Microsoft.NET

……………………………………………….Expertise in .NET Technologies

4-Tier Architecture in ASP.NET with C#

Posted by Ravi Varma Thumati on April 22, 2009

Almost all of us must have heard about 3-Tier architecture but what is this 4-Tier architecture? What are the benefits and how it is different from other architectures?

 

Well, the architecture I am going to demonstrate here is just enhancement of 3-Tier architecture. In this architecture; you no need of writing long function parameters throughout the layers (as in traditionally 3-Tier architecture has to) and the actual objects of the application will be in a separate tier so that in future you can separately use these objects for enhancements. Change in the object definition can be done without touching the entire Business Access Layers.

 
Let us explore the step-wise process of creation of 4-Tier architecture application.


In this application, we are going to take example of a Person that will have 3 properties: FirstName, LastName, Age.

We will create a separate pages to insert these records (default.aspx) into database and list,update,delete records (list.aspx) from database.


In this application we will have following 4-Tiers

1.      Business Object [BO]

2.      Business Access Layer [BAL]

3.      Data Access Layer [DAL]

4.      UI (4-Tier) folder [UI]

 

4-tiers 

For simplicity reason, we have created separate folders for first 3-tiers into App_Code folder. You can create separate projects for these tiers and add into forth tier (UI) solution.


Let’s create above tiers one by one.


Business Object [BO – Person.cs]


Create a separate folder by right-clicking App_Code folder and name it as BO. Right click this folder and create a new .cs (Class) file named Person.cs. Write following code inside it.

 

    int m_PersonID = 0;
    string m_FirstName = string.Empty;
    string m_LastName = string.Empty;
    int m_Age = 0;
    #region Propertiers
    public int PersonID
    {
        get { return m_PersonID; }
        set { m_PersonID = value; }
    }
    public string FirstName
    {
        get { return m_FirstName; }
        set { m_FirstName = value; }
    }
    public string LastName
    {
        get { return m_LastName; }
        set { m_LastName = value; }
    }
    public int Age
    {
        get { return m_Age; }
        set { m_Age = value; }
    }
     #endregion Properties


Here, we are first declaring 4 variables for corresponding properties and defining properties for them. This is your Business Object with all its properties/attributes to work with. Next step is to create Data Access Layer.


Data Access Layer [DAL – PersonDAL.cs]


The way you created BO folder inside App_Code folder, create another folder named DAL. Create a .cs file inside it and name it as PersonDAL.cs


Write following code inside it (You can copy-paste).

 

using System;
using System.Data;
using System.Configuration;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.Security;
using System.Web.UI;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls.WebParts;
using System.Web.UI.HtmlControls;
using System.Data.SqlClient;
/// <summary>
/// Summary description for PersonDAL
/// </summary>
public class PersonDAL 
{
    string connStr = ConfigurationManager.ConnectionStrings["TutTestConn"].ToString();
               public PersonDAL()
               {
               }
    /// <summary>
    /// Used to insert records into database
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="p"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public int Insert(Person person)
    {
        SqlConnection conn = new SqlConnection(connStr);
        conn.Open();
        SqlCommand dCmd = new SqlCommand("InsertData", conn);
        dCmd.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
        try
        {
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@firstName", person.FirstName);
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@lastName", person.LastName);
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@age", person.Age);
            return dCmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            dCmd.Dispose();
            conn.Close();
            conn.Dispose();
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Update record into database
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="p"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public int Update(Person person)
    {
        SqlConnection conn = new SqlConnection(connStr);
        conn.Open();
        SqlCommand dCmd = new SqlCommand("UpdateData", conn);
        dCmd.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
        try
        {
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@firstName", person.FirstName);
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@lastName", person.LastName);
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@age", person.Age);
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@personID", person.PersonID);
            return dCmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            dCmd.Dispose();
            conn.Close();
            conn.Dispose();
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Load all records from database
    /// </summary>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public DataTable Load()
    {
        SqlConnection conn = new SqlConnection(connStr);
        SqlDataAdapter dAd = new SqlDataAdapter("LoadAll", conn);
        dAd.SelectCommand.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
        DataSet dSet = new DataSet();
        try
        {
            dAd.Fill(dSet, "PersonTable");
            return dSet.Tables["PersonTable"];
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            dSet.Dispose();
            dAd.Dispose();
            conn.Close();
            conn.Dispose();
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Delete record from database
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="person"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public int Delete(Person person)
    {
        SqlConnection conn = new SqlConnection(connStr);
        conn.Open();
        SqlCommand dCmd = new SqlCommand("DeleteData", conn);
        dCmd.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
        try
        {
            dCmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@personID", person.PersonID);
            return dCmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            dCmd.Dispose();
            conn.Close();
            conn.Dispose();
        }
    }
}


