Click here to Skip to main content
Click here to Skip to main content
Go to top

The Model-View-Controller(MVC) Pattern with C#/WinForms

, 30 Dec 2013
Rate this:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
Briefly and clearly about MVC implementation, without lengthy discussion or minor details

Introduction

This article is used to demonstrate the MVC Pattern in .NET using C#/WinForm.

Here a simple "User Information Manager" application which is organized according the the Model-View-Controller(MVC) pattern.

The application displays a list of contacts and allows you to add, modify, and delete existing contacts. The idea is to separate the user interface into View (creates the display, calling the Model as necessary to get information) and Controller (responds to user requests, interacting with both the View and Controller as necessary). The main advantage of MVC pattern is Loose Coupling. All the layers are separated with their own functionality. It is easy to replace a layer with some other type of layer. In other words, MVC pattern is to break up UI behavior into separate pieces in order to increase reuse possibilities and testability. I am using Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with .NET 4.0 for creating this Application.

Background

Model-View-Controller as the name applies considers three pieces:

  • Model: it should be responsible for the data of the application domain
  • View:   it presents the display of the model in the user interface
  • Controller: it is really the heart of the MVC, the intermediary that ties the Model and the View together, i.e. it takes user input, manipulates the model & causes the view to update
  •                   
For more information about MVC, please see the following article from Wikipedia

The Solution

The User Information Manager is an application where you can store your customers' contact information. The application displays a list of contacts and allows you to add, modify, and delete existing contacts. All customers have an ID, first name, last name and sex. The screen that operator of this app uses to maintain his list of customers could look something like this: 

       

List of customers can be viewed, added, removed and updated (currently is contains only V.I.P Members, but if you want to become a member of the club, just ask Smile | <img src= " src="http://www.codeproject.com/script/Forums/Images/smiley_smile.gif" /> .... and no problems, it's free). After a new user is added, his ID cannot change anymore.

The Class Diagram

In the design of a system, a number of classes are identified and grouped together in a class diagram which helps to determine the relations between objects.

The Description of Components

Part of Controller

In order to detach logic from the View, we have to make a View feel as helpless as possible, so we'd prefer to make the Controller do all the hard work and just hand the View some simple commands that do not require any further processing. According to our design, we do this by defining an interface, IUsersView, which the View must implement. This interface contain only the signatures of properties/methods we need to use.

using System;
using WinFormMVC.Model;

namespace WinFormMVC.Controller
{
    public interface IUsersView
    {
        void SetController(UsersController controller);
        void ClearGrid();
        void AddUserToGrid(User user);
        void UpdateGridWithChangedUser(User user);
        void RemoveUserFromGrid(User user);
        string GetIdOfSelectedUserInGrid();
        void SetSelectedUserInGrid(User user);

        string FirstName     { get; set; }
        string LastName      { get; set; }
        string ID    { get; set; }
        string Department    { get; set; }
        User.SexOfPerson Sex { get; set; }  
        bool CanModifyID     {      set; }
    }
}

Now we have a fairly good interface with number of methods. Even if the MVC pattern formally declares that the Controller should receive the events and act upon the View, is often more practical and easier to have the View subscribe to the events and then delegate the handling to the Controller.

Finally I show the actual realization of the Controller (see the UsersController class). He hooks up the Model (User class) with View (UserView class).

public class UsersController
{
    //Notice we only use the interfaces. This makes the test more 
    //robust to changes in the system.
    IUsersView _view;
    IList      _users;
    User       _selectedUser;

    //The UsersController depends on abstractions(interfaces).
    //It's easier than ever to change the behavior of a concrete class. 
    //Instead of creating concrete objects in UsersController class, 
    //we pass the objects to the constructor of UsersController
    public UsersController(IUsersView view, IList users)
    {
       _view = view;
       _users = users;
       view.SetController(this);
    }

    public IList Users
    {
       get { return ArrayList.ReadOnly(_users); }
    }

    private void updateViewDetailValues(User usr)
    {
       _view.FirstName   =  usr.FirstName;
       _view.LastName    =  usr.LastName;
       _view.ID  =  usr.ID;
       _view.Department  =  usr.Department;
       _view.Sex =  usr.Sex;
    }

    private void updateUserWithViewValues(User usr)
    {
       usr.FirstName     =  _view.FirstName;
       usr.LastName      =  _view.LastName;
       usr.ID    =  _view.ID;
       usr.Department    =  _view.Department;
       usr.Sex   =  _view.Sex;
    }

    public void LoadView()
    {
       _view.ClearGrid();
       foreach (User usr in _users)
       _view.AddUserToGrid(usr);

