Monthly Archives: September 2011

Create Html.DropdownListFor without magic strings

Using magic strings are bad practice. Changes could lead to code compiling but containing lots of errors (appearing during runtime). And refactoring your code is a lot harder if you have to globally search and replace.

Using dropdown lists with ASP.NET MVC has a Html-helper that wants you to use magic strings. Having a Category class:

    public class Category
        public int CategoryId { get; set; }
        public string Name { get; set; }

And a viewmodel:

    public class DropdownViewModel
        public int CategoryId { get; set; }
        public Category[] Categories { get; set; }


You would then use the html-helper like this:

    public static class ExtensionMethods
        public static IEnumerable<SelectListItem> ToSelectList<TItem, TValue>(this IEnumerable<TItem> enumerable, Func<TItem, TValue> value, Func<TItem, string> text, string defaultText = null, string defaultValue = null)
            var itms = enumerable.Select(f => new SelectListItem { Text = text(f), Value = value(f).ToString() }).ToList();
            if (defaultText != null)
                itms.Insert(0, new SelectListItem { Text = defaultText, Value = defaultValue ?? "0" });
            return itms;

Now it’s easy to just use lambdas and, this little extension method has a couple of overloads.

Html.DropDownListFor(m => m.CategoryId, 
    Model.Categories.ToSelectList(f => f.CategoryId, f => f.Name))

Usage is really easy, just use the extension method on the Array you wish to create a dropdown items from.

Now your code is refactor safe

First parameter: Selected item in model

Second parameter: Id/value-item (generic TValue, so you can use for example int’s without calling ToString()

Third parameter: Text to display for each item in dropdown

Fourth parameter(optional): Empty default-text (first item in dropdown), uses value “0″ if fifth parameter isn’t supplied

Fifth parameter(optional): Empty default-value

Category: C#