Opinionated ASP.NET MVC 2 Template Helpers

If you have used ASP.NET MVC any, then you are probably aware of the MVC Contrib project hosted on CodePlex. It is a helpful library that provides useful tools that ASP.NET MVC doesn’t give you out of the box.

Opinionated Input Builders

One of the pieces that I really like is the Opinionated Input Builders that Eric Hexter wrote. The builder allows you to provide one property at a time from your View Model and it will output the label, required indicator, the appropriate input control, and whatever else that it needs to display.

<% using (Html.BeginForm()) { %>

<%= Html.Input(m => m.FirstName) %>
<%= Html.Input(m => m.LastName) %>
<%= Html.Input(m => m.Email) %>

<% } %>



ASP.NET MVC 2 EditorForModel

As it turns out, the ASP.NET MVC team took a similar approach when putting together the Template Helpers in  ASP.NET MVC 2. I ended up switching to the Template Helpers.

<% Html.EnableClientValidation(); %>
<% using (Html.BeginForm()) { %>

<%= Html.EditorForModel() %>

<% } %>

With some CSS styling, the output of the EditorForModel is close to what the Opinionated Input Builder, but there are some problems as we’ll discuss in the next section.


ASP.NET MVC 2 EditorFor

The problem is that I usually don’t want to display or edit my entire model. I often times have things in my View Model that I don’t particularly want to display.  I want to rather manually choose which properties I want to display or edit.

<% Html.EnableClientValidation(); %>
<% using (Html.BeginForm()) { %>

<%= Html.EditorFor(m => m.FirstName) %>
<%= Html.EditorFor(m => m.LastName)%>
<%-- Purposely Not Show the Email –%>

<% } %>

Using the above syntax doesn’t quite give the output I was looking for. Only the input controls are rendered (as seen in the following screenshot) instead of providing the scaffolding of label, input, and validation fields like the EditorForModel method provides.


You end up having to provides the layout of the controls and explicitly mention the label, input controls, and validation for each property. 

Modify the Template Helpers MasterPage

I soon began to miss the simple syntax of rendering all the necessary code like I was used to when using the Opinionated Input Builders outputted from the MVC Contrib.

Well, a while back Brad Wilson (one of the ASP.NET MVC 2 developers), wrote an awesome series about Templated Helpers and the last post in the series, ASP.NET MVC 2 Templates, Part 5: Master Page Templates, he addressed this granular Opinionated Input Builder type syntax!

All you do, is to override the Master Page that the templates use internally. So, inside my Master Page I layout where I want the label, validation, and input controls to go and then ASP.NET MVC 2 does the rest by resolving which Template Helper to use!

I modified the Master Page some to suite my needs (I use divs instead of tables), but overall it is the same one that he lays out on his blog.


<%@ Master Language="C#" Inherits="System.Web.Mvc.ViewMasterPage" %>

<%= ViewData.ModelMetadata.IsRequired ? "*" : "" %>
<%= ViewData.ModelMetadata.GetDisplayName() %>

<%= Html.ValidationMessage("") %>


<%@ Page Language="C#" MasterPageFile="Template.Master" Inherits="System.Web.Mvc.ViewPage" %>

<%= Html.TextBox("", ViewData.TemplateInfo.FormattedModelValue,
new { @class = "text-box single-line" }) %>

There are several other files that you’ll need. I’ve grabbed most of them from Brad’s blog post and have them in the demo application below that you can download.


Now we can try the above scenario one more time and get the output that we were expecting.

<% Html.EnableClientValidation(); %>
<% using (Html.BeginForm()) { %>

<%= Html.EditorFor(m => m.FirstName) %>
<%= Html.EditorFor(m => m.LastName)%>
<%-- Purposely Not Show the Email –%>

<% } %>





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Tips using Firebug Lite and Full Screen with jsFiddle


I’ve been using jsFiddle more and more to test and share JavaScript and jQuery code.

Although I love that jsFiddle shows the HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Results window all at the same time, I also would love to somehow see the output of the console window in the User Interface. Depending on the browser someone views my jsFiddle projects, the console may or may not be defined. I really don’t like alert statements and sometimes it is just easier to console.log() than it is to write out messages to the DOM.

Firebug Lite

So, I’ve been finding myself adding Firebug Lite as a resource to jsFiddle and letting Firebug be part of the rendered output.

If you’ve tried this, then you may have noticed that Firebug auto-opens once jsFiddle is rendered. Seeing that the Rendered section isn’t very big this could be a big problem.


Thankfully, there are several options you can provide to Firebug Lite to customize it’s behavior.

I find myself setting the following three options on a regular basis.



I also like to use JsBin quite a bit and honestly switch between it and jsFiddle quite often depending on what I am doing.

Full Screen Option

One of the features that I really like in JsBin is that you can launch the session to Full Screen and not inside the editor. This is helpful if you want to interact with the DOM with your browser’s debugging tools, minimize any side-effects the editor might be creating, etc…

As it turns out, jsFiddle has this same feature, but you have to know how to get to it. You can just add “/show” to the end of your jsFiddle URL to show it without the editor. To swap back to the edit view you can simply remove the “/show” from the URL.

Full Screen / Editor Toggle Button

Now that we know we can swap back and forth between Full Screen and Edit mode, what I miss is the nice little JsBin link in the upper-right hand corner of the page allowing you to easily swap between the two environments.


