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Hidden Gems - Not the same old 3.5 SP1 post

Blogger : BizTalk Blogs
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Category : WSCF/WCF
Blogged date : 2008 Aug 13

Folks were hassling me in the comments for not posting the picosecond that .NET 3.5 SP1 came out (or, as I like to call it, .NET 3.6 - although the bosses really don't like that).

First, the obvious stuff.

Should I fear this release?

I wouldn't. The SP1 Framework is full of goodness. The VS Installer is slow (it was for me) but I just shut everything down, ran it, and was patient. It's POSSIBLE. It's way better than the beta installer was. There's a metric buttload of little VS fixes and tweaks that make the IDE a more pleasant place to spend your day. ScottGu lists a bunch of new stuff, like JavaScript intellisense, formatting, editor performance improvements, and on and on.

If you want to see some crazy interesting statistics, go check out Patrick Smacchia's updated 3.5 SP1 Changes Overview.

You can get it here:

If you've ever installed anything wacky or beta, be sure to run the important Preparation Tool and also R'ingT*M.

Now, why should I bother?

What's it got for ASP.NET?

There are lots of details here including stuff on things we used to call ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions (in case you were wondering where all that went.)

ASP.NET Dynamic Data: This is now included in the .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 release. You can find further information on ASP.NET Dynamic Data here as well as instructions on how to convert applications written using the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions December 2007 CTP in the readme. Piles of Dynamic Data videos here.

ASP.NET MVC: You can find the Preview 3 release of the ASP.NET MVC framework and more information here.

ASP.NET AJAX browser history: This is now included in the .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 release. You can find details of how to convert applications written using the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions December 2007 CTP in the readme. Check out the Video on AJAX Browser History.

ADO Data Services - It's RESTful! RESTy! A POX on your data! It's AtomPubtastic. Go check out Pablo's most excellent ADO.NET Data Services ("Project Astoria") videos from Mix.

ADO.NET Entity Framework: The ADO.NET Entity Framework is now included in the .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 release. You can find the documentation for the ADO.NET Entity Framework here. There's also an EntityDataSource.

ASP.NET controls for Silverlight: These ASP.NET Web server controls make it easier to use Silverlight in ASP.NET Web applications. These controls are now included in the Microsoft Silverlight 2 Software Development Kit.

Not to mention other new features like AJAX Script Combining (check the AJAX Script Combining video by Bertrand) and find out "What's the big deal with Script Combining?"

What's it got for Fat Chubby Smart Rubenesque Clients?

Bunch of new SP1 stuff on the client side, and I fully intend to have BabySmash exploit the new stuff as much as possible.

One of the cooler things is the new 3.5 Client Profile bootstrapper. This means I can get a Windows XP SP2 machine with no .NET Framework installed up and running with the 3.5 Client (WinForms, WPF, etc) assemblies in just 26megs with a 200k bootstrapper. I'm going to blog on how to do this, and use BabySmash as a guinea pig soon.

  • Immediate Responsiveness: Bootstrapper is small (200K) to enable the fastest possible response. After the security prompts, the user immediately is presented with the EULA.
  • 3 Clicks: One for the application, installing certificates, and the EULA. For ClickOnce, the user clicks accept on the EULA and the application automatically launches once setup is complete.
  • Size and Speed: With a typical broadband connection, setup will take ~6 minutes or less.
  • Faster launch time: Bunch of NGen and memory layout and CLR improvements.
  • FireFox ClickOnce and XBAP support. Finally!

What about ASP.NET MVC?

There is likely some confusion around MVC as a few people expected ASP.NET MVC to ship in SP1. This is probably because MVC was included in 3.5 "Extensions Preview." However, the plan was always to ship in Q4CY08.

(That date is marketing speak, I've just learned. I tell people what Eilon told me - it'll ship in a month ending in "-ber." Possible "March-ber" but also maybe "next June-ber.")

Anyway, Phil has always said that MVC is on its own schedule and will ship when its done. Possibly when Duke Nukem Forever ships.

What else is new? What about ASP.NET itself?

Here's the unsung heroes. Scott Galloway and the ASP.NET will do some articles in exquisite (I hope) detail on soon on all the subtle good fixes in ASP.NET, so watch for those.

Here's some details on a few niceties for people who like their URLs and Forms a certain way.

