Proof of concept web app (Nancy + Simple.Data) using generic CRUD handlers to make data operations easy.
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Tired of writing the same old CRUD day after day? What if all we had to do was build an HTML form to perform common data operations on a given table?

We could make use of the dynamic features of C# to make CRUD simple and quick to implement.

Take this table

CREATE TABLE contactLog (
    [ID] int identity not null,
    [Name] varchar(255) not null,
    [Email] varchar(255) not null,
    [Message] varchar(255) not null,
    [LastUpdated] datetime2 not null

Build a form in a Razor template

A few hidden fields can tell the back end what to do with our data. We can pass in the table name to modify and the type of data operation method such as UPDATE, INSERT, DELETE we want to perform. This means we can use the same HTML form for either an update, insert or delete.

<form class="crud-form">     
<!-- hidden fields that hold variables for the server -->
<input name="Id" type="hidden" value="@if(Model!=null){@Model.Id}" />
<input name="tablename" type="hidden" value="@ViewBag.TableName" />
<input name="lastupdated" type="hidden" value="@DateTime.Now" />
<input name="method" type="hidden" value="@ViewBag.Method" />
<div class="form-group">
    <label for="name">Full Name</label>
    <input class="form-control" id="name" name="name" value="@if(Model!=null){@Model.Name}" type="text" />
<div class="form-group">
    <label for="email">Email Address</label>
    <input class="form-control" id="email" name="email" type="email" value="@if(Model!=null){@Model.Email}" />
<div class="form-group">
    <label for="message">Enter a Message</label>
    <textarea class="form-control" id="message" name="message" rows="4" cols="60">
        @if (Model != null){@Model.Message}
<button class="btn btn-primary" type="submit">Save!</button>

Add a tiny js file to handle the form serialisation and post.

<script src="~/Content/js/formPost.js"></script>

Note: I have switched this to a Typescript file: formPost.ts so I can use new Javascript features and transpile down to es5. On build the Typescript is transpiled to the es5 version as formPost.js.

For the server API I am using NancyFx and Simple.Data to create a few generic routes to do the CRUD.

There are no concrete classes, models or view models in any of the code. You don't have to fiddle about with Javascript options for each form. The Javascript is so light you can include it in the layout. It is generic and needs no config. The js code just needs a constant for the server route to submit the data via Ajax post and the HTML form just needs to have the attribute class="crud-form".

See formPost.ts for these constants:

const FORM_NAME = "crud-form"; // the form to receive posts
const API_URL = "/data/modify";  // the API endpoint that handles the CRUD operations
const RESPONSE_CONTAINER = "response_display";   // #DEV the container that shows the form data as json for debugging
const RESULTS_CONTAINER = "results_display";    // the container where success/fail messages are shown from the server

I am not sure if this prototype is useful or not but it was fun building it. CREATE, READ and UPDATE are working but I still need to implement DELETE.

Future considerations:

1. Security (we must check a user has permission to perform the given method on the given table)
2. All client side data must also be validated on the server.
3. Multiple forms on a single view. This doesn't happen often for me so is probably not such as issue.
4. Improved responses from server. Perhaps use a json structure so that the client can display different coloured messages for success/fail.
5. Add more tables and forms to verify the concept works for other tables.
6. Consider how to handle dropdowns and other controls that require a data source.

To run the app

  1. You need a SQL Server instance and Visual Studio 2017 Community
  2. Create the table by running in the script found in the solution here: /SQL/tbl_contactLog.sql
  3. Edit the web.config connection string to point to your DB.