Tag Archives: ViewModel

Modal dialogs with MVVM and Silverlight 4

In the previous post we covered how to show Views and how to wire them up with their ViewModels while preserving ability to correctly see their preview in Visual Studio and Blend design mode.

In this post i would like to tackle another problem that is very common in MVVM and yet very rarely done correctly.

I will try to provide simple and platform agnostic way of showing Modal Dialogs in MVVM manner without any code in View (later in the post we will reuse same concept and provide way to show simple message dialogs in the same way).

For those of you that have no patience here is the demo application that shows dialogs in action. On the main page there are two identical views each of them showing a list of users. For each user if you click the Edit button you will see the modal dialog to edit users properties.
Del button shows the message dialog to confirm deleting of the user n or to cancel it.

So lets begin: Actual implementation of the concept will be done in Silverlight 4 but it can be easily and without any pain converted to any other UI platform like WPF etc.

Our main design goals are:

  1. Platform agnostic solution to show modal dialogs that could be easily reused in WPF (or any other platform that supports concept of dialogs)
  2. We want our modal dialogs to be triggered by some UI event in our Views (like click on the button etc) but not from codebehind of the view
  3. Actual logic of showing dialogs must reside in ViewModel and NEVER (oh never) in code behind of the dialog (View)
  4. Dialogs must support MVVM pattern themselves so they should be able to bind to their ViewModel if needed
  5. Dialogs should be able to return result to the caller (maybe we wont need this always but there must be a way if needed)

Nice thing that could help us a lot is that Silverlight 3/4 comes with very handy ChildWindow control that is perfect fit for what we are trying to do, so we will try to reuse it in smart way.

The question remains how to use Silverlight ChildWindow class with MVVM pattern and to remain decoupled from anything that is platform specific about it.

We will first take the most important things that each Modal Dialog should have and extract this to separate interface IModalWindow:

  public interface IModalWindow
  {
    bool? DialogResult { get; set; }
    event EventHandler Closed;
    void Show();
    object DataContext { get; set; }
    void Close();
  }

As you can see IModalWindow is almost like an 1:1 abstraction of ChildWindow class :)
But its important to note here that IModalWindow contains only pure .NET constructs so it does not have anything Silverlight specific so that means we can implement this interface and create modal dialog controls in any .NET platform (WPF, WinForms etc).

IModalWindow has Show and Close methods, then it has DataContext so we can bind it to its ViewModel, then there is DialogResult boolean property to tell us if user confirmed the action or not, and it has event handler so we can hook to it when dialog is closed to pickup some results or do other actions (if we need it).

In order to be able to actually show dialogs that implement IModalWindow to our user we will introduce another layer of abstraction – it will be service that implements IModalDialogService interface that will have generic methods for showing the dialogs and completely hide the details of the implementation – as we said this should be platform agnostic so interface will contain nothing specific to Silverlight.

here is how the IModalDialogService interface looks:

  public interface IModalDialogService
  {
    void ShowDialog<TViewModel>(IModalWindow view, TViewModel viewModel, Action<TViewModel> onDialogClose);

    void ShowDialog<TDialogViewModel>(IModalWindow view, TDialogViewModel viewModel);
  }

Our service interface defines two methods, first is one when when we want to specify OnClose handler so that we can do some action when dialog is closed and second overload is for showing modal dialogs in ‘Fire and forget’ mode without knowing when or how the dialog is closed.

Both ShowDialog methods are generic, accepting TViewModel type where we specify type of the ViewModel for our dialog (usually this is ViewModel interface). If we don’t need ViewModel for the dialog we can always set this to null.

So when showing dialog we pass the actual dialog – the View (i will explain later how we will get it) and its ViewModel and optionally we define an Action that is called when the dialog is closed (with the ViewModel instance of the dialog as the parameter – this is how we can get the results of the dialog or data user entered on the dialog etc).

And finally lets see how the Silverlight version of the ModalDialogService is implemented:

  public class ModalDialogService : IModalDialogService
  {
    public void ShowDialog<TDialogViewModel>(IModalWindow view, TDialogViewModel viewModel, Action<TDialogViewModel> onDialogClose)
    {
      view.DataContext = viewModel;
      if (onDialogClose != null)
      {
        view.Closed += (sender, e) => onDialogClose(viewModel);
      }
      view.Show();
    }

    public void ShowDialog<TDialogViewModel>(IModalWindow view, TDialogViewModel viewModel)
    {
      this.ShowDialog(view, viewModel, null);
    }
  }

Implementation as you can see is very simple.
Service just sets the passed ViewModel to the DataContext of the passed dialog view, attaches the OnClose handler if we provided it and finally shows the view.

