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MVC vs MonoRail – Action Methods

Posted by Daniel Hölbling on July 31, 2009

Many people have said nasty things about the Castle MonoRail framework since ASP.NET MVC has come out. Both serve the same purpose but both frameworks are pretty different. I did/do projects in both these days, and usually all features of A are also present in B, just slightly different.

One thing where this isn’t true is the layout of ActionMethods in MVC:

In short, MonoRail can have unlimited method overloads for ActionMethods while MVC can only overload twice (once for each HttpVerb).

What do I mean?


public class HomeController : Controller
    public ActionResult Index()
        return View();

    [AcceptVerbs(HttpVerbs.Post)]     public ActionResult Index(int id)     {         return View();     } }


public class ContactController : SmartDispatcherController
    public void Index()

    public void Index(int id)     {              }

    public void Index(int id, string name)     {              } }

You can see clearly, MonoRail as a framework is much smarter about what action method it will invoke. Based on what parameters you supply it will pick the best match. 
MVC will simply use reflection to invoke any method with that name that matches the HttpVerb, so once you remove the AcceptVerbs attribute MVC will break with a AmbiguousMatchException.

MVC vs MonoRail

Just to get bias out of the way: I believe MVC is technically still inferior to MonoRail but makes that up in larger community and (much) better documentation. What you pick is largely dependant on how well you know your way around missing documentation and open source code mailing lists.

To illustrate this I went to stackoverflow and compared the number of questions tagged with asp.net-mvc with those tagged castle-monorail. The results may very well speak for themselves:


It’s a shame I have to say. MonoRail is such a nice framework and it really does not deserve getting stomped by ASP.NET MVC. As funny as this may sound for a OSS project, currently the best way to contribute to MonoRail is to write about it and if possible improve documentation around it. I guess that says everything about the quality/maturity of the framework.

Filed under net, castle, programmierung
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