Signum Documentation

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TypeContext class is used to give contextual meta-data to any piece of Html that requires it.

TypeContext are required in order to create Entity Controls, and passed around as the model of any custom view for an entity.

Data and Metadata

The three more important pieces of information that a TypeContext carries are:

  • Value: The current value or entity associated to a piece of Html. Think of it like DataContext in WPF.
  • Prefix: A string containing a sequence of properties (or collection indexes) separated by underscore (_). This information is necessary to ensure that the Id of the Html elements (an the name of the input elements) is unique if the same control is rendered twice.
  • PropertyRoute: A PropertyRoute is a sequence of PropertyInfo (or FieldInfo) that uniquely identifies a database column. This meta-data information is required to deduce Implementations or hide a control depending of the permissions.

Inherited Style Information

Additionally, TypeContext is used pass style information that should be inherited. New sub-context can be created from parent context, inheriting their properties but allowing you to override some of them in the child. This way is easier to maintain visual consistency. For example:


Each EntityControl contains, as well as the control itself, the label with the localized name of the property.

This is implemented in HTML using Bootstrap's form-control class, if you look at the Bootstrap's documentation there are different patterns available.

The property FormGroupStyle controls witch pattern will be used:

  • None: Just the value control will be written, with no label.
  • Basic: Creates a form-control as in "Basic example" in Bootstrap documentation.
  • BasicDown: Creates a form-control as in "Basic example" in Bootstrap documentation, but writing the label below instead of above the control.
  • SrOnly: Creates a form-control as in "Inline form" in Bootstrap documentation.
  • LabelColumns: Creates a form-control as in "Horizontal form" in Bootstrap documentation. Default value.

As noted in Bootstrap documentation, for the form-control to look correctly, not only is necessary to write the correct form-control pattern, also it has to be wrapped by a form-inline container (in "Inline form") or form-horizontal container (in "Horizontal form").

The situation gets even more complicated because, in order to make LabelColumns the default behavior, we have added form-horizontal in NormalPage.cshtml and PopupControl.cshtml, the razor views that wrap your custom entity view.

Then, if you need to restore the default state to use Basic and BasicDown a new container with class form-vertical (defined in by us) is required. This should be effectively the same as removing form-horizontal in this container.


Bootstrap default form-controls are way too large. They are optimized for simple log-in and sign-in controls, not for data-intensive applications. FormGroupSize property let's you control the general size of this controls (margin, padding, min-width, min-height, etc..). There are three options.

  • Normal: A typical control is 34px height. Useful for controls with just a few fields. Way too large for our typical user case. Adds our own form-md class in the form-control element but is not used.
  • Small: A typical control is 26px height. Default behavior. Useful for most of the custom views. Implemented by adding form-sm in the from-control.
  • ExtaSmall: A typical control is 20px height. Used in the FilterBuilder of a SearchControl. Implemented by adding form-xs in the from-control.


The default value of FormGroupStyle, LabelColumns is implemented using Bootstrap grid, so the label takes some columns (i.e: col-sm-2) and the value the remaining columns (i.e.: col-sm-10).

The property LabelColumns determines how wide is the label, while ValueColumns does the same for the value control. When LabelColumns is set, ValueColumns is automatically set to his complementary (12-x).

Both properties are of type BsColumn:

public class BsColumn
    public readonly short? xs;
    public readonly short? sm;
    public readonly short? md;
    public readonly short? lg;

    public BsColumn(short sm)
    public BsColumn(short? xs, short? sm, short? md, short? lg)

The recommended behavior for simple cases is to layout the page using only sm, so tablets, computers and large screens will follow your layout, while smart phones will just stack vertically, but you can use the more complex overload of BsColumn to give your responsive design more breakpoints.


One important feature of TypeContext is the ability to make the whole page, po-pup or parts of them read-only just by setting the ReadOnly flag at the right TypeContext level.

This is used by the authorization system or to disable windows for entities with EntityKind.System.


ViewOverrides are also transmitted to the View, from the EntitySettings using TypeContext.

Class Hierarchy

Now that we know the main responsibilities of the TypeContext system as a whole, let's focus on the hierarchy of classes that makes it possible:

  • Context class: It only contains the reference to the Parent, the Prefix property, and the style information (FormGroupStyle, FormGroupSize, PlaceholderLabels, LabelColumns, ValueColumns and ReadOnly. Is an IDisposable to use them in using statements, but Dispose method is empty.

    • TypeContext class: Abstract base class that already should contain a UntypedValue, Type, PropertyRoute and ViewOverrides.

      • TypeContext<T> class: Implements TypeContext but is strongly typed. It can be constructed passing just the Value and and PropertyRoute, or also the PropertyRoute and the optional parent TypeContext.
      public class TypeContext<T> : TypeContext
          public TypeContext(T value, string prefix)
          public TypeContext(T value, TypeContext parent, string prefix, PropertyRoute propertyRoute)

      In order to creat sub-context using SubContext method is usually more convinient. A SubContext can be created just to set different style to a piece of Html code or the same entity, or to create a stronly typed context for a sub-entity.

      public class TypeContext<T> : TypeContext
          public TypeContext<T> SubContext()
          public TypeContext<S> SubContext<S>(Expression<Func<T, S>> property)
        * **TypeElementContext<T> class:** Inherits from `TypeContext<T>` but is used for creating context for each element in a collaction. 
         public class TypeElementContext<T> : TypeContext<T>
              public int Index { get; private set; }
              public PrimaryKey? RowId { get; private set; }
             public TypeElementContext(T value, TypeContext parent, int index, PrimaryKey? rowId)
         Is usually created by using `TypeContext<T>.TypeElementContext`: 
         public class TypeContext<T> : TypeContext
             public IEnumerable<TypeElementContext<S>> TypeElementContext<S>(Expression<Func<T, MList<S>>> property)
    • LineBase class: Finally LineBase class, the base class for any [EntityControl](../LineHelpers/, also inherits from TypeContext, getting from there the current Value and PropertyRoute, and letting you change the style information for one particular line easily.