View a Generic List with ASP.NET MVC. Step by Step With Preview 5

I’ve just started (within the past 2 days) learning and building a prototype with Microsoft’s new MVC platform.  It’s really just another project type in Visual Studio 2008, but it changes the way you write applications.  So far I like it, but I’m still on the honeymoon.  I have not really tried to do anything complex yet, and because it’s new to me, the simple things are still hard.  Scott Guthrie’s posts posts have been helpful, as well as reading a pre-release of Manning’s upcoming book ASP.NET MVC In Action by Jeffrey Palermo, Ben Scheirman and Jimmy Bogard.

So, as is normal, when I learn something new, the most obvious things just don’t seem to work.  In this case, I’m just trying to make a web page that shows a list of data on a page.  I’m not going to try and teach MVC here, but if you are like me and struggled with this, this should help you get through some of the tough spots. My plan is to start a new MVC project with Visual Studio and show you what is necessary to generate the list.  Instead of going after a database, I’m going to use an simple business object class so you can run this without connecting to a database.  Not sure about you, but I never seem to be able to get the databases from example code working.  Scott Guthrie uses the Northwind databases Product table, and after spending about 15 minutes searching, all I could find was a Northwind database from sqlserver 2000 that does not have a Product table.  With my demo, you won’t have to worry about that.  By the way, here is the project if you want to download it in action.

Download Solution –

So, Here we go.  First thing, Open Visual Studio 2008 and create a new MVC Project (not a web site, this will give you a csproj type file)


Answer the next question YES because of course you want a Test Project.


You should get a Solution that looks like this:


Now, Add the business object that I will be using for this rest of this demonstration.  It’s in the project file, our you just download it here (put this in your Models Directory).

BusinessObjectClass.cs BusinessObjectClass.cs

Now, let’s create the MVC Controller.  Highlight the Controller’s Folder and say Add Item (TMI if I show you that).  Here is the dialog.  Create the name of your controller with the syntax {Name}Controller.  In my case, the name is EmailListControler.cs.


Add the following code to your EmailListController.cs file to retrieve some data and return it as a View (which will be processed by the View Page coming up).

Then, create a new folder called EmailList under the Views folder.


Then, create a MVCViewPage in the EmailList folder called Index.aspx.


(Actually, choose MVC View Content Page, not MVC View Page)

Then, chose the Master Page to use as follows (there is only one):


The View will be referring to the ViewData.Model which somehow is associated with how the code behind is implemented. Make sure you have the ViewPage look like the following and the data type specified as below.  This is the file Index.aspx.cs which is in your email directory.

Now, for the Index.aspx file which is also in your Views/EmailList directory, enter the following between the content tags.


Notice that you have intellisense working on your foreach items.


Finally, go to your Master Page and add a link for this new EmailList as follows.  That is, change the file /Views/Shared/Site.Master

As you can see, I don’t quite grock the ActionLinke parameters so I just put in a standard anchor tag.  Please comment below on what it should be to be able to reference /EmailList and I will update the article.  For now, lunch is coming and I need to run.

When you finally run that app, you get this for your new output.  Notice the New Email List Tab.


That’s it for now.  Hope this helps!

About Peter Kellner

Peter is a software professional specializing in mobile and web technologies. He has also been a Microsoft MVP for the past 7 years. To read more about Peter Kellner and his experience click here. For information about how Peter Kellner might be able to help you with your project click here.

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  1. ViewData.Model is objecet,objecet is not GetEnumerator.
    foreach (var emailItem in ViewData.Model)????

  2. We recognize you this article, It had been an amazing study which was extremely useful.

  3. Hi Mike,

    I have not done MVC since preview 5 so I’m sure the problem is related to changes in the Microsoft release of mvc. Likely, they dropped GetEnumerator and replaced it with something else.

    I’d suggest posting on and I’m confident someone will be able to help you (and maybe even post the solution to these comments).

    Good Luck, -Peter

  4. Another thing:Inside your project,that you’ve attached to this article,there is a folder,called “Views”,but it is empty and doesn’t contain any Index.aspx file. It would be nice,if you could fix this solution or tell us how to fix it.

  5. Hi there,
    There is some problem with your tutorial,when I add MVC View Content Page,this aspx page is created whithout its cs file(Index.aspx.cs is missing),so I don’t know where to add public partial class Index :
    As a result,I have “Server error” when I click on Email List link. It says “foreach statement cannot operate on variables of type ‘object’ because ‘object’ does not contain a public definition for ‘GetEnumerator’ ”
    I’ve download template “ASP.NET MVC Web Application” from
    Why it is wrong? Can you fix it?


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