6 ASP.NET MVC UrlHelper Quick Tips to Maximize Your Link Management

Use these 6 tips to make your URL management easier in ASP.NET MVC 4.

Written by Jonathan "JD" Danylko • Last Updated: • MVC •
Link Management

When you first got into web development and developed your first web site, it was probably a simple 2 or 3 page site, probably static, and a LOT of links.

If a page's URL changes, you would have to change every link on every page that referenced that URL. Not cool!

So over the years, I've found a number of ways to lower your stress when managing your links across your 1000-page website (What? You don't have one?) ;-)

Here are my top 6 ways to manage your links across your own ASP.NET MVC website.

  1. Place your links in one place.
    When I mean place your links in one location, I don't mean place them into one HTML View. I mean logically partition your links in a Helpers\Url folder by class or, if you have a small web site, place them into one class for easy reference.

    When you're asked to change a pages' location and that means touching hundreds of pages of links to change, you learn this tip...REAL QUICK! :-)

  2. Remove your Url.ActionLinks from your Views.
    I would say that 60% of every ASP.NET MVC application I've seen, a majority of people use the good old Url.ActionLink syntax when building their links on a View.

    Instead of using Url.ActionLinks, replace them with
    <a href="@Url.RootUrl()">
    Why? 5 reasons:

    1. It makes your HTML code more granular
    2. It makes your code more readable
    3. It makes your code compile-able with no "magic strings"
    4. It removes the human error factor from fat-fingering a link
    5. It refers back to tip 1 which implies that all links are in one centralized location.

  3. Use #regions
    I can just hear all of the developers groaning and moaning about regions, but I find them helpful when I have a large list of URLs that I can easily see at-a-glance where everything is located in the class. As I've said before, it's like a table-of-contents for link management.

  4. Use Url.RouteUrl whenever possible
    The Url.RouteUrl is the fastest generation of a Url in ASP.NET MVC. Period. There were tests done comparing the different types of link generation and Url.RouteUrl was the fastest out of all of them. I have seen it's speed on a link directory web site I wrote back in 2012. After replacing the Url.ActionLink with Url.RouteUrl, there was a significant speed boost.

  5. Overload your UrlHelpers
    There are times when you need to pass in an object as opposed to a string or integer, so why not use both. It doesn't hurt to have both. So if you have a FAQ link like below:
    public static string FaqPageUrl(this UrlHelper helper)
        return helper.RouteUrl("Default"new { @controller = "About", @action = "FAQ" });
    There's no harm in adding this one as well (so long as you need it).
    public static string FaqPageUrl(this UrlHelper helper, int number)
        return helper.RouteUrl("Default"new { @controller = "About", @action = "FAQ", @id=number });
    So not only can you have a link that goes to your FAQ page, you can also have a link that goes to a FAQ number loaded from the id as well. Here's how you'd use it in the example below:
    <a href="@Url.FaqPageUrl(2)" title="Going To FAQ number 2 page">
  6. Use common UrlHelpers in every project.
    If there are common links you use, place these UrlHelper routines in your scaffolding to speed up your development. For example, here's one for a Root Url that will take you back to a main page.
    public static string RootUrl(this UrlHelper helper)
        return helper.Content("/");

I hope these UrlHelper tips make your link management a little easier on you when developing your ASP.NET MVC web site.

Happy Coding!

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Picture of Jonathan "JD" Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a web architect and entrepreneur who's been programming for over 25 years. He's developed websites for small, medium, and Fortune 500 companies since 1996.

He currently works at Insight Enterprises as a Principal Software Engineer.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "I like to write and I like to code. I also like to write about code."

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