Older Versions - MVC 1 and 2

Creating an Action (C#)

By Microsoft ASP.NET Team|

Learn how to add a new action to an ASP.NET MVC controller. Learn about the requirements for a method to be an action.

The goal of this tutorial is to explain how you can create a new controller action. You learn about the requirements of an action method. You also learn how to prevent a method from being exposed as an action.

Adding an Action to a Controller

You add a new action to a controller by adding a new method to the controller. For example, the controller in Listing 1 contains an action named Index() and an action named SayHello(). Both methods are exposed as actions.

Listing 1 - Controllers\HomeController.cs

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.Mvc;

namespace MvcApplication1.Controllers
    public class HomeController : Controller
        public ActionResult Index()
            return View();

        public string SayHello()
            return "Hello!";

In order to be exposed to the universe as an action, a method must meet certain requirements:

  • The method must be public.
  • The method cannot be a static method.
  • The method cannot be an extension method.
  • The method cannot be a constructor, getter, or setter.
  • The method cannot have open generic types.
  • The method is not a method of the controller base class.
  • The method cannot contain ref or out parameters.

Notice that there are no restrictions on the return type of a controller action. A controller action can return a string, a DateTime, an instance of the Random class, or void. The ASP.NET MVC framework will convert any return type that is not an action result into a string and render the string to the browser.

When you add any method that does not violate these requirements to a controller, the method is exposed as a controller action. Be careful here. A controller action can be invoked by anyone connected to the Internet. Do not, for example, create a DeleteMyWebsite() controller action.

Preventing a Public Method from Being Invoked

If you need to create a public method in a controller class and you don’t want to expose the method as a controller action then you can prevent the method from being invoked by using the [NonAction] attribute. For example, the controller in Listing 2 contains a public method named CompanySecrets() that is decorated with the [NonAction] attribute.

Listing 2 - Controllers\WorkController.cs

using System.Web.Mvc;

namespace MvcApplication1.Controllers
    public class WorkController : Controller
        public string CompanySecrets()
            return "This information is secret.";


If you attempt to invoke the CompanySecrets() controller action by typing /Work/CompanySecrets into the address bar of your browser then you’ll get the error message in Figure 1.


Figure 01: Invoking a NonAction method(Click to view full-size image)

This article was originally created on March 2, 2009

Author Information

Microsoft ASP.NET Team

Microsoft ASP.NET Team – ASP.NET is a free web framework for building great Web sites and Web applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.