Category Archives: Useful tools

Instrumentation presentation at Campus Days 2013

Campus Days 2013 logoI was fun to present today at Campus Days 2013 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The talk was about how to instrument software by using frameworks like TraceSource, EventSource, Event Tracing for Windows and how to perform post-mortem debugging via Visual Studio and PerfView.

Here is a great resource for enabling diagnostics in Azure.

Automatic Retry and Circuit Breaker made easy

Polly library logoIf you do not know Polly, you are missing out! I did not know about it until a couple of days ago and you properly never heard about it either, as this wonderful little library only has 63 downloads on NuGet at the time of writing.

Polly is an easy to use retry and circuit breaker pattern implementation for .Net – let me show you.
Start by specifying the policy – what should happen when an exception thrown:

  var policy = Policy
    .Handle<SqlException(e => e.Number == 1205) // Handling deadlock victim
    .Retry(3, (exception, retyCount, context) =>
      // Log...

The above policy specifies a SqlExeption with number 1205 or OtherException should be retried three times – if it still fails log and bobble the original exception up the call stack.

  var result = policy.Execute(() => FetchData(p1, p2));

It is also possible to specify the time between retries – e.g. exponential back off:

  var policy = Policy
    .WaitAndRetry(5, retryAttempt =>
      TimeSpan.FromSeconds(Math.Pow(2, retryAttempt)

Or the circuit breaker safeguarding against the same error occurs again and again if an external system is temporarily unavailable:

  var policy = Policy
    .CircuitBreaker(2, TimeSpan.FromMinutes(1));

Go get it – I’m already using it :)

Check for breaking changes in APIs

Have you ever had the need to compare interfaces of two versions of the same framework?

If you have, then ApiChange is a tool for you. It’s open source, powerful and easy to use :-)

I gave it a spin comparing current trunk version 2.9.2 of Lucene.Net with the latest official release version 2.4.0.

I downloaded ApiChange and ran the following command in a command prompt:

ApiChange.exe -Diff -old C:\Lucene.Net_2_4_0\Lucene.Net.dll -new C:\trunk\Lucene.Net.dll

The output lists all the differences, but here is a summary:

  • 23 public types where removed
  • 96 public types where added
  • 158 public types where changed

Cool little tool with other features such as:

  • Diff public types for breaking changes.
  • Who uses a method?
  • Who uses a type?
  • Who uses implements an interface?
  • Who references me?
  • What format has the binary (32/64, Managed C++, Pure IL, Unmanaged)?
  • Search for all event subscribers and unsubscribers.

It’s based on Mono Cecil – a free IL parser, and not reflection as I initial thought. Go check it out…

Finding Missing Indexes with SQL Server DMVs

Finding Missing Indexes with DMVsSome time ago I wrote written about easy index wins for SQL Server 2005.

SQL server maintains statistics about indexes you should consider creating. This time I’ll show you a DMV (Dynamic Management View) that lists index candidates. This method works for SQL Server 2005 SP2 and later versions.

The query is based on three DMVs and returns index candidates where the calculated improvement is more than 10%:

  migs.avg_total_user_cost * (migs.avg_user_impact / 100.0) * (migs.user_seeks + migs.user_scans) AS improvement_measure_pct,
  QUOTENAME(db_name(mid.database_id)) AS [database],
  QUOTENAME(OBJECT_SCHEMA_NAME(mid.object_id, mid.database_id)) AS [schema],
  QUOTENAME(OBJECT_NAME(mid.object_id, mid.database_id)) AS [table],
  'CREATE INDEX [missing_index_' + CONVERT(varchar(64), NEWID()) + ']'
  + ' ON ' + mid.statement
  + ' (' + ISNULL (mid.equality_columns, '')
  + CASE
      WHEN mid.equality_columns IS NOT NULL
	    AND mid.inequality_columns IS NOT NULL THEN ','
      ELSE ''
  + ISNULL(mid.inequality_columns, '')
  + ')'
  + ISNULL(' INCLUDE (' + mid.included_columns + ')', '')
	  AS create_index_statement,
FROM sys.dm_db_missing_index_groups mig
  INNER JOIN sys.dm_db_missing_index_group_stats migs
	ON migs.group_handle = mig.index_group_handle
  INNER JOIN sys.dm_db_missing_index_details mid
	ON mig.index_handle = mid.index_handle
	migs.avg_total_user_cost * (migs.avg_user_impact / 100.0) *
		(migs.user_seeks + migs.user_scans) > 10
	migs.avg_total_user_cost * migs.avg_user_impact *
		(migs.user_seeks + migs.user_scans) DESC

It is important to note, that these are index candidates are only candidates and the improvements are based on estimates. The estimated improvement does not take extra disk space requirements and the maintenance of the indexes during updates, inserts and deletes. Furthermore it does not make recommendation about usage of clustered or non-clustered indexes.

This blog post is inspired by Bart Duncan’s Are you using SQL’s missing index DMVs?

Visual Studio 2010 keyboard shortcuts

I am fond of keyboard shortcuts and wish I was a keyboard-shortcut-ninja and didn’t have to rely on the mouse all the time.

Using keyboard shortcuts boosts productivity and ergonomically a better choice, as the risk of getting a tennis elbow/mouse elbow diminish.

