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Strong-Typed Routes with MVC 2 Preview 2

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Update 3/28/2010

Didn’t realize it had been so long since I have created this post. It appears that the MVC Futures team has stepped up and published a set of strong-typed route extensions in recent build. You can find a link to these on the MVC Page on CodePlex.

I’ll be publishing a set of extensions I have made to work with these in a few days based on ideas in the work below. Therefore, I am removing the download link.


Last weekend I enthusiastically went on and on about using Strong-Typed routes in MVC 2 Preview 2 based on Goran Gagic’s elegant sample. And so I have built on his code and I have something to share.

Download Sample Project Here

I am going to dive more into usage than working internals, so let’s get underway.

Project Configuration

I have made some configuration changes to the sample project to better illustrate the feature set and make usage very convenient when constructing views. First, I have added a few namespaces to the web.config as you can see in the image below:

strong-typed-routes web-config namespaces

The namespace ‘MVC2_TypedRoutes.TypedRoutes’ (the ‘TypedRoutes’ folder) contains the extensions and support classes for strong-typed  route value creation. Secondly, I have added an additional routes in the global.asax as show below:

strong-typed-routes global-asax extra-routes

Both of these routes utilize the TypedRoutesController exclusively, but differ in their signature using the ‘_RouteName’ value. I have also set up a simple controller that will be used to demonstrate the features. Let’s look at the controller:

strong-typed-routes typed-routes-controller

There are several attributes applied here that are leveraged by the strong-typed route extensions. Let’s review them:

  • RouteActionAttribute

    This attribute has a single property named ‘PassThru’ that allows for a entering a comma separated list of route value names to be passed thru when creating routes. This attribute can be applied to a class or method.

    In the sample it is applied to the class, so all strong-typed routes created for the TypedRoutesController will have the ‘_RouteName’ route values passed along when generating a route call.

  • RouteValueAttribute

    This attribute allows for specifying a format for the values in the route (especially handy for dates), default values and if the parameter is ignored in creating the route. It can be applied to parameters or properties.

    In the sample as applied to the ‘Date’ parameter in the ‘Sample1’ action method it specifies a default DatetTime of Jan 1, 2000. If the date value submitted when creating the strong-typed route in an Html.ActionLink<Controller> extension matches the default, it will not be passed to the resulting route. Additionally, the ‘Format’ value is specified and a route friendly format for the date parameter will be used.

Additionally, the ‘Sample2’ action method has the MVC BindAttribute applied and this will be used by the strong-typed route extensions as well.

Project Usage

The sample get’s right to the point, creating three strong-typed routes inside the HomeController ‘Index’ view to the TypedRoutesController. Let’s take a look at the ActionLink<Controller> calls and the resulting routes.

Sample ActionLink Route 1

strong-typed-routes sample-1

Here’s the run down on using the strong-typed ActionLink:

  • It’s a generic method – so you have to specify the controller
  • The first parameter is simple – the title for the action link
  • The second parameter is an expression based call to a method on the TypedRoutesController, in this case ‘Sample1’. (Notice the date supplied is the same as the default specified by the RouteValueAttribute.)
  • The third parameter is something I have not mentioned yet. This is a expression call that leverages a fluent-interface object that allows you to easily set route values, route value formats, and html attributes. Let’s take a look at the signature of the fluent-interface object:

    strong-typed-routes action-link-settings   

    As you can see you can  apply single or multiple attributes, formats or values. And for attributes I used the JQuery ‘Attr’ for html attributes. (Important note: any formats or route values specified here will override those specified by by the RouteValueAttribute applied to the action method or the method expression provided by calling the Html.ActionLink<C> extension or Url.Action<C> extensions. Phew!)

    In this case we are submitting a route value for ‘_RouteName’ of ‘TypedRoutes1’.

Here is the resulting route:


Here is a brief run down:

  • The Date RouteValueAttribute default is matched so the value from the ActionLink extension is not passed along in the route.
  • The route ‘TypedRoutes1’ is called specified by supplying the appropriate ‘_RouteName’ value.

Sample ActionLink Route 2

 strong-typed-routes sample-2

Let’s look at the differences:

  • We are calling the same action method as in sample 1 above, but this time we are specifying the current time.
  • This time we are submitting a route value for ‘_RouteName’ of ‘TypedRoutes2’.

Here is the resulting route:


Notice it correctly chose the ‘TypedRoutes2’ route and submitted a date value formatted as specified by the RouteValueAttribute applied to the method Date parameter.

Sample ActionLink Route 3

strong-typed-routes sample-3

Here is the brief run down:

  • This sample calls a different action, one that takes a complex object.
  • Like sample 2above we are submitting a route value for ‘_RouteName’ of ‘TypedRoutes2’.
  • Also, if we look at the controller it has a BindAttribute applied with a prefix. This will be used in formatting values in the route.
  • Also we are specifying a custom format for ‘TestObject.Date’.

Here is the resulting route:

/TypedRoutes2/Sample2?TestObject.Name=Sample 2 Link&TestObject.Date=2009-10-18


That’s It for Now

But before I go a few additional notes:

  • This was compiled for MVC 2 Preview 2 but can easily be made to work under MVC 1 by removing the ‘ToHtmlString’ method calls which are new in MVC 2 Preview 2.
  • The RouteValueAtrribute can be applied to properties in complex objects being used as action method parameters, but I have not made extensive testing of this.
  • There are additional views in the sample project that shows off the subtle power of using the ‘PassThru’ property of the RouteActionAttribute.
  • There are also Action methods of the Url helper for use in view or controllers.

Written by Lynn Eriksen

March 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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One Response

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  1. Everyone loves what you guys tend to be up too.
    This sort of clever work and exposure! Keep up the good works guys I’ve incorporated you guys
    to our blogroll.

    September 26, 2013 at 2:13 am

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