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MVC is dead, it's time to MOVE on (cirw.in)
487 points by cirwin on July 2, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 222 comments

This sure looks like MVC, but they call the Controller "operations".

The MVC abstraction has an issue with web applications, since the request-response cycle doesn't provide feedback as directly as the hardware-monitor-software cycle that the pattern was originally designed around.

However, if the problem is that you are putting too much "logic" into your controllers, you should probably find a better place for it.

In Java/Spring-MVC, there is a typical class hierarchy of Controller -> Manager/Service -> DAO. The extra level of indirection is a very handy place to put business logic, then each class in the tier has a dedicated function:

  Controller -- Parses input, delegates the action and returns the response (rendered by the view).
  Manager -- Handles sanitized data, encapsulates business logic and makes calls into the Model / Data layer.
  DAO -- Interfaces with the data store, makes sure only good data goes in, and appropriate responses are returned.
This approach doesn't seem to offer anything more than that, except for putting a label on the messaging between subsystems, but those operations are not well defined (at least in this piece), and seem like another nebulous way to bury logic.

It seems like this problem has arisen from a rather narrow reading of what an MVC system should be, as in, not having utility libraries because they aren't strictly an M a V or a C.

*edit: formatting.

It's very similar you're correct, particularly when you add in the Manager/Service layer (something that I hadn't spent enough time investigating).

The main advantage of Operations over controllers is that they're fully composable. You can take the operation that logs a user in (which displays the login screen, and awaits the user typing a username and password) and use it as a sub-part of any other operation.

In a purer MVC world you get something similar to this by making a function that instantiates the login controller with its associated view; that's pretty good, but there's no obvious place to put that function.

I'll certainly be following up with more details, and some actual code.

This thing you're calling MOVE, how is it different from Qt's MVC + signals and slots [1]? You've discovered a new (for you) way of applying MVC and you've gone ahead and given it a new name. Nothing in your blog post is new, except the name of course.

If I sound snarky, it's because I'm sick and tired of similar opinionated proclamations in too many self-important blog posts.

Edit: Re the down votes. If you're going to write posts with titles like "MVC is dead" with no justification whatsoever, then proceed to self-post on HackerNews, then I feel justified calling you out on it. Again, I would appreciate someone informing on how MOVE is fundamentally different from MVC.

1. http://doc.qt.nokia.com/4.7-snapshot/model-view-programming....

Right, but in an MVC web-app, the Controller defines the "end-point". Meaning it should end there. The composition of different pieces of functionality should be happening in the area of the business logic.

I understand the motivation, and have come across several situations where I wanted "controllers calling controllers", but ultimately, you're repurposing a piece of the architecture to do something it shouldn't be doing. A controller handles the input into the system, it shouldn't be defining a workflow.

> In a purer MVC world you get something similar to this by making a function that instantiates the login controller with its associated view; that's pretty good, but there's no obvious place to put that function.

That just sounds backwards to me. Are talking about creating dynamic endpoints? That sounds like a much bigger headache than composing stuff in a service layer.

MVC can be a little ambiguous, and with web-frameworks it can be hard to see that each piece is actually a subsystem. The Model isn't just your model class, its the model class, the DB and the ORM library you are running. Similarly, the View is the entire response / template rendering subsystem. The part that is addressed in the framework is mostly the "controller" subsystem, which is a way of organizing code so that the actual "controllers" can do the primary work of sanitizing input, delegating function calls and returning the output to the View system.

Again, MVC is just a pattern that doesn't fit perfectly in the web request/response cycle, which then necessitates a pattern to handle the leakage (in my case I'm talking about the service/manager pattern). However, I just don't see your suggestions that MVC is "dead", or how this system is radically different.

It seems like it is just semantics.

So I am trying to understand the difference.

Suppose I have an MVC web app. Suppose I add some database triggers so that when some data is entered other things happen. Maybe I flag an invoice to be printed and the trigger notifies a waiting program which processes the invoice data and sends it to the printer.

Now, from the perspective of any single request, the application is MVC-centric. However, from the perspective of the application structure as a whole it's not, because model operations trigger other operations which can have other effects beyond the immediate knowledge of the model.

Is that kind of what you are talking about? MVC with a sort of events backplane?

The controller in MVC does have a bit of a dual nature, firstly it acts as glue code between models and views, allowing the two to be effectively de-coupled. The second task is a little more complex - views take user input eg mouse-clicks and key presses, and translates it into semantic events "OK button clicked", "Open File selected", which are then acted on by the controller.

Your post explicitly identifies these two roles and formally seperates them. This is perhaps not a bad thing, but I don't know that it justifies the title. Something like "The two faces of an MVC controller" might have been a better description...

This looks like MVC to me as well, except what MOVE is calling operations I would call commands. There are quite a few MVC frameworks that work like this, including PureMVC which has been implemented in almost every OOP language http://puremvc.org/.

This article reminds me of Struts2


MVC with "action" (or event, similar semantics).

Speaking of Java/Spring-MVC approach, I tend to have a mix approach of Service and Repository (since DAO seems to be getting a lot of bad-rep, time to pick a new name :D).

Controller -> Service (SOAP) or Resource (REST) [although Resource could simply forward to Service as well)


Controller -> Repository (for specific entity that requires no interaction with other entities)

Unfortunately the Service layer is necessary in the situation where there are 2 or more domain models need to interact with each other.

This seems to help writing test-automations by splitting the tests into 2 categories:

1) End-to-End w/ mock repository

2) Integration only at Repository level using in-memory DB (Derby, H2)

By doing this, we were able to speed up the test significantly.

I believe in Rails, you're tied with ActiveRecord and would require real database (be it SQLite3). There may be open source libraries that can intercept AR calls and re-route it to either fake DB or just simply fake 'em all, but not sure how popular/complete they are.

Well I think it depends, sqlite can behave as an entirely in-memory database I think - so what would be the difference between that and a pure ruby in-memory database, really?

If you want to just fake 'em all, which does not sound particularly ideal, people just generally mock em

Yes, my bad for not clarify it: mock the repository part, but not to mock as an entire ActiveRecord.

for example:

FriendsRepository.java is an interface that can be mocked during unit-test while the integration-test would use the actual implementation.

I know that the Java solution tend to be brittle because it somewhat forces people to have 1 interface, 1 class implementation (the mock implementation would be provided by mocking library).

Yep. It's MVC with eventing (often found in most UI frameworks anyway). Definitely fits within the broad paradigm of MVC.

You know it's nice reading a criticism of something that has an alternative solution offered rather than just going "hey MVC is terrible and you're an idiot for using it".

I do however think there's still great benefits to MVC, if you're shovelling code into controllers and can't make it work like it should then MVC is not the right design pattern for the project. Like every other pattern it'll only work when it works, but MOVE sounds like an interesting addition that I might have a play with.

MVC is terrible for web apps (in the original local GUI domain it's fine for some things), you aren't an idiot for using it because you're probably not actually using it but rather only something loosely inspired by it, and the solution is simply DRY. MVC at its best is simply one manifestation of DRY, but there's no real reason to get too stuck on it when with practice DRY is something you should just always be doing. If MVC falls out of that, great, but if not, so what?

(The original MVC is actually useless for web apps because there is no client-server connection in it, and that profoundly changes everything. There's no point in trying to bash a GUI top-level design into a new client-server world, especially when DRY is just sitting there, waiting for you to use it.)

MVC, MOVE, all the variants just obscure your vision from the underlying and far more important principle.

I suspect this is because most people do not actually understand what MVC is and how it applies to server-client relationships; in fact, the wikipedia article on MVC is slightly off on the subject, assuming one accepts the original Xerox description as a source. Try not to wrap the entire complicated application into one big MVC umbrella because that will just confuse. There are actually multiple processes involved, and each has its own MVC.

The big epiphany for me was when I realized that the server has its own MVC, and the browser has its own MVC. The server's output is the View for the server and the Model for the browser. For a complex set of objects in a given Model, the final output of those objects is their View, and the consumer of that output uses it as a Model. In theory, any View can be a Model for the thing accepting the View, so in a complex system, you have a chain of MVCs.

And one can further imagine that applets written in JavaScript have their own MVC unit.

I work on complicated, large-data web apps sometimes daily. MVC has been a fine model for them and has kept my group's organization clean and modular.

> in fact, the wikipedia article on MVC is slightly off on the subject, assuming one accepts the original Xerox description as a source.

People complaining about factual inaccuracies on Wikipedia annoy me. It's Wikipedia. The entire point and purpose of it is to fix what you know is wrong.

For once, I'd like to see, "I just touched up the Wikipedia article on this subject to explain it a bit more accurately."

This can be a really frustrating experience with articles where most people hold misconceptions about the concepts. I spent a few months off and on on the REST article and managed to clean it up a fair bit, but I was constantly working against militantly ignorant people. Last I checked it's somewhere between accurate and bullshit, one of the poorer resources for understanding either actual REST or more popular RPC style APIs.

>"I just touched up the Wikipedia article on this subject to explain it a bit more accurately."

"But then all my changes were reverted by an overprotective editor; I brought the issues up on the talk page, but my comments were brusquely dismissed."

Your changes would still be in the edit log, and someone more savvy in Wikipedia politics would have the opportunity to get your changes cemented. Said person might be another HN reader who is less knowledgeable about the subject matter.

If you don't make any changes, he has nothing to work with except some random whining.

