Using GenFu to fill your database with dummy data

When you deliver a training or present a session or even start a new project, you want some test data pre-filled in your application instead of having to start with a fresh empty database.

Sometimes you don’t even need a database, you just want to display a list of customers in a grid to show your audience something, so, lets assume you have a Customer class that has the following definition

public class Customer
        public int Id { get; set; }
        public string FirstName { get; set; }
        public string LastName { get; set; }
        public string Genger { get; set; }
        public string PhoneNumber { get; set; }
        public string Address { get; set; }
        public DateTime BirthDate { get; set; }

You would normally do the following in your code:

 public ActionResult Index()
            var listOfCustomers = new List<Customer>();

            listOfCustomers.Add(new Customer { Id = 1, FirstName = "John", LastName = "Smith", Address = "Someaddress", BirthDate = DateTime.Now.Subtract(TimeSpan.FromDays(9000)) });
            listOfCustomers.Add(new Customer { Id = 1, FirstName = "Mark", LastName = "Johnson", Address = "Someaddress", BirthDate = DateTime.Now.Subtract(TimeSpan.FromDays(9000)) });
            listOfCustomers.Add(new Customer { Id = 1, FirstName = "Jackson", LastName = "Clark", Address = "Someaddress", BirthDate = DateTime.Now.Subtract(TimeSpan.FromDays(9000)) });
            listOfCustomers.Add(new Customer { Id = 1, FirstName = "Emillia", LastName = "Smith", Address = "Someaddress", BirthDate = DateTime.Now.Subtract(TimeSpan.FromDays(9000)) });

            return View(listOfCustomers);

And the results would be:

list of customers

Seems good but not very satisfying and requires a lot of work specially if you want to show a lot of records to have paging for example.

GenFu is a very exciting library that can save you all this time, it uses code to generate real-time person information including names, address, birth date  and a lot more.

To use GenFu, all you have to do is to install its package using NuGet package manager, so  from VS, select tools -> NuGet Package Manager -> Package Manager Console and type the following command

install-package GenFu

Then replace the code written above to create list of customers with the following code:

  public ActionResult Index()
            var listOfCustomers = A.ListOf<Customer>(20);

            return View(listOfCustomers);

With just one line of code, it will create a 20 records with real data, and the results will be like this:

list of customers with genfu.PNG


To use GenFu to pre fill your database with some records, you can add the same line of code inside the Seed method in your Migration class, just like below

 internal sealed class Configuration : DbMigrationsConfiguration<GenFuDemo.Models.CustomersContext>
        public Configuration()
            AutomaticMigrationsEnabled = false;

        protected override void Seed(GenFuDemo.Models.CustomersContext context)
            context.Customers.AddOrUpdate(c => c.FirstName, A.ListOf<Customer>(20).ToArray());

This method will run when you run the update-database command and the data will be inserted into the Customer table

To read more about GenFu, you can visit its GitHub repository, it offers more features like customizing the way it generates or giving hints about some properties that it may not understand, for ex: if you have a property named NightNumber, which is a phone number, in this case you can instruct GenFu using its Fluent APIs to generate phone numbers for the property NightNumber


Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 5 – Views

This is the sixth part of building line of business application using MVC 5, you can read the previous parts through the following links

  1. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 0
  2. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 1
  3. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 2 – Models and Generic Repository
  4. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 3 – EntityFramework
  5. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 4 – Controllers, Routes and Areas

In the previous part, we introduced controllers, routes and areas and we created the needed controllers and areas.

In this part, we will introduce views, so by the end of this post, we will finally have something that we can see.

What are Views?

We talked about the M and C, so we have the V from MVC remaining, in web forms, we mainly have the logic and view in one place (aspx), but in MVC, the presentation of the your data is the responsibility of the View, your controller intercept the request, call the business logic, and select how it wants to display the data.

You can display it as a text, Image, Chart, HTML or a downloadable file, in web forms you would have to create a separate web form for each view, but in MVC, you only have to duplicate the view part.

So, for now, lets just say that Views are this pieces that we see the system through it, it used to display the  information passed to it from the controller to the users and capture information from the users and forward it to the controller for updates

What is View Engine?

When MVC was released, the views were aspx pages and you had to write these annoying opening and closing tags from web forms era, but later you had the option to either use web forms rendering or the new views engine called Razor.

Razor is much more clean way of writing your views, basically it is all HTML unless you started with @ symbol, this is where the compiler assumes that you want to have a server side code

The View Engine is responsible for translating the written code either in aspx or Razor syntax and produce the final HTML, you can access the list of installed view engines by calling the  ViewEngines.Engines property, you can also add a new custom engine to this list by implementing the interface IViewEngine.

