Orchard uses templates and shapes to build views. Templates are conceptually similar to partial views in ASP.NET MVC, and they provide the basic structure for rendering shape data in a page. A template can contain web page content such as HTML markup, CSS styles, and JavaScript code to help render shape data. In addition, a template can contain server-code blocks so that you can access and render shape data in a web page. Shapes are dynamic data models that represent content structures such as menus, menu items, content items, documents, and messages. Shapes provide the data for dynamic views (as opposed to the static ASP.NET views in MVC) that templates render at run time. For more information about working with shapes, see Accessing and Rendering Shapes.

The view engine is responsible for parsing the template and rendering the shape data into a web page. The default view engine for Orchard is the Razor view engine, which is installed with ASP.NET MVC 3. In order for the Razor view engine to correctly parse a template, you must write the template using the Razor syntax, which defines a small set of rules for writing web page templates that contain a mixture of static web page content (such as HTML markup) and programming code.

This topic gives an overview of the Razor syntax used in templates and layout pages. It then shows you how to create your own shape template.

Razor Syntax Primer

Using the simple rules of the Razor syntax, you can embed server-based code (in C# or Visual Basic) into web page markup. Like server code in other ASP.NET web applications, the server code that you embed in a web page using the Razor syntax runs on the server before the page is sent to the browser. The server code in ASP.NET web pages can dynamically generate client content such as HTML markup, CSS, or JavaScript, and then send it to the browser along with any static HTML that the page contains.

The most commonly used language for writing server code with the Razor syntax is C#, and the examples in this article are all written in C#. For an introduction to web page programming using the Razor syntax with C#, see Coding with the Razor Syntax. For a Visual Basic version of the introduction, see ASP.NET Web Pages Visual Basic.

Web pages that contain Razor content have a special file extension (.cshtml for C#, .vbhtml for Visual Basic). The Microsoft feature name for these pages is ASP.NET Web Pages with Razor Syntax. These pages contain the full functionality of the ASP.NET MVC page framework, with the added capability of the Razor syntax for writing page templates. The server recognizes these file extensions, runs the code that's marked with Razor syntax, and sends the resulting page to the browser.

Experimenting with Razor Syntax

If you want to experiment with Razor syntax, you might want to start with WebMatrix. WebMatrix is a free programming environment for creating ASP.NET Web Pages with Razor syntax. It includes IIS Express (a development web server), ASP.NET, and SQL Server Compact (an embedded database also used by Orchard).

WebMatrix gives you productivity features that support Razor syntax, such as syntax highlighting for code and IntelliSense for HTML markup and CSS. You can also work with Razor syntax in Visual Studio 2010, which provides the added features of full IntelliSense for your server code, and also lets you use the Visual Studio debugger. For more information, see Program ASP.NET Web Pages in Visual Studio. However, you can use any text editor to experiment with Razor syntax.

To download and install WebMatrix, go to the WebMatrix downloads page and click the link for the Microsoft Web Platform Installer to start your download.

Code Blocks and Inline Expressions

You add code to a web page using the @ character. Braces ({ }) are used to mark a code block. For example, the following expression assigns the string "Hello World" to a variable named myMessage.

@{ var myMessage = "Hello World"; }

Code blocks can be inserted in the web page interspersed with HTML markup. The following code defines a greeting message that includes the current day of the week and embeds the message in the page markup.

    var greeting = "Welcome to our site!";
    var weekDay = DateTime.Now.DayOfWeek;
    var greetingMessage = greeting + " Today is: " + weekDay;
<p>The greeting is: @greetingMessage</p>

When the code block consists of a single expression, such as a for loop, you can place the @ character in front of a language keyword. In this case, the for loop serves as the entire code block, so you do not need an outer @ character and braces to enclose the block. You can use the same approach with other block coding structures in C#: if-then statements, foreach and while loops, case statements, and so on. In the following expression, the @ character is placed in front of the keyword for. The loop prints a set of numbered lines from 10 to 20.

@for(var i = 10; i < 21; i++)
    <p>Line #: @i</p>

The following example shows how to embed server-side comments in your web pages. These comments are stripped from the markup before the web page is sent to the browser, so users cannot see them. In contrast, client markup comments (<!-- -->) are not stripped from the markup, so users can see them.

@* This is a one-line comment. *@

   This is a multi-line comment.
   It can continue for any number of lines.

Comments within a Razor syntax code block can also use the standard C# commenting syntax (//).

Accessing Orchard Objects in Code

Orchard 1.1 provides simplified access to objects in code, because you can directly access content part objects without having to use casting or extension methods.

The following examples show how to access a Title property on a widget part. The first code example shows the older way of access the property from Orchard version 1.0.20, found in the ~\Modules\Orchard.Widgets\Views\Widget.Wrapper.cshtml file. Note that the code casts the returned object to the IContent interface and uses an As extension method to access the property.

var title = ((IContent)Model.ContentItem).As<WidgetPart>().Title;

Here is the updated and simplified way that you can access the property in Orchard 1.1:

var title = Model.ContentItem.WidgetPart.Title;

Here is a second example of Orchard object access that has been simplified in version 1.1. The following code is in Orchard version 1.0.02 to access the fields for a content item. This example is from a content shape, so the ContentItem object is accessed directly on the Model object. The first line of code casts to ContentItem, and then the second line uses an As() extension method to access the collection of fields on the content part. The return value of the code is the picture width.

var contentItem = (ContentItem)Model.ContentItem;
var picture = (ImageField)contentItem.As<ProfilePart>().Fields.First(f => f.Name == "Picture");

