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ASP.NET Dynamic Gradient Handler

, 31 Dec 2007 CPOL
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Create browser-independent gradients dynamically with an ASP.NET IHttpHandler.


Gradients are an essential tool for any serious graphic designer. Disciplined use of gradients can provide a simple professional touch to virtually any graphical layout. However, HTML and CSS provide no intrinsic support for gradients. Generally, a tool such as Photoshop is used to save a static image file that is then tiled as a background. While this approach is effective, it can be tedious and inflexible because it requires an additional tool to manage the images.

The GradientHandler can eliminate needless steps when dealing with simple linear gradients. Gradients are defined with URL parameters, leading to a much more manageable code base.


Only a basic ASP.NET understanding is needed to use the GradientHandler. However, knowledge of GDI+ and the ASP.NET IHttpHandler interface is needed to fully understand the inner workings.

Using the code

The GradientHandler can be easily configured for any .NET 2.0 or greater application. The files GradientHandler.cs and Utility.cs should be copied to the /App_Code directory under the root of the application. The Web.config file needs to include a declaration to map the GradientHandler class to a URL. Our examples map to Gradient.axd:

        <add path="Gradient.axd" verb="GET" 

The GradientHandler can be used most simply with a reference in the CSS:

    background: Black url(Gradient.axd?Orientation=Horizontal&
        Length=300&StartColor=000000&EndColor=FFFFFF) repeat-y;

This produces the following background on a simple page:

The GradientHandler can also be referenced programmatically, opening up more options. The following code allows the user to specify the gradient parameters:


<body runat="server" id="body">
    <form id="form1" runat="server">
        <asp:TextBox runat="server" ID="lengthBox" Text="300" />
        <br />
        <asp:TextBox runat="server" ID="startColorBox" Text="#F00" />
        <br />
        <asp:TextBox runat="server" ID="finishColorBox" Text="#0F0" />
        <br />
        <asp:Button runat="server" Text="Submit" />


protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    // parse the parameters
    int length = int.Parse(this.lengthBox.Text);
    Color startColor = ColorTranslator.FromHtml(this.startColorBox.Text);
    Color finishColor = ColorTranslator.FromHtml(this.finishColorBox.Text);

    // generate css declaration
    string backgroundUrl = GradientHandler.GetUrl(Orientation.Vertical, 
                           length, startColor, finishColor);
    string backgroundCss = string.Format("{0} url({1}) repeat-x", 
                           this.finishColorBox.Text, backgroundUrl);
    this.body.Style.Add("background", backgroundCss);

In this example, the user can specify the length, the start color, and the finish color of the gradient. The static method GradientHandler.GetUrl is called with these parameters, and the declaration is added to the body tag. The result is as follows:

A live demo of this example is available at

Points of interest

The GradientHandler specifically generates linear gradients, but other graphical shortcomings in HTML and CSS can also be solved with dynamic generation using ASP.NET HTTP handlers and GDI+. Rounded rectangles, advanced text effects, and image filters are just some of the opportunities.


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


About the Author

Jake Morgan
Chief Technology Officer Elsinore Technologies, The Issue Management Expert
United States United States
Jake Morgan
Chief Technology Officer

CTO Jake Morgan brings a diverse background and over 7 years of software development experience to Elsinore, having created successful software applications in both the public and private sector, and founding a wildly popular online community.

Before joining Elsinore in 2005, Jake led the design and development of the NC FAST Online Verification system, used by the NC Department of Health and Human Services to verify eligibility for billions of dollars in benefits. He also spent time at Nortel Networks and founded the, a vibrant online community for NC State students, which supported over 15 million page views a month. At Elsinore he oversees the design and development of IssueNet Issue Management Software.

Jake is an alumnus of NC State University, where he received a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

Comments and Discussions

QuestionCannot get it to work PinmemberAdam Menkes11-Sep-09 21:44 
GeneralVery handy, Thanks Pinmemberiamstarbuck3-May-09 3:13 
QuestionDynamic Length??? Pinmemberasder434-Apr-09 2:21 
QuestionAwesome Tool But Problem with deployment PinmemberMember 367024714-Feb-09 3:42 
AnswerRe: Awesome Tool But Problem with deployment PinmemberTuan Tran Anh19-Feb-09 19:10 
GeneralGradient Button Pinmemberalex2320-Oct-08 1:22 
QuestionFantastic Code, a question though Pinmemberlordcook9914-Feb-08 4:11 
GeneralI like this PinmemberMike Ellison28-Jan-08 9:03 
QuestionNice One But Can we do it in .Net 1.1? Pinmember Gandalf - The White22-Jan-08 1:11 
AnswerRe: Nice One But Can we do it in .Net 1.1? PinmemberJake Morgan24-Jan-08 5:50 
GeneralYou are complicating it! PinmemberAdam Tibi7-Jan-08 5:06 
GeneralRe: You are complicating it! PinmemberJake Morgan24-Jan-08 5:30 
GeneralNice Idea Pinmember Abhijit Jana2-Jan-08 3:21 
GeneralVB Code PinmemberBidyut_Saha1-Jan-08 22:35 
GeneralGood idea PinmemberKing_kLAx1-Jan-08 2:11 

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