Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Points to remember regarding Master Pages

Advantages of Master Pages
Master pages provide functionality that developers have traditionally created by copying existing code, text, and control elements repeatedly; using framesets; using include files for common elements; using ASP.NET user controls; and so on. Advantages of master pages include the following:

  1. They allow you to centralize the common functionality of your pages so that you can make updates in just one place.
  2. They make it easy to create one set of controls and code and apply the results to a set of pages. For example, you can use controls on the master page to create a menu that applies to all pages.
  3. They give you fine-grained control over the layout of the final page by allowing you to control how the placeholder controls are rendered.
  4. They provide an object model that allows you to customize the master page from individual content pages.

Run-time Behavior of Master Pages
At run time, master pages are handled in the following sequence:

  1. Users request a page by typing the URL of the content page.
  2. When the page is fetched, the @ Page directive is read. If the directive references a master page, the master page is read as well. If this is the first time the pages have been requested, both pages are compiled.
  3. The master page with the updated content is merged into the control tree of the content page.
  4. The content of individual Content controls is merged into the corresponding ContentPlaceHolder control in the master page.
  5. The resulting merged page is rendered to the browser.

Session Vs ViewState

Session State is useful for storing values that must be persisted across multiple pages by the same user. ViewState is useful for storing serializable data that must be persisisted across PostBacks by a single page. If you use Session State, the value you insert will remain in memory until (1) The Session times out, or (2) Your code removes it. If you useViewState, the value you insert will remain in ViewState until the user requests a different page.ViewState stores data betwen PostBacks by putting it into a hidden formfield on the client HTML doc. when the doc is Posted Back, the values are read from the hidden form field and stored in memory until the page has finished processing. If ViewState is particularly large (and I'm talking KBshere, not 6 bytes), it can negatively affect the speed at which the HTML docis down loaded by the browser.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