Now lets see the XAML and codebehind of one simple dialog we defined in sample application – dialog to edit user detials:

<controls:ChildWindow x:Class="MvvmModalDialogs.Views.EditUserModalDialogView"
           xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
           xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
           xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006"
           xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008" mc:Ignorable="d"
           xmlns:controls="clr-namespace:System.Windows.Controls;assembly=System.Windows.Controls" xmlns:DummyViewModels="clr-namespace:MvvmModalDialogs.ViewModels.DummyViewModels" Width="400" Height="300"
           Title="Edit User" d:DataContext="{Binding Source={StaticResource viewModel}}" >
    <controls:ChildWindow.Resources>
        <DummyViewModels:DummyEditUserModalDialogViewModel x:Key="viewModel" ></DummyViewModels:DummyEditUserModalDialogViewModel>
    </controls:ChildWindow.Resources>
  <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Margin="2">
    <Grid.RowDefinitions>
      <RowDefinition />
      <RowDefinition Height="Auto" />
    </Grid.RowDefinitions>

        <TextBlock Text="{Binding Path=User.FullName}" HorizontalAlignment="Center" VerticalAlignment="Center" />

        <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal" Grid.Row="1" HorizontalAlignment="Right" VerticalAlignment="Center">
            <Button x:Name="CancelButton" Content="Cancel" Click="CancelButton_Click" Width="75" Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Right" Margin="0,5,20,5"  />
            <Button x:Name="OKButton" Content="OK" Click="OKButton_Click" Width="75" Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Right" Margin="0,5,20,5"  />
        </StackPanel>

        <Grid Height="142" HorizontalAlignment="Center" Margin="30,17,0,0" Name="grid1" VerticalAlignment="Center" Width="310">
            <Grid.RowDefinitions>
                <RowDefinition Height="32*" />
                <RowDefinition Height="33*" />
                <RowDefinition Height="32*" />

            </Grid.RowDefinitions>
            <Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
                <ColumnDefinition Width="84*" />
                <ColumnDefinition Width="31*" />
                <ColumnDefinition Width="195*" />
            </Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
            <TextBlock Grid.Row="0" Grid.Column="0" Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Right"  Text="User Id:" VerticalAlignment="Center"  />
            <TextBlock Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Stretch"  Text="{Binding User.Id}" VerticalAlignment="Center" Grid.Row="0" Grid.Column="2" />

            <TextBlock Grid.Row="1" Grid.Column="0" Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Right"  Text="Username:" VerticalAlignment="Center"  />
            <TextBox Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Stretch"  Text="{Binding User.Username, Mode=TwoWay}" VerticalAlignment="Center" Grid.Row="1" Grid.Column="2" />

            <TextBlock Grid.Row="2" Grid.Column="0" Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Right"  Text="Is Admin:" VerticalAlignment="Center"  />
            <CheckBox Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Stretch" IsChecked="{Binding User.IsAdmin, Mode=TwoWay}" VerticalAlignment="Center" Grid.Row="2" Grid.Column="2" />

        </Grid>
    </Grid>
</controls:ChildWindow>

So its just simple ChildWindow control, that has few TextBoxes to show and edit details of one User instance.

And in the codebehind of the ChildWindow control we just mark it as implementor of our IChildWindow interface (and we set the DialogResult to true if user clicked OK button, but this can be done in ‘pure’ way via DelegateCommand i just used codebehind here for simplicity and because its not part of the business logic, its concern of the UI to tell us if the user closed dialog by clicking on OK button or not).

    public partial class EditUserModalDialogView : IModalWindow
    {
        public EditUserModalDialogView()
        {
            InitializeComponent();
        }

        private void OKButton_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
        {
            this.DialogResult = true;
        }

        private void CancelButton_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
        {
            this.DialogResult = false;
        }
    }
 

So all this gives us a completely platform agnostic solution to modal dialogs, and yet we used the powerful ChildWindow control that comes with Silverlight.
If we later decide to implement our modal dialogs in a different way we can do this easily just by creating a different control that implements IChildWindow and we are cool, nothing needs to be changed in our code that shows the dialogs.

