I recently got hired on as a new ASP.NET developer (C# code behind). When I arrived, I was told that they were moving to MVC 4, and so I bought two books on that. However, the other day I learned that they are NOT using Razor, but using WebForms. Most of the results via Google returned articles from before the WebForms view engine was apparently selectable as an option instead of Razor, but my question is this:

  • Is it possible to learn MVC through WebForms, and not Razor? By possible, I mean is it "worth the time", or should I stick with Razor (as covered in both of my books) and slowly adapt that knowledge to WebForms?

  • Are there any drastic changes that need to be understood when learning MVC from the WebForms perspective?

Thank you for your time.

  • 8
    The differences are in markup of views - that's all. Pretty much everything else is the same. Razor is just more succinct.
    – Oded
    Jan 18, 2013 at 20:41
  • 1
    As @Oded said, it's relatively minor syntactical difference rather than something overwhelming. You have to be slightly more disciplined in ASPX syntax, since it's easier to get your file into an unreadable mess. But overall, there's no real difference in terms of the rendered code delivered to the client, etc. Jan 18, 2013 at 20:57
  • For what it's worth, I understand the situation you're in. I to am a newbie C# developer who got hired and 'bushwhacked' per say. I learned LOD development with Win forms and VS2010 in college, but was told by employer I needed to build an HMI for industrial blow molding equipment using VS 2005, compact5 framework for Win CE, and because CE does not support WPF, I was told to hand-code graphics using the GDI. Aside from being new, I was also the only developer. After 3 months with no guidance I had to leave. My advice to you, you have mentors there, speak with your boss about your concerns. Jan 18, 2013 at 21:19
  • 2
    Could be worse, they could hire you for MVC4 and assign you to maintaining a 12 year old VB6 app. But, yes, that's how I learned it. I first did a test site using WebForms and what I learned there easily translated over to Razor, once I understood the basics. Knowing both will be to your advantage.
    – jfrankcarr
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:44
  • There's also the option of trying to convince them to use Razor view engine instead of WebForms view engine. And although you probably want to avoid this in production, they could live side by side, sort of.
    – Roman
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


If the culture, work environment, and boss are all acceptable, I wouldn't worry too much about it for two reasons:

  1. If your development team is progressive enough to use MVC 4 and .NET 4, then they will probably discover the benefits of the Razor view engine very soon and you'll write new views with the Razor syntax in the near future. [Remember ASP.NET MVC supports the use of both the Razor and WebForms views in the same project with the default configuration.]
  2. With the advent of many exceptional MV* JavaScript frameworks, the traditional ASP.NET MVC view (and consequently view engine) is becoming less and less relevant. For example, we're using Knockout on my current project, and I can honestly say that it wouldn't break my heart if my boss insisted on Web Forms views. It would almost make no difference at all. The important code resides in the Knockout view model.

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