Notes on ASP.NET MVC CodePlex Preview 4

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(If you want to skip all the blah blah blah, go straight to the release)

What I love about working with The Gu (aka ScottGu, the man with many aliases) is that he makes my life easier with his gargantuan and detailed blog posts covering the features of each release. This allows me to follow up and fill in some details with a much shorter post, as by the time we get a release out the door, I’m usually too exhausted to write such a detailed post as he does. Yeah, excuses excuses.

In his latest post, Scott covers the ASP.NET MVC CodePlex Preview 4 release in two parts. This is the next in a continuing series of preview releases that alternate between full CTP level releases on ASP.NET and interim releases on CodePlex. Unlike previous CodePlex releases, this one contains an MSI installer for convenience. There are still some rough spots with some of the new features as we tried to get a lot into this release to elicit feedback. In fact, I’ve been doing some app building today and have already run into some areas for improvements with the Ajax helpers. I look forward to hearing your feedback as well.

MVC Futures

One thing you’ll notice in the project template that Scott didn’t cover in much detail is that we include a new assembly, Microsoft.Web.Mvc.dll. The release notes explain what this is.

The ASP.NET MVC team builds prototypes for a lot of features during the course of normal development. Some of these features will not be included in the RTM release, but are very likely to be included in a future full release. We’ve moved many of these features into a separate assembly, Microsoft.Web.Mvc.dll.

This follows what the ASP.NET’s team intends the term Futures to mean when it comes to products. Futures should contain features that we think has a decent chance of making it into the framework. If we implement something we are pretty sure we have no intention of including in the framework, we’ll typically post it as a blog sample or something to that effect.

Component Controller

For those that have used this, you’ll notice that we removed the ComponentController class. Instead, we renamed RenderComponent to be RenderAction and re-implemented it so that it works against a normal controller. This code is was moved to the MVC Futures assembly since we’re not planning to include it in the RTM.

My personal opinion is that this violates the separation of concerns so important to the MVC pattern. Having a method within your view calling back into a controller in order to render out a bit more view makes me feel a wee bit dirty ;). We’re developing prototypes for an alternative approach. In the meanwhile, I recognize that for a small sacrifice of pattern purity, this method is very useful, hence its inclusion in the MVC Futures assembly, but do understand that you use it at your own risk.

What’s Next?

The roadmap for ASP.NET MVC has been up on the CodePlex site for a while. We still have more cleanup and implementation work to do on the Ajax features, as well as existing and new helper methods. Likewise, we are tackling the problem of how should you report validation errors to the user via a common error reporting mechanism. This might not handle validation itself, but gives everyone a common place to put validation messages and allows for some of HTML helpers to be aware of these messages and render themselves accordingly.

And before I forget, you can download ASP.NET MVC CodePlex Preview 4 from the release page.

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