Using Control Adapters

ASP.NET 2.0 introduced a new way of modifying how ASP.NET renders a control. For example, when you say:

<asp:textbox id="FirstName" runat="server" />

You have very limited control over how the control actually renders. You can specify a cssclass to modify the look and feel, but the actual HTML rendering is limited to what’s available from the ASP.NET server attributes. For example you cannot add client-side onfocus or onblur statements. This is where Control Adapters comes in. Control adapters allows you to modify the rendering of any server control, with complete freedom.

Let’s look at an example!

First in order to use a control adapter you need to add a class to your App_Code. This class will programmatically describe the various rendering behaviors you want to modify for a given server control. I usually put all my control adapters under one folder called: adapters. And each file under that folder is named after the server control I am trying to modify. In this case it’s textbox.cs, because we are modifying the textbox control.

namespace UI.Adapters {
    public class TextboxAdapter : System.Web.UI.WebControls.Adapters.WebControlAdapter {
        protected override void  Render(HtmlTextWriter writer) {
            writer.AddAttribute("onfocus", "textFocus(this)");
            writer.AddAttribute("onblur", "textBlur(this)");

The code above, adds two arguments onfocus=textFocus(this); and obur=textBlur(this) too all server side text boxes automatically. You also need to add a browser file under your App_Browsers folder. If you don’t have one right click your project add a Browser file. A browser is a XML file that describes how ASP.NET behaves depending on browser versions.

  <browser refID="Default">
      <adapter controlType="System.Web.UI.WebControls.TextBox" adapterType="UI.Adapters.TextboxAdapter" />

A refID of Default includes all modern browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer > 5.5. Then the code specifies the type of control you want to modify in this case System.Web.UI.WebControls.TextBox and the Control adapter you want to use, again in this case it’s: UI.Adapters.TextboxAdapter.

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