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Comparison of MVC implementation between J2EE Struts 2 & ASP.NET MVC 2, who is the best? Part 2

, , 27 Apr 2011
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This article will compare frameworks of Java and ASP.NET.

So, what’s the agenda?

In case you are new to ASP.NET MVC and J2ee Struts framework

Overall Comparison with framework

Automation using template

Passing data from controller to view

Readymade folder structure

Strong type views for intellisense

Helper classes

URL customization and action mapping

URL validation

Security

Final conclusion

Thanks Vishwa

 

So, what’s the agenda?

In our previous article we had compared MVC implementation for J2ee and ASP.NET without using frameworks; to view comparison click ASP.NET MVC and J2ee MVC.

In today’s world no one implements MVC without help of frameworks. So it’s either ASP.NET or j2ee, framework support is a must. Struts 2 has been the most accepted framework in J2ee while in ASP.NET the ASP.NET MVC template is the king. In this article we will compare these frameworks in terms of how they differ in implementation and their positive and negative points.

In this article we will compare both frameworks using 8 agenda points: -

  • Automation
  • Passing data between controller to views
  • URL customization
  • Security
  • Folder structure management
  • Intellisense support
  • HTML automation (helper classes).

Do watch our .Net interview questions and answers video from this link .NET interview questions and answers, you can also catch out J2ee Design pattern videos from this link Java J2ee Design pattern.

In case you are new to ASP.NET MVC and J2ee Struts framework

In case you are not aware of the frameworks you can see the below videos to just get a quick start in both the frameworks

Click here to view simple ASP.NET MVC video which displays a hello world.

Click here to view simple J2EE struts video to teach struts 2 with the help of an example.

Overall Comparison with framework

Before even I start below is a full comparison sheet which gives an overall view of the comparison. The same we will be discussing in more detail as we proceed in the article.

Comparison points Microsoft MVC 2 template MVC using J2ee framework (Struts 2)
Template Automation In built with Visual studio Need to use open source plug in like http://mvcwebproject.sourceforge.net 
Passing data from controller to view. New session management techniques like “viewdata” and “tempdata” are introduced. Uses the same request object inherently using same request interceptor.
Readymade folder structure The MVC template creates a readymade logical folder structure for view, controllers and model. Does not have a logical folder structure like ASP.NET MVC, but can be created manually.
Strong typed views for intellisense Has string typed view support for better intellisense. Achieved by using type casting.
Helper classes Helper classes Tag libraries
URL customization and action mapping Uses behind code. Uses the Struts 2 XML file.
URL validation URL validation can be done easily using regex. Currently no inbuilt mechanism but can be achieved by customized coding.
Security Has readymade security attributes by which we can avoid cross site, SQL injection. Currently no inherent feature but can be achieved by customized coding.

Automation using template

The first thing which caught our eyes is the Microsoft VS IDE which has a nice readymade template from where developers can start. In MVC J2ee framework the core struts framework does not have something inherent as Microsoft MVC has it.

Said and done that it does not mean J2EE community is lagging; you can still take help of open source plug-in to get the template from http://mvcwebproject.sourceforge.net. Below is a simple snapshot of MVC web project template.

The only difference it’s not inherent like Microsoft MVC.

Conclusion: - Definitely Microsoft wins here in terms of more user friendly interfaces and automation due to the MVC template. In j2ee struts framework we need to hunt for a third party plug which will help us to achieve the same kind automation.

Passing data from controller to view

In MVC one of the most crucial parts is transferring data from controller to view. Microsoft MVC introduces a new variable called as ‘ViewData’ which will help us to transport data between controller and view as shown in the below code snippet.

The below code snippet sets data in the controller.

ViewData["CurrentTime"] = DateTime.Now.ToString();

The below code snippet displays data on the view.

J2ee Struts framework uses the HTTP request object to pass data from controller to the view. The below code snippet sets a simple date value to the request object using the ‘setAttribute’ function. In ASP.NET MVC we cannot change the request object.

request.setAttribute(“CurrentTime”,new Date());

Later we can display the data using ‘getAttribute’.

 

Conclusion: - First thing both the technologies have the facility of passing data, but somehow j2ee Struts framework thought process looks more convincing. At the end of the day view gets a HTTP request, so it’s more logical to pass data using the request objects rather than creating a new variable like view data for the same.

Many ASP.NET MVC fans (which includes me) can also argue logically that the request object is created by using the data sent by the end user i.e. from the browser. This data should not be allowed to be changed in between by the web application code. The request object should only be allowed to be modified by the end user using POST and GET.

For this I will give equal point to both of them for now.

