Category Archives: MVC

How to : Use JQuery and JSON in MVC 5 for Autocomplete

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Imagine that you want to create edit view for Company entity which has two properties: Name (type string) and Boss (type Person). You want both properties to be editable. For Company.Name simple text input is enough but for Company.Boss you want to use jQuery UI Autocomplete widget. This widget has to meet following requirements:

  • suggestions should appear when user starts typing person’s last name or presses down arrow key;
  • identifier of person selected as boss should be sent to the server;
  • items in the list should provide additional information (first name and date of birth);
  • user has to select one of the suggested items (arbitrary text is not acceptable);
  • the boss property should be validated (with validation message and style set for appropriate input field).

Above requirements appear quite often in web applications. I’ve seen many over-complicated ways in which they were implemented. I want to show you how to do it quickly and cleanly… The assumption is that you have basic knowledge about jQuery UI Autocomplete and ASP.NET MVC. In this post I will show only the code which is related to autocomplete functionality but you can download full demo project here. It’s ASP.NET MVC 5/Entity Framework 6/jQuery UI 1.10.4 project created in Visual Studio 2013 Express for Web and tested in Chrome 34, FF 28 and IE 11 (in 11 and 8 mode).

So here are our domain classes:

public class Company
{
    public int Id { get; set; } 

    [Required]
    public string Name { get; set; }

    [Required]
    public Person Boss { get; set; }
}
public class Person
{
    public int Id { get; set; }

    [Required]
    [DisplayName("First Name")]
    public string FirstName { get; set; }
    
    [Required]
    [DisplayName("Last Name")]
    public string LastName { get; set; }

    [Required]
    [DisplayName("Date of Birth")]
    public DateTime DateOfBirth { get; set; }

    public override string ToString()
    {
        return string.Format("{0}, {1} ({2})", LastName, FirstName, DateOfBirth.ToShortDateString());
    }
}

Nothing fancy there, few properties with standard attributes for validation and good looking display. Person class has ToString override – the text from this method will be used in autocomplete suggestions list.

Edit view for Company is based on this view model:

public class CompanyEditViewModel
{    
    public int Id { get; set; }

    [Required]
    public string Name { get; set; }

    [Required]
    public int BossId { get; set; }

    [Required(ErrorMessage="Please select the boss")]
    [DisplayName("Boss")]
    public string BossLastName { get; set; }
}

Notice that there are two properties for Boss related data.

Below is the part of edit view that is responsible for displaying input field with jQuery UI Autocomplete widget for Boss property:

<div class="form-group">
    @Html.LabelFor(model => model.BossLastName, new { @class = "control-label col-md-2" })
    <div class="col-md-10">
        @Html.TextBoxFor(Model => Model.BossLastName, new { @class = "autocomplete-with-hidden", data_url = Url.Action("GetListForAutocomplete", "Person") })
        @Html.HiddenFor(Model => Model.BossId)
        @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.BossLastName)
    </div>
</div>

form-group and col-md-10 classes belong to Bootstrap framework which is used in MVC 5 web project template – don’t bother with them. BossLastName property is used for label, visible input field and validation message. There’s a hidden input field which stores the identifier of selected boss (Person entity). @Html.TextBoxFor helper which is responsible for rendering visible input field defines a class and a data attribute. autocomplete-with-hidden class marks inputs that should obtain the widget. data-url attribute value is used to inform about the address of action method that provides data for autocomplete. Using Url.Action is better than hardcoding such address in JavaScript file because helper takes into account routing rules which might change.

This is HTML markup that is produced by above Razor code:

<div class="form-group">
    <label class="control-label col-md-2" for="BossLastName">Boss</label>
    <div class="col-md-10">
        <span class="ui-helper-hidden-accessible" role="status" aria-live="polite"></span>
        <input name="BossLastName" class="autocomplete-with-hidden ui-autocomplete-input" id="BossLastName" type="text" value="Kowalski" 
         data-val-required="Please select the boss" data-val="true" data-url="/Person/GetListForAutocomplete" autocomplete="off">
        <input name="BossId" id="BossId" type="hidden" value="4" data-val-required="The BossId field is required." data-val-number="The field BossId must be a number." data-val="true">
        <span class="field-validation-valid" data-valmsg-replace="true" data-valmsg-for="BossLastName"></span>
    </div>
</div>

This is JavaScript code responsible for installing jQuery UI Autocomplete widget:

$(function () {
    $('.autocomplete-with-hidden').autocomplete({
        minLength: 0,
        source: function (request, response) {
            var url = $(this.element).data('url');
   
            $.getJSON(url, { term: request.term }, function (data) {
                response(data);
            })
        },
        select: function (event, ui) {
            $(event.target).next('input[type=hidden]').val(ui.item.id);
        },
        change: function(event, ui) {
            if (!ui.item) {
                $(event.target).val('').next('input[type=hidden]').val('');
            }
        }
    });
})

Widget’s source option is set to a function. This function pulls data from the server by $.getJSON call. URL is extracted from data-url attribute. If you want to control caching or provide error handling you may want to switch to $.ajax function. The purpose of change event handler is to ensure that values for BossId and BossLastName are set only if user selected an item from suggestions list.

