Action Results in ASP.NET MVC

Action Results in ASP.NET MVC

In this article, I am going to give an overview of the Action Results in ASP.NET MVC Application. In ASP.NET MVC Application, there are many different types of Action Results. Each action result returns a different format of the output. As a programmer, we need to use different action results to get the expected output. So, at the end of this article, you will understand the different types of Action Results and when to use which action results in MVC Application.

Action Results in ASP.NET MVC

What is the Action Method in ASP.NET MVC?

All the public methods inside a Controller which respond to the URL is known as Action Method. When creating an Action Method we must follow these rules.

  1. The action method must be public.
  2. It cannot be overloaded
  3. It cannot be a static method
  4. ActionResult is a base class of all the result type action methods.
What is the Action Result in MVC?

Action Result is a result of action methods or return types of action methods. The action result is an abstract class. It is the base class for all types of action results. 

Action Results in MVC

The above diagram describes the abstract class of Action Result. There are two methods in the Action Result. One is ActionResult() and another one is ExecuteResult() as shown in the below diagram.

ASP.NET MVC Action Results

Why is ActionResult an abstract class?

It’s because different controller actions can return different types of results and still MVC handle them properly.

Types of Action Results

There are different types of action results in ASP.NET MVC. Each result has a different type of result format to view page. ActionResult is the base class of all the result type action method. The following are the Result types that an action method can return in MVC.

  1. ViewResult – Represents HTML and markup.
  2. EmptyResult – Represents no result.
  3. RedirectResult – Represents a redirection to a new URL.
  4. JsonResult – Represents a JavaScript Object Notation result that can be used in an AJAX application.
  5. JavaScriptResult – Represents a JavaScript script.
  6. ContentResult – Represents a text result.
  7. FileContentResult – Represents a downloadable file (with the binary content).
  8. FilePathResult – Represents a downloadable file (with a path).
  9. FileStreamResult – Represents a downloadable file (with a file stream).

Many of the derived classes we’re going to discuss have associated helpers. These helpers provide shortcuts to the constructor methods of their related Results. It’s what allows us to return View() rather than return new ViewResult()

public ActionResult ChooseView()
    if (DateTime.Now.Day % 2 == 0)
        return View("View1");
        return RedirectToAction("View2");

You may be guessed that this implementation is done because ActionResult has a lot of derived classes, and you are absolutely right. But what exactly are these different kinds of results?

These results are categorized into three sections: 

  1. Content-returning
  2. Redirection
  3. Status.

Let’s have a look at these three categorized:


These ActionResults are responsible for returning content to the browser or calling script. The examples are as follows

  1. ViewResult
  2. PartialViewResult
  3. FileResult
  4. ContentResult
  5. EmptyResult
  6. JsonResult
  7. JavaScriptResult

These ActionResults are responsible for redirecting to other URLs or actions. The examples are as follows

  1. RedirectResult
  2. RedirectToRouteResult
  3. RedirectToActionResult

These ActionResults are responsible for returning status codes to the browser for it to use. The examples are as follows

  1. HttpStatusCodeResult
  2. HttpUnauthorizedResult
  3. HttpNotFoundResult
What should be the return type of an action method – ActionResult or specific derived type? 

It’s a good practice to return specific sub-types, but, if different paths of the action method return different subtypes, then I would return an ActionResult object. An example is shown below.

public ActionResult Index()
    if (Your_Condition)
        return View();    // returns ViewResult object
        return Json("Data");  // returns JsonResult object

In the next article, I am going to discuss View Result and Partial View Result in ASP.NET MVC application. Here, in this article, I try to give an overview of Action Result in ASP.NET MVC application. I hope this article will help you with your need. I would like to have your feedback. Please post your feedback, question, or comments about this article. 

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