Monday, November 24, 2014

Can we overload MVC controller action methods? (MVC Polymorphism)

This Saturday and Sunday when i was taking MVC class in Mumbai one of the participants asked this weird question, Can we overload MVC action methods?. This question was asked to him during a MVC interview recently.

For moment I wondered why interviewer such kind of questions which does not test anything about programmer's ability. But let's leave that argument from some other day and lets answer this question.

Well the answer is YES and NO depending on your expectation. Now before you turn me in to a politician who answers from both side's let me explain you why i have given such kind of a dubious answer.

Overloading or in other words polymorphism is a feature of object oriented programming. So if you have some kind of a below controller code which has methods overloaded with same name and different argument's it would compile very well.
public class CustomerController : Controller
    {
        //
        // GET: /Customer/

publicActionResultLoadCustomer()
        {
return Content("LoadCustomer");
        }
publicActionResultLoadCustomer(string str)
        {
return Content("LoadCustomer with a string");
        }
    }
But now if you are thinking that when you call "http://localhost:3450/Customer/LoadCustomer/" it should invoke "LoadCustomer" and when you call "http://localhost:3450/Customer/LoadCustomer/test" it should invoke "LoadCustomer(string str)" you are WRONG.

If you try to this you will end with a below error. Read the word "Ambiguous" in the error , does something click. Ok , let me explain in more detail what the below error means.










Polymorphism is a part of C# programming while HTTP is a protocol. HTTP does not understand polymorphism it works on the concept's or URL and URL can only have unique name's. So HTTP does not implement polymorphism.

And i know if you answer with the above argument MVC interviewer would still press that he wants to implement polymorphism , so how do we go about doing it.

If you wish to keep polymorphism and also want the HTTP request to work you can decorate one of the methods with "ActionName" as shown in the below code.
public class CustomerController : Controller
    {
        //
        // GET: /Customer/

publicActionResultLoadCustomer()
        {
return Content("LoadCustomer");
        }

        [ActionName("LoadCustomerbyName")]
publicActionResultLoadCustomer(string str)
        {
return Content("LoadCustomer with a string");
        }
    }
So now you can invoke with URL structure "Customer/LoadCustomer" the "LoadCustomer" action and with URL structure "Customer/LoadCustomerByName" the "LoadCustomer(string str)" will be invoked.























In case you want to start learning MVC , below is a nice MVC step by step video series which will help you to learn MVC in 16 hours i.e. 2 day's. Give a try.



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