Creating the navigation menu

This page is a part of a tutorial, which you should follow sequentially, from the beginning to the end. Go to the first page: Getting started with Kentico.

In the previous step of this tutorial, you have implemented the functionality that retrieves page data from the database and displays it on the live site. In this step, you will code a dynamic menu that allows your content editors to manage the website’s navigation.

You will learn about:

Website navigation tends to change based on the site’s current content and the requirements of its owner. The MenuItem page type allows website editors to select which pages from the content tree appear in the navigation menu. The menu’s presentation, design, and behavior are then handled in the MVC application. We recommend using the strongly-typed classes that you generated for the MenuItem page type to retrieve the menu data.

Creating a view model for the menu items

  1. In Visual Studio, create a new Menu subfolder in the Models folder.

  2. Select the Menu subfolder and add a new MenuItemViewModel class.

  3. Define the view model properties using the following code:

     namespace MEDIOClinic.Models
         public class MenuItemViewModel
             // Defines the properties of the MenuItem view model
             public string MenuItemText { get; set; }
             public string MenuItemRelativeUrl { get; set; }         
  4. Save your changes.

Creating the Menu controller

The controller class will define a GetMenu action that loads and displays the content of the site’s navigation menu. The action retrieves the menu data using the generated MenuItemProvider class, then loads all pages which content editors selected as menu items, and organizes the data into a collection of models that gets passed to the view.

  1. In the Controllers folder, create a new MenuController class.

  2. Replace the default code with the following:

     using System.Linq;
     using System.Web.Mvc;
     using CMS.DocumentEngine;
     using CMS.DocumentEngine.Types.MEDIO;
     using MEDIOClinic.Models;
     namespace MEDIOClinic.Controllers
         public class MenuController : Controller
             // GET: Loads and displays the site's navigation menu
             public ActionResult GetMenu()
                 // Loads all menu items using the page type's generated provider
                 // Uses the menu item order from the content tree in the Kentico 'Pages' application
                 var menuItems = MenuItemProvider.GetMenuItems()
                     .Columns("MenuItemText", "MenuItemPage")
                 // Loads the pages selected within the menu items
                 // The data only contains values of the NodeGUID identifier column
                 var pages = DocumentHelper.GetDocuments()
                     .WhereIn("NodeGUID", menuItems.Select(item => item.MenuItemPage).ToList())
                 // Creates a collection of view models based on the menu item and page data
                 var model = menuItems.Select(item => new MenuItemViewModel()
                     MenuItemText = item.MenuItemText,
                     // Gets the URL for the page whose GUID matches the given menu item's selected page
                     MenuItemRelativeUrl = pages.FirstOrDefault(page => page.NodeGUID == item.MenuItemPage).RelativeURL
                 return PartialView("_SiteMenu", model);
  3. Save your changes.

The methods of the generated page type providers, as well as the more general DocumentHelper.GetDocuments method, work using the Kentico DocumentQuery API. DocumentQuery provides an abstraction layer over your SQL database and allows you to call additional methods that adjust how the page data is retrieved.

For example, the OrderBy method sets the order of the retrieved data items, and the Columns method ensures that the underlying SQL query only loads the data columns that you need. For performance reasons, we strongly recommend limiting columns in all data retrieval API calls.

See the documentation if you wish to learn more: Working with pages in the API

Creating the navigation menu view

A navigation menu is an element that appears on most pages of a website. For this reason, you will define the menu’s output in a partial view, which can then be added to the site’s main layout (or into the views of other pages if necessary).

  1. In the MenuController, right-click the GetMenu method and select Add View.

  2. Fill in the following values:

    • View name: _SiteMenu
    • Template: Empty (without model)
    • Create as a partial view: Yes (selected)
  3. In the view code, add a using statement for the MEDIOClinic.Models namespace.

  4. Add the @model directive and specify the model type as an IEnumerable collection of MenuItemViewModel.

  5. Define the menu output by rendering HTML links within a <nav> element (using the menu item URL and text values from the model). The partial view code should look like this:

     @using MEDIOClinic.Models;
     @model IEnumerable<MenuItemViewModel>
         @foreach (MenuItemViewModel menuItem in Model)
             @* Iterates through the view model collection and renders HTML links for the menu items *@
             <a href="@Url.Content(menuItem.MenuItemRelativeUrl)" title="@menuItem.MenuItemText">@menuItem.MenuItemText</a>
  6. Save your changes.

Updating the website layout

You have coded the functionality behind the navigation menu. Let’s put the code to use and add the menu to the site’s layout.

  1. Edit your _Layout.cshtml file (in the Views/Shared folder).

  2. Locate the section defined by <nav> tags, and replace it with the Html.Action Razor call. Invoke the GetMenu action in the Menu controller.

  3. Locate the <a> element in the <header> section that displays the MEDIO clinic logo, and set the value of the href attribute to: ~/

    The tilde character with the forward slash (~/) ensures that the Medio clinic logo link targets the root page of the website.

Your final _Layout.cshtml markup should look like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    @* Dynamically resolves the page's title *@
    <title>Medio Clinic - @ViewBag.Title</title>
    <link href="" rel="stylesheet" integrity="sha384-1q8mTJOASx8j1Au+a5WDVnPi2lkFfwwEAa8hDDdjZlpLegxhjVME1fgjWPGmkzs7" crossorigin="anonymous">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="">
    <link href=",700italic&subset=latin,latin-ext" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
    <link href="" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">
    @* Loads the styles.css resource *@
    @* Razor section for additional page-specific styles *@
    @RenderSection("styles", required: false)
        <div class="col-sm-offset-3 col-sm-6">
            <div class="col-sm-6">
                @* Targets the root page of the website *@
                <a href="~/" title="MedioClinic homepage" class="logo">MEDIO clinic</a>
            <div class="col-sm-6 nav">
                @* Loads the partial view with the navigation menu, including the <nav> element *@
                @Html.Action("GetMenu", "Menu")
        <div class="clearfix"></div>
    @* Loads the content of your Tutorial's pages as sub views *@
        <div class="col-sm-offset-3 col-sm-6">
            <div class="row">
                <div class="col-sm-6">
                    <h4>MEDIO clinic</h4>
                        <li><i class="fa fa-map-marker"></i> Address: <address>7A Kentico street, Bedford, NH 03110, USA</address></li>
                        <li><i class="fa fa-envelope-o"></i> E-mail: <a href="" title="Email us"></a></li>
                        <li><i class="fa fa-phone"></i> Phone number: <a href="tel:5417543010" title="Phone us">(541) 754-3010</a>
                <div class="col-sm-6">
                    <span class="cms">Powered by <a href="" title="Kentico CMS">Kentico CMS for ASP.NET</a></span>
        <div class="clearfix"></div>
    @* Razor section for additional page-specific scripts *@
    @RenderSection("scripts", required: false)

Build your project and test your navigation menu on the live site website. Because the original layout already contained hard-coded HTML links, you won’t see a difference on the live site. However, you can test the menu’s dynamic functionality by adding another menu item in the Kentico administration interface (Pages application), or by changing the order of the Home and Medical center items. The implementation you’ve built ensures any menu item changes are immediately displayed in the navigation menu.

You can download packages with the exported MEDIO clinic MVC website and the MEDIOClinic project files. To compare the sample solution with your own implementation, import the website into your Kentico installation in the Sites application or view the code of the MVC application in Visual Studio.

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