jBlogMvc : part 1 Building the Administration Area

NOTE: In this series I build a blogengine using ASP.NET MVC and jQuery from scratch in order to learn more about these new technologies. If you haven't read the first post in this series, I would encourage you do to that first, or check out the jBlogMvc category. You can also always subscribe to the feeds.

In this part of the series, I build the administration area of the blog engine I am building using the ASP.NET MVC and jQuery, in this part I will cover more basic features used in any blog engine, so lets get started.

What will part 1 cover ?

Basically it will cover how to build an administration area, I chose the wordpress blog engine and tried to clone its structure and some look and feel of it, the operations I will implement in this part will be :

  • Visitor
    • Login — I will just reuse the code available with the default project template for membership stuff.
  • Admin
    • Logout
    • Add Post

The stuff I collected and used all over the net from blogs and used in this part can be summarized in the following,

  1. Using membership for validation
  2. Using the Authorize attribute
  3. Using Model Binders
  4. jQuery Client validation
  5. Small validation framework for business rules and server side validation.(originally written by scott gu)
  6. Using nested master pages in ASP.NET MVC
  7. Applying the "Post/Redirect/Get" (aka PRG) pattern.
  8. Applying some css to make it look nice (based on wordpress blogengine admin layout) [more]

To hold your interest the final look of the administration area will look like this :

admin area

Ok Lets see some code

What's new in version 1 :

Routes

Routes now include an extra route for directing users to the admin area

[code:c#] 

routes.MapRoute(
    "Admin",
    "admin/{action}",
    new { controller = "Admin", action = "Index" }
    );

[/code] 

Models

No new models were added as the database remains as it is, however, I like to highlight a new feature available in the Preview 5, ModelBinders, although ScottGu just mentioned that the team has not yet finalized and will be changed in the beta version.

Note: the MVC team plans to tweak the IModelBinder interface further for the next drop (they recently discovered a few scenarios that necessitate a few changes).  So if you build a custom model binder with preview 5 expect to have to make a few tweaks when the next drop comes out (probably nothing too major – but just a heads up that we know a few arguments will change on its methods). By ScottGu

ModelBinders, which is provided to allow Action methods to take complex types as their parameters. Previously, action methods were only able to take simple types such as strings and integers as their parameters. The new ModelBinder provides the facility to build complex types from component parts that (for example) may be part the result of submitting a form with several fields.

Learn more about ModelBinders from Melvyn Harbour, Timothy Khouri and Maarten Balliauw.

The following code listing is from the PostBinder

 

[code:c#] 

public class PostBinder : IModelBinder
{
    private static string Concat(string modelName, string propertyName)
    {
        return (String.IsNullOrEmpty(modelName)) ? propertyName : modelName + "." + propertyName;
    }

    private static T LookupValue<T>(ControllerContext controllerContext, string propertyName, ModelStateDictionary modelState)
    {
        IModelBinder binder = ModelBinders.GetBinder(typeof(T));
        object value = binder.GetValue(controllerContext, propertyName, typeof(T), modelState);
        return (value is T) ? (T)value : default(T);
    }

    public object GetValue(ControllerContext controllerContext, string modelName, Type modelType, ModelStateDictionary modelState)
    {            if (controllerContext == null)
        {
            throw new ArgumentNullException("controllerContext");
        }
        if (modelType != typeof(Post))
        {
            throw new ArgumentException("This binder only works with Post models.", "modelType");
        }

        // Instantiate a post object, then bind values to each property
        Post p = new Post()
        {

            Title = LookupValue<String>(controllerContext, Concat(null, "Title"), modelState),
            Body = LookupValue<string>(controllerContext, Concat(null, "Body"), modelState),
            Slug = LookupValue<String>(controllerContext, Concat(null, "Slug"), modelState),
            CDate= LookupValue<DateTime>(controllerContext, Concat(null, "CDate"), modelState)
        };
        return p;
    }

}

[/code] 

 

Don't forget to register the Binder (there are four ways to register, check ScottGu's post).

[code:c#] 

protected void Application_Start()
      {
          ModelBinders.Binders[typeof(Post)] = new PostBinder();
          RegisterRoutes(RouteTable.Routes);
      }

[/code] 

Controllers

In this part, the AdminController appears to hold,  the admin tasks, which till now only include the following actions.

  • index : a default action redirects to the write action.
  • write : an action to be responsible for writing things (only have posts now), so it just redirects to posts.
  • writepost : renders a view to enable authenticated users to write posts and publish it.
  • addpost : a Http Post action which inserts the new post into the database.

