One known issue with Silverlight is that the
DataContext bound to a control may change, but there is no readily available change event. Unlike WPF, you don't have an explicit event to register with in order to track changes. This becomes a problem in controls like the
DataGrid control which reuses the same control instances for each page. Even though fresh data is bound, if your control isn't aware that the data context changed, it will keep stale content.
If you search online you'll find the solution is simple: you create a dependency property that is actually based on the data context (call it a "dummy" property) and then register for changes to that property. I was glad to find the solution but wanted something a little more reusable (remember, I like the DRY principle: don't repeat yourself, so when I find myself writing the same line of code more than once I have to go back and refactor).
The solution? I was able to find something that I think works well and involves an interface and a static class.
First, I want to identify when a control should be aware of changes to
DataContext and also provide a method to call when this happens. That was easy enough. I created
IDataContextChangedHandler and defined it like this:
public interface IDataContextChangedHandler<T> where T: FrameworkElement
void DataContextChanged(T sender, DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs e);
As you can see, it is a simple interface. A method is called with the sender (which will presumably be the control itself) and the arguments for a dependency property changed event. It is typed to T, of course.
Next, I used generics to create a base class that manages the "fake" dependency property:
public static class DataContextChangedHelper<T> where T: FrameworkElement, IDataContextChangedHandler<T>
private const string INTERNAL_CONTEXT = "InternalDataContext";
public static readonly DependencyProperty InternalDataContextProperty =
private static void _DataContextChanged(object sender, DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs e)
T control = (T)sender;
public static void Bind(T control)
control.SetBinding(InternalDataContextProperty, new Binding());
As you can see, the class does a few things and works for any framework element, which is a "basic building block" that supports binding. It is typed to the
FrameworkElement but also requires that the target implements
IDataContextChangedHandler. It creates a dependency property. Because the data context can be any object, the type of the dependency is
object, but the type of the parent is the framework element itself ("T"). When something happens to the property, it will invoke
The event handler is sent the control that raised the event as well as the arguments for the old and new properties in the data context. We simply cast the sender back to its original type of T. Then, because we know it implements
IDataContextChangedHandler, we can simply call
Finally, there is a static call to bind the control itself.
Now let's put the pieces together. Let's say you have a control that makes a gauge based on a data value, and you want to put the control in the grid. You need to know when the
DataContext changes, because you will update your gauge. The control will look like this:
public partial class Gauge : IDataContextChangedHandler<Gauge>
public void DataContextChanged(Gauge sender, DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs e)
if (e.NewValue != null)
int gaugeLevel = (int)e.NewLevel;
And there you have it - to register for the data context changing, we simply implemented
IDataContextChangedHandler and then registered by calling
Bind in our constructor.