As you can see below, MVC 5 is shipped with 2 view engines

  1. WebFormViewEngine which renders the ASPX pages into HTML
  2. RazorViewEngine which renders the .cshtml files used in razor to HTML

view engines.PNG

When you expand the RazorViewEngine, you will see the following:

razor view engine details.PNG

As you can see above and as we stated in previous posts, MVC uses conventions over configuration, so by default the controller action will search for a view with the same action name inside a folder with the same controller name without the word Controller inside the Views folder, you can change these conventions by editing the corresponding property in the view engine and make sure to add this code in the Global.asax to make sure it is executed first thing when the application starts.

Layout Page (Master Page)

MVC has the same concept of Master page in web forms, only it is called Layout page here, by default the layout is set for any view unless you set the property Layout to null as below

layout null

if you didn’t do that, then the view will inherit the default Layout which is by convention again resides in Views\Shared\_Layout.cshtml

You can have more than one layout in your project, and you can set the layout for the view by setting the Layout property to the custom layout path, ex:

Layout = "~/Views/Shared/_CustomLayoutPage.cshtml";

Razor Syntax

Razor syntax is very similar to normal HTML unless when it starts with @ symbol, to have more details about it, please read more from microsoft site Razor Syntax

Passing data from Controllers to views

Since the view will be displaying data to the end users, we nee to pass this data from the controllers into the view, this happens in 2 ways

Strongly Typed Views

With strongly typed views, the view knows what is the data type of the model and you can reference the properties of the model inside your view code by using the Model property, visual studio supports  intellisense for this.

you can set the model type for the view by adding the following lines at the begenning of the view

@model AppointmentManager.Web.Models.AddPhoneNumberViewModel

To see it in action, you can open the file \Views\Manage\AddPhoneNumber.cshtml and examine the code

You can pass the data from your action to the view by adding the model object into the View method as below, if you used View() without any value and tried to access the Model  object inside the view, it will throw a null exception

pass model to view.PNG

Weakly Typed Views

In this type, you don’t specify the type of the model, you just pass the data you need to the view using 3 predefined properties:

  1. ViewBag, this is a dynamic object, so you can simply write ViewBag.Message = “Hello” in your action and in the view you can read it by adding @ViewBag.Message, the ViewBag variables are available only for the current view, so if you have an action called Index and you set a message variable inside it, you can access it only in the Index view, if you navigated to another action, then you can’t access it from there
  2. ViewData, this is the same as the ViewBag except it is a dictionay, so to add a key to it from your controller you either use ViewData.Add(“Key”,”Value”), or you can simply write ViewData[“Key”]=”value” and in your view just write @ViewData[“Key”]
  3. TempData, this is the same as teh ViewBag except that its lifecycle is a little bit longer, you can access it from the next action, so if you set the value of a variable called Message in your Create action that is called when the user post a form then you redirected to the Index action, you can then call teh Message variable from the Index action, this can be used to show a confirmation message when the user is redirected fom a page to another, note that after the redirection, the variable will be lost, so you can’t use it again.

Create Views

To create a view, you can go select the folder inside the Views folder where you want to add your view, right click and select Add -> View

Or you can go to your controller, put the cursor inside the action that you wants to generate view for it, and right click then select Add View.

Lets do that together.

Expand Areas, then Admin, right click Controllers and add an Empty Controller named ServiceTypes, this will be used to administer service types.

Add a project reference to the following projects inside the web project

  1. AppointmentManager.Models
  2. AppointmentManager.Repository
  3. AppointmentManager.Repository.EntityFramework

Right Click inside the Index action and choose Add View, leave the view name as is to avoid writing the name explicitly inside the action, choose the template as List, this will create a listing page, you can find the rest of templates for CRUD operations, select the model class that VS will use to generate the view using scaffolding technique, you can choose the Layout page then click Add

create view
Once done, the generated view file will be opened in VS and you can inspect the code, the first thing you will notice is the word @Html is mentioned a lot

HTML Helpers

If you have a form that accepts a username and password, you can write it as below

<input type="text" name="username" id="username" value="" />
<input type="password" name="password" id="password" value="" />

And if the model property was changed then you have to revist your HTML and update it to be the same as your model, also this is a lot of code to be written, so MVC offrers HTML helpers to save your time, the above code can be replaced by:

 @Html.TextBoxFor(m => m.Email)
 @Html.LabelFor(m => m.Password)

The above code will generate the same code and you can add more properties like css classes and other attributes.

