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Matt Ward

September 2012 - Posts

  • MVC Scaffolding

    SharpDevelop 4.3 now has support for MVC Scaffolding.

    MVC Scaffolding, maintained by Steve Sanderson, provides a way to quickly generate code for views and controllers in your ASP.NET MVC application. It has support for scaffolding the following:

    • Views and controllers.
    • Entity Framework DbContexts.
    • Repositories.
    • Controller actions.
    • Unit tests.

    It makes use of T4 templates, which can be customised, and can be extended with custom scaffolders to support more than just the features listed above.

    The original MVC Scaffolding NuGet packages made heavy use of the Visual Studio API and have been modified to work with SharpDevelop. Full details of the changes made to the original NuGet packages can be found at the end of this post.

    Steve Sanderson has a great series of posts on MVC Scaffolding that covers more than this post will. Now let us take a look at how to use MVC Scaffolding with SharpDevelop.


    MVC Scaffolding for SharpDevelop is available as a NuGet package. The NuGet package you should download is MvcScaffolding.SharpDevelop. Install the MvcScaffolding.SharpDevelop NuGet package either from the NuGet package management console or by using the Manage Packages dialog.

    Note that the NuGet package MvcScaffolding.SharpDevelop.1.0.9 requires SharpDevelop or above. If you have an older version installed then you should uninstall the MvcScaffolding.SharpDevelop package, before installing the latest version of SharpDevelop, and then reinstall the MvcScaffolding.SharpDevelop package. A breaking change made to SharpDevelop 4.3 to support the EntityFramework package will cause the older MvcScaffolding.SharpDevelop NuGet package to fail to uninstall cleanly in the newer version of SharpDevelop.

    Scaffolding a Controller and Views

    As an example we will create a simple blogging site. Create a Razor MVC application called BloggingSite. Then create the following class in a Models folder.

    using System;
    namespace BloggingSite.Models
        public class Post
            public int Id { get; set; }
            public string Title { get; set; }
            public string Text { get; set; }
            public DateTime PublishedDate { get; set; }

    Now we can scaffold a controller and a set of Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) views. In the Package Management console run the following command.

    Scaffold Controller Post

    This will generate a set of views, a controller and an Entity Framework database context.

    Scaffold Controller Post output in Package Management Console

    To run the Blogging Site application you will need to have IIS Express and SQL Server Express installed. Your project will also need to be configured to use IIS Express. Select Project Options from the Project menu and then select the Web tab. Choose IIS Express and then click the Create application/virtual directory button.

    Then run your application and visit the /Posts page in your browser.

    Scaffolded Posts page with empty database

    You can then create a new post by clicking the Create New link.

    Creating new blog post page

    After creating a new post then the post will be displayed on the original /Posts page.

    Scaffolded Posts page with one post

    Also scaffolded is the details page which you can view by clicking the Details link.

    Scaffolded Details page

    Finally there is the Delete page where you can remove a post.

    Scaffolded delete post page

    Scaffolding CRUD views is just one part of MvcScaffolding so let us take a look at some of other scaffolding that is supported. Steve Sanderson goes into more detail on what you can do with each of the MVC Scaffolders than will be covered here.

    Scaffolding a Repository

    The PostsController generated uses the BloggingSiteContext class which is derived from Entity Framework's DbContext.

    public class PostsController : Controller
        private BloggingSiteContext context = new BloggingSiteContext();
        // GET: /Posts/
        public ViewResult Index()
            return View(context.Posts.ToList());

    To allow unit testing of the controller we can instead using a repository interface which can be mocked. To do that we run the following command.

    Scaffold Controller Post -Repository -Force

    By default MVC Scaffolding will not overwrite views and controllers previously created in your project. In order to overwrite the views and controllers created previously we use the -Force option.

