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Learn MVC (Model View Controller) step by step in 7 days – Day 1

, 7 Sep 2012
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As the article's name says, learn MVC. Ao the agenda is simple, we are going to learn ASP.NET MVC in 7 days.
This is an old version of the currently published article.

Contents

  • Lab 3: Creating a simple model using MVC
  • Lab 4: Creating a simple MVC data entry screen
  • Lab 5: Using HTML Helper to create views faster
  • So, what’s the agenda?

    As the article name says, learn MVC; so the agenda is simple, we are going to learn ASP.NET MVC in 7 days.

    The way we will learn MVC in this series of articles is by doing labs, looking at detailed steps of how to achieve those labs, and also looking at demonstrative videos.

    This article series is divided into 7 days with 35 hands-on labs and every day we will do 5 labs which will help us achieve our goals.

    So get ready for day 1. For day 1, shown below is our agenda. We will start with an introduction, do a simple Hello World, and finally in the 6th lab, we will create a simple customer data entry screen using HTML Helper classes.

    Lab No. Lab description YouTube video demonstration
    1 Introduction, Why MVC? NA.
    2 A simple Hello World ASP.NET MVC application. http://youtu.be/KAKxm4eQP24?hd=1
    3 In this lab we will see how we can share data between the controller and the view using view data. http://youtu.be/Fu9v2MIDlTA?hd=1
    4 In this lab we will create a simple customer model, flourish the same with some data, and display the same in a view. http://youtu.be/0-UdqWy9lVc?hd=1
    5 In this lab we will create a simple customer data entry screen with some validation on the view. http://youtu.be/1dlxtHuRw34?hd=1
    6 This lab will demonstrate how to expedite your MVC development process using HTML Helper classes. Pending…

    Here you can watch my .NET interview questions and answers videos on various topics like WCF, Silverlight, LINQ, WPF, Design Patterns, Entity Framework, etc.

    Other Parts of MVC Step by Step in 7 days

    • Get Part 3 of the MVC step by step article.

    So why MVC when ASP.NET code-behind is so good?

    I am sure all ASP.NET developers love the code-behind concept. Accepting something new like MVC will not be easy for them. So let’s analyze the problems with the current code-behind concept.

    When we generally talk about ASP.NET applications built on a tiered architecture they are divided in four parts: UI (ASPX pages), code-behind (ASPX.CS pages), middle tier (.NET classes), and finally the Data layer.

    If you look from the aspect of code distribution, the major code which has logic is in the middle tier or in the code-behind (ASPX.CS files). The UI or ASPX files are HTML files which are more about UI design, and data access logic is pretty much standard components like enterprise data blocks, entity data contexts, etc.

    Let’s try to analyze the problems.

    Problem number 1: Unit Testing

    From the aspect of unit testing we can exclude the data logic and the UI HTML. The data logic classes are already time tested components like enterprise data block, entity data context, or LINQ data context. So we really do not have to put a lot of effort on testing the DAL separately. In case you have a custom data access layer it will still be easy to test them as they are simple .NET classes.

    There is no logic in testing an ASPX HTML as it’s more about look and feel.

    The middle tier is again a simple .NET class like data logic so you can easily do unit testing using VSTS or NUNIT.

    Now comes the most important one: the code-behind. The code-behind has a lot of action, and testing it is one of the most important things. The only way to invoke these codes is by doing a manual test. From a time perspective this would not be a great choice.

    Even though Microsoft has always boasted about how the ASP.NET code-behind is separate from the UI, in practical sense, it’s very difficult to decouple ASP.NET code-behind and do unit testing on it.

    The ASP.NET code-behind is completely tied up with the ASP.NET HttpContext object which makes unit testing very difficult. Just think os how to unit test the below ASP.NET code-behind. How do I create an HttpCcontext object, how do I simulate the sender and EventArgs objects of the button clicks, etc.

    FYI: Many developers talk about mock tests, rhino mocks, etc., but still it is cryptic and the complication increases with session variables, view data objects, and ASP.NET UI controls creating further confusion.

    Problem 2: The reality of separation of code and UI

    As said previously, the ASPX and the ASPX.CS cannot be decoupled in reality, thus reducing reusability. Yes, Microsoft did say first that the code-behind is different from the UI, but then they are probably separate physical files only and one cannot just exist without the other.

    For instance let’s say the same button click code when called via HTTP POST should display using displayinvoice.aspx and when called via HTTP GET should display in a tree view. In other words we would like to reuse the code-behind. Just think of how can we do this using the current code-behind.

    As this controller class is a simple .NET class we can reuse and also do unit testing easily. So let’s see how we can create MVC application using MVC template provided by visual studio.

    Pre-requisite for MVC

    Before we start the day let's ensure that you have all the ingredients to create an MVC application.

