Consuming external Web Services in VS .NET

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Consuming external Web Services
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Just like a reference to a local Web Service, this action provides you with a clientside proxy to the bridge file. The call to perform a search can now be executed as easily as a call to a local service:
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AspNetAjaxInAction.FlickrSearch.Search({tags:"Microsoft"}, onSearchComplete, onSearchFailed);
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The first parameter of the call takes a collection of input parameters. In the .asbx file, you hard-coded all the parameters except one: tags. The next set of parameters follows the familiar pattern of making network calls callback functions for success and failure, and the optional user-context parameter. From the perspective of the client-side code, nothing has changed. But this time, the information returned isn t as friendly. This brings us to another feature of bridges: the ability to transform the data coming back into something more usable or presentable. Transforming the bridge response The bridge file supports the ability to transform or convert the response from the service before it reaches the caller. A few built-in transformers make this possible, including one that maps elements and tags in the response to an object. Listing 5.20 illustrates how adding a transformer to the bridge file can alter the response you get in the browser from XML to an object that s friendlier and easier to work with.
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Listing 5.20 XPathBridgeTransformer, which lets you query the response to an object
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< xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" > <bridge namespace="AspNetAjaxInAction" className="FlickrSearch"> ... <transforms> XPathBridgeTransformer <transform type="Microsoft.Web.Preview.Services.XPathBridgeTransformer"> <data> <attribute name="selector" value="/rsp/photos/photo" /> Map to <dictionary name="selectedNodes"> photos <item name="ID" value="@id" /> <item name="Owner" value="@owner" /> <item name="Secret" value="@secret" /> <item name="ServerID" value="@server" /> Map nodes <item name="FarmID" value="@farm" /> to properties <item name="Title" value="@title" /> <item name="Tags" value="@tags" /> </dictionary>
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Making asynchronous network calls
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</data> </transform> </transforms> </method> </bridge>
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You use the B XPathBridgeTransformer to query the results and build a custom object. Another transformer that is available is the XsltBridgeTransformer, which lets you apply an XSLT style sheet to the response. Using C XPath queries, you create a custom object by assigning the D nodes in the response to a set of properties. Now, from the newly formatted response, you can work with the array of objects returned to format the page with something more appealing to the user. Listing 5.21 shows the markup and client-side script used to provide the user with a visually meaningful set of results.
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Listing 5.21 Contents of the Flickr bridge application
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<div> <img src="/images/flickr_logo_gamma.gif.v1.5.7" width="98" height="26" /> <input id="flickrSearch" type="text" /> <input id="search" type="button" value="Search" onclick="doSearch();" /> <span id="searching" style="display: none;">  <img src="images/indicator.gif" /> Searching... </span> <div id="summary"></div><hr /> <span id="photoList"></span> </div> <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> function doSearch(){ var keywords = $get("flickrSearch").value; $get("searching").style.display = "inline"; AspNetAjaxInAction.FlickrSearch.Search( {tags:keywords}, onSearchComplete, onSearchFailed); }
Consuming external Web Services
function onSearchComplete(results){ $get("searching").style.display = "none"; $get("summary").innerHTML = formatSummary(results, $get("flickrSearch").value); var photos = new Sys.StringBuilder(); photos.append("<table>"); for (var i = 0; i < results.length; i++){ var photo = results[i]; photos.append("<tr>"); photos.append(formatImage(photo)); photos.append(formatDetails(photo)); photos.append("<tr>"); } photos.append("</table>"); $get("photoList").innerHTML = photos.toString(); } function onSearchFailed(error){ $get("searching").style.display = "none"; alert(error.get_message()); } function formatSummary(photos, tags){ var summary = new Sys.StringBuilder(); summary.append(photos.length); summary.append(" results found for photos tagged with "); summary.append("<b>" + tags + "</b>" + "."); return summary.toString(); } function formatDetails(photo){ var details = new Sys.StringBuilder(); details.append("<td>"); details.append("<div>"); details.append(photo.Title); details.append("</div>"); details.append("<div>"); details.append("Tags: " + photo.Tags); details.append("</div>"); details.append("</td>"); return details.toString(); } function formatImage(photo){ var link = new Sys.StringBuilder(); link.append("<td>"); link.append("<img src='http://farm"); link.append(photo.FarmID); link.append(".static.flickr.com/"); link.append(photo.ServerID);
Making asynchronous network calls
link.append("/" + photo.ID + "_"); link.append(photo.Secret); link.append("_s.jpg'"); link.append(" />"); link.append("</td>"); return link.toString(); } </script>
Now for the grand finale. When you execute the application and perform a search for microsoft surface, you get a result similar to that shown in figure 5.11. Bridges offer another alternative for communicating with external services from JavaScript. You have to be aware of a few gotchas when working with them: They re hard to debug, they lack support in Visual Studio (no IntelliSense, debugging, or tracing), and they re still under development. For these reasons, we feel you should be cautious when working with bridges and give strong consideration to whether there is sufficient benefit to using them instead of calling a local Web Service.
Figure 5.11 The results of the Flickr search after transforming the data into a useful object and formatting the interface
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