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Sankarsan Bose .NET Diaries

ASP.NET MVC Framework has been around for quite sometime now.It has now moved to BETA from it's initial CTP versions.I am a very big fan of this framework for it's simplicity and extensibility.For the next few posts I would like discuss about the various extensibility points of this framework.In this post I will note down my observations about implementing a custom controller factory.

When adding a controller to a ASP.NET MVC Web application we see that the Controller name must end with "Controller" and it is recommended that Controller classes to be put inside a subfolder named "Controllers" in the web application directory.Now think of a situation where I have many controller classes and for better maintainability I need to put them into separate assemblies.In addition to that I need to load the controller classes in a configurable manner based on controller name in the URI.

This can be done by implementing a custom controller factory to instantiate the right controller class based on config settings.To do this we need to implement the interface System.Web.Mvc.IControllerFactory .The two methods in this interface are

  1. System.Web.Mvc.IController CreateController(System.Web.Routing.RequestContext requestContext, string controllerName) - To create the controller instance based on RequestContext and controller name
  2. void ReleaseController(System.Web.Mvc.IController controller) - Release the controller instance

Following is the sample code with very rudimentary implementation:

public class CustomControllerFactory : IControllerFactory

    public IController CreateController(System.Web.Routing.RequestContext requestContext, string controllerName)

        string controllerType = string.Empty;
        IController controller = null;

        //Read Controller Class & Assembly Name from Web.Config
        controllerType = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings[controllerName];

        if (controllerType == null) throw new ConfigurationErrorsException("Assembly not configured for controller " + controllerName);

        //Create Controller Instance

        controller = Activator.CreateInstance(Type.GetType(controllerType)) as IController;
        return controller;


    public void ReleaseController(IController controller)
        //This is a sample implementation
        //If pooling is used write code to return the object to pool
        if (controller is IDisposable)
            (controller as IDisposable).Dispose();

        controller = null;


Now the question comes how do we integrate this ControllerFactory with the application.This can be done by setting the Controller factory using System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBuilder in Application_Start event of Global.asax.cs

protected void Application_Start()

Lastly we need to add the config entries for the Controller classes and assemblies in Web.config as shown below:

  <add key="Home" value="SB.Controllers.HomeController, SB.Controllers"/>

We can enhance this further by adding features like pooling,instancing mode (Singleton) etc.

In my next post I will discuss about my observations about the extension points related to Views.

Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 7:40 AM ASP.NET MVC | Back to top

Comments on this post: ASP.NET MVC - Developing Custom ControllerFactory

# re: ASP.NET MVC - Developing Custom ControllerFactory
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Excellent. I was exactly looking for such a solution.
Left by The Dark Lord on Jun 14, 2010 3:38 PM

# re: ASP.NET MVC - Developing Custom ControllerFactory
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A great solution. Could you send me some code samples? My email: Thank you forever!
Left by Jasper Kupage on Jun 24, 2012 8:36 PM

# re: ASP.NET MVC - Developing Custom ControllerFactory
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Good solution ! this is what we are looking for.. In my scenario We have multiple teams want to share same controller. So this solution will suits me.

Left by Parag on Dec 19, 2012 6:45 AM

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