In this class file, we have Insert, Update, Delete, Load methods. In this class file, first I am getting the connection string from the web.config file in a class level variable called connStr and using the same string in all my methods to open the connection.


 

This was your Data Access Layer. Till now you have your Business Object and Data Access Layer ready. Now let’s go to the third layer and create Business Access Layer.


Business Access Layer [BAL – PersonBAL.cs]


Again, right click App_Code folder and add a new folder named BAL. Create a new class file inside it and name it as PersonBAL.cs. Write following code inside it.

 

using System;
using System.Data;
using System.Configuration;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.Security;
using System.Web.UI;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls.WebParts;
using System.Web.UI.HtmlControls;
/// <summary>
/// Summary description for PersonBAL
/// </summary>
public class PersonBAL
{
               public PersonBAL()
               {
               }
    /// <summary>
    /// insert records into database
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="person"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public int Insert(Person person)
    {
        PersonDAL pDAL = new PersonDAL();
        try
        {
            return pDAL.Insert(person);
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            pDAL = null;
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Update records into database
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="person"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public int Update(Person person)
    {
        PersonDAL pDAL = new PersonDAL();
        try
        {
            return pDAL.Update(person);
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            pDAL = null;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Load records from database
    /// </summary>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public DataTable Load()
    {
        PersonDAL pDAL = new PersonDAL();
        try
        {
            return pDAL.Load();
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            pDAL = null;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Delete record from database
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="person"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>

    public int Delete(Person person)
    {
        PersonDAL pDAL = new PersonDAL();
        try
        {
            return pDAL.Delete(person);
        }
        catch
        {
            throw;
        }
        finally
        {
            pDAL = null;
        }
    }
}
 


Here, we are creating separate methods each for respective PersonDAL.cs methods here. As in our case we don’t have any business logic, so we are just instantiating the Data Access Layer objects, using its methods and returning to UI (fourth layer, described later on).


You must have noticed here that in the try catch block, I am just writing throw; statement. This is because when any error will occur it will be send to the calling layers (in our case UI) and there we will handle it.


Till now, we have BO, BAL and DAL ready. Now we are left with our application face, I mean UI. Let’s first create default.aspx file that will contain one form and textboxes that will be used to enter records.


User Interface – [UI]-Default.aspx


Create a separate folder in your UI solution named 4-Tier and add one .aspx page called Default.aspx (Picture – 2). In this page, we will write ASP.NET code to render textboxes and buttons. OnClick event of the button we will call AddRecords method that will ultimately insert the records into database. Below is the code to render the asp.net form.

 

