Use commands in a viewmodel


You've seen how to get data from your viewmodels to your UI, and how you can use two-way binding to get data back into your viewmodels.

Using two-way bindings like that is the preferred way to react to changes from the UI whenever data changes. Many things that we would handle as events can be handled by using two-way bindings and MVVM. Other examples are things like Switch.IsToggled and Slider.Value, which can be reflected in our viewmodel as a boolean or integer value, without having to use events.

But there are some things, like a Button or MenuItem activation, that aren't directly tied to changing data. These interactions still require event-like handling. Since these UI components usually invoke some sort of logic with the data, we want that logic on the viewmodel. But we don't want to handle them as Clicked and Selected events in the code-behind, if possible. We want as much as possible to be in the viewmodel, that way it's testable.

Use the command pattern

Many of the .NET MAUI controls that have this kind of interaction support binding to a property that exposes an ICommand interface. This property is most likely named Command. The button is one example:

<Button Text="Give Bonus" Command="{Binding GiveBonus}" />

The control knows when to invoke the command. For example, a button invokes the command when it's pressed. The command in this example is bound to the GiveBonus property of the viewmodel. The property type has to implement the ICommand interface. The code would look something like this:

public class EmployeeViewModel : INotifyPropertyChanged
    public ICommand GiveBonus {get; private set;}

The ICommand interface has an Execute method that's called when the button is clicked. In this way, the ICommand.Execute directly replaces Button.Click event-handling code.

The full ICommand interface has two more methods: CanExecute and CanExecuteChanged that are used to determine whether a control should appear enabled or disabled.

A button, for example, might appear dimmed if CanExecute returns false.

Here's what the ICommand interface looks like in C#:

public interface ICommand
    bool CanExecute(object parameter);
    void Execute(object parameter);
    event EventHandler CanExecuteChanged;

Use the Command class

This command pattern lets you maintain clean separation of UI behavior from UI implementation. But it can complicate your code if you need to create a separate class to implement each event handler.

Instead of creating several custom classes that implement the interface, it's common to use Command or Command<T>. These classes implement ICommand but expose its behavior as properties in your viewmodel that you can set. This allows you to implement the GiveBonus property described earlier entirely within our viewmodel class:

public class EmployeeViewModel : INotifyPropertyChanged
    public ICommand GiveBonus {get; private set;}
    public EmployeeViewModel(Employee model)
        GiveBonus = new Command(GiveBonusExecute, GiveBonusCanExecute)

    void GiveBonusExecute()
        //logic for giving bonus

    bool GiveBonusCanExecute()
        //logic for deciding if "give bonus" button should be enabled.

In this code, the Execute behavior is provided by the method GiveBonusExecute. And CanExecute is provided by GiveBonusCanExecute. Delegates to those methods are passed to the Command constructor. In this example, there's no implementation for CanExecuteChanged.

Commands with parameters

The ICommand interface accepts an object parameter for the CanExecute and Execute methods. .NET MAUI implements this interface without any type checking through the Command class. The delegates you attach to the command must do their own type-checking to ensure that the correct parameter is passed. .NET MAUI also provides the Command<T> implementation where you set the type of parameter expected. When you create a command that accepts a single type of parameter, use Command<T>.

.NET MAUI controls that implement the command pattern provide the CommandParameter property. By setting this property, you can pass a parameter to the command when it's invoked with Execute, or when it checks the CanExecute method for status.

In this example, the string value 25 is sent to the command:

<Button Text="Give Bonus" Command="{Binding GiveBonus}" CommandParameter="25" />

The command would need to interpret and convert that string parameter. There are many ways to provide a strongly typed parameter.

  • Instead of using attribute syntax to define CommandParameter, use XAML elements.

    <Button Text="Give Bonus" Command="{Binding GiveBonus}">
  • Bind the CommandParameter to an instance of the correct type.

  • If the CommandParameter is bound to the incorrect type, apply a converter to convert the value to the correct type.

Check your knowledge


What is the purpose of the ICommand interface?


How can the Command or Command<T> classes simplify the use of the ICommand interface?


What is the role of the CommandParameter property in .NET MAUI controls?