    • Visual Studio 2010 or the free Visual Web Developer 2010 Express. These include the ASP.NET MVC 2 template by default.
    • Visual Studio 2008 SP1 (any edition) or the free Visual Web Developer 2008 Express with SP1. These do not include ASP.NET MVC 2 by default; you must also download and install ASP.NET MVC 2 from http://www.asp.net/mvc/.

    So once you have all your pre-requisites it is time to start the first lab.

    Lab 1: Creating a simple Hello World ASP.NET MVC application

    In this lab we will create a simple Hello World program using an MVC template. We will create a simple controller, attach the controller to a simple index.aspx page, and view the display on the browser.

    http://youtu.be/KAKxm4eQP24?hd=1.

    Step 1: Create project

    Create a new project by selecting the MVC 2 empty web application template as shown in the below figure.

    Once you click OK, you have a readymade structure with the appropriate folders where you can add controllers, models, and views.

    Once you add the new controller, you should see some kind of code snippet as shown below:

    public class Default1Controller : Controller
    {
        //
        // GET: /Default1/
        public ActionResult Index()
        {
            return View();
        }
    }

    Step 3: Add view

    Now that we have the controller we need to go and add the view. So click on the Index function which is present in the control and click on the Add View menu as shown in the below figure.

    The add view pops up a modal box to enter the view name which will be invoked when this controller is called as shown in the figure below. For now, keep the view name same as the controller name and also uncheck the master page check box.

    Once you click on the OK button of the view, you should see a simple ASPX page with the below HTML code snippet. In the below code snippet I have added “This is my first MVC application”.

    <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" >
    <head runat="server">
    <title>Index</title>
    </head>
    <body>
    <div>
    This is my first MVC application
    </div>
    </body>
    </html>

    Step 4: Run the application

    If you do a CTRL + F5 you should see an error as shown in the below figure. This error is obvious because we have not invoked the appropriate controller / action.

    If you append the proper controller on the URL you should be able to see the proper view.

    So what’s in the next lab?

    Now that we have created a simple MVC Hello World, it’s time to see how we can pass data from the controllers to the views. The first hit comes to the controller which will load your business objects or model and you would like to transfer these objects to the view to display them.

    http://youtu.be/Fu9v2MIDlTA?hd=1.

    Step 1: Create project and set view data

    So the first step is to create a project and a controller. In the controller, set the viewdata variable as shown in the below code snippet and kick off the view.

    public class DisplayTimeController : Controller
    {
        //
        // GET: /DisplayTime/
    
        public ActionResult Index()
        {
            ViewData["CurrentTime"] = DateTime.Now.ToString();
            return View();
        }
    }

    Step 2: Display view data in the view

    The next thing is to display data in the view by using the percentage tag. One important point to note is, the view does not have a code-behind. So to display the view we need to use the <%: tag in the ASPX page as shown in the below code snippet.

    <body>
    <div>
    <%: ViewData["CurrentTime"] %>
    </div>
    </body>

    So what’s in the next lab?

    So now that we know how to pass data using view data, the next lab is to create a simple model and see all the three MVC entities (i.e., model, view, and controller) in action.

    Lab 3: Creating a simple model using MVC

    In this lab we will create a simple customer model, flourish it with some data, and display it in a view.

    http://youtu.be/0-UdqWy9lVc?hd=1.

    Step 1: Create a simple class file

    The first step is to create a simple customer model which is nothing but a class with three properties: code, name, and amount. Create a simple MVC project, right click on the model folder, and click on Add New Item, as shown in the below figure.

    From the templates, select a simple class and name it as Customer.

    Create the class with three properties as shown in the below code snippet.

    public class Customer
    {
        private string _Code;
        private string _Name;
        private double _Amount;
    
        public string Code
        {
            set
            {
                _Code = value;
            }
            get
            {
                return _Code;
            }
        }
    
        public string Name
        {
            get
            {
                return _Name;
            }
            set
            {
                _Name = value;
            }
        }
    
        public double Amount
        {
            set
            {
                _Amount = value;
            }
            get 
            {
                return _Amount;
            }
        }
    }

    public class CustomerController : Controller { ….. …. public ViewResult DisplayCustomer() { Customer objCustomer = new Customer(); objCustomer.Id = 12; objCustomer.CustomerCode = "1001"; objCustomer.Amount = 90.34; return View("DisplayCustomer",objCustomer); } }

    Step 3: Create strongly typed view using the class

    We need to now join the points of MVC by creating views. So right click on the view folder and click Add View. You should see a dropdown as shown in the below figure. Give a view name, check Create a strongly typed view, and bind this view to the customer class using the dropdown as shown in the below figure.

    The advantage of creating a strong typed view is you can now get the properties of the class in the view by typing the model and “.” as shown in the below figure.