Source of keyboard shortcuts for Visual Studio 2010:

Removing SVN folders with PowerShell

I need to remove.svn folders from an existing Visual Studio Solution a customer email me, so I could commit it to another SVN repository.

If I had access to the original SVN repository, I could have used the export function, as it does not include the .svn folders – but no, it should not be that easy.

What the heck, I have been putting it off way too long to start working with PowerShell. It should be a familiar environment as it is object-oriented with a C# like syntax with full access to the .Net Framework Base Class Libraries (BCL).

Here it goes – my first PowerShell script…

function RemoveSvnFolders([string]$path)
    Write-Host "Removing .svn folders in path $path recursive"

	Get-ChildItem $path -Include ".svn" -Force -Recurse |
		Where {$_.psIsContainer -eq $true} |
		Foreach ($_)
			Remove-Item $_.Fullname -Force -Recurse

The Write-Host Cmdlet just writes the content to console window.

If you are like me, a PowerShell novice – start with the Getting Started with Windows PowerShell article and use the free tool PowerGUI from Quest Software. It’s PowerShell IDE with an integrated syntax highlighter editor and debugger.

In line 5 the Get-ChildItem Cmdlet iterates the path recursively and filtering the result to include only “.svn” files and folders. The force parameter allows the cmdlet to get items that cannot otherwise be accessed by the user, such as hidden or system files. Get-ChildItem Cmdlet can also iterate the registry.

Afterwards the result from Get-ChildItem Cmdlet is piped to the Where-Object Cmdlet (Where is an alias for Where-Object). The psIsContainer is a property on a folder. If it is equal to true pass it to the next pipe. I could have written the following instead:

Where {$_.mode -match "d"}

Use the below statement to list all properties for the files and folders in the current folder:

Get-ChildItem | format-list -property *

The foreach statement iterates every item and deletes the folder with the Remove-Item Cmdlet.

Calling the method is as simple as:

RemoveSvnFolders("c:\svn\My Solution")

On TechNet there is a myriad of articles with the root Windows PowerShell Core and more task oriented like A Task-Based Guide to Windows PowerShell Cmdlets and Piping and the Pipeline in Windows PowerShell.

Remove SVN folders PowerShell Script.

Happy PowerShelling… :-)

Compress files into individual archives

I needed to compress a lot of files into individual zip archives – I did not want to do it manually :-)

Add the following to a bat file and every file with the extension txt will be compressed into a Zip archive with 7-Zip file archiver:

@echo off
For %%f in (*.txt) do 7z.exe a -tzip %%f

E.g. a.txt will be compressed to the archive

This was not exactly what I needed, as the dual extension caused problems in later processing. In needed to remove the extension preceding the zip extension – therefore:

@echo off
For %%f in (*.txt) do 7z.exe a -tzip %%f

E.g. a.txt will be compressed to the archive

That’s it :-)

SQL Server build version

Working with SQL Server it is often important to know which edition, version and service pack applied to the instance.

This information easily retrieve with either of these two system functions ServerProperty or @@Version:



Both of the returns roughly the same information, but I tend to use the @@Version function as it easier to remember and type.

With the ServerProperty function additional information can be retrieved like MachineName, InstanceName or BuildClrVersion. See more about the ServerProperty function on MSDN.

From the build number alone it is possible to figure out which version of the SQL Server and Service Packs applied via the below table:

SQL Server 2008 R2 10.50.1600.1
SQL Server 2008 10.00.1600.22 10.00.2531 10.00.4000
SQL Server 2005 9.00.1399.06 9.00.2047 9.00.3042 9.00.4035
SQL Server 2000 8.00.194 8.00.384 8.00.532 8.00.760 8.00.2039

Credit for the above table is due to this site.

Update April 30th 2010: Added SQL Server 2008 R2 RTM build number

Update October 4th 2010: Added SQL Server 2008 SP2 build number

Cisco VPN (IPSec) support on 64 bit platforms

Shrew Soft LogoI like Windows 7 x64, but I hate Cisco’s lack of support for the IPSec protocol on 64-bit platforms. Many of our customers use IPSec and the Cisco VPN Client – therefore I cannot connect to the customer’s network via IPSec VPN tunnels on my primary laptop :-(

Until today :-)

A colleague of mine recommended Shrew Soft VPN Client. It’s free and works like a charm. It’s a lot faster connecting and negotiating to the remote network than Cisco VPN Client, so fast in fact, that I initially thought that the connection failed. I’ve been using it for a couple of days, connecting to multiple customers, without any issues.

Why does Cisco implement a VPN client for x64 platforms?

I guess it is a money making scheme. They want to push their new Cisco VPN boxes and their new Cisco AnyConnect VPN client (expensive!), which makes use of SSL VPN.

Greg Ferro has another critical article Early Death of Cisco VPN Client Forces VPN License Fees with more details about Cisco’s SSL VPN.

I know of a commercial IPSec VPN client from NCP that works fine with Cisco IPSec VPN tunnels, but the steep price tag of $144 USD + taxes is too much.

Update May 31, 2010: Cisco has released an x64 version of their client tools for Windows 7 with IPSec protocol support. Either my money making scheme hypotheses is wrong or Cisco feared the wrath of my blog readers :-)