(And yes, that's how it works in the real world, too.)

Are you volunteering to help push through wahnfrieden's REST changes, then?

His comment does not imply they did not go through.

Did that actually happen to you when you made that change or are you just assuming it would?

(In my experience most Wikipedia edits are gratefully received, assuming you provide references for your claims. Kind of like HN, really)

Yes, that probably IS what would happen. I still wish I read more comments that said they had done this.

The article about MVC on Wikipedia wasn't just slightly off. For a long time, it was completely overrun by people who seemed to think MVC is an architecture for web apps. Real MVC, as the term had been used for decades before the web apps abused it and still is in interactive GUIs today, was all but relegated to a footnote.

"Touching up the Wikipedia article" has little value in cases like this. Usually the only remedy at that point is to delete the entire thing and start again, which somebody finally did not long ago.

Naturally, I meant nothing personal to you. Would a bug report suffice? ;)

>People complaining about factual inaccuracies on Wikipedia annoy me. It's Wikipedia. The entire point and purpose of it is to fix what you know is wrong.

This presupposes

1) I care about fixing it. 2) I have the knowledge to fix it (spotting and removing an inaccuracy is easy, knowing the correct and full set of facts to substitute it with not so much) 3) I can write well enough 4) The Wikipedia process is not convoluted and broken for casual contributors.

"The big epiphany for me was when I realized that the server has its own MVC, and the browser has its own MVC."

While I'd still advocate DRY over this POV (unless of course DRY leads you here naturally), I will agree this is a generally valid viewpoint, because you've got the server-client model built in there instead of glossed over. And you are now the first person who has gotten me to be generally agreeable about MVC used in the web world.

Which raises the interesting question of building a framework that builds this idea into the core, with server-side MVC, client-side MVC, and some sort of defined crossover instead of the usual hacky stuff that emerges from single-MVC.

I'm currently building a single page app using this MVC-MVC approach.

I use Angularjs in the browser, now.js for the interface, and, at the moment, custom code on the server that follows the MVC pattern.

The server is lightweight: its role is to

    * manage authentication and authorizations,
    * ensure data integrity and
    * push data on update according to user permissions.
That's it.



I am doing a simialr thing. Except ASP.NET MVC 4 Web API on the server and Angular.js on the client. It feels very natural and simple to me. What I find odd is Angular.js works very similar to Silverlight, and my whole setup has similarities to Silverlight with RIA services. Yet SL+RIA never felt natural at all and was very difficult. I've not narrowed down where the difference lies.

Angular is very impressive. There are lots of small things that make it nice to use. Among them:

The lexical/nested scoping in the templates is just perfect. I've reviewed the documentation of all competing frameworks, and I couldn't figure how to do it in any of them. Since it was a primary requirement for my app, I went for Angular.

The service-based architecture, and the automatic service injection in controllers, based on parameter names are pretty nice too, as is the fact that you can pass arbitrary parameters to filters.

In a calendar widget that displays a month, I pad the `month` array with days of the surrounding months in order to get complete weeks. I wanted to have these days styled differently. `dayName` and `idem` are custom filters.

    <ul id="calendar">
        <li ng-repeat="day in month.days" 
            class="day {{day.day|dayName}} this-month-{{day.month|idem:month.month}}">
            <div class="date-number">{{day.date}}</div>
            Events go here.

    .this-month-false{opacity: 0.7;}
Bam: calendar!

Isn't Backbone JS going in that direction. The server just providing an API with rendered JSON as the View which then feeds the Client as the Model?

This sounds interesting. What Xerox document are you referring to and what is the most relevant part?

I found a blog post that gives a rundown on the evolution of MVC (https://billkrat.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/hello-world/) and links something similar to the document I had originally read (http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~trygver/1979/mvc-2/1979-12-MVC.pdf). I think I had originally found something that was more of a prototype of this document, but the wording appears to be the same and more succinct. The blog post also links to an earlier version of the MVC model that included a fourth part, a "Thing".

One thing I found interesting in the blog article was the notion of "smart controls", but I can rationalize that away as another MVC module; after all, the Windows OS itself is handling all the interesting behavior, and the GUI app is borrowing the behavior. Depending on the toolkit that interfaces with the "smart controls", we get access to events (mousedown, keypress, etc) that can serve as input to one of our application's controllers.

Thank you for this comment. I was slowly losing my faith in HN developers knowledge.

Server MVC (Model2) is not the same as client MVC (the classic one). They are totally different architectures. Patterns that apply to one, don't apply to the other.

You can't get MVC with Rails/Django/Struts. You can get a nice MVC with a Single Page Application or with a desktop app.

A similar discussion was already here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3035549

This times 9000. I've noticed a trend amongst developers to jump at patterns and spend all their time trying to shoehorn their project into it because someone vaguely respected mentioned it on Twitter.

Patterns are great, but slavishly following them, and not understanding that there's often multiple patterns for different circumstances can lead to coding dragons.

> MVC is terrible for web apps

Can you expand more on this? I've used MVC for webapps quite a bit, and find it to work well.

It's more than a definition issue.

You haven't used MVC, you have probably used Model2. The post we're discussing is about MVC.


I think this article goes even beyond the "is terrible and you're an idiot for using it", it actually "states" MVC is dead.

Honestly I'm sick of reading all those "x is dead"-alike articles. Hey, if you believe the web PHP is dead, Java is dead, C is dead.. etc... Technologies, patterns, languages or structures don't die, in fact, if you really fancy you could write your application using C code and compiling it into asm, why not? If it works, perfect! There are enough examples out there where old technologie works. And I think people tend to be spending too much time thinking why something is imperfect, or how to do it better, instead of actually making stuff that rocks.

If you really do have the need to improve something, prove it! Make a useable example, write a framework, library or new language if you really need to.

> And I think people tend to be spending too much time thinking why something is imperfect, or how to do it better, instead of actually making stuff that rocks.

I was with you until this. I think it's actually important to think about where flaws are and how improvements could be made.

The literary critic Howard Bloom actually argues that many of the best creative works are agonistic: they take a previous masterpiece and say, "I could do better," and from that claim do. The produced work ends up being a response, saying, "That was good, but here's your mistake, here's how it can be done better, and look how well it turns out."

I was hoping for a few examples of where it does better than mvc to demonstrate where it may be applied over mvc.

MVC doesn't fit cleanly into the world of webapps, but it's still a lot better than business logic in view code, or monolithic classes than handle all HTTP interaction, etc. I've seen some really terrible Model 1 code in my lifetime.

MVC, more than other design patterns, is horribly abused. Developers should keep in mind its GUI roots. Here's my "is it MVC?" litmus test:

How much of my code survives if I drastically change the view?

For example, if I want to switch to a new desktop, web or text console interface, can I reuse much of the application? Of course, architecture changes this significantly (particularly web architecture), but still, if I cannot swap out the view, then I'm losing out on one of the significant advantages of an MVC architecture. One way to make sure this works is to start with 2 views from the beginning - the view you're actually going to ship, and a headless view for tests.

I remember the first time I heard of MVC in a web context, almost 15 years ago. (ffs). I did what I normally did and looked it up and totally struggled with how an approach that seemed to be focused on device input would map to a web framework. After working with a few "MVC" frameworks I completely gave up on mapping what they called MVC to what I thought MVC was (which was based on a pretty old definition at that point). When I finally started using Rails I finally found a framework where at least the M,V&C were pretty clearly defined, though not in the context I thought they should be according to the pattern.

Anyway long story short. I don't think the pattern is abused anywhere near as much as the term as been.

my rails apps pass this test with flying colors. Nearly all of my end points have at least 3 views. 1 for html, 1 for json (often used for ajax calls), and 1 for rss/atom.

JSON and RSS views don't make sense - in MVC, views are visual representations of data (the model). Views are how the user percieves the application. JSON and RSS are just different methods for representing data to be communicated to other systems.

> JSON and RSS are just different methods for representing data to be communicated to other systems.

We call those, "views".

In an MVC, the views are used both for output of the model and to map input back to the controllers. Without the input, its not part of the MVC pattern.

I disagree. Yes, MVC provides a pattern that allows views to be input to the user, but if it doesn't make sense for your app, it's perfectly fine to make the view "read-only" and still abide by the spirit of MVC.

If you're claiming that regular HTML views are compliant with MVC because they have HTML links, one can argue that some RSS readers convert the reference links from the RSS feed to actual HTML links that you can use to navigate to the individual RSS item. How is that different than a regular HTML view with links?

Bullshit. Please show me your Rails-or-similar app that's doing INPUT parsing in the view (embedded JS doesn't count)

When you click a link on a web page, it gets routed to a controller action. Thats done because the link was generated with the url: example.com/controller/action. Its not about parsing input, its about routing.

HATOES says that your XML/JSON/whatever needs to have those same links. What is the difference between an <a href=""> link in HTML and a { action_url: "" } property in JSON?

Nothing I suppose. I don't think that html vs json was what MVC's[1] creators had in mind for it, but if the json is rendered in such a way that it has links pointing back to the controller, it is a view.

[1] Although were talking about Model 2 here, so thats irrelevant. Come to think of it, this whole discussion is pointless: we're arguing about whether views in a Model 2 architecture are proper MVC views...

It's the browser who renders anchor tags clickable - if you click on a link in a RSS reader you also get routed.

"views are visual representations of data"

I see no purpose for this distinction. A view is an output representation of the model data.

