Home > Articles > Web Services > XML

Building Plugins with C# Part 4: Logging and Deployment

📄 Contents

  1. Using the Exception Manager Application Block
  2. Keeping A Log
  3. Deployment
  • Print
  • + Share This
We finish up our series on building plug-ins with an demonstration of logging techiques and an introduction to deployment methodologies. In other words, you'll learn what to do when things go wrong, and you'll find out how to get the plug-in in the hands of your users.
Like this article? We recommend Be sure to check out the rest of this article series. Part 1 introduces the concept of using plug-ins to handle authentication of users. In Part 2, you’ll learn how to use XML to validate users. Part 3 shows you how to use inheritance in SQL to have your applications load their own configuration files.


This is the last article in a four-part series discussing techniques you can use to build solid plug-ins using C# .NET. I'll show you tweaks you can make before implementing an app or service, to take advantage of a plug-in architecture. One of them—a subject that is important in Web or Windows services—is logging. Another is using the Setup and Deployment project in the Visual Studio IDE for deployment.

Using the Exception Manager Application Block

Application Blocks let you easily provide extra functionality to an application and decrease the time you have to invest in creating some of the pieces. Among the Application Blocks are the Configuration Management Application Block, Data Application Block, and Exception Management Application Block. In this article, I'll show you how to use the Exception Management Application Block to log errors and messages as they occur in the test application and plug-ins.

Remember that the plug-ins must handle their own errors and not propagate them to the application that is calling them? In many cases, all the plug-in can do is catch all errors and log the details of the errors somewhere. Using the Exception Management Application Block, it's easy for an application to write the details of an exception out to the Windows Event Log. This has a couple benefits: the Event Log is managed by the operating system, so the app doesn't need to concern itself with logging and the management of output files, etc.; and the Event Log provides ways for a normal person to remotely view messages through the Microsoft Management Console.

Before you can begin using the Microsoft Exception Management Application Block, first download it from Microsoft's site. You get the full source code in an MSI file, so you can compile the block yourself and view the documentation and samples that come with the download.

A note, first, about using these Application Blocks in a team environment. When I use the Exception Management Application Blocks in a solution that is not under source control, I sometimes add the Microsoft.ApplicationBlocks.ExceptionManagement and Microsoft.ApplicationBlocks.ExceptionManagement.Interfaces projects to the solution from the installdir\Code\CS\ directory, where installdir is the directory in which the Application Block was installed.

If the solution is under source control, you should follow the guidelines established for your company or project; I've seen situations where components like these are checked into source control both in a central location and in a per-solution basis. There are valid arguments for doing it either way. On one hand, centrally locating the Application Block code can give your projects at least one benefit; if the projects are modified in any way after they were downloaded, all the projects that refer to them benefit from the changes. On the other hand, this means any change requires regression testing for all of your applications. One small change could break a lot of code.

Having the Application Block checked into source control under each separate solution turns the solution into an island that is safe from changes made to the same Application Block elsewhere. However, this can introduce an administrative nightmare should any Application Blocks be updated.

Alternatively, the Exception Management Application Block solution can be compiled. Then you can either add the assembly from the Application Block to the global assembly cache, or make a reference to the assembly instead of adding the project to the solution. Depending on how you use the Application Blocks, this might be the cleanest route. But it's not without extra work. The Assembly must strongly typed and added to the global assembly cache on the servers on which the app will run. Some administrators may become a little cranky about making that kind of change without a lot of testing.

After you add the references to the Microsoft.ApplicationBlocks.ExceptionManagement project or assembly to the app, add:

using Microsoft.ApplicationBlocks.ExceptionManagement;

to the top of the class that will use ExceptionManagment. In the project for the solution's testing app, AuthenticationPlugin.UI.UITester, I added the statement to the top of the Form1.cs file. In the Form1 class, there are several try...catch blocks that called a method I had created called ShowError. The purpose of this method is to pop up a message box from the testing app that tells me that something went wrong, such as an invalid cast or a plug-in that was missing the implementation class altogether. In the btnLogin_Click method, I changed the code that catches the InvalidCastException to:

catch ( System.InvalidCastException ice )

{
   /* The object didn't implement the IAuthenticationPlugin interface, and could
    * not be cast correctly */
   ShowError( "The authentication object does not implement the correct interface." );
   ExceptionManager.Publish( ice );
}

The new call to ExceptionManger.Publish, which accepts the InvalidCastException ice, publishes the details of the exception to the Application event log. You can view the log entry by going to Event Log under Administrative Tools in the Control Panel. The details will look like:

General Information 

*********************************************
Additional Info:
ExceptionManager.MachineName: MYPC
ExceptionManager.TimeStamp: 5/31/2004 10:24:05 AM
ExceptionManager.FullName: Microsoft.ApplicationBlocks.ExceptionManagement,
  Version=1.0.1612.16079, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null
ExceptionManager.AppDomainName: AuthenticationPlugin.UI.UITester.exe
ExceptionManager.ThreadIdentity: 
ExceptionManager.WindowsIdentity: MYDOMAIN\myuser

1) Exception Information
*********************************************
Exception Type: System.InvalidCastException
Message: Specified cast is not valid.
TargetSite: Void btnLogin_Click(System.Object, System.EventArgs)
HelpLink: NULL
Source: AuthenticationPlugin.UI.UITester

StackTrace Information
*********************************************
at AuthenticationPlugin.UI.UITester.Form1.btnLogin_Click(Object sender, 
EventArgs e) in c:\temp\autpluginspart4\authenticationpluginpart4
   authenticationplugin.ui.uitester\form1.cs:line 155

For more information, see Help and Support Center at
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

That's quite a lot of information. By passing the exception into ExceptionManager.Publish, you can get the exception name, message, and stack trace. Even the line of code in which the exception was thrown is included in the output.

The Publish method has two overrides, so it can also take a NameValueCollection that contains additional information as a parameter. The additional information can include information about the state of the object, the application, or any other message that you might want to share with the person viewing the logs, to help in tracking down and resolving the problem.

Another very useful feature about the Exception Management Application Block is that it can be extended with custom publishers. With no configuration out of the box (or MSI file), it logs to the Event Log. It can also log to a database, to a file, or to any medium that you can persist to with a custom publisher.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020