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A VB.NET Razor for ASP.NET Core 2.2 MVC and Razor Pages. Use this repo for .NET Core 3.0 version
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Vazor 1.8.3

Copyright (c) 2019 Mohammad Hamdy Ghanem These are a few lines of code for a programmer, but a giant leap for VB.NET apps!

Vazor stands for VB.NET Razor. It allows you to write ASP.NET (both MVC Core and Razor Pages) applications with VB.NET, designing the views with code imbedded in XML literals (I call that vbxml) which VB.NET supports! You can also use ZML tags inside vbxml code. For more info, see ZML repo.

#Vazor NuGet: Use this command line in Pachage Manager:

Install-Package Vazor -Version 1.8.3

Note that you need also to install ZML NuGet:

Install-Package ZML.1.0 -Version 1.1.2

Project and Item Templates:

Note that these templates need to be updated to use latest vazor version. Download this file: then unzip it. Double-click the file VazorTemplateSetup.vsix to setuo the Vazor templates:

1- A Vazor project template for ASP.NET MVC Core 2.2 .

2- A Vazor project template for ASP.NET MVC Core 3.0 .

3- A Vazor project template for ASP.NET Web Pages Core 2.2 .

4- A Vazor project template for ASP.NET Web Pages Core 3.0 .

5- A VazorView item template to add a new vazor view (.vazor and .vbxml.vb files) to the MVC project.

6- A VazorPage item template to add a new vazor page (.cshtml, .cshtml.vb, and .vbxml.vb files) to the Razor Pages project.

After installation, open .net and create a new project. In the search box, write Vazor, and choose one of the 4 vazor project templates. In the project created, right-click a folder in solution explorer and select Add/New Item. From the dialoge box select VazorView (if this is an MVC project) or VazorPage (if this is a Razor Pages project).

Vazor Viewes:

Vazor uses xml literals to compose the HTML code, so all you need is to create a class to represent your view, and make it inherit Vazor.VazorView class. You can name the class as you want, but you must pass the view name without any the extension (like "Index", and "_layout") to the Name property by a call to the base class constructor. You can define a field or a property to hold your model data (like a list of students), and receive these data through the constructor of the class. Write the vbxml code that represents the view in the GetVbXml Function, and use the Content property to deliver the rendered View as a byte array. I made this additional step to allow any further processing of the HTML content away from the vbxml code. Do not forget that our view is a VB class, and there is no limit to what you can do with it.

This is an example of a class to represent the Index View. You will find it in the Index.vazor.vb file:

Imports Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc.ViewFeatures
Imports Vazor

Public Class IndexView
    Inherits VazorView

    Public ReadOnly Property Students As List(Of Student)
    Public ReadOnly Property ViewData() As ViewDataDictionary

    Public Sub New(students As List(Of Student), viewData As ViewDataDictionary)
        MyBase.New("Index", "Views\Home", "Hello")
        Me.Students = students
        Me.ViewData = viewData
        viewData("Title") = Title
    End Sub

    Public Overrides ReadOnly Property Content() As Byte()
            Dim html = GetVbXml(Me).ParseTemplate(Students)
            Return Encoding.GetBytes(html)
        End Get
    End Property
End Class

I separated the vbxml code in a partial class, so the view design is separated from vazor code. You will find this in the Index.vbxml.vb file:

Partial Public Class IndexView
    public overrides Function GetVbXml(view As IndexView) As XElement
        Return _
            <h3> Browse Students</h3>
            <p>Select from <%= view.Students.Count() %> students:</p>
                <%= (Iterator Function()
                         For Each std In view.Students
                             Yield <li><%= std.Name %></li>
                     End Function)() %>
            <p>Students details:</p>
                <li ForEach="m">
                Id: <m.Id/><br/>
                Name: <m.Name/><br/>
                    <p>Grade: <m.Grade/></p>
                 var x = 5;
                 document.writeln("students count = <%= view.Students.Count() %>");

    End Function

End Class

VBXML Code Rules:

In vbxml code you can follow these rules:

  • XML literals have only one root. So, it you don't eant to add extra html5 tag to contain the page content, wrap your code in a <vbxml> tag.
  • All html tags and their attributes can be represented in XML, but there is no intellisense support for them until now.
  • Use Razor conventions and tools, like helper tags, sections, partial views, scripts… etc.
  • Use <%= VBCode %> to insert vb code.
  • You can use @VBCode, but vb will consider it as a plain text, so you will have no intellisense for it, but it will be evaluated by Razor in runtime. This is why you must use c# syntax for expressions written after the @ symbol.
  • Use inline-invoked lambda expression to imbed code blocks, like given in the above sample.
  • You can use C# code blocks, but vb will treat them as a plain text with no intellisense or syntax check. They will be compiled by Razor in runtime.
  • Instead of using VB Eor Each, you can use Vazor data templates, by adding the ForEach="m" attribute to in the tag you want to repeat for each elemnt in the data model, like this part in the above example:
         <li ForEach="m">
             <p>Id: <m.Id/></p>
             <p>Name: <m.Name/></p>
             <p>Grade: <m.Grade/></p>

this code will add an <li> element for each student. To make this happen, you must call the extension method ParseTemplate() and pass the students list to it, so it evaluates the template, like I did in the Content property:

Dim html = GetVbXml().ParseTemplate(students)

If you don't want to use the data template, use the ToHtmlString like this:

Dim html = GetVbXml().ToHtmlString()

How does Vazor work?

