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Personally, I don’t consider myself to be much of a designer, which is why I turn to front-end frameworks when developing my projects. Bootstrap is, of course, one of the most popular front-end frameworks, and integrates well with the .NET ecosystem. However, by default, new .NET projects ship with Bootstrap 3 instead of the recently updated Bootstrap 4. In this guide, I’d like to take a look at how to update a project from Bootstrap 3 to Bootstrap 4. We’ll then examine several MVC Bootstrap form examples in both MVC 5 and .NET Core.

Let’s imagine that we’re building an app for a veterinarian’s office to keep track of pet appointments. We’ll start with a simple model, and add onto it as we look at more complicated examples.

public class Visit { public int ID { get; set; }

public string PetName { get; set; }

[DataType(DataType.Date)] public DateTime VisitDate { get; set; } }

ASP.NET MVC 5 Bootstrap 4

Let’s begin with MVC 5 before moving on to .NET Core. Many of you may be using Core (and if you haven’t tried it, I would suggest you do!). However, a lot of us are still operating in MVC 5, which is still a perfectly viable solution for web development.

Start by creating a new project.

mvc bootstrap form example create a new projectmvc bootstrap form example create a new project

By default, the project is set up with Bootstrap 3. We’ll need to change the CSS and JavaScript references from Bootstrap 3 to Bootstrap 4.

One easy option is to install Bootstrap 4 from the Package Manager Console. Simply type this into the console:

Install-Package bootstrap -Version 4.1.1

Alternatively, you could click on Tools -> Nuget Package Manager -> Manage Nuget Packages for Solution…

Then, click on Browse and search for “bootstrap”.

mvc bootstrap form example install bootstrap

Whichever way you do it, you’ll install the Bootstrap 4 nuget package. Installing that package will overwrite the bootstrap.js file in the Scripts folder and the bootstrap.css file in the Content folder. It will also add a number of other files to those two folders, most of which you don’t need to worry about.

Here’s one snag you might run into. When I tried to run the project locally at this point, Intellisense detected errors in the TypeScript file index.d.ts, found in the Scripts folder.

popper js errors in

It has something to do with popper.js, which is included with Bootstrap 4. I couldn’t figure out what exactly was going on here, so I simply excluded it from my project and everything compiled fine. If you have a suggestion as to how to fix this, please let me know in the comments. Popper.js is a neat library, but it’s not essential for creating forms in Bootstrap 4.

In any case, let’s run our project and see what happens.

mvc bootstrap home page

All right, we have a home page. As you can probably notice, that navigation bar doesn’t look right. That’s because Bootstrap 4 made some changes to how the navbar works, so we’ll need to change our layout.



Before you dive in to the next section, where you’ll be seeing a lot of code, I want to tell you about something that might make your day easier.

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Navigate to the layout file in Views -> Shared -> _Layout.cshtml. We need to remove the div with the class of navbar (the first element in the HTML body). Replace it with this:

If you don’t use the Login partial, feel free to remove it. Otherwise, you’ll need to change the _LoginPartial.cshtml code to:

@using Microsoft.AspNet.Identity @if (Request.IsAuthenticated) { using (Html.BeginForm(“LogOff”, “Account”, FormMethod.Post, new { id = “logoutForm” })) { @Html.AntiForgeryToken()

} } else {


Now, let’s take a look at our homepage. If you run the project, you should notice an ugly white bar on top of your navigation. This is because the default template used a fixed navbar, and the default styles are pushing the main content down. Otherwise, the main content would be underneath the navbar.

Since we’re not using a fixed navbar, we should get rid of that styling. Go to Content/Site.css and remove these lines:

/*delete this*/ body { padding-top: 50px; padding-bottom: 20px; }

You can actually remove all of the default styles if you want (though you don’t have to).

Now you can run the project again, head back to the homepage, and see our adjustments in all their glory:

fixed bootstrap 4 home page

Sweet. Adjusting the navbar to your exact taste is beyond the scope of this article, but what we’ve coded will be enough to make your application, as a whole, not look broken.

Bootstrap 4 Basic Form

Scaffold a new controller with views, using the Visit.cs class from earlier, and take a look at the Create.cshtml file. Now we have a form to play with. In order to make this compliant with Bootstrap 4, replace the code in that file with this:

@model VetVisit.Models.Visit

@{ ViewBag.Title = “Create Visit”; }

Create Visit

@using (Html.BeginForm()) { @Html.AntiForgeryToken() @Html.ValidationSummary(true, “”, new { @class = “text-danger” })

@Html.LabelFor(model => model.PetName) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.PetName, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.PetName, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.VisitDate) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.VisitDate, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.VisitDate, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })


@Html.ActionLink("Back to List", "Index")

@section Scripts { @Scripts.Render(“~/bundles/jqueryval”) }

This will give us a very basic, but still functional, form. Labels and inputs are wrapped in a div with the form-group class, and inputs need to have the form-control class.