To read more about HTML helpers and how you can create your own helpers, please visit this link


Model Binding

Now, the user browsed to your application, clicked register, and he is redirected now to the /Account/Register which means the account controller and register action, we have a register view which draws some input fields to capture the user information, the user adds the required information and clicked Submit.

In web forms, we used to do a lot of person.Name = txtName.Text

But in MVC, we don’t have to do that as MVC does it for us using something called Model Binding

When your action accepts a parameter and the user submit an request to this action, MVC automatically create an instance of this object and start to fill its properties from the request body, query string, route values, all these sources called Value Providers, you can add a custom value provider by going through the following post

MVC fill the object properties with request parameters that has the same name, so, if you have a class called Customer, and inside it you have FirstName and LastName, then MVC inspect the request for a query string or form values with the same names.

If the default model binder doesn’t meet your expectations, you can create your own, to read more please see MVC Model Binders


Remember when we added a view and chose the template type as List and the model type as ServiceType and suddenly we have a listing screen? this is called Scaffolding and it happens using T4 Templates that visual studio runs.

To customize these templates, you have to do the following:

  1. Open C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Common7\IDE\Extensions\Microsoft\Web\Mvc\Scaffolding\Templates
  2. Create a folder called CodeTemplates in the web project root directory
  3. Copy the template you want into this folder and customize it, ex: MvcControllerEmpty, open it and customize it the way you want.

After that, create a new item from this template by following the same normal procedure, Right Click the project file-> Add -> New

You will see the updates you made applied to the newly created file, VS is smart enough to override the template with the one in your project.

Annotations and Validations

HTML Helpers can use any annotation attributes defined for each class property and it will use it generate the correct input control and add the right validation.

Ex: When we add the Required, MaxLength and Display attribute to the Name property inside the Country class, it will generate an extra validation for the textbox generated in the view, it will make the field required and has a max length of 50 charactres, it will also change the label from Name to Country Name


Not only this, but it will also impact the EntityFramework code first, when you run the application, EF will compare the model with the database and finds that the Name property has been changed and ti will ask you to add another migration in order to mark the Name column as Required and has a max length of 50

The same will apply when the ViewState.IsValid property is called in the Controller Action, this will make your validation consistent from the UI layer up to the data access layer.

Imagine if you followed the first way of adding just plain HTML code like the example above, you would have to add all the validation yourself, but now HTML helpers removed all this burden

You can now go ahead and generate views and add annotations for all the entities and controllers, if you have any questions, please leave a commant


You can get the full source code from GitHub Repository

Azure Services and Components

In the previous post What is Microsoft Azure? we introduced azure and cloud computing in general, we also explained how can we signup for an account using either the free trial or MS Dev Essentials.

In this post, I will explain the different parts and services in Azure.

How are services grouped in Azure?

Azure has different services for different needs, it can be organized in many ways as below


  1. Compute
  2. Storage
  3. Networking
  4. Integration


  1. Application
  2. Data
  3. Integration

We can also divide it according to the consumption model (IAAS, PAAS, or SAAS), but we will stick to the above categorization for now

In this post, we will only explain the services part


This category has many wonderful services, like Virtual machines, Cloud Services which is a type of a virtual machine but more manageable by Azure and it has 2 types, web role used to host web sites and a worker role to host other code that runs on any windows machine.

Compute also has App service which as a developer you will be always using it as it offers everything you can wish for, starting from databases to DevOps, App Service has the following features

  1. Web App, similar to cloud service but it is more PAAS and lightweight, the same web app can be used to host both a web application and a timer job using Web Jobs, note that it has been always called Azure web sites, so if you heard that name, don’t be confused, it is the same
  2. Mobile App, as the name implies, it is a backend as a service for your mobile application, it offers a lot of features like a storage for your data, authentication, offline sync and push notification, it has also been known by Azure Mobile Services for long time
  3. Logic App, used to build a workflow applications to handle different business logic scenarios, ex: receive a message, post an order to the inventory service, sends an email, assign a task to shipping employee …, the logic app is based on BizTalk services which is an online version from BizTalk server
  4. API App, used to host REST APIs with a lot of features like throttling, payment for usage, reports …


This is one of the most important services in Azure and without it, you can nearly do nothing, this is used for storing anything starting from simple files, VM VHD files to databases.

Storage is divided into storage accounts, each account can hold upto 500 TB, with some limits on the number of operations per second, to know more about Azure services limits you can read more from this link

You can create more than one account and use it for different services, ex: you can have an account for your databases and another for virtual machines , but you have to take care of the limits to avoid any issues


Azure enables you to create VPN  just like on-premise and only virtual machines, web apps or any other services joined to the VPN can see each other, not only this, but you can join the VPN to on-premise VPN in any of the following ways

  1. Site to Site: this will join a whole VPN on-premise to Azure VPN, think of it as if you are expanding your datacenter
  2. Point to Site: this will join a single machine on-premise to Azure VPN


This feature allows you to integrate applications deployed on Azure with other applications running on-premise or even on Azure using BizTalk services.


