MVVM Light is one of many free MVVM frameworks available today. As the name implies, MVVM Light is a lightweight framework that allows the developer to utilize as much or as little of the framework as is needed.
Conversely, other MVVM frameworks are more of an “all or nothing” design. The problem with the “all or nothing” design is that they essentially replace the base system that you are developing on. For instance, if you are developing with Xamarn.Forms, and you adopt one of beefier MVVM frameworks, the framework will completely override a large percentage of how Forms was intended to operate. This can cause major frustration when reading blogs, tutorials, and other coding examples.
As we discussed in the previous post, Forms utilizes XAML for UI implementations and thus is intended to follow the MVVM design pattern. That being said, a large percentage of Xamarin developers (including myself) agree that Forms does not by default correctly handle navigation using the MVVM pattern because the Views dictate the navigation logic not the ViewModels.
For anyone that is just starting out with Forms, navigation can be very frustrating. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to move navigation logic from the Views to the ViewModels using MVVM Light.
We first need to add the MVVM Light package to each project in our solution (PCL, Android, iOS, and any flavor of Windows that you are supporting).
- Right click Packages in the solution explorer
- Click Add Packages
- Use NuGet’s search function to find MVVM Light libraries only package (Id: MvvmLightLibs, Author: Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft))
- Add Package (to each project)
MVVM Light will add the dependency CommonServiceLocator package by Microsoft. Before we implement our navigation service, we need a way to globally access this service so that all ViewModels have access. This is where the Locator comes into play.
In the PCL project, create a folder called Services. Within the Services folder create a class called Locator. We only want one Locator for the entire application, so we will follow the singleton pattern and make the Locator constructor static.
There are three main components to this class, the string constants at the top, the constructor, and various properties with getters. The constants act as keys for each page registered for the navigation service. The constructor handles all the registration of services and ViewModels; ViewModels do not have to be created within the locator, they can be instantiated by the view. Finally we expose the Navigation Service and ViewModel instances with property getters.
Next, let’s implement the NavigationService. In the same folder as the Locator, create a class called NavigationService. This class will implement the MVVM Light (GalaSoft) INavigationService interface. Add the following methods and properties:
At this point, we still do not have a globally accessible NavigationService. Open the class code-behind that implements Application; this is usually called App.xaml.cs. Add the following locator property:
Our ViewModels are now able to completely handle our navigation logic using App.Locator.NavigationService.NavigateTo(PAGE KEY).
This tutorial is based off of Mark’s Blog.