    The PostsController now looks like this.

    public class PostsController : Controller
        private readonly IPostRepository postRepository;
        // If you are using Dependency Injection, you can delete the following constructor
        public PostsController() : this(new PostRepository())
        public PostsController(IPostRepository postRepository)
            this.postRepository = postRepository;
        // GET: /Posts/
        public ViewResult Index()
            return View(postRepository.All);

    Scaffolding an Empty View

    You can scaffold an empty view by using the View scaffolder and specifying the name of the controller, without the Controller part, followed by the name of the view.

    Scaffold View Posts MyEmptyView

    In a Razor MVC application this will generate the file Views\Posts\MyEmptyView.cshtml in your project.

    Scaffolding Database Context

    You can scaffold extra properties for your database context by using the DbContext scaffolder and specifying the model class and the name of the database context class. Create a new Blog class, as shown below.

    using System;

    using System;
    namespace BloggingSite.Models
        public class Blog
            public int Id { get; set; }
            public string Name { get; set; }

    Now run the command below to update your database context and a new Blogs property will be added to your BloggingSiteContext class.

    Scaffold DbContext Blog BloggingSiteContext

    The new BloggingSiteContext class is shown below.

    public class BloggingSiteContext : DbContext
        // You can add custom code to this file. Changes will not be overwritten.
        // If you want Entity Framework to drop and regenerate your database
        // automatically whenever you change your model schema, add the following
        // code to the Application_Start method in your Global.asax file.
        // Note: this will destroy and re-create your database with every model change.
        // System.Data.Entity.Database.SetInitializer(
            new System.Data.Entity.DropCreateDatabaseIfModelChanges
        public DbSet<BloggingSite.Models.Post> Posts { get; set; }
        public DbSet<BloggingSite.Models.Blog> Blogs { get; set; }

    Scaffolding Controller Actions

    You can scaffold new controller actions by using the Action scaffolder and specifying the name of the controller, without the Controller part, and the name of the new action method.

    Scaffold Action Posts MyAction

    This will add a new MyAction method at the end of your PostsController class.

    public ViewResult MyAction()
        return View();

    It will also create an associated view.

    You can also scaffold actions that can have data posted to them. If you run the following command a new action will be created that takes a posted Blog object.

    Scaffold Action Posts MyPostAction -ViewModel Blog -Post

    The PostsController will now have a new MyPostAction method at the end.

    [HttpPost, ActionName("MyPostAction")]
    public ActionResult MyPostActionPost(Blog blog)
        if (ModelState.IsValid) {
            return RedirectToAction("Index");
        } else {
            return View(blog);

    That is the end of our introduction to using MVC Scaffolding with SharpDevelop.

    Modifications Made to Original MVC Scaffolding

    1. Mvc Scaffolding projects now compiled against SharpDevelop's Package Management assembly which implements the Visual Studio API.
    2. T4 template generation now uses MonoDevelop's T4 Templating Engine.
    3. T4Scaffolding.SharpDevelop.1.0.8 NuGet package depends on EntityFramework.SharpDevelop NuGet package instead of the original EntityFramework NuGet package This allows an upgrade to the NuGet package EntityFramework.SharpDevelop.5.0.0 which supports migrations in SharpDevelop.

    Source code for the modified MVC Scaffolding can be found on CodePlex.

    [Update 2012-11-10] Added information on MvcScaffolding.SharpDevelop 1.0.9 NuGet package requiring newer version of SharpDevelop. Updated "Scaffolding Database Context" section with example Blog class. Updated "Modifications Made to Original MVC Scaffolding" section with change made to T4Scaffolding.SharpDevelop NuGet package.

  • Using T4MVC with SharpDevelop

    SharpDevelop 4.3 now has support for T4MVC.

    T4MVC is a set of T4 templates, created by David Ebbo, that will generate strongly typed helpers for an ASP.NET MVC application. It will allow you to remove strings from your MVC application making your application easier to maintain.

    So let us take a look at how to use T4MVC with SharpDevelop. First you should open or create a new ASP.NET MVC application in SharpDevelop.