<form id="form1" runat="server">
    <div>
        <p><a href="List.aspx">List Records</a></p>
        <asp:Label ID="lblMessage" runat="Server" ForeColor="red" 
          EnableViewState="False"></asp:Label>
        <table style="border:2px solid #cccccc;">
            <tr style="background-color:#ECF3AB;">
                <th colspan="3">Add Records</th>
            </tr>
            <tr>
                <td>
                    First Name:
                </td>
                <td>
                    <asp:TextBox ID="txtFirstName" runat="Server"></asp:TextBox>
                </td>
                <td>
                    <asp:RequiredFieldValidator ID="req1" runat="Server" Text="*" 
                    ControlToValidate="txtFirstName" Display="dynamic"></asp:RequiredFieldValidator>
                </td>
            </tr>
            <tr>
                <td>
                    Last Name:
                </td>
                <td>
                    <asp:TextBox ID="txtLastName" runat="Server"></asp:TextBox>
                </td>
                <td>
                    <asp:RequiredFieldValidator ID="req2" runat="Server" Text="*" 
                     ControlToValidate="txtLastName" Display="dynamic"></asp:RequiredFieldValidator>
                </td>
            </tr>
            <tr>
                <td>
                    Age:
                </td>
                <td>
                    <asp:TextBox ID="txtAge" runat="Server" Columns="4"></asp:TextBox>
                </td>
                <td>
                    <asp:RequiredFieldValidator ID="req3" runat="Server" Text="*" ControlToValidate="txtAge" 
                        Display="dynamic"></asp:RequiredFieldValidator>
                    <asp:CompareValidator ID="Comp1" runat="Server" Text="Only integer" 
                ControlToValidate="txtAge" Operator="DataTypeCheck" Type="Integer"></asp:CompareValidator>
                </td>
            </tr>
            <tr>
                <td> </td>
                <td>
                    <asp:Button ID="btnSubmit" runat="server" Text="Submit" OnClick="AddRecords" />
                </td>
            </tr>
        </table>
    </div>
    </form>

Picture – 2 (Default.aspx)

 

insert4-tier
AddRecords method

 

protected void AddRecords(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        //Lets validate the page first
        if (!Page.IsValid)
            return;
        int intResult = 0;
        // Page is valid, lets go ahead and insert records
        // Instantiate BAL object
        PersonBAL pBAL = new PersonBAL();
        // Instantiate the object we have to deal with
        Person person = new Person();
        // set the properties of the object
        person.FirstName = txtFirstName.Text;
        person.LastName = txtLastName.Text;
        person.Age = Int32.Parse(txtAge.Text);
        try
        {
            intResult = pBAL.Insert(person);
            if (intResult > 0)
                lblMessage.Text = "New record inserted successfully.";
            else
                lblMessage.Text = "FirstName [<b>"+ txtFirstName.Text +"</b>] alredy exists, try another 
               name";
        }
        catch (Exception ee)
        {
            lblMessage.Text = ee.Message.ToString();
        }
        finally
        {
            person = null;
            pBAL = null;
        }        
    }


In the above method, I am doing following things mainly:

 

·          Instantiating BAL object

·          Instantiating BO object

·          Setting properties of BO object by the textbox values

·          Calling Insert method of the BAL object and passing BO object as parameter [pBAL.Insert(person)] in try block

·          Checking for number of records affected, If the number is more than zero, I am writing Success message otherwise Duplicate records found.

·          If any layer will throw any error, I am catching it and displaying to the user in throw block.

·          Whatever objects I had instantiated, I am specifying their values to null to let the GC know that I am no more going to use them.


User Interface – [UI]-List.aspx


In this page, I am going to use a GridView to List, Modify, Sort and Delete records from the database. Create an .aspx page in the same 4-Tier folder named List.aspx (Picture – 3). Following is the code for the GridView that will do data manipulation for us.

