I do a lot of backend programming for Flash frontends. That basically means a lot of ASPX pages that simply return some XML and accept some incoming XML for parameters. Most of the UI logic ends up getting cluttered with manual XML stringbuilding, so I saw this as an obvious opportunity to play around with a fluent interfaces.
Now, here’s an example of a typical boolean yes/no result from a Flash query:
I’d usually create this bit of XML using a simple StringBuilder like so:
This has the advantage of being very fast to write, but readability suffers from the escaped quotes, lack of indentation and there’s a whole lot of text when the XML becomes just a bit more advanced.
A “prettier” way is to use the DOM through the XmlDocument like so:
While this does produce exactly the same XML, it takes up twice as many lines of code, excluding the whitespace lines. Without whitespace it is even more unreadable.
Let me introduce you to my quick’n’simple fluent interface that uses XmlDocument internally, XmlOutput:
Using XmlOutput we’re down to four lines, the shortest example yet. While linecount is not, and should not be, a measurement of quality, it is preferred. I believe using XmlOutput is, by far, the most readable example.
Basically, using Node() creates a new node within the current node. If no node has been created previously, it will automatically be the root node. Any time a new node is created, it automatically becomes the “current node”. Calling Within() moves the context into the current node, thus any newly created nodes will be created within that node. Attribute() will add an attribute to the current node, likewise will InnerText() set the InnerText of the current node. EndWithin() moves the context to the parent node, it is not mandatory for “closing” the nodes, it is only required when you actually need to move the scope.
Let me present you with a couple of examples. Dynamic data:
And complex structures:
Finally, say hello to XmlOutput:
Mark S. Rasmussen
I'm the CTO at iPaper where I cuddle with databases, mold code and maintain the overall technical & team responsibility. I'm an avid speaker at user groups & conferences. I love life, motorcycles, photography and all things technical. Say hi on Twitter, write me an email or look me up on LinkedIn.