So now how would we use this dialog in code?

There is one more peace of the puzzle to solve. We need to register our dialog controls somehow so we can easily pass them to our IModalService to show them so i will use ServiceLocator pattern for this.

We will create a Bootstrapper class that will be called in App.xaml.cs on application startup and this class will have task to register all common dialogs that we will be using in our application:

public class Bootstrapper
    {
        public static void InitializeIoc()
        {
            SimpleServiceLocator.SetServiceLocatorProvider(new UnityServiceLocator());
            SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Register<IModalDialogService, ModalDialogService>();
            SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Register<IMessageBoxService, MessageBoxService>();
            SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Register<IMainPageViewModel, MainPageViewModel>();

            SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Register<IModalWindow, EditUserModalDialogView>(Constants.EditUserModalDialog);
        }
    }

As you can see we are registering (among other things) EditUserModalDialogView that is in fact ChildWindow control as implementor of IModalWindow interface under a name from constants (Constants is the class holding distinct string names for each of the dialog types we want to use in application).

So now that everything is set, and our ServiceLocator knows of our dialogs, we can retrieve new instance of any of our dialogs to show them from the ViewModel of some view (when some button is clicked inside a DelegateCommand etc).

In this example i have only one dialog type that is implementing IModalWindow interface – EditUserModalDialogView, but i could have had many different types of dialogs that i will be showing to users so i would register them all in the Boostrapper as implementors of IModalWindow but under different named constants.
Then i would just retrieve the one i need by asking my service locator for a type that implements IModalWindow and supplying a string key that would determine which dialog exactly i need.

For example to retrieve instance of EditUserModalDialogView i would type this:

var dialog = SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Get<IModalWindow>(Constants.EditUserModalDialog);

In order to just show dialog without any ViewModel or OnClose callback i would do this:

var dialog = SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Get<IModalWindow>(Constants.EditUserModalDialog);
this.modalDialogService.ShowDialog(dialog, null);

or to set ViewModel for the dialog i could do this:

var dialog = SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Get<IModalWindow>(Constants.EditUserModalDialog);
this.modalDialogService.ShowDialog(dialog, new EditUserModalDialogViewModel
{
User = userInstanceToEdit
});

These were all simple cases. Now lets see how we can show dialog from DelegateCommand in ViewModal when user clicks on some Button in View, and also let’s set a callback function to be called when dialog is closed so we can do something meaningful like updating user details:

First we crate button on View to trigger the action and bind its Command property to a DelegateCommand in ViewModel and use binding for CommandParameter (in this case binding is the actual User instance):

<Button Content="Edit" Command="{Binding Source={StaticResource viewModelLocator}, Path=ViewModel.ShowUserCommand}" CommandParameter="{Binding}" />

And now in the ViewModel in the ShowUserCommand DelegateCommand we place the code to show the dialog and update Users collection afterwards if needed:

        this.ShowUserCommand = new DelegateCommand<User>(userInstanceToEdit =>
        {
          var dialog = SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Get<IModalWindow>(Constants.EditUserModalDialog);
          this.modalDialogService.ShowDialog(dialog, new EditUserModalDialogViewModel
          {
            User = userInstanceToEdit
          },
          returnedViewModelInstance =>
          {
            if (dialog.DialogResult.HasValue && dialog.DialogResult.Value)
            {
            var oldPos = this.Users.IndexOf(userInstanceToEdit);
            this.Users.RemoveAt(oldPos);
            this.Users.Insert(oldPos, returnedViewModelInstance.User);
            }
            });
        });

So basically im setting the DelegateCommand (see details of the DelegateCommand implementation in the project attached to the post) with code to retrieve the Edit User dialog from the ServiceLocator.
Then im calling services ShowDialog method, passing the new instance of EditUserModalDialogViewModel as the ViewModel of the dialog (containing the user instance i want to edit) and im passing lamda for onDialogClose callback to remove old instance of the User from Users collection on ViewModel and replace it with the new one we received from the dialog.
Off course im first checking if user clicked on Ok button (using dialog.DialogResult property to check that).

And there you have it: simple MVVM solution for modal dialogs that you can port to any platform and implement with any kind of control or popup you want.