<form id="form1" runat="server">
    <div>
        <p><a href="Default.aspx">Add Record</a></p>
        <asp:Label ID="lblMessage" runat="Server" ForeColor="red" EnableViewState="False"></asp:Label>
        <asp:GridView ID="GridView1" runat="server" CellPadding="4" ForeColor="#333333" GridLines="None"
         DataKeyNames="PersonID" AutoGenerateEditButton="True" AutoGenerateColumns="False"
          OnRowEditing="EditRecord" OnRowUpdating="UpdateRecord" OnRowCancelingEdit="CancelRecord"
           OnRowDeleting="DeleteRecord" AllowPaging="True" AllowSorting="true" PageSize="5" 
           OnPageIndexChanging="ChangePage" OnSorting="SortRecords">
            <FooterStyle BackColor="#507CD1" Font-Bold="True" ForeColor="White" />
            <RowStyle BackColor="#EFF3FB" />
            <EditRowStyle BackColor="#2ff1BF" />
            <SelectedRowStyle BackColor="#D1DDF1" Font-Bold="True" ForeColor="#333333" />
            <PagerStyle BackColor="#2461BF" ForeColor="White" HorizontalAlign="Center" />
            <HeaderStyle BackColor="#507CD1" Font-Bold="True" ForeColor="White" />
            <AlternatingRowStyle BackColor="White" />
            <Columns>
                <asp:BoundField DataField="PersonID" HeaderText="Person ID" ReadOnly="True"                      
                 SortExpression="PersonID" />
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="First Name" SortExpression="FirstName">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <%# Eval("FirstName") %>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                    <EditItemTemplate>
                        <asp:TextBox ID="txtFName" runat="Server" Text='<%# Eval("FirstName") 
                       %>'></asp:TextBox>
                    </EditItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Last Name" SortExpression="LastName">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <%# Eval("LastName") %>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                    <EditItemTemplate>
                        <asp:TextBox ID="txtLName" runat="Server" Text='<%# Eval("LastName") 
                         %>'></asp:TextBox>
                    </EditItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Age" SortExpression="Age">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <%# Eval("Age") %>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                    <EditItemTemplate>
                        <asp:TextBox ID="txtAge" runat="Server" Text='<%# Eval("Age") %>'></asp:TextBox>
                    </EditItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Delete?">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <span onclick="return confirm('Are you sure to Delete?')">
                            <asp:LinkButton ID="lnBD" runat="server" Text="Delete" 
                         CommandName="Delete"></asp:LinkButton>
                        </span>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
           </Columns>
        </asp:GridView>
    </div>
    </form>

list4-tier1

Picture – 3 (List.aspx)

On the OnRowEditing, OnRowUpdating, OnRowCancelEdit, OnSorting and OnRowDeleting events we are calling respective methods to do data manipulation. Following are codes to bind the GridView and methods that will fire on GridView events.

 

    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        if (!IsPostBack)
            BindGrid();
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Fired when Cancel button is clicked
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    protected void CancelRecord(object sender, GridViewCancelEditEventArgs e)
    {
        GridView1.EditIndex = -1;
        BindGrid();
    }
     /// <summary>
    /// Fires when Edit button is clicked
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    protected void EditRecord(object sender, GridViewEditEventArgs e)
    {
        GridView1.EditIndex = e.NewEditIndex;
        BindGrid();
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Fires when Update button is clicked
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    protected void UpdateRecord(object sender, GridViewUpdateEventArgs e)
    {
        int personID = Int32.Parse(GridView1.DataKeys[e.RowIndex].Value.ToString());
        int intResult = 0;
        GridViewRow row = GridView1.Rows[e.RowIndex];
        TextBox tFN = (TextBox) row.FindControl("txtFName");
        TextBox tLN = (TextBox)row.FindControl("txtLName");
        TextBox tAge = (TextBox)row.FindControl("txtAge");
        // instantiate BAL
        PersonBAL pBAL = new PersonBAL();
        Person person = new Person();
        try
        {
            person.PersonID = personID;
            person.FirstName = tFN.Text;
            person.LastName = tLN.Text;
            person.Age = Int32.Parse(tAge.Text);
            intResult = pBAL.Update(person);
            if (intResult > 0)
                lblMessage.Text = "Record Updated Successfully.";
            else
                lblMessage.Text = "Record couldn't updated";
        }
        catch (Exception ee)
        {
            lblMessage.Text = ee.Message.ToString();
        }
        finally
        {
            person = null;
            pBAL = null;
        }
        GridView1.EditIndex = -1;
        // Refresh the list
        BindGrid();
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// fires when Delete button is clicked
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    protected void DeleteRecord(object sender, GridViewDeleteEventArgs e)
    {
        int personID = Int32.Parse(GridView1.DataKeys[e.RowIndex].Value.ToString()); 
      // instantiate BAL
        PersonBAL pBAL = new PersonBAL();
        Person person = new Person();
        try
        {
            person.PersonID = personID;
            pBAL.Delete(person);
            lblMessage.Text = "Record Deleted Successfully.";
        }
        catch (Exception ee)
        {
            lblMessage.Text = ee.Message.ToString();
        }
        finally
        {
            person = null;
            pBAL = null;
        }
        GridView1.EditIndex = -1;
        // Refresh the list
        BindGrid();
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Fires when page links are clicked
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    protected void ChangePage(object sender, GridViewPageEventArgs e)
    {
        GridView1.PageIndex = e.NewPageIndex;
        // Refresh the list
        BindGrid();
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Fires when Columns heading are clicked
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="sender"></param>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    protected void SortRecords(object sender, GridViewSortEventArgs e)
    {
        DataTable dataTable = GridDataSource();
        if (dataTable != null)
        {
            DataView dataView = new DataView(dataTable);
            dataView.Sort = GetSortExpression(e);
            GridView1.DataSource = dataView;
            GridView1.DataBind();
        }
    }
    #region Private Methods
    /// <summary>
    /// Bind the gridview
    /// </summary>
    private void BindGrid()
    {
        GridView1.DataSource = GridDataSource();
        GridView1.DataBind();
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Get GridView DataSource
    /// </summary>
    private DataTable GridDataSource()
    {
        PersonBAL p = new PersonBAL();
        DataTable dTable = new DataTable();
        try
        {
            dTable = p.Load();
        }
        catch (Exception ee)
        {
            lblMessage.Text = ee.Message.ToString();
        }
        finally
        {
            p = null;
        }
        return dTable;
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Get sort expression for the gridview
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="e"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>