This is the action method that provides data for autocomplete:

public JsonResult GetListForAutocomplete(string term)
{               
    Person[] matching = string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(term) ?
        db.Persons.ToArray() :
        db.Persons.Where(p => p.LastName.ToUpper().StartsWith(term.ToUpper())).ToArray();

    return Json(matching.Select(m => new { id = m.Id, value = m.LastName, label = m.ToString() }), JsonRequestBehavior.AllowGet);
}

value and label are standard properties expected by the widget. label determines the text which is shown in suggestion list, value designate what data is presented in the input filed on which the widget is installed. id is custom property for indicating which Person entity was selected. It is used in select event handler (notice the reference to ui.item.id): Selected ui.item.id is set as a value of hidden input field – this way it will be sent in HTTP request when user decides to save Company data.

Finally this is the controller method responsible for saving Company data:

public ActionResult Edit([Bind(Include="Id,Name,BossId,BossLastName")] CompanyEditViewModel companyEdit)
{
    if (ModelState.IsValid)
    {
        Company company = db.Companies.Find(companyEdit.Id);
        if (company == null)
        {
            return HttpNotFound();
        }

        company.Name = companyEdit.Name;

        Person boss = db.Persons.Find(companyEdit.BossId);
        company.Boss = boss;
        
        db.Entry(company).State = EntityState.Modified;
        db.SaveChanges();
        return RedirectToAction("Index");
    }
    return View(companyEdit);
}

Pretty standard stuff. If you’ve ever used Entity Framework above method should be clear to you. If it’s not, don’t worry. For the purpose of this post the important thing to notice is that we can use companyEdit.BossId because it was properly filled by model binder thanks to our hidden input field.

That’s it, all requirements are met! Easy, huh?

You may be wondering why I want to use jQuery UI widget in Visual Studio 2013 project which by default uses Twitter Bootstrap. It’s true that Bootstrap has some widgets and plugins but after a bit of experimentation I’ve found that for some more complicated scenarios jQ UI does a better job. The set of controls is simply more mature…

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Using jQuery Mobile and ASP.NET to Pass Data from one Page to another

ASP.NET developers working on either Web Forms or ASP.NET MVC can integrate jQuery Mobile into their Web sites to create rich mobile Web apps. jQuery Mobile is a lightweight JavaScript framework for developing cross-platform mobile/device Web applications.

In mobile application development, you as a developer must think about how to utilize available space in the best possible manner. For this purpose sometimes the UI needs to be divided in separate pages. In such cases, you may need to transfer value(s) entered in one page, on the second page for the further processing.

Consider a scenario where the end user is asked to select the Product Category on Page 1 and based upon that, Page 2 displays products under that category. To get this done, values must be passed from page 1 to page 2.

In jQuery Mobile, $.mobile object provides the changePage() method which accepts the page url as a first parameter and the values to be transferred as a second parameter using JSON based data. In this article, we will see, how values are passed from one page to another in an ASP.NET application.

Step 1: Open Visual Studio and create a new ASP.NET empty web application, name it as ‘ASPNET_Mobile_PassingValuesAcrossPages’. In this application, using the NuGet Package Manager, add the latest jQuery and jQuery Mobile libraries.

Step 2: To the project, add a new class file, name it as ‘ModelClasses.cs’ and add the following classes in it:

public class Category {     public int CategoryId { get; set; }     public string CategoryName { get; set; } }

public class Product {     public int ProductId { get; set; }     public string ProductName { get; set; }     public int Price { get; set; }     public int CategoryId { get; set; } }

public class CategoryDataStore : List<Category> {     public CategoryDataStore()     {         Add(new Category() { CategoryId = 1, CategoryName = “Food Items” });         Add(new Category() { CategoryId = 2, CategoryName = “Home Appliances” });         Add(new Category() { CategoryId = 3, CategoryName = “Electronics” });         Add(new Category() { CategoryId = 4, CategoryName = “Wear” });     } }

public class CategoryDataSource {     public List<Category> GetCategories()     {         return new CategoryDataStore();     } }

