Behind the Scenes: Designer Code and Data Sources Files in Visual Studio .NET

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Behind the Scenes: Designer Code and Data Sources Files
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Understanding what is going on behind the scenes is always important, especially when the designer-generated code isn't doing exactly what you want The first thing to understand is that all of the controls and components generated by the designer actions, along with the supporting code to set up data-binding objects and properties, are part of the standard Windows Forms designer-generated code With Visual Studio 2005, this code is now placed in a separate code file using partial classes, and it isn't displayed by default in the Solution Explorer project tree To inspect the code that was generated as a result of designer interactions, you need to click the plus sign (+) next to the form class file in your project Under that item, you will see a file named <formname>Designercs (or vb, depending on your language flavor), which contains all the designer-generated code Most of the code is inside a collapsed region within that file, inside the definition for the InitializeComponent method The other thing that is going on behind the scenes is that any time you add a data source from outside your project using the Web server or object data source types, a data source file is added to your project to provide the ties between the type information for the object(s) in that data source and the Data Sources window Additionally, if you customize which controls are mapped to a particular data member by selecting another control type from the drop-down list of bound control types, Visual Studio has to save that information somewhere so that you don't have to keep reselecting it This information is saved in those same data source files Data source files are XML files that are added to several different places in your project, depending on the kind of data source you are customizing the UI mappings for If the data source type is an object, the data source files get created under a DataSources folder under the Properties folder in your Visual Studio project The files are named based on the namespace and type of the data source object, and they have a datasource file extension
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If the data source type is a Web service, the datasource files are placed in the subfolder of the Web References folder that is created to contain the Web service proxy code If the data source is a typed data set definition that is part of your project, a xsc file is generated and associated with the schema definition that defines the data set
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To access this information for Web service data sources, select the Show All Files button, expand the Web reference node, drill down to the Referencemap item, and you will see the sub-items in the tree for that reference In addition to the Referencecs (or vb) file that contains the generated proxy class for calling the Web service, there will also be a collection of datasource files for each of the return types of the Web methods that are part of that service These types also may be complex types with child object collections and data members, but only the top-level object types defined as return values from the Web service methods get data source files generated The type definitions themselves get added to the Referencecs file where the proxy class is placed The Data Sources window can infer the rest of the type information about the child object types through reflection The following XML shows an example of a simple datasource file for a Web service data source type: <GenericObjectDataSource DisplayName="LonLatPt" Version="10" xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xml-msdatasource"> <TypeInfo>DataSources101netterraserviceLonLatPt</TypeInfo> </GenericObjectDataSource>
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The datasource file contains an XML document whose root element is named GenericObjectDataSource This is the case whether you set up the data source as an Object data source type or a Web service type The only difference is where the datasource file gets placed in your project As you can see, the root element can contain several attributes that provide versioning information, a display name for the Data Sources window, and the schema information that specifies the allowable schema of the datasources XML The main thing that a data source file contains is a TypeInfo element, which specifies the fully qualified type name of the object that is being treated as a top-level data source This shows up as a root node in the tree presented by the Data Sources window Child objects and properties are determined through reflection by the Data Sources window when you expand a data source
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In addition to the TypeInfo information contained in a data source file, the file can also contain control mapping information for those data items or members that have had their control mapping changed from the default To support this, a TypeUISetting element is added to the data source root element A fairly complex XML schema underneath this element allows each data item or member that has a custom control mapping to have the information describing that mapping specified This schema consists of a collection element named PropertyUISettings that contains individual PropertyUISetting elements One of these elements is specified for each data member that has a custom control mapping set up Underneath the PropertyUISetting element is a collection of control settings and bindable control information that sets up the mapping: <GenericObjectDataSource DisplayName="SomeBusinessObject" Version="10" xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xml-msdatasource"> <TypeInfo>DataSources101SomeBusinessObject, DataSources101, Version=1000, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null</TypeInfo> <TypeUISetting> <PropertyUISettings> <PropertyUISetting Name="SomeInteger" SimpleProperty="True"> <ControlSettings> <ControlSetting ArtifactName="Microsoft:SystemWindowsForms:Form"> <BindableControlInfo Name="NumericUpDown" Type="SystemWindowsFormsNumericUpDown" AssemblyName="SystemWindowsForms, Version=2000, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089" /> </ControlSetting> </ControlSettings> </PropertyUISetting> </PropertyUISettings> </TypeUISetting> </GenericObjectDataSource>
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If the data source is a typed data set within your Windows Forms project, you can select Show All Files in Solution Explorer, expand the typed data set (xsd) file node, and you will see an xsc file under it If you have customized the control mappings for any of the data members of that data set definition through the Data Sources window, that file will contain XML similar to the following code to record those custom control mappings as part of your project: <DataSetUISetting Version="100" xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xml-msdatasource"> <TableUISettings> <TableUISetting Name="Countries"> <ColumnUISettings> <ColumnUISetting Name="Flag"> <ControlSettings> <ControlSetting ArtifactName="Microsoft:SystemWindowsForms:Form"> <BindableControlInfo Name="PictureBox" Type="SystemWindowsFormsPictureBox" AssemblyName="SystemWindowsForms, Version=2000, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089" /> </ControlSetting> </ControlSettings> </ColumnUISetting> </ColumnUISettings> </TableUISetting> </TableUISettings> </DataSetUISetting>
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You should never have to hand-code this stuff, though you may want to look at it if things aren't working correctly so you can understand where the Data Sources window is getting the information that is driving the display Usually regenerating the data source reference through the Data Source Configuration wizard is a better way to go than trying to hand-modify the XML yourself In the case of the xsc file, you can simply delete the file, and it will be regenerated the next time you customize the UI control mappings for any of the data set members
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