# Thursday, 22 January 2009
Yesterday I posted a bit about a dynamic survey in Silverlight, and today I wanted to start delving into a few details.  First of all, databinding to a user control…

I wanted my datagrid to show a series of radio buttons representing a “rating” from 1-5, where that rating corresponds to an enum value in C# and an integer in SQL. 


For databinding to work the way I’d want, I need to bind the one value in the source to the set of radio buttons in the target.  The easiest way I could think of (and there may be a better way I haven’t thought of) was to make the radio buttons into a user control, and expose a single value.  In the XAML for the datagrid, it looks like



        <t:Rating UserRating="{Binding Path=Answer, Mode=TwoWay}" />



The CellTemplate contains just the user control, and binds its UserRating property to the Answer property in the source.

The XAML for the UserControl is simple

<UserControl x:Class="Evaluation.Rating"


   xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml" >

    <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal">

        <RadioButton Content="Excellent (5)" x:Name="excellent" Checked="excellent_Checked"/>

        <RadioButton Content="Good" x:Name="good" Checked="good_Checked"/>

        <RadioButton Content="Neutral" x:Name="neutral" Checked="neutral_Checked"/>

        <RadioButton Content="Adequate" x:Name="adequate" Checked="adequate_Checked"/>

        <RadioButton Content="Poor (1)" x:Name="poor" Checked="poor_Checked"/>



In order to get two-way databinding notifications to work properly both ways, the UserRating property of the control is implemented as a DependencyProperty…

public ScaledAnswer UserRating


    get { return (ScaledAnswer)GetValue(UserRatingProperty); }

    set { SetValue(UserRatingProperty, value); }



// Using a DependencyProperty as the backing store for UserRating.  This enables animation, styling, binding, etc...

public static readonly DependencyProperty UserRatingProperty =

    DependencyProperty.Register("UserRating", typeof(ScaledAnswer), typeof(Rating), new PropertyMetadata(new PropertyChangedCallback(RatingChangedCallback)));

Note the callback registered for the PropertyChanged event of the dependency property.  If databinding changes the value of the dependency property, we still need to update the UI to check the right radio button.

private static void RatingChangedCallback(DependencyObject d, DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs e)


    Rating r = d as Rating;





private void updateUi(ScaledAnswer rating)


    switch (rating)


        case ScaledAnswer.Excellent:

            excellent.IsChecked = true;


        case ScaledAnswer.Good:

            good.IsChecked = true;


        case ScaledAnswer.Neutral:

            neutral.IsChecked = true;


        case ScaledAnswer.Adequate:

            adequate.IsChecked = true;


        case ScaledAnswer.Poor:

            poor.IsChecked = true;




Finally, the user control handles all the radio button “Checked” events and sets the value of the DependencyProperty to the correct value.

The UserControl provided a fairly smooth way of handling the databinding without having to implement a custom control, and could be reused in other contexts.  There’s probably a way to make it a bit more dynamic to handle more radio buttons, etc. but this worked for my particular case.

Thursday, 22 January 2009 12:54:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 21 January 2009

I needed to build a survey (a course evaluation in this case, but name-your-survey…) and I wanted to be able to add new questions and question categories to the database without having to touch my (Silverlight) survey app.  I wanted the basic layout to look like this…


It took a little experimentation, and I’m sure there are other ways to make this work, but here’s what worked for me:

The questions and categories live in the database, like so


Categories contain questions, questions have text, and what we store when the survey is complete are the answers to the questions.

In the XAML, first there is an ItemsControl to deal with the categories, so that each category will have it’s own DataGrid.  The ItemsControl has a DataTemplate that defines what each category name and data grid of questions will look like (some formatting details removed for clarity)

<ItemsControl x:Name="dgPanel" >



            <StackPanel Orientation="Vertical">

                <TextBlock Text="{Binding CategoryName}"/>

                <data:DataGrid x:Name="dgOverall" ItemsSource="{Binding Questions}">


                    <data:DataGridTextColumn Header="Question"

                   Binding="{Binding Text}" IsReadOnly="True"/>

                    <data:DataGridTemplateColumn Header="Rating">



                                <t:Rating UserRating="{Binding Path=Answer, Mode=TwoWay}" />





                                <t:Rating UserRating="{Binding Path=Answer, Mode=TwoWay}"/>











The questions come from a WCF call, and get bound in the form load

void client_GetQuestionsCompleted(object sender, GetQuestionsCompletedEventArgs e)


    dgPanel.ItemsSource = e.Result;


Each row that comes back has the category header text and a collection of questions, so that for each item in the ItemsControl, the text is bound to the header, and the questions are bound to the datagrid.  The DataGridTemplateColumn stuff above maps the Answer property of each question to a UserControl called Rating that contains the radio buttons.  Depending on which radio button gets checked, the value of the user control represents an enum value with their answer.  Because the data binding is defined as TwoWay, the user’s answers are updating in the in-memory copy of the questions, and when the user eventually hits the “Submit” button, the collection of questions (and answers) is sent back to the web service. 

Now I can add new questions to the database and have those questions show up in the survey, and previously submitted evaluations will only have answers for the questions that were present at the time the survey was submitted.  There’s still some work to do here, like setting up groups of questions so that different sets of questions could be used for different circumstances, etc, but this is a decent start.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009 10:23:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 15 January 2009

Shaun (my boss) and I are going to be doing a one-day, technically intensive Silverlight event in both Portland (2/12) and Seattle(2/10) next month.  This will be a full day (plus lunch) of in depth, 300-400 level Silverlight content.  Check out our registration site for full session abstracts and time/place details.

From the event copy…

Look past the glitzy, media rich Silverlight demos, to the reality of writing browser-hosted, business-oriented applications. Learn how to leverage your .NET expertise and see how Silverlight can provide your organization with a powerful platform for building web-delivered solutions.

Thursday, 15 January 2009 14:30:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 05 January 2009

We’ll be teaching several classes on the West side in the next few months, including C#/.NET and Practical .NET Debugging.

The C#/.NET class covers the new features in VS 2008/C# 3.0, including LINQ, automatic properties, the new initializer syntax and the var type, as well as the rest of C# and a solid foundation in .NET 3.5 including XML processing, threading, App Domains, etc. 

The Practical .NET Debugging class covers real-world debugging techniques for .NET including the VS 2008 debugger and using WinDbg on .NET code from a practical perspective.

For scheduling details or to register, see our training site.

Monday, 05 January 2009 16:18:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |