Tying MVP To the ASP.NET Event Model

comments edit

I knew this question would come up, so I figure I would address it in its own blog post. Mike asks a great question about my MVP implementation (actually he asks two).

One observation...don't you seem to be tying the presenter to the ASP.NET event model? If not, can you use the same presenter for a WinForms app?

The answer is that I am absolutely tying my presenter to ASP.NET.


Well when I first working on the article, I planned on creating an abstracted IView and presenter that would work for both ASP.NET and Windows Forms, but ran into a few problems. The biggest problem is that I rarely have to write a Windows Forms applications. In fact, I almost never do. So why spend all this time on something I won’t need? I had to call YAGNI on my efforts.

Premature Generalization

Besides, I didn’t want to run afoul of Eric Gunnerson’s #1 deadly sin of programming, premature generalization. There is no point in writing an IView and Presenter to work with both winforms and ASP.NET unless I am also implementing concrete instances of both at the same time. Otherwise I will write it for one platform and hope it will work for the other. If I ever do implement it for the other, I will probably have to rewrite it anyways.

Parity is a rarity

Secondly, even if I did need it, there are some other issues to deal with. First, trying to write a single presenter for both ASP.NET and a WinForms app assumes the user interaction with the application and the view is going to be roughly the same. That is rarely the case. If I have to go to the trouble to write a Winforms app, I will certainly take advantage of its UI benefits.

Leaky Abstractions Rear Their Head

Thirdly, despite all the hoops that ASP.NET jumps through to abstract the fact that it is a web application and present an API that feels like a desktop platform, it is still a web application platform. The abstraction is leaky and trying to abstract it even more causes problems.

For example, in a Winforms view, you only need to call the Initialize method once because the data is persistent in memory. With an ASP.NET view by default, you have to essentially repopulate every data field every time a user clicks a button. Can you imagine a Winforms app written like that?

Of course you could more closely simulate the Winforms view in ASP.NET view by storing these fields in ViewState or, shudder, Session, but this then becomes a constraint on your ASP.NET view in order to support this pattern, forcing you to take a Winforms approach to a web based app. Ideally a presenter for an ASP.NET application should not have to assume that the ASP.NET view is going to store fields in a persistent manner.


So that is a long-winded answer to a short question. I believe if I had to, I could get the same Presenter to work for both a Winforms App and an ASP.NET app. These problems I mention are not insurmountable. However, I would need to be properly motivated to do so, i.e., have a real hard requirement to do so.