To show this concept in more detail i created another similar service to show message boxes to the user.
Again we have the service interface – IMessageBoxService that offers two ways of showing message boxes, first one more complex where we specify message, caption and buttons displayed on the message box and second one, simpler where we just specify message and caption, so only OK button is shown to the user:

  public interface IMessageBoxService
  {
    GenericMessageBoxResult Show(string message, string caption, GenericMessageBoxButton buttons);
    void Show(string message, string caption);
  }

I also created abstractions for the common button types and return results so we don’t depend on Silverlight MessageBox class (that we will use underneath) is using:

  public enum GenericMessageBoxButton
  {
    Ok,
    OkCancel
  }

  public enum GenericMessageBoxResult
  {
    Ok,
    Cancel
  }

So lets see how the actual Silverlight implementation of IMessageBoxService interface would look like:

  public class MessageBoxService : IMessageBoxService
  {
    public GenericMessageBoxResult Show(string message, string caption, GenericMessageBoxButton buttons)
    {
      var slButtons = buttons == GenericMessageBoxButton.Ok
                        ? MessageBoxButton.OK
                        : MessageBoxButton.OKCancel;

      var result = MessageBox.Show(message, caption, slButtons);

      return result == MessageBoxResult.OK ? GenericMessageBoxResult.Ok : GenericMessageBoxResult.Cancel;
    }

      public void Show(string message, string caption)
      {
          MessageBox.Show(message, caption, MessageBoxButton.OK);
      }
  }

Again its very simple, we are using the built in Silverlight’s MessageBox class to show the actual message box but later we can decide its not good enough and implement it in another way (maybe with 3rd party message box component etc) yet our code in ViewModel wont change since it will be talking only to our interface.

Here is the example of how i use this MessageBoxService in the demo project for this post:

        this.DeleteUserCommand = new DelegateCommand<User>(p =>
        {
          var result = this.messageBoxService.Show(string.Format("Are you sure you want to delete user {0} ???", p.Username),
              "Please Confirm", GenericMessageBoxButton.OkCancel);
          if (result == GenericMessageBoxResult.Ok)
          {
            this.Users.Remove(p);
          }
        });

What i do here is just set the DelegateCommand in ViewModel to first show the message box with Ok and Cancel buttons and if user pressed Ok do some action – delete from the list.

So i think this two solutions covered all design goals we set on the start: we have decoupled way of showing modal dialogs and message boxes currently done in Silverlight but they could be easily converted to another platform.
Also approach is MVVM friendly without any hacks so any pattern purist can be satisfied with it.
If you have some concerns or suggestions on this approach i would be happy to hear it!

Here is the attached VS 2010 solution with full source code from the post.
Live demo of the application showing modal dialogs and message boxes flying around the screen.

Wiring up View and Viewmodel in MVVM and Silverlight 4 – Blendability included

Im a BIG fan of  Silverlight and also i really like the Model View ViewModel pattern. Nice part is that those two fit perfectly. The downside is that everyone is doing MVVM the way they like it or the way they think they like it. There is no strict guidance,  there are no ‘Bible’ kind of books written on the subject, there is only a enormous pile of information (of varying quality) on the web contributed by developers all over the world trying to (ab)use this pattern in their everyday practice.

(probably you can take this post as just another small contribution to that information pile on the MVVM).

Yes, there are many mature MVVM frameworks for Silverlight and WPF out there (Prism, MVVMLight, Caliburn etc) and they try to provide standardized ways of doing things but they either lack features or they are overly complex for my taste. Also problem with frameworks is that each of them solves some problems in good or excellent way yet other things are not covered or they are done in way that is not acceptable for each need.

So i guess if you could just merge them all to one solid framework it would be a hell of a tool.

One of the features that most of Silverlight MVVM frameworks are actively trying to solve is the process of wiring up Views and Viewmodels and related to this problem is so-called Blendability.  Blendability is just a fancy word for enabling designers to see the correct preview of their Views in Visual Studio and/or Expression Blend.

And this is not easy task that’s for sure.  Here is why:

As soon as your View Models become more complex and if you start using Dependency Injection with Constructor Injection – because IDE is trying to instantiate your ViewModel in designtime and fails – design surface will blow up in your face and instead of the preview you will just see some error message (if you are lucky enough and your IDE did not crashed already).