There are a lot of other services like Azure Active Directory, SQL Database, DocumentDB, Search, I will write about these services in next post, then I will start a series where we will build an application and utilize most of azure services in one place.


If you have any suggestions about it, please leave a comment.


Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 4 – Controllers, Routes and Areas

This is the fifth part of building line of business application using MVC 5, you can read the previous parts through the following links

  1. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 0
  2. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 1
  3. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 2 – Models and Generic Repository
  4. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 3 – EntityFramework

In the previous part, we introduced EntityFramework code first migration and created the generic repository using EF, then we applied the migration to create a database and ran some unit tests to make sure our Repository layer is working fine.

In this part, we will introduce Controllers, routes and areas

MVC Controllers

The “C” in MVC, if you recall some design patters, you may heard of the Front Controller pattern, this is basically the guy at the front door who receives the request, validate it, call whatever services for you and later forward you to the suitable view.

To understand how controllers work and how the URL you type in the browser is mapped to a piece of code, lets see how the MVC application life-cycle works, but take into consideration that MVC is based on the same System.Web used in Web Forms, so they share some life cycle events

  1. A request is received by the IIS Server and forwarded to an MVC handler, this is a normal HTTP handler
  2. MVC handler gets the request and invokes the routing API which we will explain later and it examines the route table to see which controller and action should handles the request
  3. The MVC handlers creates the controller using the method CreateController from the interface IControllerFactory, the default implementation for this interface is DefaultControllerFactory, it simply create a new instance from the controller class, if your controller constructor doesn’t have parameter-less constructor, this method will fail and throw and exception, later when we see dependency injection, we will see how to override the default controller factory by calling ControllerBuilder.Current.SetDefaultControllerFactory in Application_Start in Global.asax.cs
  4.  Invoke authentication filters, we will read more about filters and authentication in future posts
  5. Bind query string parameters, form values and route values to the action method parameters using the default model binder, we will see later how to build custom model binders
  6. Invoke the action and action filters
  7. Execute the results(View, Content, Empty, JSON, File) and any result filters
  8. Send the response to the user

You can read more about the MVC Application Life-Cycle here

Convention over Configuration

You can think of a controller as a way to group a module features together in one place, for ex: a CustomerController will have all the code related to Customers like Browse Services, view service details ..

By Default MVC 5 works with the convention over configuration model, it means you will not find a code that maps the exact URL to the exact controller name and action, nor you will find a config that tells how to relate the action name with the view page, this is all following a specific convention.

  1. URL mapping to controllers and actions is configured using routing template
  2. Every controller in the controllers folder will have a folder inside the Views folder with the same name without “Controller” word
  3. Every action inside  controller will have  a view inside the Views\controller folder with the action name unless you specified another view name explicitly

Now, lets create some controllers that will be used in out Appointment Manager application

  1. In the AppointmentManager.Web project, right click the Controllers folder and choose Add -> Controlleradd controller.PNG
  2. You have 3 options, either an empty controller which is self explanatory , with read/write actions which is created with some get, post, delete and put methods, and the last one is used when you have an entity framework context inside your web project which is not recommended, this option created a CRUD controller for the selected entity, ex: if you selected our DB Context and choose the entity as Appointment, then it will generate CRUD for the appointment class, in our case, we will choose Empty
  3. Enter the name as “Customers” and Click Add, this will create an empty controller with a single action called Index

If you have a look at the Index action, you will find it has some few properties

 public ActionResult Index()
            return View();
  1. The method is public
  2. The return type is ActionResult or anything that inherits from IActionResult
  3. It used a helper method called View to return an object that inhers from ActionResult , there are many other help functions like File(), Json(), Empty()

By default the action has no view, and if you run the application now and navigated to http://localhost:16106/Customers/, you will have the following screen, your application may be running on a different port

view not found.PNG

This is the convention over configuration part, it tried to find a view with the name Index which is the action name in the path View/Customers and Views/Shared, and since we didn’t specify a view name in the return View() method, then it fails.