Given the challenge, "How much of my code survives if I drastically change the view?", I think json and rss make perfect sense. They are drastically different output representations of the data.

The purpose of the distinction is to prevent even more confusion about what MVC means.

I find the distinction more confusing, and I don't see the value.

Users are not necessarily human - they can be search engines, API consumers, etc.

In the context of MVC, a user is a human being - describing JSON and RSS services as "views" totally misses the point.

Quote from the inventor of MVC, Trygve Reenskaug:

"The essential purpose of MVC is to bridge the gap between the human user's mental model and the digital model that exists in the computer."

I'm a human user and I have a mental model of the json and rss apis I consume via code I write. I notice that he didn't say visual as you did earlier

"A view is a (visual) representation of its model. It would ordinarily highlight certain attributes of the model and suppress others. It is thus acting as a presentation filter."

Source: http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~trygver/1979/mvc-2/1979-12-MVC.pdf

And you are not a human user, you are an engineer.

You keep using an appeal to authority, and I still see no value in the distinction.

I am most certainly a human user.

If you're so keep on giving a different meaning to already defined standard why not use some other abbreviation, say MRC (R for Representation)

MVC is not a standard. I also don't find it useful to have different names for ideas that are effectively the same with some distinction that doesn't seem to make a difference.

Maybe there is some significant difference, but you haven't outlined one other than "it's not what person X says MVC means".

So it's only a view when you write all your code to push bits to the monitor yourself. Outputting using libraries that convert formats like html (-> browser -> os/driver -> screen) aren't views. Got it.

Let me give you an example. In your model, you have represented the salary of an employee as an integer. In a web application, the salary can be presented to the user through numerous different views - as a number on the screen (plain HTML), as a slider (jQuery UI slider), as a bar in a bar chart (using some charting library). The tools you use to build the view are not relevant.

> In a web application, the salary can be presented to the user through numerous different views - as a number on the screen (plain HTML), as a slider (jQuery UI slider), as a bar in a bar chart (using some charting library)

as JSON encoded output, as XML....

no, those output types dont map back to the controller, they are not views.

Restful Apis often times can return JSON with key value pairs for subsequent actions in the form of name: URL. While you can't click on JSON, it's a "view" for the consumer application because it can follow back into the controller. The distinction is that a view doesn't necessarily need to be a human reading a screen, and can most certainly be another application.

Ohhhh, I see now. So some data formats that render to screen through external software are views, like html, json, generated javscript or xml if they go through jQueryUI or charting libraries, but if it goes through other external software like RSS readers, or non html, json, or javscript formats, before making it to the screen, it is no longer a view. Thanks for the clarification!

jQuery UI and the charting lib are not external software, they are part of your system (application). By your logic, every possible digital representation of the model is a view because you can always dig up some tool somewhere to visualize your model. "Look, this floppy disk is a view in my MVC application, just insert it into the Commodore 64 and enter 'LOAD I_LOVE_MVC,8' "

That's not inconsistent. A view is just an interface layer. Whether it's interfacing to a human or not is irrelevant.

This whole discussion is about MVC. In order to argue about MVC we should have a common understanding of the principles of MVC. MVC was invented by Trygve Reenskaug. His definition of MVC is both consistent and readily accessible. Therefore I have repeatedly referred to him for a definition of the components of MVC. Surprisingly, many of the posters don't seem to regard the inventor of MVC as much of an authority on MVC, preferring instead to come up with their own definitions.

You have just provided a new definition of a view:

"A view is just an interface layer. Whether it's interfacing to a human or not is irrelevant"

If this definition suits your application, good for you. But you are no longer talking about MVC.

If you take Reenskaug's original MVC, and replace the human with an external system, what changes in the M-V-C part of the architecture? Nothing. Not a jot. It's identical, or can be. What's important here isn't the original intent of the architecture, it's what we can use it for. My butterknife isn't any less a butterknife because I'm cutting an apple with it, is it?

The problem here is that Reenskaug explicitly abrogated the authority you're appealing to. He recognised that MVC as originally posed was problematic and incomplete, and invited others to refine it via a pattern language, making MVC a metadefinition. At this point in history, you simply can't point at "MVC" and say that the original definition is canonical.

If you're still going to appeal to the original definition, the View still isn't a visual representation. That's the Editor. Everyone seems to forget about that bit. If you exclude the Editor, we're no longer in Reenskaug-MVC, so even if they weren't in the first place, machine representations would be ok. If you include it, your objection to JSON and RSS representations per se falls apart, because they can be perfectly valid technical details of the Editor layer under control of the View.

   If this definition suits your application, good for you. But you are no longer talking about MVC.
Yes, I am. I'm just not talking about your definition of MVC, which is needlessly proscriptive.

Given the choice between admitting that one's comment wasn't well researched, and wasting thousands of eyeball hours with whatever-it-takes rationalizations about why one's comment actually was rather well thought out, most of us make the correct choice.

Unfortunately, the wrong choice comprises nearly half of comments made. You were obviously right the first time - let it lie :)

HTML is also one of those different methods. It just so happens that the browser renders it instead of spitting out the raw text.

That said, non-HTML output bypasses the view entirely in Rails (it makes sense to), so it can equally be the case that the distinction is correct.

rails is moving towards a "view" based approach. Here is one of the up and coming libraries.


It looks a lot like a view file :)

Not saying I disagree with you but then where exactly would the JSON and RSS output methods go in an MVC framework, if not in a view i.e. how would a different system or user consume/access their output? Directly from a controller? Would love to know your thoughts as I've always found MVC a difficult conceptual approach to grok when applying it to web apps (lots of code never seems to have an obvious M, V or C home).

Services that provide data as JSON and RSS are not part of MVC at all. Even if you use MVC for your application, not _every_ part of your application has to fit into MVC. You use MVC only for the part of your application that communicates with the user. Other parts of your application, like external APIs, should not be crammed into any of your MVC components. A service that provides RSS or JSON on request would simply fetch data in a database and send it along, bypassing all your models, views and controller entirely. (Note that the database is not considered a part of MVC).

I'm not 100% sure where it fits in, but I tend to write have a Formatter service that is used by the controller to pass the model to the correct view.

The Formatter inspects the Request to determine what format it should be (html, json, xml, etc.), and returns the correct View to the Controller, which then passes the Model to that View.

I agree with this.

The way we chose to do things in LedgerSMB (starting with the new code in 1.3) is to adopt a sort of untraditional MVC. The view has to represent the model and vice versa (information present in the model thats not in the view is never used, information present in the view but not in the model is always discarded).

However, the controller scripts are agnostic of this structure. They just glue these together and process operations. Therefore depending on the changes to the view, you may or may not have to change the model, but you should not have to change the controller unless you want to change what a button does. Similarly for reports, you can change these to your heart's content and no underlying changes are needed at all.

We've run into a lot of resistance from folks more used to traditional MVC stuff because the controller only needs to know what it minimally needs to know (and usually this is virtually nothing). Since everything is hash refs passed around....

But in the end the approach works, and specifically because we try hard to keep things fairly abstracted and loosely coupled within the application.

Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I've always thought Controllers were supposed to be dumb and Models were supposed to be smart.

That is, a model encompasses extracting the knowledge and turning into something that the controller passes to a view or another model, but is not processed much (if any) during the transfer. At most, it might be combined with data from other models into an uber-record that is passed to the view.

Yes ideally, controllers don't do anything than react to events, change model and update the view. In practice Controllers can get quite fat. It's a bit like Thin client/Thick Client in Client/Server environment.

The best practices I've seen for MVC apps isn't to put all the logic in the controllers. What you do is to create a "services" or "managers" layer that is called on by the controllers. A userService, for example, might have a function

  user = userService.login(name, password)
It's also nice to abstract this service layer with some clean interfaces so that you can replace the underlying implementation, for example to move from MySQL to Memcached.

Using events for everything has appeal but my experience is that the added synchronicity problems creates unneeded complexity and makes reasoning through the logic and debugging hard.

Yeah, I've always used MVC with a repository pattern for handling Model operations. The controller is still calling the operations here, and handling events triggered by the user.

The O and E in MOVE sounds effectively the same as the C in MVC.

Model objects are generally just POCOs (or POJOs, or whatever) and should not know about their storage mechanism or dealing with user events.

Sounds like he's basically been doing MVC wrong, and thinks MOVE is something new, when really it's just closer to the way MVC should be done in the first place.

I prefer to put anything ORM-related inside the model. This way, I free views and controllers from the specifics of the platform and, as long as I keep the model API the same, I can move from one platform to another easily.

If userService.login method knows how to check a User's password, it's probably inextricably tied to the model and, therefore, part of it. Even if it's on a different module, it cannot be reused with a completely different model.

