Building Composite Server Controls
page 1 of 6
Published: 22 Jan 2004
Unedited - Community Contributed
In the previous article, Justin Lovell demonstrated how to create server controls from scratch and how to reuse other server controls. In this article, Justin will demonstrate how to build “composite” server controls which can combine a collection of server controls into one one server control.
by Justin Lovell
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First Article – The Basics of Building Server Controls
Second Article – Reusing and Creating Server Controls (Previous article)

Download the source code demonstrated in this article.

Ever wanted to merge two controls together to form one control? The need may arise in the future that you will have to pull multiple controls together to form one, unified server control. These “unified” server controls are given a name – called composite server controls.

Composite server controls are a collection controls to create one unified control; however, do not confuse this term that two control's functionality and behaviour are being combined/merged under one server control. Instead, rather think that composite controls as multiple controls are working together, for each other – to create more complex functionality. But what criterion must be met before a control is declared composite? It must be able to:

  • Contain other server controls as children – no matter how those server controls get there (you will see the different ways on how the children controls are added to the server controls in this article).

  • Hook up the children controls so they provide some unique functionality. In example: a TextBox control, a Button control and a Repeater control in a user control to provide some type of search functionality. The TextBox control will contain the search query and the Button control will fire a Click event to indicate the search must begin. Then, the search results will then be relayed in the Repeater control via data binding.

To give a few examples of composite controls, take a look at the DataGrid control, user controls and the ASP.NET page. The file based controls (the user control and ASP.NET page) are composite controls because they can hold an abundance of controls to create an user interface. They also hook up each others event to provide some type of functionality or meaning to the control – that is what a composite control is about: hooking up loose functionality from other controls.

The DataGrid is a composite control because it adds other controls inside itself when it is data bounded to a data source. The DataGrid also has the ability to create functionality of the controls it can add. For example, if a DataGrid's content can be edited (enabled by the page developer), the DataGrid uses a Button control (lets call it the edit button) to listen for the edit button's Click event. When the DataGrid hears the edit button click event, it will then issue an Ok/Cancel buttons (also Button controls) and the DataGrid will then listen to those buttons for further notifications. On top of the Ok/Cancel buttons being issued, the columns are converted to editable regions such as text boxes (this is default behaviour although this can be changed).

When the DataGrid hears that the Cancel button was clicked, then the DataGrid exits out of edit mode. If the DataGrid hears that the Ok button was clicked, it would then raise an event to detect that a row has been “edited” by the user. The event will change the DataGrid's internal DataSet (which is, by default, saved to view state to be re-used for every post back for that page). Furthermore, it will alert the code watching over the DataGrid that there has been changes (from the user) and it is up to the listeners to make any additional changes – normally, to a database.

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User Comments

Title: Template server control   
Name: cash
Date: 2010-04-14 1:32:41 PM
plese give use simple eg. with property
Title: DP   
Name: Dharmendra
Date: 2010-01-06 2:55:06 AM
Thanks a lot. One of the best, I have read on net.
Title: Nice but a little-bit of misinformation   
Name: Mike Walters (EventBookingDev)
Date: 2007-11-06 1:34:55 PM
just a footnote here but if you are subclassing from Table (as noted: Table, INamingContainer) .. then you do not need to override the "TagKey" property. The only time you would need to do that is if you were subclassing from CompositeControl(in which you would not need INamingContainer either) or attemping to change the rendered output from say Table to Panel(div).
Title: Nice explaination   
Name: hiten Bawni
Date: 2007-08-22 9:23:30 PM
At least it was better then the examples provided on Microsoft's web sites.

Good job!!
Title: Control Naming Error   
Name: Jon^2 S. Pascua
Date: 2007-07-22 11:07:45 PM

In the Interactive Composition example you provided, the controls are instantiated as SearchText but used as SearchTextBox

protected TextBox SearchText = new TextBox();
SearchTextBox.Width = Unit.Percentage(100); (and etc.)

Nice article though. Great Job!
Title: how can i put backroud image   
Name: Ekrem Keçeci
Date: 2006-11-08 7:47:46 AM
i wanna put backround image from code. but i don't know what should do.
Title: Complete Article   
Name: Saakshi
Date: 2006-04-17 11:06:33 AM
Excellent Articles
Title: I like it   
Name: sid76
Date: 2005-06-22 3:31:14 PM
Nice.. Brings together all the information I need. Overall well written, I think I spotted one spelling mistake in this artical.. search the doc for "tow".

Keep it up, I understand now.
Title: Excellent...   
Name: m1k4
Date: 2004-07-31 8:39:44 PM
Very detailed tutorial which helped me to (finaly) understand Composite Web Controls in ASP.NET.

Thank you very much

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