How do you use usercontrols in mvc that display an “island” of data?

I am trying to find out how to use usercontrols in mvc. I know how to add a usercontrol to a view and how to pass data to it. What I haven't been able to figure out is how do you do this without having to retrieve and pass the data in every single controller?

For example, if I have a user control that displays the most recent posts on several but not all the pages in the site, how do I write the Controllers so that I get data for that usercontrol and pass it to the user control from only one place in the web site instead of getting and passing data in each of the different controllers that the user control is used in?

I'm not sure if this makes sense or not. Is there a better or recommended way to handle an "island" of data that you want to display on several pages?

I'm coming from web forms where I could just write a user control that got its own data and displayed data independently from the rest of whatever page it is used on.


There are multiple ways to do it.

The basic approach is

  • Populate the data for the view in the BaseController (OnActionExecuting event)
  • Writing a custom action filter
  • Writing an Application Controller (the eg. is in the below links).

An example of OnActionExecuting will be

    public class BaseController : Controller
        CourseService cs = new CourseService();
        protected override void OnActionExecuting(ActionExecutingContext filterContext)
            List<Tag> tags = cs.GetTags();
            ViewData["Tags"] = tags;


You can use the "tags" view data on any view. This is just an example of usercontrol being rendered as side content.

<div id="sidebar_b">
         <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="ContentReferenceB" runat="server" >
             <% Html.RenderPartial("Tags"); %>

I found the following URL to be useful.

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