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Monday, June 4, 2012

Using CsQuery with MVC views

Update 7/17/2012: The source repository now includes a complete MVC example project that implements a custom view engine using CsQuery, allowing you to simply add methods to a controller to have access to the page's markup before rendering as a CQ object, e.g.

    public class AboutController : CsQueryController

        public ActionResult Index()
            return View();

        // runs for the "Index" action after the ActionResult is returned,
        // providing access to the final HTML before it's rendered

        public void Cq_Index()
            // add the "highlight" class to all anchors

Take a look at the MVC example for more information. The contents of this blog post are accurate but the example provides much more detail as well as a complete implementation, since it's not completely trivial to intercept the final HTML for a page in an MVC application.

Original Post

I've been neglecting CsQuery, the C# jQuery port lately, and I feel bad about that. But I haven't forgotten it. Quite the opposite, I'm gearing up to create the first formal release, get it onto NuGet, and publish a web site with interactive demos and documentation. It's going to take a little while to move this all forward but it's in progress.

There's been a spark of outside interest in the project in the last month or so, which has inspired me to get moving again on some of this stuff. Things always slow down at work in the summer so the timing is good and I hope to have this thing in a more consumer-friendly format soon.

In the meantime, here's a nugget from Rick Strahl about rendering MVC views as strings. If you're using CsQuery with ASP.NET MVC, this is a technique you will almost certainly use to feed your MVC markup into CsQuery for further manhandling.

I described a similar technique in this question. Rick's post encapsulates this cleanly in a class. To get from there to a CsQuery object is a piece of cake:

    string message=ViewRenderer.RenderView("~/views/template/ContactSellerEmail.cshtml",

    // create a CsQuery object from the HTML string
    CQ messageDom = CQ.Create(message);

    // do stuff...

    // render it back to a string of HTML
    message = messageDom.Render();

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