Agility ASP.NET + React Starter Template

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This is a sample website using .NET MVC 5 for the backend, Agility as the CMS, ReactJS.NET as the frontend, NPM as the package manager, and Webpack 4 as the module bundler.


The purpose of this repository is to have a sample site setup to demonstrate how React developers can work in an Agility .NET website, and enable them to use their favorite front-end tools such as VS Code, NPM and Webpack.


  • Build a consistent, more maintainable UI
  • More frontend developer friendly
  • Separation of concerns between backend and frontend
  • Build frontends faster


  • Build your entire front-end using React JS components - does not require knowledge of .NET or Razor syntax
  • Use ES6 imports and exports
  • Integrates with Agility.Web and the Content Repository to use content from your Agility instance
  • Server-side rendering support enabled by ReactJS.NET
  • Take advantage of NPM and Webpack support to customize your frontend dev experience


Slides from a recent Workshop.


Backend: Visual Studio + ASP.NET

This project is based on the .NET framework (not .NET Core), therefore you still need to use Visual Studio 2015/2017 to restore nuget packages, and build the project after changes to C# code. You'll also need a development server that supports running an ASP.NET website such as IIS or IIS express. This is also important if you want to implement the webpack-dev-server proxy.

This solution only supports Windows with Visual Studio installed.

Frontend: VS Code + NPM + Webpack

Once you've got the project running in local IIS or IIS Express, you can then open the /Website folder in VS Code and use npm and webpack to build and compile your JS bundles, and run your site locally using the webpack-dev-server which will proxy your requests to the site running in IIS/IIS Express.

Try it Out

  1. Download the source code by downloading as a Zip or clone the repository
  2. Rename the Web.config.sample file in the root of the /Website folder to Web.config
  3. Contact to get a CMS WebsiteName and SecurityKey, UGC Base Url, UGC API Key, and UGC API Password
  4. Set your WebsiteName and SecurityKey in the agility.web section of the web.config
  5. Set your UGC details in the app settings
  6. Open the .sln file and build the project - you can do this by opening it in Visual Studio 2015/2017
  7. Run the site using IIS or IIS Express and take note the IIS port number (i.e. https://localhost:**28799**)
  8. Open the folder /Website in VS Code
  9. Navigate to /wwwroot and open the webpack.config.js file and update the iisPortNumber variable
const iisPortNumber = 28799 //update this to the port number your site is running in IIS/IIS Express
  1. Open a terminal command line and perform the following commands in the /wwwroot directory

Restore missing npm packages

npm install

Ensure you can build JS modules using webpack

npm run build:dev

Start the site using webpack-dev-server

npm run start
  1. The site should open in your default browser using a port number assigned by the webpack-dev-server

Project State

At this time of writing, only several modules and components on this sample site have been converted to using ReactJS. This includes:

  • Global Header
  • Jumbotron Module
  • Featured Content Module

How JS Bundling Works

Webpack is used as the module bundler. Since this supports Server-Side-Rendering (SSR), the server must be able to render react components. In order to handle seperate dependancies for the server/client, there are 2 entry points, client and server. Where the server entry point is for the dependancies for SSR, the client entry point is for dependancies on react components that will be handled on the client-side in the browser.


module.exports = {
    entry: {
        server: ['babel-polyfill', './src/js/server.js'],
        client: './src/js/client.js'       
    output: {
        path: path.resolve('dist'),
        filename: '[name].js',
        publicPath: '/dist/'

How CSS Bundling Works

This project is using the extract-text-webpack-plugin. When webpack sees dependancies on css files within the react components, the styles will be bundled into the /dist/styles.css file.

You can reference class names in your React components using variables, this will ensure the generated HTML and CSS are scoped to your specific React component and addresses the issue of duplicate css rules.

import style from './styles.css';

class Module_HeadingH2 extends React.Component {
    render() {
        return (
            <div className="container">
                <h2 className={style.medium}>{this.props.title}</h2>
export default Module_HeadingH2;
.styles__medium__2FbM_ {
    font-size: 20px;

How Modules Work

Modules work exactly the same way they do in a regular Agility site. They have a corresponding PartialView or ControllerActionResult. In this sample site, the implemented modules have a ControllerActionResult just as normal, however instead of returning a PartialView, the result is a ReactActionResult.

Default: Server and Client rendered:

//This will Server-Side-Render (SSR) the component, as well as instruct the client application to pick-up where the server left off
return new ReactActionResult("Components.Jumbotron", viewModel);

The ReactActionResult accepts a string representing a ReactJS component, and an object that will be serialzied to JSON and passed as a property to the React component. You can decide whether this React component should be rendererd on the server only, the client only, or both. SSR is important if the content must be SEO friendly, or you want to pre-load complex listings before they are sent to the client. Client only outputs are recommended when the content is not required to be SEO friendly. A server-only rendering would be benficial if the output does not require any client interactivity and you are simply using React as a view engine.

