I just came across this quote attributed to Alfred North Whitehead (Mathematician and philosopher. 1861 - 1947)
"It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle — they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments."
I really like this. The emphasis is mine by the way.
Firstly, it graphically establishes the basis on which Larry Wall (a famous programmer) thinks laziness is a virtue in developers.
Secondly, Dovetail automates important business processes for its clients. Based on this, can we claim to be advancing human civilization no less, every single day? I like the sound of that! :)
Construction Information Services (CIS) is the leading supplier of All-Ireland Construction Leads, and it recently launched a new mapping feature for its flagship CIS Online product.
This new feature allows CIS customers to see the exact location of project leads.
The system uses the ARCGIS Online platform, provided by ESRI Ireland, to securely store and display spatial data for each project.
Dovetail had a central role in developing this functionality and was responsible for integrating the ArcGIS platform with CIS Online and backoffice features. The project included:
- Realtime synchronisation of CIS Project leads with the ArcGIS platform using the ArcGIS Online API
- Adding secure maps to CIS Online and to backend researcher systems
- Secure integration of an ArcGIS Online application into CIS Online
- Backend functionality to assist the research team to verify the location of project leads.
CIS Ireland is one of Dovetail’s most established clients and it celebrates its 45th birthday this year.
"We have trusted Dovetail with our critical systems since 2007. Dovetail’s philosophy is based on “partnership”. They consistently deliver high quality solutions for our business and I have no hesitation in recommending them.”
- Tom Moloney, Managing Director.
In the last couple of weeks Kit and I have been working on how to integrate automated tests into the QuickDBD (great tool, you should try it if you didn’t) application. The challenge was to make our tests work with gulp and Teamcity, in order to automatically run them every time we deploy a new release. QuickDBD is an angular application so we decided to use protractor as our testing framework.
This nice tutorial showed us all the required steps but we had an issue where our tests started on Teamcity but never stopped, leaving the process running indefinitely on the server. I didn’t find the solution for this problem anywhere on the internet so I’m using this post to share our solution with the world.
As mentioned in the tutorial, in order to integrate protractor with gulp you need to install the gulp-angular-protractor. This package automates everything you need to do in order to run protractor, which includes starting and stopping the selenium server and that was actually where the problem laid.
When you configure your gulp task with gulp-angular-protractor it will look similar to this:
The autoStartStopServer: true is used to tell gulp-angular-protractor that it should handle the stopping and starting of the selenium server. But the stopping part wasn’t working.
In previous versions of selenium the following url was used to shutdown the selenium server (considering you are running selenium on the default port 4444):
Gulp-angular-protractor was trying to shut down the selenium server but since selenium server 3.0, this url for some reason was removed.
The solution we found was to tell gulp-protractor-angular to run a previous version of selenium server, which contained the shutdown url, by configuring the gulp task in the following way:
I hope this helps whoever is going through the same issue.
Recently we developed an angular application for one of our Multinational clients with the purpose of helping them to manage accommodation, transfers and flight times. This app had to deal not only with dates but also time and we looked into many different date and time pickers created specifically for angular in order to deal with that. We ended up selecting angular-bootstrap-datetimepicker as our choice.
At first hand everything went fine but during development the daylight saving period started here in Ireland and we noticed the dates being stored in the server started to differ of what we were picking in the app by one hour.
We didn’t want the application to be timezone aware, we wanted the users to pick a date on the datepicker and store that date made of the “numbers” that were picked. No smart conversions or anything like that.
In order to achieve this behavior we had to add moment-timezone which gave us support to deal with timezones and then changing the code of angular-bootstrap-datetimepicker in the following way:
On the datetimepicker.js file, on the function setTime, one line after case ‘moment’ we added moment.tz.setDefault(“Etc/UTC”) in order to enforce the timezone to UTC every time we are setting a date.
By telling the datepicker to use moment we started to have issues with the angular filter for dates, which simply stop working, so we added another library called angular-moment to deal with that. So the code for the input that shows the date ended being this:
Further action: Doing some more testing we discovered that by using moment.utc() we don’t really need add moment-timezone or do the setDefault(“Etc/UTC”) thing. We have not given this a huge amount of testing, but the code would look like this:
Realex Payments recently announced that it will be ending support for TLS Version 1.0 and 1.1 and began sending emails out letting their customers know of this change.
I have written this guide which should help people use security best practices on an IIS Windows server, which should address the new Realex security requirements.
Please note that in order for the changes to take effect you will need to restart your server.
This guide is only for servers running Windows and IIS.
Your Web Applications (Web Sites) will also need to have an SSL Cert.
Step 1: Download IIS Crypto 2.0
Go to Nartac and download IISCrypto.exe to your server.
Step 2: Run IIS Crypto 2.0
Run the executable you just downloaded. It is a portable program so it doesn't install anything. The program should display a screen similar to the one shown here.
Step 3: Click the Best Practices Button
On the screen click the "Best Practices" button on the bottom left or select the options you want. The window should then look like the screen below. Once you are happy with the selected tick boxes. Click the "Apply" button.
Step 3: Restart your Server
After you clicked "Apply" you will need to reboot your server. IIS Crypto will tell you to do this (it will not reboot the server for you).
Step 4: Check your server at Qualys SSL Labs
Once your server and IIS has come back online you will need to check the rating of your server. Enter the URL of the site or the IP address of the server and have Qualys SSL test your server. You will want to get at least an A rating for server. If you do not get an A rating you will need to review your server's security settings and re-run the SSL Report.