I also prefer this approach. The excellent book 'Domain Driven Design - Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software' by Eric Evans has helped me a lot. I'd write something like:

  class AuthController extends Controller {
    public function __construct(Request $request) {
      $this->service = AuthService::getInstance();
    // reflection calls a Module + Action attribute to {module}Controller
    public function login(Request $request) {
      if ($request->getRequestMethod() === WebRequest::POST) {

        if ($this->service->login($request->getAttribute('username'), $request->getAttribute('response')) {
          die('{ "success" : true }');
        } else {
          die('{ "success" : false }');
  class AuthService { // Application Service -> it just defines a clear API, not a Domain Driven Design service
    public function __construct(Session $session) {
      $this->session = $session;

    public function login($username, $response) {
      try {
        $user = User::getRepository()->getByUsername($username);

        return $user->isValidChallengeResponse($this->session->getAttribute('challenge', 'auth'), $response);

      } catch (UserDoesNotExistException $e) { }
      return false;
  class User {
    protected static $repository;
    public static function setRepository(IUserRepository $repository) {
      self::$repository = $repository;
    public function getRepository() {
      return self::$repository;

    // yeah yeah, it is arguably if this belongs as a Domain method of the user…
    public function isValidChallengeResponse($challenge, $response) {
      // and yes, this is very weak challenge response…
      return md5($challenge . $this->getPassword()) === $response;
If anyone can tell me what's wrong with this type of MVC, except it isn't using an actual View in this limited example, I'd love to hear it. Controllers should be thin, models and services should be thick.

I agree, I really like the "services" layer. I used it for years programming with Java/Spring and missed a lot when learning RoR. I think it is no coincidence that the two RoR real-world projects that I worked had enormous controllers. The service layer is great to orchestrate operations between models and I don´t know a reason for not using it.

I believe this gem does something like that, https://github.com/karmajunkie/imperator

Does anything stop you from using a service layer with Rails?

No, but it doesn't seem to be a common practice. Actually on my personal projects the first thing I do is to create a service layer, but sadly the real world projects that I jumped into never had it.

One thing I have started to note is that MVC is a fractal pattern. For a non-trivial app, you can define almost every component as an MVC framework.

Not only is there an MVC on the web server and a MVC in the web browser, but there is an MVC in the db as well, if it is well designed and well encapsulated. For example a well normalized db may have a model (physical table structure), a view (logical table structure) and controller logic (which essentially maps these two together and may enforce other things like audit trails and app-level replication).

Are you talking about pure mvc's like sproutcore? faux mvc's like backbone? model2 patterns like rails and most other server side architectures? I think what you mean is 'Model2 is dead...'. MVC is great for any environment where the observer pattern can be implemented (eg web front-end).

The biggest problems I've seen in model 2 architectures is weak models. The side effect of this is everything gets stuffed in the controllers. This is understandable because there is no observer pattern and therefore the models don't have nearly the power they do in real MVC.

Heres a great explanation of the MVC[1]:

In a nutshell the classic MVC architecture work like this. There is a model that is at the heart of the whole thing. If the model changes, it notifies its observers that a change occurred. The view is the stuff you can see and the view observes the model. When the view is notified that the model has changed, the view changes its appearance. The user can interact with the view (e.g. clicking stuff) but the view doesn’t know what to do. So the view tells the controller what the user did and assumes the controller knows what to do. The controller appropriately changes the model. And around and around it goes.

[1] http://michaux.ca/articles/mvc-architecture-for-javascript-a...

My thoughts exactly.

Having used MVC for many years, and in the environment where it was invented (Smalltalk-80), I couldn't help but wonder why he was reinventing MVC while thinking he was criticizing it.

In practical terms, those observers would have to live in the controller, or there would be coupling between the model and views.

The observer is supposed to be baked into the framework itself. Theoretically, setting a value on your model will update the view without you having to write any code.

Does anyone else not really get "MVC"? It seems like every person has their own idea of what it is and no two frameworks can agree on what the necessary parts are. I get the feeling MVC is mostly a bunch of handwaving about separation of concerns, motherhood, and apple pie.

Me. I really struggled with it early on when I was moving from single file php to frameworks, so I read head first design patterns. There MVC made sense; you had state to maintain, and changes to make; MVC still holds up well in desktop GUI applications. But on the web you throw away the world on every request, so essentially you're just running a big API where every request gets interpreted by the controller, acted on by the model and rerendered by the view; basic separation of concerns. All of these "model pushes changes to the view, controller accepts actions" stuff from the original MVC seems like it's really poorly mapped to the web. I still don't know if it just hasn't clicked yet or I'm doing it all wrong or something, but I really wish I could have a bit more certainty when I'm architecting new projects that I'm doing MVC "right".

The original MVC architecture was for GUI interfaces in Smalltalk. It was so helpful a design pattern it was borrowed for use in request/response web application, where naturally the use of each part was very different.

If you really want to "get" the original MVC, see the classic book "Smalltalk, Objects, and Design" [1] which explains MVC and other OO architectures as well as the principles behind them, which might guide you to picking an appropriate structure for applications that don't fit the GUI/MVC paradigm.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Smalltalk-Objects-Design-Chamond-Liu/d...

My original implementation of Mvc was writing a game of connect 4 in java. There was a board model. There were two views. One graphical, and one command line. You could update both views by clicking your next move on the graphical board, or putting input on the command line. Once the model was updated, the controller would update any view that was listening on it.

The controller shouldn't be updating the views. The views should be observers of the models. The controller updates the model, which triggers messages from the models to their observers, the views. They would then would then reflect the change in the model.

I sort of evolved my own PHP framework pattern after I did my first few webdev jobs and identified the problem areas. This was before I had ever used a MVC framework.

Looking back at it now, it had everything your typical web MVC framework has, just slightly diffrent:

* Models, with cleanly encapsulated functionality, but without an ORM. I only built small websites, so all related database tables were managed by the same model.

* Controllers that handled all input and delegate it to models.

* Views in the form of HTML code following the controller code in the same file, but strictly separated.

* "Forms" that abstracted away the controller/view and input validation of forms in a neat, reusable package.

My point is that whatever you come up with that actually works well and lets you be productive will more-or-less resemble MVC.

For a succinct description that also explains the origins of some of the discrepancies:


MVC is just a design pattern, a way to organize code, it's not a religion.

I wouldn't like it to be a religion! I'd just like some precision. Design patterns point to a large region of possible configurations, so to say something is "MVC" isn't saying very much.

This is certainly interesting. I like the event based model. Here are my thoughts:

If your controllers are getting fat and spaghetti like, I wouldn't blame MVC. There are many patterns one can use that are compatible with MVC without going to a completely different architecture. For instance, if you need to encapsulate multi-model interaction you can create a presenter abstraction that the controller simply calls into. Just because there is a bunch of code that ends up in the controller because "you don't know where to put it" doesn't mean there isn't a better place to put it without re-designing the entire application.

Another thing is while I love the data-binding event deal, this really only works for client-side frameworks like Backbone. Server-side kinda goes at the window, but I suppose you could add a framework that piped event signals in the response from changes that occurred in the ORM layer (although this further couples components).

I'm not convinced that separating the data from the methods that operate is a great idea unless you want to go purely functional. Doing this clearly breaks encapsulation, throws any notion of OOP out the window, and still binds the "operations" too closely to the data. Generally speaking, the data is useless without the operations and vice versa.

So the real difference between MOVE and MVC, at least according to this article, is that models are no longer useful on their own, the controllers aka "operations" know everything about how to manipulate models (it shouldn't), and models generate events which are only consumed by views, which makes no sense if you wanted to use the model on its own (but you can't without your operations).

Generally speaking, the model should MODEL something. That includes data and behavior. Without both, you have a database, and a set of operations kinda like a C library but only because OOP hadn't been invented yet.

In my mind this further couples all of the components because it actually increases the reliance on each other for them to be useful.

MVC isn't dead. There is a good chance you are using it wrong. I highly suggest Rails Antipatterns. While it is specific to Rails, it works for MVC in general. http://www.amazon.com/Rails-AntiPatterns-Refactoring-Addison...

edit: spelling

Sorry, but data-bound events are not useless in server context. It might be exactly what we need when fat controllers go out of control. Perhaps you meant they are too much of a complication if taken too far to work across all concurrent requests?

Binding data and behavior together breaks the rule of single responsibility, which I believe is far worse than designing separate roles in sepearate components that work together. Models should model the data structure only, if you need a presentation abstraction anyway for multi-model operations. Why not go the extra mile and use this abstraction level for all operations?

It is a false dichotomy that you go either full-OOP or purely functionaly. Models wrap knowledge as the article suggests, That means that, in addition to getters and setters, they might contain functions that let you check "is this the user's password?". I envision these methods to work on a single attribute, whereas multi-attribute and multi-model business logic belongs to operations.

MVC isn't dead, but it was a local maximum OOP gave us. Event-driven development seems to raise and work well with objects and datasets.

If "fat controllers go out of control" then you've already made multiple mistakes. I don't think re-inventing the wheel is the right approach to fixing a problem when the developer can understand their own mistakes instead of blaming a framework or architecture.

Are you suggesting that OOP breaks the rule of single responsibility? Any 'operation' that modifies the internal data should belong on the model. Would turnLeft() belong on a Car model? Or do you pass a Car into a turnLeft operation? In my mind a turnLeft operation shouldn't know the details of how to turn a car left, or a bike left, or a boat left. These operations belong in the Car, Bike, and Boat.

Somewhat pedantic, but just throwing this out there: cars, bikes, and boats are all forms of transportation which can turn. They should probably inherit the concept of turning left, and then specify the exact meaning in their context.

Obviously, I don't say "turn your handlebars such that the left side is closer to your chest," or "rotate your steering wheel counter-clockwise," when I mean to tell someone to turn left at the next intersection. I might, however, tell a sailor to steer to port at the next buoy. =)

EDIT: forgot to say, fwiw, that I agree that such actions do not belong in the model. The things go in the model, and the only actions the model should support are those relative managing the data in the model, not interacting with the data... That is, after all, what the controller is for.

