What we will be using

  • FileHelpers (for parsing the CSV file) you can download it with nuget
  • Asp.net MVC 3

The Goal

I want to upload a CSV file to the server and read it as a collection of objects

The CSV File format

The Goal is turning these records to a List of objects with int Id and string Name

Lets get right into it

Viewing the form

Home Controller

public ViewResult Show()  
{
  return View();
}

Show.cshtml

@using (Html.BeginForm("ProcessCsv", "HomeController", FormMethod.Post, new { enctype = "multipart/form-data" }))
  {
    <h2>Import Using CSV</h2>
    <div class="control-group">
      <div class="controls">
        <input id="model" type="file" accept="csv" name="model" data-val="true" data-val-required="File is required" />
      </div>
    </div>
    <input class="btn btn-primary" type="submit" value="Import" />
  }

Lets talk about the view for a little bit, First in the form tag the attribute enctype = “multipart/form-data” is a must if the form contains a file upload

multipart/form-data is a type of encoding the form and you should use it when you have a file upload so the server can understand it

As you can see i wrote manually the data-* attributes that will trigger the Asp.net unobtrusive validations , because there is no html helpers for input type="file"

<input id="model" type="file" accept="csv" name="model" data-val="true" data-val-required="File is required" />  

i made it required by writing data-val=true & data-val-required=msg and only accepts csv files

accept will make the input only accepts csv files (jquery.validate uses the accept attribute to validate the element)

Posting data from the form

Home Controller

public ViewResult ProcessCsv(EventItem[] model)  
{
  return View();
}

Model

[DelimitedRecord(",")]
[IgnoreFirst(1)]
public class EventItem  
{
  public int Id { get; set; }
  public string Name { get; set; }
}

The two attributes DelimitedRecord & IgnoreFirst are FileHelpers attributes they are configrations to map between the CSV and our model

You must now be saying there is something wrong happening because in our view we uploaded a file , how the action takes EventItem[] as a parameter instead of HttpPostedFileBase

The secret is because we implemented a custom model binder that will do exactly that

The Model Binder

public class CsvModelBinder<T> : DefaultModelBinder where T : class  
{
  public override object BindModel(ControllerContext controllerContext, ModelBindingContext bindingContext)
  {  
    var csv =   bindingContext.ValueProvider.GetValue(bindingContext.ModelName);
    var file = ((csv.RawValue as HttpPostedFileBase[]) ?? Enumerable.Empty<HttpPostedFileBase>()).FirstOrDefault();

    if (file == null || file.ContentLength < 1)
    {
      bindingContext.ModelState.AddModelError(
        "",
        "Please select a valid CSV file"
      );
      return null;
    }

    using (var reader = new StreamReader(file.InputStream))
    {
      try
      {
        var engine = new FileHelperEngine<T>();
        return engine.ReadStream(reader);
      }
      catch (Exception c)
      {
        bindingContext.ModelState.AddModelError(bindingContext.ModelName, c.Message);
        return null;
      }
    }
  }
}

In Global.ascx.cs

ModelBinders.Binders.Add(typeof(EventItem[]), new CsvModelBinder<EventItem>());  

We made a generic CSV model binder and in our global.ascx.cs we will map the model that we will use as a CSV model to the CSV model binder and give it that model as its type.

The model binder logic is that it will turn the file to a StreamReader, then will try to read it using the FileHelper if it throws an exception (the files types are not correct, or other reason) will add an error to the ModelState so in the controller we can check if its valid using ModelState.IsValid