I do like how MVVMLight framework is preserving Blendability by using concept of the ViewModelLocator.

Basically this class is some sort of ViewModel factory that returns different ViewModel if its called in runtime or designtime. This keeps the IDE happy and it does not crash because it gets some dummy model when in designtime and when application is trully running it then gets realt ViewModel so everyone is happy :)

While this is pretty smart concept, i don’t like how it is implemented in practice.

In MVVMLight ViewModelLocator  is usaully defined in App.Xaml.cs as global resource (and therefore created on application startup).

Also designtime and runtime versions of ViewModel instances in ViewModelClass are defined as static properties and therefore also created when ViewModelLocator class is first used. Also those static ViewModels are then shared between multiple views which is in my opinion simply  wrong.

Every view should have its own ViewModel instance created for it in runtime.

For example what if i want to show same view multiple times on a single page? (lets say its case of multiple RSS feed widgets on one page each of them showing different RSS feed etc).

Each ViewModel should be instantiated at the same time as its View or at least i should have the freedom to choose when its created depending on the situation and also i should be able to choose if it is shared between multiple instances of same view or not.

So inspired by the concept of ViewModelLocator from MVVMLight i created my own variation of this class and i will be presenting this solution in this post.

So enough talk  lets first show some code. This is my current version of the ViewModelLocatorBase class:

ViewModelLocatorBase.cs:

using System.ComponentModel;
using Framework.Abstractions.Silverlight.ServiceLocation;

namespace Framework.Implementors.Silverlight.MVVM
{
  public abstract class ViewModelLocatorBase<TViewModel> : NotifyPropertyChangedEnabledBase where TViewModel : class
  {
    private static bool? isInDesignMode;
    private TViewModel runtimeViewModel;
    private TViewModel designtimeViewModel;

    /// <summary>
    /// Gets a value indicating whether the control is in design mode
    /// (running in Blend or Visual Studio).
    /// </summary>
    public static bool IsInDesignMode
    {
      get
      {
        if (!isInDesignMode.HasValue)
        {
          isInDesignMode = DesignerProperties.IsInDesignTool;
        }

        return isInDesignMode.Value;
      }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Holds the intance of the runtime version of the ViewModel that is instantiated only when application is really running by retrieving the instance from IOC container
    /// </summary>
    protected TViewModel RuntimeViewModel
    {
      get
      {
        if (this.runtimeViewModel == null)
        {
          this.RuntimeViewModel = SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Get<TViewModel>();
        }
        return runtimeViewModel;
      }

      set
      {
        runtimeViewModel = value;
        this.OnPropertyChanged("ViewModel");
      }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Gets current ViewModel instance so if we are in designer its <see cref="DesigntimeViewModel"/> and if its runtime then its <see cref="RuntimeViewModel"/>.
    /// </summary>
    public TViewModel ViewModel
    {
      get
      {
        return IsInDesignMode ? this.DesigntimeViewModel : this.RuntimeViewModel;
      }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Holds the intance of the designtime version of the ViewModel that is instantiated only when application is opened in IDE designer (VisualStudio, Blend etc).
    /// </summary>
    public TViewModel DesigntimeViewModel
    {
      get
      {
        return designtimeViewModel;
      }

      set
      {
        designtimeViewModel = value;
        this.OnPropertyChanged("ViewModel");
      }
    }
  }
}

As you can see ViewModelLocatorBase is generic and abstract class that should be inherited by concrete ViewModelLocators, usually one for each View but this is not necessarily the case and you can have as many ViewModel locators for single view as you like (or you can share same ViewModelLocator between multiple instances of same View on one page if that is really what you need, also each view can have its own if needed).

Generic type TViewModel is usually the interface that your ViewModel is implementing (you could use concrete class type there but i strongly disagree with that – Views should bind to interfaces and later you can easily mock them etc).
ViewModelLocatorBase inside its static property IsInDesignMode determines if its instantiated inside aome IDE designer or inside the real running application.

I have tested it in Blend 3 and Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 and it works fine.

Based on that fact (runtime or designtime) ViewModelLocatorBase.ViewModel property returns appropriate ViewModel instance.
If its designtime it returns value of DesignTimeViewModel property and if its runtime it returns RuntimeViewModel property value.
Now as you can see in the getter of RuntimeViewModel property, when its first time accessed it retrieves the concrete instance of our generic TViewModel type (it uses my home grown IOC adapter called SimpleServiceLocator but you can plugin any IOC you want behind it).