ASP.NET Page Life Cycle Overview from MSDN

ASP.NET Page Life Cycle Overview
When an ASP.NET page runs, the page goes through a life cycle in which it performs a series of processing steps. These include initialization, instantiating controls, restoring and maintaining state, running event handler code, and rendering. It is important for you to understand the page life cycle so that you can write code at the appropriate life-cycle stage for the effect you intend. Additionally, if you develop custom controls, you must be familiar with the page life cycle in order to correctly initialize controls, populate control properties with view-state data, and run any control behavior code. (The life cycle of a control is based on the page life cycle, but the page raises more events for a control than are available for an ASP.NET page alone.)
General Page Life-cycle Stages
In general terms, the page goes through the stages outlined in the following table. In addition to the page life-cycle stages, there are application stages that occur before and after a request but are not specific to a page. For more information, see
ASP.NET Application Life Cycle Overview.
Page request
The page request occurs before the page life cycle begins. When the page is requested by a user, ASP.NET determines whether the page needs to be parsed and compiled (therefore beginning the life of a page), or whether a cached version of the page can be sent in response without running the page.
In the start step, page properties such as
Request and Response are set. At this stage, the page also determines whether the request is a postback or a new request and sets the IsPostBack property. Additionally, during the start step, the page's UICulture property is set.
Page initialization
During page initialization, controls on the page are available and each control's
UniqueID property is set. Any themes are also applied to the page. If the current request is a postback, the postback data has not yet been loaded and control property values have not been restored to the values from view state.
During load, if the current request is a postback, control properties are loaded with information recovered from view state and control state.
During validation, the
Validate method of all validator controls is called, which sets the IsValid property of individual validator controls and of the page.
Postback event handling
If the request is a postback, any event handlers are called.
Before rendering, view state is saved for the page and all controls. During the rendering phase, the page calls the
Render method for each control, providing a text writer that writes its output to the OutputStream of the page's Response property.
Unload is called after the page has been fully rendered, sent to the client, and is ready to be discarded. At this point, page properties such as Response and Request are unloaded and any cleanup is performed.
Life-cycle Events
Within each stage of the life cycle of a page, the page raises events that you can handle to run your own code. For control events, you bind the event handler to the event, either declaratively using attributes such as onclick, or in code.
Pages also support automatic event wire-up, meaning that ASP.NET looks for methods with particular names and automatically runs those methods when certain events are raised. If the AutoEventWireup attribute of the
@ Page directive is set to true (or if it is not defined, since by default it is true), page events are automatically bound to methods that use the naming convention of Page_event, such as Page_Load and Page_Init. For more information on automatic event wire-up, see ASP.NET Web Server Control Event Model.
The following table lists the page life-cycle events that you will use most frequently. There are more events than those listed; however, they are not used for most page processing scenarios. Instead, they are primarily used by server controls on the ASP.NET Web page to initialize and render themselves. If you want to write your own ASP.NET server controls, you need to understand more about these stages. For information about creating custom controls, see
Developing Custom ASP.NET Server Controls.
Page Event
Typical Use
Use this event for the following:
Check the IsPostBack property to determine whether this is the first time the page is being processed.
Create or re-create dynamic controls.
Set a master page dynamically.
Set the
Theme property dynamically.
Read or set profile property values.
If the request is a postback, the values of the controls have not yet been restored from view state. If you set a control property at this stage, its value might be overwritten in the next event.
Raised after all controls have been initialized and any skin settings have been applied. Use this event to read or initialize control properties.
Raised by the Page object. Use this event for processing tasks that require all initialization be complete.
Use this event if you need to perform processing on your page or control before the Load event.
After the Page raises this event, it loads view state for itself and all controls, and then processes any postback data included with the Request instance.
The Page calls the
OnLoad event method on the Page, then recursively does the same for each child control, which does the same for each of its child controls until the page and all controls are loaded.
Use the OnLoad event method to set properties in controls and establish database connections.
Control events
Use these events to handle specific control events, such as a
Button control's Click event or a TextBox control's TextChanged event.
In a postback request, if the page contains validator controls, check the
IsValid property of the Page and of individual validation controls before performing any processing.
Use this event for tasks that require that all other controls on the page be loaded.
Before this event occurs:
The Page object calls
EnsureChildControls for each control and for the page.
Each data bound control whose
DataSourceID property is set calls its DataBind method. For more information, see Data Binding Events for Data-Bound Controls below.
The PreRender event occurs for each control on the page. Use the event to make final changes to the contents of the page or its controls.
Before this event occurs, ViewState has been saved for the page and for all controls. Any changes to the page or controls at this point will be ignored.
Use this event perform tasks that require view state to be saved, but that do not make any changes to controls.
This is not an event; instead, at this stage of processing, the Page object calls this method on each control. All ASP.NET Web server controls have a Render method that writes out the control's markup that is sent to the browser.
If you create a custom control, you typically override this method to output the control's markup. However, if your custom control incorporates only standard ASP.NET Web server controls and no custom markup, you do not need to override the Render method. For more information, see
Developing Custom ASP.NET Server Controls.
A user control (an .ascx file) automatically incorporates rendering, so you do not need to explicitly render the control in code.
This event occurs for each control and then for the page. In controls, use this event to do final cleanup for specific controls, such as closing control-specific database connections.
For the page itself, use this event to do final cleanup work, such as closing open files and database connections, or finishing up logging or other request-specific tasks.
During the unload stage, the page and its controls have been rendered, so you cannot make further changes to the response stream. If you attempt to call a method such as the Response.Write method, the page will throw an exception.
Additional Page Life Cycle Considerations
Individual ASP.NET server controls have their own life cycle that is similar to the page life cycle. For example, a control's Init and Load events occur during the corresponding page events.
Although both Init and Load recursively occur on each control, they happen in reverse order. The Init event (and also the Unload event) for each child control occur before the corresponding event is raised for its container (bottom-up). However the Load event for a container occurs before the Load events for its child controls (top-down).
You can customize the appearance or content of a control by handling the events for the control, such as the Click event for the Button control and the
SelectedIndexChanged event for the ListBox control. Under some circumstances, you might also handle a control's DataBinding or DataBound events. For more information, see the class reference topics for individual controls and Developing Custom ASP.NET Server Controls.
When inheriting a class from the Page class, in addition to handling events raised by the page, you can override methods from the page's base class. For example, you can override the page's
InitializeCulture method to dynamically set culture information. Note that when creating an event handler using the Page_event syntax, the base implementation is implicitly called and therefore you do not need to call it in your method. For example, the base page class's OnLoad method is always called, whether you create a Page_Load method or not. However, if you override the page OnLoad method with the override keyword (Overrides in Visual Basic), you must explicitly call the base method. For example, if you override the OnLoad method on the page, you must call base.Load (MyBase.Load in Visual Basic) in order for the base implementation to be run.
Catch-up Events for Added Controls
If controls are created dynamically at run time or are authored declaratively within templates of data-bound controls, their events are initially not synchronized with those of other controls on the page. For example, for a control that is added at run time, the Init and Load events might occur much later in the page life cycle than the same events for controls created declaratively. Therefore, from the time that they are instantiated, dynamically added controls and controls in templates raise their events one after the other until they have caught up to the event during which it was added to the
Controls collection.
In general, you do not need to be concerned about this unless you have nested data-bound controls. If a child control has been data bound, but its container control has not yet been data bound, the data in the child control and the data in its container control can be out of sync. This is true particularly if the data in the child control performs processing based on a data-bound value in the container control.
For example, suppose you have a
GridView that displays a company record in each row along with a list of the company officers in a ListBox control. To fill the list of officers, you would bind the ListBox control to a data source control (such as SqlDataSource) that retrieves the company officer data using the CompanyID in a query.
If the ListBox control's data-binding properties, such as
DataSourceID and DataMember, are set declaratively, the ListBox control will try to bind to its data source during the containing row's DataBinding event. However, the CompanyID field of the row does not contain a value until the GridView control's RowDataBound event occurs. In this case, the child control (the ListBox control) is bound before the containing control (the GridView control) is bound, so their data-binding stages are out of sync.
To avoid this condition, put the data source control for the ListBox control in the same template item as the ListBox control itself, and do not set the data binding properties of the ListBox declaratively. Instead, set them programmatically at run time during the RowDataBound event, so that the ListBox control does not bind to its data until the CompanyID information is available.
For more information, see
Binding to Data Using a Data Source Control.
Data Binding Events for Data-Bound Controls
To help you understand the relationship between the page life cycle and data binding events, the following table lists data-related events in data-bound controls such as the GridView,
DetailsView, and FormView controls.
Control Event
Typical Use
This event is raised by data-bound controls before the PreRender event of the containing control (or of the Page object) and marks the beginning of binding the control to the data.
Use this event to manually open database connections, if required. (The data source controls often make this unnecessary.)
RowCreated (GridView only) or ItemCreated (DataList, DetailsView, SiteMapPath, DataGrid, FormView, and Repeater controls)
Use this event to manipulate content that is not dependent on data binding. For example, at run time, you might programmatically add formatting to a header or footer row in a GridView control.
RowDataBound (GridView only) or
ItemDataBound (DataList, SiteMapPath, DataGrid, and Repeater controls)
When this event occurs, data is available in the row or item, so you can format data or set the
FilterExpression property on child data source controls for displaying related data within the row or item.
This event marks the end of data-binding operations in a data-bound control. In a GridView control, data binding is complete for all rows and any child controls.
Use this event to format data bound content or to initiate data binding in other controls that depend on values from the current control's content. (For details, see "Catch-up Events for Added Controls" earlier in this topic.)
Login Control Events
Login control can use settings in the Web.config file to manage membership authentication automatically. However, if your application requires you to customize how the control works, or if you want to understand how Login control events relate to the page life cycle, you can use the events listed in the following table.
Control Event
Typical Use
This event is raised during a postback, after the page's LoadComplete event has occurred. It marks the beginning of the login process.
Use this event for tasks that must occur prior to beginning the authentication process.
This event is raised after the LoggingIn event.
Use this event to override or enhance the default authentication behavior of a Login control.
This event is raised after the user name and password have been authenticated.
Use this event to redirect to another page or to dynamically set the text in the control. This event does not occur if there is an error or if authentication fails.
This event is raised if authentication was not successful.
Use this event to set text in the control that explains the problem or to direct the user to a different page

