Lesson Tuesday

In the last two lessons, we updated our back end logic to support Category objects. All to do list Items will now belong to a parent Category, allowing our users to better organize their tasks. As we've discussed, this setup is referred to as objects within objects.

With our back end logic now in place, we can begin to integrate new Category functionality into our MVC user interface. The next two lessons will walk through updating our MVC application to work with our new Categorys.

Integrating Categorys into the MVC Front End


First, we need a page to display all Categorys. We'll add a CategoriesController to manage areas of our app that work with Category objects. We'll start by creating a CategoriesController.cs file in the ToDoList/Controllers directory. Within it, we'll add standard controller setup:

ToDoList/Controllers/CategoriesController.cs
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;
using ToDoList.Models;

namespace ToDoList.Controllers
{
  public class CategoriesController : Controller
  {

  }
}

Index Route

Next, let's define our Category-related routes. Just like Item routes, these will adhere to RESTful conventions.

First, we'll create an Index() route to display all Categorys:

ToDoList/Controllers/CategoriesController.cs
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;
using ToDoList.Models;

namespace ToDoList.Controllers
{
  public class CategoriesController : Controller
  {

    [HttpGet("/categories")]
    public ActionResult Index()
    {
      List<Category> allCategories = Category.GetAll();
      return View(allCategories);
    }

  }
}

Next, we'll add the corresponding view in a new Views subdirectory at ToDoList/Views/Categories. We'll call the file Index.cshtml:

ToDoList/Views/Categories/Index.cshtml
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>My To-Do List!</title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/4.5.0/css/bootstrap.min.css" integrity="sha384-9aIt2nRpC12Uk9gS9baDl411NQApFmC26EwAOH8WgZl5MYYxFfc+NcPb1dKGj7Sk" crossorigin="anonymous">
  </head>
  <body>
    @using ToDoList.Models;

    <h1>Categories</h1>

    @if (@Model.Count == 0)
    {
      <h3>No categories have been added yet!</h3>
    } 

    @foreach (Category category in Model)
    {
      <h3><a href='/categories/@category.Id'>@category.Name</a></h3>
    }

    <p><a href='/'>Back home</a></p>
  </body>
</html>
  • If no Categorys exist in the model data, we display a message.

  • If Categorys do exist, we loop through them and display their names.

  • The <h3> displaying their name is also a link to the path '/categories/@category.Id'. This will navigate to a detail page for specific Categorys. We'll create this soon.

New Route

Let's also ensure users can create new Categorys with a form. We'll add a New() route:

ToDoList/Controllers/CategoriesController.cs
...

  [HttpGet("/categories/new")]
  public ActionResult New()
  {
    return View();
  }

...

Here's the corresponding view. Notice this all follows RESTful convention:

ToDoList/Views/Categories/New.cshtml
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>My To-Do List!</title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/4.5.0/css/bootstrap.min.css" integrity="sha384-9aIt2nRpC12Uk9gS9baDl411NQApFmC26EwAOH8WgZl5MYYxFfc+NcPb1dKGj7Sk" crossorigin="anonymous">
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Add a category</h1>
    <p>Add a category here:</p>

    <form action="/categories" method="post">
      <label for="categoryName">Category name</label>
      <input id="categoryName" name="categoryName" type="text">
      <button type="submit">Add</button>
    </form>

    <p><a href="/">Back home</a></p>
    <p><a href="/categories">Back to categories.</a></p>
  </body>
</html>
  • The form's method is "post". That means submitting this form will create and send an HTTP POST request.

  • The action attribute is "/categories". That means the path included with our POST request will be "/categories".

Create Route

To process submissions from this form, we'll need a route that handles POST requests with "/categories" paths. We'll call it Create() in order to follow RESTful conventions.

ToDoList/Controllers/CategoriesController.cs
...

  [HttpPost("/categories")]
  public ActionResult Create(string categoryName)
  {
    Category newCategory = new Category(categoryName);
    return RedirectToAction("Index");
  }

...
  • We specify this route handles POST requests with a "/categories" path by using the [HttpPost("/categories")] route decorator. This both matches our form and RESTful routing conventions.

  • The route accepts a categoryName argument. This refers to the contents of the categoryName form field in the New.cshtml view.

  • Within the route, we create a new Category with this name and then call the RedirectToAction method with "Index" passed in as the argument to send the user back to the Index route.

Show Route

In the Category index view, we added links to each Category name:

ToDoList/Views/Categories/Index.cshtml
...

@foreach (Category category in Model)
{
  <h3><a href='/categories/@category.Id'>@category.Name</a></h3>
}

...

This is so a user can click an individual Category from the list of all categories and navigate to a detail page displaying its information, including a list of the Items associated with it. Let's create this detail page.

Following RESTful routing convention, the route will be named Show():

ToDoList/Controllers/CategoriesController.cs
...

  [HttpGet("/categories/{id}")]
  public ActionResult Show(int id)
  {
    Dictionary<string, object> model = new Dictionary<string, object>();
    Category selectedCategory = Category.Find(id);
    List<Item> categoryItems = selectedCategory.Items;
    model.Add("category", selectedCategory);
    model.Add("items", categoryItems);
    return View(model);
  }

...

We're doing something new here. Because this page will display both a Category and all Item objects saved within that Category, we must pass two types of objects to the view. However, View() can only accept one model argument. To work around this, we do the following:

  • Create a new Dictionary called model because a Dictionary can hold multiple key-value pairs.

  • Add both the Category and its associated Items to this Dictionary. These will be stored with the keys "category" and "items".

  • The Dictionary, which is named model, will be passed into View().

Let's make this route's view next:

ToDoList/Views/Categories/Show.cshtml
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>My To-Do List!</title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/4.5.0/css/bootstrap.min.css" integrity="sha384-9aIt2nRpC12Uk9gS9baDl411NQApFmC26EwAOH8WgZl5MYYxFfc+NcPb1dKGj7Sk" crossorigin="anonymous">
  </head>
  <body>
    @using ToDoList.Models;

    <h3>Here are all the items in this category:</h3>

    <ol>
    @foreach (Item item in @Model["items"])
    {
      <li><a href='/categories/@Model["category"].Id/items/@item.Id'>@item.Description</a></li>
    }
    </ol>

    <p><a href='/categories/@Model["category"].Id/items/new'>Add a new item</a></p>
    <p><a href='/categories'>Return to category list</a></p>
    <p><a href='/'>Return to Main Page</a></p>
  </body>
</html>
  • We loop through all Items in the model. We passed the view a Dictionary containing key-value pairs, so we access Items with @Model["items"] square bracket notation.

  • For each Item, we display its description in a <li>.

  • We've also made each <li> a link to the path '/categories/@Model["category"].Id/items/@item.Id'. This will be the item's detail view. We already have an Item detail page associated with the Show() route on the ItemsController, but it's not at this super long path! Don't worry, this is intentional. We'll discuss what's up in the next lesson.

At this point, we can build and run our application and see our new pages in the browser. We can even create new Category objects with our form. However, some functionality like the Add a new item link on the Category detail page does not yet work yet. We'll complete this in the next lesson and also discuss how objects within other objects affect RESTful convention.

Repository Reference

Follow the link below to view how a sample version of the project should look at this point. Note that this is a link to a specific commit in the repository.

Example GitHub Repo for To Do List

Lesson 6 of 11
Last updated more than 3 months ago.