ASP.NET MVC Preview 3 Release
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by Scott Guthrie
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Controller Action Method Changes

ASP.NET MVC Preview 3 includes the MVC Controller changes we first discussed and previewed with the April MVC source release, along with some additional tweaks and adjustments. 

You can continue to write controller action methods that return void and encapsulate all of their logic within the action method.  For example:

Figure 1

which would render the below HTML when run:

Figure 2

Preview 3 also now supports using an approach where you return an "ActionResult" object that indicates the result of the action method, and enables deferred execution of it.  This allows much easier unit testing of actions (without requiring the need to mock anything).  It also enables much cleaner composition and overall execution control flow.

For example, we could use LINQ to SQL within our Browse action method to retrieve a sequence of Product objects from our database and indicate that we want to render a View of them.  The code below will cause three pieces of "ViewData" to be passed to the view - "Title" and "CategoryName" string values, and a strongly typed sequence of products (passed as the ViewData.Model object):

Figure 3

One advantage of using the above ActionResult approach is that it makes unit testing Controller actions really easy (no mocking required).  Below is a unit test that verifies the behavior of our Browse action method above:

Figure 4

We can then author a "Browse" ViewPage within the \Views\Products sub-directory to render a response using the ViewData populated by our Browse action:

Figure 5

When we hit the /Products/Browse/Beverages URL we'll then get an HTML response like below (with the three usages of ViewData circled in red):

Figure 6

Note that in addition to support a "ViewResult" response (for indicating that a View should be rendered), ASP.NET MVC Preview 3 also adds support for returning "JsonResult" (for AJAX JSON serialization scenarios), "ContentResult" (for streaming content without a View), as well as HttpRedirect and RedirectToAction/Route results.  

The overall ActionResult approach is extensible (allowing you to create your own result types), and overtime you'll see us add several more built-in result types.

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