  • RenderAllHiddenFieldsAtTopOfForm - In versions of ASP.NET earlier than the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, ASP.NET renders some hidden fields (for example, __VIEWSTATE) at the top of the form. Other hidden fields (for example, __EVENTVALIDATION) are rendered near the bottom of the form, just before the closing </div> tag. By default, in ASP.NET 3.5 SP1, all system-generated hidden fields are rendered at the top of the page. This makes sure that the information in these fields is sent to the server even if a postback is performed before the page has finished loading. If RenderAllHiddenFieldsAtTopOfForm is set to false, performing a postback before the page has finished loading can cause an "Invalid postback or callback argument" error.

    This is a nice, but subtle fix. Basically if you tried to do a postback (AJAX or otherwise) before the whole page was loaded and one of the hidden fields like __EVENTTARGET wasn't loaded yet because it was rendering at the bottom of the page, you'd be in a pickle. And you'd get a validation error on post. Now you can set this to true and move those hidden fields to just below the <form>.
  • HtmlForm.Action is now settable - Again, subtle, but very cool.  I like to use URL rewriting a lot and want my <form action=""> to be a certain way. Now I can set it manually without fooling around with RegEx's and messing with the whole response.
  • RedirectMode for CustomErrors - Also nice for URL redirects. If you set the redirectMode on <customErrors/> in web.config to "responseRewrite" you can avoid a redirect to a custom error page and leave the URL in the browser untouched.

A few more advanced improvements:

  • There's a new overload of System.Web.Caching.Cache.Insert() and a new CacheItemUpdateCallback. Thomas Marquardt has more on this in detail. Now you can get notified when a cache item is invalid and you get an opportunity to generate a replacement. This means you actually get warned BEFORE the item is yanked.
  • New RemapHandler method on HttpContext lets you swap in your own IHttpHandler mid-request as long as you do it before MapRequestHandler has been called.
  • New throttling option under IIS7 using aspnet.config. You can set MaxConcurrentRequestsPerCpu or MaxConcurrentThreadsPerCpu. For example, if you had a number of high-latency calls that were tying things up, you could use change the Concurrent Threads setting to throttle more logically than Concurrent Requests.
  • Now Response.Flush is safe reliable to call from a background thread. Before you could wreck havoc if you called Flush from the the background in an AJAX app, but no longer!
  • Remember that System.Web.Routing has been brought over from MVC world and is a core part of ASP.NET now. You can use ASP.NET Routing as you like and there's a fine writeup on Routing here. How is Routing different from URL Rewriting?

    ASP.NET routing differs from other URL rewriting schemes. URL rewriting processes incoming requests by actually changing the URL before it sends the request to the Web page. For example, an application that uses URL rewriting might change a URL from /Products/Widgets/ to /Products.aspx?id=4. Also, URL rewriting typically does not have an API for creating URLs that are based on your patterns. In URL rewriting, if you change a URL pattern, you must manually update all hyperlinks that contain the original URL.

    With ASP.NET routing, the URL is not changed when an incoming request is handled, because routing can extract values from the URL. When you have to create a URL, you pass parameter values into a method that generates the URL for you. To change the URL pattern, you change it in one location, and all the links that you create in the application that are based on that pattern will automatically use the new pattern.

If any of these small but important fixes make you smile, thank Stefan Schackow and the ASP.NET team. If you ever see them, give them a hug, it'll make them very uncomfortable. There are more fixes, and I hope ScottGal expounds on them soon at

What about Connected Services?

On the services side, Sam Gentile points out a bunch of new WCF features in 3.5 SP1 like:

  • Improvements in writing REST based services ranging from easily supporting ServiceDocuments publication and consumption to providing greater control and usability of UriTemplate with new syntax. AtomPub support in a new Object Model.
  • DataContract Serializer gets way easier by relaxing/removing the ned for [DataContract] and [DataMember] on types. It's POCO (Plain Ol' CLR Object) time, people.
  • More interoperable object references in the serialization format, which means WCF gets along better with Java.
  • New Hosting Wizard when making new WCF Services.
  • Better Partial Trust behavior, particularly when tracing/logging.
  • Support for ADO.NET Entity Framework types in WCF contracts.
  • WCF Templates for consuming services from Silverlight.
  • Scalability increases of 5X-10X (oy!) for WCF services hosted in IIS7-integrated pipeline mode.
  • The Workflow Designer is has a number of performance improvements and is generally quicker.

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© 2008 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.

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