       _view.SetSelectedUserInGrid((User)_users[0]);
    }

    public void SelectedUserChanged(string selectedUserId)
    {
       foreach (User usr in this._users)
       {
           if (usr.ID == selectedUserId)
           {
               _selectedUser = usr;
               updateViewDetailValues(usr);
               _view.SetSelectedUserInGrid(usr);
               this._view.CanModifyID = false;
               break;
           }
       }
    }

    public void AddNewUser()
    {
       _selectedUser = new User(""   /*firstname*/, 
       ""  /*lastname*/, 
       "" /*id*/, 
       ""/*department*/,
       User.SexOfPerson.Male/*sex*/);
     
       this.updateViewDetailValues(_selectedUser);
       this._view.CanModifyID = true;
    }

    public void RemoveUser()
    {
       string id = this._view.GetIdOfSelectedUserInGrid();
       User userToRemove = null;

        if (id != "")
        {
            foreach (User usr in this._users)
            {
                if (usr.ID == id)
                {
                    userToRemove = usr;
                break;
                }
            }

            if (userToRemove != null)
            {
                int newSelectedIndex = this._users.IndexOf(userToRemove);
                this._users.Remove(userToRemove);
                this._view.RemoveUserFromGrid(userToRemove);

            if (newSelectedIndex > -1 && newSelectedIndex < _users.Count)
            {
                this._view.SetSelectedUserInGrid((User)_users[newSelectedIndex]);
            }
        }
    }
}

public void Save()
{
   updateUserWithViewValues(_selectedUser);
   if (!this._users.Contains(_selectedUser))
   {
       //Add new user
       this._users.Add(_selectedUser);
       this._view.AddUserToGrid(_selectedUser);
   }
   else
   {
       //Update existing user
       this._view.UpdateGridWithChangedUser(_selectedUser);
   }
   _view.SetSelectedUserInGrid(_selectedUser);
   this._view.CanModifyID = false;

}
}

The controller class is very important and central to the application. It's really important to keep it light, agile and loosely coupled to other components of the program.

Part of View

This section will focus on the scenario of loading the View with the list of users.
As said before our View must implement the IUsersView interface. A subset of the implementation is shown in the following code :

namespace WinFormMVC.View
{
    public partial class UsersView : Form, IUsersView
    {

The SetController() member function of UsersView allows us to tell the View to which Controller instance it must forward the events and all event handlers simply call the corresponding "event" method on the Controller. As you can see here, UsersView also depends on abstractions...

public void SetController(UsersController controller)
{
    _controller = controller;
}

We also use realisation of several methods from the IUsersView interface which use the User object:

public void AddUserToGrid(User usr)
{
    ListViewItem parent;
    parent = this.grdUsers.Items.Add(usr.ID);
    parent.SubItems.Add(usr.FirstName);
    parent.SubItems.Add(usr.LastName);
    parent.SubItems.Add(usr.Department);
    parent.SubItems.Add(Enum.GetName(typeof(User.SexOfPerson), usr.Sex));
}

public void UpdateGridWithChangedUser(User usr)
{
    ListViewItem rowToUpdate = null;

    foreach (ListViewItem row in this.grdUsers.Items)
    {
        if (row.Text == usr.ID)
        {
            rowToUpdate = row;
        }
    }

    if (rowToUpdate != null)
    {
        rowToUpdate.Text = usr.ID;
        rowToUpdate.SubItems[1].Text = usr.FirstName;
        rowToUpdate.SubItems[2].Text = usr.LastName;
        rowToUpdate.SubItems[3].Text = usr.Department;
        rowToUpdate.SubItems[4].Text = Enum.GetName(typeof(User.SexOfPerson), usr.Sex);
    }
}

public void RemoveUserFromGrid(User usr)
{

    ListViewItem rowToRemove = null;

    foreach (ListViewItem row in this.grdUsers.Items)
    {
        if (row.Text == usr.ID)
        {
            rowToRemove = row;
        }
    }

    if (rowToRemove != null)
    {
        this.grdUsers.Items.Remove(rowToRemove);
        this.grdUsers.Focus();
    }
}

public string GetIdOfSelectedUserInGrid()
{
    if (this.grdUsers.SelectedItems.Count > 0)
        return this.grdUsers.SelectedItems[0].Text;
    else
        return "";
}

