– How to render an ASP.NET MVC view as a string

I want to output two different views (one as a string that will be sent as an email), and the other the page displayed to a user.

Is this possible in ASP.NET MVC beta?

I've tried multiple examples:

1. RenderPartial to String in ASP.NET MVC Beta

If I use this example, I receive the "Cannot redirect after HTTP
headers have been sent.".

2. MVC Framework: Capturing the output of a view

If I use this, I seem to be unable to do a redirectToAction, as it
tries to render a view that may not exist. If I do return the view, it
is completely messed up and doesn't look right at all.

Does anyone have any ideas/solutions to these issues i have, or have any suggestions for better ones?

Many thanks!

Below is an example. What I'm trying to do is create the GetViewForEmail method:

public ActionResult OrderResult(string ref)
    //Get the order
    Order order = OrderService.GetOrder(ref);

    //The email helper would do the meat and veg by getting the view as a string
    //Pass the control name (OrderResultEmail) and the model (order)
    string emailView = GetViewForEmail("OrderResultEmail", order);

    //Email the order out
    EmailHelper(order, emailView);
    return View("OrderResult", order);

Accepted answer from Tim Scott (changed and formatted a little by me):

public virtual string RenderViewToString(
    ControllerContext controllerContext,
    string viewPath,
    string masterPath,
    ViewDataDictionary viewData,
    TempDataDictionary tempData)
    Stream filter = null;
    ViewPage viewPage = new ViewPage();

    //Right, create our view
    viewPage.ViewContext = new ViewContext(controllerContext, new WebFormView(viewPath, masterPath), viewData, tempData);

    //Get the response context, flush it and get the response filter.
    var response = viewPage.ViewContext.HttpContext.Response;
    var oldFilter = response.Filter;

        //Put a new filter into the response
        filter = new MemoryStream();
        response.Filter = filter;

        //Now render the view into the memorystream and flush the response
        viewPage.ViewContext.View.Render(viewPage.ViewContext, viewPage.ViewContext.HttpContext.Response.Output);

        //Now read the rendered view.
        filter.Position = 0;
        var reader = new StreamReader(filter, response.ContentEncoding);
        return reader.ReadToEnd();
        //Clean up.
        if (filter != null)

        //Now replace the response filter
        response.Filter = oldFilter;

Example usage

Assuming a call from the controller to get the order confirmation email, passing the Site.Master location.

string myString = RenderViewToString(this.ControllerContext, "~/Views/Order/OrderResultEmail.aspx", "~/Views/Shared/Site.Master", this.ViewData, this.TempData);

Best Answer

Here's what I came up with, and it's working for me. I added the following method(s) to my controller base class. (You can always make these static methods somewhere else that accept a controller as a parameter I suppose)

MVC2 .ascx style

protected string RenderViewToString<T>(string viewPath, T model) {
  ViewData.Model = model;
  using (var writer = new StringWriter()) {
    var view = new WebFormView(ControllerContext, viewPath);
    var vdd = new ViewDataDictionary<T>(model);
    var viewCxt = new ViewContext(ControllerContext, view, vdd,
                                new TempDataDictionary(), writer);
    viewCxt.View.Render(viewCxt, writer);
    return writer.ToString();

Razor .cshtml style

public string RenderRazorViewToString(string viewName, object model)
  ViewData.Model = model;
  using (var sw = new StringWriter())
    var viewResult = ViewEngines.Engines.FindPartialView(ControllerContext,
    var viewContext = new ViewContext(ControllerContext, viewResult.View,
                                 ViewData, TempData, sw);
    viewResult.View.Render(viewContext, sw);
    viewResult.ViewEngine.ReleaseView(ControllerContext, viewResult.View);
    return sw.GetStringBuilder().ToString();

Edit: added Razor code.