Bootstrap does have classes for validation, like invalid-feedback. However, for these to work, you need to add the needs-validation and was-validated classes to the form element, and you need to do this when the form is validated. This doesn’t mesh too well with the jQuery Unobtrusive Validation framework that ASP.NET uses. I find it much easier to use the built-in validation, and simply use the text-danger class to color the validation message red.

Here’s what our form looks like:

mvc bootstrap form example

Let’s improve this a little. If you want to make those labels more human-readable, add the DisplayName data annotations to your class.

public class Visit { public int ID { get; set; }

[Required] [Display(Name = “Pet Name”)] public string PetName { get; set; }

[DataType(DataType.Date)] [Display(Name = “Visit Date”)] public DateTime VisitDate { get; set; } }

Also, you may have noticed that the inputs are rather short. This is because the default project has a Site.css file that sets all inputs, selects, and textareas to a max-width of 280px.

default project input width

If you’re okay with this, feel free to keep it this way. However, I would recommend deleting it and using Bootstrap’s responsive grid system instead.

If you’ve deleted the CSS above and added the DisplayName attributes to the model, your form should now look like this:

basic bootstrap 4 form

Great! We’ll look at adding the grid system later to make those inputs not look so ridiculously long. For now, let’s just run through examples of some of the other HTML inputs. We’ll add the following types of inputs to our model and view, with the appropriate Bootstrap classes:

  • Checkbox
  • Textarea
  • Radio button
  • Number
  • Range
  • Tel

Here are the properties we’ll add to our model class:

//Single checkbox [Display(Name = “Is this an emergency visit?”)] public bool IsEmergencyVisit { get; set; }

//Textarea [DataType(DataType.MultilineText)] public string Notes { get; set; }

//Radio button //could also be string, bool, or double, depending on value type [Display(Name = “Veterinarian”)] public int VeterinarianID { get; set; }

//Number public int Cost { get; set; }

//Range [Display(Name = “Pet Weight”)] public double PetWeight { get; set; }

//Tel [Phone] public string CustomerPhone { get; set; }

And here are the form fields we add to our Razor view:

@Html.EditorFor(model => model.IsEmergencyVisit, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-check-input" } }) @Html.LabelFor(model => model.IsEmergencyVisit) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.IsEmergencyVisit, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.Notes) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.Notes, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.Notes, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.VeterinarianID)
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.Cost) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.Cost, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control", type = "number" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.Cost, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.PetWeight) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.PetWeight, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control", type = "range", step = ".1" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.PetWeight, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.CustomerPhone) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.CustomerPhone, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.CustomerPhone, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })

From this, the new fields on our form look as follows:

mvc bootstrap basic form example

The checkbox uses a few different classes than a standard text input, and has a bit of a different HTML structure. If you want to make a list of checkboxes, where the user could select one or more values, that’s a more complicated process. I would also consider it outside of the scope of this post, since there are many options to make it work, and it requires more footwork in the controller. I would suggest taking a look at this Stack Overflow post as a place to start looking for a solution.

For the radio buttons, we have a similar structure to the checkboxes, but with the type set to “radio” instead.

The textarea is rendered as such due to the multiline text DataType data annotation in the model. The number and range types, on the other hand, can’t be set in the model, so we need to add the types manually in the htmlAttributes.  (Also, keep in mind that for a real currency value, you’d want to use a decimal instead of an integer. I’ve used this only as a simple example.)

The telephone type has its own special data annotation, [Phone], which will put the correct input type on the HTML element, as well as validate the phone number with an appropriate regular expression. You can read more about this in my post about validating phone numbers in MVC.

Date Input: A Gotcha and a Solution

Try creating a new Visit, which will insert a row in the table. Then, navigate over to the Edit view for that visit. The url should look something like http://localhost:YOURPORT/Visits/Edit/1. You should notice something funny about the VisitDate input.

edit view with missing date

What happened to our visit date? If we take a look at the developer console, we can see a warning that explains why.

The specified value "5/16/2018" does not conform to the required format, "yyyy-MM-dd".

