Archive for the ‘AJAX’ Category

Catching Async Postbacks from Server Controls

July 11, 2008 Comments off

In my current project, I created a custom server control that presented the user with questions and answers—they select the answer and move on.

However, a requirement was that the user could push a button and “select all”.  Unfortunately, DropDownList objects are not as easy to select as, say, a CheckBox.  In addition, all controls are dynamically generated—I knew the IDs, but couldn’t specify the Async trigger in the MasterPage’s Script Manager.

I could, however, find the name of the control and do a bit of magic with it.

Here’s how:

First, in your server control, check to see if a ScriptManager control is even present.  For this example, I’m leaving out the try/catches—so we’ll assume that it’s there.

private ScriptManager _scriptManager;

Then, in OnInit (or OnLoad, depending on your controls):

_scriptManager = ScriptManager.GetCurrent(Page);

GetCurrent fetches the current AJAX ScriptManager control from the context you specify—in this case, the current Page object.

Now we’re ready to consume the ScriptManager.  First, we ensure that it’s not null AND, most importantly, that the line of code is being hit during an Async Postback.  Regular postbacks, for the point of updating an UpdatePanel don’t matter to us.

if (_scriptManager != null && _scriptManager.IsInAsyncPostBack)


var fromWhere =


The ScriptManager’s AsyncPostBackSourceElementID (seriously, can we get longer field names?) provides just that, a hashed heirarchy of the control that caused the Async Postback.  For this to work, it’s important to remember that you must either have ChildrenAsTriggers set to True or have explicitly registered your dynamic control with the ScriptManager.

The hashed output looks like the standard ASP.NET control heirarchy:


In this case, when I dynamically created my button, I named it “selectallbutton_{id}” to make it easy to find AND store the information I need in this Select All step.

if (fromWhere.Contains(selectallbutton_”))


var id =


.Substring(fromWhere.IndexOf(‘_’) + 1)




The full code block looks like:

_scriptManager = ScriptManager.GetCurrent(Page);

if (_scriptManager != null && _scriptManager.IsInAsyncPostBack)


var fromWhere =



       if (fromWhere.Contains(selectallbutton_”))


var id =


.Substring(fromWhere.IndexOf(‘_’) + 1)





Now my dynamically created button’s Click event is caught during the Async postback (inside an UpdatePanel), validated, and my custom method is executed—in this event, taking the “id” that was part of the Button’s ID and modifying other controls on the page accordingly.

Wrapping TabPanel Tabs With A Simple CSS Change

July 10, 2008 1 comment

The last few weeks have been filled with taking an old ASP legacy application and updating it to ASP.NET.  Fun stuff and not to challenging.

However, a “feature” of the AJAX Control Toolkit’s TabContainer finally hit a nerve.  In the past, I’ve ignored the fact that I couldn’t “wrap” the tabs or set how many rows of tabs to create.  I chalked it up to an annoyance and designed applications with this in mind.

After hunting through the Control Toolkit’s source code, the problem is simple.  There’s a line in the CSS explicitly telling it not to wrap.

Well, recompiling the toolkit can get annoying and hurts mobility of your applications—it’s no fun to bundle “custom” copies for a simple styling change.



    white-space: normal !important;


That will override the nowrap that is built into the Toolkit’s CSS.

Hopefully, someday, this will be a boolean property on the TabContainer control.

Using the CLR Profiler with VS2008 Web Projects

Download CLR Profiler for .NET 2.0 Framework.

The CLR profiler is great; it’s sweet to be able to see where memory is allocated and how well objects are disposed of (and whether or not I missed something that GC just isn’t catching). 

The form is pretty easy to use, but there’s a bit of a trick for VS 2008 web application profiling when using the built-in Web Development Server.

NOTE:  This isn’t anything like the ANTS Profiler (which I wish I had a license for, but don’t).  ANTS will tell you where code slowdowns are and more, this simply returns back histographs of object usage, memory, and the stack/heap.  Still very useful none the less.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Download the CLR profiler (see the link at the beginning of this article or click here).

2. Extract the profiler into a directory (it defaults to C:\CLRProfiler); it will extract two directory structures (binaries, source) and a readme document.

