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Reference GridView Cells Using Column Names

, 27 Aug 2009 CPOL
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Reference GridView cells using column names.


This article will address the need to make changes to cells on an ASP.NET GridView object based on its databound columns. Searching online for solutions, I have found that many examples that attempt to reference a cell in a GridView object do so by either using a .FindControl() method to search for the particular cell or by referencing the cell with its index position in the GridView. These solutions did not satisfy me since I needed a way to reference the cells based on the column names of the datasource bound to the GridView. This way, the order of my cells could change and I could still reference them directly without having to search the whole HTML page to find them, as is done with .FindControl(). The solution I devised below uses the .Ordinal property of the DataTable’s column to return the index that would correspond to the index of a cell displayed in the GridView. This way, I can reference the index of a cell by using the column name of my datasource.

Using the Code

We begin the example by setting up a test scenario to show how the code will work. First, create a new WEB project in VS.NET 2008 (this example also works for .NET 2005 and 2003), and add a GridView object to the default page and call it myTestGridView. Then, add an event for RowCreated on the GridView object.

<asp:GridView ID="myTestGridView" runat="server" 

Now, in your Page_Load event, add the following lines of code to set up a test DataTable to bind to our GridView object.

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    //Create a dummy DataTable to attach to our GridView
    //to show how referencing cells works after DataBind().

    DataTable myTable = new DataTable("MyTestTable");
    DataRow myRow = null;


    myRow = myTable.NewRow();

    myRow["MyColumn1"] = "hello";
    myRow["MyColumn2"] = "and";
    myRow["MyColumn3"] = "good-bye";


    //Now we bind the DataTable to the GridView.

    this.myTestGridView.DataSource = myTable;

Finally, modify the event you created for RowCreated and add the following code. Notice that I'm getting a reference to the DataTabele stored in the DataSource and then using the .Ordinal property of the column I am referencing. .Ordinal will correspond to the index of the cell for the given column name.

protected void myTestGridView_RowCreated(object sender, GridViewRowEventArgs e)
    DataTable gridDataTable = null;
    TableCell tblCell1;
    TableCell tblCell2;
    TableCell tblCell3;

    //Obtain the reference to the bound datasource, 
    //our dummy DataTable, on the GridView.

    gridDataTable = (DataTable)((GridView)sender).DataSource;

    //If a datasource is bound, then begin obtaining cell references 
    //by Column name of the bound datasource.

    if (gridDataTable != null)
        //Get the cell references by Column name and ordinal position of that column.

        tblCell1 = e.Row.Cells[gridDataTable.Columns["MyColumn1"].Ordinal];
        tblCell2 = e.Row.Cells[gridDataTable.Columns["MyColumn2"].Ordinal];
        tblCell3 = e.Row.Cells[gridDataTable.Columns["MyColumn3"].Ordinal];

        //Make some fun changes to our cells and voila!

        tblCell1.BackColor = System.Drawing.Color.Red;
        tblCell2.ToolTip = "MyColumn2 is where we display our conjunctions.";
        tblCell3.Visible = false;


No history yet, but will keep you posted!


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


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Comments and Discussions

Generalvb version PinmemberBob Carter1-Sep-09 9:47 
GeneralMy vote of 2 PinmemberAnurag Gandhi31-Aug-09 20:14 
GeneralRe: My vote of 2 Pinmemberrf_libra2-Sep-14 21:48 
QuestionWhat if the DataSource is not a DataTable PinmemberAnurag Gandhi31-Aug-09 20:12 
AnswerRe: What if the DataSource is not a DataTable PinmemberIanTretyakov3-Sep-09 6:54 
GeneralRe: What if the DataSource is not a DataTable PinmemberAnurag Gandhi3-Sep-09 10:45 
We are using a different collection class for every GridView.
I was talking about writing a generic solution, which should work for every DataSources.
You could easily achieve it by using reflection.
Anurag Gandhi.
Life is a computer program and every one is the programmer of his own life.

GeneralThx Pinmemberjamartinezac31-Aug-09 10:18 

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