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DataBind Charts to USPS Data

Use the standard ADO.NET procedures for databinding to provide bidirectional access to USPS data from controls in the Visual Studio toolbox. This article demonstrates a graphical approach using wizards in Visual Studio, as well as how to databind with only a few lines of code.

DataBinding enables bidirectional access to data from UI controls. You can use the CData ADO.NET Provider for USPS to easily databind USPS data to Windows Forms and Web controls in Visual Studio. This article shows how to use wizards to databind USPS data to a chart that reflects any changes. The code walk-through section shows how to create a chart in 10 lines of code.

DataBind to a Chart

DataBinding consists of three steps: Instantiate the control, configure the data source, and databind.

Configure the Connection and Select Database Objects

Follow the procedure below to use the Data Source Configuration Wizard to create a chart control and the connection to USPS. In the wizard, you can select the USPS entities you want to databind.

  1. In a Windows Forms project, drag and drop a Chart control from the toolbox to the form. In the Data section of the Chart properties, select DataSource and then select Add Project Data Source from the menu.
  2. In the Data Source Configuration Wizard that appears, select Database -> Dataset.
  3. In the Choose Your Data Connection step, click New Connection.
  4. In the Add Connection dialog, click Change to select the CData USPS Data Source.

    Below is a typical connection string:

    PostageProvider=ENDICIA; RequestId=12345; Password='abcdefghijklmnopqr'; AccountNumber='12A3B4C'

    To authenticate with USPS, set the following connection properties.

    • PostageProvider: The postage provider to use to process requests. Available options are ENDICIA and STAMPS. If unspecified, this property will default to ENDICIA.
    • UseSandbox: This controls whether live or test requests are sent to the production or sandbox servers. If set to true, the Password, AccountNumber, and StampsUserId properties are ignored.
    • StampsUserId: This value is used for logging into authentication to the Stamps servers. This value is not applicable for Endicia and is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • Password: This value is used for logging into Endicia and Stamps servers. If the postage provider is Endicia, this will be the pass phrase associated with your postage account. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • AccountNumber: The shipper's account number. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • PrintLabelLocation: This property is required to use the GenerateLabels or GenerateReturnLabels stored procedures. This should be set to the folder location where generated labels should be stored.

    The Cache Database

    Many of the useful task available from USPS require a lot of data. To ensure this data is easy to input and recall later, utilize a cache database to make requests. Set the cache connection properties in order to use the cache:

    • CacheLocation: The path to the cache location, for which a connection will be configured with the default cache provider. For example, C:\users\username\documents\uspscache

    As an alternative to CacheLocation, set the combination of CacheConnection and CacheProvider to configure a cache connection using a provider separate from the default.

    When you configure the connection, you may also want to set the Max Rows connection property. This will limit the number of rows returned, which is especially helpful for improving performance when designing reports and visualizations.

  5. Choose the database objects you want to work with. This example uses the Senders table.

DataBind

After adding the data source and selecting database objects, you can bind the objects to the chart. This example assigns the x-axis to FirstName and the y-axis to Phone.

  1. In the Chart properties, click the button in the Series property to open the Series Collection Editor.
  2. In the Series properties, select the columns you want for the x- and y-axes: Select columns from the menu in the XValueMember and YValueMember properties.

The chart is now databound to the USPS data. Run the chart to display the current data.

Code Walk-through

DataBinding to USPS data requires only a few lines of code and can be completed in three easy steps.

  1. Connect to USPS.
  2. Create the USPSDataAdapter to execute the query and create a DataSet to be filled with its results.
  3. DataBind the result set to the chart.

Below is the complete code:

USPSConnection conn = new USPSConnection("PostageProvider=ENDICIA; RequestId=12345; Password='abcdefghijklmnopqr'; AccountNumber='12A3B4C'"); USPSCommand comm = new USPSCommand("SELECT FirstName, Phone FROM Senders WHERE SenderID = '25'", conn); USPSDataAdapter da = new USPSDataAdapter(comm); DataSet dataset = new DataSet(); da.Fill(dataset); chart1.DataSource = dataset; chart1.Series[0].XValueMember = "FirstName"; chart1.Series[0].YValueMembers = "Phone"; // Insert code for additional chart formatting here. chart1.DataBind();