ASP.NET is rendering the field value in a format that isn’t to the HTML5 date specifications. One way to change this is to add a string format annotation to our model, like this:

[DataType(DataType.Date)] [Display(Name = “Visit Date”)] [DisplayFormat(DataFormatString = “{0:yyyy-MM-dd}”, ApplyFormatInEditMode = true)] public DateTime VisitDate { get; set; }

This will set the input value in the correct format. However, now the date will be in this format wherever we use the model, like our index of visits.

visits index with odd visit date format

If you don’t want your date to look like this everywhere, we have a problem. One solution, though one that I don’t recommend, is to put the format string manually in every view. Here’s an example for the index:

@foreach (var item in Model) {

@Html.DisplayFor(modelItem => item.PetName) @item.VisitDate.ToString("MM/dd/yyyy") @Html.ActionLink("Edit", "Edit", new { id=item.ID }) | @Html.ActionLink("Details", "Details", new { id=item.ID }) | @Html.ActionLink("Delete", "Delete", new { id=item.ID })


Of course, this means that we need to set the date format manually in every view, which makes maintaining the application much more difficult. My recommended solution is to use different ViewModels to represent the views you need in each format. That way, you just have to define the different displays once. You can read more about what ViewModels are and how to create them in my post about AutoMapper. The part about using AutoMapper is tied specifically to .NET Core, but the explanation about ViewModels is applicable to any flavor of web development.

Bootstrap 4 Advanced Responsive Form Layouts

With Bootstrap’s responsive grid system, you can make all sorts of layouts for your forms. Here’s a simple one to constrain the width of the form inputs. The inputs will be half-width at medium screen widths and above, and full-width below that:

@Html.LabelFor(model => model.PetName) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.PetName, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.PetName, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.VisitDate) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.VisitDate, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.VisitDate, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })

bootstrap 4 simple half-width form

Form Grid

We can also use the grid system to make more complicated layouts.

@Html.LabelFor(model => model.PetName) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.PetName, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.PetName, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.VisitDate) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.VisitDate, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.VisitDate, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.Cost) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.Cost, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.Cost, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.PetWeight) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.PetWeight, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control", type = "range", step = ".1" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.PetWeight, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.CustomerPhone) @Html.EditorFor(model => model.CustomerPhone, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.CustomerPhone, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })


bootstrap form with layout

Form Row

If you change the row CSS class to form-row, you’ll get columns with tighter gutters. You can be the judge of whether this looks better or not.

bootstrap form with form-row css class

Horizontal Forms

You can also create horizontal forms. To do so, you’ll need to add the row class to the form groups. Then, you’ll need to add a column class to the labels, and add a column wrapper around the input and validation message. That might look something like this:

@Html.LabelFor(model => model.PetName, htmlAttributes: new { @class = "col-form-label col-md-2" })
@Html.EditorFor(model => model.PetName, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.PetName, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })
@Html.LabelFor(model => model.VisitDate, htmlAttributes: new { @class = "col-form-label col-md-2" })
@Html.EditorFor(model => model.VisitDate, new { htmlAttributes = new { @class = "form-control" } }) @Html.ValidationMessageFor(model => model.VisitDate, "", new { @class = "text-danger" })

bootstrap horizontal form

This should be enough examples to get you started on your forms for ASP.NET MVC 5. Let’s turn our attention to .NET Core, and see how Bootstrap 4 works there.

ASP.NET Core Bootstrap 4

I was hoping that installing Bootstrap 4 to a Core project would be easy. Unfortunately, knowing the best way to do this is neither straightforward or clear. The built-in way to manage front-end packages is to use Bower. However, this has its own issues. I’ll first describe how to use Bower, and then talk about a few of the alternatives.

Start by creating a new project in ASP.NET Core. You can use just about any options you want here.

After you’ve created the project, we need to create a bower.json file. Right click on your project in the solution explorer, then Add New Item… Add a new Bower Configuration file.

create a bower configuration file

If you don’t see this type in your templates, then just create a file in the root of your solution and call it bower.json. Then add the following text to it:

{ “name”: “”, “private”: true, “dependencies”: { } }

Now that we have our configuration file, we need to add Bootstrap 4. From the menus, choose Project -> Manage Bower packages… core manage bower packages menu item

Then, click on Browse. Bootstrap 4 should be the first item in the list, but if it’s not, go ahead and search for it. Then, click on install.

bower install bootstrap

Once you’ve done this, the bower configuration file will be updated to include Bootstrap 4.1.1 (or whatever version you’ve installed). You’ll also find that Boostrap has been installed to wwwroot/lib/bootstrap. This is where we’ll reference the library in our layout.

Now for the problems. Even though this works fine, it appears that Bower is on the way out. Even the Bower homepage recommends migrating to Yarn and Webpack to accomplish the same thing. Another option is to use npm for managing your packages. Migrating to any of these takes a bit more effort than using, say, Nuget, and I’m personally still researching these alternatives. If you want to try out Yarn or npm, here’s one place to get you started:

Moving away from Bower (discontinued) to use Yarn/Npm instead (.Net Core MVC) VS2017

In any case, you’ll need to get the correct Bootstrap 4.0 style sheet to /lib/bootstrap/dist/css/bootstrap.css and the Javascript to /lib/bootstrap/dist/js/bootstrap.js. You could always download the files directly from the Bootstrap 4 website and copy the files over manually.