3. To start using the application immediately, browse into the Binaries directory and execute the CLRProfiler. 

Use the x86 version. I haven’t been able to get the x64 version to work correctly (even though I’m on a x64 machine) when profiling .NET web applications ala the built-in web development server.

4. Under File > Set Parameters, modify the “Command Line” to reflect the parameters required to start the built-in web development server.  After the parameters have been set, click OK.

Usually, you have a Port parameter and a Path parameter.  Here’s an example:

/port:1234 /path:“J:\Projects\Work\Current\ERC\web\”

5. Click ‘Start Application’.  A browse window will open.  Visual Studio 2008’s web development server is located in the Common Files directory.

    \Microsoft Shared\DevServer\9.0
    \Microsoft Shared\DevServer\9.0

6. After selecting the WebDev.WebServer.Exe application file, your server will kick off with the parameters you set.

Now you’re ready to open up a web browser, begin browsing around, and evaluate your application.  When finished, click the ‘Kill Application’ button on the Profiler or simply close the WebServer application.

Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 SP1 Beta

The blogs are abuzz this morning after the first beta release of the VS2008 and .NET 3.5 SP1.   Download it here.

In my opinion, this isn’t a service pack—this is a new version!

There are quite a few bug fixes (what you normally associate with a service pack), but also a huge list of new additions and improvements.

From Somasegar:

Traditionally our service packs address a range of issues found both through customer and partner feedback as well as our own internal testing.  While this service pack holds true to that theme and delivers updates for these types of issues, it also builds on the tremendous value that Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 deliver today and enables an improved developer experience by adding a number of additional components that cover a range of highly requested customer features. For example, the service pack is the first release for Visual Studio 2008 that delivers full support for SQL Server 2008 and the ADO.NET Entity Framework.

I’ve posted a few links at the end of the post to the more extensive sources right now, take a look and get ready for the plunge.

So, what am I most excited about?

  • ADO.NET Entity Framework – I’m hoping that the “real” release motivates Oracle to develop provides for the entity framework and my dream of LINQ-esque connections to Oracle will be realized.
  • ASP.NET Routing Engine – As the MVC framework gets closer to a production reality, it’s very motivating to see the underpinnings already in place.
  • VS2008 Performance Improvements – Anything has to be an improvement. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • JavaScript Code Formatting – Sweet, now if I can only get JavaScript intellisense to work. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • LINQ Debug Support – Very nice, love seeing the generated SQL right there at debug time.

There are also lots of updates to WCF and WPF.  Hopefully this summer I’ll have more time to use these .NET 3.0 technologies and maybe be a bit more excited. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Visual Studio 2008 GUI/Tools

The Web Developer Tools team has released a comprehensive list of designer bug fixes, IIS templates and modules, formatting changes, intellisense upgrades, and more on their blog.

MVC and URL Routing

Phil Haack details the effects of the URL routing changes on the MVC Preview releases as well as how it affects the upcoming Preview 3.


ScottGu, as always does an excellent job tying everything up together—designer, framework, and tooling.

Now, if ReSharper 4.0 would EVER get to RTW before we’re ready to VS2009, it’d be super!

Bubbling up Methods in Composite Controls

A while back, I wrote a couple of articles (here and here) regarding encapsulating the ModalPopupExtender into a spiffy little template control that you could toss onto a page.  It’s worked GREAT over the past few months, however, I hit a snag today.

I needed to call the base ModalPopupExtender’s .Show() method from code behind; however, I hadn’t bubbled that up to the Composite Control.

At first, I expected to simply add a private instance of the MPE (which is assigned to when the control is built) and then add a method to my composite control that calls the .Show() method.

private ModalPopupExtender _control;

public void Show()




That sounds good, but it never fired and the _control field was always null (even though I could step through and it was assigned).

What it needed was a little reminder—a reminder to EnsureChildControls existed before trying to call Show().  Now, a quick update to the code:

public void Show()





Now I can call the Show() method of the Composite Control and it works like a charm!  Here’s an example (for what I’m working with at the moment) of dynamically iterating through an IDictionary and returning the values in a Modal Popup.