    Below is the view code which displays the customer property value. We have also put an if condition which displays the customer as a privileged customer if above 100 and a normal customer if below 100.

    <body>
    <div>
    The customer id is <%= Model.Id %> <br />
    
    The customer Code is <%= Model.CustomerCode %> <br />
    
    <% if (Model.Amount > 100) {%>
    This is a priveleged customer
    <% } else{ %>
    This is a normal customer
    <%} %>
    
    </div>
    </body>

    Step 4: Run your application

    Now the “D” thing, hit Ctrl + F5 and pat yourself for one more lab success.

    So what’s in the next lab?

    In this sample we flourished the customer object from within the controller. In the next lab we will take data from an input view and display it. In other words we will see how to create data entry screens for accepting data from views.

    Lab 4: Creating a simple MVC data entry screen

    Every project small or big needs data entry screens. In this lab we will create a simple customer data entry screen as shown in the below figure using an MVC template.

    As soon as the end user enters details and submits data it redirects to a screen as shown below. If the entered amount is less than 100 it displays normal customer, else it displays privileged customer.

    http://youtu.be/1dlxtHuRw34?hd=1.

    Step 1: Creating your data entry ASPX page

    The first step is to create the data entry page using the simple HTML form action tag as shown in the below code snippet. The most important point to note in the below code snippet is that the action is pointing to the controller action, i.e., ‘DisplayCustomer’.

    <form action="DisplayCustomer" method="post">
    Enter customer id :- <input type="text" name="Id" /> <br />
    Enter customer code :- <input type="text" name="CustomerCode" /><br />
    Enter customer Amount :-<input type="text" name="Amount" /><br />
    <input type="submit" value="Submit customer data" />
    </form>

    public class CustomerController : Controller { ….. …. [HttpPost] public ViewResult DisplayCustomer() { Customer objCustomer = new Customer(); objCustomer.Id = Convert.ToInt16(Request.Form["Id"].ToString()); objCustomer.CustomerCode = Request.Form["Id"].ToString(); objCustomer.Amount = Convert.ToDouble(Request.Form["Amount"].ToString()); ; return View("DisplayCustomer", objCustomer); } }

    Step 3: Create the view to display the customer object

    The next step is to create the “DisplayCustomer” view. So right click on the view folder and click Add view. You should see a dropdown as shown in the below figure. Give a view name, check Create a strongly typed view, and bind this view to the customer class using the dropdown, as shown in the below figure.

    The advantage of creating a strong typed view is you can now get the properties of the class in the view by typing the model and “.” as shown in the below figure.

    Below is the view code which displays the customer property value. We have also put an if condition which displays the customer as a privileged customer if above 100 and normal customer if below 100.

    <body>
    <div>
    The customer id is <%= Model.Id %> <br />
    
    The customer Code is <%= Model.CustomerCode %> <br />
    
    <% if (Model.Amount > 100) {%>
    This is a priveleged customer
    <% } else{ %>
    This is a normal customer
    <%} %>
    
    </div>
    </body>

    Step 4: Finally run the project

    The final step is to run the project and see the output.

    You should also be able to test above 100 and below 100 scenarios.

    So what’s in the next lab?

    In this lab we created a simple data entry screen which helped us flourish the customer object. This customer object was then passed to the view for display. If you closely watch the current lab we have done a lot of coding, i.e., creating the HTML screens, flourishing the object, etc. It would be great if there was some kind of automation. In the next lab we see how HTML helper classes help to minimize many of these manual coding and thus increase productivity.

    Lab 5: Using HTMLHelper to create views faster

    In our previous lab we created a simple customer data entry screen. We completed the lab successfully but with two big problems:

    • The complete HTML code was written manually. In other words, it was less productive. It’s like going back to the dark ages where developers used to write HTML tags in Notepad.
    • <form action="DisplayCustomer" method="post">
      Enter customer id :- <input type="text" name="Id" /> <br />
      Enter customer code :- <input type="text" name="CustomerCode" /><br />
      Enter customer Amount :-<input type="text" name="Amount" /><br />
      <input type="submit" value="Submit customer data" />
      </form>
    • Added to that, a lot of manual code was also written in the controller to flourish the object and send data to the MVC view.
    • public class CustomerController : Controller
      {
          …..
          ….
          [HttpPost]
          public ViewResult DisplayCustomer()
          {
              Customer objCustomer = new Customer();
              objCustomer.Id = Convert.ToInt16(Request.Form["Id"].ToString());
              objCustomer.CustomerCode = Request.Form["Id"].ToString();
              objCustomer.Amount = Convert.ToDouble(Request.Form["Amount"].ToString()); ;
              return View("DisplayCustomer", objCustomer);
          }
      }

    In this lab we will see how to use MVC HTMLHelper classes to minimize manual coding and increase productivity.

