pug with puppies

Note, the project has seen a major update(even more awesomeness), you can read more at GitHub or here

When working with EPiServer you would normally use standard Razor views to render your frontend code...you will get syntax support in Visual Studio and can use many nice little HtmlHelpers, I love it. But...im a backend developer. The frontend people at my work hates Visual Studio. They are also using some cool sounding tools like Backbone and Handlebars so they don't want to use ordinary Razor views...

In another blog post I showed how we transfered the EPiServer properties to our frontend templates so Im not going to show that again, but basically we are dumping a javascript object in the DOM and then our frontend framework picks it up and generates the markup.

So...how are we generating the JSON?

First I built a thing that took all items in a ContentArea, filtered out all items that had a specific attribute on their Class and inherited from a specific Class, then I selected all properties in the class that had a specific attribute. It worked but it was very annoying to set it up to say the least. One more huge annoyance was that it didn't supported ContentAreas and nested Internalblocks.

So this weekend I rebuilt everything. My goal was to get rid of the inheritance/attribute-mayhem, support nested blocks/contentAreas(recursive) and make it easy for developers to use it.

I think I've succeeded :)

Currently the following property types are supported:

  • String
  • bool
  • XhtmlString
  • ContentArea (different ContentTypes as well!)
  • InternalBlock (using Blocks as a property)
  • Double
  • Int
  • DateTime
  • SelectOne
  • SelectMany
  • PageReference
  • ContentReference
  • LinkItemCollection
  • Url

Let me show you guys how it can be used:

public class StartpageController : PageController<Startpage>
    public string Index(Startpage currentPage)
        Response.ContentType = "application/json";
        var json = currentPage.ToJson();
        return json;

That's it! I've created an extension method to the ContentData-type so it works both on pages and blocks.

This is how my Startpage looks:

[ContentType(DisplayName = "Startpage", GUID = "a6762bfb-973b-41c1-acf8-7d26567cd71d", Description = "")]
    public class Startpage : PageData
        [Display(Name = "String", Order = 100)]
        public virtual string Heading { get; set; }

        [Display(Name = "XhtmlString", Order = 110)]
        public virtual XhtmlString HtmlText { get; set; }

        [Display(Name = "InternalBlock", Order = 160)]
        public virtual InternalBlock InternalBlock { get; set; }

        [Display(Name = "Contentarea", Order = 170)]
        public virtual ContentArea ContentArea { get; set; }

The only thing that needs to be added to make the property appear in the JSON output is the JsonProperty-attribute(Newtonsoft).

Im thinking about removing that and instead use the Display-attribute and make the JsonProperty-attribute optional if you want to specify a custom JSON key.

Note, the above is now implemented, you dont need the JsonProperty attribute. Read more at GitHub. EPiServer - ContentJson

The JSON genereated would look like this:

        "heading": "This is the heading",
        "body": "<p>This is cool because <strong>JOSEF WROTE IT</strong></p>",
        "internalBlock": {
            "heading" : "Internalblock Heading here",
            "subHeading" : "This is my subheading"
        "contentArea": {
            "sharedBlockName" : [
                    "heading" : "Hello",
                    "subHeading" : "Hey you"
                    "heading" : "Goodbye",
                    "subHeading" : "Cheers"
            "rappersBlock" : [
                	"name" : "Eminem",
                    "isTheGreatestRapperEver": true,
                    "sucks" : false
                	"name" : "Big Sean",
                    "isTheGreatestRapperEver" : false,
                    "sucks" : false
                    "name" : "Flo Rida",
                    "isTheGreatestRapperEver" : false,
                    "sucks" : true

That's just a simple example, head over to the GitHub repo and look at some other examples and try it out!

Don't forget to look at how I solved the SelectOne/SelectMany property type, I think it turned out quite nicely

XForms support######

Yeah...im thinking about it, but I will not implement it right now, it will come, someday. Right now I just don't feel like parsing XML... :)