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The Future of MonoRail in the Wake of MS MVC

| by Hartmut Wilms Follow 0 Followers on Nov 20, 2007. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Hamilton Verissimo, the founder of the Castle Project, has discussed means of integrating Castle/MonoRail into MS MVC as well as real-world requirements with the MS MVC team.

During the last weak Hamilton informed the MS MVC team "of all complex and even counter intuitive requirements that [the Castle team] got from the real world apps and how/if the MS MVC would be able to handle them". He was also able to develop some integration samples as a proof-of-concept for MS MVC's extensibility and pluggability:

I was able to:

  • Create a initial IParameterBinder support
  • Create a NVelocity View Factory
  • Get a REST support working (both for url semantics and rendering based on the accept header)
  • Get it working with Castle’s DataBinder and ActiveRecordDataBinder

Things that I wanted but weren’t able to do:

  • Reuse MonoRail’s helpers: mostly because they are too tightly coupled with MonoRail
  • Create a Brail View Factory: same reason
  • Create a selector for view factories: impacts on testability

Hamilton is very pleased with the MS MVC Framework approach, but he advises the community not to expect too much of the CTP bits that have been announced for the end of the year:

That’s because what you’re going to see is a very small framework, with a lot to be done to be useful. As they say, the CTP is mainly for feedback. I’m sure Milestone 2 would be something great, though.

Concerning the future of Castle MonoRail Hamilton says that we'll have to wait until the final release and its feature set:

I was really adamant that they should try to support all things that MonoRail support, but I’m not sure they are going for that. MonoRail 2.0 is pending their implementation. If the final MS MVC rocks, and provides so many things, I’d vote for forget the MR 2. If the final MS MVC has clearly something lacking, MR 2 could reuse the infrastructure and provide some nice extensions.

Aaron Jensen, Director of Engineering at Eleutian Technology, shares Hamilton's thoughts and suggests:

What I'd like to see is MonoRail become more like Rails. I want to see something built on top of MS MVC that even more-so favors Convention over Configuration--including but not limited to generators and such. I want it to take it to the next level and be exactly what the community wants for a C# web platform.

Aaron as well as Adam Esterline and others have pointed out the deficient routing capabilities of MonoRail:

Routing - RoR and MS MVC treat Routing as a first class citizen. Routing in MonoRail is an after thought and it shows.

Why is first class Routing a big deal?
  • DRY - Tight integration between the routing engine and URL generation allows URLs to refactored easily and safely.
  • Testing - Testing routes, in MonoRail, requires an end-to-end test. If routes were first class objects, then routes could be tested in isolation.

The routing issue has already been addressed by Hamilton, who came up with a new MonoRail routing engine. The "bleeding-edge" code is on the MonoRail SVN.

Ben Scheirman refers to the MS technology vs. OSS technology issue and concludes that "System.Web.MVC will reach an audience that MonoRail doesn’t: The corporate giant who already swallowed the pill and will do anything that Microsoft pushes, good or bad. And a lot of consultants work firmly in this space".

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