Server Only:

return new ReactActionResult("Components.Jumbotron", viewModel)
  ClientOnly = false,
  ServerOnly = true

Client Only:

return new ReactActionResult("Components.Jumbotron", viewModel)
  ClientOnly = true,
  ServerOnly = false

How to: Add a new Module using React

  1. Create a module just like you normally would, and set the Output Template to a Controller Action Result
  2. Update your C# Agility API classes by refreshing your C# models - tip: use the Agility Visual Studio Extension for this or you can do it manually by downloading the new file from the Content Manager
  3. Write your Controller Action Result code, returning a ReactActionResult to the name of your corresponding React component (which will be created in the next steps).
public ActionResult Jumbotron(Module_Jumbotron module)

    var viewModel = module.ToFrontendProps();
    return new ReactActionResult("Components.Module_Jumbotron", viewModel);
  1. Build the C# project in Visual Studio to complile the code
  2. In the wwwroot/src/js/components folder add a new folder that will contain your React component file, any sub components, and corresponding CSS files.
  3. You need to tell webpack about the dependancy on your React component by opening to the server.js file and the client.jsfile located in the wwwroot/src/ directory and adding an imports statement and adding the object to the global JS variable Components
//React Components
import Global_Header from './components/Global_Header'
import Module_FeaturedContent from './components/Module_FeaturedContent'
import Module_Jumbotron from './components/Module_Jumbotron'
import Module_Banner from './components/Module_Banner'
import Module_Heading from './components/Module_Heading'
import Module_HeadingH2 from './components/Module_HeadingH2'

//Save them in the Components global variable so they can be referenced by the .NET ReactActionResult
global['Components'] = {
  1. Build the client site using npm
npm run build:dev

How to: Add a new Module without ANY C# or Razor Code

If you are adding a simple module to the site, you can actually by-pass updating the backend and pass the data from the module directly to a React component. This allows you to add new functionality to your site in VS Code, only by writing your React component in JS and adding any appropriate styles. This is an ideal workflow for a frontend developer.

This sample site uses an experimental approach where you can specify a module definition to use an existing ControllerActionResult, pass an argument of the React component you wish to use and the ControllerActionResult will automatically pass your data from the module to the component that you specified.

  1. Create a new Module Definition
  2. Add your fields in the Form Builder tab as usual.
  3. Add a new field called "ComponentName", set the Default Value to the name of your React Component
  4. In the Output Template, for Controller enter 'Modules', for Action enter 'FrontendComponent'. Save, close and publish the module definition.
  5. Create your ReactJS component and register it within the server.js and client.js entry points for webpack
  6. Build the client site using npm
npm run build:dev
  1. At runtime, the following code will be executed for your Module:
public ActionResult FrontendComponent(AgilityContentItem module)
    string componentName = null;
        componentName = module["ComponentName"] as string;
    } catch
        throw new ApplicationException("Module does not implement a field called 'ComponentName', cannot execute React component.");

    //convert the module data to a dynamic object, then convert to front-end props (removing unecessary fields)
    var viewModel = module.ToFrontendProps();

    return new ReactActionResult($"Components.{componentName}", viewModel);

You just created a module without writing any server-side code (aside from the JS which ultimately gets run on the server).

How Global Content Works

Often you will have a Global Header or Global Footer that is invoked either in the main Layout.cshtml file or a page template. This can be a React component as well. In this sample site, the Global Header is setup to be a React component. It is invoked from the main Layout file as a child ControllerActionResult and ultimately returns a ReactActionResult just like a Module.

In Layout.cshtml:

@Html.Action("GlobalHeader", "Global")

In GlobalController.cs:

public ActionResult GlobalHeader()

    var header = new AgilityContentRepository<GlobalHeader>("GlobalHeader").Item("");

    var viewModel = new GlobalHeaderViewModel();
    viewModel.GlobalHeader = header.ToFrontendProps();
    viewModel.Menu = new List<Link>();

    if (SiteMap.Provider.RootNode != null)
        foreach(AgilitySiteMapNode node in SiteMap.Provider.RootNode.ChildNodes)
                viewModel.Menu.Add(new Link() { Url = node.Url.Replace("~", ""), Title = node.Title, Target = node.Target });

    return new ReactActionResult("Components.Global_Header", viewModel)
        ServerOnly = true //only output this as server output, there is no client interactivity

Helpful Extensions

ToFrontendProps: Will remove Agility specific properties from an object that do not need to be passed to the client. This is done for performance and efficiency.

viewModel.GlobalHeader = header.ToFrontendProps(); //Removes things like 'CreatedDate', 'ModifiedDate' etc...


See Issues for a list of features to be implemented and any related bugs.

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