Themes and Master Pages in ASP.NET 2.0 - A Perfect Combination
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by Steven Swafford
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What Is A Master Page?

A Master Page acts as a template for Content Pages and Content Pages provide content to populate the Master Pages.  A Master Page is essentially a standard ASP.NET page except that it uses the extension of .master and a <%@ master %> directive instead of <%@ page %>. Reference: Master Your Site Design with Visual Inheritance and Page Templates.

Create a Master Page

To add a Master Page to your web solution you need to right click on you web solution, choose Add New Item and select Master Page.

Figure 6

Once you have completed this step you will see the ASPX source similar to the following.

Listing 9

<form id="form1" runat="server">
        <asp:contentplaceholder id="ContentPlaceHolder1" runat="server">

The content Place Holder is where other pages that inherit the Master Page will place its content. At this point if you wish to have a header, footer and navigation area you should now add this to your Master Page.  Here is an example.

Figure 7

As you can see in the above figure, the Master Page has five areas of which the content page is an ASPX that I have placed within the contentplaceholder.  This allows me to maintain a consistent look and feel of the UI for my users.  Also, I do not have to repeat the design layout as the site grows.

One thing I should mention is that you may have multiple master pages and use each one for a different purpose or simply design layout.  For example, if you are using authentication, you want to provide a guest master page and a member master page.  By following this theory you can control what each group may see and do.

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