    Step 1: Create the Customer class

    Create a simple customer class, please refer to Lab 5 for details.

    Step 2: Creating the input HTML form using helper classes

    HTML helper classes have readymade functions by which you can create HTML controls with ease. Go to any MVC view and see the intellisense for the HTMLHelper class, and you should see something as shown in the below figure.

    By using the HTMLHelper class you can create any HTML control like TextBox, Label, ListBox, etc., just by invoking the appropriate function.

    In order to create the form tag for HTML we need to use “Html.BeginForm”. Shown below is the code snippet for that:

    <% using (Html.BeginForm("DisplayCustomer","Customer",FormMethod.Post)) 
    {%>
    -- HTML input fields will go here 
    <%} %>

    The above code will generate the below HTML:

    <form action="DisplayCustomer" method="post">
    …..
    …..
    </form>

    The HTML helper “beginform” takes three input parameters: action name (method inside the controller), controller name (actual controller name), and HTTP posting methodology (POST or GET).

    If you want to create a text box, simply use the “TextBox” function of the HTMLHelper class as shown in the below code. This way you can create HTML controls using the HTMLHelper class functions.

    Enter customer id :- <%= Html.TextBox("Id",Model)%> <br />

    The above code snippet will generate the below HTML code:

    Enter customer id :- <input type="text" name="Id" /> <br />

    To create a data entry screen like the one shown below, we need to the use the below code snippet.

    <% using (Html.BeginForm("DisplayCustomer","Customer",FormMethod.Post))
    { %>
    Enter customer id :- <%= Html.TextBox("Id",Model)%> <br />
    Enter customer code :- <%= Html.TextBox("CustomerCode",Model) %><br />
    Enter customer Amount :- <%= Html.TextBox("Amount",Model) %><br />
    <input type="submit" value="Submit customer data" />
    <%} %>

    Step 3: Create a strong typed view by using the customer class

    So once you have created the view using the HTMLHelper classes it’s time to attach the customer class with the view; please refer to lab 5 for details.

    [HttpPost] public ActionResult DisplayCustomer(Customer obj) { return View(obj); }

    Enjoy your output for different conditions of customer amounts entered.

    So have a toast of beer for completing your first day of MVC labs.

    What’s for the second day?

    In the second session, we will talk about URL routing, ease of MVC unit testing, MVC Controller attributes, and a lot more. The next lab will be a bit more advanced as compared to the first day. Below is the link for the second day:

    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

    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


    Comments and Discussions


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    QuestionError in Step 3? PinmemberRickL6617hrs 8mins ago 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 PinprofessionalSibeesh KV19-Sep-14 19:47 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 PinprofessionalSibeesh KV19-Sep-14 19:46 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 PinprofessionalSooraj_Singh10-Sep-14 20:06 
    GeneralMy vote of 3 Pinmemberdhananjaykmr9439-Sep-14 3:42 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberm-shraddha4-Sep-14 3:21 
    QuestionUsing MVC 2 when MVC 5 is out??!!! PinprofessionalMacSpudster15-Aug-14 12:57 
    AnswerRe: Using MVC 2 when MVC 5 is out??!!! PinmemberSolly M3-Sep-14 9:13 
    QuestionLab 3 : objCustomer.CustomerCode = Request.Form["Id"].ToString(); Pinmemberpq3datlanta8-Aug-14 8:16 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembermani2009it1-Aug-14 5:28 
    Questionquery [modified] Pinmembersumangala k31-Jul-14 17:46 
    AnswerRe: query PinmemberMember 109258799-Aug-14 1:14 
    GeneralRe: query Pinmembersumangala k10-Aug-14 18:10 
    GeneralRe: query PinmemberNimesh Panda11-Aug-14 5:40 
    GeneralRe: query Pinmembersumangala k11-Aug-14 18:30 
    QuestionHtmlHelper Class PinmemberMember 1097774028-Jul-14 22:16 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberAbhijit Ghosh (Subho)26-Jul-14 0:03 
    QuestionGood Article PinprofessionalSibeesh Venu25-Jul-14 7:21 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 PinprofessionalSibeesh Venu25-Jul-14 7:07 
    QuestionLab 3 Missing Something? PinmemberMember 1096692423-Jul-14 10:20 
    AnswerRe: Lab 3 Missing Something? PinmemberYes Yes Yes24-Jul-14 2:19 
    QuestionLab 4 Not Working Pinmemberjspsteven23-Jul-14 9:30 
    AnswerRe: Lab 4 Not Working PinmemberYes Yes Yes24-Jul-14 2:24 
    GeneralRe: Lab 4 Not Working Pinmemberjspsteven24-Jul-14 3:32 
    QuestionGetting Error Pinprofessionalsibeesh19-Jul-14 7:41 

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