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Delegated Model Binding

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In the last post we saw the recursive nature of the default model binder in MVC. Now, let's look at the following class:

public class User
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public string Email { get; set; }
     * bunch more simple stuff 

    public AuthorizationClaims AdditionalClaims { get; set; }

Imagine AdditionalClaims are something that the default model binder will not understand. For whatever reason, you'll need to use a custom model binder to pull data from the request environment and into the claims property. If you don't know how the default model binder works, you might think "because the model binder doesn't understand part of this model, I'll have to write a model binder for the whole model", and do this:

public class UserModelBinder : IModelBinder
    public object BindModel(ControllerContext controllerContext,
                            ModelBindingContext bindingContext)
        // stuff ...

And register the class during application startup:

ModelBinders.Binders.Add(typeof (User), new UserModelBinder());

This probably isn't the approach you want to use for a couple reasons:

1) The model binder is not only responsible for claims, but also for all the other properties (name, email, etc).

2) You've only solved the problem of binding claims in a single model type. That's fine if AuthorizationClaims only appears in a single model type, but maybe it doesn't (and maybe it won't in the future).

Remember the default model binder delegates the work of binding each property. Knowing how the default model binder works, it's easier to focus in on just the piece you need to customize.

public class AuthorizationClaimsModelBinder : IModelBinder
    public object BindModel(ControllerContext controllerContext,
                            ModelBindingContext bindingContext)
        /* implementation details */


                new AuthorizationClaimsModelBinder());

Now the claims binding will work anywhere - even when claims are nested in another type, and it doesn't require code changes in the future.

However ...

Isn't there always a catch?

In order for the default model binder to delegate the work of creating an AuthorizationClaims it first has to think there is an AuthorizationClaims available. It does this using "value providers" and "prefixes". We'll talk about these concepts and how to implement the model binder in a future post (but not right away - too much model binding at once is boor - riiiing).

Gravatar Avi Pinto Thursday, September 2, 2010
Hi Scott,
First - Thanks for the model binding post series, was very helpful.

implemented something similar to the
added it to the ModelBinders.Binders
and everything binds perfectly, anywhere - as a stand alone, member of a class in lists and nested classes.

so where is the catch? what am i missing?

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