Skin Your Web Apps Using MVC

VC, or Model-View-Controller, is a design architecture that promotes separation among parts of an application, with particular focus on the presentation tier. The concept of MVC is inherent in the ASP.NET architecture. I’ll show you how to take advantage of that to provide skinning or themes capability to your Web sites.

The transition from ASP to ASP.NET has brought forward an entirely new design paradigm for applications. No longer do Web developers include scripting code directly embedded within their HTML code. ASP.NET has a code-behind model that allows you to drop controls on your Web Form and attach code for their events in a separate code module. This design paradigm allows you to apply design patterns to your Web pages that were not possible in the past. While this article is about skinning, the technique taught requires a little bit of understanding about the MVC design pattern, which I’ll show you how to use.

An MVC Primer
The easiest way to explain MVC is show you how it applies to ASP.NET. As I stated above, the very architecture of ASP.NET promotes an MVC design. The Model is the business layer, which of course provides all the data and objects required to make an application work. I have no doubt that most of you have seen and used this in your standard three-tier or N-tier designs. The View and the Controller parts of the architecture are the ASPX page and the code-behind class. The ASPX page contains the HTML code and the ASP.NET Web server controls that provide your page with the look you desire?basically the View portion of the model. The code-behind class provides the Control portion of the model by driving the Web server controls on the ASPX pages. This class uses the business layer, or Model, to fill the ASPX page’s Web server controls with the data they need to display. It also reads the user inputs on some of the page controls and handles any events that the controls may raise.

I hope this comparison gives you an understanding of the concepts behind the MVC architecture or pattern. The purpose of this article is not to teach you the various implementations of the MVC pattern but instead, having explained how this pattern appears in the ASP.NET architecture, I’ll show you how to use it to provide themes and skins to your Web applications.

Author’s Note: This article assumes knowledge of standard three-tier separation as well as the ASP.NET code-behind model. The techniques shown here will work only with server-side code-behind classes and not with in-line client code between

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