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    ASP.NET MVC3 RAD ASP.NET MVC3 RAD Document Transcript

    • ASP.NET MVC 3 Rapid Application Development<br />Mădălin Ștefîrcă and Victor Chircu<br />Abstract. This paper’s aim is to point out the RAD ( Rapid application development) elements present in the Microsoft’s MVC 3 using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. It will describe why creating a new web application using Mvc 3 is a lot easier and faster and also present simple ways to develop such applications.<br />Introduction<br />The paper will describe to you the simplicity of developing a web application using Microsoft’s ASP.NET MVC3. Starting with the creation of a new project, adding new items, and quickly adding functionality including modeling, databases CRUD operations, UI elements etc. There will be a brief presentation of the Html Helpers provided by Visual Studio, and the use of Dynamic Templates and how they can help you and a comparison between MVC 3 and Web Forms, the main web oriented frameworks provided by Microsoft.<br />Creating a new project<br />Creating a new project is easier than ever. You can create an emtpy project allowing you to structure it the way you think is best fit, or you can choose to create a new Internet Application that will create for you a fully functioning project and fully extensible. It is recommended to choose the second option, because this way you will not have to worry about the project structure and start developing since the very first minute. If you watch Fig.1 you can notice that Visual Studio has buit for you separate folders for Controllers, Views, Models, Scripts, Content. <br />If you check the packages.config file you can also see that Visula Studio also added some useful packages for you like jQuery, jQuery-UI, jQuery.Validation meaning javascript libraries that will greatly improve your development and are very common to an experienced developer. The Entity Framework nuGet package is installed also by default and it comes in handy when working with complex databases since most of the work is done by this ORM (Object Relational Mapping tool ).<br />In the ViewsShared folder you will find two .cshtml files, _Layout, used as a master page in the application, and Error, used as an global error page displayed to the user when the server crashes. These two are also added by default when creating a new MVC3 project. <br />If you run the application you will notice that you have a fully functional project including a minimal authentication system that allows you to register users and authenticate them later on.<br />Fig. SEQ "Figure" * MERGEFORMAT 1. <br />Adding new items<br />Models<br />Visual Studio also has provided for you an easy way for adding new items to your projects. You can add a new class in the Models folder that will be our new model. Right click the Models folder and select Add/Class. Name the class Employee and click Add. Inside the class you type “prop” and click the Tab key. This will instantly create for you a default property. Pressing the Tab key will switch you through the property type and property name in order to change them. Make for a start two properties of type string and name them Name and CompanyName and an Id. Still inside the class, if you type in “ctor” and press Tab key it will automatically generate a constructor for you. Inside the constructor assign the CompanyName property a string. Now you have your first model. Your code should look like this:<br />public class Employee<br /> {<br /> public Employee()<br /> {<br /> this.CompanyName = "Fictional Company";<br /> }<br />public int Id { get; set; }<br /> public string Name { get; set; }<br /> public string CompanyName { get; set; }<br /> }<br />Context<br />Now we will have to add a context for Entity Framework database. Int he Models folder add a new class. This should inherit the DBContext object from System.Data.Entity. Add a property to the class that should look like this:<br />public class EmployeeContext : DbContext<br /> {<br /> public DbSet<Employee> Employees { get; set; }<br /> }<br />And now you have your context.<br />Controllers<br />To add a new controller, you simply right click the Controllers folder and select Add/Controller. You type in the controller name, and then you get to choose between several scaffolding options like and empty controller, controller with empty actions or controller with read/write actions and views. The latter is the easiest way to develop. Choosing this option will require you to set the model class and the data context. Our model is Employee and context is EmployeeeContext. After selecting those previously mentioned click Add. This will generate you the whole mechanism required for CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations over the Employee entity, including database operations, and UI. If you take a look in the Views/Employees folder you will see that Visual Studio has already generated all the html you need for the actions. If you run the application in your browser and go to host/Employees you will have the full functionality done.<br />Html helpers<br />Html Helpers are provided by visual studio as support for rendering HTML controls in a view. It has a wide variety of choices like generating a link, forms, or even inputs or validations for inputs based on a predefined model. Also these helpers are highly extensible, customizing them being a great benefit for development.<br />@Html.EditorFor(m => m.Property)<br />@Html.DropDownListFor(m => m.Property, customSelectList)<br />Dynamic templates<br />Templates are used to display a predetermined portion of the page layout which also contains fill-in-the-blanks that can be filled at run time. Template saves a lot of time because it can be reused in many places. Razor view engine includes a feature called Inline Template which allows you to define a portion of dynamic HTML that can be reused. Also using Razor template you can pass template as a parameter to a method.<br />You can make this for display or edit mode. All you must do is to set the @model of the template to the desired type. This can be a struct, a class, or even a collection. You can call this templates either by setting the name of the templates exactly the same as the type of the property of the model, or by setting an attribute to the property [UIHint(“templateName”)].<br />Alternatives<br />The main advantages of the ASP.NET MVC 3 are that it enables full control over the rendered HTML, it provides clean separation of concerns, easy integration with javascript, RESTful urls that enables SEO, no ViewState and PostBacks events. The web forms provide a wide variety of RAD elements, like drag & drop, automatic event generation, and it is easier for developers coming from the winform development to adapt. Another big plus for the web forms framework is the maturity - it has been around since 2002 and there is a big amount of information regarding solving problems. Both of them are good choices, neither of the web frameworks are to be replaced by the other, nor there are plans to have them merged.<br />There are other vendors that offer 3rd party components and controls, like Telerik or Devexpress. These controls get rid of most of the "boilerplate" code that you would be writing, so they are feasible for small applications. But when it comes to building complex enterprise applications, you would notice that these 3rd party components do not cover all of the uses cases that you need, so ASP.MVC would be a safer bet.<br />Conclusion<br />All mentioned above prove that MVC 3 is very reliable and can easily be used to develop complex web applications in a very short time, with great elegance. It is easy to start with at a beginner level, allowing you to build basic functionality without too much experience, and allowing more advanced developers to build solid, complex applications in a short time. When working on a project you have to take into consideration it's purpose, scale, scalability and maintainability, and choose a framework accordingly. Even if lately Microsoft has integrated more and more RAD components into ASP.MVC, this framework is still designed for complex web application.<br />