My experience with FubuMVC so far

I’ve been checking out FubuMVC with a little hobby project. Why? Honestly, just curiosity. I don’t have much problem getting stuff done in Asp.NET MVC, but I love StructureMap, so was just curious how the creator of that would envision a MVC framework. Here are my thoughts so far. This is not me trying to post a end-all / be-all post about FubuMVC, just detailing a little of my experiences so far.


The good

There’s lots to love about FubuMVC. Lets start with organization. I absolutely hate the “Controllers / Models / Views” folder layout that the Asp.NET MVC project template uses. That’d be like designing a library by making the folders “Classes / Interfaces / Enums”. So out of the gate FubuMVC is directing you to something better, I feel. I opted for Namespace-per-feature. Granted, I should be able to put controllers and models wherever in a Asp.NET MVC project (not sure on Views, but probably), but with the template doing that, it’s going to be hard to do that outside of greenfield development.

I also really enjoy the behavior chains pattern. They work well and are easy to implement. I don’t know how much they differ from similar features in Asp.NET MVC like Handlers (and to an extent, ActionResults), but they’re still nice.

It took me a while to fully grok it, and while I’m not 100% there, I really dig the way routes are handled. In Asp.NET MVC, you define a pattern, which then tries to match controller actions. In FubuMVC, that’s turned around – you define your actions, then your convention for how actions are discovered, and those are converted to routes. It feels much more intentional and direct, and after using it some, it makes Asp.NET MVC’s way feel bass ackwards.

Everything, and I mean everything, is extensible. You can define your own conventions for pretty much everything. It has some great, sensible conventions baked in that will probably suit like 90% of people, and if nothing else, get you going out of the door. But when you’re ready for something different, you got the hooks to do it, typically by implementing a simple interface then telling StructureMap to pick it up.

One of the best features thought, is their diagnostics. Your site will have a “/_fubu” path. Opening it up will show you all your routes and the behavior chains wrapped around them. A great way to see why your routes aren’t working, what chains are getting applied, and a good early warning system for issues. There’s a lot more there, but I haven’t had a chance to dig into it all yet. But I love what I see. So few tools put support to the forefront like this.


The bad

FubuMVC bills itself as “The MVC framework that gets out of your way”. Well, and this isn’t really a fair statement but I’ll say it anyways – often times it feels like it’s out of my way because there’s nothing there. It still has some areas that left me very frustrated and annoyed.

The documentation is just sad. Their own docs are woefully incomplete with many sections left empty. And some of their examples do not seem to work as advertised. One that sticks out was their “asset pipeline”. It’s what you use to include CSS and Javascript files. There’s the very nice Bundles features of Asp.NET MVC, so I was looking for the FubuMVC alternative, and this was it. However, I cannot find a way to get it work. If I just want it to spit out the per-file link and script tags, it’s fine. But when I tried to use a combination, following what’s on their documentation, it would not work. I did not get an error (even with the option to show a YSOD turned on), and nothing gets emitted. It felt very black-box. I found a post on the FubuMVC google groups page with the same issue, with no response.

The Razor story in FubuMVC is miserable. I feel it should just be pulled. From the docs, you’ll think you can have a rewarding experience with it, but you just can’t. I followed the instructions, then had to tweak things to work with the latest release of Razor. I could not get intellisense working, which makes developing Views extremely cumbersome and “guess-and-test”. On top of that, a lot of Razor is built on the Html helpers, which will not work in FubuMVC. I assume full Razor support is possible, but it’s probably not worth it, due to how Razor was unfortunately designed (lots of static helpers, dependencies on HttpContext, etc). I think the better path is to ditch Razor altogether, and have them fully embrace and support a view engine. Perhaps Spark is that view engine? I understand FubuMVC is trying to stay open and allow people to pick their own, but seeing Razor is tempting, and while it’s not directly FubuMVC’s fault, it leaves with an altogether underwhelming experience that made me want to go back to Asp.NET MVC. Do not use Razor if you’re going to use FubuMVC. The FubuMVC examples though show returning strings of HTML, and that’s not really going to work. So I feel lost – unless the answer from the team is indeed “use Spark”.

I still have no idea how to render a partial view (or an action) with Razor, passing down a submodel. I probably shouldn’t be doing that anyways, as I thought of a better design for what I wanted using knockout templates, but it was still very frustrating. I can’t find anything in the documentation about how to do that. Probably because it all hinges on what view engine you use, and how much support it has.



I don’t really like saying negative things, especially without giving the full context. So here’s some caveats I want to add in addition to the troubles I faced.

