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Posted 6 Sep 2006


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ASP.NET DropDownList with OptionGroup support

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4.81/5 (39 votes)
12 Sep 20061 min read
An implementation of a DropDownList Control Adapter which provides OptionGroup support.


ASP.NET 2.0, for all its bells and whistles, lacks the odd bit of functionality for reasons completely unknown. One such notable omission is that of OptionGroup (<optgroup>) support in the DropDownList control. For those unfamiliar with the <optgroup> element, it is part of the XHTML standard, and has the effect of categorising items in a <select>, as the following image shows.

Option Groups

When I first began to look for a solution to implement this in ASP.NET, I found very few articles on the topic that offered any viable solution. Another CodeProject member came up with a nice clean solution, but it looked like a lot of code and I was convinced there was an easier way. After reading some comments, it became apparent a Control Adapter was the way to go. Control Adapters are new in ASP.NET 2.0, and allow the developer to override the rendering behaviour of any control, very powerful stuff! Furthermore, Control Adapters are used in conjunction with a browser file, so specific browsers may be targeted, if required. Armed with that knowledge, the solution became simple. The attached download contains the requisite files to implement this solution in your own projects, but for posterity, I paste it here also.

public class DropDownListAdapter : 
       System.Web.UI.WebControls.Adapters.WebControlAdapter {
    protected override void RenderContents(HtmlTextWriter writer) {
        DropDownList list = this.Control as DropDownList;
        string currentOptionGroup;
        List<string> renderedOptionGroups = new List<string>();
        foreach(ListItem item in list.Items) {
            if(item.Attributes["OptionGroup"] == null) {
                RenderListItem(item, writer);
            } else {
                currentOptionGroup = item.Attributes["OptionGroup"];
                if(renderedOptionGroups.Contains(currentOptionGroup)) {
                    RenderListItem(item, writer);
                } else {
                    if(renderedOptionGroups.Count > 0) {
                    RenderListItem(item, writer);
        if(renderedOptionGroups.Count > 0) {
    private void RenderOptionGroupBeginTag(string name, 
                 HtmlTextWriter writer) {
        writer.WriteAttribute("label", name);
    private void RenderOptionGroupEndTag(HtmlTextWriter writer) {
    private void RenderListItem(ListItem item, 
                 HtmlTextWriter writer) {
        writer.WriteAttribute("value", item.Value, true);
        if(item.Selected) {
            writer.WriteAttribute("selected", "selected", false);
        foreach(string key in item.Attributes.Keys) {
            writer.WriteAttribute(key, item.Attributes[key]);
        HttpUtility.HtmlEncode(item.Text, writer);


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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Comments and Discussions

QuestionThank You Pin
Member 421848814-Nov-16 1:52
MemberMember 421848814-Nov-16 1:52 
QuestionMultiSelect DropdownList Using jQuery in Asp.Net MVC and C#.Net Pin
Member 123685433-Mar-16 18:42
MemberMember 123685433-Mar-16 18:42 
QuestionUn-needed HTML in output... solution here. Pin
Sarah Cartwright29-Sep-15 1:23
MemberSarah Cartwright29-Sep-15 1:23 
NewsError while Try to run sample Pin
Dinesh Balaji24-Jun-14 3:26
MemberDinesh Balaji24-Jun-14 3:26 
GeneralRe: Error while Try to run sample Pin
sfjaffer16-Sep-14 3:17
Membersfjaffer16-Sep-14 3:17 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
Member 100194966-Jun-14 5:15
MemberMember 100194966-Jun-14 5:15 
SuggestionEnabling the code for listbox Pin
Michael Demeersseman24-Nov-13 21:24
MemberMichael Demeersseman24-Nov-13 21:24 
QuestionIdeally you should include the code in a working Visual Studio Project Pin
Best practice24-Oct-13 10:14
MemberBest practice24-Oct-13 10:14 
AnswerRe: Ideally you should include the code in a working Visual Studio Project Pin
PIEBALDconsult24-Oct-13 11:14
professionalPIEBALDconsult24-Oct-13 11:14 
Bugnot working Pin
bhawana13198918-Jul-12 19:02
Memberbhawana13198918-Jul-12 19:02 
Suggestion&lt;optgroup&gt; support with web componenets - An alternate way Pin
Shan Veerakutty12-Sep-11 9:55
MemberShan Veerakutty12-Sep-11 9:55 
GeneralRe: <optgroup> support with web componenets - An alternate way Pin
fengjunkuan20062-Jul-12 23:07
Memberfengjunkuan20062-Jul-12 23:07 
GeneralRe: <optgroup> support with web componenets - An alternate way Pin
yoursmuthu12-May-15 5:43
Memberyoursmuthu12-May-15 5:43 
QuestionBinding data from Db Pin
sudheshna1235-Aug-11 20:46
Membersudheshna1235-Aug-11 20:46 
GeneralCan you specific a license or terms or use... Pin
hhearst24-Apr-11 3:53
Memberhhearst24-Apr-11 3:53 
GeneralRe: Can you specific a license or terms or use... Pin
lotuspro25-Apr-11 11:07
Memberlotuspro25-Apr-11 11:07 
GeneralDropdowlist with optiongroup support using ajax Pin
Member 452360631-Aug-10 0:43
MemberMember 452360631-Aug-10 0:43 
GeneralListBoxAdapter Pin
voleona1-Feb-10 12:51
Membervoleona1-Feb-10 12:51 
QuestionEvent validation errors Pin
Member 446930417-Aug-09 9:00
MemberMember 446930417-Aug-09 9:00 
AnswerRe: Event validation errors Pin
Kishore.ssit7-Dec-09 21:31
MemberKishore.ssit7-Dec-09 21:31 
AnswerRe: Event validation errors Pin
Sean_ST2-Sep-10 11:55
MemberSean_ST2-Sep-10 11:55 
GeneralRe: Event validation errors Pin
FranklinL20-Oct-10 17:18
MemberFranklinL20-Oct-10 17:18 
GeneralRe: Event validation errors Pin
teroni8-Jun-17 5:03
Memberteroni8-Jun-17 5:03 
GeneralVB Version Pin
ianbenoliel17-Feb-09 3:14
Memberianbenoliel17-Feb-09 3:14 
QuestionUse of your code in VS2008 Pin
Max Pace11-Feb-09 2:56
MemberMax Pace11-Feb-09 2:56 

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