Mapping from an Object in VB.NET

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Mapping from an Object
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Mapping from one object to another is done in a similar manner. The primary exception is that the list of source property names doesn t come from the keys in a dictionary, but rather must be retrieved from the source object.
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The Map() method can be used to map to or from a business object.
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The GetSourceProperties() method retrieves the list of properties from the source object: Private Function GetSourceProperties( _ ByVal sourceType As Type) As PropertyInfo()
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CHAPTER 5 s COMPLETING THE FRAMEWORK
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Dim result As New Generic.List(Of PropertyInfo) Dim props As PropertyDescriptorCollection = _ TypeDescriptor.GetProperties(sourceType) For Each item As PropertyDescriptor In props If item.IsBrowsable Then result.Add(sourceType.GetProperty(item.Name)) End If Next Return result.ToArray End Function This method filters out methods that are marked as <Browsable(False)>. This is useful when the source object is a CSLA .NET style business object, as the IsDirty, IsNew, and similar properties from BusinessBase are automatically filtered out. The result is that GetSourceProperties() returns a list of properties that are subject to data binding. First, reflection is invoked by calling the GetProperties() method to retrieve a collection of PropertyDescriptor objects. These are similar to the more commonly used PropertyInfo objects, but they are designed to help support data binding. This means they include an IsBrowsable property that can be used to filter out those properties that aren t browsable. A PropertyInfo object is added to the result list for all browsable properties, and then that result list is converted to an array and returned to the calling code. The calling code is an overload of the Map() method that accepts two objects rather than an IDictionary and an object: Public Sub Map( _ ByVal source As Object, _ ByVal target As Object, _ ByVal suppressExceptions As Boolean, _ ByVal ParamArray ignoreList() As String) Dim ignore As New List(Of String)(ignoreList) Dim sourceProperties As PropertyInfo() = _ GetSourceProperties(source.GetType) For Each sourceProperty As PropertyInfo In sourceProperties Dim propertyName As String = sourceProperty.Name If Not ignore.Contains(propertyName) Then Try SetValue(target, propertyName, _ sourceProperty.GetValue(source, Nothing)) Catch ex As Exception If Not suppressExceptions Then Throw New ArgumentException( _ String.Format("{0} ({1})", _ My.Resources.PropertyCopyFailed, propertyName), ex) End If End Try End If Next End Sub The source object s properties are retrieved into an array of PropertyInfo objects: Dim sourceProperties As PropertyInfo() = _ GetSourceProperties(source.GetType)
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CHAPTER 5 s COMPLETING THE FRAMEWORK
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Then the method loops through each element in that array, checking each one against the list of properties to be ignored. If the property isn t in the ignore list, the SetValue() method is called to set the property on the target object. The GetValue() method on the PropertyInfo object is used to retrieve the value from the source object: SetValue(target, propertyName, _ sourceProperty.GetValue(source, Nothing)) Exceptions are handled (or ignored) just like they are when copying from an IDictionary. While the DataMapper functionality may not be useful in all cases, it is useful in many cases, and can dramatically reduce the amount of tedious data-copying code a business developer needs to write to use data binding in Web Forms or to implement Web Services.
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When discussing report generation and objects, it is important to divide the idea of report generation into two groups: small reports and large reports. Some enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing resource planning (MRP) systems make exactly this distinction: small reports are often called lists, while large reports are called reports. Lists can be generated at any time and are displayed immediately on the client, while reports are typically generated in the background and are later displayed through a viewer or printed out. Of course, the exact delineation between a small and a large report varies. Ultimately, small reports require small enough amounts of data that it s reasonable to transfer that data to the client immediately upon a user request. Large reports require too much data to transfer to the client immediately, or they take too long to generate to have the user s machine (or browser) tied up while waiting for it to complete. The problem faced with reporting is twofold. First, pulling back large amounts of data from the server to the client just to generate a report is slow. In fact, it is a just a poor idea and should be avoided. Large reports should be generated using report engines that physically run on or near the database server to minimize the amount of data transferred across the network. Second, for reports that require smaller data sets that can be efficiently returned to the client machine, few of the major report engine tools support data binding against custom objects. Reports generated with popular tools such as Crystal Reports or Active Reports can only be generated against ADO.NET objects such as the DataSet.
s To be fair, these report engines also work in an unbound mode, in which you have the opportunity to supTip ply the data to populate the report manually. This technique can certainly be used with business objects. You can write code to pull the data out of your objects and provide that data to the report engine as it generates the report. The trouble is that this is a lot of work, especially when compared to just binding the report to a DataSet.
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services and Developer Express Xtra Reports both support data binding against objects in a manner similar to Windows Forms. Ideally, in the future, more of the major report engine vendors will support data binding against objects just like Windows Forms and Web Forms do, but that s not the case today. At present, you can either generate the report from a DataSet or use the engines in unbound mode and provide the data manually. To enable the use of major report-generation tools, the ObjectAdapter class implements a converter to load a DataSet with data from objects. It allows you to convert an object into a DataSet. You can then generate reports in standard report engines such as Crystal Reports or Active Reports by using that DataSet.
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