8: Generating Artifacts in Visual C#

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8: Generating Artifacts
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Text Templating Architecture The text templating engine (MicrosoftVisualStudioTextTemplating dll) is the heart of the text templating system It is in charge of processing the contents of a text template and producing appropriate output The engine is designed to be a passive component existing within a host environment; the host must provide it with the template text and do something with the output that the engine produces Any other information the engine needs, such as how to nd any les that get included into a template, must also be provided to it by the host This information is provided by way of a callback mechanism implemented by the host, which we ll see described in detail when we look at custom hosting
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Host class Transformation : ModelingTextTransformation { private Model model; public void Initialize() { model =LoadModel( foomodel ); } public string TransformText() { templateWrite( List of items: ); foreach(Item item in modelItems) { templateWrite( Name: ); templateWrite(itemName); } } }
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Engine
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AppDomain t = new Transformation(); tInitialize(); tTransformText();
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<#@ template base=ModelingTextTransformation#> <#@ itemDirective requires= file= foomodel provides= model #> List of items: <#foreach(Item item in modelItems) { #> Name: <#=itemName#> <# } #>
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List of items: Name: ItemOne Name: ItemTwo Name: ItemThree
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Figure 8-3: The implementation architecture of the text templating system
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A typical text template execution sequence can be seen in Figure 8-3 and looks like this: The host reads in a template le from disk The host instantiates a template engine The host passes the template text to the engine along with a callback pointer to itself
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The engine parses the template, nding standard and custom directives and control blocks In this case, the template directive speci es a base class and there is a single custom directive, itemDirective The engine asks the host to load the directive processors for any custom directives it has found In this case, the Item Directive Processor is loaded The engine produces in memory the code for the skeleton of a Transformation class, derived ultimately from TextTransformation This template has speci ed the derived ModelingTextTransformation The engine gives directive processors a chance to contribute code to the Transformation class for both class members and to run in the body of the Initialize() method The item directive processor has added a single member, model, to store some root MEL of type Model It has also added code in the Initialize() method to set up that member variable using the LoadModel() method Note that the lename is hard-coded as a literal in the contributed code because it comes from the item directive s requires parameter The engine adds the content of class feature blocks as members to the Transformation class, thus appearing to allow methods and properties to be added to the template There are none speci ed in this template The engine adds boilerplate inside Write statements and the contents of other standard control blocks to the TransformText() method This template has a simple for loop controlling how often the Name: boilerplate is written The engine compiles the Transformation class into a temporary NET assembly The engine asks the host to provide an AppDomain in which to run the compiled code The engine instantiates the Transformation class in the new AppDomain and calls the Initialize() and TransformText() methods on it via NET remoting3
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An Application Domain is an isolated and unloadable environment in which an assembly can be executed NET remoting is a mechanism for invoking methods across AppDomain or machine boundaries
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8: Generating Artifacts
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The Initialize() method uses code contributed by directive processors to load data speci ed by the custom directives into the new AppDomain In this case, the LoadModel() method loads foomodel into a store and returns the root element to populate the model member The TransformText() method writes boilerplate text to its output string, interspersed with control code from regular control blocks and the values of expression control blocks Here the List of items header is rst written out, followed by the foreach statement from the control block The loop contains the Name: boilerplate followed by the value obtained by evaluating the expression block itemName The output string is returned via the engine to the host, which commits the generated output to disk Now we ll look at how this overall architecture impacts three kinds of customization
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Custom Hosting The text templating engine is deliberately designed to be hosted in a variety of processes Clearly, Visual Studio is its natural home, but it takes no dependencies on Visual Studio or indeed the modeling components of the DSL Tools It achieves this by having no understanding of its outside environment, instead relying on its host to provide it with all of the information it needs to do its job This allows it to be integrated into other tools in a tool chain that works with your DSL designer, for example, an advanced UI application for con guring how templates are applied to models in a large-scale development scenario This technique is called custom hosting As well as the host that is integrated into Visual Studio, the DSL Tools supply one custom host out of the box, the command-line text templating tool TextTransformexe, which can be found in the directory <%ProgramFiles%>\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\TextTemplating\11 This tool allows text template transformation to be easily incorporated into automated scripts and processes such as software build systems It has options for specifying all of the important con guration information
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