ASP.NET Model View Controller (MVC) Framework divides an application's implementation into three component roles:
- Models are the components of the application that are responsible for maintaining state. Often this state is persisted inside a database (for example: we might have a Product class that is used to represent order data from the Products table inside SQL).
- Views are the components responsible for displaying the application's user interface. Typically this UI is created off of the model data (for example: we might create an Product "Edit" view that surfaces textboxes, dropdowns and checkboxes based on the current state of a Product object).
- Controllers are the components responsible for handling end user interaction, manipulating the model, and ultimately choosing a view to render to display UI. In a MVC application the view is only about displaying information - it is the controller that handles and responds to user input and interaction.
One of the benefits of using a MVC methodology is that it helps enforce a clean separation of concerns between the models, views and controllers within an application. Maintaining a clean separation of concerns makes the testing of applications much easier, since the contract between different application components are more clearly defined and articulated.
The MVC pattern can also help enable red/green test driven development (TDD) - where you implement automated unit tests, which define and verify the requirements of new code, first before you actually write the code itself.
A few quick details to share in the meantime about the ASP.NET MVC framework:
- It enables clean separation of concerns, testability, and TDD by default. All core contracts within the MVC framework are interface based and easily mockable (it includes interface based IHttpRequest/IHttpResponse intrinsics). You can unit test the application without having to run the Controllers within an ASP.NET process (making unit testing fast). You can use any unit testing framework you want to-do this testing (including NUnit, MBUnit, MS Test, etc).
- It is highly extensible and pluggable. Everything in the MVC framework is designed so that it can be easily replaced/customized (for example: you can optionally plug-in your own view engine, routing policy, parameter serialization, etc). It also supports using existing dependency injection and IOC container models (Windsor, Spring.Net, NHibernate, etc).
- It includes a very powerful URL mapping component that enables you to build applications with clean URLs. URLs do not need to have extensions within them, and are designed to easily support SEO and REST-friendly naming patterns. For example, I could easily map the /products/edit/4 URL to the "Edit" action of the ProductsController class in my project above, or map the /Blogs/scottgu/10-10-2007/SomeTopic/ URL to a "DisplayPost" action of a BlogEngineController class.
- The MVC framework supports using the existing ASP.NET .ASPX, .ASCX, and .Master markup files as "view templates" (meaning you can easily use existing ASP.NET features like nested master pages, <%= %> snippets, declarative server controls, templates, data-binding, localization, etc). It does not, however, use the existing post-back model for interactions back to the server. Instead, you'll route all end-user interactions to a Controller class instead - which helps ensure clean separation of concerns and testability (it also means no viewstate or page lifecycle with MVC based views).
- The ASP.NET MVC framework fully supports existing ASP.NET features like forms/windows authentication, URL authorization, membership/roles, output and data caching, session/profile state management, health monitoring, configuration system, the provider architecture, etc.