Readymade folder structure

In ASP.NET MVC the template creates a readymade folder structure (they are termed as areas) which gives a developer a clear picture of where to store the model, views and controllers as shown in the below figure.

In j2EE struts framework we do not have the clear cut vocabulary for folders as we have in ASP.NET MVC. In J2EE framework the controller and model lies in Java resources folder, while the views are saved in web content folder as show in the below diagram.

Said and done you can always manually rename and create different folder structure to have the same logical representation as we have in ASP.NET MVC , only that it’s not automated.

As per our knowledge the above logical structure is not possible currently by using any J2EE struts plug-in either.

Conclusion: - ASP.NET MVC has a slight advantage in terms of better project management due to readymade logical folder structure, while in J2ee framework we need to create them manually.

Strong type views for intellisense

In ASP.NET MVC you have a nice option where you can create strongly typed view. In other words when you add a view you can select the model with which this view will connect.

Later when you go in the view and type model keyword you can get the properties of the object in a strongly typed manner.

In java we do not have the concept of strongly typed view. If you want you can set the object in request.getAttribute and then to a type cast to get the object intellisense.

Conclusion: - This feature can look very exciting for ASP.NET community but it was bit amusing for my J2ee friends (I think they are right in lot of sense also). The whole purpose of strong typed views in ASP.NET MVC is for better intellisense which we can be achieved by type casting data from view data object as shown in the below figure.

The biggest problem here is that developers can start thinking that the model is tied up the view. We understand the intention is not that, but the dialog box just makes a visual intention of doing the same. The end goal of MVC is to separate the model from the view.

So concluding it’s a good feature to get maximum from less code but just that it can be confusing for junior developers who are working on MVC. For a small automation I hope we do not end with a logical confusion about MVC fundamental.

Equal points again to both. I am not giving an extra point to ASP.NET MVC as view thing is more confusing and can be achieved by typecasting.

Helper classes

A good MVC framework will always provide helper classes to create HTML code for views.

In ASP.NET MVC we have the helper classes. For instance to create a simple HTML form in ASP.NET MVC you can use the HTML helper class as shown in the below code.

In j2ee struts framework we have tag libraries which help us to generate the HTML code as it is done by using ASP.NET MVC html helper classes.

Conclusion: - Both the frameworks have HTML helper classes. Let’s not get in to which library is better or else we will lose focus on our main comparison. So even points to both the framework on this discussion.

URL customization and action mapping

MVC is all about actions and these actions are mapped to URL. As a developer you would love to see your MVC framework have the capability of customizing and configuring the MVC URL with action mapping. Below is a simple table which explains why developers would expect customization and configuration for MVC URL’s.

Incoming URL Controller Action Description
http://www.questpond.com/LocateProduct SearchProductController Search This action will help us to get all products.
http://www.questpond.com/LocateProduct/100 SearchProductController Search(1001) This action will help us to get all products with code 1001.
http://www.questpond.com/Create MaintainProductController Create This action will help us to create a new product.
http://www.questpond.com/Modify/1001 MaintainProductController Modify(1001 This action will help us to modify product with product code 1001.

In ASP.NET MVC this is achieved by using the inbuilt routing mechanism. In order to configure routes you can go to the global.asx.cs code and use the routes collection to map the URL structure with the controllers and actions.

routes.MapRoute(
               "HelloWorld", // Route name
               "Pages/RegisterAction/{1}", // URL with parameters
               new { controller = "Register", action = "RegisterAction", id = UrlParameter.Optional }); // Parameter defaults

In order to configure MVC URL in J2ee struts framework we can use the Struts XML file to the same. The below mapping is more clean than the routing collection of ASP.NET MVC. In J2ee framework we can see the mappings more better as they are mapped directly to page names.

   

Conclusion: - J2ee Struts framework definitely wins in terms of MVC URL configuration and mapping to the controller as its defined using XML file. This thing can be really improved in ASP.NET MVC framework. To change the mapping compiling code is more of a burden.

URL validation

In ASP.NET MVC we have the advantage of doing URL validation using regex (regular expression) before the action hits the controller. For instance below is a simple validation where before the view customer action is called we can check that the input to the action is only numeric value with 2 digits.

routes.MapRoute(
               "View", // Route name
               "View/ViewCustomer/{id}", // URL with parameters
               new { controller = "Customer", action = "DisplayCustomer", id = 0 }, new { id = @"\d{1,2}" }
);

Currently J2ee struts framework does not support the same, said and done you can always still do validation after hitting the controller using some custom logic.

