Friday 18 September 2015

Creating a SQL Server Managment Studio Add-in

I've spent the last day or so playing with an idea for a SSMS add-in. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now but will save the details for another post. What I want to document are my experiences so far as well as how convoluted and poorly-resourced the process of producing an add-in to SSMS is. Here are some of the things you should know about before strating on the journey. Hopefully some of this will save you some pain.

General Points:
  • As far as I can tell, Microsoft don't really want you to integrate into SSMS - at least they've no interest in supporting the endeavour.
  • Luckily, due SSMS's similarity to Visual Studio, you can broadly follow the same instructions offered up for extending Visual Studio with add-ins, something MS seem to actively encourage.
  • There appear to be two ways of skinning this cat: Add-ins and VSExtensions. Add-ins, the route I've taken, are the older of the techniques but are where the majority of the resources are.

SSMS Integration:
  • In order to load add-ins SSMS looks in folder locations specified here: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\SQL Server Management Studio\11.0_Config\AutomationOptions\LookInFolders for XML files giving details of the add-ins.
  • You can configure things to happen only the first time the add-in is loaded by SSMS or every time the add-in is loaded: ext_ConnectMode.ext_cm_UISetup & ext_ConnectMode.ext_cm_Startup. I've still haven't quite grasped fully how they work.

Menu Generation:
  • A CommandBar can contain a CommandBarPopup which needs to contain a CommandBar which is where you place CommandBarButton objects produced by Command objects.
  • A Command can exist entirely independently of anything else. They don't have to be attached to CommandBarButton objects.
  • A Command hangs around. It doesn't disappear after you close SSMS. To have it do so you need to remove it in the OnDisconnection of the IDTExtensibility2 interface.


Thursday 10 September 2015

Uri.TryCreate C# (Part 2)

It occurred to the other other day that the .NET core is now open-source so I can actually go see the code involved in the Uri.TryCreate method.

It transpires that Uri is a partial class and the meat of the functionality is split over the two following files:

The first thing that stuck me was there's an awful lot of code involved with attempting to create a Uri.

The TryCreate static methods which lives in the UriExt.cs class are deceptively simple. The TryCreate overload I'm interested in is the most simple of those - it really just passes the work off to a CreateHelper method which in turn passes off the work to a ParseScheme method located in the Uri.cs class.

ParseScheme appears to do some basic length checking before deferring to ParseSchemeCheckImplicitFile, which is where the main body of work seems to take place. As far as I can glean the following rules are being observed:
  1. Whitespaces at the start are ignored
  2. A url is valid if it is at least 2 characters, as long as the first of which is not a number, followed by a colon - unless those letters are a scheme you'd recognise (ftp, http, https, etc) at which intuitive validation kicks in.
  3. UNC paths are valid e.g. //foo

Given these rules, the following odd strings pass as valid absolute URIs:

"        fo:o"

Maybe there are just so many esoteric schemes out there that robust validation is not viable.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Licences & Additional Build Agents in TeamCity

We use a combination of TeamCity and Octopus Deploy to automate our deployment and release process at work. We’ve been using the Professional Server Licence (free version) of TeamCity which allows for 20 build configurations (each configuration delineates one logical group of actions. e.g. pull code; build it; run unit tests) and 3 build agents (in our case Windows services which execute build configurations).

We recently bumped up against the 20 configuration limit and the boss dusted off the credit card to purchase a Build Agent Licence (£236 for 10 additional build steps and one additional build agent, at the time of writing). I dutifully entered in the licence key and fairly quickly learned a few things:

  1. What you purchase are build agent slots not build agents.
  2. You need to install build agents into your available build agent slots
  3. The person who set-up our TeamCity build server originally had only installed on build agent (probably due to #4)
  4. Precautions need to be taken when switching from a single build agent to multiple agents

Prior to purchasing the upgrade licence we had only one build agent installed (I assumed that was our limit on the free license) and I expected, rather naively as it turns out, to see another build agent appear when I entered the licence key. What you need to do, in fact, is install additional build agents into your free build agents slots. This is made a little more complicated by the fact you can’t just straightforwardly use the build agent installer (on Windows at least) to install more build agents; each build agent needs some tweaks to be made to its installation configuration files halfway through the installation. It feel like TeamCity have missed a trick here and could make customers’ lives easier by bundling up these config changes as part of the installer.

Excellent article detailing the process here: