Saturday, September 19, 2009

And Three More Silverlight Complaints

Unhelpful error messages rank high on my list of complaints about Silverlight and WPF. Take this particular error message: AG_E_PARSER_BAD_TYPE. I get it pretty regularly, but this particular instance started showing up about 15 minutes ago. The location that it points to (presumably in App.xaml? – it doesn't actually say) has nothing to do with the error in question.

The error is presumably triggered by some XAML I screwed up somewhere in one of the 50+ different XAML files in my solution. I have no idea which file (I just did a big search-and-replace as part of a codebase-wide refactor). So first of all: AG_E_PARSER_BAD_TYPE? Since when does that qualify as an error message? We're not doing sockets programming here, folks. The CLR allows for an incredibly rich set of exceptions. So why the incomprehensible error message? But more to the point, why am I being pointed to the wrong location? One of the things that makes the Silverlight tools for Visual Studio feel so frustrating is that they know which file is problematic, and they know precisely what the problem is, and they refuse to tell me. Yes, I know my reaction makes Silverlight a little more anthropomorphic than necessary. But it sure as heck feels like the Microsoft tools are out to get me sometimes. (For what it's worth, after an hour of troubleshooting, I opened the solution in Blend, and for once, Blend gave me what I needed to know, and immediately highlighted the problematic file.)

My second complaint is bogus error messages, i.e., error messages when there's no error. Again, to take one example of many, in one particular form in my project, Visual Studio lists 27 different errors, all having to do with certain local controls not being found.

The assembly in question (SlideLinc.Client.dll) and the associated namespace (SlideLinc.Client) are registered correctly in the form, and indeed, the form loads and executes correctly at runtime. For once, Blend recognizes this, and doesn't raise any errors. In other words, there's no problem. But I've tried six ways from Sunday to make those errors go away in Visual Studio, and nothing has been successful. In this particular case, it's generally not that problematic – except when it comes time to track down a real error, and you have to fight your way through dozens of bogus error messages to find the right one. (It's at least a tad ironic that these bogus error messages at least show up at the right time, i.e., when the app is compiling, and are able to point me to exactly the place where they – incorrectly – think the error is occurring. In contrast, the quite real AG_E_PARSER_BAD_TYPE error that I ran into above showed up way too late, at runtime, and wouldn't even tell me which file it was occurring in. It's this kind of stuff that makes you pull your hair out – and which has cost me at least a month of troubleshooting on my current project.)

My third complaint is more specific, and has to do with the Add Service Reference feature in Visual Studio. Specifically, I run into two reoccurring, distinct, but possibly related bugs when I try to update my service references. Neither of these occurred with the March 2009 SL3 CTP, and both started showing up immediately after I upgraded to SL3 RTW.

  1. Periodically (about a third of the time), when I pull open the "Configure Service Reference" dialog box, the "ObservableCollection" option for collection types isn't available; instead, there's something listed called "(Custom)", which is apparently interpreted as "Array[]". So when it generates your proxy references, it generates any list of values as an array, rather than an ObservableCollection. This breaks all your existing code, which of course was written to expect an ObservableCollection in those instances. What usually fixes it for me is simply restarting Visual Studio. Nothing else seems to work.
  2. The second problem is that periodically the Reference.cs file fails to generate – which of course also breaks all your existing code. I ran into a tip from someone, somewhere, who recommended deselecting the option "Reuse types in specified referenced assemblies", and then select only "System.Core". When I do this, and then I update my service reference, it seems to fix this pretty reliably. Sometimes it happens anyway, at which point in time I simply change which referenced assemblies it should try to reuse, and then immediately everything works again.

On this last point, I should note that lots of other folks besides me have been running into these issues. Indeed, I don't know anybody who regularly works with Silverlight and WCF who hasn't run into them. It's also been quite well-documented on the forums. I've tried to report these bugs on the MS Connect website, but I can't figure out how: I don't seem to have that option.

I should note that the Silverlight runtime itself seems to be pretty darned stable, all things considered. I've beat the thing to death with stress tests, and haven't run across any bugs worth mentioning that weren't my own damned fault. All the real problems seem to show up in the various tools you use to build Silverlight applications.

It seems to me that there are going to be some massive improvements to the .NET platform coming with the impending .NET 4.0 / Visual Studio 2010 release. I keep hoping that the reason these bugs haven't been fixed out in the wild is that MS is working so hard to improve the quality of that upcoming release.

I can hope, can't I?

10 comments :

Anonymous said...

vendibly veneered veneerer venenate venenose venerate venereal veneries.
heritors heritrix hermaean hermetic hermitic hermitry herniate heroical.
In the event the ideal temperature of water might be obtained, selected Solar Beams will minimize tracking, up until the time.


My site: biologicalworld.com ()

Anonymous said...

A quick hunt on the internet with the keywords "panic away review",
"panic away scam", gave me dozens of pages and advertisements.


Feel free to visit my website: the panic attacks

Anonymous said...

Great goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to
and you are just too great. I really like what you
have acquired here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which you say it.
You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise.

I can not wait to read much more from you. This is
really a great web site.

Feel free to surf to my blog post: obtain instagram followers

Anonymous said...

Fiat money:Fiat money refers to money that is not backed by
reserves of another commodity. However, when you take
the steps to put your spending on a diet, you'll immediately build your savings and see yourself in a whole new light.
There are various complicated economic considerations of how much new money is minted by the central banks and introduced into the system.
arrest on a young Bitcoin website owner, exposing a deep web of drugs,
guns, prostitution, murder for hire and a ready tool for tax evasion and money laundering.


my website - how to get free bitcoins

Anonymous said...

You are so cool! I do not suppose I've read through a single thing
like that before. So good to discover another person with original thoughts
on this subject. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up.
This web site is something that's needed on the internet,
someone with a little originality!

For a wonderful answer please jump over to this amazing site - raven symone weight loss

Anonymous said...

Hmm it aрpears likе your website aate my first comment (it waѕ extremelу long) so I guess Ӏ'll just sum iit up what I wrote ɑnd say, I'm thoroughly enjߋying your blog.

I too am an asρiring bkog blogger but I'm still new to everything.

Do you have any recommendations for rookie bloog writers?
I'd certainly appreciate it.

Here iss my page ... #KM0 complete the profile surveys

Anonymous said...

For those of you who want to consume well while you diet
regime, they also supply you with a HCH excess weight loss cookbook.
HCG injections are essentially meant to cause the effect of appetite inhibition, lowering calorie intake and, most importantly,
help break down fat stores in the body, resulting in easy and
fast weight loss. There is a 54 percent chance that you will be able to detect your pregnancy
six days before you miss your period with the First Response pregnancy test.


my weblog: hcg weight loss homeopathic drops

Anonymous said...

Thus we became noobs on the water when we purchased our 1957 Sea King with a 1964 Johnson motor.
With the high temperature sensitivity of some perishable goods, it's easy to
understand why so many companies rely on vacuum insulated
panels such a Thermo - Cor to ensure the quality of their products.
Bait casting are multiplying reels, with the spool mounted above the rod.


Review my blog post; marine refrigerator reviews

Anonymous said...

You'll acomplish tҺіs wіth your personal tanning bed or visiting ɑ beauty store with tanning beds.
Jessie J աas sewlected tto crown the winner oof the Critics\' Choice prize.
s flesh coloured strapless corset drress complete
աith vammp red lips аnd pinup-girl curls.

mʏ website - Jessie J Sweet Talker Album Download

Anonymous said...

Different sites of ethanol electric fireplace basement a fireplace, you can also add a sense of subtle
but dramatic ambiance wherever you decide to paint the brick.

In this article let's take a look from a distance.
Change it on and add fire of romance to the evening.
-than your working income used to be dancers. I used a piece
of crown molding to cover the expenses. We are going to do
a bit of care and maintenance in a longer ethanol electric fireplace
basement run.

my web page :: ethanol lowes fireplace accessories