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Developing Mobile specific Views using jQuery Mobile in ASP.NET MVC 4 - Part 1

, 10 Dec 2014 CPOL
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Developing Mobile Specific Views using jQuery Mobile in ASP.NET MVC 4 - Part 1

Introduction

This article is about developing a web application having Mobile specific Views along with Desktop Views using ASP.NET MVC. The UI design targeting a mobile is very different than targeting desktop screens. We are using jQuery Mobile to develop mobile Views.

Outlines

This article is divided in two parts as given below:

Part 1

  • Why we need separate Mobile View
  • Overview of Demo Application
  • Staring with Internet Template
  • Installing 51Degrees.mobi
  • Creating Model and Controller
  • Creating Views
  • Running the Application

Part 2

  • Installing jQuery Mobile
  • Creating Bundles for Mobile Views
  • Designing Layout for Mobile Views
  • Designing Products Page for Mobile
  • Designing Category wise Products page for Mobile

Here, we will be covering the content of Part 1. Let's start.

Why We Need Separate Mobile View

There are two most prominent reasons to design the Mobile web page in a different way:

  1. You have very less space to display the content on mobiles screens in comparison to desktops/laptops screens.
  2. The touch is less precise than that of mouse. Using mouse, you can click on small text links but with thumb or fingers it is difficult and sometimes impossible.

There are more things to consider while targeting mobile devices for a web application as described at this link. Nowadays, we are having concept of designing for Multiple Form Factors too as discussed in this blog post.

But for the simplicity of demo in this article, we will not go in such detail. For this article, we will consider only two categories: typical desktop page where user has wider display with typical mouse and keyboard, Mobile page for mobile/tablets where users have smaller display with touch enabled screen to interact with web page.

Overview of Demo Application

In demo application, we will create a web application to display the available products. The default page of application will display all products available and we have another page to filter the products based on selection of the category. The application will have two versions of Views: Desktop and Mobile View. For the sake of simplicity, we will use hardcoded data to display on web pages. For mobile specific views, we will use jQuery Mobile in second part and in this part, we will create mobile views without jQuery Mobile.

As we are having two pages with almost the same information, we have to render particular View based on the environment/browser which is sending the request. If the request is coming from a mobile browser, the mobile specific view will be rendered, otherwise application would render normal view for desktop browser. To detect the environment/browser from where request is coming at server, we will use 51Degrees.mobi to detect the user agent of requesting browser. We will discuss more about this in a later section.

Finally to test the application specially web pages for mobile, we need emulator for mobile or we can use browser which can behave like a browser on mobile. For this purpose, I am using Safari browser User Agent Switcher test both kind of Views. We will discuss more about it in the last section of this article called "Running the Application".

Starting with Internet Template

  1. Let us create a sample application by selecting ASP.NET MVC4 Web Application template and give it project name as ShopOnline and click "OK".

    Alternate way to achieve Modularization

  2. Select project template as Internet Application. Visual Studio 2012 adds a ShopOnline project in the solution as shown below in the screenshot:

    Alternate way to achieve Modularization

Installing 51Degrees.mobi

The user-agent header of incoming http request identifies the application requesting the information from the server, typically a browser. This string used for identification is called the user-agent string and contains tokens that provide specific details about the program making the request. To know more about user agent, please visit here.
There are two most widely used options to detect the browser:

  1. By registering Display Mode in App_Start as described at this blog.
  2. Using 51Degrees.mobi. Using this library device data, accurate screen sizes, input methods, plus manufacturer and model information are all available to application.

We will use 51Degrees.mobi here. There are two ways to install 51Degrees.mobi by using Nuget Packages Console or using Nuget Packages tool. Here we will install it by using NuGet packages tool. NuGet is an open source package manager tool which is inbuilt for Visual Studio 2010 and 2012. It downloads packages and required dependencies. There are following steps to download the 51Degrees.mobi:

  1. Click on TOOLS in Menu bar, go to "Library Package Manager" and the choose "Manage NuGet Packages for Solution" option as shown in the below screenshot.

    NuGet Manager UI

    From left hand side menu, select Online > All. Now click in the search text box at right hand side (top), and write “51”, in search the 51.Degrees.mobi would appear as shown below. Click on Install button appeared beside 51.Degrees.mobi.

    51Degrees.mobi Install

    It will give you a pop up for confirmation with project name as shown below, just click ok.

