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by Brian Schrader

MVC-N and Services

Posted on Tue, 24 May 2016 at 10:40 AM

In a recent talk, Marcus Zarra proposed a new addition to the Model-View-Controller paradigm, which he calls the Network Controller (MVC-N):

We have a network controller: it talks to the internet, your local network, or even be a flat file system. It then pushes data into your cache, into your persistence engine. Here comes the exciting part: your entire view layer talks to the cache only. It does not get data from the internet directly. The ViewController’s job is to display or update that data, not to do networking code.

Note: if you do not like the word “controller”, then “manager”, “handler”, or anything else works fine. The point is that it is a controller object, because it is not a view and not a model.

I use this pattern all the time in my code, but I don't like calling it a controller. I've started using the term Service to denote any class or set of code that provides an abstraction for my View Controllers.1

In my code, I will typically have classes like NetworkService, DropboxService, ChatService, NotificationService, etc. These services abstract their underlying protocols, data stores, and logic away from the View Controllers and allow for cleaner VC code.

I'm no where near as experienced in iOS development as Marcus is, but I like to think of any Cocoa class that uses the .shared() or .default() paradigm as a built-in service.


// This is a service. It abstracts the process of sending 
// notifications, and itself is not a view controller.
NSNotificationCenter.defaultCenter()
// So is this.
UIApplication.sharedApplication()

I've heard these kinds of classes called Utility classes, but I think that's a big misnomer. Utility classes are little convenience classes or functions that provide esoteric and unique functionality, while a service abstracts some underlying, logically distinct functionality away from the View Controllers.

MVC-N: Isolating network calls from View Controllers →


1 Services in this sense come from the Angular term for non-view controller related logic that handles some background communication with the network.

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