ASP.NET MVC

ASP.NET MVC is a web application framework that helps developers build web applications using well-established programming architecture and software engineering practices. It also gives you a highly testable presentation layer because it decouples the view from the controller and makes both easy to review and test at run time.

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Why ASP.NET MVC? 

ASP.NET MVC provides many benefits, both perceived and real such as:

  • Separation of concerns between the UI (Views) and logic (Controllers).
  • Written for testability in mind. Simplifies TDD (Test-Driven Development)
  • You can define your validation framework at the controller or model level.
  • Built-in support for jQuery, AJAX, and many other tools that comprise the MVC Ajax Toolkit
  • Excellent support for Web API.
  • It is open source.
  • It is easy to implement because it uses the same fundamental concepts as ASP.NET Web Forms but without web forms.

Version History of MVC

The ASP.NET MVC is the latest framework of three frameworks released by Microsoft for building web applications with .NET technology. The earlier two were ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET AJAX which are now obsolete.

Version 1 - 2007

  • Released on Aug.13, 2007
  • Runs on.NET 3.5 or .NET 4.0 
  • MVC Pattern architecture with WebForm Engine
  • Main features include Auth & Sessions Support, MvcScaffolding, etc.

Version 2 - 2009

  • Released on Nov. 30, 2009
  • Runs on.NET 2.0/3.5/4.0
  • MVC Pattern architecture with WebForm Engine
  • JsHint is supported by hinting javascript files in Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate edition.
  • Main features include Authentication Support, MvcScaffolding, Razor View Engine, Unit Testing, etc.

Version 3 - 2010

  • Released in July 2010
  • Runs on.NET 3.5
  • Visual Studio 2008 Express or later
  • MVC Pattern architecture with WebForm Engine
  • Main features include Auth & Sessions Support, MvcScaffolding, Routing, etc.

Version 4 - 2011

  • Released on May 15, 2011
  • Runs on .NET 4.0 or .NET Standard 2.0
  • Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Express Edition or later
  • MVC Pattern architecture with WebForm Engine
  • Main features include MvcScaffolding, Routing, etc.

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Version 5 - 2012

  • Released on Aug. 11, 2012
  • Runs on .NET 4.0, 4.5 or .NET Standard 2.0
  • Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Express Edition or later
  • MVC Pattern architecture with WebForm Engine
  • Main features include MvcScaffolding, Routing, etc.

Version 6 - 2013

  • Released on Aug. 26, 2013
  • Runs on .NET 4.0 or .NET Standard 2.0
  • Visual Studio 2012 or Visual Studio 2013
  • MVC Pattern architecture with WebForm Engine
  • Main features include MvcScaffolding, Routing, etc.

Features of MVC 

Here are some of the salient features of ASP.NET MVC:

  • The framework is based on existing .NET Framework concepts and web standards.
  • It separates the code of UI from logic through the use of controllers and views.
  • Supports unit testing through dependency injection, unobtrusive scripting, and action result return types.
  • Supports AJAX and Cross-browser compatible jQuery libraries.
  • Supports XML and JSON encoding for clean, RESTful services.
  • MVC provides routing capability that allows URLs to map to actions in controllers.

Things to Remember While Creating MVC Application

  • MVC is a model in which we write three parts of code separately, which helps achieve the separation of concerns.
  • Don't mix view data with model data. Whenever you write code for the view, try to put <%= %> kind of tags, same as in Razor. This will help you when testing your application later on.
  • Always try to use as few as possible action filters; they come with performance costs and, as such, should be used only when necessary.
  • Try to keep your controllers thin and simple; don't go for any logic in the controller. Keep the controller as a middle man between Model and View. If you want some complex actions, try to use some service class and pass it wherever you want.
  • Try to keep your Models as lightweight as possible; if you have a lot of logic in your Model, either separate it or create a new Model for that particular action.
  • Use partial views whenever possible; they come in handy while testing.
  • Try to use JavaScript functions when necessary.

MVC Architectural Pattern 

There are mainly three components in MVC Application: Model - View - Controller.

