Three-layered architecture with Sitecore

Today I had the chance to present at the first Sitecore User Group Switzerland. The topic I’ve chosen is "Three-layered architecture with Sitecore". Parts of the presentation were explaining the architecture itself, mention different libraries to use with Sitecore and to give a short demonstration. If you are only interested in the presentation or the code, scroll down to the end of this post and download the source. For all others I’m trying to give a short overview what I’ve talked about.

Introduction

The key points of a three-layered architecture are the following:

  • Separation of concerns
    Each code part or class is responsible for a single concern. We have separate classes responsible for the presentation, the business logic and the data access. This also makes it possible to split parts of the implementation to different developers (e.g. a database specialist creates the data access and a frontend specialist creates the presentation).
  • Abstraction and decoupling
    It helps us abstract the strong dependency on Sitecore and on other third-party web services. This allows us to mock data and create proper unit tests without any other tools.
  • DRY = Don’t repeat yourself
    Code can be easily reused and is easy to find. It’s easier to avoid code duplication and the code keeps clean and structured.

The architecture

As the name says, the architecture is splitted into three layers with different responsibilities. The model represents the data and is passed through the different layers.

This architecture has the following rules (which are very strict):

  • Each layer only has access to it’s underlying layers.
  • Never allow the architecture to call layers the other way around.
  • A layer never knows what the other layers do and what the data is used for.

Personally I think following this rules is the most important part when implementing this architecture in one of your projects.

The frameworks

Implementing this architecture is very easy, as they are many frameworks which helps us. Basically we use Sitecore MVC, this starts with decouple the presentation from the data and the application logic. Additionally we need a framework for dependency injection (I prefer Ninject, but you could also use another one). The dependency injection helps us decouple the classes and remove dependencies between the different layers. Last but not least we need an ORM (object-relational mapper) to abstract Sitecore databases (loading items etc.). I prefer Glass Mapper, because it’s very powerful and easy to use.

Download

The full presentation of this topic can be downloaded here. The code I showed during the demonstration can be downloaded at GitHub (including all documentation as well).

If you have any feedback regarding the three-layered architecture or the presentation at the Sitecore User Group, I would be very happy to hear from you. You can either contact me via comment on this blog post or on Twitter @aquasonic.

Kevin Brechbühl

Senior Developer & Architect | C# & ASP.NET | Sitecore Technology MVP

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