Microsoft boosts MVC Web app development

Company offers design assistance and readies a release candidate for the alternative to ASP .Net Web Forms

Microsoft is moving forward on two fronts with its MVC (Model View Controller) software development platform for the Web, providing design assistance and readying a release candidate of the technology.

The Microsoft ASP.Net MVC platform enables developers to build MVC applications using the .ASP.Net framework. Serving as an alternative to ASP.Net Web Forms, ASP.Net MVC provides separation of concerns, support for test-driven development, fine-grained control over HTML and JavaScript, and intuitive URLs, Microsoft said. ASP.Net is Microsoft's technology for building dynamic Web applications.

[ Related: Microsoft recently released an early version of a content management system based on ASP.Net MVC, called Oxite. ]

The company is offering assistance Friday for developers using ASP.Net MVC, providing free, downloadable HTML design templates for use with ASP.Net MVC applications. Templates are part of the ASP.Net MVC Design Gallery.

Each template features a Site.master file, a CSS style sheet, and an optional set of images and helper methods, said Microsoft's Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the company's Developer Division, in his blog.

"The gallery allows you to preview each of the designs online as well as download a .zip version of them that you can extract and integrate into your site.  The gallery allows anyone to create and submit new designs under the creative commons license," Guthrie said.

"We think this will provide a useful way for developers to more easily create attractive, standards-compliant sites," he said.

The company also is preparing to ship improvements to its MVC platform via an ASP.Net MVC Release Candidate build due in January. ASP.Net MVC was released as a beta technology in October. Improvements in the release candidate build include a change in which MVC view files by default do not have code-behind files.

"This change helps to reinforce the purpose of views in a MVC world (which are intended to be purely about rendering and not contain any non-rendering-related code) and for most people eliminates unused files in the project," Guthrie said.

With the release candidate, Developers also can build strongly typed HTML and AJAX helper extensions that use expression syntax to refer to the View model. Also featured is a top-level model property on views.

An automatic UI scaffolding capability is offered when creating views using a new ASP.Net MVC "Add View" command inside Visual Studio. This support enables automatic generation of views against any .Net type or object.

Also planned is jQuery-vsdoc intellisense support and new FileResult and JavaScriptResult ActionResult types to more easily download files and executable JavaScript to browsers. Project template improvements and extensibility also are eyed as well as bug fixes.

Additionally, a built-in MSBuild task can be used to include views as part of the project compilation process. This verifies syntax and code included inline within views and master pages for the application. Build errors are provided if there are problems.

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