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Life Cycle of ASPX Page

Understanding Page lifecycle is very crucial in order to develop ASP.NET applications. Most beginners tend to get confused while dealing with dynamic controls and face problems like losing values, state etc on postbacks. Since HTTP is stateless, the nature of web programming is inherently different from windows application development, and the Page lifecycle is one of the primary building blocks while learning ASP.NET. The sequence of events, especially while working with MasterPages in ASP.NET 2.0, has become slightly more complex and this article is aims to shed some light on these events by explaining the order and importance of each event.
Whenever the user requests a particular .aspx page in an application, a lot of interesting things happen on the web server where the application is hosted. Understanding this sequence of events will help us to program and respond to events properly and also clear any confusion which generally arises due to the stateless nature of web programming.
Basics: The New Compilation Model and the Partial Classes
Each web form in an ASP.NET application derives directly or indirectly from a System.Web.UI.Page class. A web form has two components: a code behind file (WebForm.aspx.cs) which contains the code for the events and other methods related to a Page, and the designer ASPX file, which contains HTML control declarations and events (in the Visual Studio 2005 Web Application project model, we have a designer class named WebForm.aspx.designer.cs).
In ASP.NET 2.0, we do not need to define the control variables as well as there event handlers in the code behind, thanks to Partial classes. In ASP.NET 1.x, all this code was auto generated and placed in the code behind file under InitializeComponent() section. But in version 2.0, the runtime will create a partial class dynamically from the ASPX page containing all this info and merge it with the code behind partial class. This will help in making the actual code behind class a lot cleaner and more manageable.
Also, this would eliminate the name change related issues which were common in VS 2003 (if we change any control's ID, it had to be changed everywhere and VS used to modify the code many times). All control related events are defined in the ASPX markup code. So having a single place for controls names and event handlers is cleaner and flexible, whereas the previous VS 2003 model was more "brittle".
Real Thing: The Page life cycle
It is very important to know that for each request, the Page class is instantiated everytime from “scratch”. Which means that any values or whatever state it had previously will get lost unless we use one of the various state maintainance mechanisms provided by ASP.NET like Application, Session, Cache variables or Cookies.
Side Note: View state in ASP.NET 2.0 has changed and now comprises of two parts: Control State and View state. Refer this article for details:
Below is the sequence of events which fire up sequentially with explanation on the relative importance with respect to web programming in code behind:
Important Note: All events except the Init() and Unload() are fired from outermost to the innermost control. For e.g., a user control’s init event would fire before the Page_Init() event of its parent Page class.
1. PreInit()
In this Page level event, all controls created during design time are initialized with their default values. For e.g., if you have a TextBox control with Text property = “Hello”, it would be set by now. We can create dynamic controls here.
This event occurs only for the Page class and UserControls/MasterPages do not have this method to override. Sample code where you can override this method and add your custom code:
protected override void OnPreInit(EventArgs e)