  1. Model: The business and data logic of the application is isolated and encapsulated in models. All application logic is written in models. Models are unaware of the view layer.

  2. View: The views are responsible for rendering the model data into HTML markup. They contain presentation logic that manipulates the data and generates HTML markup based on Model data.

  3. Controller: Controls page flow, routing, model validation, and security. It also updates the view with any changes to business data. The controller receives input from a user, calls business logic for processing the request, and then sends a response back to the client. The controller validates input data from the client and updates the model with any changes. 

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WebForms vs. MVC

1. WebForms

  • Active Server Pages (ASP) is the technology behind WebForms.
  • Application is made via pages.
  • The HTML code is written within the page.

2. MVC

  • The technology behind MVC is ASP.NET.
  • Application is made via code.
  • The HTML code is generated on the server and is sent to the client browser.

Advantages of ASP.NET MVC

  • A well-defined programming interface provides support for testability.
  • Separation of concerns is enforced.
  • Enforces the creation of loosely coupled classes that are less dependent on each other. This reduces the conflict between changes in different parts of an application, thus promoting parallel development (for multi-developers) and maintenance (for a single developer).
  • It is more customizable compared to other web development frameworks. This is achieved through filters and allows developers to create their data access and service classes, controller classes, and views (HTML pages). In addition, the extensibility of ASP.NET MVC makes it very attractive for advanced users and those using third-party components that require a specific model or view.
  • It is a "pure" MVC framework – this means that the system's interface, controllers, and models – all three of them, represent one concept that is very clear and concise (the term purely refers to the absence of sharing). This makes it easier to understand and maintain.
  • Views can be customized using XML.
  • Data Binding is performed with the help of HTML helpers, which are available for rendering forms and links.

Disadvantages of ASP.NET MVC

  • It has a steeper learning curve than its predecessors.
  • For large sites, it is not appropriate to have a single controller responsible for all of the data operations and logic that must be performed on the data.
  • It has no built-in facilities for bundling, minification, and compression of script files.

Best Practices While Using ASP.NET MVC

  • Compared to other web development frameworks, it is more challenging to learn. So, make sure you have a good understanding of the MVC design pattern before starting.
  • Use Visual Studio's built-in debugger capabilities to your advantage by adding breakpoints in your code where needed. This will allow you to check values and monitor the flow of execution.
  • Debugging custom filters and controller actions can be difficult; therefore, it is advisable to avoid using them unless necessary.
  • Test your application before deploying it to production by creating a staging environment where unit tests can be run on actual data. You should also investigate third-party solutions for testing various parts of your application, including controllers and views.
  • If possible, avoid using the ViewBag object because its purpose is to pass data between different areas of an MVC application without creating a formal model or service layer. This behavior can lead to confusion, especially when dealing with multiple developers on the same project.
  • Use HTML helpers when rendering forms or links so you can specify any particular data binding required.

MVC Folder Structure

An ASP.NET MVC application has a standard folder structure that includes routes, controllers, models, views, and a global.asax file.

  • Route: This contains an XML file that has the mappings of URL patterns to controller actions.
  • Controller: Contains controller classes that handle browser requests for specific URLs and actions.
  • Model: Contains models that represent the data used by the application.
  • View: Contains view files for rendering HTML markup.
  • Global.asax: Contains global event handlers and filters for processing requests and responses to and from the browser. ASP.NET MVC supports several types of controllers such as: 
  1. ValuesController: The simplest type of controller that can be created.
  2. AccountController: Uses domain model, data annotations, and input validation.
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Conclusion

ASP.NET MVC is a robust framework that provides several features to develop feature-rich dynamic web applications. For example, it has better code organization in terms of controllers, views, and models, reflecting the well-structured architecture of an application in general. This makes it easier to understand, maintain and test. 

In addition, the view files can be customized using XML, and its steep learning curve can be reduced by taking help from online resources or getting a book on MVC. Learning ASP.NET MVC online will also help you skill up; you can join a Simplilearn's Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development, to learn any coding skills or explore our skillup courses for free. 

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