX web services to WCF

by Ishai Hachlili 15. June 2008 09:21

There is a lot of information on the web on using WCF for JSON, but I figured I’ll writing something short on the way I use it.

When I decided to try WCF, the first thing I noticed was how simple it was to upgrade. All you need to do is add a new WCF Service to the web project, copy the code from the ASMX service, change the [ScriptService] to [ServiceCntract] and the [WebMethod] tags to [OperationContract] and add some definitions in the web.config file.
You’re supposed to use a separate Interface to define the service contract, but it’s not a must and you can add the tags to the actual class with the implementation.

The second thing I noticed is that I can get JSON by changing some configuration settings.
When I was working on the AJAX search page, WCF was not around (it was by the time I posted the series on it here). I used XSLT to transform data to JSON and arrays. It was another step I had to do on the server side but it’s worth it, JSON is smaller than XML and very easy to work with in JavaScript.
With WCF I just change a small definition and I get the results in JSON, no need for the XSLT transformation.

Another thing we get with WCF is Data Contracts. The way I’m using it in this sample, it’s pretty much the same as using the .Net AJAX GenerateScriptType.
All I had to do is add a [DataContract] tag to the class and [DataMember] tags to each property.
I think it’s better to define this on the exposed class itself instead of adding some register definition in a web service.

The attached project is the same search page sample with the WCF service. The changes to look for are:

  • The new DataService.svc file
  • The Entities.QueryParameters classes now have the DataContract tags
  • web.config has the new serviceModel section at the end, that defines the service as an HTTP JSON enabled service
  • default.aspx – the service defined in the ScriptManager was changed to the svc file and the path was updated in the javascript Search method


WcfAjaxSearchSample.rar (883.99 kb)

Tags: , ,

AJAX | Asp.Net | WCF


by Ishai Hachlili 30. May 2008 11:40

This week I got certified, I guess. I took two tests, each one took 30 minutes or so, and got an MCTS Web Dev certification.
Because it was so easy (and cheap, test prices are 125$ but with discounts you can take a test for 85$) it makes me feel like this certificate doesn't mean much to those who know what it is.

.Net and Visual Studio can make it to easy to just drag and drop to create an application. Microsoft also has a lot of built in tools to make life simpler. Mastering these tools and drag and dropping seemed to be the focus of these tests. Sure, there were some questions about serialization, but after working with .Net ever since the first release (was it a preview or a beta? too long ago to remember) I found that most of the questions were about things I've never had to do.

Even without having experience with some (or most) of what Microsoft decided a .Net web developer should know, it was very easy to pass these tests, I guess after such a long time working with the .Net framework you understand the philosophy behind it and can guess how the folks at MS would've called a method, even f you never heard of it before.

There is a whole business built around certifications, Microsoft offers online courses and books and there are plenty of other companies in the game as well, so maybe it's all about the money, or maybe it's more important for IT certifications (system and network administrators should probably know what their doing, if you let them near the most important servers in your company).

So now I have my MCTS Web Developer certification, my guess is it won't hurt but I'm not sure how much it will help. I was planning on doing a third test to get the MCPD, but the only reason to do it now is to check if that test is any harder.

(btw, according to the Microsoft Learning web site, there are just over 20,000 MCTS Web Dev 'achievers', and 4,500 MCPD Web Dev while the number for certified windows 2003 sys admins is 186,000. This numbers are updated for April 2008, seems like not too many people felt the MCPD is worth it...)


Tags: , ,

MS Certification

About Ishai

Ishai is the founder of Smart Trivia, Inc. where he builds trivia games for smartphones using MvvmCross and Xamarin. He's also running the Silicon Valley Mobile/Cross Platform .Net Meetup and helps other companies build mobile apps using Xamarin as a consultant

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