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Aftermarket ASP.NET MVC - Part 1 - Introduction

First published on January 5, 2016

This is part 1 of a multi-part series on “fixing” some of the inherit design problems with ASP.NET MVC.

Update 2016-02-18: I’ve also setup a repository on GitHub that includes many of these experiments and implementations.

ASP.NET MVC has been the contemporary framework of choice for backend web development on the .NET stack almost since its first release around 2008-2009. And now here we are, seven years later, and by-and-large the framework’s programming patterns have remained relatively unchanged.

At the time of it’s initial development the hottest and trendiest web development stack was Ruby on Rails. So it’s no surprise that Microsoft borrowed a great many of Rails’ conventions when designing ASP.NET MVC. Whether good or bad.

Over the years people have discussed and debated the patterns (and anti-patterns?) and other short comings of the framework. In fact, “alternative” frameworks such as FubuMVC sprung up as a result. Unfortunately, virtually all of these “alternative” frameworks see little to no adoption.

Arguably the worst part of being a .NET developer is the dependence on and suffocation by “1st party” frameworks and tools. For many dev shops, “3rd party” and open source is never considered an option or is simply forbidden; it’s either built by Microsoft or it doesn’t exist! I think the .NET development world is, in a bad way, unique in this aspect.

Side note: more recently there’s been a rise in Sinatra style frameworks such as Nancy. I really like NancyFX. And I hope they stay strong.

So while I do have many of my own ideas for how I would refactor ASP.NET MVC into something better (in my opinion), I know it’ll see zero adoption. And it will also be met with heavy resistance for new projects I work on.

Instead, I’m going to show a few tricks I’ve learned over the past seven years that make ASP.NET MVC much smarter. Over the course of this series I’ll discuss an aspect of the framework I dislike, and show how to make it better. I may also add to the series as I learn new tricks, and as the framework itself evolves.


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