Vazor uses IFileProvider to define a virtual file system that delivers the html content produced by the View class, to Razor, so that Razor thinks it is a cshtml view and complete the job for us! So, Razor resolves the tag helpers, paths, combine the layout and sections, and do all other stuff! So in fact, Vazor is just a bridge between the powerful XML literals in VB.NET, and the powerful flexible Razor Engine! The amazing thing here is that we can have a mixed Vazor/Razor in the same project! This means you can write some views as Vazor classes, and write some others as Razor views and they will integrate an co-work smoothly! This is important to save us unnecessary effort to convert Razor views that doesn't contain any code (like the layout page and View imports pages.. etc) to Vazor classes! I converted the layout to Vazor class in the sample project just to prove that all the parts of it can be handled and work normally. The following image shows the rendered Page resulted from:

  • layout and Index as a Vazor classes.
  • the rest of the parts (like _viewstart and _viewimports) are Razor cshtml files!


Useing Vazor Views:

  • To use Vazor view classes instead of cshtml files, configure the virtual file system by adding this to the Startup.ConfigureServices method:
services.Configure(Of RazorViewEngineOptions)(
    Sub(options) options.FileProviders.Add(New Vazor.VazorViewProvider())
  • If you converted the _Layout.cshtml view to a Vazor Layout class (as in the sample project), let it inherit the VazorSharedView class defiended in Vazor 1.8.3, so you can create and map all shared views by using this single line of code in the Startup.Configure method: Vazor.VazorSharedView.CreateAll( ) The layout view has a static content (has no VB code), so we will have only one instance of it to use with all pages. You must do the same for any shared view or any regular view but with a static content, that doesn't contain any vb code, so its html output is always the same. If the layout has a different title for each page, use <Title>@ViewBag.Title</Title> in vbxml code to let Razor evaluate this. Yes, this is a Vazor/Razor mixed view! If you used <Title><%= ViewBag.Title% ></Title> VB will try to evaluate it and will cause an exception because the ViewBag is empty at this moment. Another solution, is to use ZML tags to avoid writing any VB expression. The <z:title> tag is better way to write/read the view title while keeping the view static.

  • To use the page View classes in MVC projects, map them in the controllers actions methods. For example, the IndexView class should be used in the Home.Index action method like this:

Public Function Index() As IActionResult
   Dim iv = IndexView.CreateNew(Students, ViewBag)
   Dim instanceName = Vazor.VazorViewMapper.Add(iv)
   Return View(instanceName, Students)
End Function

The VazorViewMapper appends a unique Id to the name of the view. Remember that many users can open the same page in the same time, and the model data can be different for each of them, so the ViewIndex class will generate a different page for each user. VazorViewMapper gives each page a unique name, so Razor can render them for each user correctly. You should use the same way in all action methods (of course with the appropriate view class)

  • To use the page View classes in Razor Pages projects, we have to keep the cshtml file of the page body, because it is the entry point that references the PageModel calss. So, we will use the cshtml file as an empty shell and inject our vbxml view inside it as a partial view. Take the Index.cshtml file as an example:
@model IndexModel

        @Html.Partial(Model.ViewName + ".cshtml")

We we can use the Index.vazor.vb and Index.vbxml.vb files to define the partial view the same way we did in MVC project, and add a ViewName property in the code behind Index.cshtml.vb file to map our vazor view as the partial view to be injected in the cshtml file like this:

Public Class IndexModel : Inherits PageModel

    Public Property ViewName As String
            Dim iv = New IndexView(Students, ViewData)
            ViewName = Vazor.VazorViewMapper.Add(iv)
        End Get
        Private Set(value As String)

        End Set
    End Property

    Public Sub OnGet()

    End Sub

End Class

And that is all! You can now write ASP.NET Core apps with VB.NET, and design your view as: 1- A pure cshtml file. 2- A cshtml file injected with vbxml view. 3- A pure vbxml view. 4- A vbxml view that contains some @Razor expressions an C# code blocks!

And you have a mix of all those type of views in one project! Have fun.

To Do:

  1. We need VB.NET project templates for MVC , Razor Pages and Blazor.
  2. We need editor support for html5 in xml literals, like intellisense support for tag names, attributes and Tag Helpers.
  3. I hope VB allows us to write code directly inside <%= %> without the using lambda expressions tricks.

I hope VB team give us the support wee need to make the most of xml literals.

Mohammed Hamdy Ghanem, Egypt.

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