View Responsibility

Sunday, November 9, 2008 8:56 PM

On my current side project, I'm writing an ASP.NET MVC application and have been loving it. Something I find myself doing is breaking up a particular view into the main view that gets asked for by a controller and a few sub views. It is these sub views that caused me to ponder the question of responsibility. I wondered if it was the responsibility of the controller to distinguish between the data needed by the main view and the data needed in each sub view, or was it the main view's responsibility to dole out what the sub view needed. I ultimately came to the conclusion that it is the main view's responsibility. Here is my reasoning.

I think a key ability here is to put yourself in the shoes of another.  Or in other words, be able to see something from different perspectives.

For this particular example, I have an action where the user has asked for a particular agenda by date. So I have an AgendaController and a method called Show. The controller gets the appropriate agenda from the domain and selects a view to display it.

From the perspective of the controller: So I've been asked for an agenda. I'll get the agenda and ask a view to display it. I don't care how it gets displayed, just that it does. So I'll pass the agenda object itself to the view.

From the perspective of the view (the one selected by the controller): So I've been asked to display an agenda. I'll make the date of the agenda be the title of the page and put it here. I want the attendance to go right here, but I'll let the "AttendanceView" render that piece so it will look like it does everywhere else. I'll put the blah blah here, and this thingy over there... etc.

You get the idea. The main view is deciding where to put all the pieced of an agenda. It also decides to delegate some of the more complex pieces to other sub views. When it does that, it needs to pass to that sub view what it wants the sub view to display. For example:

<div class="section" title="Attendance">
   <% Html.RenderPartial("AttendanceView", ViewData.Model.Voters); %>

So the controller gave the main view an agenda to render and the main view is taking part of that agenda and passing it off to a sub view to handle. This is where I think this separation belongs. I don't think the sub view should have to share the same model type as the main view, and I don't think the controller should have to put that collection of voters behind a special ViewData key for the sub view. I don't even think the controller should have to know there will be sub views. It's the controller's responsibility to get the domain object, and it's the main view's responsibility to make sure that domain object gets displayed.

Of course, all this is just how I'm feeling about it today. I'm sure I could be persuaded to change my viewpoint fairly easy however.

Happy coding!

Tags: .net, architecture, mvc
Comments (2)
Jeremy Sharp Jeremy Sharp 11/13/2008 4:57 PM

heyyyy since when do you code after hours... You better be carefully next thing you know you will be like me... (I'm working to be more like you )

rtennys rtennys 11/15/2008 6:59 AM

LOL - I definitely don't want to do this on a regular basis. More hoping this becomes my "muse" (see 4-hour work week)! Of course, now that the new world of warcraft expansion is out, it'll be hard for any kind of work to find it's way into my off time.