Action filters, service filters and type filters in ASP.NET 5 and MVC 6

Today, let's have a look at he area of filters in ASP.NET MVC 6 – because it actually contains quite a few interesting changes compared to classic MVC and Web API filter pipelines.

Let's leave the specialized filters (error filters, authorization filters) on a side for now, and focus instead on the functional, aspect oriented, filters. Aside from the good old action filters, known from both MVC and from Web API, there are two new types of filters (or rather filter factories, but we’ll get there) that you can use – ServiceFilters and TypeFilters.

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Integration testing ASP.NET 5 and ASP.NET MVC 6 applications

The other day I ran into a post by Alex Zeitler, who blogged about integration testing of ASP.NET MVC 6 controllers. Alex has done some great work for the Web API community in the past and I always enjoy his posts.

In this case, Alex suggested using self hosting for that, so spinning up a server and hitting it over HTTP and then shutting down, as part of each test case. Some people have done that in the past with Web API too, but is not an approach I agree with when doing integration testing. If you follow this blog you might have seen my post about testing OWIN apps and Web API apps in memory already.

My main issue with the self-host approach, is that you and up testing the underlying operating system networking stack, the so-called “wire” which is not necessarily something you want to test – given that it will be different anyway in production (especially if you intend to run on IIS). On the other hand, you want to be able to run end-to-end tests quickly anywhere – developer’s machine, integration server or any other place that it might be necessary, and doing it entirely in memory is a great approach.

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ASP.NET MVC 6 formatters – XML and browser requests

A while ago I wrote a post about formatters in MVC 6.

Since then, there have been some changes regarding XML handling and an interesting feature that was added recently that was not part of that post, so I think it warranties a follow up. XML formatter is now removed by default. On top of that, MVC 6 will attempt to sniff out whether your request is originating from a browser’s address bar and adjust content negotiation accordingly.

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How ASP.NET MVC 6 discovers controllers?

In the past I did a couple of blog posts (here and here) about how ASP.NET Web API discovers controllers.

ASP.NET MVC 6 supports both regular controllers (inheriting from Controller base type) and POCO controllers. Let’s have a look at how the discovery of them happens in ASP.NET MVC 6. Note that the code and mechanisms discussed in this article were introduced after ASP.NET 5 beta3 was released, so it is not yet available if you use the version of ASP.NET 5 bundled with Visual Studio 2015 CTP6.

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Strongly typed routing for ASP.NET MVC 6 with IApplicationModelConvention

This is something I hacked together last night, but it was a very interesting exercise into customizing the new (or rather, future) ASP.NET MVC 6 to suit your needs.

If you visit this blog from time to time, some time ago I blogged about building strongly typed routing provider for ASP.NET Web API (code is here). That was built around extensibility points provided by the direct routing mechanism (better known as direct routing’s default implementation – attribute routing).

So I thought, it would be fun to port this solution to MVC 6. However, while MVC 6 supports attribute routing, it does not provide the same abstractions over the routing mechanism. Instead it exposes something new for both MVC and Web API developers – IApplicationModelConvention, which is what we’ll use here.

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Overriding filters in ASP.NET MVC 6

There are many posts out there, including on this blog, about what’s in ASP.NET MVC 6 and how to use it. This one however, will be about what’s not in the framework, or at least not in the same way as you might be used to it from MVC 5/Web API 2 – the ability to override filters. I was recently working on an MVC 6 project and ran into this exact problem.

In MVC 5 and Web API 2, there was a built in way to do it, and even though it was not very extensible, it proved to be very handy (at least for me).

IN MVC 6, these override filters are gone, so at first glance, filter overriding is quite difficult. In reality, that’s not the case, you just need to know what to do – let’s have a look.

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Migrating from ASP.NET Web API to MVC 6 – exploring Web API Compatibility Shim

Migrating an MVC 5 project to ASP.NET 5 and MVC 6 is a big challenge given that both of the latter are complete rewrites of their predecessors. As a result, even if on the surface things seem similar (we have controllers, filters, actions etc), as you go deeper under the hood you realize that most, if not all, of your pipeline customizations will be incompatible with the new framework.

This pain is even more amplified if you try to migrate Web API 2 project to MVC 6 – because Web API had a bunch of its own unique concepts and specialized classes, all of which only complicate the migration attempts.

ASP.NET team provides an extra convention set on top of MVC 6, called “Web API Compatibility Shim”, which can be enabled make the process of migration from Web API 2 a bit easier. Let’s explore what’s in there.

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ASP.NET MVC 6 attribute routing – the [controller] and [action] tokens

When working with attribute routing in Web API 2 or MVC 5 it was relatively easy to get the route to the controller and the controller name out of sync. That was because the route always had to be specified as a string, so whenever you changed the name of the controller you would always have to change the string in the route attribute too.

That could be easily forgotten – especially if you use refactoring tools of Visual Studio or an external refactoring plugin.

This issue has been addressed in MVC6 with a tiny addition – the introduction of [controller] ad [action] tokens into attribute routing.

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Scriptcs gets new REPL commands and is now better than ever

Yesterday the scriptcs project got an little injection of awesomeness through a set of new REPL commands we have added. You can now conveniently access a bunch of contextual information about your REPL session – the idea is to make your work with the REPL smoother, more productive and, of course, more enjoyable. Let’s quickly walk through them in this post.

By the way, it’s a good moment to remind that the REPL command infrastructure is fully extensible – so you can easily build up your own commands. Watch my talk from NDC Oslo if you are interested, there is an example in there.

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Razor views pre-compilation with ASP.NET 5 and MVC 6

In previous versions of MVC framework, running on top of the “classic” ASP.NET runtime, it was quite common for developers to switch view compilation on, so that the views get compiled upfront, allowing you to see any errors at compile time, rather than at runtime.

This was done by a simply adding <MvcBuildViews>true</MvcBuildViews> to your csproj file.

Given that everything changes in the new ASP.NET 5 world, how would you do it now? Let’s explore.

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