Here is an approach you can use in Orchard 1.1, with the amount of code required to get the picture width reduced from three lines to just one:


Creating Shape Templates

Shape templates are fragments of HTML markup for rendering shapes. To demonstrate how shape templates are used, suppose you want display a map on your web page. The shapes that will contain the map settings for display and edit are defined in the following driver code.

using Maps.Models;
using Orchard.ContentManagement;
using Orchard.ContentManagement.Drivers;

namespace Maps.Drivers
    public class MapPartDriver : ContentPartDriver<MapPart>
        protected override DriverResult Display(
            MapPart part, string displayType, dynamic shapeHelper)
            return ContentShape("Parts_Map",
                                () => shapeHelper.Parts_Map(
                                      Longitude: part.Longitude, 
                                      Latitude: part.Latitude));

        protected override DriverResult Editor(
            MapPart part, dynamic shapeHelper)
            return ContentShape("Parts_Map_Edit",
                                () => shapeHelper.EditorTemplate(
                                      TemplateName: "Parts/Map", 
                                      Model: part));

        protected override DriverResult Editor(
            MapPart part, IUpdateModel updater, dynamic shapeHelper)
            updater.TryUpdateModel(part, Prefix, null, null);
            return Editor(part, shapeHelper);

The Display method is used to display the map. The Editor method marked //GET is used to display the shape result in editing view for user input. The Editor method marked //POST is used to redisplay the editor view using the values provided by the user. These methods use different overloads of the Editor method.

For more information about how to define shapes, see Accessing and Rendering Shapes.

The following example shows a simple template that is used to display the map.

<img alt="Location" border="1" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/api/staticmap? 
     &sensor=false" />

This example shows an img element in which the src attribute contains a URL and a set of parameters passed as query-string values. In this query string, @Model represents the shape that was passed into the template. Therefore, @Model.Latitude is the Latitude property of the shape, and @Model.Longitude is the Longitude property of the shape.

The following example shows the template for the editor. This template enables the user to enter values for latitude and longitude.

@model Maps.Models.MapPart

    <legend>Map Fields</legend>

    <div class="editor-label">
        @Html.LabelFor(model => model.Longitude)
    <div class="editor-field">
        @Html.TextBoxFor(model => model.Latitude)
        @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.Latitude)

    <div class="editor-label">
        @Html.LabelFor(model => model.Longitude)
    <div class="editor-field">
        @Html.TextBoxFor(model => model.Longitude)
        @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.Longitude)


The @Html.LabelFor expressions create labels using the name of the shape properties. The @Html.TextBoxFor expressions create text boxes where users enter values for the shape properties. The @Html.ValidationMessageFor expressions create messages that are displayed if users enter an invalid value.

Layout and Document Templates

The layout and document templates are special template types that define the structure of a web page. These templates are most often used in themes for laying out a web page. Each web page has a Layout shape (dynamic object) associated with it. The Layout shape defines the zones that are available to hold web page contents. The layout and document templates determine how the zones defined in the Layout shape will be laid out on the web page.

The layout template (Layout.cshtml) lays out the zones for the body of the web page. The document template (Document.cshtml) wraps around the layout template and lays out the remainder of the web page.

By default, the Layout shape defines three zones for use in the document template (Head, Body, and Tail) and one shape for the layout template (Content). In the document template, the Head zone is used to define the header of the web page, the Body zone is where the layout template is inserted, and the Tail zone is used for the footer of the web page.

The following example shows a typical document template.

@using Orchard.Mvc.Html;
@using Orchard.UI.Resources;
    RegisterLink(new LinkEntry {Type = "image/x-icon", Rel = "shortcut icon", 
       Href = Url.Content("~/modules/orchard.themes/Content/orchard.ico")});

    var title = (Request.Path != Request.ApplicationPath && !string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace((string)Model.Title)
                    ? Model.Title + WorkContext.CurrentSite.PageTitleSeparator
                    : "") +
<!DOCTYPE html> 
<html lang="en" class="static @Html.ClassForPage()"> 
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    < script>(function(d){d.className="dyn"+d.className.substring(6,d.className.length);})(document.documentElement);</script>
@* Layout (template) is in the Body zone at the default position *@

This document template contains a code block that links to an icon and formats the page title. It also contains the basic HTML structure for the web page, and it determines placement of the Head, Body, and Tail zones.

The following example shows a typical layout template. Notice that the layout template references zones in addition to the Content zone. These new zones are added to the Layout shape if content is added to the zone.

@* Html.RegisterStyle("site.css"); *@
    Model.Header.Add(Display.Header(), "5");
    Model.Header.Add(Display.User(), "10");
    Model.Header.Add(Model.Navigation, "15");
<div id="page">
    <div id="main">
        <div id="messages">
        <div id="content-wrapper">
            <div id="content">
        <div id="sidebar-wrapper">
            <div id="sidebar">
    <div id="footer-wrapper">

This layout template contains a code block that adds subzones to the Header zone. It also refers to the following new zones: Messages, Sidebar, and Footer.

In order for these zones to appear in the Orchard UI so you can add content to them, you must reference the zones in the theme's Theme.txt file, as shown in the following example.

Name: SimpleTheme
Description: Simple example theme.
Version: 1.0
Tags: Simple
Website: http://www.orchardproject.net
Zones: Header, User, Navigation, Messages, Content, Sidebar, Footer

Change History

  • Updates for Orchard 1.1
    • 4-4-11: Updated introduction to the Razor syntax. Added new section on accessing Orchard objects in code.