I dunno about the last part.

I think any logic inherently tied to the data should be in the model. The controller shouldn't have to worry about internals of the model any more than necessary.

Here's an example. Suppose I create an i18n framework for handling numbers. I certainly am going to include in it a function for converting the number into the current user's localized format, and another one for converting the number from the current user's localized format. I will probably also have functions to convert to/from db formats and to/from arbitrary formats. Not all of these will be called by the controller (in most cases, just the ones to/from the user's localized format and maybe an arbitrary format on rare occasions).

This way the controller script can just call something like $number->to_output; and get the localized string back. Other model objects can call $number->to_db and get a string suitable for entry into the db.

Interestingly in LedgerSMB 1.4 where we have done this, the number of cases where the model calls number i18n functions are remarkably small. These are usually called in the model or in the view simply because the controller probably shouldn't have to worry about this, and the view gets to worry about display logic.

Converting the display format of data when requested by a view is exactly what a model is supposed to do.

However, instructing a contained object to take some action at the user's request that is unrelated to display or management of contained objects is neither the responsibility of the view or the model, but specifically the task of the controller.

Ok, so let's go further.

I want an email to be sent to me when the quantity on hand of a part gets below the re-order point.

So now, I build a program that listens for notifications, and when it gets one, loads the data, erases the queue, and sends me an email.

I build this so the app itself doesn't know this is required or is going on. Database triggers, queue tables listening scripts, and templates all are triggered when the db write takes place.

Now, what we have here are arguably two MVC environments where the model behavior of one triggers a model change in another, which triggers a controller to run, calls some other model stuff, creates an email (via a view) and sends it.

But this is the sort of action you are talking about, right? You think this violates separation of concerns?

This is very unclear - the database is not the model in the app, it's the storage for the model. (In its own application though, it may be a model...) You've abstracted some application functionality into the data storage, ok.

I'm speaking to the point that if you are separating Model, View, and Controller, and you have complex objects in your model that can do many things, it would not make sense to put all of the logic about what those things can do, how to do them, and when to do them in the model. Otherwise, you're simply blending the model and the controller (which may not be a wrong thing to do) - so you just have MV.

Let me give a more concrete example: I have a model which represents a network of connected complex "devices," there are five types of devices, each that can do 50 distinct things. The model can add a new device, delete a device, or retrieve an existing device. It can also ask the devices what their names, and addresses are, and what features they support, on behalf of any view which needs that information.

It cannot, however, tell device 1, which is of type X to take action "foo". That, instead, is implemented by a controller attached to a view that shows a big button that says "Do Foo", and a drop-down with the list of available devices that can do Foo. The view passes the press of the button onto the controller, which asks the model for the selected device, and then executes a "do Foo" command on it, and then, perhaps, contacts the device again to check that "Foo" was completed.

If all such logic were built into the model, I'd have several hundred methods in it, and I'd be very quickly looking for somewhere to move all of this logic, like, you know, controllers.

The database is not the model but the db operations are usually in the model, right?

My point though is in essentially shimming functionality. In my example, for example, here is how it would work.

1) User requests "save this invoice", which activates a controller script which automates the model elements for "invoice" instantiates an invoice (since this is a stateless web app) and saves it.

2) The model saves the invoice by writing it to the db.

3) Saving to the db fires a trigger which checks ROP vs on-hand and where ROP is greater saves a record in a queue table and issues an asynchronous notification, which doesn't have any immediate effect.

4) Controller commits the db transaction. The DB sends out the notification and makes the rows in the queue table visible.

5) Controller for application b wakes up (let's say every 15 min) and polls for notifications. Ok, we got one. Look up the queue table, prepare the email (model stuff) runt he template (view stuff) and sent it out (model stuff again).

So what I am getting at here is a way to have model events have side effects which are outside the scope of Application A, but are at least triggered by model operations. This is not an anti-pattern really because application A is not relying on those side-effects for operation. However if you look at application A as the primary one and application B as contained within it, then application B can only be described as contained within the model of application A, from application A's perspective, because all of its functionality is abstracted behind the model. From application B's perspective, there is a model, a view, and a controller, and it doesn't care as to where notifications and queue table data is coming from. From it's perspective it is a loosely coupled app in its own right.

But as always what I am suggesting is that common sense usually determines the best place for a given piece of logic. LedgerSMB is very model-centric but there are cases where we have a fair bit of logic in the controller.* I think that anything which is inherent in the model belongs in the model. So back to the vehicle analogy, a bike object should support a $bike->turn('l') and a $bike->turn('r'). However telling the bike when to turn left is the controller's job.

* for example in contact and employee management, the controller has to coordinate a lot of different model operations, leading to unusually long/complex model code in the system.

Im having a time parsing what you mean. Are you saying a car should not turn left, and that a controller should turn the wheel left? Please clarify

... it was a roundabout way of explaining how right you were, or at least in my initial reading of it.

I see thing which is called a Car, an instance of which is stored in the Model, which may contain other things, including other types of Transports. The user interacts with the View, instructing a left turn - the controller grabs the Car (why it grabs the Car, and not the Bike is undefined =), and tells it to turn left. None of the M, V, or C understand what a left turn is - but the controller knows that the Car can perform such a thing if instructed. The Controller knows it can tell the Car to turn, because the Car is descended from a Transport, and all Transports have a virtual method for turning.

That last sentence was in my head and unfortunately took over my comment.

Ah I understand. Yes polymorphism in this case would hide the details, and the implementation for turning the car belongs inside of that object.

Couldn't agree more. As long as you find a consistent way of splitting and placing your "Controller" code, MVC works perfectly fine. The problem is that a "Controller" is only vaguely defined and always application dependent. However, finding a good split and place for code is not easily accomplished and, in my experience, needs a couple of iterations to be perfected. The MOVE split seems useful for event based systems (webapps?), however it doesn't seem to encapsulate as wide a range of apps as the more vague MVC does..

It's amusing how the agile crowd slowly goes through the same learning curve that the java-guys rode 10 years ago.

That's a good thing, though. They're at the verge of rediscovering SOA now and there's hope this incarnation will be less plagued by IOC-fluff and boilerplate, simply because the involved people have more of a hacking and less of an engineering background.

I, for one, am looking forward to the "great shattering of Rails".

How is SOA like teenage sex?

Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, few are actually doing it and the ones that ARE doing it are doing it wrong.

This pattern is fantastic.

We use a similar pattern that we internally call "Actions". An Action, in our parlance, is similar to the Command pattern from the Gang of Four. It can be invoked from anywhere and performs a single state change on a single model, or even multiple models (if several need to be updated at the same time, in the same transaction).

Separating Actions from Models was a huge step in writing readable code, and it's immediately clear what is happening in the system at any given time. Any Action can invoke any number of "child" actions, as well, to maintain encapsulation. For example: when a user registers on the site, we trigger a RegisterUser action, which in turn calls a CreateUser action and a LoginUser action.

Basically, we took any complicated method on our models and turned them into Action classes. Common concepts like database transactions, logging, event tracking, and so forth, can now be abstracted away, and don't need to be re-implemented in each model class. It's a huge productivity increase and a real win for software engineering.

I highly recommend this general approach to any large software system, and I'm grateful that we're all experimenting with things beyond MVC.

If your controller has too much logic you should really consider putting more of it in your model and view.

Maybe I don't understand MVC, and you all can tell me How Wrong I Am, but here's how I understand MVC at present:

Your Model is a public API, a Service Gateway -- and it should do a couple of things in principle. The first is that it should be able to manage a list of subscribed view/controllers, and push updates out to them -- this was difficult with Web 2.0 but we're now moving to systems where this is considered normal. The second is that it should define a set of API commands which change that state and push out those subscriptions. That second bit is crucial, it's the difference between writing assembly and Python. If you have logic in your controller then it's probably because your model does not expose certain high-level concepts which your controller would use directly, so you're taking data from the model and building a higher-order model in your controller, before you operate on it.

It helps me to remember that in Smalltalk the idea was to always have <view|controller> pairs. They were always the same object split in two; each view had its own controller and vice versa. The controller is supposed to be input-oriented and the view is supposed to be output-oriented; the model says "hey, X changed" and the view updates what X looks like; the user clicks on X and the controller sends a signal to the view to change some more, the user erases X and the controller sends this request to the model, which will update the view when the request is complete.

Viewed this way it's really hard to see what the difference is supposed to be between MVC and MOVE. Clearly the messages in MVC are the Events in MOVE. Most of the controller logic has been pushed into the View, which should now handle input actions. Data cannot be dynamically pushed from the Model to the View because this is of course a Web 2.0 technology (pre-cometcasting, pre-websockets). The Operation sits in a grey area, implementing higher-order abstractions from the lower-order model.

Maybe we could do better with a hybrid, because the idea of decoupling subscriptions from the public API might actually be a good idea, in line with the Clojure philosophy that things should be de-complected into their simplest representations. But if I understand MVC right, then I don't see why you've got all your business logic in your controller. Heck, the View is supposed to be client-side, why isn't your Controller client side? Or if it is, and you have all this business logic in it, why are you trusting the client to do your business logic? Your gripes with MVC don't make sense to me.

Sounds about right to me. Model in MVC isn't data model, it is a model of the application domain, aka business logic. The controller is supposed to map low level input to high level model actions. The view goes the other way, high level model representation to low level operator display.