An Even Better Option

Another option, and the best, in my opinion, is to use Gulp and npm. I outline how to do this in Bootstrap for .NET Devs, the book I’m working on. That particular section is in the sample chapters, which are free. If you like what you see, you can also lock in your price now and get free updates for life.

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Now, let’s turn our attention to the _Layout.cshtml file in the Pages folder.

.NET Core Site Layout

Notice that .NET Core makes use of different environments, like “Development” and “Production.” The layout file includes several tags to specify which script and style files to use in each environment. As is, the local files are used in development, with the CDNs used in production (with the local files listed as a fallback). Our local copies of Bootstrap have been updated to version 4 already. We’ll just want to update the URL of our CDNs. The exact link will differ depending on which version is current when you’re creating the project. As of this writing, the current version is 4.1.1. You can find the URLs in a number of different places, but you should be able to find them easily enough on the Bootstrap home page in the “Getting Started” section.

In our example, you’ll want to change the stylesheet references in the head to this:

And the script references to this:

If you want to use popper.js, you’ll need to add those references as well.

Let’s fix the navbar. Like in the MVC 5 example, you’ll want to change the nav element that appears as the first child of the body tag. Change it to this:

If you use the _LoginPartial, change its markup to:

@if (SignInManager.IsSignedIn(User)) {

} else {


Also, as in the earlier example, you’ll want to remove the following lines from wwwroot/css/site.css:

body { padding-top: 50px; padding-bottom: 20px; }

Once you delete those lines, the home page should look something like this: core bootstrap layout

If you scroll down a bit, you’ll notice that the carousel styles are now messed up, and the page looks a bit ugly. Don’t worry about this. You’re not going to be using Microsoft’s default home page, and you shouldn’t be using a carousel anyway.

Bootstrap 4 and .NET Core: Basic Form

Create a Visit.cs file in the Models folder with the same properties as our MVC 5 example. Then, create a Visits folder nested under the Pages folder. Finally, right click on Visits, choose Add -> Razor Page… and select Razor Pages using Entity Framework (CRUD). Once you click on the Add  button, you should see a series of Razor Pages based on the Visit class.

Navigate to the Create.cshtml file. core visit create view

Now let’s update our form layout to account for the Bootstrap 4 classes. In this first example, we’ll just make a basic form that stretches to 100% width across the screen. Again, this is based off of the same completed Visit class that we used above in the MVC 5 example.

You’ll notice that we’re using Tag Helpers now instead of Html Helpers. I personally prefer the Tag Helpers, as I find them less verbose and more like standard HTML. Aside from this change, there are only two other aspects to note that are different from our previous example.

Our textarea field has to be defined as a textarea in the HTML markup (as opposed to letting the EditorFor method determine the tag type). Because of this, we can delete the [DataType(DataType.MultilineText)] data annotation from the Notes field on our model. The data annotation doesn’t change the rendered element anymore, so we can get rid of it.

We also no longer have to worry about inconsistent DateTime formatting in our date fields. If you copy the layout above into the Edit.cshtml file and test it out, you’ll notice that .NET Core automatically formats the date into yyyy-MM-dd format to play nice with Chrome. This is awesome. We don’t have to create a ViewModel to deal solve this problem anymore (though you might want to create a ViewModel for other reasons). This means that we could put this data annotation on our date field:

[DisplayFormat(DataFormatString = “{0:MM/dd/yyyy}”)] public DateTime VisitDate { get; set; }

This would display the date in that format on, for example, the Index and Details views, while maintaining the yyyy-MM-dd format in the Edit view.

ASP.NET Form Grid

The same form grid classes would apply to .NET Core if you wanted a more complicated grid layout.

Creating horizontal forms with the grid classes also works in the same way as it does in MVC 5, so you’ll want to check out my example above if you want to achieve that effect.

MVC Bootstrap Form Example: Expanding Your Horizons

I’ve covered all of the ASP.NET and .NET Core specifics in this tutorial. If you want to dive even deeper into Bootstrap’s grid system, I would recommend checking out Bootstrap’s grid documentation and form examples. If you want to make your number and phone inputs even snazzier, I would recommend adding input masks. I go into detail on input masks in my article about phone number validation. I hope this guide has been helpful, and that you now have a solid start to creating Boostrap 4 forms in ASP.NET.

What’s Next?

I’m currently working on a book about Bootstrap 4 and all the ways you can integrate it into your ASP.NET workflow. The sample chapters are free, so if you liked this post, the book would be a great next step. Best of all, you can lock in your price today and get all the updates as they come out, with no additional cost.

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