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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

AX 2012 and a look at some more complex Datacontract concepts and usage





With the release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, one topic that I have been covering a good bit is around Services. There is good reason, and why a lot of other Dynamics Community bloggers and thought leaders have spent a lot of time talking about this topic. That reason, is the design importance that exists around services, and it's usage for an AX implementation. This is the new reality, and part of what makes AX 2012 Powerfully Simple.

As stated before, services are meant to be used internally and externally, with an AX 2012 solution. They enable some really great possibilities, and it's easier than ever to create, modify, and administer services than ever before.

One of the topics, I wanted to spend a little time on this evening, is around some more complex concepts for Data contracts, and the intended use within AX 2012.

There are a couple of points to cover here, and the first one is the proper code syntax for enabling a data contract, to have a property that is a list of child data contracts.

So to get to the meat of this area, the idea here is that you have a data contract. Within this data contract, you want to have a few properties that make up the contract, as well as a collection of other data contracts, that represent some business value, directly associated and therefore related to the parent data contract. I've mentioned before, in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 - A Dive into Services, Custom Services (Part II) post, about the use of Attributes to define data contracts with.

To enable this more complex need, Attributes in AX 2012 are very much a need in this case. To help set the stage for this review, we need a project, and two X++ classes.



You see in the above image, a project and two classes. A Parent and Child Data Contract X++ class. This is stated, visibly through the names of this classes, however, lets take a look at the make up of said classes.

First we need a parent class, this is the starting data contract, and so the following is the makeup of the parent data contract. I would like to point out that the following is not an image, but text, with some nice CSS that color and font the X++ to look like you see in the MorphX IDE.

So first we have the parent Class Declaration.:


[DataContractAttribute]
class idbParentDC
{
List _children;
str _someField;
}


After that we have two other methods we need to look at. This is a simple DataAttribute method, and then the more complex method that enables the storage of a collection, in our case a list, of Child data contracts.



[DataMemberAttribute("SomeField")]
public str parmSomeField(str s=_someField)
{

_someField = s;
return _someField;

}


So the above uses a simple DataMemberAttribute tag, that sets the property name of this given data contract, for the parmSomeField, equal to "SomeField". This is a very simple datatype of str, and therefore not much is needed in order to describe this method to AX so the proper WSDL is created.

Enter the more complex need, of working with collections. Since Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is not a strongly typed language, however it interacts with XML and WCF Services that demand collections be strongly typed a bridge or ability to create strongly typed collections must exist. What to do?

Here we continue the use of Attribute meta tags that are new to AX 2012, that define to the AX what the collection type is for coming into the class, and represented in being sent back for consumption back to the consuming entity of the given data contract.

So we have the following.:


[DataMemberAttribute("Children"),
AifCollectionTypeAttribute("l",Types::Class, classStr(idbChildDC)),
AifCollectionTypeAttribute("return",Types::Class, classStr(idbChildDC))]
public List parmChildren(List l =_Children)
{
_Children = l;
return _Children;
}


With the above we see the use of the AifCollectionTypeAttribute. This is being used to define the collection type, of list, containing a collection of idbChildDC objects. Also, since this method returns a collection, a List of object, the AifCollectionTypeAttribute, in turn is also used to describe the list of objects returned.

If you want to use such a concept, the above is a must. AX 2012 does not offer any flexibility in this regard, and if you don't correctly supply these AifCollectionTypeAttribute tags, the client will shut down on you.

Well that's all for now for this topic. With the above, you should be able to easily work with more complex concepts for Data Contracts in AX 2012. I will continue this mini-series of post, if you will, with taking the above and running it through the SysOperations Framework, and working with the SysPackable interface in AX 2012. That's all for now, till next time!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Parthav said...

when i tried to deploy the port,it gives an error : An attribute of type 'AifCollectionTypeAttribute' has not been defined. Method: 'ZonProduct.parmProductAttribute', Parameter: ''.
Any Idea about this error?

I have defined everything as it is shown in your blog.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Parthav,

have you find a solution to this problem? since i am facing the same issue.

please help

10:47 AM  

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