Looking into ASP.Net MVC 4.0 Mobile Development - part 1

In this post I will be looking how ASP.Net MVC 4.0 helps us to create web solutions that target mobile devices.

We all experience the magic that is the World Wide Web through mobile devices. Millions of people around the world, use tablets and smartphones to view the contents of websites,e-shops and portals.

ASP.Net MVC 4.0 includes a new mobile project template and the ability to render a different set of views for different types of devices.There is a new feature that is called browser overriding which allows us to control exactly what a user is going to see from your web application regardless of what type of device he is using.

In order to follow along this post you must have Visual Studio 2012 and .Net Framework 4.5 installed in your machine.Download and install VS 2012 using this link.

My machine runs on Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 works just fine.It will work fine in Windows 7 as well so do not worry if you do not have the latest Microsoft operating system.

1) Launch VS 2012 and create a new Web Forms application by going to File - >New Project - > ASP.Net MVC 4 Web Application and then click OK

Have a look at the picture below


2) From the available templates select Mobile Application and then click OK.

Have a look at the picture below


3) When I run the application I get the mobile view of the page.

I would like to show you what a typical ASP.Net MVC 4.0 application looks like. So I will create a new simple ASP.Net MVC 4.0 Web Application. When I run the application I get the normal page view.

Have a look at the picture below.On the left is the mobile view and on the right the normal view.


As you can see we have more or less the same content in our mobile application (log in,register) compared with the normal ASP.Net MVC 4.0 application but it is optimised for mobile devices.

4) Let me explain how and when the mobile view is selected and finally rendered.There is a feature in MVC 4.0 that is called Display Modes and with this feature the runtime will select a view.

If we have 2 views e.g contact.mobile.cshtml and contact.cshtml in our application the Controller at some point will instruct the runtime to select and render a view named contact.

The runtime will look at the browser making the request and will determine if it is a mobile browser or a desktop browser. So if there is a request from my IPhone Safari browser for a particular site, if there is a mobile view the MVC 4.0 will select it and render it. If there is not a mobile view, the normal view will be rendered.

5) In the  ASP.Net MVC 4.0 (Internet application) I created earlier (not the first project which was a mobile one) I can run it once more and see how it looks on the browser. If I want to view it with a mobile browser I must download one emulator like Opera Mobile.You can download Opera Mobile here

When I run the application I get the same view in both the desktop and the mobile browser. That was to be expected. Have a look at the picture below


6) Then I create another version of the _Layout.mobile.cshtml view in the Shared folder.I simply copy and paste the _Layout.cshtml  into the same folder and then rename it to _Layout.mobile.cshtml and then just alter the contents of the _Layout.mobile.cshtml.

When I run again the application I get a different view on the desktop browser and a different one on the Opera mobile browser.

Have a look at the picture below


Τhe Controller will instruct the ASP.Net runtime to select and render a view named _Layout.mobile.cshtml when the request will come from a mobile browser.

Τhe runtime knows that a browser is a mobile one through the ASP.Net browser capability provider.


Hope it helps!!!

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