Tim Scott's Blog

November 5, 2009

MVC 2 Areas Gotchas

Filed under: MS MVC — Tim Scott @ 12:24 am

I am adding ASP.NET MVC to a legacy WebForms application. Hallelujah! 

The process has gone very well.  I am here to report, do not fear the hybrid application!  At first we put the MVC parts directly into the legacy app.  It only required a bit of fiddling around to create a custom view engine. Later we decided to move the MVC parts into an “area project” using the new MVC 2.  This MSDN walkthrough was our guide.  The purpose of this post is to report a couple tricky gotchas that we encountered along the way.

GOTCHA #1:  By default, the area folder is named after the assembly, not the area name.

The walkthrough shows code for an AreaRegistration class:

public class Routes : AreaRegistration
    public override string AreaName
        get { return "Store"; }

    public override void RegisterArea(AreaRegistrationContext context)
            new { controller = "Products", action = "List", id = "" }

Notice that the Name property is “Store” which matches the first node of the route.  It might seem that this is significant, but as far as I can tell it is not.  What is significant is that the project name “Store” matches the first node of the route.  So route needs to start with your assembly name.  

Okay, but what if my porject is named “Foo.Bar.Store”?  I don’t want my route to be “Foo.Bar.Store/{controller}/{action}/{id}”.  Fortuantely you can change this.  Here’s how.

The walkthrough gives instructions to modify the project files, which includes adding the following AfterBuild task to your “area project:”

<CreateAreaManifest AreaName=”$(AssemblyName)” AreaType=”ChildAreaPath=”$(ProjectDir)” ManifestPath=”$(AreasManifestDir)” ContentFiles=”@(Content)” />

Change it to this:

<CreateAreaManifest AreaName=”StoreAreaType=”ChildAreaPath=”$(ProjectDir)” ManifestPath=”$(AreasManifestDir)” ContentFiles=”@(Content)” />

What this does is tells MSBuild to copy the view folders from the “area project” into the parent project to a location named “Views/Areas/Store” rather than “Views/Areas/Foo.Bar.Store”.

GOTCHA #2: Manifest files are not recreated with every build.

The CreateAreaManifest task does not actually tell MS Build where to copy the view files and folders.  Rather it tells MSBuild how to create a manifest file.  This file contains the details that MSBuild will later use to copy the view files and folders.  But there is a gotcha.  Once a manifest file has been created, subsequent builds add to it, rather than to trash it and create a fresh one.  Therefore, if you change the CreateManifestArea task in the project file, you will need to manually delete the corresponding manifest file. This is a real pain, and maybe there’s some way around it, but not that I know about.


  1. Do you happen to know how to change the path of where the views are ending up in the parent project?

    I tried changing AreaPath and made sure the Manifest-file was recreated, but files still went into the /Views/Areas folder. I want them right under root /Areas so that I can use the new view engine made for Singe project areas.

    Comment by Jesper Lind — February 17, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

  2. […] to Vote[FriendFeed] MVC 2 Areas Gotchas « Tim Scott's Blog (2/17/2010)Wednesday, February 17, 2010 from […]

    Pingback by ASP.NET MVC Archived Buzz, Page 1 — February 17, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

  3. We are currently doing the exact thing, but are getting errors with the route mapping (ie. not finding the page). can you give an example of the routing and/or link formatting from the old asp form to the new.

    Comment by Bill — July 11, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

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