<tiredstudent:ModalPopupTemplate HeaderText=”ERC” runat=”server”

        ID=”PopupDialogBox” DefaultStyle=”YUI” TargetControlId=”fakeButton” />

<asp:Button ID=”fakeButton” runat=”server” style=”display: none” />


foreach (var entry in results)


       sb.AppendLine(string.Format(“<p>{0} – {1}</p>”,

                     entry.Key, entry.Value));



PopupDialogBox.BodyText = sb.ToString();




Spring Break, oh how I love thee.

March 14, 2008 Comments off

The beach.Spring Break is great—especially when you work somewhere where it’s mandatory and paid

This is the first year in… well, ever, that I won’t have to attend college classes during my spring break holiday and can take the time to relax, catch up on projects I’ve been putting off, and sleep later than “almost going to be late” 6:00 AM.

Over the next week, I’m going to attempt to:

  • Catch up on all the new MVC bits from Release 2.  I really missed out being unconscious for a week with the flu and haven’t had time this week to dig in.
  • Now that Silverlight 2 is out, actually CARE about it.  Silverlight 1.0 was “neat,” but encapsulating videos into little boxes didn’t really appeal to me.  Full UI development does.
  • Build a desk, or a table, or something.  I’ve (well, my dad and I) had plans to build a new computer desk, recessed lighting, and shelving into my office area.  He’s been busy, I’ve been busy—it just hasn’t gotten done started.  There will be power tool usage, I swear it.  *Tim the Toolman laugh goes here*
  • WebGallery2 updates. I have made a few cosmetic and code changes to WebGallery2 to address performance issues and I need to get those changes tidied up and posted.

All in all, I honestly plan to spend as little time doing “work” as I can next week and just relax.  Of course, as fate may have it, it’s been sunny and in the 70’s all this week and is supposed to rain and be in the 40’s and 50’s all next week.  *sigh*

(Oh, and no, no beach for me—Kansas is about as landlocked as you could possibly get.)


IE 8.0 – First Impressions and Rendering

Unfortunately, I’m at home nursing the flu rather than living it up in Vegas at MIX08 so I’ve had to experience the fun vicariously through the thousands of blog posts, twitters, and videos of nearly every second of the event.

A big kick off revolved around the first Beta release of Internet Explorer 8.  Being adventuerous and well, not having anything else to do, I downloaded the x64 Vista version and have been hitting various web sites that I frequent to see how things look.

The IE Interface

Overall, IE 8 currently looks a LOT like IE7.  In fact, it takes a bit of hunting to find any differences what-so-ever.

The new “Favorites Bar” (or was that old) seems to be built to hold the new WebSlices, which I haven’t quite grasped yet (I don’t use eBay, sorry).

The Phishing Filter has been renamed the “Safety Filter”, which was immediately turned off.  I’m assuming Phishing was too difficult to explain (which is OK).  The concept is cool, I’m just not sure I want Microsoft being the “safe site” police.

Beyond that, I haven’t seen any other “changes”.  Let’s hope the real excitement is in the rendering.


The tout of IE8 is it’s successful passing of Acid2, a standards-based rendering assessment.  Sadly, this is just in time for Acid3, which it not only doesn’t pass (nothing passes right now), but it does worse than most other “current” browsers only scoring a 17/100.

So, what about real sites?

Here are a few of the more common sites I visit and the results:

iGoogle – Renders OK, albeit VERY slowly. and web parts require mousing over the empty boxes to display their contents.  There is also a bunch of odd spacing at the top of the Gmail web part.

GmailRenders OK, very fast.  I couldn’t find any issue with Gmail at all.

Microsoft Exchange 2003 OWAWorks great, very fast. 

Microsoft SharePoint 2003 (SPS)Works very well.  Renders extremely fast from page to page.  Mouse overs, context menus, etc. seem to work even better than in IE7.  Hah.

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) Works.  Still requires “accepting” the “Name ActiveX Control”, which is REALLY annoying, but the site renders just fine.  Also renders a bit slow, but that’s just MOSS2007. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Weather.comWorks. A few positioning snafus, but everything is functional.  See image below.

Linkshell Fourms (built on VBulletin 3.6.8) – Works great.  The PHP-based forums work like a champ for my FFXI linkshell.  Thankfully!