    Project Confirmation

  2. Hope you will be able to see “51Degrees.mobi.config” file in your project as shown below:

    51Degrees.mobi Installed

  3. By default, it will create a “mobile” folder in application. We should delete that unnecessary folder and we will be having our mobile view in Views folder only.
  4. Open 51Degrees.mobi.config file and comment the following lines of code (as it is redirects the request from Mobiles to “~/mobile/default.aspx” which we do not want here).
    <redirect    
        firstRequestOnly="false" 
        mobileHomePageUrl="~/mobile/default.aspx"
        timeout="20"
        devicesFile="~/App_Data/Devices.dat"
        mobilePagesRegex="mobile">
    </redirect>

Using Nuget Package Manager Console

An alternate way to install 51Degrees.mobi is using “Nuget Package Manager Console”. You need to go to Top menu “TOOLS > Library Package Manager > Package Manager Console” as shown below:

NuGet Console UI

It will open a console window. Now you need to run the flowing command: Install-Package 51Degrees.mobi as shown below”:

Run Command for 51Degrees.mobi

It will do the same thing that you achieved from step 1 above. All things as shown in Step 2 would be added and then you need to follow steps 3 and 4 to remove unnecessary folder and setting. If you want to learn more about how 51Degrees.mobi works, please have a visit here and look into section "How does it work?"

Creating Models, ViewModel and Controller

  1. Inside Models folder, add three class files called Category, Product and DataRepository.
  2. In Category.cs, add the following code:
    public class Category
    {
        public int CategoryId { get; set; }
        public string CategoryName { get; set; }
    }
  3. In Product.cs, add the following code:
    public class Product
    {
        public int ProductId { get; set; }    
        public string ProductName { get; set; }
        public string ProductDescription { get; set; }
        public Category ProductCategory { get; set; }
    }
  4. In DataRepository.cs, add the following code:
    public class DataRepository
        {
            public List<Product> GetProducts()
            {
                List<Product> products = new List<Product>{ 
                        new Product () { ProductId = 1, ProductName = "Nokia Lumia 625", 
                            ProductDescription = "A mid-range Lumia with a focus of 
                            combining 4G with a large display (4.7 inch, the first time 
                            on a Lumia), yet keeping the price in a low and affordable range",
                        ProductCategory =  new Category () { CategoryId = 1, CategoryName = "Phones"}},
        
                        new Product () { ProductId = 2, ProductName = "Nokia Lumia 925", 
                            ProductDescription = "A thinner, lighter, partially aluminium 
                            re-skin of the Lumia 920, designed to broaden the appeal of the 92x range. 
                            It is a compromise between Lumia 920 and Lumia 928 features-wise.",
                        ProductCategory =  new Category () { CategoryId = 1, CategoryName = "Phones"}},
                        
                        new Product () {ProductId = 3, ProductName = "ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook", 
                            ProductDescription = "At less than 1.4 kg, the X1 Carbon Ultrabook&trade; 
                            brings a new level of quality to the ThinkPad legacy of high standards 
                            and innovation. A carbon fiber roll cage with reinforcement 
                            throughout makes this system ultralight, ultradurable, 
                            and highly portable. Stay unplugged all day, but when needed, 
                            boost your battery up to 80% capacity in just 35 minutes.",
                        ProductCategory = new Category () {CategoryId = 2, CategoryName = "Computers"}},
     
                        new Product () {ProductId = 4, ProductName = "ThinkPad X230 Laptop", 
                            ProductDescription = "Tough, slim and light, 
                            the 12.5 inch ThinkPad X230 elevates the business laptop to a new level 
                            with its vivid IPS display, purer sound and peerless keyboard ergonomics. 
                            Start faster, resume faster and charge your battery less, 
                            giving you more time to strive for success.",
                        ProductCategory = new Category () {CategoryId = 2, CategoryName = "Computers"}},
                        
                        new Product () {ProductId = 5, ProductName = "Programming ASP.NET MVC 4", 
                            ProductDescription = "Get up and running with ASP.NET MVC 4, 
                            and learn how to build modern server-side web applications. 
                            This guide helps you understand how the framework performs, 
                            and shows you how to use various features to solve many real-world 
                            development scenarios you&rsquo;re likely to face.",
                        ProductCategory = new Category () {CategoryId = 3, CategoryName = "Books"}},
                        
