Model-View-Controller (MVC) is probably the most used architectural solution for User Interface design and web programming; Introduced first in the 70s, MVC has been progressively adapted into a wide range of subtypes and variations, so much that the plain term “MVC” without additional qualifications has lost specificity. As a general interpretation, it is a rather loose guideline for organizing your code when the data and visualization parts of your application need to interact while staying as loosely coupled as possible. How this is accomplished in practice depends on the particular MVC incarnation.

MVC can be seen as an aggregation of more fundamental design patterns such as Composite, Mediator and Observer/Notifier. The complexity and variation in style of MVC arises from all the possible uses and variations of these independent patterns to satisfy the potentially elaborate requirements of a GUI.

The objective of this book is to explore the many variations of MVC, generally arising from the need to decide “who is responsible for what” and “who knows about whom” in the interaction between the User and the application state. MVC variations assign new and old responsibilities in different ways, connect or organize protagonists, or add intermediate objects to gain more flexibility and satisfy peculiar use cases.

This book is structured as follows:

  • The first chapter will introduce a basic MVC application through implementation code, with the objective of defining the terms of the MVC vocabulary. The chapter will define the fundamentals of components, roles, and communication patterns.

  • the second chapter will introduce MVC variations to address specific UI constraints and practical needs, or to improve development efficiency.

  • The third chapter will expand the concept of MVC to hierarchical MVC schemes.

  • The fourth chapter will focus on special techniques that emerge from a complex modern GUI.

  • The fifth and final chapter will specifically focus on Web MVC and its implementations.

Acknowledgements and motivations

I started writing this book as an accident. Initially, I wanted to write a series of blog posts to describe Model View Controller and a few related patterns. As I gathered more and more information from the net and my personal experience, I suddenly found out that the amount and structure of what I wrote was beyond the scope of a blog, hence the decision to re-label it as a book. I am happy with the decision, because it gave me freedom to add material I would not have added otherwise.

This works presents and enriches design solutions, best practices, and experiments made available by countless blog posts and comments. To these authors goes my acknowledgement and gratitude. Being a work in progress, there’s still a lot to be done. Please be patient, but feel free to send me feedback, pull requests, and take advantage of the material already present.

This book is released under GFDL license, and free (gratis), mainly for three reasons

  • As stated, most of the material here presented was gathered from the net. It was my personal effort to organize this knowledge, but I had a lower startup barrier.

  • I already published a book with a commercial publisher, and from my experience and math, I think that if I put a book on the web and accept donations I would probably get more money and feedback than going through a publisher.

  • This book is part of my portfolio as a professional in software development and design, and I am proud to focus on a personal project to increase my competences.

The sources of this book are available as a github repository at the following URL:

I also have a personal website at where you can find more information.