Skip to main content

Act 1; Scene 1

As previously mentioned I want to write about my "Business Agility through Component Software" concept. This encompasses several aspects of software design and crucially includes operational considerations.

I'll be writing a series of posts covering all of this...however in true "reuse" style I want to provide a common "set the scene" post to explain the work I have been doing and give context and background to the actual post that will reference it.

I work for a Digital Media "supply chain" company. We ingest (take delivery) of media files (WMA,WMV, metadata & images) and perform a number of processing steps on them before eventual delivery to a consumer via a digital retail front end (website, WMP Online Store, gadget etc). This past twelve months I've been involved in re-developing the delivery services on our core retailer platform.

These services are used to...
  • Deliver a media file (WMA, WMV) to a PC/Client
  • Generate Windows Media Licences (rental, perpetual, subscription/chained)
  • Manipulate (resize, crop, watermark etc) and deliver product images
  • Subscription management (create, authorise, etc)
  • Licence management (counts, reset etc)
  • Product delivery manifest (download, licence, image urls, description etc)
This is all based on Microsoft .NET 2.0 using C# with a smattering of C++ for custom COM components running on a client PC. My expertise is in the .Net code however I'm learning the COM stuff as it seems to crop up a lot in media development and a worthy area of knowledge. These services are all accessed via ASP.Net endpoints as either Web Services or custom Http Handlers.

All of these services are very much typical "service icebergs"...the endpoint interface is 1/9th of the implementation. Typically a service (http handler) has three or four parameters or a web service a simple object parameter with a handful of properties. Data returned is similarly pretty slim too.

The service endpoints are deployed per retailer - that is each retailer has a dedicated copy of the services; some of the services are redundant depending upon the retailer and their business model.

Luckily a portion of the services were re-writes and I could learn from the mistakes made in the previous incarnation. These improvements were also incorporated into the approach/pattern/template for any new services created.

Ideas and objectives I wanted to incorporate included,
  • Decoupling service endpoints from service implementation
  • Service implementation must use dependency injection (DI) and Inversion of Control (IoC)
  • Pluggable component architecture to allow customisation for retailer specific processing (using DI/IoC)
  • Services must be able to provide a verbose, readable audit trail
  • Use interface/behaviour driven design for components
  • Understand what makes a useful design document, what level and type of information is actually useful committing to a document?
  • Remove focus from data/database during design
  • Utilise mock objects to provide known behaviour and improve development pace
The result of all this was about 50,000 lines of pure code. Most if not all of the objectives were achieved - most with a successful result.

The following posts/articles I will write will cover these topic areas - some at a conceptual level, some at a technical level or combination. My objective with these articles is to evangalise about these ideas and objectives and for you to embrace them in your projects to increase business agility and software quality.

I hope you stick with it!


Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Thru: Using Wolfpack to automatically deploy and smoke test your system

First, some history... The advent of NuGet has revolutionised many many aspects of the .Net ecosystem; MyGet, Chocolatey & OctopusDeploy to name a few solutions building upon its success bring even more features to the table.

I also spotted that NuGet could solve a problem I was having with my OSS System Monitoring software Wolfpack; essentially this is a core application framework that uses plugins for extension (Wolfpack Contrib) but how to unify, standardise and streamline how these plugins are made available? NuGet to the rescue again - I wrapped the NuGet infrastructure (I deem NuGet to be so ubiquitous and stable that is has transcended into the software "infrastrucuture" hall of fame) with a new OSS project called Sidewinder. Sidewinder allows me to wrap all my little extension and plugins in NuGet packages and deploy them directly from the Wolfpack application - it even allows me to issue a new version of Wolfpack and have Wolfpack update itself, sweet huh?


Resharper add-in idea - highlight IDisposable vars

[Update 18th July 2013]
@RobGibbens and Greg Hurlman picked up on this - Rob pointed out that there is an FxCop rule that can do this and Greg suggested a Visual Studio extension. I've had a quick look at the Visual Studio options and it looks like an "Editor Extension" is a good fit....hmmm, Project New, click...doh...dammit I really don't have time for this but it looks a fun little diversion! I'll update here if I get anything working.

[Original Post]
Had an interesting idea for a Visual Studio Resharper add-in the other day but don't have the time to implement it so thought I would put it out might already exist (and hopefully someone can point me in the right direction) or someone will build it (Darren Voisey where are you?!).

The idea is very simple really - when you have a variable for an object that implements IDisposable it gets highlighted or a tell-tale is displayed to let you know it should be disposed or should be wrapped in a using sta…

Geckoboard Countdown Widget v2

v2 is here, now with added colours! This time using the RAG Numbers widget to display your date countdown - as you get nearer the date the number will change from green to amber then red.

The new url is:!
Note 1: notice the new /rag/ path and the msg querystring param.
Note 2: the original v1 url still works

To use this on your Geckoboard add a new "Custom Widget/RAG Numbers" widget. By default the number will turn amber at 10 or less days to go and red at 3 or less days to go however you can change these with the querystring (see below).

Required querystring params
date: "yyyy-mm-dd" format, this is the target date to countdown totz: timezone offset in hours from GMT that you are in. Can be negative if you are behind GMT
Optional querystring params
msg: the label that appears next to the number of days (remember to encode spaces as +). The default is "Days Remaining" if you…