 

[code:c#] 

[Authorize]
public class AdminController : Controller
{
    jBlogMvcDataContext jbdc = new jBlogMvcDataContext();

    public ActionResult Index()
    {
        //just a default redirection
        //maybe in future this should be configurable
        return RedirectToAction("Write");
    }
    public ActionResult Write()
    {
        //just a default redirection
        //maybe in future this should be configurable
        return RedirectToAction("WritePost");
    }

    [AcceptVerbs("GET")]
    public ActionResult WritePost()
    {
        Post p = new Post();
        return View(p);
    }

    [AcceptVerbs("POST")]
    public ActionResult AddPost(Post p)
    {
        if (!ViewData.ModelState.IsValid)
            return View("WritePost", p);

        try
        {
            Helpers.InsertPost(p);
            return RedirectToRoute("Posts", new { slug = p.Slug });
        }
        catch
        {
            Helpers.UpdateModelStateWithViolations(p, ViewData.ModelState,System.Data.Linq.ChangeAction.Insert);
            return View("WritePost", p);
        }
    }
}

[/code] 

More over, HomeController now has 2 more extra actions :

  • login
  • logout

just copied from the default template nothing new added.

Views

A lot of views are added this part, actually I am trying nesting master pages, one for the admin area overall, and the other for each module (like: write, manage, .. and so in wordpress), so I added :

  • admin.master
  • admin_write.master
  • writepost.aspx
  • login.aspx
  • _loginWidget.acsx

writepost.aspx

<%@ Page Title="Write Post" Language="C#" MasterPageFile="~/Views/Admin/Admin_Write.Master"
    AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="WritePost.aspx.cs" Inherits="jBlogMvc.Views.Admin.WritePost" %>

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderID="head" runat="server">

    <script type="text/javascript">
        $(document).ready(function() {
        $("#fields").validate();});
    </script>

</asp:Content>
<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderID="MainContent" runat="server">
    <h2>Write Post</h2>
    <form id="fields" action="<%=Url.Action("AddPost","Admin")%>" method="post">
    <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
        <tr>
            <td>
                <div id="postfields">
                    <p>
                        <label for="title">Title</label>
                        <%=Html.TextBox("Title", new { id="title",@class="required"})%>
                        <%=Html.ValidationMessage("Title")%>
                    </p>
                    <p>
                        <label for="body">Body</label>
                        <%=Html.TextArea("Body", new { id = "body", rows = "6", cols = "50", @class = "required" })%>
                        <%=Html.ValidationMessage("Body")%>
                    </p>
                    <p>
                        <label for="slug">Slug</label>
                        <%=Html.TextBox("Slug", new { id = "slug", @class = "required" })%>
                        <%=Html.ValidationMessage("Slug")%>
                    </p>
                    <p>
                        <label for="cdate">Creation Date</label>
                        <%=Html.TextBox("CDate", ViewData.Model.CDate.ToString("MM/dd/yyyy"),
                            new { id = "cdate", @class = "required date" })%>
                        <%=Html.ValidationMessage("CDate")%>
                    </p>
                </div>
            </td>
            <td id="tdsubmitbox" valign="top">
                <div id="submitbox">
                    <div class="buttons">
                        <button type="submit" class="positive">
                            <img src="../../Content/icons/tick.png" alt="" />Publish
                        </button>
                    </div>
                </div>
            </td>
        </tr>
    </table>
    </form>
</asp:Content>

_loginWidget.ascx

And it looks like this

logged in view                                  logged off

logged in widget not logged in

Utils

I added some code to perform the validation logic for custom business rules, this is the simplest implementation for this task copied from ScottGu's post, for more complex implementation scenarios I strongly recommend the following posts,

For client side jquery I used the validation plugin found here, Server side I used the small framework scott gu wrote in his post for simplicity.

Client side validation

And server implementation as well

serverSide

Moreover, The Helper Class (which acts as the business layer) has some additions in order to add a post to the database.

Css and designs

Css http://particletree.com/features/rediscovering-the-button-element/ and http://wordpress.org

Icons http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/silk/

Summary

And thats all for this part, I have more and more features coming while writing this engine I have learned much till now, hope someone is learning with me too.

In this part, I used some features of the ASP.NET MVC to build an administration area, jQuery too was used on client side (validator plugin) so what do you think? you are most welcomed to leave comments.

Download version one : jBlogMvc_version_1.zip

If you liked this blog post then please subscribe to this blog.

Introducing jBlogMvc

ok

Long time no posts, well I was studying Sharepoint 2007 technologies and actually started a series for development a while ago I just managed to write two  introductory posts and didn't write more I have some ideas I'd love to share in sharepoint development which I hope to write about them some time in the future and complete the series. However, recently the new ASP.NET MVC framework has gathered some fame and actually I too got attached to it and I am keen to learn new technologies and so, also the jQuery javascript library has been the choice of most the .NET web developers community.

Its Time to Learn

So, I have read alot of blogs and articles on ASP.NET MVC which has a massive amount of resources (while not being beta yet), I also read the excellent book "jQuery in Action" and learned a lot from it I do recommend it for learning jquery. Now its time to utilize this learning in a simple application that experience the stuff I read about, then I stumbled across this article Want To Learn Web Programming? Write A Blog Engine so be it, I will build a (Simple-Fully featured) blog engine in order to learn more and use these two new kids on the block.

