This project is read-only.


Who Can Help Me? is a web application that allows communities to capture skill profiles, making it easier to find people who can help you. It is also a technology showcase of Sharp Architecture (including ASP.NET MVC 1.0, NHibernate & Fluent NHibernate).

wchm-home-sm.jpg wchm-authenticate-sm.jpg wchm-profile-sm.jpg wchm-search-sm.jpg wchm-edit-profile-sm.jpg


The source code has been migrated to GitHub so users can fork & share their own branches of code. See for more info


There are currently three branches of Who Can Help Me?
  1. The "Main" branch contains vanilla WCHM - running against the 1.5 version of Sharp Architecture
  2. The "N2CMS" branch demonstrates how to integrate N2CMS into the framework
  3. The "VS2010" branch contains a vanilla version of WCHM that runs in Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0.


Who Can Help Me? was originally written in just over 3 hours using ASP.NET WebForms and LINQ to SQL to try and solve the business problem of creating a searchable skills matrix that would allow people within an organisation find other people who had specific skills or expertise who could help them solve a particular problem. The application has now been re-written using Sharp Architecture and many other Open Source Frameworks & Tools.


James Broome has written a superb Q&A that covers many of the architectural decisions behind Who Can Help Me - the questions were posed by a developer new to the solution & architecture.

Development Team

We worked together developing Fancy Dress Outfitters - a retail ecommerce solution based on Sharp Architecture and a myriad of other OSS tools and frameworks. We've blogged about the various aspects of building that solution but we wanted to give more back to the community by creating Who Can Help Me? - a demo application that follows the same architectural pattern we used for Fancy Dress Outfitters, a pattern that worked so well for us that we built the entire Fancy Dress Outfitters solution from scratch in 10 x 2 week iterations.

The Who Can Help Me? development team consists of:

Open Source Frameworks & Tools

Who Can Help Me? is built using the following Open Source Frameworks and tools:

Architectural Overview

Who Can Help Me? is based on Sharp Architecture, which already provides a vast amount of documentation to help you understand the overall architecture and architectural goals of the framework on the Sharp Architecture Wiki.

There are also several excellent screencasts at covering Sharp Architecture: also has screencasts covering many of the Open Source Frameworks and Tools that Who Can Help Me? uses:

We also heartily recommend you checkout some of the excellent screencasts available at TekPub, especially the Mastering NHibernate series.

Architectural Concepts

In Who Can Help Me? we have tried to cover several core architectural concepts:

Separation of Concerns

This covers the more traditional architectural notion but also covers SoC from a Team / Discipline perspective.

Testability, Inversion of Control & Single Responsibility Principal

These three concepts go hand-in-hand.; the best way to make your code testable is to implement Inversion of Control, so that you mock your dependencies. If you make sure your code follows the SRP then testing is further simplified because you are enforcing that your code should do one thing only. Within Who Can Help Me? we used Behaviour Driven Design, using the Machine.Specifications (MSpec) BDD Framework and RhinoMocks.

Aspect Oriented Programming

Another key concept demonstrated in Who Can Help Me is the use of AOP via PostSharp to remove repetitive commodity code from your solution and to refactor this boilerplate code into PostSharp Aspects which you can easily apply to your areas of your application. Within Who Can Help Me we make use of AOP to manage the caching infrastructure.

Client Side File Versioning

One aspect of web development that is generally overlook is versioning of client side files, for example static content such as CSS & JS files as the user can experience errors or code malfunctions once a new version of the web application is deployed and static files on the client machine become out of sync with the newer static files required by the new version of the web application. Who Can Help Me demonstrates a simple, yet effective solution to this problem.

Sharp Architecture

Used as the architectural reference for the MVC solution structure, however, we moved away from the original reference in the following ways.


Various layers of the Sharp Architecture solution were re-named by the team:

Data -> Infrastructure

Renamed as our Data namespace ended up containing more than just our own repositories of data and included third party services. When the rubber hits the road for any DB, webservice, WCF, integration calls, it goes here.

Core -> Domain + Framework

We split out domain entities into the Domain namespace, and anything that was generic, core, functionality into the Framework namespace. The idea being that Framework could be reused across projects, however Domain was, well, domain specific.

ApplicationServices -> Tasks

A simple and subtle change, but removes the confusion over the difference between Application Services and Domain Services. DDD is all about language, and we found that as soon as we started talking about our Application Services layer as a Tasks Layer, then things seemed to start to make more sense. We mandate the use of the Tasks layer, as a logical application boundary. Controllers are presentation logic, so any business logic (e.g. validation) must happen behind the Tasks layer.

Read Billy McCafferty's take on this here

View Models

Sharp Architecture does not prescribe the use of view models, however, through experience we found that it better practice to have a default stance of using them. The majority of the boiler plate mapping code can be handled by AutoMapper, leaving your controllers clean.

Architecture Diagram

Below is the logical architecture of the Who Can Help Me application:


Below is a dependency graph of the components within the Who Can Help Me application (generated by NDepend). As you can see, the Who Can Help Me application is quite loosely coupled:



In order to get up and running with Who Can Help Me?, a few dependencies are required:

To get the maximum benefits of ASP.NET MVC and extensionless URLs, it's recommended that you use IIS 7.0. If you are running on IIS 6, please see this guide for setup information

Install Instructions

  1. Download a copy of the source, for examples sake, extract it into c:\Projects\Codeplex\WhoCanHelpMe
  2. Edit your hosts file and add the following entry:
  3. In IIS create a new site and call this "WhoCanHelpMe"
  4. Set the host name within the bindings dialog for this site to be
  5. Under "Basic Settings" set the physical path of the site to be C:\Projects\CodePlex\WhoCanHelpMe\Main\Solutions\WhoCanHelpMe.Web
  6. If you do not have Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition GDR 2 installed, then please ensure you have SQL Server (Express or Developer) installed and run the script located in C:\Projects\CodePlex\WhoCanHelpMe\Main\Data\create-db-and-data.sql
  7. Run the RunFirst script to set up the assembly versioning at C:\Projects\CodePlex\WhoCanHelpMe\Main\Build\RunFirst.cmd
  8. Make sure the solution builds and all the tests pass by running C:\Projects\CodePlex\WhoCanHelpMe\Main\Build\RunSpecs.cmd
  9. Browse to your site at


See for a live demo.

Last edited May 23, 2010 at 10:12 PM by HowardvanRooijen, version 87