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Creating a Templated User Control

, 2 Dec 2007
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This article explains how to create your own repeater, with templates.

Introduction

The Modern Web programming technology ASP.NET provides many tools and controls to develop Web applications rapidly. For example, the Repeater control is a really simple and powerful control which renders collection data into a web page within a short time of coding. Imagine you want to do the same in classic ASP or PHP, you may have to write a loop in ASP with combined HTML and server scripts. The first difference between ASP and ASP.NET is separation of HTML and server scripts. Microsoft has provided many controls to play with data, for example: Repeater, DataGridView, DataList etc. In this article I am going to explain how to create this kind of Templated data control.

Selecting a Proper Scenario

Creating a custom control every time is an expense of time. In addition, it may not be tested properly in all kinds of scenarios. It's always the best approach to select the control like DataReader which is provided and tested by Microsoft itself. However, in some scenarios we may need better functionality and customization of the control. In such a kind of scenario, we go for UserControl [or] CustomControl development.

In this article, I am going to explain a typical DataRepeater development. Even though it's already available in ASP.NET, we are going to create a control like Repeater only (Repeating Repeater), because we are already familiar with Repeater controls functionality and it's templates, so it will be easy to understand.

Planning the Control

Since we are going to create a control like DataRepeater, planning about the control is easy. I am going to change only the name of the control. The name of the control is MyRepeater, which consists of the following four templates:

  • Header template
  • Footer template
  • Item template
  • Alternate item template

As we already know, the Header and Footer should be rendered once, and the count of Item template and AlternateItemTemplate should be equal to the number of items in the DataSource.

Planning the DataSource

Like Repeater, our control should also support most of the generic types, like the ones given below:

  • DataTable
  • DataView
  • List
  • Collection
  • ArrayList
  • Array

Don't get confused about how to handle all the above data types inside the control. This is really simple. All the above data types internally implement IEnumerable, so if we develop a control for IEnumerable, that will support all the above data sources.

Important Data Types

We are going to use the following important data types to develop our own Repeater, please refer to MSDN for a detailed description of the following types:

  • ITemplate
  • IEnumerable
  • INamingContainer
  • IDataItem
  • Control

Creating the User Control

Create a new user control named MyRepeater.ascx, and refer the same in Default.aspx. So default.aspx & MyRepeater.ascx will look like they are shown below:

MyRepeater.ascx

<%@ Control Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true"
    CodeFile="MyRepeater.ascx.cs" Inherits="MyRepeater" %>

Default.aspx

<%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true"
    CodeFile="Default.aspx.cs" Inherits="_Default" %>

<%@ Register Src="MyRepeater.ascx" TagName="MyRepeater" TagPrefix="myOwn" %>

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
    "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" >
<head runat="server">
    <title>Untitled Page</title>

</head>
<body>
    <form id="form1" runat="server">
    <div>
        <myOwn:MyRepeater ID="MyRepeater1" runat="server">
        </myOwn:MyRepeater>

    </div>
    </form>
</body>
</html>

Creating Templates

By default, UserControl doesn't have any templates inside, so we have to create public properties to enable templates for the UserControl. Create the following four public properties inside the UserControl.

MyRepeater.ascx.cs

using System;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.UI;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;
using System.Web.UI.HtmlControls;
using System.Collections;
public partial class MyRepeater : System.Web.UI.UserControl
{
    private ITemplate _ItemTemplate;
    private ITemplate _AlternateItemTemplate;
    private ITemplate _HeaderTemplate;
    private ITemplate _FooterTemplate;
    private IEnumerable _DataSource;

    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {

    }

    [TemplateContainer(typeof(SimpleTemplateItem))]
    public ITemplate ItemTemplate
    {
        get { return _ItemTemplate; }
        set { _ItemTemplate = value; }
    }

    [TemplateContainer(typeof(SimpleTemplateItem))]
    public ITemplate AlternateItemTemplate
    {
        get { return _AlternateItemTemplate; }
        set { _AlternateItemTemplate = value; }
    }

    [TemplateContainer(typeof(SimpleTemplateItem))]
    public ITemplate HeaderTemplate
    {
        get { return _HeaderTemplate; }
        set { _HeaderTemplate = value; }
    }

    [TemplateContainer(typeof(SimpleTemplateItem))]
    public ITemplate FooterTemplate
    {
        get { return _FooterTemplate; }
        set { _FooterTemplate = value; }
    }
 }
  • ITemplate: This is an interface provided by ASP.NET, which is used to hold the specific template content.
  • TemplateContainer: This attribute is used to provide the type of the template content.

For each template, runtime must create a UserControl instance to hold the contents, for instance, if your DataSource has 100 records, internally 100 instances of templates will be created. We need to create another UserControl to render each template into that. This control is called the template container control. Create the class/control as follows:

SimpleTemplateItem.cs

public class SimpleTemplateItem :
    Control, System.Web.UI.INamingContainer, IDataItemContainer
{
    private object _CurrentDataItem;
    public SimpleTemplateItem(object currentItem)
    {
        _CurrentDataItem = currentItem;

    }

    #region IDataItemContainer Members

    public object DataItem
    {
        get { return _CurrentDataItem; }
    }

    public int DataItemIndex
    {
        get { throw new Exception
            ("The method or operation is not implemented."); }
    }

    public int DisplayIndex
    {
        get { throw new Exception
            ("The method or operation is not implemented."); }
    }

    #endregion
}
  • INamingContainer: This is a Marker interface — it doesn't have any methods, or properties inside — this is just to provide control id in the runtime.
  • IDataItem: Properties of IDataItem are used to hold the single item of the DataSource with respect to the template instance.

