I love developing. In particular, I love web development. Recently, I have been learning a lot about a specific way to do web development and I really like it. This is a technical topic, but I’m going to try to explain it in a way that anyone can understand. The specific way to do web development that I am talking about is called the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern.
I have to admit, that even though I am writing this as though you aren’t savvy in the web development field, it probably still isn’t the most interesting for most people.
I love learning and trying new things
The first thing about this that I have to admit is that I just like learning new things. This is not like any other pattern of development that I have ever done before. The new ways of thinking and doing things really excites me.
The rest of the reasons that I like it will probably only make sense once I explain some of the other patterns I have used for web development first.
Probably, the most common way to do web development is through using scripting languages. Let’s say that I wanted to write Facebook. The first thing I would do is write code for the logo. It doesn’t change, so putting the logo there is just as easy as writing the HTML to point to the Facebook logo. Next, there is the icon for friend requests. This icon will change depending on whether or not I have any friend requests. If I don’t have any, the icon will look like this. But, if I have two friend requests, the icon will look like this. In order to accomplish this dynamic (changing) behavior, scripting languages will run all of the code to handle all of this logic when it gets to the point that it needs to display it. So, to summarize my point here, scripting languages will:
- Put the Facebook image on the web page
- Run the logic to determine what logo to display for friend requests
- Place the correct logo on the web page
.NET Web Forms
At my current job, I have been developing using .Net Web Forms. There are a lot of differences between scripting and using .NET Web Forms. But, the main difference that applies to this topic is that all the code for a web page is split into two parts: what to display and the logic that determines the changing parts of a web page. They can be run in any order. In the example of Facebook, usually the logic to determine the icon for friend requests will run before the Facebook logo is placed on the page. The result of this logic is just stored until it is needed later when the entire page is rendered at once.
In the MVC pattern, everything is split into 3 parts: The model, the view, and the controller.
The model is where all of the data comes from. If you want to know if you have friend requests, you’ll get that information from that model. Also, if an invalid email address is typed in, the model is the one that will tell you. That’s all it is. It’s really nice to have this stuff consolidated into one central spot and that’s all it does.
The view is where you display everything. The job of the view is just to present everything. It doesn’t do any calculations. It doesn’t pull anything from the database. It just displays things. Pretty simple, huh?
Obviously, the model and the view have a pretty narrow view and they can’t do much without each other. The controller is the one that controls it all. It gets the data from the model and gives it to the view. It is the one that handles everything from the start to finish, but it stays out of the models business and the views business. It only does what it needs to in order to let the model and the view do their jobs.
So, in the Facebook example, first, the controller would ask the model if there are any friend requests. Then, it would pass that data to the view and the view would display it all.
Why I love MVC
Now that you know what it is, I feel like I can talk about why I love it. Some of the reasons that I have don’t directly relate to the differences that I pointed out, but they are still things that I love about it. Like I said at the beginning, part of the reason that I love it is because it’s new and I like learning new things. But, there are many other reasons that I love MVC:
- It separates the different tasks into different places so that all of the code isn’t all mashed in together. This makes it easy to conceptualize what will happen when the web page loads. It also makes it easier to debug and fix code later on.
- There are lots of “helper” functions that do lots of things for me so that I don’t have to write it.
- The URLs are easier to read (they don’t have an extension like .php or .aspx).
- The code is easier to test.
- It promotes convention over configuration (you don’t have to configure as many things if you just do it the conventional way).
- It supports other principles that I enjoy like DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) and KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
- It’s new and I like to learn new things… wait, I already said that.
Well, now that you know why I like MVC, here are some links to get started using it for yourself!!!
- Build Your First ASP.NET Application with ASP.NET MVC
- Lots of tutorials and other videos on ASP.NET MVC
- A List Apart: Getting Started with Ruby on Rails
- Official Rails Guides: Getting Started with Rails
- Try Ruby! An Interactive Ruby Tutorial
- Wikipedia’s explanation of MVC as well as a list of other options besides ASP.NET MVC and Ruby on Rails
You may not be a developer but I love it, so why not try to get others to love it too?