ASP.NET MVC Beta Released
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by Scott Guthrie
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Form Post and Model Binder Improvements

One of the biggest areas of feature investment with the ASP.NET MVC "Preview 5" release was the work around form post scenarios.  I did an in-depth blog post about these form post scenario features last month.

Today's beta includes a number of additional tweaks, enhancements, and refinements in this area.  These include:

Built-in Model Binder support for Complex Types

Preview 5 introduced the concept of "model binders" - which allow you to map incoming form post values to complex .NET types passed as Controller action method parameters.  Model binders in preview 5 were extensible, and you could create custom binders and register them at multiple levels of the system.  Preview 5 didn't ship with any "pre-built" binders, though, that you could use out of the box (you instead had to build your own).  Today's beta now includes a built-in, pre-registered, binder that can be used to automatically handle standard .NET types - without requiring any additional code or registration. 

For example, we can now create a "Person" class like below with standard properties:

Figure 9

And then have a Controller action method take it as an parameter argument simply by writing the code below:

Figure 10

Because the argument parameter above is named "person", the model binder will by default look for form-post values whose key names are in the format "person.Name", "person.Age", "person.Email".  It will then use these values to create and populate a new "Person" object that is passed into our action method.

Developers can optionally override the default name mapping logic using a new [Bind] attribute introduced with today's beta - and by setting its "Prefix" property.  For example, if we set the prefix property to "PersonToSave", the binder would instead look for the following form values: "PersonToSave.Name", "PersonToSave.Age", and "PersonToSave.Email" when creating the person instance.  You can set the prefix to an empty string to have the binder map "Name", "Age" and "Email" with no prefix:

Figure 11

The [Bind] attribute allows you to optionally specify an "Included" or "Excluded" property - which can be used to either "whitelist" or "blacklist" properties from being mapped on the objects.  For example, the code below indicates that we want to map only the "Name" and "Age" properties on our person object:

Figure 12

Important safety tip: In general you want to be very careful to make sure you don't allow properties to be mapped that you don't want mapped.  Always use include/exclude anytime you have properties that you don't want to be mapped on an object.  For example: assuming there was a "Salary" property on our Person object - we would not want to map it unless we explicitly wanted an end-user to be able to set it.  You want to be explicit about not mapping unwanted properties like this to prevent a hacker from trying to fake out a form request and attempting to submit additional property information not editable in the UI.

Refactored Model Binder Infrastructure

The model binder system has been refactored significantly for the beta.  You can now re-use and plug-in functionality in a much more granular fashion when building your own custom model binders.

Model binders are also now used by the UpdateModel and TryUpdateModel methods - allowing you to write one binder and re-use it everywhere any form value is handled inside ASP.NET MVC.

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User Comments

Title: how about validation   
Name: geocine
Date: 2010-12-15 7:42:28 PM
Values are not mapped but validations are still executed.
Title: sikat ang pinoy   
Name: renanorola
Date: 2010-02-05 8:35:24 PM
Creating silverlight on mvc are now easy. Thanks for the tutorials I like how you have presented the information in full detail. Keep up the great work
Title: ASP.NET MVC   
Name: Ranganathan
Date: 2009-02-09 1:54:22 AM
Today's beta release is a step closer to the final ASP.NET MVC 1.0 product. While not 100% feature complete, we think the major subsystems are all getting really close to being done, and that the quality level is now pretty good.

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