                        new Product () {ProductId = 6, ProductName = "Pro ASP.NET MVC 4", 
                            ProductDescription = "In this fourth edition, 
                            the core model-view-controller (MVC) architectural concepts are not 
                            simply explained or discussed in isolation, but are demonstrated in action. 
                            You&rsquo;ll work through an extended tutorial to create a working e-commerce 
                            web application that combines ASP.NET MVC with the latest 
                            C# language features and unit-testing best practices.",
                        ProductCategory = new Category () {CategoryId = 3, CategoryName = "Book"}}
               };
               
                return products;
            }
            
            public List<Category> GetCategories()
            {
                return new List<Category> {
                new Category () { CategoryId = 1, CategoryName = "Phones"},
                new Category () {CategoryId = 2, CategoryName = "Computers"},
                new Category () { CategoryId = 3, CategoryName = "Books"}
                };
            }
        }                

    For the sake of simplicity, we are using hardcoded data in Repository for demo purposes. In real time application, Repository is supposed to do CRUD operations by communication persistent data source like SQL Server, XML or whatever. For this demo, now our model and repository are ready for use.

  5. Now we will create a ViewModel as we need to pass both Category and Product model to "Category wise Products" page. To know more about ViewModel, Please visit "ViewModel" section of this article. Now add a “ViewModels” folder in project by right clicking at project > Add > New Folder as shown below:

    Adding ViewModel Folder

  6. Inside ViewModels, add a class called “ProductCategoryVM” and add the following code in it:
    public class ProductCategoryVM
    {
        public int SelectedCategoryId = -1;
        public List<Category> AllCategories { get; set; }
        public List<Product> AllProducts { get; set; }
    }
  7. In Controllers folder, add a new empty controller called “ProductController” as shown below:

    Adding Product Controller

  8. Add the following code in ProductController class and add the appropriate namespaces as needed:
    DataRepository _repository = new DataRepository();
    
    public ActionResult AllProducts()
    {
        List<Product> productModel = new List<Product>();
        productModel = _repository.GetProducts();
        return View(productModel);
    }
    
    public ActionResult CategoryWiseProducts()
    {
        ProductCategoryVM vm = new ProductCategoryVM();
        vm.AllCategories = _repository.GetCategories();
        vm.AllProducts = _repository.GetProducts();
        return View(vm);
    }

Creating Views

We will create two views for each action method in Controller: One specific for desktop and second for Mobile. As of now in mobile specific view, we will just write the text saying that it is mobile specific. We will install jQuery Mobile, design and complete mobile specific view in Part 2 of this article.

Follow the below steps to add Views:

  1. First, build the project (otherwise model class would not appear in listbox while creating Views). Now on ProductController, right click on “AllProducts” action method and from menu, select “Add View”. You will get a popup as below fill the details shown here and click OK.

    Adding Product View

    It will add AllProducts.cshtml in Views > Product folder.

  2. In AllProducts.cshtml, delete header and below Action link for “Create New” as we would not use it:
                         <h2>All Products</h2>
                         <p>@Html.ActionLink("Create New", "Create") </p>

    Add a new the table (in place of deleted “Create New” action link) as shown below:

     <table >
        <tr>
             <td style="width:20%; text-align:left;">
                <h2>All Products</h2>
            </td>
            <td style="width:90%; text-align:right;">
                @Html.ActionLink("Category wise Products", 
                "CategoryWiseProducts", "", 
                new { style = "font-size:20px; background-color:lightblue;" })
            </td>
        </tr>
    </table>                 

    Now, update the existing table to display products detail. First, update the table header code as following:

    <tr>
        <th>Name
        </th>
        <th>Description
        </th>
    </tr>

    And delete the code for below Action links in Product Table as we will not implement anything for those:

    <td>
        @Html.ActionLink("Edit", "Edit", new { id=item.ProductId }) |
        @Html.ActionLink("Details", "Details", new { id=item.ProductId }) |
        @Html.ActionLink("Delete", "Delete", new { id=item.ProductId })
    </td>                 
  3. Now again go to ProductController, right click on “CategoryWiseProducts” action method and from menu select “Add View”. This time we will get a popup as below fill the details shown here (we will go for empty View so uncheck the checkbox for "Create a strongly-typed view") and click OK.

    Adding Category wise Products View

    Write the following code in the new View added CategoryWiseProducts.cshtml.

