ASP.NET MVC - Model in Web project

I'm new to ASP.NET MVC and inherited a project that uses the technology.

Such Web project contains three folders: Views, Controllers and Model. As I understand it, the Model contains in fact your domain / business logic and is called by your controllers. The controllers themselves act as delegators between Views and Model.

Now, in a typical layered architecture, there should be no references in any project to the Web/UI project.

I find this quite confusing: -> The UI contains the Model, which is - in an ideal world - based on "Domain Driven Design"-principles. -> The layers on top of the UI (Services and DataAccess) cannot have a reference to the UI

How can you write efficient services and dataaccess layers if they do not know your model?

What am I missing here? Is the Web.Model different from "DDD" and should I still have a separate BL project? If that is the case, then what is the Web.Model supposed to contain?


I view the Model as a concept. You can have a completely separate project containing your Domain (your entities, your services etc.) and reference that in your "UI" project. In this scenario this will be your "Model". This is what I typically do, In my Models folder I keep "ViewModels", which I use for Binding/Validation (for the UI). For example, If I have an Employee but I don't necessary want to use all its properties (or for that matter different properties), I will create an EmployeeViewModel adjust it the way I want, I'll add validation (if required) and I'll pass it to my View.

This is by no means, "the right way"/"only way", but It worked for me in the past, and I thought I'll share (also, I'm pretty terrible in explanations, so I really hope this post makes sense, in case it doesn't or clarifications are needed - please let me know).

You necessarily do not need to have your model in the same project. You can ofcourse have those in different layers.

This is how i usually setup my projects

1) UI Project - This is an MVC Web application type project where i will have my controllers and it's views and other UI related stuff

2) Business Entities - This will be a class library type project where i will define my domain objects ( Ex : Customer). This mostly looks similar to how my DB schema looks like. These are usually just POCO's which represent my domain modal ( I use this for the CodeFirst Database generation).

3) Data Access - This will be another class library type project which has the data access classes. Usually my repository class/interfaces, my DBContext class and other data access classes will be in this project.

4) Tests - Unit tests for the project

Business Entities project has been added as a reference to the Data Access Project so that i can use those classes in my Data access code.

Business Entities and Data Access Projects are added as references in UI Project. I would call the data access methods from my Controllers/ Service classes.

You may also add a Service/Business logic layer between your controller's and Data access layer as needed.

I have few ViewModel classes also inside my UI project ViewModels folder. I use this for some screens where i have to show data from multiple domain objects. I have a mapping/service class which maps the domain object to view model object. If your project is bifg, you may keep this as a serperate project under the same solution

  • Views Contain your HTML Layouts
  • Controllers do the heavy lifting of getting data from the models or the models themselves and passing them to the Views.
  • Models are used to do actions for your BL or fetch data.

Tip : You can use a EntityFramework ( i'm recommending it because it's easy to get started with ) to fetch your data and it's dead simple to setup thus eliminating your DAL and saving you time from writing everything yourself.

Services : you can have controllers that return XML/JSON (other format?) by converting the data you have got from the DB to XML/JSON and returning that instead of a view. Take a look at MVC 4 WebApi for more details,Note that you can pretty much the same thing with mvc 3 too

Also refer to site for tutorials to get you started, they are really useful.

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