14.3. Models and Data

To effectively work with data, we need to add another element to our MVC application. Say for example, we want to remove an event from our list. If two events both have the same name, we can’t yet identify which of the events to delete.

In CodingEvents, we add a unique identifier field to Events to better handle and track distinct Event instances. Next, we’ll also create another model class called EventData. This allows us to encapsulate data storage and prepare ourselves for decoupling the Event model from the controller.

14.3.1. Add a Unique Id - Video

Note

The starter code for this video is found at the add-property branch of CodingEventsDemo. The final code presented in this video is found on the add-id branch. As always, code along to the videos on your own CodingEvents project.

14.3.2. Add a Unique Id - Text

Identifying data by a user-defined string called name is not a sustainable or scalable method of handling data in most situations. Consider the address book example. How can we distinguish between two contact entries with the same name field? It is a frequent practice to add a unique identifier field (sometimes called, or even labelled, uid) to a class responsible for modelling data. This ensures that our address book can contain two separate entries for our contacts who have the same name as one another.

To accomplish the same data clarity with events, we’ll add a few things to the event model class:

  1. A readonly id field.
  2. A static counter variable, nextId.
  3. Additional constructor code that:
    1. Sets id to the nextId value.
    2. Increments nextId.

The result in Models/Event.cs:

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namespace CodingEventsDemo.Models
{
   public class Event
   {
      public string Name { get; set; }
      public string Description { get; set; }

      public int Id { get; }
      static private int nextId = 1;

      public Event(string name, string description)
      {
         Name = name;
         Description = description;
         Id = nextId;
         nextId++;
      }

      public override string ToString()
      {
         return Name;
      }
   }
}

Note

Here’s a closer look at what’s going on in line 8.

Id is created as a get-only auto-implemented property. You’ve seen this syntax a few times before. The backing field, id is readonly because no setter method has been written for the field. The only place id’s value may be assigned is in a constructor (as it is on line 15).

With these additions, every time a new event object is created it is assigned a unique integer to its id field.

14.3.3. Create a Data Layer - Video

Note

The starter code for this video is found at the add-id branch of CodingEventsDemo. The final code presented in this video is found on the create-data-layer branch. As always, code along to the videos on your own CodingEvents project.

14.3.4. Create a Data Layer - Text

Now that we’ve begun building a model, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that models are not designed to be data storage containers. Rather, models are meant to shape the data stored in another location. They shape data into objects that fit into the logic of our applications. As we work our way into learning about database usage and service calls, however, we’ll use a C# class to store some data temporarily.

A data layer adds abstraction between models and the data we want to store. As we’ll see, a data layer allows us to pass on responsibility of exactly how our data is stored.

To get started with a data layer, create a new directory called Data at the root of your project, on the same level as the rest of the MVC components. Inside of Data/, add a class EventData. Whereas Event is responsible for organizing user-inputted information into a C# object, EventData is responsible for maintaining those objects once they are created. EventData is itself a C# class that stores events. It contains several methods for managing and maintaining the event data that simply extend System-provided collection methods.

The contents of Data/EventData.cs:

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namespace CodingEventsDemo.Data
{
   public class EventData
   {
      static private Dictionary<int, Event> Events = new Dictionary<int, Event>();

      // GetAll
      public static IEnumerable<Event> GetAll()
      {
         return Events.Values;
      }

      // Add
      public static void Add(Event newEvent)
      {
         Events.Add(newEvent.Id, newEvent);
      }

      // Remove
      public static void Remove(int id)
      {
         Events.Remove(id);
      }

      // GetById
      public static Event GetById(int id)
      {
         return Events[id];
      }
   }
}

With EventData now managing a collection of events, we must once again refactor EventsController to update the items stored in the dictionary. In keeping with the objective to remove data handling from the controller, we’ll remove the list of events at the top of the class. Consequently, for the Index() action method, we’ll now use events from EventData to populate a ViewBag.events property:

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ViewBag.events = EventData.GetAll();

And back to NewEvent, we’ll make use of the .add() method from EventData:

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EventData.Add(new Event(name, desc));

14.3.5. Delete an Event - Video

Note

The starter code for this video is found at the create-data-layer branch of CodingEventsDemo. The final code presented in this video is found on the delete-events branch. As always, code along to the videos on your own CodingEvents project.

14.3.6. Delete an Event - Text

Now that we’ve refined our events storage method, we are able to tackle the task of deleting an object. To delete an event object from storage, we’ll grab the event’s id and use that information to call the Remove() method of EventData. Since the delete event is user-initiated, a controller will be involved to pass the information from the user-accessible view to the data layer. So our first step with this task is to create an action method to return a view designed to delete events.

Onto the end of EventsController, add the following method:

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public IActionResult Delete()
{
   ViewBag.events = EventData.GetAll();

   return View();
}

We’ll now need to create a new view for the path mapped in the method above. Add a new template, Views/Events/Delete.cshtml. This view will reference event id fields in order to distinguish which items the user will request to delete via checkbox inputs.

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<h1>Delete Event</h1>

<form method="post">
   @foreach (var evt in ViewBag.events)
   {
      <div class="form-group">
            <label>
               <span>@evt.Name</span>
               <input type="checkbox" name="eventIds" value="@evt.Id" class="form-control">
            </label>
      </div>
   }

   <input type="submit" value="Delete Selected Events" class="btn btn-danger">

</form>

We also need a POST handler to take care of what to do when the delete event information is submitted by the user. We’ll have this post handler redirect the user back to the events home page once they have selected which event, or events, to remove from storage.

In EventsController, add another controller method:

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[HttpPost]
public IActionResult Delete(int[] eventIds)
{
   foreach (int eventId in eventIds)
   {
         EventData.Remove(eventId);
   }

   return Redirect("/Events");
}

14.3.7. Check Your Understanding

Question

In CodingEvents, which method can we call to list every event object?

  1. Events.Get()
  2. EventData.GetEvery()
  3. Event.GetAll()
  4. EventData.GetAll()

Question

In CodingEvents, breaking up the event storage from the Event model is an example of which object-oriented concept?

  1. Inheritance
  2. Polymorphism
  3. Encapsulation
  4. MVC design