public void SetSelectedUserInGrid(User usr)
{
    foreach (ListViewItem row in this.grdUsers.Items)
    {
        if (row.Text == usr.ID)
        {
            row.Selected = true;
        }
    }
}

public string FirstName 
{
    get { return this.txtFirstName.Text; }
    set { this.txtFirstName.Text = value; }
}

public string LastName 
{
    get { return this.txtLastName.Text; }
    set { this.txtLastName.Text = value; }
}

public string ID
{
    get { return this.txtID.Text; }
    set { this.txtID.Text = value; }
}


public string Department 
{
    get { return this.txtDepartment.Text; }
    set { this.txtDepartment.Text = value; }
}

public User.SexOfPerson Sex
{
    get
    {
        if (this.rdMale.Checked)
            return User.SexOfPerson.Male;
        else
            return User.SexOfPerson.Female;
    }
    set
    {
        if (value == User.SexOfPerson.Male)
            this.rdMale.Checked = true;
        else
            this.rdFamele.Checked = true;
    }
}

public bool CanModifyID
{
    set { this.txtID.Enabled = value; }
}

        ...
}

Part of Model

This User class is a Model class. In this example, the User is an extremely simple domain class with no behavior, whereas in a realworld Domain Model you would probably have much more functionality in the domain classes. The model is independent of the user interface. It doesn't know if it's being used from a text-based, graphical or web interface. The Model only holds the in-memory state in a structured format. As you can see, the class contains only private data members and the public interfaces (properties) available to the client code

using System;

namespace WinFormMVC.Model
{
 public class User
 {
   public enum SexOfPerson
   {
      Male   = 1,
      Female = 2
   }

   private string    _FirstName;
   public string FirstName 
   {
    get { return _FirstName; } 
    set 
    { 
     if (value.Length > 50)
      Console.WriteLine("Error! FirstName must be less than 51 characters!"); 
     else
      _FirstName = value; 
    } 
   }

   private string _LastName;
   public string LastName
   {
     get { return _LastName; }
     set
     {
      if (value.Length > 50)
       Console.WriteLine("Error! LastName must be less than 51 characters!");
      else
       _LastName = value;
    }
   }

   private string _ID;
   public string ID
   {
    get { return _ID; }
    set
    {
      if (value.Length > 9)
        Console.WriteLine("Error! ID must be less than 10 characters!");
      else
       _ID = value;
    }
   }

   private string _Department;
   public string Department
   {
       get { return _Department; }
       set { _Department = value; }
   }

   private SexOfPerson _Sex;
   public SexOfPerson Sex
   {
       get { return _Sex; }
       set { _Sex = value; }
   }


   public User(string firstname, string lastname, string id, string department, SexOfPerson sex)
   {
       FirstName   = firstname;
       LastName    = lastname;
       ID  = id;
       Department  = department;
       Sex = sex;
   }
 } 

} 

Part of Client

And now it's good time to show how we use the MVC paradigm effectively, i.e. our code's components of MVC architecture (please see UseMVCApplication.csproj)

using System.Collections;
using  WinFormMVC.Model;
using  WinFormMVC.View;
using  WinFormMVC.Controller;

namespace UseMVCApplication
{
static class Program
{
    /// The main entry point for the application.
    [STAThread]
    static void Main()
    {
        //Here we are creating a View
        UsersView view = new UsersView();
        view.Visible = false;

        //Here we are creating a list of users
        IList users = new ArrayList();
    
        //Here we are add our "commoners" in the list of users
        users.Add(new User("Vladimir",   "Putin",     
     "122",    "Government of Russia",
            User.SexOfPerson.Male));
        users.Add(new User("Barack",     "Obama",
             "123",    "Government of USA",      
             User.SexOfPerson.Male));
        users.Add(new User("Stephen",    "Harper",    
            "124",    "Government of Canada",      
            User.SexOfPerson.Male));
        users.Add(new User("Jean",       "Charest", 
            "125",    "Government of Quebec",    
             User.SexOfPerson.Male));
        users.Add(new User("David",      "Cameron",
            "126",    "Government of United Kingdom",
            User.SexOfPerson.Male));
        users.Add(new User("Angela",     "Merkel",
            "127",    "Government of Germany",
            User.SexOfPerson.Female));
        users.Add(new User("Nikolas",    "Sarkozy",\
            "128",    "Government of France",
            User.SexOfPerson.Male));
        users.Add(new User("Silvio",     "Berlusconi",
            "129",    "Government of Italy",
            User.SexOfPerson.Male));
        users.Add(new User("Yoshihiko",  "Noda",
            "130",    "Government of Japan",
            User.SexOfPerson.Male));
     
        //Here we are creating a Controller and passing two
        //parameters: View and list of users (models)
        UsersController controller = new UsersController(view, users);
        controller.LoadView();
        view.ShowDialog();
        }
    }
}

Why is it good?