This instance is then saved to private property so its created only once.

So this way on runtime you will get there whichever concrete implementation you set up in your IOC for the TViewModel type.

Here is how i setup IOC in Bootstrapper class:

  public class Bootstrapper
  {
    public static void InitializeIoc()
    {
      SimpleServiceLocator.SetServiceLocatorProvider(new UnityServiceLocator());
      SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Register<IMessageBoxService, MessageBoxService>();
      SimpleServiceLocator.Instance.Register<IEditUsersViewModel, EditUsersViewModel>();
    }
  }

To have something returned from the getter of the ViewModel in designtime we need to set the DesigntimeViewModel property.
We do that in the concrete ViewModelLocator class that is inheriting from ViewModelLocatorBase so that in design time IDE will get this instance.

Here is one simple concrete ViewModelLocator implementation:

  public class EditUsersViewModelLocator : ViewModelLocatorBase<IEditUsersViewModel>
  {
    public EditUsersViewModelLocator()
    {
      this.DesigntimeViewModel = new DummyEditUsersViewModel();
    }
  }

So the concrete EditUsersViewModelLocator class simply inherits the ViewModelLocatorBase and for the generic type it specifies the interface IEditUsersViewModel that ViewModels for the EditUsersView should implement and after this it sets the value of the DesigntimeViewModel property to a instance of DummyEditUsersViewModel which is a (as its name clearly states) just some dummy implementation of the IEditUsersViewModel with some test data to be displayed on the screen when editing this view in Blend or VisualStudio designer.

Sounds simple? well that was the original goal :)

Lets paste some more code. This is how the IEditUsersViewModel interface looks like:

  public interface IEditUsersViewModel
  {
    ObservableCollection<User> Users { get; }
    ICommand DeleteUserCommand { get; }
  }

Here is the dummy ViewModel for the design time that has test data to be displayed in designtime:
(it uses static properties to prevent VS2010 with r# from crashing if you open the views without first compiling the whole solution)

  public class DummyEditUsersViewModel : ViewModel, IEditUsersViewModel
  {
    private static ObservableCollection<User> users = new ObservableCollection<User>();

    static DummyEditUsersViewModel()
    {
      users = new ObservableCollection<User>
                     {
                       new User {Username = "Designtime User a", IsAdmin = true},
                       new User {Username = "Designtime User b", IsAdmin = true},
                       new User {Username = "Designtime Admin User c", IsAdmin = true},
                       new User {Username = "Designtime Admin User d", IsAdmin = true}
                     };
       deleteUserCommand = new DelegateCommand<object>(p => {});
    }

      private static ICommand deleteUserCommand;
      public ICommand DeleteUserCommand
      {
          get { return deleteUserCommand; }
          private set { deleteUserCommand = value; }
      }

      public ObservableCollection<User> Users
    {
      get { return users; }
      set { users = value;}
    }
  }

And here is how we would use this concrete ViewModelLocator in our view:

<UserControl x:Class="MvvmBlendability.Views.EditUsersView"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
    xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008"
    xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006" xmlns:ViewModels="clr-namespace:MvvmBlendability.ViewModels" mc:Ignorable="d"
    d:DesignHeight="300" d:DesignWidth="400"  d:DataContext="{Binding Source={StaticResource viewModelLocator}, Path=ViewModel}"  >
    <UserControl.Resources>
        <ViewModels:EditUsersViewModelLocator x:Key="viewModelLocator"  />
    </UserControl.Resources>

    <UserControl.DataContext>
        <Binding Source="{StaticResource viewModelLocator}" Path="ViewModel" />
    </UserControl.DataContext>

    <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="Silver" HorizontalAlignment="Center" VerticalAlignment="Center" Margin="10">
        <Grid.RowDefinitions>
            <RowDefinition Height="Auto"></RowDefinition>

            <RowDefinition Height="*"></RowDefinition>
        </Grid.RowDefinitions>
        <TextBlock HorizontalAlignment="Right" Text="Edit Users"  FontSize="18" Margin="0,10,10,5" FontFamily="Arial Black" />
        <ListBox Grid.Row="1" ItemsSource="{Binding Path=Users}" Background="AliceBlue" HorizontalAlignment="Stretch" >

