ASP.NET MVC Framework (Part 3): Passing ViewData from Controllers to Views
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by Scott Guthrie
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Quick Recap from Part 1

In Part 1 of this series, we created an e-commerce site that implemented basic product listing/browsing support.  We implemented this site using the ASP.NET MVC Framework, which led us to naturally structure the code into distinct controller, model and view components.

When a browser sends a HTTP request to our web site, the ASP.NET MVC Framework will use its URL routing engine to map the incoming request to an action method on a controller class to process it.  Controllers in a MVC based application are responsible for processing incoming requests, handling user input and interactions, and executing application logic based on them (retrieving and updating model data stored in a database, etc).

When it comes time to render an HTML response back to the client, controllers typically work with "view" components - which are implemented as separate classes/templates from the controllers, and are intended to be focused entirely on encapsulating presentation logic.

Figure 1

Views should not contain any application logic or database retrieval code, instead all application/data logic should only be handled by the controller class.  The motivation behind this partitioning is to help enforce a clear separation of your application/data logic from your UI generation code.  This makes it easier to unit test your application/data logic in isolation from your UI rendering logic.

Views should only render their output using the view-specific data passed to it by the Controller class.  In the ASP.NET MVC Framework we call this view-specific data "ViewData".  The rest of this blog post is going to cover some of the different approaches you can use to pass this "ViewData" from the Controller to the View to render.

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