EditorFor and Interfaces Pt1 – Display

This is a two part piece on working with Interfaces in MVC via the Html.EditorFor helper.

The first part – “Display” just covers one of those things I tried on the off chance, and was rather surprised that it worked right out of the box.

In the second part I’ll have a look at the next step of the process – binding these interfaces back to their models.

For reference, I’m working with MVC4, in VS 2012 For Web. I think this will also work in MVC3 at least.


For a slightly messy user interface I’m working on, I wanted to be able to have a Model that holds a list of classes that implement an interface.

There is a possibility that all the classes might not be the same, and I was concerned that I was going to end up with a messy switch statement in my View that called the right Partial depending on which class I found in the list, and that this switch might need to be maintained on an on-going basis.

On the off chance I tried outputting the list using EditorFor and an EditorTemplate for each of the types that might occur in the list.

I was expecting either that, most likely, EditorFor wouldn’t like to be passed a List<> declared against an interface, or that it might complain that the concrete model type didn’t resolve to a single type in the list.

Instead, just outputting the List using a single EditorFor turned out to automatically select the right EditorTemplate for each item in the list with no further intervention.


This simple example shows a what happens:

Lets define some simple models:

public interface IModel {}

public class FooModel : IModel {
    public string MyName { get; set; }

public class BarModel : IModel {
    public bool MyCheck { get; set; }

In the controller we make a simple list of these models:

public ActionResult Index()
    var m = new List<IModel>() {
        new FooModel() {MyName="Jon"},
        new FooModel() {MyName="Bob"},
        new BarModel() {MyCheck=true},
        new FooModel() {MyName="Pippa"},
    return View(m);

We need EditorTemplates for the models:

@model FooModel   
    @Html.LabelFor(m => m.MyName)
    @Html.EditorFor(m => m.MyName)
@model BarModel
    @Html.LabelFor(m => m.MyCheck)
    @Html.CheckBoxFor(m => m.MyCheck)

The main View is as minimal as can be:

@model IEnumerable<IModel>

Finally, when we put all this together we get the following in the browser:

EditorFor And Interfaces Pt1 Result


Here I’ve shown that it’s easy to use a combination of EditorFor and Interfaces to vary the output of a list to the page. Nothing earth-shattering in setting it up, but it is one of those things that’s nice to have working right out of the box.

In Part 2 I’ll have a look at the next step of the process – binding these interfaces back to their models.

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