zxing.net code 128 Figure 10.3 The complete folder structure for our Spark views in Visual Studio .NET

Paint Code-128 in Visual Studio .NET Figure 10.3 The complete folder structure for our Spark views

Figure 10.3 The complete folder structure for our Spark views
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Advanced view techniques
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Adding an Application.spark layout for our views
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We chose the Text File template because we don t want any of the built-in functionality provided by something like a Web Form template; we need only a blank file. Inside our base layout, we need to place a couple of links and provide a placeholder for the actual child content. Our entire layout is shown in listing 10.14.
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Listing 10.14 The entire Application.spark layout template
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<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title>Spark View Example</title> <link href="~/Content/Site.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" /> </head> <body> <div class="page"> <div id="header"> <div id="title"> <h1>My MVC Application</h1> </div> <div id="logindisplay"> Welcome! </div> <div id="menucontainer"> <ul id="menu"> <li>${Html.ActionLink("Home", "Index", "Product")}</li> </ul> </div> </div>
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Exploring the Spark view engine
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<div id="main"> <use content="view"/> <div id="footer"> </div> </div> </div> </body> </html>
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The first interesting item in listing 10.14 is the link element linking to our CSS file. It uses the familiar tilde (~) notation to note the base directory of our website, instead of relative path notation (..\..\). We can rebase our website and redefine what the tilde means in our Spark configuration if need be. This method is helpful in web farm or content-delivery network (CDN) scenarios. The next interesting item is our familiar Html.ActionLink calls, but this time we enclose the code in the ${} syntax. This syntax is synonymous with the <%= %> syntax of Web Forms, but if we place an exclamation point after the dollar sign, using $!{} instead, any NullReferenceExceptions will have empty content instead of an error screen. This is one advantage of Spark over Web Forms, where a null results in an error for the end user, even though missing values are normal. The last interesting piece of our layout is the <use content="view"/> element. The named content section, view, defaults to the view name from our action. In our example, this would be an Index.spark file in a Product folder. We can create other named content sections for a header, footer, sidebar, and anything else we might need in our base layout. We can nest our layouts as much as our application demands, just as we can with master pages. With the layout in place, we can create our action-specific view, as shown in listing 10.15.
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Listing 10.15 Spark view for the Index action
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<viewdata model="SparkViewExample.Models.Product[]" /> Declares type <var styles="new [] {'even', 'odd'}" /> of model Defines array <h2>Products</h2> of CSS classes <table> <tr> <th>Name</th> <th>Price</th> <th>Description</th> </tr> <var i="0"> <tr each="var product in ViewData.Model" class="${styles[i%2]}"> <td>${product.Name}</td> <td>${product.Price}</td> <td>${product.Description}</td> Loops over <set i="i+1" /> product collection </tr> </var> </table>
Advanced view techniques
In the Index view, we want to loop D through all of the Products in the model, displaying a row for each Product. With Web Forms, we d need to put in <% %> code blocks for our for loop, but with Spark we have cleaner options. First, we use the <viewdata /> B element to tell Spark that we re using a strongly typed view, and our model type is an array of Products. Spark also supports the key-based ViewData dictionary. Next, we create a local styles variable with the <var /> element C. Each attribute name becomes a new local variable, and the attribute value is the value assigned. These two variables will help us create alternating row styles. Next, we put normal HTML in our view, including a header, table, and header row. With Spark, special Spark XML elements are interspersed with HTML elements, making our view look cleaner without C# s distracting angle brackets. After the header row, we create a counter variable to help in the alternating row styles. We need to iterate through all the Products in our model, creating a row for each item. In Web Forms, this is accomplished with a foreach loop, but in Spark, we need only add an each attribute to the HTML element we want to repeat, giving the snippet of C# code to iterate in each attribute s value. The class element in our row element is set to an alternating style, using a counter to switch between odd and even styles. Inside our row, we use the ${} syntax to display each individual product. Because we installed the Spark Visual Studio integration, we get IntelliSense in our views, as demonstrated in figure 10.5. To complete the alternating row styles, we increment the count using the <set /> element. This element lets us assign values to variables we created earlier in our view. In addition to the each attribute and <set /> element, Spark provides complex expressions for conditional operators (if ... else), macros, and more. With our Spark view complete, our view renders as expected in the browser, as shown in figure 10.6. Because of the ASP.NET MVC architecture, we can swap out view engines without needing to change our controllers or actions. As we saw in this section with the Spark view engine, many view engines provide a cleaner way to create views in MVC applications. The Spark view engine gives us a terser, more readable markup, blending code and HTML seamlessly. Because Spark supports compiling views and IntelliSense, we don t need to give up all the nice integration that Web Forms offers.
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