An Extended Look at the Profile Object - Part 1
page 1 of 5
Published: 19 Sep 2005
Unedited - Community Contributed
There are many reasons to store information about a visitor to your web application. The ASP.NET 1.1 Session object was helpful, but had a number of limitations. Bilal Haidar shows you how the ASP.NET 2.0 Profile object stores user-specific information for both anonymous and authenticated users, and automatically persists this information across separate visits to your website.
by Bilal Haidar
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This is the first article in a series of articles on the new ASP.NET personalization feature, the Profile object. To start with we will explain what the Profile object is and how it differs from the Session object, and then provide simple examples of a Profile object with simple properties and a Profile object with group properties.

To appreciate the value of the Profile object, we need to recognise that there is a common requirement to store user-specific information for the period the user is visiting a web application. In ASP.NET 1.1 we used the Session object. That object has many limitations compared to the new Profile object provided by ASP.NET 2.0. Presently we will compare the Session object and the Profile object. For the moment, we can understand that a Profile object allows the application to store data for each visitor to the web application, save that data to a storage medium like Microsoft SQL Server, and then retrieve the data when the same visitor returns to the application. It has this nice facility of storing profiles not only for authenticated users, but also for anonymous users.

So you might be asking yourself, why would we use the new Profile object when we have the existing Session object? The coming sections of this article will explain how the new Profile object is more flexible and easier to use than the Session object.

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User Comments

Title: HELP   
Name: Ahamd
Date: 2010-03-29 8:22:16 AM
Hi, I used this tutorial, but i get an error msg as, "Unable to connect to SQL Server database." I do not hav a SQL instance in my system. I'll hav to connect to a server in a network PC. So plz tell me what modifications i'll hav to do to run the code.
Title: Thank you   
Name: blad3runn69
Date: 2009-01-14 10:30:07 PM
Thank you for the info and code Bilal, very helpful and muchly appreciated. :)
Title: An Extended Look at the Profile Object - Part 1   
Name: swapnil
Date: 2008-08-18 10:00:09 AM
good one.
Title: Same Topic, Different Framework   
Name: RichardW
Date: 2008-04-25 5:39:37 PM
Thank you. I always seem to get stuck on context. This got me past the context issues of Profiles in ASP.NET Membership.

Wondering if anyone in house has thought to go in depth on this same topic of Membership/Profiles but from the context of Ajax and Silverlight as the framework using ASP.NET 3.5 in the background. At the Olympics this year, NBC will be streaming with Silverlight... It's gonna be a boost for the technology, would like to come up to speed with others on it using the foundations of ASP.NET 3.5/Ajax to control it.
Title: Still don't see the point   
Name: Craig
Date: 2008-03-27 9:42:08 PM
Good article but I really don't see the point of the profile object. If you're going to register users on a web site you'll have built that in to your DB schema and be authenticating them against that. Therefore, no point in having some bot do it for you.

If you're an anonymous user, how on earth can a system know who you are when you return to pick out your profile data again? I bet it's only available if you return within the session timeout period. In which case, use sessions, it's MUCH easier. It's becoming like you need a degree in computer science just to write a simple web page with .NET.
Title: Profiles with Web Applications   
Name: Mark
Date: 2007-06-11 9:44:59 AM
Did you ever notice that if you use a web application instead of a website, the profile object is not available? Instead, you can access the currently logged on user profile through context.current.profile. The problem is, if you want to change information during the registration process, you can't do it. Do you have any way to change info in the profile of a user who isn't logged on using a web application?
Title: Thanks   
Name: john
Date: 2007-06-11 8:23:03 AM
This helped me a lot to understand profile object.
Title: Fantastic Inroduction Article   
Name: |__Roshan__|
Date: 2007-02-09 4:04:06 AM
This a fantastic intoduction article of the new ASP.NET personalization feature, the Profile object..
Title: Good Stuff!   
Name: Adi
Date: 2006-07-02 2:37:24 AM
Nice intro! Easy and enjoyable to follow especially for .net newbie like me :)
Thanks Bilal!
Title: Re: All   
Name: Bilal Haidar [MVP]
Date: 2006-03-16 5:23:08 AM
I am very glad you are happy with this article.

Thank you all.
Title: Good   
Name: Lajpathrai.Y
Date: 2006-03-16 4:43:37 AM
Thanks a lot to author. really a good explanation. will useful to freshers
Title: Great Intro   
Name: Ed
Date: 2006-01-18 8:38:59 PM
Perfect extension of the MS explanation (which was lacking a bit).
Title: Comment   
Name: Mihir Solanki
Date: 2005-12-24 9:17:06 PM
Thanks, Perfect introduction
Title: Comment   
Name: Rainer
Date: 2005-11-17 10:31:58 AM
Fine. But I am looking now for an easy way to work with these additional user profile properties. Like: Show me all users with zip code x.
Title: Nice article   
Name: Matthew Lee
Date: 2005-11-08 4:19:40 AM
Nice, Informative stuff...

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