To create a view, you can either go to related view folder for your controller and create a view with the same name as the action using Right Click, Add new item, and Select view.

or you can just right click in the action method and choose “Add View”

Now, Lets create the needed controllers along with its actions and views

  1. Customers
    1. Services
    2. Providers
    3. ProviderDetails
    4. BookAppointment
    5. Calendar
  2. ServiceProviders
    1. Calendar
    2. AppointmentDetails
    3. ManageServices
    4. AvailableTime

Create empty view for each action, after you are done, your views folder should be the same as below, you can of course change the name as you like, and you can now navigate to each path and make sure it opens without errors, the path should be controller name/action name, ex: Customers/Calendar



When we opened the URL http://localhost:16106/Customers, it automatically knew that URL should be handled by the Customes controller, the Index method, this is configured in the file App_Start\RouteConfig.cs

This is the content of the file:

 public class RouteConfig
        public static void RegisterRoutes(RouteCollection routes)

                name: "Default",
                url: "{controller}/{action}/{id}",
                defaults: new { controller = "Home", action = "Index", id = UrlParameter.Optional }

the most important line is the one that defines the “Default” route, you can find the url property that has the value “{controller}/{action}/{id}”, and the line below it, it specifies default values from these placeholders, in this case if the URL was http://localhost:16106/ without anything else, this means the controller will be HomeController, and if you specify  the controller but no action, like the case in http://localhost:16106/Customers, then, the action will have the default value “Index” which why the Index action is called when we didn’t specify it.

You can add as many routes as you want, but make sure to make the most specific at the top, think of it like exception handing, if you put a try and catch and inside the catch you put the root Exception class, then any other catches will not be called as the Exception class will map to all exceptions.


                name: "Default",
                url: "{controller}/{action}/{id}",
                defaults: new { controller = "Home", action = "Index", id = UrlParameter.Optional }

               name: "Calendar",
               url: "Calendar",
               defaults: new { controller = "Customers", action = "Calendar", id = UrlParameter.Optional }

In this case, the calendar route will never get a chance to fire, because the path: /calendar will be alreayd cought by the default route and the controller will be mapped to Calendar and you will find an exception that it can’t find any controller with the name Calendar, so you have to put the calendar route before the default route

There is also Attribute based routeing, where you simply put an attriibute before the action name or controller name like the below

        public ActionResult Services()
            return View();

You can read more about attribute based route here on site 


You noticed that we didn’t add a controller for the admin side, but in the admin case, we will have many controllers, ex: Services, ServiceCategories, Users …

It will be like a sub project, how can we isolate it from the rest of the project?

The answer is MVC Areas, it helps us to isolate business domains in a separate folder that can be handled by separate teams, in an eCommerce scenario, we would have an area for Shopping cart, another for inventory management, and another one for shipping

To create an area, right click the project itself and choose Add => Area and type Admin as the area name and click Add, you will have a new folder called Areas and inside it you will have the folder Admin and just inside this folder you will have the same project structure


create the following controllers inside the Admin area, to do that, follow the same instructions that we used to create the customers  and service providers controllers but this time select the controllers folder inside the admin area

  1. Services
  2. ServiceCategories
  3. Users
  4. Reports


So far, we created the needed controllers, routes, and views, in the next post, we will start working on the views and add some UI that makes the application life.


You can get the full source code from GitHub Repository

SharePoint 2013 Search not working for anonymous users

We had a public site that has a lot of Content Search web parts, everything was working fine but suddenly search web parts stopped working only for anonymous users and was working fine for logged in users.

After some Googling and full crawling, I managed to get it working using the following PowerShell Script, I had run it for every list and library that search read data from


#Add-PSSnapin microsoft.sharepoint.powershell
 $web = get-spweb "http://your server"
$list = $web.Lists["List Title"]

$list.AnonymousPermMask = $list.AnonymousPermMask -bor ([int][Microsoft.SharePoint.SPBasePermissions]::ViewFormPages) #binary or adding the permissions




Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 3 – EntityFramework

This is the fourth part of building line of business application using MVC 5, you can read the previous parts through the following links

  1. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 0
  2. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 1
  3. Building a LOB application with MVC 5 – Part 2 – Models and Generic Repository

In the previous part, we created all the model objects, a Generic repository interface and a generic service layer interface with its implementation.

In this part, we will build the generic repository implementation using EntityFramework 6, and before we proceed, I will introduce EntityFramework first.

What is EntityFramework?

EntityFramework is Microsoft’s Object Relational Mapper (ORM) framework, it is used to map objects to database tables and vice versa, it uses mapping file or metadata to generate a dynamic SQL at run time.

This is a different model than the one we used to do, which basically depend on Stored Procedures and code generation tools to save time, there is a debate regarding performance of dynamic SQL against compiled stored procedures, but in my point of view, this is not a major concern now and you can utilize caching to overcome the difference, besides, with EntityFramework you can still utilize Stored Procedures for important operations that may need special performance needs.

