Saturday, 22 December 2012

RESTful CRUD Services

Notes from the book Rest In Practice. There's plenty more in the chapter that is not mentioned here, this is just the stuff I found useful/interesting and worth putting down.

Safe and Idempotent

  • Safe means the action carries no side effects. GET is safe.
  • Idempotent means that the outcome is the same no matter how many times you call the action. GET, PUT, & DELETE are all idempotent.

Response Codes

  • 201 Created - when the action created a request. Should respond with a Location header with the address of the new resource.
  • 204 No Content - when the action completed successfully and the client should expect no response body.
  • 400 Bad Request - when the request did not meet requirements, or provide all necessary information required to complete the action.
  • 405 Method Not Allowed - when the URI template does not support the method, irrespective of the status of the resource it represents. An Allow response header should be returned that specifies a comma separated list of methods that are permitted.
  • 409 Conflict - when the method performed on a URI is at odds with the current status of the resource. E.g, trying to PUT on a URI representing a resource that is deleted.
  • 412 Precondition Failed - when the attempted action fails an If-Match or similar header. See Conditional Request Headers below.


  • When you POST, you are asking the server to create you a resource. The response should contain a Location header with the URI of the object created.
  • PUTting on a URI instructs the server to update the entire resource with the representation supplied in the request body. i.e. to overwrite the resource entirely.
  • PATCHing is asking to overwrite a specific part of the resource, so the request body is smaller and the rest of the existing resource remains as is.

Entity Tags

An ETag response header is used to identify the version of the resource. Typically, a hash of the response body of a GET request of a resource is used as it is a shorter, unique representation of the entire state of the resource at that moment in time. A version number or date time stamp could also be used.

Conditional Request Headers

An If-Match header can be provided with a PUT request (for example) as a way of telling the server to only perform the associated action if the client is operating on the latest version of the resource. If the value of the ETag returned with a GET request is used as the If-Match header of a PUT request, we are telling the server to make sure that the current ETag of the resource matches the If-Match value the client provided before carrying out the operation.

Should the ETag not match, then the server should return a 412 Precondition Failed response code. This implies that the client should perform a GET request to obtain the latest ETag of the resource, so that the client is aware of the latest version of the resource before making changes. This tries to enforce changes being overwritten by sending change requests from an out-of-date client.

Also supported is an If-None-Match request header which should also act on the ETag value. If-Match and If-None-Match should also support Wildcard (*) character matching. Additionally, If-Modified-Since and If-Unmodified-Since since request headers are available, to be compared to the value of the Last-Modified response header. These operate on date-time values and are specific to the second.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

ClickOnce Automatic Update with Continuous Deployment


We need a task-scheduled desktop application to force update itself on start-up every time it runs, so that it always executes the latest version. There may or may not be updates available for the application. This should be part of an automated deployment process, such that the developer does not need to remember to 'bump' the version number on every release.


A console or windows forms application published as a ClickOnce application has the ability to solve this. We just need to configure the application accordingly. The other element of the solution is Continuous Deployment using Team City. This will provide the automatic versioning.

Click Once

Add the following to the .csproj file to be deployed in the first property group. The following settings worth noting:

<IsWebBootstrapper> & <BootstrapperEnabled>
Gives the application the ability to download other requirements of your application.

States that the application will run from the installed files (as opposed to downloading a new executable each time - this is not possible in this scenario as we need the task to be automated).

Tells the application where to look for installation source files. Could alternatively be CD-Rom based.

<UpdateEnabled>, <UpdateMode> & <UpdateRequired>
Needed to make sure the application will check for updates and to do so prominently on screen when updates are required.

Tells the application which version it is. This setting will be overridden in when configuring continuous deployment. 

We could run the publishing wizard at this point and install the application locally. However we need this to run on a client/target machine. This deployment aspect needs to be handled by Team City.

Team City

We will assume a Build Configuration is already in place and that the files are made available from your source control. We can then start by adding a build step to 'Publish' the project in the ClickOnce format.

Build Number configuration under General Settings
Here we are setting up the build number to comply with [major].[minor].[build].[revision] format required to apply to .net assemblies. This build number will also be used to tell the published ClickOnce application which version it is currently running.

Assembly Info Patcher Build Feature
Under Build Steps you will need to enable the Assembly Info Patcher as an Additional Build Feature. This will set the assembly version of our project (and all projects in our solution) to be the Build Number set by Team City.

Build Step 1 (Publish)
Here, the only important setting is to specify the target of the MSBuild task is to 'Publish' the project we want to deploy.

System Properties under Build Parameters
These properties tell the build to set the Application Version and the Minimum Required Version to be the same property. This is what keeps the application up-to-date. By specifying that the minimum required version is the same as the latest version, the application always stays up to date.

Also use: system.Configuration = Release

Publish Url
The remaining element of this approach is to publish the necessary installation files. In the example I have specified as an example. In reality, this url could simple be the address of a virtual directory, pointing to a folder where the all the output of the build is copied to.

Build Step 2 (Copy files to Publish Path)
Therefore, the last step of the Team City build process is to copy the output to the directory our Publish Url is serving. The output required is found in the app.publish folder of our bin directory. 


You should now be able install your application. This is done by accessing the setup.exe generated by the Publish build step. Hit and you should be greeted with a download dialog. After continuing with the install the application will run immediately and you should be left with a start menu entry under the publisher name you specified.


Trigger a new build of the build configuration in Team City. This will increment your build number and re-deploy the application to the publish path. Wait for the build to complete and open your application from the start menu again. It should now attempt to update itself.


This is easily achived with windows task scheduler. You will just need to point to the 
.application file in your start menu.