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Posted 9 Jul 2013


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Select Right Programming Model with ASP.NET

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4.50/5 (7 votes)
9 Jul 2013CPOL5 min read
Programming models of ASP.NET


Decide if ASP.NET Web Forms, ASP.NET MVC, or ASP.NET Web Pages is right for you.

Programming Models

ASP.NET is a flexible web platform that enables you to build great web applications using three different programming models. Those models are ASP.NET Web Forms, All three of these programming models are fully supported options that are used by millions of developers. Let’s take a Look at how these fit together and why there are three choices. All these models build on top of the same core ASP.NET web platform.


ASP.NET and its Programming Models

Each model sits on top of ASP.NET and each model is ASP.NET at the same time, though, each model creates and structures a web application using slightly different approach just like people, each of them approaches different things. So there is offer for these different approaches because some developers prefer one set of values, and other developers prefer another set of values. All these programming models are good ones and solve real problems. But the programming model approach that is right for you depends on which feels most natural to you, and which set of values map to values you are looking for.

What Does ASP.NET Web Forms Value?

  • Familiar Control and event-based programming model
  • Controls encapsulate HTML, JS and CSS
  • Rich UI Controls included – datagrids, chart and AJAX
  • Browser differences handled for you
  • SharePoint builds on Web Forms

If you have experience of client application development or you are familiar with using UI controls and wiring up event handlers to respond to user actions, you will find a comfortable programming model ASP.NET Web Forms. ASP.NET Web Forms provide a server side web programming framework that enables you to use server side controls within your HTML Markup. Server Controls in Web Forms encapsulate the complexities of HTML, JavaScript and CSS. They also support rich features like data binding and Templating. Web Forms include dozens of rich user interface controls out of the box. You will be able to retrieve data from databases and wire up controls to display and edit data in datagrids and chart. The controls help you achieve common tasks. Differences between browsers are handled by controls. You may be familiar with SharePoint. It builds on top of Web Forms. If you are a SharePoint developer, or intend to be, that is another reason for you to use Web Forms.

What Does ASP.NET MVC Value?

  • Feels comfortable for many traditional web developers
  • Total control of HTML Markup
  • Supports Unit Testing, TDD and agile methodologies
  • Encourages more prescriptive applications
  • Extremely flexible and extensible

ASP.NET MVC is slightly lower level Web Programming model - it does not provide higher level abstractions like controls, but rather requires you to know HTML and HTTP a little more deeply. If you have experience of traditional Web Development background, ASP.NET MVC will probably feel very comfortable to you. ASP.NET MVC gives you total control over the HTML Markup you render and the URLs you expose within your applications. It enables you to easily use the full power and flexibility of CSS and JavaScript. ASP.NET MVC has great support for unit testing and test driven development of your Web Applications and often used alongside agile methodologies. MVC encourages strong design patterns and prescriptive applications architectures. It’s very flexible and can be extended in any way you like.

What Does ASP.NET Web Pages Value?

  • Easy to pick up and learn
  • Inline Scripting Model with Razor and C# or VB.NET
  • Simplified Model with top to bottom execution
  • Full control over your HTML
  • Friendly Helper syntax makes extending your apps easy

ASP.NET Web Pages is a simple model built around individual pages similar in ways to PHP or classic ASP. It uses the same Razor syntax that MVC does, but uses inline script rather than separate controller classes. However, you have the full power of the .NET Runtime and all the flexibility of C# and VB.NET at your fingertips. Web Pages gives the developer full control over the generated markup. The reusable methods and libraries that are used in Web Pages are called helpers and they are similar to Web Forms controls in that they encapsulate reusability functionality. However, Web Pages does not contain a page lifecycle like Web Forms does so there is no hierarchy like Page_Load and Page_Render. You can generally think of ASP.NET Web Pages as executing top-to-bottom. Web Pages is also a powerful tool you can use within your Web Forms and MVC applications. You can add a Web Page here and there to augment your existing applications or extend them in new ways you perhaps had not thought of. Remember that choosing your programming model is not a fork in the road that can’t turn back from underneath each of Web Forms, MVC and Web Page is ASP.NET itself. All models share nearly all of their libraries with the core runtime. This includes Authentication and Authorization, User Membership, Role Security, Output Caching, Session State, Configuration, Deployment, AJAX and more. The skills and APIs you learn in these core libraries can be used interchangeably between Web Forms, MVC and Web Pages. Learn one, and you are well on your way to learning them all. Because it’s all ASP.NET underneath, you can also even choose to have “hybrid” applications that are built with any and all the programming models. It is up to you pick the right tool for the job. As an example, sometimes programmers use Web Pages for rapid prototyping and then move to MVC. ASP.NET makes it all possible and gives you a lot of flexibility.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
HariPrasad katakam10-Jul-13 4:10
HariPrasad katakam10-Jul-13 4:10 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
Muhammad Naveed4-Dec-13 7:46
professionalMuhammad Naveed4-Dec-13 7:46 
GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
cjb1109-Jul-13 22:34
cjb1109-Jul-13 22:34 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
HaBiX10-Jul-13 2:52
HaBiX10-Jul-13 2:52 

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