As it turns out, I’ve recreated this in jsFiddle by adding the following code to my JavaScript window…

$("", {
id : "show",
text : window.location.pathname.indexOf("show/light") > 0 ?
"View Full Screen" : "Edit using jsFiddle",
href : window.location.pathname.indexOf("show/light") > 0 ?
window.location.pathname.replace(/light\/$/gi, "") :
window.location.pathname.replace(/show\/$/gi, ""),
target : "_blank"

…and here is the supporting CSS that I put in the CSS window of the jsFiddle Editor.

#show {
position: fixed;
top: 0px;
right: 0px;
padding: 5px;
background-color: #3D6F9A;
color: #ffffff;
border-bottom: 1px solid rgb(153, 153, 153);
border-left-width: 1px solid rgb(153, 153, 153);
-webkit-border-bottom-left-radius: 10px;
-moz-border-radius-bottomleft: 10px;
border-bottom-left-radius: 10px;
border-right-width: 0px;
border-top-width: 0px;
text-decoration: none;
text-shadow:0 1px 0 #0C131C;
font-family:"Lucida Grande","Lucida Sans","Lucida Sans Unicode","Luxi Sans",Tahoma,sans-serif;
display: block;

The following screenshot is what the result window looks like inside the jsFiddle Editor


The following screenshot is what the window looks like in jsFiddle Full Screen mode


You can view, run, and edit the above code snippets using my jsFiddle


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Stepping Down from The Official jQuery Podcast

ps.nrdkgcvf.170x170-75 In case you haven’t heard from the end of the Rey Bomb #2 Episode of The Official jQuery Podcast, I announced that after 21 episodes I am stepping down as my role of co-host.

Around the time I first joined the podcast I also started to become involved with some intense writing projects (as will become apparent in the near future), although I can’t say much about it right now :)

As a result, I haven’t had much margin in my life. I’ve been running on empty for quite some time and other more important things in my life have gotten the shaft! Unfortunately, one of those was my family and I intend to change that.

I don’t plan to fall off the face of the earth. I plan to refocus on blogging and tweeting. I would like to do some more speaking, but probably not for the rest of the year as baby #3 is coming in August.

I am honored to have been asked to join The Official jQuery Podcast and during my involvement I got to meet many great people that I hadn’t previously known. I am glad to have formed these relationships, and look forward to further investing in them.

I hope the future of The Official jQuery Podcast is bright and I encourage you to either start or continue to listen.

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Mix10 Session - 6 Things Every jQuery Developer Must Know

This year I was chosen by the community to speak at Mix10 as one of the Open Call sessions. I was honored to be selected and thoroughly enjoyed attending Mix10 and building relationships.

My session was entitled 6 Things Every jQuery Developer Should Know

This seminar provides an overview of several in-depth concepts that developers need to learn to bring their jQuery development to the next level. We review six things that you should know, such as: "What Is This?", "Am I Referencing the jQuery Object or a DOM Element?", "Understanding Selectors", "Combine and Minify Your Scripts", "Different Ways of Storing Data", and "The Dos and Don'ts of Events". Along the way, we share several helpful websites and tools to make your job as a jQuery developer easier.


For each of the 6 points I started with beginning material and then progressed to intermediate then advanced concepts. When I moved to the next point the content would go back to beginner and then progress to advanced. In this way, I hoped to reach a wider audience with things tips they could take away from the session. 

The video from my talk is now available from the Mix10 website. You can watch the video and also download my web-based presentation along with the code I showed.

Unfortunately, the main demo that I wanted to show didn’t work during the presentation. The demo worked the night before & it works now. My guess is that the Picasa Web API was temporarily down during my talk, which is unfortunate. I guess I should have expected something to go wrong. Anyway, overall I think it went well. I had several questions at the end and people stayed after to ask questions as well.

During the presentation I listed several resources that I recommended. I pulled those out and provided them below for quick access them. Some of them I demonstrated during the talk and others I just referred to as good resources you may want to check out.

3h. Knowing Selectors

6. Combine & Minify Scripts

If you were able to attend my session at Mix10 or watch the above video recording, I would appreciate if you could take a moment to rate my talk on speakerrate.com. Thank you again for voting my session into Mix10.

Note: Someone asked me what Visual Studio theme I was using to show the code near the end of the session. As it turns out, I was using JetBrains WebStorm IDE. Jeffrey Way did a great mini-screencast review of the new IDE on Nettuts.

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Getting Those Old Firefox Add-ons to Work

Although I’ve switched to Google Chrome as my primary web browser, I still switch over Firefox every once in a while for one reason or another.

With the recent release of Firefox 3.6 you might find some of your favorite add-ons no longer in working because they haven’t yet been updated to support the new version number.


You can easily get around this limitation by installing the Nightly Tester Tools Firefox Add-on which allows you to override the maximum version the add-ons say they can support.


Keep in mind, even though you are forcing your add-ons to run with your current browser version it doesn’t mean they will work, but usually I find that they do work just fine.


I’m a sucker for running the latest and greatest build of Firefox so the Nightly Tester Tools Firefox Add-on is a must for me.

I tend to use the Portable Versions of Firefox so they are sandboxed in their own little folders. That way I can also have several versions on my box for testing.

As a total side-note, but related point I also like these following Portable Applications that you can find from the same site…

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