EntityFramework Usage Models

EntityFramework can be used in 3 ways

  1. Database First: Start with the database, and use it to generate code, this model should not be used for new projects, it is not flexible as you can’t edit the generated code directly but through a partial classes and all the mapping exist in a single file which make it hard to share between team members if more than one wants to apply changes at the same time.
  2. Model First: Start with a model and design the entities, attributes and its relationships, use this model to generate both the classes and database, once this happened for the first time, it will be the same as Database First
  3. Code First: Start with a pure classes and then use something called Migration to generate the database, this model is the recommended way to go and EF 7 has no database first model, it is all about Code First now, with Code First, you can have snapshots of your code and database, and you can rollback at any point to any previous version.

Build the Generic Repository

To start generating our generic Repository implementation, we will add the EntityFramework package to the AppointmentManager.Repository.EntityFramework project as this will be our repository project.

In order to do that, we will use NuGet which is a package manager for .Net, we use it to install, uninstall and update packages instead of referencing DLL files directly from a shared folder, the package can be a simple DLL or code file, JavaScript, special configuration or entries in web.config

To install the package, Click Tools -> NuGet Package Manager -> Package Manager Console

Make sure “AppointmentManager.Repository.EntityFramework” is selected in the default project drop down list, then type the following command and press enter

install-package EntityFramework
NuGet EntityFramework

In the project  “AppointmentManager.Repository.EntityFramework”, do the following:

  1. Add Reference to “AppointmentManager.Repository”  and “AppointmentManager.Models”
  2. Add a new class named EFRepository
public class EFRepository<T, K> : IRepository<T, K> where T : class
        private DbContext _context;
        private DbSet<T> _entitySet;

        public EFRepository(DbContext context)
            if (context == null)
                throw new ArgumentNullException(nameof(context));

            this._context = context;
            _entitySet = _context.Set<T>();

        public T Add(T item)
            return item;

        public bool Delete(T item)
            return true;

        public bool DeleteByID(K id)
            var item = _entitySet.Find(id);
            return true;

        public T GetByID(K id)
            return _entitySet.Find(id);

        public IQueryable<T> GetAll()
            return _entitySet;

        public IQueryable<T> GetAll(Expression<Func<T, K>> orderBy)
            return _entitySet.OrderBy(orderBy);

        public IQueryable<T> GetAll(int pageIndex, int pageSize)
            return _entitySet.Skip((pageIndex - 1) * pageSize).Take(pageSize);

        public IQueryable<T> GetAll(int pageIndex, int pageSize, Expression<Func<T, K>> orderBy)
            return _entitySet.Skip((pageIndex - 1) * pageSize).Take(pageSize).OrderBy(orderBy);

        public IQueryable<T> Find(Expression<Func<T, bool>> predicate)
            return _entitySet.Where(predicate);

        public IQueryable<T> Find(Expression<Func<T, bool>> predicate, int pageIndex, int pageSize, Expression<Func<T, K>> orderBy)
            return _entitySet.Where(predicate).Skip((pageIndex - 1) * pageSize).Take(pageSize).OrderBy(orderBy);

        public bool Update(T item)
            return true;

Build the project and make sure it compiles successfully

Add a new class called AppointmentManagerContext, this class is needed only for the migration to work, we will not be using it as the EFRepository class is using the base DbContext class, you can still change it and add properties of type DbSet<T> for each entity in the application, this will be helpful specially if you want to do some joins between different entities.

 public class AppointmentManagerContext : DbContext
        protected override void OnModelCreating(DbModelBuilder modelBuilder)
             .Map<Customer>(m =>
             ).Map<ServiceProvider>(m =>

            modelBuilder.Entity<ServiceProviderReview>().HasRequired<Appointment>(a => a.Appointment);


After that, we need to generate our database using Code First Migration, open the Package manager console and type the following command, make sure the project AppointmentManager.Repository.EntityFramework is selected


You may encounter an issue regarding the TimeSlot class that it has no key defined, just add an integer property called ID to this class and rerun the command again
Then run the following command to add the first migration which will compare the model classes to the database and add code to generate the database, later when we add new classes or properties, we will run the command again which will add another migration that will generate code to add the new properties to the database.

Add-Migration -Name Initial

After running the command, you will notice that a new class named Initial_[time].cs, where [time] is the date time for the time the file was generated


Before we proceed, I would like to explain the content for the method OnModelCreating:

Since we have all classes inheriting from the BusinessEntity class, and we have the Customer and ServiceProvider classes inherit from the User class, we must tell EntityFramework how it will generate tables for these classes.

