Bidirectional Sorting on Any Column in DataGrid
page 3 of 3
by Pani Baruri & Abhijit Mandrekar
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Part 2: Using Attributes Property and Data View

The Part 1 example has slight limitation on the programmer side who wants to use the code above as is. The limitation is he/she has to remember to set the sortexpression property of column in datagrid as database field name followed by sort direction at design time e.g. lastname ASC.


The following example illustrates the use of adding sortexpression and sortdirection dynamic attributes to datagrid, maintain their state through view state and sort data in datagrid using dataview. The sortexpression property of datagrid set in this example is to generate sortcommand event only. The sortexpression attribute of datagrid stores last column name used for sorting and sortdirection attribute stores last direction used for sorting.


Design Time:


  1. Drag and drop a DataGrid on the form.
  2. Set AllowSorting property of the grid to True.
  3. Set AutogenerateColumns property of the grid to False.
  4. Add bound columns to datagrid and set their properties as follows. The sortexpression property refers to the name of column in database table.


Note: Employees table from Northwind database is being used to illustrate the purpose.



Header Text

Sort Expression


Employee ID



Last Name



First Name















Pseudo logic:


  1. Add dynamic attributes sortexpression and sortdirection to datagrid first time the page is loaded.


  1. Assign appropriate column name and sort order to sortexpression and sortdirection attribute respectively to sort data in order to get initial look and feel of data when the page is loaded first time.


  1. Get dataset and dataview objects. Set sort property of dataview object to concatenated string built using sortexpression and sortdirection dynamic attributes.


  1. Bind datagrid using dataview object.


  1. On every consecutive page loads and column clicks, trap sortcommand event of datagrid.


  1. Compare sortexpression property of the event argument obtained from sortcommand event with dynamic attribute sortexpression.


  1. If Match is found then
    1. Check sortdirection attribute.
    2. If sortdirection equals “ASC” then

                                                               i.      Assign DESC to sortdirection attribute.

    1. Else

                                                               i.      Assign ASC to sortdirection attribute.

    1. End If


  1. Repeat steps from Step 3 onwards.


Note: When you run the following code and click the same column two or more times then sort direction is reversed automatically for that column. However if column 3 is clicked followed by column 1 and 2 click then column 3 is sorted only in ascending direction no matter what the sort direction was before for the same column. This is because previous sort order is not preserved in the sortexpression property of the column. The overall result is same depending how you perceive it. This example teaches you how to make use of dynamic attributes and dataview object.


VB.Net Code:


    Private Sub Page_Load(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MyBase.Load

        'Put user code to initialize the page here

        If Not Page.IsPostBack Then

            If DataGrid1.Attributes("SortExpression") Is Nothing Then

                DataGrid1.Attributes("SortExpression") = "LastName"

                DataGrid1.Attributes("SortDirection") = "ASC"

            End If



        End If

    End Sub


    Private Sub BindDataGrid()

        Dim cn As SqlConnection

        Dim cmdSelect As SqlCommand


        cn = New SqlConnection("Server=amandrek;UID=sa;PWD=;Database=Northwind")

        Dim strSQL As String = "Select * From employees"


        Dim da As New SqlDataAdapter(strSQL, cn)

        Dim ds As New DataSet()


        da.Fill(ds, "Table1")


        Dim dv As DataView = ds.Tables(0).DefaultView


        Dim SortExpression As String = DataGrid1.Attributes("SortExpression")

        Dim SortDirection As String = DataGrid1.Attributes("SortDirection")


        dv.Sort = SortExpression + " " + SortDirection


        DataGrid1.DataSource = dv




    End Sub


    Private Sub DataGrid1_SortCommand(ByVal source As Object, ByVal e As System.Web.UI.WebControls.DataGridSortCommandEventArgs) Handles DataGrid1.SortCommand

        Dim SortExpression As String = e.SortExpression

        Dim SortDirection As String = "ASC"


        If SortExpression.Equals(DataGrid1.Attributes("SortExpression").ToString()) Then

            If DataGrid1.Attributes("SortDirection").ToString().StartsWith("ASC") Then

                SortDirection = "DESC"


                SortDirection = "ASC"

            End If

        End If

        DataGrid1.Attributes("SortExpression") = SortExpression

        DataGrid1.Attributes("SortDirection") = SortDirection




    End Sub

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User Comments

Title: Not bad but, not what I want.   
Name: AK
Date: 2007-08-02 1:34:42 AM
I want sorting and paging in a grid view in 2.0 which is dynamically binded i.e. some times it has 3 columns or some time 4, 5, 6 or more columns.
Please suggest possible solution.

Thanks in advance,
Title: Mr   
Name: John
Date: 2007-01-24 9:27:50 AM
Thanx a lot if its not i never be saved
Title: great   
Name: mohsin
Date: 2006-10-18 5:52:20 AM
Thats a great solution,very comprehensive and easy to understand and ...
Title: mr   
Name: rutts
Date: 2006-09-29 6:53:38 AM
code is much helpful to solve my doubt regarding dataview
Title: Ms   
Name: Renee
Date: 2006-04-20 7:49:38 PM
Thank you, this is awesome. Easy to follow and nice solution.
Title: Mr   
Name: Arif
Date: 2006-01-12 4:18:59 AM
Thank you very much for your help. This ia a great article which works straight out of the box.

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