    Installing T4MVC

    T4MVC is available as a NuGet package. The NuGet package you should download is T4MVC.SharpDevelop. This contains a modified version of the original T4MVC template that can be used with SharpDevelop. Further details on all the modifications made to the T4MVC template can be found at the end of this post. Install the T4MVC.SharpDevelop NuGet package either from the NuGet package management console or by using the Manage Packages dialog.

    Note that T4MVC 2.13.0 requires SharpDevelop or above.

    After installation two new T4 template files will be added to your project.

    1. - main template that generates the strongly typed helpers.
    2. - holds configuration settings used by main template.

    Generating T4MVC's Strongly Typed Helpers

    To run the T4MVC template manually, select it in the Projects window, right click and select Execute Custom Tool. This will generate a set of files as dependencies of the file.

    T4MVC Generated Files in Projects window

    It will also make some modifications to your controller classes. The T4MVC template will change your controller classes so they are partial. It will also change your controller methods so they are virtual. What has been changed will be recorded as warnings in the Errors window.

    T4MVC modified code warnings in Errors window

    When you make modifications to your application you do not want to have to keep running the T4MVC template manually each time to regenerate the strongly typed helpers. Instead you can configure your project to re-generate the strongly typed helpers on each build.

    Generating T4MVC's Strongly Typed Helpers on each Build

    To do this you should open the options for the project. From the Projects menu and select Project Options. Open the Custom Tool tab. In this tab you can choose to run custom tools on each build. In the screenshot below the project is configured to run T4MVC on each build.

    Project options configured to run T4MVC on every build

    If you want to run other custom tools you can add filenames for items in your project either as a comma separated list or with each file on a separate line. Currently there is no support for wildcards when specifying filenames.

    Now that we have generated the strongly typed helpers let us take a look at how to use a selection of them.

    Using T4MVC's Strongly Typed Helpers

    View Names

    In your _ViewStart.cshtml you may have a reference to a Razor layout page.

        Layout = "~/Views/Shared/_Layout.cshtml";

    You can replace this string with a strongly typed helper.

        Layout = MVC.Shared.Views._Layout;

    Action Links

    In your views you may be passing action names and controller names as strings HtmlHelper.ActionLink(string linkText, string actionName, string controllerName).

        <li>@Html.ActionLink("Home", "Index", "Home")</li>
        <li>@Html.ActionLink("Contact", "Contact", "Home")</li>

    Instead you can use code that looks like you are calling the controller method.

        <li>@Html.ActionLink("Home", MVC.Home.Index())</li>
        <li>@Html.ActionLink("Contact", MVC.Home.Contact())</li>

    CSS Links

    You may be using strings for links, such as for CSS files, in your views.

    <link href="@Url.Content("~/Content/Site.css")" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">

    These can be changed to use the Links.Content helper class.

    <link href="@Links.Content.Site_css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">

    That is a very quick introduction to T4MVC and covers only a few of the helpers it provides. Further information on T4MVC can be found on the T4MVC Codeplex site.

    Changes Made to Original T4MVC Template

    1. Visual Studio assembly references have been removed and replaced with a SharpDevelop assembly reference.
    2. Visual Studio namespace imports have been removed and replaced with namespace imports for SharpDevelop.
    3. Removed use of BeginInvoke/EndInvoke which was causing SharpDevelop to hang.

    The SharpDevelop specific T4MVC template is maintained in a repository on github.

    [Update 2012-10-11] Added information on T4MVC 2.13.0 requiring a newer version of SharpDevelop 4.3. Updated "Changes made to original T4MVC template" section after SharpDevelop EnvDTE API was modified to follow Visual Studio's API when using parameterised properties such as ProjectItem.FileNames() and CodeType.IsDerivedFrom()

    Posted Sep 15 2012, 01:40 PM by MattWard with no comments
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