Spark Makes Me Fall In Love With Web Development Again

by Jon Davis 26. September 2009 20:50

Now and then I discover a technology that makes me think, “Wow, I love being a web developer.” ASP.NET did it, back in the day. jQuery did it. ASP.NET MVC sorta did it, although I feel it has a lot of room to grow and I have high expectations of v2.

Microsoft’s “acquisition” of Louis DeJardin as a new employee, something that happens to all Microsoft employees (imagine that) and the mention of the “incident” on someone’s blog or on Twitter (dunno where??) has caused me to “click on da link” and discover the Spark View Engine for ASP.NET MVC, which this fella created. I never heard of the guy until I came across this.

The Spark View Engine is one of those things that made me realize, first of all, gosh, I didn’t realize just how flexible the ASP.NET MVC View Engine extensibility was. And the next thing it made me realize was that producing ASP.NET MVC views doesn’t have to be so ugly.

In fact, ASP.NET MVC views, using Spark, can be pretty remarkably readable and maintainable. Spark fills in the gaps of what some of us might’ve wished ASP.NET already did for us, such as automatically always assume a master page without rigging each and every page with a master page reference. Plus it gives us a somewhat cleaner syntax, so we can use {$MyObject.Property$} instead of <%=MyObject.Property%>. Better than that, it reads HTML tags and lets you drop in templating logic as HTML attributes, so instead of <% foreach (var p in products)  { %><div><%=p.Name%></div><% } %> you can use the cleaner <div each=”var p in products”>${p.Name}</div>. It supports if..else as markup among other things, too.

I think the thing I like best about this is that it’s more or less renderable HTML templating without regard to server execution—I can get a preview of a lot of this in non-executed HTML and see my placeholders without seeing curly braces or getting designer or 500 errors. This is really important when you’re trying to produce clean markup and communicate with colleagues and partners.

I’m only still in the process of discovering this thing (watching the videos) but so far I’m loving it. Well done and let’s support this project as I’d like to see it continue to evolve and get better support.

There’s also a pretty thorough podcast here:

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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