What is MVC Website Programming and How Is It Different from Other Frameworks?
MVC (Model View Controller) is a framework used in several programming languages. The most common language is C# ASP.NET, which is a Microsoft website programming language. MVC websites are usually high-end, enterprise solutions and a step up from the standard pre-packaged sites such as WordPress or Joomla. As a programmer, it's an advanced language that will help your career. As a website owner, find out how MVC custom websites can help you build a better website application.
How Does MVC Work?
MVC has three parts: the model, the view and the controller. Let's first discuss the model. Models are a representation of your data or the information you want to display to the user. Models are classes. If you are familiar with object-oriented programming (OOP), you've either worked with or heard of classes. Classes represent a part of your application. For instance, if you have an ecommerce website, you need classes for customers, orders and products. A customer class contains all properties of a customer including first and last name, address and phone number. An order represents all properties of an order such as the date it was created and the customer who placed the order. Products encapsulate properties for your products. Classes are very modular and each section of your site is represented by one class.
Models are classes that represent the data you want to show to users. Most website developers use models to represent a screen of information. For instance, suppose you have an order screen. The model represents all the data entered by the user and displayed to the user after the order is completed. Think of models as the scaffolding that helps you build your website's information. With an order screen, the model would contain the order number, the customer's ID, the products for the order and any order notes.
The final component of an MVC application is the controller. The controller has all of your website logic. For instance, your users must log in to see their orders and the status of their account. The login logic is contained within a controller. Like a model, the controller is also a class and all functionality is contained within the controller's methods and properties. Controllers are linked to views based on their names. For instance, the "Home" controller is automatically linked to the "Home" view.
What Are the Benefits of an MVC Application?
MVC applications are specific to the web, but they are much more robust than linear applications. Although PHP has recently built OOP into the language, most PHP developers use it in a linear fashion. This means that code executes line-by-line and isn't too modular (some PHP developers would disagree, however). PHP does not separate data from the main HTML code, so you're stuck reproducing the same code each time you make a new page. For instance, with MVC you can use the same customer model throughout your entire application. With PHP, the customer data you display must be queried and constructed each time you create a new page. With MVC, you just point the view to the model you want to use and reuse the same model in any other parts of your application.
PHP is the foundation of pre-packaged sites such as Joomla and WordPress, but these sites also get hacked often. If you don't continuously update your WordPress version and any associated plugins, your site will likely get hacked. If you keep track of WordPress plugins, you'll know that the All in One SEO and Yoast programmers announced serious security flaws in their code. If you haven't updated these plugins, you need to update them to protect your site. One issue with PHP is that most coders use inline SQL. Inline SQL leaves your site open to SQL injection, which is a predominant hacking method on the web.
With MVC C#, the database is queried using Entity Framework (EF). EF queries a database without allowing SQL injection (assuming the database designer does not use dynamic SQL). Dynamic SQL is a type of coding that builds SQL statements on-the-fly. If the designer does not strip out malicious characters, the hacker can inject SQL into the statements. Most EF applications don't use dynamic SQL or inline SQL, so your applications are safe. Of course, other security protection steps apply to your website, but you don't have the issues that PHP webmasters have with plugins and poorly formed SQL code.
Code reuse is a major benefit for large corporations. Instead of reinventing the wheel with each new application, developers can reuse their code within the application or with new projects. Because developers work on an hourly basis, businesses save money when code can be reused in other applications. Most businesses have an externally facing public website and an internal CRM. The CRM is usually integrated with the website, so employees can offer customer service and fulfill orders submitted from the website. The code for each of these projects can be reused as you scale your application. For instance, the customer class can be used on the public website as well as the internal CRM.
MVC is the next generation of frameworks, so developers familiar with old ASP.NET web forms will like that you no longer need to work with "viewstate" objects or any "postback" events. If you ever programmed web forms, you know how much of a hassle it was to keep track of the viewstate object and the web form's page status. You no longer need to manage these objects in MVC C#.
Should You Convert to MVC?
Converting to a new framework is never easy, and you should always test thoroughly before you move to a new platform. You should convert if you're running a successful business and your current platform doesn't allow for scalability. Scalability is the ability to add new moving parts to your application without uprooting all of its code. With pre-packaged free platforms, scalability is not optional since developers are creating platforms for everyone instead of just you. Most scalable applications are created specifically for the business.
Another consideration before converting is your development team's familiarity with MVC. If they aren't used to it, developers might struggle at first with MVC. It's an entirely different framework than other languages. Once developers get familiar with the framework, they can work more efficiently. However, you still need to pay them to learn a new language and framework.
MVC is a great framework for new website applications. It's highly recommended if you have a large project you need to complete. Check out some of Microsoft's material to learn the ins and outs of the language. As a site owner, you might pay a little more for development in the beginning, but using MVC will save you time in future projects.