Router for JavaScript Single Page Applications that supports MVC pattern
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README.md

MVC Router

A JavaScript library for building Web applications using the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern.

Why MVC?

MVC is a proven technology that has withstood the test of time. Applications built using this pattern tend to be simpler and more maintainable.

MVC is a common and familiar pattern used by many frameworks, for building Web as well as native apps. If you are an iOS developer you may already be familiar with MVC in Cocoa.

Parts of an MVC application

A typical MVC application has the following parts:

  • The Application object holds application state and sets up routes.
  • Model objects encapsulate application data.
  • View objects display application data.
  • Controller objects handle data retrieval and persistence, mediates between model and view layers, and handles control flow.

Application Object

The application object is a singleton object that inherits from MvcRouter.App and holds the application state. When your site loads, the constructor of your Application object executes before anything else.

Setting up routes

The Application object sets up the routes of the application by mapping URL paths to Controller classes, then calls the load method of the base class:

class MyApp extends MvcRouter.App {
    constructor() {
        super();

        const router = this.getRouter();
        router.addRoute("/", HomeController);
        router.addRoute("/product", ProductController);
        router.addRoute("/account", AccountController);

        this.load();
    }
}

Note that the second parameter to the addRoute() method is not an instance of a controller, but the controller class.

Instead of mapping each path separately you can also supply your own path-to-controller resolver by calling router.setCustomResolver().

Query and path parameters

If the URL contains query parameters it will be made available to your controller. No additional setup is necessary to receive query parameters.

You can also pass values as part of the URL path. So for example, instead of /product?id=123 the URL can be in the form /product/123. In this case the route must be defined as follows:

        router.addRoute("/product/:id", ProductController);

Note that the parameter name is prefixed with a colon.

In either case the parameter name and values are made available to the controller in the same way, so your controller need not know whether the value was passed on the path or as a query parameter.

Model Objects

Model objects hold the data of your application. Objects in this layer are kept independent of the other layers.

MVC Router does not care what your model objects look like. However your choice of View technology may dictate the type and structure of your model objects. Most View technologies, such as React.js, allow you to use Plain Old JavaScript Objects (POJO) in your model layer.

View Objects

The View layer is only concerned with presentation.

MVC Router is independent of the technology used to implement your View layer. You could use React.js or Handlebars templates, for example.

Controller Objects

Controllers fetch data to be displayed, making ajax calls if necessary, render the appropriate View objects, and set up event handlers in order to handle user actions. In the course of handling user actions, controllers may cause the application to navigate to other pages. Controllers also handle modifying and persisting application state, making ajax calls if necessary.

Controller objects inherit from MvcRouter.Controller. Each URL path in your app will have a corresponding controller. MVC Router creates a new instance of the controller class each time a path is loaded. Because of this, data that must live longer than the page must be stored in your Application object, not in the controller.

In the simple example below, the controller renders the page using jQuery. (You may want to use more modern libraries such as React.js instead, to implement the View layer.)

class ProductController extends MvcRouter.Controller {
    constructor(private app: MyApp) {
        super();
    }    

    public load(params: MvcRouter.QueryParams) {
        super.load(params);
        const productPageTemplate = $("#product-page-template").html();
        $(this.app.getAppBody()).empty().html(productPageTemplate);
    }
}

You can have a hierarchy of controllers, with parts that are common to all pages rendered by the base controller.

Navigating from page to page

Your application navigates from one page to the next in one of two ways:

  • The user clicks on a link. Links to other parts of the application must have the "appnav" class, like this: <a href="/products" class="appnav">Products</a> If appnav is specified then MVC Router will use HTML5 pushState API to perform the navigation. If the appnav class is not specified then clicking on the link will cause the entire site to reload.

  • You can also programmatically navigate to another page by calling this.app.navigate('/new/path') in your controller. Internally, MVC Router uses HTML5 pushState API to perform the navigation.

Demo App

Included demo application has a master page that includes a top bar and left panel, dropdown menu, dialogs and other goodies.

Demo App