    @model ShopOnline.ViewModels.ProductCategoryVM
    @{
        ViewBag.Title = "Category wise Products";
        SelectList cat = new SelectList(Model.AllCategories, "CategoryId", "CategoryName");  
    }
    
    <h2>Category wise Products</h2>
    <br />
    <table>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-size: 16px;">Select a Category:
            </td>
            <td>
                @Html.DropDownListFor(m => m.SelectedCategoryId, cat, 
                "Select Category", new { style = "width:200px; font-size:16px;" })
            </td>
        </tr>
    </table>
    
    <table>
        <tbody id="tblProductData">
        </tbody>
    </table>
    
    <script>       
        $("#SelectedCategoryId").change(function () {                    
            var selectedCategory = $(this).val().trim();             
            var allProducts = @Html.Raw(Json.Encode(Model.AllProducts));            
            
            $('#tblProductData').empty();
            var headers = '<tr><th>Name</th><th>Description</th></tr>';           
            var elements = "";
            for (var i = 0; i < allProducts.length; i++) {
                 if(allProducts[i].ProductCategory.CategoryId == selectedCategory)
                    elements = elements + '<tr><td>' + 
                    allProducts[i].ProductName + '</td><td>' + 
                    allProducts[i].ProductDescription + '</td></tr>';
             }             
            if (elements != "")
                $('#tblProductData').append(headers + elements);
        });   
    </script>
  4. In _Layout page under Views > shared folder, change the location of the following line:
    @Scripts.Render("~/bundles/jquery")

    By default, it is at the bottom, put it in head of layout page. Delete unnecessary links and code, finally it should look like:

    <!DOCTYPE html>
        <html lang="en">
            <head>
                <meta charset="utf-8" />
                <title>@ViewBag.Title - My ASP.NET MVC Application</title>       
                <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width" />
                @Scripts.Render("~/bundles/jquery")
                @Styles.Render("~/Content/css")
                @Scripts.Render("~/bundles/modernizr")
            </head>
            <body>
                <header>
                    <div class="content-wrapper">
                        <div class="float-center">                    
                            <nav>
                                <ul id="menu">
                                    <li>@Html.ActionLink
                                    ("Home", "Index", "Home")</li>
                                    <li>@Html.ActionLink("Products", 
                                    "AllProducts", "Product")</li>                            
                                </ul>
                            </nav>
                        </div>
                    </div>
                </header>
                <div id="body">           
                    <section class="content-wrapper main-content clear-fix">
                        @RenderBody()
                    </section>
                </div>       
            </body>
        </html>
  5. Now in Views > Product folder, copy both AllProducts.cshtml and CategoryWiseProducts.cshtml, and paste by right clicking on Product folder itself. You will get “Copy of AllProducts.cshtml” and “Copy of CategoryWiseProducts.cshtml”, rename those as “AllProducts.Mobile.cshtml” and “CategoryWiseProducts.Mobile.cshtml” respectively.

    Change the <h2> tag of both “AllProducts.Mobile.cshtml” to "All Products : Mobile View" and similarly for “CategoryWiseProducts.Mobile.cshtml” to "Category Wise Product : Mobile View".

    It is just to identify that if the request is coming from mobile device, the .Mobile.cshtml View would be rendering. We will design and optimize those views for mobile screen in the next part of this article.

  6. Finally, we need to change the default page of our application, so go to App_Start > RouteConfig.cs and inside RegisterRoute method, change default route as:
    public static void RegisterRoutes(RouteCollection routes)
    {
        routes.IgnoreRoute("{resource}.axd/{*pathInfo}");
        routes.MapRoute(
            name: "Default",
            url: "{controller}/{action}/{id}",
            defaults: new { controller = "Product", 
            action = "AllProducts", id = UrlParameter.Optional }
        );
    }               

Running the Application

The simplest way to test mobile views is using Safari browser because it is inbuilt user agent switcher. Follow this link to know how to activate and use it. For this application, I have used Safari and taken screen shot for that only.

If you are using Chrome, you can use extension User-Agent Switcher for Chrome. There are many resources on how to use it. If you do not want to install anything new, you can even change user agent without any addition tool too as described here. Further, you can use emulator or other techniques also as described here.

Using Safari browser inbuilt user agent switcher, you can see the output for both kinds of Views for "Category wise Products" we developed so far as shown in the below screenshots:

Desktop View:

Web Page for Desktop

Now change the user agent as following:

Changing User Agent

We can see Mobile View:

Web Page for Mobile

Conclusion

In this article, we demonstrated the use of 51Degrees.mobi and how it automatically detects the incoming request and renders appropriate view. In Part 2, we will take the application developed in this article as base and first we install jQuery Mobile and move ahead with developing Mobile specific screens. Your queries and comments are most welcome in this respect. Thanks.

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 Author

Snesh Prajapati
Software Developer
India India
I am a Software Developer working on Microsoft technologies (primarily on web applications). My interest is exploring and sharing the awesomeness of emerging technologies.

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