I think for a lot of people the Model is the DB layer. They then (rightfully) realize that you shouldn't combine business and DB logic, and then move their business logic into the Controller.

So they're fixing a valid issue with an invalid solution, causing bloated and dual purpose (business and application logic) Controllers.

"If your controller has too much logic you should really consider putting more of it in your model and view."

The problem with MVC is that it makes people think that there are only supposed to be three things, and if something they require doesn't fit into thing 1, and doesn't fit into thing 2, then it must go into thing 3, instead of inventing a new thing 4 for it. Most real-world software is complicated enough that it requires more than three pigeon holes. Cargo-cult MVC programmers who can't think outside of three boxes are why the Controller usually gets gang[4]-banged into a kitchen sink of everything that didn't fit into the model or the view, because the words "Model" and "View" have easily understood meanings, but "Controller" could mean anything, so it gets some of everything.

I prefer the term "Services" over "Operations".

Services is where the logic of your application should live, and services should be HTTP (or any protocol) agnostic. They should only speak in models and native types, and should abstract all of your logic away from your controllers and models.

This leaves the controllers as a thin http handling layer that parses inputs and then lets the service handle the work.

The response from the service is then transformed appropriately (JSON, HTML, etc) and sent back to the caller.

Just my $0.02

"MSVE" just doesn't have the same ring to it :-)

Addy Osmani has a nice excercition [1] on the history of MVC in Developing Backbone.js Applications, where he states:

"Developers are sometimes surprised when they learn that the Observer pattern (nowadays commonly implemented as a Publish/Subscribe system) was included as a part of MVC's architecture decades ago. In Smalltalk-80's MVC, the View and Controller both observe the Model: anytime the Model changes, the Views react."

So, not really new actually.

[1]: http://addyosmani.github.com/backbone-fundamentals/#mvc

An interesting new pattern here (from the creator of MVC) is DCI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data,_Context,_and_Interaction

Essentially it's a way to move code where multiple objects collaborate to achieve something into its own separate class (Context). However when executing in a context, each involved object takes on a "Role" which grants its additional methods specific to this context.

Thank you sir. I was worried nobody would mention DCI. I believe DCI is a far better solution to the MVC problem of dealing with 'algorithms' than MOVE. MOVE almost seems to be MVC plus goto.

> I don't wish to be misunderstood as implying that MVC is bad […] Since it was invented however, new programming techniques have become popular.

This doesn't make any sense to me.

The first problem is the blatant argumentum ad populum—just because other things are popular right now doesn't mean they're better.

The second problem is: I simply do not agree that we have new technologies that are so radically different and empowering from those that were available when MVC was invented. Indeed, Smalltalk (the language in which MVC was conceived) has late binding, dynamic typing and code blocks. I still think ‘modern’ scripting languages are playing catch-up with Smalltalk and LISP in terms of power, performance and clarity of expression.

Trygve Reenskaug (the inventor of MVC) later went on to develop DCI, a system which complements MVC, rather than replacing it wholesale. I'd recommend reading the Wikipedia page for more info, it's a coherent proposal and it seems to require the creation of far fewer classes and objects: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data,_context_and_interaction

For the web, I find Lift's "View-First" setup much compelling, and easier.

The issue I have with traditional web-framework MVC is that it assumes that each URL associates with one controller, which I've found to be very straightjacket-esque. Often the pages I'm building have many separate bits of functionality present, from simple stuff like a login box, numerous widgets, and then the main thing the page is about.

In lift, each URL maps onto a view, which will contain the templating code for that page, including perhaps inheritance to pull in an overall template, and then will contain one or more (and perhaps MANY) snippet invocations.

A snippet in Lift is kind of sort of like a controller method. It takes the contents of it's template tag as input, and as output returns a transformed document tree, using what ever resources (models, web service calls, calling out to other classes, etc) it wants to do that.

If you write the snippets in a general way, binding text off of IDs, this allows you to get different outputs for the same data, depending on how you call the snippet - it's like passing a partial template in as a closure. Very different but powerful - the snippet handles the LOGIC, but only abstractly the templating.

It's a very powerful paradigm - it frees you from the MVC straightjacket, since you can arrange and organize your code however you like, but forces very strict separation of concerns - it forces you to compartmentalize your business logic, but doesn't force you to do it a certain way. Lift does really cool stuff with your xHTML/HTML5 templates too - it's truly operating on a server-side DOM tree, none of this is textual substitution.

http://www.assembla.com/spaces/liftweb/wiki/Templates_and_Bi... for more info.

Second that about Lift too. It's basically server-side jQuery. Instead of parsing templates as one big string, it does DOM transforms on sub-trees. Parallel, independent, lazy-loading transforms using an Actor for each for each Snippet/subtree. Really awesome model.

Also, Twitter's recent 180 on shifting some processing from the client back to the server [1] suggests a server-oriented framework like Lift's is worth considering, despite the hype and excitement around client-heavy Rich Web Apps. Lift does the API-consuming rich client model as well, but its uniqueness is the DOM transform stuff.

Very different mental model than MVC and hard to get started with for some because of that, but here's a great bit of advice on best practices I came across recently (especially the part about pretty everything being done via either LiftRules or the S object) [2].

1. http://engineering.twitter.com/2012/05/improving-performance...

2. http://www.quora.com/Lift-web-framework/What-are-the-best-pr...

Yea, having done a two small projects in it now, my brain is starting to adapt to it a bit. Maybe a bit easier for me than for some, since I never really bought into MVC all that hard, so I'm not having to break too many habits.

> In a MOVE application models only wrap knowledge. That means that, in addition to getters and setters, they might contain functions that let you check "is this the user's password?", but they don't contain functions that let you save them to a database or upload them to an external API. That would be the job of an operation.

I cant understand the distinction between a 'setter' (stated here as part of the MOVE 'model') and 'functions that let you save... to a database or upload... to an external API' (stated here as part of the MOVE 'operations').

I would understand the logic a lot more if the 'model' excluded 'setters' entirely and just included 'queries' (which don't change the underlying data set) as opposed to 'commands'/'setters' (which do...). As it is I'm not sure where the line is between 'operations' and 'model' except for the use-cases that have been explicitly stated.

In the Objective-C/Cocoa world, Operations are encapsulated using the Receptionist Pattern. http://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#documentation/Genera...

And Events are handled with a combination of Key-Value Observing and UI binding. http://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#documentation/Cocoa/...

Controllers still exist but the design of a program is easier to reason about if everything that mutates data is pulled out of the controller.

UI changes must be made on the main queue, but the above design helps pull out model changes, network requests, etc on to background queues.

Interesting post.

I've spent the last few years on an piece of software where the model and controller must be reusable between desktop, phone and tablet.

I started with a layered approach. Then I moved to MVC. After that I discovered MVVM. I finally ended up with an MVVM/Naked Objects hybrid.

The result is views that make changes to the model via command bindings, and respond to changes in the model via event bindings. The application (aka controller) is similarly bound to the model, and contains all business logic. It's clean, easy to maintain, and easy to test against and debug.

The views are different for each platform (desktop, phone and tablet), the model and application are re-used as-is.

I guess my point is that none of these approaches (MVC/MVVM/MVP/etc.) are bad. Each is good within a pretty small scenario window. The trick, probably learnt through experience, is knowning when to use which.

This looks like a really good way to stop putting all your messy code into Controllers and start putting it into Operations.

The problem with messy code or where it lives will not go away because you think about it differently, you just have to either hire better people or spend more time and money refactoring.

The advantage of operations over controllers is the composability.

Whereas controllers have a pretty undefined lifetime, operations are finished when they're done. This means that operations can use each other to get work done, a pattern you don't see with controllers.

You can build a set of composable methods that you can use in the controller.

There is no MVC.

A design pattern is a reusable solution to problem, given a certain context (set of constraints).

My design pattern study group iterated over the Gang of Four book 3 times, please many others. The MVC sessions were the least constructive.

No two people could agree on what is and isn't MVC.

Or MVP. No, you're not doing it right. Oh, MVC can only be done "correctly" using Smalltalk.

Yadda yadda yadda.

I can't even begin to discuss "MVC web frameworks". Huh? Methinks the only reason for "MVC" is to justify Spring, inversion of control, containers, dependency injection, annotations, and all that other useless enterprisey J2EE-esque shovelware.

I agree with jerf's statement (upthread) that devs should worry more about DRY than MVC.

There is MVC. Its just a concept, unlike those design patterns from GoF which are specific.

Models are just data, View are just representations and Controllers are just endpoints. You can program your own way in your language, and if you can categorize your code as such, you can argue it is MVC.

And of course, because its just a concept, anyone in the world can argue why your implementation is not MVC as well.

No, MVC is not the reason to justify Spring, inversion of control, containers, dependency injection, annotation and all other "enterprisey J2EE-esque shovelware" as you mentioned.

MVC has been around since SmallTalk (you know, before even Java...). Heck, you even get MVC in Rails. You see Spring in Rails? Dependency Injections? Annotations? Of course not, since I could not even begin to think they are related.

Of course not, since I could not even begin to think [Rails and Spring] are related.

Sure they are.

Spring is the Java community's effort to get some of that dynamic programming goodness (ahem).

Rails is the Ruby community's effort to reproduce the unmaintainable mess of J2EE.

You couldn't have one without the other.

