Custom Data Binding for Server Controls
page 1 of 7
Published: 09 Mar 2004
Unedited - Community Contributed
Data binding is as easy as 1, 2 and 3 for the page developer. However, creating server controls that will accept data from a custom data source can be tricky because few have an idea where to begin. Justin Lovell demonstrates how to do custom data binding.
by Justin Lovell
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First Article – The Basics of Building Server Controls
Second Article – Reusing and Creating Server Controls

Third Article – Building Composite Server Controls

Fourth Article – The Basics of Templates in Server Controls (previous article)


Download the entire source demonstrated in this article


For every control developer, providing a simple interface for the page developer to data bind data to a custom server control is far harder than what you may anticipate. In this article, I will give a simple solution; yet, an effective solution for the control developer so that the custom data binding is no longer one of those silly worries.


Also in this article, I will demonstrate the data binding by building a simple list control. I will not go into much depth because this article will become too verbose. The objective of the article is to demonstrate the data binding technique – it is not here to show a complete server control.


The first question that control developers ask me is – “Where would I begin to create a custom data binding solution to my server control?” For some of you out there, you might have a feint idea where to begin – the starting point is to iterate through a collection.


To simply put it down, ASP.NET focuses on binding to controls that implement the ICollection interface. The only reason that I made mention of this is for anyone that wants to create a custom data source (create their own collection with their own objects), ensure that your object implements the ICollection interface – as long the objects inside the collection expose properties. I will put more emphasize on this a later stage in the article.


But for now, we will only bind to any object that implements the IEnumerable interface.

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User Comments

Title: Great Article!   
Name: NiQuil
Date: 2010-01-18 9:53:29 AM
This helped me a lot! I am totally new to programming and this has been a great tutorial for me.
I am creating my own control library with databound controls, with XHTML output and taking into account the 125 (very) strict rules for the Dutch Government Guidelines for the web.

I noticed this is a Visual studio 2003 (?) project since I had to convert it to my 2008.

Isthis still "the way to go" on this subject, or have new developments, maybe on Microsoft's part, on this subject seen the light of day?

Kind regards,

Title: Why Doesn't It Work   
Name: Marc
Date: 2009-06-04 3:09:50 PM
My TitleDescriptionItems never display. CreateChildControlsnever gets hit. Why?
Title: DataSourceID   
Name: Andrew
Date: 2008-06-20 11:11:26 AM
Great article, however I was wondering how would one implement the DataSourceID and DataMember properties?

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