Of course, I will use ASP.NET MVC, jquery and finally I will use Sql Express as the datastore and Linq to Sql for dal.[more]

Where I learn from

Before starting building my blog series I would like to share the blogs I read to learn from ASP.NET MVC

  1. Storefront MVC Series by Rob Conery.
  2. Stephen Walther Excellent MVC Tips and Forum series.
  3. Of course Scott Gu's mvc announcements and demos.
  4. Phil Haack blog.
  5. Steve Sanderson
  6. Emad Ibrahim the creator of Yonkly the open source twitter clone built on ASP.NET MVC and jQuery.
  7. Matt Hawley
  8. ASP.NET MVC tagged articles on DotNetKicks
  9. The Official ASP.NET MVC forums.

Let's start

So, what's jBlogMvc? its a small blogengine I am going to build in an agile process, jBlogMvc if you haven't notice j stands for jQuery, Blog for the engine itself  and Mvc for the ASP.NET MVC. I say here that this engine will be simple and complete I will try to add features as much as possible and build it in an extensible way like modern blog engines to enable themes, widgets and plugins. Also I need to point that the work on this blog engine is totally inspired from the great open source blog engines which include BlogEngine.NET, WordPress and other non blog engines as yonkly and many others.

What will part 0 cover ?

Other than announcing the blog engine, in this part I will have a version 0 that will have the following:

  • Vistor
    • Viewing posts By Chronological order.
    • Viewing individual posts.

Ok show me some code!

Too much talking lets get to the code now, ok the solution is as shown in the figure consisting of the following :

 solution

The database

For this ZERO part I didn't include much for the blog engine, the only table I included is the Post table as shown below, I do believe this table will be expanded more by time and more parts in the series.

database

Routes

[code:c#]

public static void RegisterRoutes(RouteCollection routes)
        {
            routes.IgnoreRoute("{resource}.axd/{*pathInfo}");

            routes.MapRoute(
                "Posts",
                "post/{slug}",
                new { controller = "Home", action = "post" }
            );

            routes.MapRoute(
                "Default",
                "{action}/{id}",
                new { controller = "Home", action = "Index", id = "" }
            );

        }

[/code]

Models

Just added here a dbml file (Linq to Sql DataContext) , and I added a PostEx.cs file and added a property for the Post, God Bless partial classes. PostEx.cs as shown in Listing 2.

[code:c#]

public partial class Post
    {
        public string RelativeLink
        {
            get
            {
                return VirtualPathUtility.ToAbsolute("~/post/") + Slug;
            }
        }
    }

[/code]

Controllers

For now I only have one controller the HomeController which has simply 3 actions for now.

  • index : Renders a view with all posts sorted in a chronological order
  • post(slug) : Renders a view for the post with a matching slug if not found it renders error404 view
  • premalink(guid) : Renders a view for the post with a matching guid if not found it renders error404 view

HomeController as shown in Listing 2.

[code:c#]

public class HomeController : Controller
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Renders a view with all posts sorted in a chronological order
        /// </summary>
        /// <returns></returns>
        public ActionResult index()
        {
            var posts = Helpers.GetPostList() ?? new List<Post>();
            return View(posts);
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Renders a view for the post with a matching slug
        /// if not found it renders error404 view
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="slug">Post slug to be matched</param>
        public ActionResult post(string slug)
        {
            var post = Helpers.GetPostBySlug(slug);
            return post != null ? View("single", post) : View("error404");
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Renders a view for the post with a matching premalink
        /// if not found it renders error404 view
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="id">Post premalink to be matched</param>
        public ActionResult premalink(Guid id)
        {
            var post = Helpers.GetPostByPemalink(id);
            return post != null ? View("single", post) : View("error404");
        }
    }

[/code]

Views

The solution now contains one master page for the overall site, three views, and one usercontrol

  • site.Master : gives the overall look and feel for the site
  • index.aspx : renders all posts.
  • single.aspx : renders a single post.
  • error404.aspx : to be rendered when a request to a non matching post slug or premalink
  • _postView.ascx : the post template to be used

Utils

Two classes that help me

  • Config: Contains some static properties that read from hard coded strings (in a version coming up should read from the web.config or even a database table).
  • Helpers: just some common helper methods.

Config File

[code:c#]

public class Config
   {
       static public string BlogName { get { return "My Blog Name"; } }
       static public string BlogDescription { get { return "This blog is built using the ASP.NET MVC framework."; } }
       static public string BlogUrl { get { return VirtualPathUtility.ToAbsolute("~/"); } }
       static public string Version { get { return "0.1.0.0"; } }
   }

 

[/code]

 

Summary

In this part, I just announced jBlogMvc the ASP.NET MVC and jQuery blogengine which I build in order to learn more about the two new technologies (at least for me), so what do you think? you are most welcomed to leave comments.

Download version zero : jBlogMvc_version_0.zip (624.80 kb)

If you liked this blog post then please subscribe to this blog.