Virtual Server 2005 R2’s Control PanelDoes not work.  Unfortunately, none of the menus work.  You cannot create/update/add anything or view the status of a running VM.  I can bounce back to IE7 emulation mode and it works OK.

MSDN Subscriber DownloadsSorta works.  I’m assuming the new version of this site will resolve these issues.  So far, the site “works”, but renders a bit funny when you move the frame bars around.


FFXI Auction HouseDoes not work.  The side navigation bar is covered up and inaccessible.  Without that, it’s almost impossible to browse through the site (searching for EVERYTHING gets a bit tedious). See image to the right. – Sorta sometimes works.  The functionality of the site is there, but the background and themes to the site are a bit haywire.  And updates aren’t being processed without a logout/login.  Ehh, odd.

WordPress – Does not work.  For some reason, the wp-admin console simply blanks the page out.  There’s a brief flash of it rendering, and then poof, just white.  I can View Source and see the code, refresh and see the flash, but haven’t been able to fix this one without dropping back to IE7 mode.

My Blog (Freshy Theme)Sorta works. Well, this blog doesn’t render right either.  The Search bar at the top right of the screen is covered up and missing the [Search] button.  The right-hand bar no longer trails to the end of the page, but stops at the end of the content (assuming the height:100% failure), The main body footer is now the footer to the right-hand bar.  There are a few other z-index issues here and there, but those can be fixed (I’m assuming).

My Photo Site Does not work.  Hmm, sucks.  Unfortunately, the menus doesn’t work.  Well, let me reword that, they work, but if you try to move from the Parent Menu to a Child Menu item, the menu disappears.  I’m assuming it’s a spacing issue for the mouse overs, but I’m not sure.  Ugh.

Random sites – I noticed most sites that I authenticated to, the hash out for the password turned up as an invalid character.  See below.

Things I Wish It Had

NoScript.  I really like FireFox’s NoScript plug in—especially with all the shakeup and paranoia regarding compromised accounts in FFXI.  I wish IE had something similar built directly into the browser.

Built-in support for social bookmarking.  Does anyone use Favorites or Bookmarks anymore?  I totally rely on and would LOVE to see better support for that in IE8.  I don’t want an annoying button that was put out by Yahoo, I want to open an Explorer Panel (like my Favorites) and see the heirarchy of my tags.


Well, for Beta 1, it’s not half bad.  It starts up instantly, looks clean, and appears to integrate into Windows Vista just fine.  If a few of the odd rendering snafus can be addressed (either by releasing WHY it doesn’t work or tweaks to the rendering engine in IE), I look forward to the next release.

WebGallery 2.0 #5 – CSS Friendly and W3C Compliant

In the fifth, and final, segment on the WebGallery 2.0 project, I wanted to touch on the CSS Friendly Adapters and work that went into creating a fully W3C compliant project.

In previous posts, we’ve discussed:

#1 – Introduction
#2 – HttpHandler and LINQ Data Model
#3 – Building the Galleries
#4 – Adding Admin Tools

NOTE: Code downloads are available on the Introduction post.

Read more…

WebGallery 2.0 – #4 – Adding Admin Tools

February 25, 2008 12 comments

So far, we’ve discussed:

  1. Creating the basic data model for the WebGallery.
  2. Changes to the HttpHandler to increase speed and efficiency.
  3. Building and viewing the individual galleries–created using clean, simple HTML code.

Our galleries are now visible; however, we need a few administration tools to handle changes, such as updating the title and description or fixing a broken thumbnail (since they’re pre-generated now). 

#1 – Introduction
#2 – HttpHandler and LINQ Data Model
#3 – Building the Galleries

NOTE: Code downloads are available on the Introduction post.

This post will cover the topic of using the ModalPopupExtender to manage files once their added into the galleries.

Read more…

WebGallery 2.0 #3 – Building the Galleries

February 25, 2008 2 comments

In our last two posts, we’ve discussed the underlying data model and how LINQ and the HttpHandler wraps everything up to display our photos. 

#1 – Introduction
#2 – HttpHandler and LINQ Data Model

NOTE: Code downloads are available on the Introduction post.

This post will cover how the galleries use those data components and controls such as the Data Pager and ListView to build fully XHTML compliant code.

Read more…