By default, EntityFramework will generate a new class for each entity with its properties including these properties of the parent class which is fine in the BusinessEntity class as we want all common properties like ID and CreationDate to exist in all tables.

But for the Customer and ServiceProvider classes, we need a table per hierarchy, both classes must be mapped to a single table called Users, to do that, we added the code at line 5 where we tell EF to map the User class to another 2 sub-classes and for each one we told it to use the same table name “Users”, this way EF will combine the properties of the 3 classes and add it to one table.

There are another 2 types of inheritance, table per type (TPT), in our case, it would have been 3 tables (User, ServiceProvider and Customer), The third option is table per class (TPC) which will generate only 2 tables (ServiceProvider and Cutomer) and each table will have the properties in the parent User class.

So far, we still don’t have our database created, and to do that, we will have to run this command in the package manager console


After you do, you will have the following error

Introducing FOREIGN KEY constraint 'FK_dbo.Appointments_dbo.Users_ServiceProviderID' on table 'Appointments' may cause cycles or multiple cascade paths. Specify ON DELETE NO ACTION or ON UPDATE NO ACTION, or modify other FOREIGN KEY constraints.
Could not create constraint or index. See previous errors.

This is the time we will have to change the generated migration Initial file manually to override the cascade action.

Open the intiial file, in line 70 and line 148, change cacadeDelete to false and run the update-database command again

Now we have our backend ready, and the database is created, but we didn’t specify any connection strings, so where has been the database created? by default there is a connection string named DefaultConnection and it reference the localdb database, so open management studio and connect to server (localdb)\mssqllocaldb

you should find the database created with the name of the context class, if you want to override that, you can add a connection string named Defaultconnection in the project configuration file with the database name and server you want and then run the update-database command again.



Lets make sure now our backend is working fine, create a new unit test project and name it “AppointmentManager.Repository.EntityFramework.Test”

Add reference to the following projects:

  1. AppointmentManager.Repository.EntityFramework
  2. AppointmentManager.Repository
  3. AppointmentManager.Models

Rename the default file “UnitTest1” to GenericRepositoryTest

Rename the default method to TestInsertion and put the following code

    public class GenericRepositoryTest
        public void TestInsertion()
            var context = new AppointmentManagerContext();
            IRepository<ServiceType, int> serviceRepository = new EFRepository<ServiceType, int>(context);

            var serviceType = new ServiceType()
                CreatedBy = "admin",
                CreationDate = DateTime.Now,
                LastModificationDate = DateTime.Now,
                Name = "Test service"

            serviceType = serviceRepository.Add(serviceType);

            Assert.AreNotEqual(serviceType.ID, 0);

            serviceType = serviceRepository.GetByID(serviceType.ID);

            serviceType = serviceRepository.GetByID(serviceType.ID);

Right click the method in VS and choose Run Tets and make sure the test succeeds, you can double check by putting a break point before the line that deletes the serviceType object and check the database and ensure the record is there

By this, we have a read repository that we can use to manage our data, in the next part we will start building the UI.


You can get the full source code from GitHub Repository

What is Microsoft Azure?

During the Colleague, I remember people were talking about renting the schools’ servers during the summer as there was nothing to do with it while there is no study, so why not to make some money from those people who don’t want to purchase new hardware to get their application working quickly.

Later, there were those vendors who give you a free or paid site that you can upload your files and program to it and manage it through a control panel, some times it was provided with a database engine like MySQL, sometimes not.

Nowadays, it is all about Cloud, and before we talk about Azure, lets first see what is cloud:

What is Cloud?

According to searchcloudcomputing, cloud is

Cloud computing enables companies to consume compute resources as a utility — just like electricity — rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in-house.

Think of it with a real life example, people can buy a car or a home, and pay hundreds of thousands and maybe millions to purchase their dream home, they will be responsible to maintain it and fix any issues that may happen to it.

Others may just rent the home and start quickly and save their selves a great deal of money and time, still they will have to maintain the home, clean it and fix or pay for any damages.

Some other people would simply rent a room inside a hotel and enjoy their  time, have a nice room service and a good breakfast, pay for only the nights they spent and if they didn’t like it, they can always move somewhere else.

The same Idea applies for software, You can either buy your own hardware and Software to build your own data center, or you can just consume it from somewhere else, this consumption model comes in 3 forms as explained below:

Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS)

In the OnPremise model, you can notice that you manage everything, starting from the server rooms, Hardware, electricity, A/C, Storage and everything including the persons who maintain and support it.

