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CHAPTER 10 TESTING COM AND WEB SERVICES
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Understanding and Testing COM
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COM is a system that Microsoft created for defining software objects that can interact with one another. This model proliferates throughout existing Windows software and in many Windowsbased applications. Although COM is a good model and will be around for a long time, one problem with COM is that it doesn t map very well to the Internet; thus, Microsoft has turned more to Web Services and SOA, while continuing to support COM architecture. Consequently, we will be operating under the COM architecture model along with other architectures, including SOA, for a long time. In this section, you will learn how to reference and access COM objects for testing purposes. COM, like .NET, is also built on the idea of classes and their objects and methods, and it arranges objects in a similar way (it just doesn t automatically translate as easily into webconsumable objects). In order to work between the legacy COM libraries and .NET Framework libraries, Microsoft provides some interop libraries that you ll make use of to attach and work with COM objects.
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Referencing a COM Library
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To set a reference to an existing COM library, you ll access the Add References dialog box. To do that, all you ll need to do is select Project Add Reference from within any .NET application. Figure 10-9 shows the Add Reference dialog box with the COM tab selected.
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Figure 10-9. The Add Reference dialog box Notice that there are other tabs on the Add Reference dialog box. The .NET tab will list a number of useful libraries that you can reference as needed. The COM tab is the one we re interested in, however, since it will list all installed COM libraries. As you scroll through this
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CHAPTER 10 TESTING COM AND WEB SERVICES
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window, you ll find COM libraries provided not only by Microsoft, but also by third-party companies that have libraries written to help you access their software. It s a long list that gets installed by default when you install the .NET Framework. For example, Figure 10-9 shows COM libraries for Adobe s Acrobat software. If you have software you work with regularly that you might want to access programmatically, it d be worth it to investigate if the software vendor has existing libraries installed by default for your use. Even if these libraries do not automatically install with .NET, it is still possible that libraries are provided by the software vendor. You will have to contact the vendor directly to answer that question. Of course, to access these libraries, you will have to write code. For those familiar with earlier versions of Visual Basic, the process of referencing COM libraries in .NET code is similar; however, .NET adds the creation of an interop assembly to the procedure. References to the members of the COM object (library) are routed to the interop assembly and then forwarded to the actual COM object. Likewise, responses from the COM object are routed to the interop assembly and then forwarded to your .NET application. In other words, the interop assembly acts as a translator between your .NET code and the COM component. This translation won t affect how you work with the COM library, however, since the interop assembly handles it all for you, as you ll see in the next section.
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Accessing and Testing a COM Library
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Given today s complex systems with multiple kinds of components, it s highly likely in your testing endeavors that you ll eventually encounter a COM library. To access and test these libraries, you ll set a reference using the Add Reference dialog box described previously (again, see Figure 10-9). You will simply highlight one of the libraries listed on the COM tab and click the OK button. This loads the library into your assembly. Once it s been loaded, you ll be able to see it listed in the References folder in the Solution Explorer window. For example, if you selected the Acrobat Access library from the COM tab displayed in Figure 10-9, then the Solution Explorer window in your project would look similar to Figure 10-10.
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Figure 10-10. The Solution Explorer window displaying the Acrobat Access COM library As you can see in Figure 10-10, the AcrobatAccessLib has been added to the default libraries loaded into the project. To see and explore the library contents you ve just loaded, you only need to open the Object Browser window. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to doubleclick AcrobatAccessLib in the References folder. (For VB .NET, to see the added library, you first must click the Show All Files button in the Solution Explorer window. Clicking the Show All Files button displays the References folder in the Solution Explorer window. Expand this folder to see the library. C# always displays the References folder.) This will open the Object Browser with the library contents already displayed, as in Figure 10-11.
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