  1. The main advantage of using the MVC pattern is that it makes the code of the user interface more testable
  2. It makes a very structured approach onto the process of designing the user interface, which in itself contributes to writing clean, testable code, that will be easy to maintain and extend

The Model-View-Controller is a well-proven design pattern to solve the problem of separating data (model) and user interface (view) concerns, so that changes to the user interface do not affect the data handling, and that the data can be changed without impacting/changing the UI. The MVC solves this problem by decoupling data access and business logic layer from UI and user interaction, by introducing an intermediate component: the controller. This MVC architecture enables the creation of reusable components within a flexible program design (components can be easily modified)

History

  • 10th Mayl 2012: Initial post

License

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

Share

About the Author

Volynsky Alex
Software Developer
Israel Israel
Mr.Volynsky Alex is a Software Engineer in a leading software company. Alex is skilled in many areas of computer science. He has over 13 years of experience in the design & development of applications using C/C++/STL, Qt, MFC, COM/ActiveX, DirectShow, JavaScript, VBScript, Tcl/Tk and of course - C#/.NET.
 
Overall, Alex is very easy to work with. He adapts to new systems and technology while performing complete problem definition research.
 
His hobbies include yacht racing, photography and reading in multiple genres.
He is also fascinated by attending computer meetings in general, loves traveling, and also takes pleasure in exercising and relaxing with friends.
 
Visit his C++ 11 blog

Comments and Discussions

 
Questionusing database PinmemberKhayralla10-Feb-14 3:43 
SuggestionWinForms is already an ingenious MVC in it's nature PinmemberEldanos16-Jan-14 10:29 
GeneralRe: WinForms is already an ingenious MVC in it's nature PinprofessionalVolynsky Alex16-Jan-14 15:11 
QuestionEver compared MVC and MVVM? Pinmemberleiyangge3-Jan-14 15:34 
AnswerRe: Ever compared MVC and MVVM? PinmemberVolynsky Alex4-Jan-14 5:15 
QuestionMVP? PinmemberJahmal2331-Dec-13 3:39 
AnswerRe: MVP? PinmemberVolynsky Alex1-Jan-14 8:47 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmvpRahul Rajat Singh30-Dec-13 18:42 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberVolynsky Alex1-Jan-14 8:45 
GeneralDo not use MVC in WinForms! Pinmembersmailmustafa20-Oct-13 3:42 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinmemberVolynsky Alex20-Oct-13 6:55 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinmvpDave Kerr30-Dec-13 12:01 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinmemberVolynsky Alex1-Jan-14 8:39 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinmvpDave Kerr1-Jan-14 9:54 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinmemberMember 104120578-Jan-14 10:00 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinprofessionalVolynsky Alex8-Jan-14 10:51 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinmemberMember 104120578-Jan-14 11:02 
GeneralRe: Do not use MVC in WinForms! PinprofessionalVolynsky Alex8-Jan-14 11:14 
QuestionNice article Pinmembertasumisra26-Sep-13 20:22 
Hi Alex,
 
Its nice article,Thank you.
 
I wanted to know
1)If you data source changes in the view\Form how will you inform to the model that DataSource is changed and need to load new data from other data source.
2)do you know if there is any existing framework that has all DI inbuild to support data source switches based on some event.
 
Regards,
Tasu
vikas da

AnswerRe: Nice article PinmemberVolynsky Alex29-Sep-13 13:42 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberfredatcodeproject8-Sep-13 22:42 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberVolynsky Alex9-Sep-13 7:51 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberKiran Sonawane21-Aug-13 0:13 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberVolynsky Alex21-Aug-13 11:59 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberKiran Sonawane25-Aug-13 22:41 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.

| Advertise | Privacy | Mobile
Web04 | 2.8.140916.1 | Last Updated 30 Dec 2013
Article Copyright 2012 by Volynsky Alex
Everything else Copyright © CodeProject, 1999-2014
Terms of Service
Layout: fixed | fluid