For one, I didn’t ask for help. There’s the aforementioned FubuMVC google group, that the FubuMVC developers seem to be responsive on. I was able to usually find a post there about my issue, but there was no good resolution. Still, I could’ve reached out more to make sure I’m not making newbie mistakes with easy answers.

Also, FubuMVC goes to version 1.0 in January (or that’s at least the plan). This is still a product in Alpha/Beta stage or some such. One of the things I know is coming with 1.0 is real documentation. Jeremy Miller has kinda a reputation for releasing a great product with poor docs (StructureMap), but with StructureMap I never ran into an issue I couldn’t solve with a little GoogleFu. Hopefully with 1.0 some of my issues get resolved.

Then the last caveat, that I’ve already mentioned – this is just a post of my experiences so far. I’m not saying there’s no good and easy way to do bundling and minification of CSS files in FubuMVC, for example. Just that I couldn’t get it to work after banging away for a few hours (or completely rolling my own solution). That goes for most of my “bad” notes.


Final thoughts

FubuMVC has a lot of promise. What’s there is mostly great, it’s what’s not there that hurts it the most (especially when compared to Asp.NET MVC). If you’re looking to start a new project for your business – I hate to say it, but my opinion is to stick with Asp.NET MVC. You’ll get things done faster, and have more resources available to you. If you’re doing a hobby project and want to learn something new…I’d probably recommend to wait until FubuMVC 1.0 comes, and see what it holds at that time. It has a lot of promise, and I think it’s headed in a great direction. Just didn’t feel it was ready for “primetime” yet. Even then though, just stay away from Razor – from what I’ve read on their group, unless someone champions it on themselves, the Razor story in FubuMVC will always be lackluster. Which is a shame, because I really like that syntax.

RavenDB and creating indexes – newbie gotcha! (and other Raven thoughts)

I’ve been playing with a hobby project on RavenDB and FubuMVC. I’m 100% newbing it up to both technologies, but I like a lot of what I see in both.

Anywhos, almost all the “getting started” RavenDB tutorials recommend putting a line of code in your application startup (Global.asax for Asp.NET MVC) that will scan a given assembly for any indexes, and add them for you. Pretty awesome, right? Because you can’t query against an index if it isn’t there. Here’s the line:

IndexCreation.CreateIndexes(Assembly.GetCallingAssembly(), DocumentStoreInstance);

I had this, yet my new index did not get picked up! I changed the Assembly.GetCallingAssembly() line to be typeof(MyIndexType).Assembly to make sure I wasn’t grabbing the wrong assembly. My query on the index still blows up with “index not found”. I open the RavenDB web UI, and the index isn’t there. I look on the file system, and I can even *see* the index in the folder!

To cut a long story short (4 hours worth, boy do I feel dumb), I was trying to be A Good Developer, and I was using tenants in RavenDB. Tenants are like creating a database in SQL Server. See, you can use RavenDB without creating a tenant.  It just dumps everything in System. That’d be like creating your tables in the “master” database in SQL Server. The line above, of course, does not specify a tenant. The solution?

var catalog = new CompositionContainer(new AssemblyCatalog(typeof(MyIndexType).Assembly));

IndexCreation.CreateIndexes(catalog, DocumentStoreInstance.DatabaseCommands.ForDatabase("YourTenantName"), DocumentStoreInstance.Conventions);

I’d like to see an overload for IndexCreation that makes that a little simpler and easier to consume, but not the end of the world. Hopefully that helps someone else getting started to RavenDB!

Other Raven thoughts

Because I can’t stop talking…I’m not sure why RavenDB uses the words “tenants”. Even the web UI calls them Databases, and the method above says “ForDatabase”. Yet you’ll see some talk about multi-tenancy in relation to RavenDB. The 10 tips and tricks page on RavenDB’s site calls them tenants. I’m not sure if I’m using the wrong term, or if it’s a case of there not being a preferred term, and it all means the same thing.

I also don’t like what I call “the broken intro”. Remember when you were new to the world of software, and you wrote your first hello world website? And how that tutorial had you happily concatenate SQL right from a textbox and push that down to your database? I call that a broken intro – when the introduction to something is The Wrong Way to do it. I’ll probably make a bigger post on this some day, but the point is most of the intro stuff on RavenDB’s site has you dumping stuff into the “system” database. That’s even a protected database on the web UI, and it bitches at you for going there.

My last thought is how much I love working with RavenDB so far :3. A native .NET API, no fighting persistence related nightmares, and a great administrative interface. I know it’s just the honeymoon stage, but I really enjoy it.

Saving the internet!

Tired of all the hate spreading on the internet lately? I don't blame you. With recent tirades like "The framework I like working in is way more betterer than yours" and great responses like "nu-uh! Shut up!, it can get a bit tiresome.

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