//custom code
Note that PreInit() is the only event where we can set themes programmatically.
Special Case with MasterPages
It is important to note that Master Page is treated like a control in the Content Pages.So if a Page has a Master Page associated with it, then the controls on the page will not be initialized and would be null in this stage. Only after the Init() event starts, you can access these controls directly from the page class. Why?
The reason being that all controls placed in the Content Page are within a ContentPlaceholder which is a child control of a MasterPage. Now Master Page is merged and treated like a control in the Content Pages. As I mentioned earlier, all events except the Init() and Unload() are fired from outermost to the innermost control. So PreInit() in the Page is the first event to fire but User Controls or MasterPage (which is itself a Usercontrol) do not have any PreInit event . Therefore in the Page_PreInit() method, neither the MasterPage nor any user control has been initialized and only the controls inside the Page class are set to their default values. Only after the Page_PreInit() event the Init() events of other controls fire up.
See the diagram below showing control hierarchy after the Page_Init() event:
2. OnInit()
In this event, we can read the controls properties (set at design time). We cannot read control values changed by the user because that changed value will get loaded after LoadPostData() event fires. But we can access control values from the forms POST data as:
string selectedValue = Request.Form[controlID].ToString();
3. LoadViewState
This will only fire if the Page has posted back (IsPostBack == true). Here the runtime de-serializes the view state data from the hidden form element and loads all controls who have view state enabled.
4. LoadPostBackData
Again, this method will only fire if the Page has posted back.In this event the controls which implement IPostBackDataHandler interface gets loaded by the values from the HTTP POST data. Note that a textbox control does not gets its value from the view state but from the post data in the form in this event. So even if you disable view state for a particular control, it can get its value from the HTTP POST data if it implements IPostBackDataHandler interface.
Also, an important point to note is that if we have a DropDownList control and we have dynamically added some items to it, the runtime cannot load those values unless the view state is enabled (even if the control derives from IPostBackDataHandler). The reason being that HTTP Post data has only one value per control, and the entire value collection is not maintained in the PostData but in view state.
5. Page_Load
This is the most popular method and the first one for all beginner developers to put their code. Beginners may also think that this is the first method which fires for a Page class. This can lead to a lot of confusion which makes understanding the Page lifecycle all the more important.
Note: If the page has any user control, then it's Load method will fire after the Page class's Load method. The reason as explained earlier is the fact that all method except the Init() are fired from the outermost control to the innermost. So after Page_Load(), load methods of all other controls are fired recursively.
6. Control Event Handlers
These are basically event handlers (like Button1_Click()) which are defined for controls in the ASPX markup. Another source of confusion arises when the developer thinks that an event handler like Button_Click() should fire independently (like in windows apps) as soon as he clicks a Button on the web form, forgetting that Page_Load will fire first before any event handlers.
7. PreRender
This event is again recursively fired for each child controls in the Page. If we want to make any changes to control values, this is the last event we have
to peform the same.
8. SaveViewState
Here, the ViewState of the controls gets saved in the form's hidden control.
9. Render
In this method all controls are rendered recursively (i.e. Render method of each control is called).
10. Unload
Here you can have the page and controls perform clean-up operations. This event has no relevance besides clean up operations because the Page has already rendered.
This Article is taken from the Code Project Articles by Vivek Thakur can read at