SUPPLYING CUSTOM EDITING CONTROLS in .NET

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private List<HyperlinkData> _hyperlinks = new List<HyperlinkData>(); [DesignerSerializationVisibility(DesignerSerializationVisibility.Content)] public List<HyperlinkData> Hyperlinks { get { return _hyperlinks; } set { _hyperlinks = value; } }
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Notice too, that the Hyperlinks property is marked with a special attribute named DesignerSerializationVisibility. This attribute is useful for letting the Visual Studio form designer know what data needs to be persisted at design-time to provide a good design experience for developers. In this case we are stating that the HyperlinkData should be Figure 7.7 When a custom server persisted, but not the generic class that gets control exposes a collection type, custom attributes must be used to inform dynamically created. If we fail to specify this set- the designer how to handle serializating, Visual Studio will attempt to persist the tion at design time. Failure to supply generic type but will fail and cause the web part this information to the designer will result in an error being displayed at deto show up with errors in the Visual Studio sign time but not at runtime. design surface. Figure 7.7 shows how the FavoritesWebPart appears at design time if we fail to mark the Hyperlinks property with the correct DesignerSerializationVisibility attribute value. Even though the web part in the figure displays an error at design time it will work just fine at runtime when the generic collection type can be serialized. So while this error can be safely ignored, it doesn t make the design-time experience of our web part very good at all. The task of sorting the hyperlink data also turns out to be quite a simple job because the generic List<T> data type already contains a sort method that can be called. We call this method just before rendering the hyperlinks, as listing 7.3 shows us.
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Listing 7.3 The controls for displaying our Favorites links are added in the CreateChildControls method of our web part.
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protected override void CreateChildControls() { this.Controls.Clear();
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Sort the hyperlinks by display name if (!_sorted) { this.Hyperlinks.Sort(new HyperlinkComparer()); _sorted = true; }
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CREATING AN ENHANCED EDITING EXPERIENCE
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foreach (HyperlinkData linkData in this.Hyperlinks) {
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Check if we need to display a description if (this.HasDescriptions && !string.IsNullOrEmpty(linkData.Description)) {
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this.Controls.Add(new LiteralControl("<p>")); DisplayHyperlink(linkData); DisplayDescription(linkData); this.Controls.Add(new LiteralControl("</p>")); } else { DisplayHyperlink(linkData); } } }
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The Sort method takes an optional argument that is an IComparer and which provides us with a simple way to sort custom data types in any manner we choose. The code for the HyperlinkComparer is shown in the following code snippet:
internal class HyperlinkComparer : IComparer<HyperlinkData> { public int Compare(HyperlinkData x, HyperlinkData y) { return x.DisplayName.CompareTo(y.DisplayName); } }
As you can see, this class implements the IComparer<T> interface and uses the Compare method of that interface to supply its own logic for comparing two HyperlinkData objects. In this case we are simply comparing the values of the display names of each item.
NOTE
The code for the completed FavoritesWebPart and the FavoritesEditorPart are included in the code for the AdventureWorks portal in the chapter 7 section of the resources website for this book.
If you feel you ve just moved through a substantial chunk of material, you re right. This section had to be long to include some important lessons that will help us whenever we need to create web parts that provide an editing experience with a high degree of usability. Let s take a minute to recap. We learned how to work with complex data types. When working with complex data types we saw that custom editor parts can be created to manage the editing of rich data and how editor parts synchronize their data with the underlying web parts that they represent. As a bonus we caught a glimpse how the .NET Framework uses TypeConverters to convert objects from one type to another.
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