            <ListBox.ItemTemplate>
                <DataTemplate>
                    <Grid>
                        <Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
                            <ColumnDefinition MinWidth="300"></ColumnDefinition>
                            <ColumnDefinition Width="21*"></ColumnDefinition>
                            <ColumnDefinition Width="21*"></ColumnDefinition>
                        </Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
                        <TextBlock Text="{Binding Path=Username}" />
                        <Button Grid.Column="2" Content="Del" Command="{Binding Source={StaticResource viewModelLocator}, Path=ViewModel.DeleteUserCommand}" CommandParameter="{Binding}" />

                    </Grid>
                </DataTemplate>
            </ListBox.ItemTemplate>
        </ListBox>
    </Grid>

</UserControl>

In the Xaml its very important that you notice this part of the code in the UserControl definition:

d:DataContext="{Binding Source={StaticResource viewModelLocator}, Path=ViewModel}"

Its the very important part and if you miss this out you will not see much in the designer. This actually tells the designer what to use as DataContext of the UserControl (this is our view) in designtime and we will point it to the ViewModel property of our ViewModelLocator instance we defined in the UserControl.Resources section on top of the view.

Yet this code sets the DataContext binding for view for runtime:

    <UserControl.Resources>
        <ViewModels:EditUsersViewModelLocator x:Key="viewModelLocator"  />
    </UserControl.Resources>

    <UserControl.DataContext>
        <Binding Source="{StaticResource viewModelLocator}" Path="ViewModel" />
    </UserControl.DataContext>

We first create instance of out ViewModelLocator in resources of the UserControl (View) and then we set this as DataContext.
And in the design time in VisualStudio when we open EditUsersView we will get this:

As you can see design surface is working and we can see our View showing data from our  DummyEditUsersViewModel.

I have created one more View called ShellView and placed in its Xaml two instances of EditUsersView so that we can be sure it will work in this scenario also.

As i mentioned each instance of the view will get its own ViewModel created and wired up (in this case since its designtime each view will get its own instance of designtime view mode – DummyEditUsersViewModel).

First lets look at the xaml of the ShellView:

<UserControl x:Class="MvvmBlendability.Views.ShellView"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
    xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008"
    xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006" xmlns:Views="clr-namespace:MvvmBlendability.Views" mc:Ignorable="d"
    d:DesignHeight="400" d:DesignWidth="400">

    <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="White">
        <Grid.RowDefinitions>
            <RowDefinition></RowDefinition>
            <RowDefinition></RowDefinition>
        </Grid.RowDefinitions>
        <Views:EditUsersView Grid.Row="0" />
        <Views:EditUsersView Grid.Row="1" />
    </Grid>
</UserControl>

In the ShellView we have two instances of the EditUsersView and both of  them will be assigned with separate ViewModel instance as we declared it in the Xaml of those views via ViewModelLocator so we dont need any ViewModelLocator for ShellView.

Basically EditUsersViews are here used as a component that we dropped on another view and this component takes care of its own DataContext without having to worry about it again. Off course we could also create view that does not have ViewModel assigned via ViewModel locator and place it on ShellView and set its DataContext directly via DataBinding.

All possibilities  are there we just need to choose the appropriate one.

So lets see how ShellView looks in the VS2010 Beta 2 designer:

And its working in Blend also (but be sure to use Microsoft Expression Blend Preview for .NET 4 version to be able to open this solution. Its not working in plain Blend 3 because this version is not supporting VS 2010 projects/solutions).

So here is the ShellView in Blend:

On the other hand, when we actually run our application in browser then ViewModelLocator sets ViewModel property to the real ViewModel instance (runtime version) and view is populated with real data from EditUsersViewModel just as we would expect:
Here is how it looks when we start our application in the browser:

As you can see each instance of the View has different data shown that proves that each has different instance of ViewModel set to its DataContext.

So we have accomplished our three main design goals:

  1. Simple yet powerful View to ViewModel wireup
  2. Blendability
  3. simplicity :)

Im attaching the VisualStudio 2010 solution with full source code of project used in this post.
You can see the live demo of this app here.

Hopefully this has given you some ideas on how to start with MVVM without having to learn frameworks before you event start programming. Later when you realize that you cannot accomplish all your ideas you can always switch to some framework and use it.

Unitl then: Happy DataBinding!