Adding Code to Render the Templates

As of now, we created a UserControl with four template properties and another UserControl (template container) to render the templates on it. Now we need to add the code logic to render the templates. ITemplate interface internally has a method called InstantiateIn, which is used to render the template content into the desired control. Add the following codes into the databind method of myrepeater class, which will add the templates to the UserControl.

MyRepeater.ascx.cs [Databind Method]

 public override void DataBind()
    {
        //Rendering Header template into current control
        AddTemplateAsControl(HeaderTemplate, null);

        IEnumerator ie = DataSource.GetEnumerator();
        bool renderAlternateTemplate = false;

        while (ie.MoveNext())
        {


            if (renderAlternateTemplate && AlternateItemTemplate != null)
            {

                AddTemplateAsControl(ItemTemplate, ie.Current);
            }
            else if (AlternateItemTemplate != null)
            {
                AddTemplateAsControl(AlternateItemTemplate,ie.Current);
            }
            else
            {
                //don't render anything
            }

            renderAlternateTemplate = !renderAlternateTemplate;
        }

        //Rendering footer template into current control
        AddTemplateAsControl(FooterTemplate, null);

        //Always better to call base class implementation
        base.DataBind();
    }
    
    private void AddTemplateAsControl(ITemplate anyTemplate,object cuurentItem)
    {
        SimpleTemplateItem templateContentHolder = new SimpleTemplateItem(cuurentItem);
        anyTemplate.InstantiateIn(templateContentHolder);
        this.Controls.Add(templateContentHolder);
    }
    

Testing MyRepeater

To test the Repeater, create any DataSource and bind to the UserControl. Below is the sample code to test the Repeater.

Default.aspx

<myOwn:MyRepeater ID="MyRepeater1" runat="server">

        <HeaderTemplate>
            Customer List:
            <table border="1">
                <tr><th>Id</th><th>Name</th><th>Location</th></tr>

        </HeaderTemplate>

        <ItemTemplate>
            <tr style="background-color:gold">
            <td><%#DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem,"Id") %></td>
            <td><%#DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem,"Name")%></td>

            <td><%#DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem,"Location") %></td>
            </tr>
        </ItemTemplate>

        <AlternateItemTemplate>
            <tr><td><%#DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem,"Id") %></td>

            <td><%#DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem,"Name")%></td>
            <td><%#DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem,"Location") %></td>
            </tr>
        </AlternateItemTemplate>

        <FooterTemplate>
            </table>
            </FooterTemplate>

    </myOwn:MyRepeater>

Default.aspx.cs

using System;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.UI;
using System.Web.UI.WebControls;
using System.Web.UI.HtmlControls;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public partial class _Default : System.Web.UI.Page
{
    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        List<Customer> customerList = new List<Customer>();

        customerList.Add(new Customer("Prem", "New york"));
        customerList.Add(new Customer("Jhon", "Amsterdam"));
        customerList.Add(new Customer("Peter", "London"));
        customerList.Add(new Customer("Mani", "Chennai"));
        customerList.Add(new Customer("Paul", "Paris"));

        MyRepeater1.DataSource = customerList;
        MyRepeater1.DataBind();
    }
}

public class Customer
{
    private string _Name;
    private Guid _Id;
    private string _Location;

    public Customer(string name, string location)
    {
        this.Name = name;
        this.Location = location;
        this.Id = Guid.NewGuid();
    }

    public string Name
    {
        get { return _Name; }
        set { _Name = value; }
    }

    public Guid Id
    {
        get { return _Id; }
        set { _Id = value; }
    }

    public string Location
    {
        get { return _Location; }
        set { _Location = value; }
    }
}

Conclusion

I hope you understood how to develop your own Templated control like DataGrid, DataList etc. with the addition of your own features. Instead of the SimpleTemplateItem class, you can also use the existing RepeaterItem class if you do not require any additional features. The control that we created is very lightweight, like a normal Repeater. If you want, you can also add some extra features like paging, sorting, etc.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Manikandan.net
Web Developer
India India
"Manikandan Balakrishnan" Working as an IT consultant with LogicaCMG’s Global Service Delivery part-India, he has a good experience on Web/Win development (C#, Asp.net) and enterprise application integration (BizTalk) technologies. Prior to this he worked on world’s biggest e-learning product with Excel Soft Technologies, Mysore.
 
City: Coimbatore, TN
CreativeManix@gmail.com

Comments and Discussions

 
Questionvisual studio intellisense not working PinmemberGirish Nama28-Mar-14 16:29 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberIgor Sukhov9-Mar-12 0:26 
GeneralGood Job Thank you PinmemberMayank Kukadia from India6-Jan-12 1:19 
QuestionAdding a control with runat server Pinmemberdilipms31-Oct-11 1:43 
GeneralMy vote of 4 PinmemberHuseyin OZCAKIR29-Aug-10 12:18 
QuestionA bug PinmemberDmitry Vitkovsky1-Jun-10 5:56 
Generalgreate one PinmemberSbusiso3-Mar-10 0:22 
GeneralNice example -- missing a property Pinmemberrcaciopp11-Jul-09 3:26 
GeneralRe: Nice example -- missing a property PinmemberManikandan.net12-Jul-09 18:42 
QuestionError Creating Control? Pinmemberxinhongrao26-Apr-08 18:46 
GeneralRe: Error Creating Control? PinmemberManikandan.net27-Apr-08 18:38 
GeneralGood job ! Pinmemberdreamer9212-Dec-07 23:23 

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