public class ProductDataStore : List<Product> {     public ProductDataStore()     {         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 111, ProductName = “Apples”, Price = 300, CategoryId = 1 });         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 112, ProductName = “Date”,   Price = 600, CategoryId = 1 });         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 113, ProductName = “Fridge”, Price = 34000, CategoryId = 2 });         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 114, ProductName = “T.V.”,   Price = 30000, CategoryId = 2 });         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 115, ProductName = “Laptop”, Price = 72000, CategoryId = 3 });         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 116, ProductName = “Mobile”, Price = 40000, CategoryId = 3 });         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 117, ProductName = “T-Shirt”, Price = 800, CategoryId = 4 });         Add(new Product() { ProductId = 118, ProductName = “Jeans”, Price = 700, CategoryId = 4 });     } }

public class ProductDataSource {     public List<Product> GetProductsByCategoryId(int catId)     {         var Products = from p in new ProductDataStore()                        where p.CategoryId == catId                        select p;

        return Products.ToList();     } }

The above code provides Category and Product entities with data stored in it. The Product is a child of the Category class.

Step 3: In the project, add a WEB API controller class with the following code:

public class CategoryProductController : ApiController {     CategoryDataSource objCatDs;     ProductDataSource objPrdDs;

    public CategoryProductController()     {         objCatDs = new CategoryDataSource();         objPrdDs = new ProductDataSource();     }

    public IEnumerable<Category> Get()     {         return objCatDs.GetCategories();     }

    public IEnumerable<Product> Get(int id)     {         return objPrdDs.GetProductsByCategoryId(id);     } }

Step 4: To define routing for the WEB API class, add a new Global Application Class (Global.asax) in the project and add the following code in the Application_Start method:

protected void Application_Start(object sender, EventArgs e) {     RouteTable.Routes.MapHttpRoute(     name: “DefaultApi”,     routeTemplate: “api/{controller}/{id}”,     defaults: new { id = System.Web.Http.RouteParameter.Optional }     ); }

Step 5: Add two HTML pages, name them as Page_Category.html and Page_Products.html.

Task 6: In both the HTML pages, add the jQuery and jQuery Mobile references:

<link href=”Content/jquery.mobile.structure-1.3.1.min.css” rel=”stylesheet” /> <link href=”Content/jquery.mobile.theme-1.3.1.min.css” rel=”stylesheet” /> <script src=”Scripts/jquery-2.0.2.min.js”></script> <script src=”Scripts/jquery.mobile-1.3.1.min.js”></script>

Add the following HTML in the Page_Category.html page:

<div data-role=”page” id=”catpage”>     <div data-role=”header”>         <h1>Select Category from List</h1>     </div>     <div data-role=”content”>         <div>             <select  id=”lstcat” data-native-menu=”false”>                 <option>List of Categories…..</option>             </select>         </div>         <br />         <br />         <input type=”button” data-icon=”search”            value=”Get Products”  data-inline=”true” id=”btngetproducts” />     </div> </div>

The above code defines a page using <div>  whose data-role attribute is set to page. This page contains a <select> for displaying list of categories in it and an <input> button with a click event on which the control will be transmitted to Page_Products.html page.

In the age_Category.html add the following script. The method loadlistview will make a call to WEB API and retrieve categories. These categories will be added into the <select> with id as lstcat. This method will be executed when the pageinit event is executed. On the click event of the button, the Category Value and Name will be passed to the Page_Products.html.

<script type=”text/javascript”> $(document).on(“pageinit”, “#catpage”, function () {

//Pass the data to the other Page $(“#btngetproducts”).on(‘click’, function () {     var categoryId = $(“#lstcat”).val();     var categoryName = $(“#lstcat”).find(“:selected”).text();     $.mobile.changePage(“Page_Products.html”, { data: { “catid”: categoryId ,”catname”:categoryName}}); });

loadlistview();

///Function to load all categories function loadlistview() {         $.ajax({         type: “GET”,         url: “/api/CategoryProduct”,         contentType: “application/json; charset=utf-8”,         dataType: “json”     }).done(function (data) {         //Convert JSON into Array         var array = $.map(data, function (i, idx) {             return [[i.CategoryId, i.CategoryName]];         });

        //Add each Category Name in the ListView         var res = “”;         $.each(array, function (idx, cat) {             res += ‘<option value=”‘ + cat[0] + ‘”>’ + cat[1] + ‘</option>’;         });         $(“#lstcat”).append(res);         $(“#lstcat”).trigger(“change”);

    }).fail(function (err) {         alert(“Error ” + err.status);     }); } }); </script>

Just look at this piece of code:

$.mobile.changePage(“Page_Products.html”, { data: { “catid”: categoryId ,”catname”:categoryName}});

This code is responsible for passing the CategoryId and Name using JSON expression to the Page_Products.html.