You are right, MVC means different things to different people, so whenever someone says "MVC" I try to stop them right there and ask to explain what exactly they mean before proceeding any further.

Martin Fowler has an excellent write up on the history of MVC and related patterns (and resulting confusion) in http://martinfowler.com/eaaDev/uiArchs.html.

I'm very aware of Fowler's write ups. That one is a pretty good summary. In that it's descriptive, but IMHO is completely unactionable (prescriptive).

I've written a direct manipulation vector structured graphics program. Think FreeHand / Illustrator with a scenegraph. I tried every which way to make something MVC esque. No can do.

I believe, but cannot prove, that the MVC failing(s), eg tight coupling, unclear flow of control, comes from the Observer/Listener like message passing between the players.

Further, I believe some future UI paradigm will be a hybrid, mutant love child, inspired by, of functional reactive programming and an VRML-97 like event model (FROM->TO style patchcord event routing). It's on my to do list, but I'm easily distracted and followed thru.

Is there something structured like hacker news that focuses on articles with content like this? I find this a lot more interesting than threads about entrepreneurship but I don't know where to go to read about things like this.

Good question. Architecture doesn't get debated much on the Internet (probably because it's easier to bash PHP), but here's to hoping there is a place where people argue about this more.

The one thing I care about the most is architecture and system design. These conversations are largely absent and developers can go years without acquiring a pallete for this type of discussion. I wish it was discussed more as a lot of the cost of maintenance could be cut down if spaghetti were properly avoided.

"you end up stuffing too much code into your controllers, because you don't know where else to put it"

And that wouldn't happen to have anything to do with the fact that "you" either don't know any other patterns or solutions besides MVC, or are under the impression that using MVC somehow forbids you to use other patterns?

Not to mention the fact that the definition of MVC that the author uses is false (in a way that describes MVC as more simplistic and limited than it truly is), but after so many years I'm not even going to argue with that any more. Just fucking Google it.

tl;dr: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

ummm... one nitpick.....

Everyone repeats history. Some repeat the good parts. Others repeat the bad parts. Learning from history allows us to try to stop repeating the bad parts and do better with the good parts.

Show me the code. Before I believe this, I'll need to see a codebase that uses MOVE and not MVC and manages to do things which are not easy in MVC. It's find to rant and rail against old patterns, but patterns are descriptive, not prescriptive. Once you see a solution that has the same "shape" in a few different contexts, you might have found a pattern. This puts the cart before the horse by proposing the pattern before it has been actually used.


What do you think helpers are in PHP MVC frameworks? They are code blocks that should not go in controllers but are required; like a password generator or reformatting for print command.

Go use Symfony to see how events and MVC mash up together. They do a good job in there.

Author's next post will be about including services for controllers/helpers/actions that are called more frequently. Once again, Mr. Author, check the PHP framework called Symfony.

I don't know. This is essentially saying that the way to solve problems is to add additional layers of abstraction. If you want to see a bunch of examples of why that's a bad idea, take a look at any J2EE application.

RAPHT (https://github.com/DanielWaterworth/Raphters/blob/master/RAP...) attempts to something similar (adding more layers of abstraction to MVC) but I have the same problem with that.

If we were really understood the problem we'd have come up with a way to make things simpler, not more complicated.

I think the real problem is that MVC is understood by different people to mean different things but they think they're talking about the SAME thing. Back end developers tend to think of the view layer as a trivial thing ("It's just HTML and Javascript! How hard can that be?") and front end developers tend to think of the model layer as trivial. ("Look, my backbone.js code is handing out and consuming JSON, how hard can it be to persist that?")

Isn't this what CQRS attempts to do?

[CQRS]: http://martinfowler.com/bliki/CQRS.html

Sort of but nt quite, it feels much more like data-context-interactions. Really this doesnt kill MVC at all but extends and enhances it.

I'm going to go out on a limb here.

With a pattern like MVC, where developers implement it again and again, and many of these are junior devs, it's highly likely that people who don't entirely understand the pattern are going to be adding code. The correct use of the pattern is going to get diluted, and certain classes are going to get overstuffed with code that often turns into spaghetti code.

I'm not so sure this is the fault of the junior developers. If there is one "obvious" place to expediently stuff code to implement new functionality then this is actually the fault of original designers. I don't know of any pattern for building applications that doesn't fall into this trap, but I think that one which escapes it is possible through some trick of code organization and programming language technology.


Doesn't address any of the actual issues with writing an MVC web application.

MVC -> Views are templates, Controllers are HTTP server end point bindings and Model is everything else.

Rookie mistake; put logic in controller actions. No! This is a terrible idea: your controller should never do more than: parse input, apply update to some model object, generate response view model.

'Model' does not mean 'Something that serializes and goes into a database'. It means everything else. The entire state and associated classes that manipulate that state. That's where these operations from MOVE exist.

I mean, if you want to critize MVC (especially some popular frameworks...), go for it, but I'd be much more interested to hear how a new approach addresses:

- What about all that javascript / flash / etc? Where does that fit in?

- How do you effectively test controllers and views?

The author probably never heard about the 'service layer' pattern. The problem that 'MOVE' is trying to solve is a non-existing one. If you're stuffing all your logic in your controller, you're doing it wrong. The logic should be in the service layer, that's how it has always been.

I'm willing to try it out.

I usually get around the cited issues through dependency injection into the model. That is, instead of placing large amounts of logic in the controller, I let the model hold the logic.

In a naive implementation, this may couple the model to things it shouldn't be coupled to. So, to avoid the model coupling to infrastructure resources (say, storage), I let the controller inject those objects into the model, as needed.

But, I realize that that's an architect-y, OO kind of way to do it that requires some background knowledge which can may obfuscate the code. So, I'm all about making things easier for everyone.

As others have mentioned, it'd be useful to have a more sophisticated example.

MVC is not dead. It has its warts, but there still is a strong developer community who build applications using MVC - through MVC based frameworks, and also by handrolling implementations that are an approximation of MVC. As long as there are enough people using it, MVC can't be pronounced 'dead'.

As to MOVE, the issue that the author points as the problem with Controllers in MVC is that'controllers are nice self-contained bits of.. what?'. At some point people will start asking these questions about 'Operations' and 'Events'. What would you classify as an 'event' vs an 'operation'. Some mature Rails projects that I've seen already uses this paradigm - there is an internal synchronous pub/sub event listener to which messages can be pushed by both the controller and the model. Even then, there is always a question of where to put what. Some answers are very clear - like an audit log which is only a side effect. But it is not the case always.

The author is trying to solve this 'classification' problem by giving us a more granular model. This can help to a certain degree - but there will be some point where even this wont help us. At that point we can choose go to a finer granularity, or ask the question whether all this extra organization is worth the hassle?

Abstractions are not without a cost. Some abstractions are too essential for any project. Some abstractions are nice to have. But all of them have a cost. In the case of MVC, the cost of the extra organization is paid many times over by the increased maintainability of the application. But given the number of components the MOVE paradigm advocates, I'm doubtful whether the added organization will be worth the cost.

I agree with what DHH said on a recent podcast - it is easy to talk about concepts in abstract and they can look really good. But what changes the game is a real implementation and being able to contrast the code 'before' the change and 'after' the change. This is not feasible all the time - some things have to go through the ideation and a slow testing phase. But at the least, I'm looking forward to see a non-trivial application that uses this paradigm. I'm ready to try imagining how it would have looked in MVC and decide whether the extra organization is worth it.

I've replaced MVC with VAM -- View->API->Model. I believe it's best to always code the "operations" layer as an API layer. The API always acts on models. Very similar to operations in MOVE, but it clarifies the goals of the layer.

Very spot on explanation of what is circulating in my head for months now. This seems to relate to the Data-Context-Interaction movement and what Bob Martin calls Entity-Boundary-Interactor pattern in his latest talks.

I'd be interested to know what language(s) the author is using for these MOVE applications.

I primarily use PHP, and have gotten in the habit of using a service layer to handle business operations. I've found that it's worked extremely well, and so far does not seem restrictive. It's let me clean up my controllers and models quite nicely.

It's been awhile since I've used the RobotLegs Actionscript framework, but its 'implementation' of the MVC pattern seems awfully close to MOVE.

Overall, I think the author makes a good case of how to improve MVC application development, regardless of whether the name should change or not :)

MVC is nothing more then a pattern for component interactions allowing the separation of information. How you implement it is really up to the developer but this is the "starting" point for some and for many a guide.

Look at Django, it is often called MVT but yet it follows the MVC conventions. Maybe the language you are using is forcing you to add beef into your controllers hence the negative view of this pattern. But ultimately if your coding in Python you would be abstracting logic code out into your Models and Modules and only making references to them in the Controller.

The interesting part of this is the resemblance of hierarchical operations to Erlang supervisor hierarchies, without explicitly pointing that out. In fact, the whole thing feels kind of Actor-like.

How is this different from MVVM? His "events" are basically a ViewModel that is "observable" (generates an event when the underlying data changes, which the View listens for.)

Are there any MOVE frameworks yet? I very much like the idea, but one of my favorite tests for "correctness" in a program is to use it to build something. Although it could be (and probably is) a reflection on my lack of knowledge, I find myself "fighting" with MVC frameworks like backbone whenever I try to use them. I would love to see if MOVE would be any better.

