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Testing Routes
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Like any other part of an ASP.NET MVC application, routes can be the subject of some unit testing. In particular, you might want to check whether a given URL is matched to the right route and if route data is extracted properly. To test routes, you must reproduce the global.asax environment and begin by invoking the RegisterRoutes method. The RegisterRoutes method populates the collection with available routes.
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[TestMethod] public void TestIfProductRoutesWork() { var routes = new RouteCollection(); MvcApplication.RegisterRoutes(routes); RouteData routeData = null; routeData = GetRouteDataForUrl("~/product/sds", routes); // Test whether the right route was found Assert.AreEqual(((Route) routeData.Route).Url, "{controller}/{action}/{id}"); }
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The GetRouteDataForUrl method in the test is a local helper defined as follows:
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private static RouteData GetRouteDataForUrl(string url, RouteCollection routes) { var httpContextMock = MockRepository.GenerateMock<HttpContextBase>(); httpContextMock.Expect(c => c.Request.AppRelativeCurrentExecutionFilePath).Return(url); RouteData routeData = routes.GetRouteData(httpContextMock); Assert.IsNotNull(routeData, "Should have found the route"); return routeData; }
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The method is expected to invoke GetRouteData to get information about the requested route. Unfortunately, GetRouteData needs a reference to HttpContextBase, where it places all inquiries about the request. In particular, GetRouteData needs to invoke AppRelativeCurrentExecutionFilePath to know about the virtual path to process. By mocking HttpContextBase to provide an ad hoc URL, you completely decouple the route from the runtime environment and can proceed with assertions. The sample code shown earlier uses Rhino Mocks to create mocks of objects. (See http://www.ayende.com/projects/rhino-mocks.aspx.) I ll return to the topic of mocking frameworks in 10, Testability and Unit Testing.
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Keeping an Eye on SEO
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One of the reasons to pay more attention to routes is to enforce a set of rules that can increase the appeal of your site to search engines and end users. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, has become a precise goal of most Web projects. At its root, SEO consists of adding metadata to pages, reviewing URLs, and restructuring content with a particular focus on cross-page links, error pages, use of JavaScript, redirects, and images. SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. The idea is to make it easier for popular search engines to find your pages and rank your pages higher with reference to specific keywords. All in all, URL design, unique content, and a wise redirection strategy are all key achievements on the way to getting the most out of search engines. Let s see how to accomplish this in ASP.NET MVC.
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Devising Routes and URLs
I still remember very well when Microsoft Windows 95 introduced long file names and, with that, the ability to give files and directories names up to 255 characters. It s hard to believe if you never programmed in the era of 16-bit applications, but there really was a time when you had to express disk resources using an 8+3 notation that is, only 8 characters for the name plus 3 for the extension. All developers welcomed long file names in Windows 95 as the long-awaited way to give files more readable and sensible names. In the beginning of the Web era, URL names were chosen much like file names, with the goal of representing the intended resource in a sensible way. Then Content Management Systems (CMS) started mechanizing the process of URL creation. To generalize the management of some content over the Web, CMS applications began using a base URL plus some variable parameters appended to the query string. URLs like the following one were common:
http://code.yourserver.com/bin/10day-ITXX0067 cm_ven=myapp_it&cm_cat=citypage&cm_ite=weather&cm_pla=10day&cm_fmt=metrics
These URLs perfectly fulfill their mission, but they can t really be understood, let alone remembered. Are URLs something that users should care about Ideally, they should not. However, just as for files and directories, URLs are visible and, to some extent, they do matter. In the end, URLs can even be created and managed by the application in any way that suits the tool and developers as long as they can be exposed to the user in a more sensible way. This is just what routes ultimately do. A URL scheme must enforce a few characteristics, such as readability and uniqueness. A readable URL is a URL that is clear about what it points to. In addition, a readable URL results from a breadcrumb. Breadcrumb navigation refers to presenting the URL as a sequence of segments much like directories in a file system path. However, each segment points to a page that is meaningful for the system and is not simply showing the content of a virtual directory. Here s an example:
http://yourserver.com/weather/italy/lazio/north/today/afternoon/
If you visit the preceding URL, you ll be shown forecasts for the afternoon, but if you remove two trailing segments, you ll get forecasts for the north of the specified region for a default period. If you stop at the country level, instead, you ll get an overview of the situation for the whole country and for the default period. Another key principle of URL design and organization is that each URL must be unique. Having the need to reference the same URL many times is fine, but you manage to resolve the reference via a permanent redirect. Uniqueness has a significant impact on SEO, and I ll return to that point in a moment.
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