[asp.net-mvc] How do I specify different Layouts in the ASP.NET MVC 3 razor ViewStart file?

I would like to have 2 separate Layouts in my application. Let's say one is for the Public section of the website and the other is for the Member side.

For simplicity, let's say all the logic for each of these sites is wrapped neatly into 2 distinct controllers.

  • PublicController
  • StaffController

And that they each have a corresponding Layout for all the View under each.

  • _PublicLayout.cshtml
  • _StaffLayout.cshtml

How do I use the _ViewStart.cshtml file to specify that all Views / Actions under "Public" use the PublicLayout and everything under "Staff" uses the StaffLayout?

This question is related to asp.net-mvc layout asp.net-mvc-3 razor

The answer is

You could put a _ViewStart.cshtml file inside the /Views/Public folder which would override the default one in the /Views folder and specify the desired layout:

    Layout = "~/Views/Shared/_PublicLayout.cshtml";

By analogy you could put another _ViewStart.cshtml file inside the /Views/Staff folder with:

    Layout = "~/Views/Shared/_StaffLayout.cshtml";

You could also specify which layout should be used when returning a view inside a controller action but that's per action:

return View("Index", "~/Views/Shared/_StaffLayout.cshtml", someViewModel);

Yet another possibility is a custom action filter which would override the layout. As you can see many possibilities to achieve this. Up to you to choose which one fits best in your scenario.


As requested in the comments section here's an example of an action filter which would choose a master page:

public class LayoutInjecterAttribute : ActionFilterAttribute
    private readonly string _masterName;
    public LayoutInjecterAttribute(string masterName)
        _masterName = masterName;

    public override void OnActionExecuted(ActionExecutedContext filterContext)
        var result = filterContext.Result as ViewResult;
        if (result != null)
            result.MasterName = _masterName;

and then decorate a controller or an action with this custom attribute specifying the layout you want:

public ActionResult Index()
    return View();

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