Conclusion: - This is definitely a plus point for ASP.NET MVC because MVC URL’s can be invoked from any medium, via browser, via URLs etc. So we would like to ensure that appropriate validation is checked much before it hits the controller.

Security

MVC URL’s are mapped to action and they can be invoked directly which also means that they are subjected to cross site attacks, sql injection etc. ASP.NET MVC framework has provided security attributes by which we can protect our URL from such attacks.

For instance to prevent forgery attacks and cross site scripting attacks we can use the ‘HtmLAntiForgeryToken()’ as shown in the below code snippet.

In the actions later you can then check if there was any violation.

[HttpPost] [ValidateAntiForgeryToken]
public ActionResult Delete(int customerid)
{

}

You can also mark the controller by using validate input attribute to avoid CSS.

[ValidateInput(true)]
public class OurController : Controller

Critical functions on which you do not want actions to be invoked you can mark the methods as ‘nonaction’ as shown in the below code snippet.

[NonAction]
public void DoPasswordChange(string username, string newpassword)
{
    /* Rest of code unchanged */
}

In J2ee Struts framework currently we do not have any inherent security function to achieve the same. Some customized code.

Conclusion: - This is the biggest win for ASP.NET MVC framework security. Hope that J2ee struts framework in coming times has such kind of inherent security feature which will be a great extra added advantage for the framework.

Final conclusion

Below is the final conclusion. ASP.NET MVC framework out performs J2ee in 4 things while J2ee has the flexible XML URL customization which is currently not available in ASP.NET MVC. For all the other points both of them remain on the same page.

I have tried my level best to put forward both the sides and while doing so I never had in my mind that I am an ASP.NET Microsoft MVP and I should hard sell ASP.NET MVC framework. I have made by best effort to make a true comparison and see which one of them is the best. I do understand how every developer loves his technology, by any chance I have hurted….BIG SORRY.

Thanks Vishwa

Special thanks to Mr Vishwanathan Narayanan who helped me to give inputs on the J2EE side without which I would not have achieved the same. You can see his Java and j2ee design patterns videos by clicking on Java J2ee Design pattern videos.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Authors

Shivprasad koirala
Architect http://www.questpond.com
India India

I am a Microsoft MVP for ASP/ASP.NET and currently a CEO of a small
E-learning company in India. We are very much active in making training videos ,
writing books and corporate trainings. Do visit my site for 
.NET, C# , design pattern , WCF , Silverlight
, LINQ , ASP.NET , ADO.NET , Sharepoint , UML , SQL Server  training 
and Interview questions and answers


Vishwanath Narayanan
Architect
India India
I am an architect in Java and J2EE technologies having hands on experience on variety of frameworks, libraries under Java cover.
I conduct training for java technologies like design patterns, j2ee, Struts, Hibernate, Spring, Rich Interface etc and likes to write articles on the same in free time.

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralNice article as usual PinmemberJaydeep Jadav31-Mar-13 20:49 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberUnque18-Jan-13 4:18 
BugLook Like You are new to MVC PinmemberMember 964906210-Jan-13 19:39 
GeneralRe: Look Like You are new to MVC PinmvpShivprasad koirala10-Jan-13 20:11 
QuestionGood comparision PinmemberGanesanSenthilvel13-Nov-11 17:19 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberokdone5-Oct-11 5:18 
GeneralReally good article, but... [modified] Pinmemberluisserrano2-May-11 22:10 
GeneralRe: Really good article, but... PinmvpShivprasad koirala3-May-11 1:19 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmembertecgoblin2-May-11 19:51 
GeneralRe: My vote of 4 PinmvpShivprasad koirala3-May-11 1:20 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembertwburger28-Apr-11 13:17 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberbezveza28-Apr-11 2:11 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberRobert_Dyball27-Apr-11 19:08 
GeneralAs usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people PinmemberIhatedotnet27-Apr-11 9:15 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people PinmvpShivprasad koirala27-Apr-11 16:54 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people Pinmembertwburger28-Apr-11 13:20 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people Pinmembertecgoblin2-May-11 19:50 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people Pinmemberluisserrano2-May-11 22:21 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people Pinmembertec-goblin2-May-11 22:40 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people PinmvpShivprasad koirala3-May-11 1:15 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people [modified] Pinmemberluisserrano2-May-11 22:14 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people PinmvpShivprasad koirala3-May-11 1:18 
GeneralRe: As usual a Microsoft MVP promotes his own product and thats what i hate about these Microsoft people PinmemberGustavo Valdes3-May-11 13:02 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmvpMarcelo Ricardo de Oliveira27-Apr-11 1:36 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembersurajfrommumbai27-Apr-11 0:22 

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