I was exploring around github, and I stumbled upon an interesting project called Miniblog which was a lightweight blog engine written in c#. The thing that immediately stood out to me was the lack of a .csproj file.

As I dug around the code I realized this was not a Web App, which most of us were familiar with, but a websites project. I then suddenly realized that the whole thing only used razor!

I am a huge fan of Nancyfx because its much more lightweight than the MVC framework created at Microsoft. To say the least I am a massive fan of small tools, and micro frameworks. So when I realized this whole thing was powered by razor only I was immediately impressed.

I decided to dig around on the internet to see if anyone else was talking about this. I found out quickly that it has been possible for some time, but I didn’t find many references about it.

The one thing that bummed me out about the Miniblog example was that it was not a web app. You can use nuget packages will websites, but you cannot make references to other projects in the solution. This was a problem for me, and unlike websites, web app’s are precompiled which reduces application startup time.

Why use Razor Websites?

The biggest reason to use razor websites, is the speed. Razor websites have almost no routing code, and are much more lightweight than a full framework. They are good for small projects, but for complex data access applications a more robust framework should be used.

Creating a razor website as a web app project

To create a razor website as a web app project, first create an empty web project, and then just add the following nuget packages.

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Microsoft.AspNet.Razor
Microsoft.AspNet.WebPages
Microsoft.Web.Infrastructure

Now you can drop razor files anywhere. Your routes will be the location of your razor pages, so for instance your home page should be Index.cshtml and it should be at the root of your web project. If you had a file called about.cshtml on the root, the route would be /about if it were in a subfolder it would be /subfolder/about.

I even did some tricks where I put razor files in a folder called api and had logic in those views to deserialize the request body to models, and place them in a datastore. This gave the illusion that my ajax calls were somehow hitting some complex API.

Things to note

The @model will not work in razor. You can pass an object to another view during a render, and that file can get the object with this.Model

If you return something other than text remember to set the content type, and don’t hesitate to write directly to the output stream.

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this.Response.ContentType = "application/json";
this.Response.Write(Newtonsoft.Json.JsonConvert.SerializeObject(Database.Data));