Imaging the time needed to purchase the hardware, preparation and OS installations, batching…, all of these activities can take months to start not to mention how much it will take to finish

In real life, this is a guy who pay a lot of money to a buy a new car, he will search for a new model, think about resale price, maintenance fees, running costs, and insurance cost.

Instead, you can just contact a cloud vendor, ask them to rent a 5 or 10 virtual machines and it can be ready in few ours for you to use in your application.

In this model, you only manage the OS updates and your application + Data, you don’t have to worry about the hardware, networking or Storage.

You will not install the OS, you will just install the software you need, ex: SQL Server, IIS, Domain Controllers …

In real life, This is a guy who went to a car agency, rent a car, pay the rent and take it for a ride, he still has to put pay for Gas, wash and some other few things, but not as much as if it was his.

Platform as a Service (PAAS)

If you see that managing the virtual machines will be time consuming and hard to do, then you can go for the PAAS model, where you will be managing only your application and data.

You will need to just deploy your application, think of it as if you have a remote connection to a virtual directory on IIS where you can upload your site, and a connection to a SQL server where you can run the database scripts, you don’t have to worry about the SQL Cluster or backup, windows updates or anything else, the vendor will manage all of that for you, you just need to take care of your application.

in real life, this is a guy who rented a car with a driver, he still pay but he is doing less work now and he can focus on his own stuff instead of driving himself

Software as a Service (SAAS)

The final model is when you are not developing an application and you don’t want to do anything extra, just use the software as is with minor customization, this model is used a lot nowadays, the most used example is email service, when we need an email account, we open Hotmail, yahoo or GMail and register for a new account and start to use instantly, everyone use it as if the software was designed for him and no one can see the data for others, we never cared about where the data is stored or who is running what, we just open our browser or use a mobile application to send and receive emails.

In real life, this is a guy who simply took a taxi or Uber :). 

If you compared the 4 models (including On Premise) and the 4 real life cases, you will find the difference is mainly about:

  1. Speed: the time to start and get the environment ready is much less when you move from OnPremise -> IAAS -> PAAS -> SAAS
  2. Cost: the cost is much less, you don’t have to pay a large amount of money in advance, you simply pay for what you use, if you didn’t like the service, you can switch to another, the other reason is: for OnPremise, you will have to purchase the needed hardware for the max number of users who will use the system even if the system will be idle most of the times, so if your application is used by 10 user most of the time but in some days it is being used by 1000, you will have to purchase a hardware that support the 1000 users, but with Cloud, you can simply get resources for the 10 users and scale for more when needed.
  3. Scalability: Most cloud vendors have automatic scalabiity depending on CPU usage, Memory consumption or any other metric, so you can set your application to add an extra virtual machine if the CPU usage exceeded 80% for more than 30 minutes and remove it if it drops under 50% for 30 minutes.
  4. Manageability:  As you can see from the image, when you move to the right, the stuff you manage is less, this gives you the opportunity to put your focus on the applications you build.

What is Azure?

Microsoft Azure which is also known as Windows Azure is Microsoft Cloud Platform, it offers a great deal of features and it is growing unbelievably fast, every week or maybe every day they add more and more features and more hardware resources, when I started learning Azure, they only had 6 data centers, today they have 19 data centers, and by a data center we are talking about a place that is larger than a football field that has millions of servers read for you to use.

What is in it for me?

Azure support all the 3 types (IAAS, PAAS and SAAS), you can use it build virtual machines, you can establish a VPN between Azure and your OnPremise servers to extend your data center, you can use Azure App Service to build web sites, Mobile back end, API and Logic Apps, You can use its data services like SQL Azure, DocumentDB or Hadoop

The post will not even be enough to list all the features in Azure today, I shall write another post that introduces most of the features that you can use to build web applications with links to help you start

How to Start?

Microsoft offers a 30 days free trial with a credit of $200, after it expires you can create a subscription and still can use a lot of features offered for free.

You will notice that many services in Azure has a FREE plan with some limited features but you can use it to practice, of course it will not be possible to use these free features for production sites, one of few examples is Azure web App , it gives you 10 free Web Apps that can be accessible over the internet, it can run, NodeJS, PHP, Java and Python.

If you don’t already have an account, go to click the Try for Free button and register.

Another way to have an account that gives you a free $25/month is through Microsoft newly introduced Dev Essentials, you just need an MS Account and then activate your benefits, if you didn’t do that already, you can do that from the below link, it also gives you a free 6 months PluralSight Subscription

Visual Studio Dev Essentials

I hope the post is helpful and if you have any comments, questions or suggestion,  please leave me a comment

In the coming posts, I will introduce Azure different services and explain how to build an application with it.