    private string GetSortExpression(GridViewSortEventArgs e)
    {
        string sortDirection = string.Empty;
         // if clicked on the same column twice then let it toggle the sort order, else reset to ascending
        if (ViewState["SortExpression"] != null)
        {
            if (!ViewState["SortExpression"].ToString().Equals(e.SortExpression.ToLower()))
            {
                ViewState["SortDirection"] = null;
            }
        }
        if (ViewState["SortDirection"] != null)
        {
            if (ViewState["SortDirection"].ToString().Equals("ASC"))
            {
                sortDirection = "DESC";
                ViewState["SortDirection"] = "DESC";
            }
            else
            {
                sortDirection = "ASC";
                ViewState["SortDirection"] = "ASC";
            }
        }
        else
        {
            ViewState["SortDirection"] = "ASC";
        }
        ViewState["SortExpression"] = e.SortExpression.ToLower();
        return e.SortExpression + " " + sortDirection;
    }

    #endregion Private Methods
 


That’s it!!!


Now we have done all our home work, Its time to enjoy now. Just build the application by pressing Ctrl+Shift+B, once it shows Build Succeeded in the status bar at the bottom, you are ready to enjoy your 4-Tier architecture application.

Browse it as http://localhost/4-Tier (Provided you have created “4-Tier” virtual directory in your IIS or you can choose your own virtual directory name), you should see your screens as shown above (default.aspx and list.aspx pages).

Try manipulating data and see how effectively it’s happening. This was a simple application, based on this architecture; you can create larger application by adding separate objects and their corresponding tiers.

In order to use namespace in different tiers, you should define your namespace in respective tiers objects and use those namespace by using statement wherever you need.

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4 Responses to “4-Tier Architecture in ASP.NET with C#”

  1. Hai varmaji.. how are you..! Your Blog is going on excelent than my blog.. your dedication is marvelous,when compare to your blog nothng my blog.. Even though iam your Ekalavaya sishyuralu i nappatiki .. i will never stoodup or over come your blog.. iam ashamed of for this.. why bcoz, i dont the concept.. that’s why iam deleting my blog.. and one thing proud to me.. one great achiever is my chat friend.. for that iam really happy.. thanks varmaji for given of few days excelent subject…wish you all the best varmaji..
    ..sailjamehra

  2. sailu said

    Ravi..Sir,

    Just i need one suggession..How could do practice.. to become like you and tell me.. how to practice.. and also.. here in this concept.. can you give pictorial basis for 4tier archtech.

    • ravivarmathumati said

      Hi Sailu,

      Thanks for the great support and compliments. Coming to the practice part, instead of reading books or working on some individual concepts, it is better to work with some projects… It is always good if you can practice on a realistic samples, it gives more exposure to the concepts.

      Soon i will post picture representation of 4tier architechture….

      Ravi Varma Thumati

  3. raju said

    thanks man
    as a beginner……it helped me alot

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