I hope this helps anyone who may want to update their servers security.
Lately I learned of a new tool which gets and sets an SSL certificate automatically for you and renews itself every 3 months - Let's Encrypt.
I was eager to try out this new service on one of our Umbraco sites however, there was an issue when I tried to run the program.
Let's Encrypt adds a folder called ".well-known" to the root of the site. It then uses this folder to verify the site and issue an SSL certificate. When you attempt to do this using an Umbraco site you will be given an error which says something along the lines of "Let's Encrypt cannot access this folder".
In order to get the SSL issued and installed you will need to modify the WebConfig of your Umbraco site like below.
<add key="umbracoReservedPaths" value="~/umbraco,~/install/" />
<add key="umbracoReservedPaths" value="~/umbraco,~/install/,~/.well-known/" />
Re-run the Let's Encrypt program and the SSL certificate should then be issued and installed for your Umbraco site.
Note: That this will also work for Azure hosted Umbraco sites using the KUDU Let's Encrypt site extension.
I recently wrote how we submitted our first Octopus Deploy template to their online library for deploying .Net web apps to AWS Elastic Beanstalk using Octopus Deploy.
This time we needed to automate AWS Cloudfront cache invalidation. Turns out there are a few different ways to achieve this. You can either do it from the AWS console, by making a REST request or by using the AWS CLI tool.
Since authenticating against the AWS REST API is a bit more complex than we feel is necessary for the purpose of using it within an Octopus Deploy step, we decided to go with the AWS CLI approach (it's much easier to authenticate).
One more GitHub pull request and one more Octopus Deploy step template in their library in hope it might find someone in need. :)
The PowerShell script that does the hard work in the background of the template is the following (just fill in the AWS configuration variables):
$CredentialsProfileName = ""
$Region = ""
$DistributionId = ""
$AccessKey = ""
$SecretKey = ""
$InvalidationPaths = ""
Write-Host "Setting up AWS profile environment"
aws configure set aws_access_key_id $AccessKey --profile $CredentialsProfileName
aws configure set aws_secret_access_key $SecretKey --profile $CredentialsProfileName
aws configure set default.region $Region --profile $CredentialsProfileName
aws configure set preview.cloudfront true --profile $CredentialsProfileName
Write-Host "Initiating AWS cloudfront invalidation of the following paths:"
aws cloudfront create-invalidation --profile $CredentialsProfileName --distribution-id $DistributionId --paths $InvalidationPaths
Write-Host "Please note that it may take up to 15-20 minutes for AWS to complete the cloudfront cache invalidation"
The script uses profile setup for AWS credentials. If you don't want to use the profiles, you can just remove that bits from the script but then you might have to re-setup credentials for a different project every time.
Happy New Year! Here is a small 2017 present from Dovetail to everyone.
We normally use Azure to host the apps we make. The whole build and deploy with a single click process using TeamCity and Octopus Deploy is in place and it's trivial for us to add new projects to this pipeline.
Recently however, one of our clients wanted to host the .Net web app we're building for them on Amazon Web Services (AWS) because that's where the rest of their infrastructure is. Naturally not too many people host their .Net apps on AWS because MS Azure feels like a more natural fit. This meant it was a bit harder to find a fast and easy way to automate the deployment process to AWS through Octopus Deploy.
Anyway, we found this kind of half-baked solution (thanks!) on GitHub, made a few modifications, wrapped it up in a nice Octopus step template and made a pull request to Octopus library. :)
The template got accepted and can now be obtained from their library.
We hope it might help someone else and save them some time in setting the whole thing up.
Also, here are some more resources about deploying .Net apps to AWS which we found interesting.
codeproject.com - AWS deployment with octopus deploy
AWS docs - awsdeploy.exe tool
Octopus discussions - AWS elastic beanstalk
Octopus discussions - Modifying machines in environments to support AWS autoscaling
Octopus discussions - AWS beanstalk deployment using octopus deploy
This short blog post will provide you with two SQL stored procedures which work with the SQL geometry data type to figure out how a lat/lng point correlates to spatial shapes on the DB level.
What this means is - you provide lat/lng and the DB returns all the shapes which this point intersects with or in the other case returns the nearest shapes to that point.
You could also use the geography type for this and the code should end up being only slightly more complex than this but we didn't have the need for that so we ended up using the geometry type.
We used these to identify company branches for a certain location on the map. The geometry data is stored in the SpatialData field (of geometry type), and we're returning the BranchId and BranchName but you should obviously modify that to your needs.
CREATE PROC SP_GET_INTERSECTING_BRANCHES
DECLARE @point GEOMETRY
SET @point = GEOMETRY::Point(@lng, @lat, 4326)
SELECT BranchId, BranchName FROM [dbo].[Branch]
WHERE @point.STIntersects(SpatialData) = 1
CREATE PROC SP_GET_CLOSEST_BRANCHES
DECLARE @point GEOMETRY
SET @point = GEOMETRY::Point(@lng, @lat, 4326)
SELECT TOP (@amount) BranchId, BranchName, @point.STDistance(SpatialData) AS Distance FROM [dbo].[Branch]
ORDER BY @point.STDistance(SpatialData)
Hope it helps. Cheers!
Congratulations are in order as the following Dovetailers passed their Microsoft Certification exams.
Tomás and Murilo passed 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server
Fabrizio and Kit passed 70-483: Programming in C#
John and Mossy passed 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
Progression is one of Dovetail's core values and we promote constant learning and improvement. In the fast-moving technical sector, no one can afford to sit still and we are already planning next year's Progression Goals.