Step 7: Open Page_Products.html and add the following HTML markup:

<div data-role=”page” id=”prodpage” data-add-back-btn=”true”> <div data-role=”header”>         <h1>Products in Category</h1>         <span id=”catName”></span>     </div>          <table style=”border:double” data-role=”table” id=”tblprd”>         <thead>             <tr>                 <td style=’width:100px’>                     ProductId                 </td>                 <td style=’width:100px’>                     ProductName                 </td>                 <td style=’width:100px’>                     Price                 </td>             </tr>         </thead>         <tbody>         </tbody>     </table> </div>

Here the <div> with id as prodpage is set with the attribute as data-role=page. The attribute data-add-back-btn=true, will add the BACK button on the page. On click of this button, we can move back to the Page_Category.html. This is the default style set in jQuery Mobile.

Now here the important thing is how to read values which are send from Page_Category.html in the URL, on the Page_Product.html page. Unlike ASP.NET, in jQuery there is no simple way to read the values passed from one page to another. To read these values we will create a readUrlHelper helper method. This method reads the URL and using JavaScript string functions, reads the Key/Value pairs passed from the Page_Category.html. On the Page_Products.html, add this method using <script> inside the page created using <div> with id as prodpage.

//This helper function will read the URL as //string and provides values for parameters //in the URL function readUrlHelper(pageurl, queryParamName) {     var queryParamValue = “”;

    //Get the Total URL Length     var stringLength = pageurl.length;

    //Get the Index of ? in URL     var indexOfQM = pageurl.indexOf(“?”);

    //Get the Lenght of the String after ?     var stringAfterQM = stringLength – indexofQM;

    //Get the remaining string after ?     var strBeforeQM = pageurl.substr(indexofQM + 1, stringAfterQM);

    //Split the remaining String based upon & sign     var data = strBeforeQM.split(“&”);

    //Iterate through the array of strings after split     $.each(data, function (idx, val) {         //Split the string based upon = sign         var queryExpression = val.split(“=”);

        if (queryExpression[0] == queryParamName)         {             queryParamValue = queryExpression[1];             //If the Query String has Data in Concatination then replace the             //’+’ by blank space ‘ ‘             queryParamValue =  queryParamValue.replace(‘+’, ‘ ‘);         }     });

    return queryParamValue

}

To retrieve the Products based upon the CategoryId, add a new method loadproducts inside the prodpage. This methods makes a call to the WEB API service and passes the CategoryId. This method also makes a call to the generatetable helper method to generate HTML table to display products in it based upon the JSON data received by the loadproducts method:

//Method to make call to WEB API and retrieve //Products based upon the CategoryId. function loadproducts(id) {

    $.ajax({         type: “GET”,         url: “/api/CategoryProduct/” + id,         contentType: “application/json; charset=utf-8″,         dataType: “json”     }).done(function (data) {         generatetable(data);     }).fail(function (err) { }); } //Method to generate HTML table rows from the JSON data function generatetable(data) {

    //Convert JSON into Array     var array = $.map(data, function (i, idx) {         return [[i.ProductId, i.ProductName,i.Price]];     });     var tblbody = $(“#tblprd > tbody”);

    var tblhtml = “”;     //Generate the Table for each Row     for (var i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {         tblhtml = tblhtml + “<tr>”;         for (var j = 0; j < array[i].length; j++) {         tblhtml = tblhtml + “<td style=’width:100px’>” + array[i][j] + “</td>”;        }         tblhtml = tblhtml + “</tr>”;     }

    tblbody.append(tblhtml);     $(“#tblprd”).table(“refresh”);

}

Now inside the prodpage subscribe to the pageshow event which will make a call to the readUrlHelper method and loadproducts method

var catId; $(“#prodpage”).on(“pageshow”, function (e) {     var pgurl = $(“#prodpage”).attr(“data-url”);     //Read the value for catid passed from the Page_Category.html     catId = readUrlHelper(pgurl, “catid”);     //Read the value for catname passed from the Page_Category.html    var catName = readUrlHelper(pgurl,”catname”);

   $(“#catName”).text(catName);

   loadproducts(catId);

});

The above code read the CategoryId and CategoryName passed by the Page_Category.html and based upon it the Products are displayed on the page.

Make the Page_Category.html as a startup page and run the application (IE9, FireFox or Chrome) or in Opera Mobile Emulaor.

On Page-Category.html select Categories as below:

jquery-mob-categories

When you click on Get Products , you will be navigated to the Page_Products.html with the following url:

http://localhost:5506/Page_Products.html?catid=1&catname=Food+Items

The URL contains key and value for CategoryId (catid=1) and CategoryName (catname=Food+Items)

In the Page_Products.html, the readUrlHelper method will read CategoryId and CategoryName and based upon this data, Products will be displayed as below:

jquery-transfer- values

Conclusion: In a Mobile application it is very important for the developer to manage the UI and take care of data communication across these pages. If the data passed is complex (more than one key/value pair) then the URL must be read very carefully. In this article, we saw how we can use jQuery Mobile and ASP.NET to transfer values from one page to another.