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MVC4 : From Ajax Helper to jQuery and Knockout

In our MVC4 sprint; we used ASP.NET bundling for CSS / JS resources and migrated all the Ajax.BeginForm / Ajax.EndForm based forms that were developed in MVC2 days to the current techniques

In our MVC3 sprint; we removed MicrosoftMvcValidation.js and MicrosoftMvcJQueryValidation.js files from MVC2 days and instead referenced jQuery.Validation and Microsoft.jQuery.Unobtrusive.Validation NUGET references for jquery.validate.js and jquery.validate.unobtrusive.js respectively and as we were also using Ajax helpers; we added Microsoft.jQuery.Unobtrusive.Ajax NUGET packages for jquery.unobtrusive-ajax.js

We made the jqueryval bundle as its get created if we create a new MVC4 project and updated global.asax accordingly. Note how jquery.validate* bundle gets created; if –ajax .js files exist; they also get included in this same bundle. Once its in place our existing Ajax Helper based forms looked like this

We can use jQuery for Ajax requests and given unobtrusive validation works with jQuery (through jQuery.Validate plugin) we don’t need Ajax Helpers. Our example form will look like this:

  • Note that unobtrusive validation will not work and instead server side’s validation will work and error message can be sent from the server; in the next Knockout example; we will use the validation

MVC4 comes with Web API; that’s a framework to build HTTP services and its ideal for using with new breed of javascript libraries like Knockout, Ember and Angular etc. In this post we will restrict ourselves to Knockout as its easier and doesn’t demand lots of changes! We updated our forms to use Knockout as it offers declarative binding, automatic UI refresh and templating. In my AJAX-enabled WCF Service :: Round tripping post I showed how we use a client side view model object in the javascript and bind HTML to it declaratively! Here’s how our simple form will look like with Knockout using Web Api Controller

  • Note that for “Title” field we used HTML helpers for unobtrusive validation and for that to work; we need to call jquery.validate’s valid() method in our postNewItem()
  • Note that for “Text” field we are not using HTML helpers and server side validation will work for this
  • Note that using “lower” level HTTP status codes at server side and using jQuery's declarative style to handle / separate these “exceptional case”; we can write separate functions to handle different Status Codes; take a look at my HttpStatusCodeResult post

We need to take care of these bad smells next

  • We have to write javascript view Model object for Knockout from scratch; this can become problematic if Model has many fields / nesting; its also maintenance nightmare; changing model field name at server side; we will not have compile time warnings and our javascript code will break!
  • Client side validation has become spaghetti; mix of server side (HTML.TextBoxFor() + HTML.ValidationMessageFor()) and client side ( $(“form”).valid() )
  • For Knockout data-bind attributes; unfortunately we cant use Html.EditorFor() as there is no suitable override to add additional HTML attributes; that’s why I used HTML.TextBoxFor() above!

Post your ideas in the comments below; in the next post I will write about what we did in the final sprint!

Published Tuesday, February 09, 2016 10:00 PM by khurram
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