MVC may not be a solid pattern for a client side framework. It makes sense to contain some semblance of state with in the presentation layer on the client side, rather than working with a stateless MVC pattern.

http://www.martinfowler.com/eaaDev/uiArchs.html MVP via M. Fowler seems a little closer to what client side should feel like (imho).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_View_ViewModel MVVM also makes sense for a client side app, which is just an extension of MVP.

IMO MVC on the client side is just a carry over from people who were experienced in writing web apps who wanted something that felt familiar on the client side. It's a leaky abstraction at best.

I agree with this. I'm not particularly interested in client-side MVC frameworks because it wrongly trivializes the server component, and technically speaking any javascript running on the client is part of the view.

I'm not sure what the right answer is, but I certainly feel like the race for rich client-side apps had too many frameworks settle on MVC without thinking about the bigger picture.

"Are there any MOVE frameworks yet? "

I don't think so, but I feel that Grails may be the closest thing currently. It has a concept of a Service construct that feels like an Operation. Then again I could be completely wrong.

I feel like you could still accomplish this with existing frameworks, though it'll be a bit of a hack. Perhaps split the controller in half, for instance LoginOperations and LoginEvents

I think Express may be freeform enough to implement an app in this manner.

I think the problem with most MVC frameworks is not the framework themselves, but that that the MVC design pattern should only be considered while refactoring existing working code. Starting right off the bat with a giant MVC boilerplate isn't necessary and may even be counter-productive.

I write my code initially as one monolithic controller, and then refactor my code into an MVC pattern. It doesn't take that long to move functions from one object an other, and now you're working with an already-functioning piece of code rather than guessing how things might work later on.

So this could be the part where I'm not that great a programmer, but the I've had trouble creating apps from scratch with MVC, not just refactoring existing code.

MVC didn't really click for me until I wrote a non-trivial web application in PHP without it.

I agree that the controller abstraction is a bit ambiguous, certainly to the degree that MVC means different things to different people. I thought that the article would be pure flamebait, but actually it does seem to be more precise in its terminology, and captures more closely how I generally design software systems.

> Without closures (or anonymous blocks) event binding can be very tedious; and without deferrables (also known as deferreds or promises) the idea of treating individual operations as objects in their own right doesn't make much sense.

Of course, MVC was developed and popularized on Smalltalk.... which had both of these notions...

"the "currentUser" model will emit an event to notify your application that it has changed"

That sounds like more than just wrapping knowledge to me.

Also, why do you absolutely want to fit everything into a framework? Or a pattern? Business logic goes into your domain models. Don't mix your business logic with your framework, that's about it...

With regard to the "is dead" proclamation in this title, this comment from a previous commenter sums up my feeling perfectly:


Once I see "X is dead" in a article title, I stop reading.

Arguably Cocoa and Cocoa Touch already have this with the responder chain and notifications.

Does anyone else think that it's weird for the model to be sending events directly to the view and have the view listening for those? That seems like something that should be going to the "operation tree" and having that push changes to the view.

There is no new here. You have a point here mvc need some upgrades. But it is not dead.

You simply divide controller into 2 parts.

1. Events 2. Operations

I too find event also can be think as a router. The title is bad. This is not new. But a good useful practise.

> but the problem with MVC as given is that you end up stuffing too much code into your controllers, because you don't know where else to put it.

What the hell is he talking about? Has he never worked with Fat Model™ design?

For the curious, read the original papers from R.Trygve : http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~trygver/themes/mvc/mvc-index.html

Operations are just a temporary stop on the road to functional programming.

Old issues: where to put business logic. Controller, Model, maybe even view? Why just don't use abstraction layer for business logic? Most people do it already. Should we call it Operations?

As a Node.js developer and a former Rails/MVC developer, MOVE does make a lot of sense. I will be waiting for a MOVE Node.js framework with good examples to emulate/use in my Node apps.

The inventor of MVC Trygve Reenskaug understood the problem a long time ago and invented DCI as a complement http://j.mp/MskKMx

When I read suggested code where each class has one "process" or "run" method, I think that someone who lives in an object-oriented world has reinvented functional programming.

Seems like a reasonable way to structure an application. It would be great to see a concrete example or two. The login example that is sketched out gets you partway there.

Yes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So:

Do you haz teh codez?

The idea in practice gives a much better idea of what the pros and cons are.

In addition, operations fit nicely into queues, and make undo easier. That is, a rename operation can queue up an inverse rename operation for its undo.

This seems to be pretty much the same as MVC, where "Operations" are controllers and "Events" are essentially routes. Am I missing something?

Honestly it seems nearly identical with MVC except you call Controllers Events and Operations are just your business/data layer logic.

I think this is a really interesting idea, it would be cool to have a sample app to look at implementing your ideas.

My controllers have one function for each operation. Oh yeah, and they talk to each other using events...um...

I say MVC is not dead. I just said it :) http://goo.gl/kvs7t

MOVE sounds an awful lot like JSF.

So basically Controller has Operations and Events

Kind of like in MacOS it has methods and delegates?

So you renamed "controllers" to "operations".

It splits controllers into operations and events.

Out of the three terminologies (state, representation, flow), the third one is arguably the most tangled. I find it healthy to refactor it into reusable chunks (operations) and event-driven flow management.

The problem was, in my opinion, that operations should have not been put into controller units. It attracted more copy-paste solutions in my experience.

> It splits controllers into operations and events.

The original MVC designs and sample code all had views and controllers observing models through an Observer based event pattern.

The operations were the controller units. The events were not.

What is the difference between that and adding a service layer to a MVC?

There isn't, but then is MVC really MVC when you've added in another layer?

And callback "events" have been renamed to... "events".

I'm going to have to agree with the parent here. Without example code to compare, how is this different than MVC? (or "MVCE")

Yah, this reminds me of Ember.js "MVC". It's kind of like "MOVE" + a StateMachine.


Operations are similar to controllers for sure. But where's routing or state? We don't have a full picture here.

After trying out that new meta-pattern, things get overly coupled, too many bi-directional relationships between state, views, models, and controllers/operations.

And am I incorrect in seeing it as simply MVC with an events bus? Welcome to everything backbone.js already brought to the table.

... I'm pretty sure typical MVC uses some form of event as well, i.e. an event is created to inform the view that the model has changed. (Even the wikipedia page differentiates passive MVC implementations where the language/platform cannot implement events.)

Somehow, I'm just seeing the Observer pattern and the MVC pattern in the OPs post.

My thoughts exactly. Extend your main app var with Backbone.Events and u have a global event system.

app.trigger 'boom'

No. An operation appears to be a one-off "action" rather than a collection of actions (like a controller).

This is a small difference. You can say that an operation is simply a controller with one method in it.

So basically he's just putting the controller methods in their own namespace. Which is all well and good, but I don't think anybody argues that all of your business logic has to be in the controller class for it to be considered MVC.

Sorry, composable operations and models firing events is bullshit. The article is somewhat correct in that true MVC is dead in practice, however, service oriented architectures have already filled this void.

Eventing is HORRIBLE. Regardless of the source, but models especially are not the place to be firing events.

This was all tried years ago. Before writing an article purporting to replace a foundational concept in application development maybe do a little more research into what the actual practical solutions to these factoring problems are.

Seems like the Operation layer is a combination of controllers and business logic, which feels like a bad idea to me. If the models only wrap knowledge, but don't do any work, then it's the part of the Operation to both decide what to show and also get it in the correct format to show. This seems like it's doing too much and is analogous to the MVC problem of really fat controllers.

On a flip side you can get models that do too much. At one point I had a method on a model that, in order to get data into correct format, just went and rendered a [Django] template. It came to that naturally, the line is thin, and I now prefer to err on the side of models doing too little.

> it's the part of the Operation to both decide what to show and also get it in the correct format to show

Did you mean Views, not Operations, here? Or maybe I'm missing something.

I think it's unfortunate that the author chose to use the word "model" in MOVE. It appears that the "model" in MOVE is not the same thing as it is in MVC. That risks confusing a lot of people.

I've always thought MVC was a joke played on gullible software engineers, kinda like this:


I like this. I'm not a UI expert in the least, but I've always felt that the "controllers" component was a bit ill-defined. It seems that the MVC division comes from a time when GUIs were for single-agent, deterministic desktop apps like calculators.

In a world where "social" apps are increasingly important (and this time I use "social" non-pejoratively, because even if 99% of "social" is crap, the other 1% is damn important) and notifications need a first-class status, MOVE (the separation between operations, which are agent-initiated, and events, which are observed and can come from anywhere) makes sense.

Can't wait for the first MOVE framework to come out: "Mumia"

Try AngularJS, that's MVC done right.

lol, objectify.

I stopped reading right around here:

>the problem with MVC as given is that you end up stuffing too much code into your controllers, because you don't know where else to put it.

What was that? You stuff all of your logic into controllers then claim that MVC is broken? Your ugly face is broken. Uglyface.

Wow. As a designer who recently took the plunge into learning MVC (via Ruby/Rails), this is incredibly easy to understand. It took a bit of thinking to understand MVC but for some reason, separating out the concept of operations/events makes it blatantly obvious.

Now an important question: how would you practically implement this? Would this dicate a separate framework/language altogether or something else (I have a cursory knowledge of development, so play nice)?

Edit Just noticed the footnote at the bottom of the article linking to these: https://github.com/bitlove/objectify and http://collectiveidea.com/blog/archives/2012/06/28/wheres-yo...

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