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Strongly Typed Session (Alternative to Extension Properties – Getter/Setter)

, 15 Apr 2014 CPOL
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One of the ways of persisting values across requests in MVC involves interacting with Session, an instance of “HttpSessionStateBase”.

Scenario

One of the ways of persisting values across requests in MVC involves interacting with Session, an instance of “HttpSessionStateBase”. It involves following steps:

  1. Store data in Session against a key.
    [HttpPost]
    public ActionResult Index(Employee model)
    {
        Session["EmployeeID"] = model.EmployeeID;
        Session["EmployeeName"] = model.EmployeeName;
        Session["Title"] = model.Title;
        return RedirectToAction("About");
    }
  2. Retrieval involves following steps:
    1. Check if value exists.
    2. Cast it to appropriate type.
      public ActionResult About()
              {
                  StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
                  Int64 employeeID = 0;
                  if (Session["EmployeeID"] != null)
                  {
                      employeeID = Convert.ToInt64(Session["EmployeeID"]);
                  }
      
                  string employeeName = "";
                  if (Session["EmployeeName"] != null)
                  {
                      employeeName = Session["EmployeeName"].ToString();
                  }
      
                  string title = "";
                  if (Session["Title"] != null)
                  {
                      title = Session["Title"].ToString();
                  }
      
                  sb.Append("<div class='error'>
                  Following is the information entered in Home Page<br/></div>");
      
                  sb.Append("Employee ID      : ").Append(employeeID.ToString()).Append("<br/>");
                  sb.Append("Employee Name    : ").Append(employeeName).Append("<br/>");
                  sb.Append("Title            : ").Append(title).Append("<br/>");
                  ViewBag.EmployeeInfo = sb.ToString();
                  return View();
              }

So, storing and retrieving involves lot of steps. We have to repeat these steps (in controller) whenever we need to store or retrieve data from session.

Strongly Typed Session in Controller Code

This tip provides a workaround in which the code in controller can interact with session data in a strongly typed manner. This also provides an alternate for “Extension Properties” which are missing in C# (only extension methods exist).

The following code block illustrates interacting with Session (“State” represents Session. It is explained later). The source code is attached along with this tip. This sample code has been tested with Visual Studio 2010 for MVC3. The approach has been tested with Visual Studio 2012 for MVC4.

[HttpPost]
        public ActionResult Index(Employee model)
        {
            State.EmployeeID = model.EmployeeID;
            State.EmployeeName = model.EmployeeName;
            State.Title = model.Title;
            return RedirectToAction("About");
        }

        public ActionResult About()
        {
            StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
            sb.Append("<div class='error'>
            Following is the information entered in Home Page<br/></div>");
            sb.Append("Employee ID      : ").Append(State.EmployeeID).Append("<br/>");
            sb.Append("Employee Name    : ").Append(State.EmployeeName).Append("<br/>");
            sb.Append("Title            : ").Append(State.Title).Append("<br/>");
            ViewBag.EmployeeInfo = sb.ToString();
            return View();
        }

Steps to Provide Strongly Typed Session in Controller

  1. Add a folder “Infrastructure

    Add a class named “CustomState” and import System.Web and Ststem.Web.Mvc namespaces. Add properties to CustomState. This class will access actual Session to get/set data. These properties will be available in controllers.

    using System;
    using System.Collections.Generic;
    using System.Linq;
    using System.Web;
    using System.Web.Mvc;
    using StronglyTypedState.Models;
    namespace StronglyTypedState.Infrastructure
    {
        public class CustomState
        {
            HttpSessionStateBase _session;
            public CustomState(HttpSessionStateBase initializeSession)
            {
                _session = initializeSession;
            }
            public Int64 EmployeeID
            {
                get
                {
                    if (_session[SessionKeys.EmployeeID.ToString()] == null)
                        _session[SessionKeys.EmployeeID.ToString()] = 0;
                    return Convert.ToInt64(_session[SessionKeys.EmployeeID.ToString()]);
                }
                set
                {
                    _session[SessionKeys.EmployeeID.ToString()] = value;
                }
            }
            public string EmployeeName
            {
                get
                {
                    if (_session[SessionKeys.Employee_Name.ToString()] == null)
                       return String.Empty;
                    return _session[SessionKeys.Employee_Name.ToString()].ToString();
                }
                set
                {
                    _session[SessionKeys.Employee_Name.ToString()] = value;
                }
            }
            public string Title
            {
                get
                {
                    if (_session[SessionKeys.Title.ToString()] == null)
                        return String.Empty;
                    return _session[SessionKeys.Title.ToString()].ToString();
                }
                set
                {
                    _session[SessionKeys.Title.ToString()] = value;
                }
            }       
        }
    }
  2. Declare a private variable “_session” of type “HttpSessionStateBase” in this class and initialize it in the constructor as shown.
  3. Add a controller named BaseController in Controller folder and remove the method “Index” which Visual Studio adds by default.
  4. Define a property “State” of type CustomState in BaseController. This is a read-only property. The purpose of this is to get an instance of CustomState class from session. If this does not exist, then a new instance is stored in session and it is returned. See the code block below:
    using System;
    using System.Collections.Generic;
    using System.Linq;
    using System.Web;
    using System.Web.Mvc;
    using StronglyTypedState.Infrastructure;
    namespace StronglyTypedState.Controllers
    {
        public class BaseController : Controller
        {
            public CustomState State
            {
                get{
                    if (Session[SessionKeys.SessionState.ToString()] == null)
                        Session[SessionKeys.SessionState.ToString()] = new CustomState(Session);
                    return (CustomState)Session[SessionKeys.SessionState.ToString()];
                }
            }
        }
    }

License

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

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