Using HtmlHelper.GenerateLink

Since the documentation for HtmlHelper.GenearteLink is a bit limited I thought I would document some of my understanding of its usage. The application we are developing uses a static class, called HtmlExtensions, that contains a number of methods to build MvcHtmlString’s. One of those methods was used to generate an anchor tag containing a Controller, Action and Id; for example, Id. Using the MvCHtmlString.Create method the first version of this helper method was written as

return MvcHtmlString.Create(string.Format("<a class="my-link" href="Controller/Action/{0}">{0}</a>", myNumber));

This worked fine in the development environment (VS 2012 with IIS Express 8) but when it was deployed to a virtual directory on the Test server we found that the links would not work because the paths were not being resolved correctly. With experience comes knowledge and I found people who had identified similar problems but using the GenerateLink method; I worked on converting the code above to use that method.

public static MvcHtmlString MyLink(this HtmlHelper helper, string myNumber)
    string anchor = HtmlHelper.GenerateLink(helper.ViewContext.RequestContext, 
                        helper.RouteCollection, myNumber, null, "Action", "Controller", 
                        new System.Web.Routing.RouteValueDictionary() { {"Id", myNumber } }, 
                        new System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary<string, object>() { { "class", "my-link" } });
    return MvcHtmlString.Create(anchor);

The GenerateLink method listed above produces virtually the same return string value as the initial implementation but this time it takes into account the RequestContext to generate the correct href attribute for the anchor. The other parameters worth noting are the RouteValueDictionary and the htmlAttributes Dictionary. The RouteValueDictionary allows us to define the final part of the Route Url, which in our case was the Id – {controller}/{action}/{id}. The htmlAttributes Dictionary is just a simple Key/Value pair of additional attributes required by the anchor tag. For the code example above to work you would need to replace the “Action” and “Controller” parameters with an actual Action name and Controller name, but other than that this provides a more robust solution to the problem.

MVC Sites using Windows Authentication trying to redirect to a login page

One of the issues I have encountered whilst developing MVC apps that require Windows Authentication was the problem that it keeps wanting to redirect to the login page when there isn’t one. The problem manifested itself when I was using IIS to Browse to my application running as a virtual directory under my default web site; it kept wanting to redirect to ‘~/Index’ and since my default route was not configured to find an Index Controller it would return a Page Not Found error.

After doing some digging I realised that the web.config file contained the following entry:

<authentication mode="Windows">
    <forms loginUrl="~/Index"/>

Replacing the loginUrl attribute with “~/Home/Index” solved the problem as it matched my default Route; but I knew that I wasn’t using forms authentication and had no login page. After doing some more research I came across a few sites which recommended adding the following keys to the <appSettings> section:

<add key="autoFormsAuthentication" value="false" />
<add key="enableSimpleMembership" value="false"/>

Having made the additions and removed the <forms> tag the site functioned as expected and the requests for the default route were handled correctly.