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15 Jul

Differences Between ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC

ASP.NET, Microsoft''s first serious solution to building full-scale web sites, was able to produce a sizeable portion of first generation sites through the use of Web Forms. Later, Microsoft introduced ASP.NET MVC which gave developers more control over their code and more flexibility to interact with other frameworks.

There may very well be large-scale sites in production that have been time-tested and are still performing well with Web Forms, yet the requests for new features are becoming increasingly complex. In some cases, ASP.NET MVC offers developers an easier paradigm in which to provide a requested change. So what are the differences between ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC, and more importantly, are the differences so great that developers cannot mix the two paradigms together?

Probably the most notable difference between Web Forms and MVC is the control over code creation. In MVC, developers have full control over their JavaScript, HTML and CSS code. In Web Forms, much of the code is automatically generated. For those coming from another coding platform such as Java, the loss of control might be disconcerting. In the past, MVC handled the exposure of HTTP endpoints much more easily than Web Forms. However, with the introduction of the .NET Framework 4, integrating a Web API layer into a Web Form has gone a long way to addressing HTTP endpoint concerns. Fortunately, the differences between the two are not enough to prevent a developer from mixing the two in the same project if necessary. For those working on legacy systems and still using Visual Studio 2013 for example, it is possible to add MVC and a Web API to a Web Forms project.

There are a multitude of reasons why programmers still need to consider whether Web Forms and MVC are compatible with each other. Perhaps a complete re-write of a production site is in progress. Those with large legacy systems may need to proceed in stages with their re-write so the two paradigms need to perform side by side until the transformation is complete. Others want to add some functionality to their current web site, yet do not want to perform a complete re-write as doing so would make their system incompatible with third-party vendor software.

The development environment is always in a perpetual state of flux. Providing a stable production system while transitioning to new and better software tools is always a challenge, but a managed conversion is possible with ASP.NET tools. For more information on the use of ASP.NET, Web Forms and MVC, please contact us.

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