In Depth ASP.NET using ADO.NET

Table, TableRow, and TableCell Web Server Controls

On a Web Forms page, the Table Web server control creates a general-purpose table. Rows in the table are created as TableRow Web server controls, and cells within each row are implemented as TableCell Web server controls. The Table Web server control allows us to create server-programmable tables on our Web Forms page. The TableRow and TableCell Web server controls provide a way to display the actual content for the Table control.

Comparing the Table Web Server Control to Other Table Elements

Tables are typically used not just to present tabular information, but also as a method of formatting information on a Web page. There are many ways to create tables on our Web Forms page:

HTML table: We can add a <TABLE> element from the HTML tab of the Toolbox.
HtmlTable control: This is a <TABLE> HTML element that has been converted to a control by adding the runat=server attribute. We can program this control in server code.
Table Web Server control: A Web control that allows us to create and manipulate tables using an object model that is consistent with other Web controls (for example, adding table rows and cells).

In general, when we intend to add rows and cells (columns) to the table in code at run time, we use a Table Web server control. Although we can use it as a static table with predefined rows and columns, in that case it is easier to work with the HTML <TABLE> element.

Because the Table Web server control offers an object model with typed properties that is consistent with other Web server controls, it can be easier to program than the HtmlTable control. (The model is also consistent between the Table, TableRow, and TableCell controls.)

Comparing the Table Web Server Control to Other List Web Server Controls

We might accomplish some of the functions with a Table Web server control; we can also accomplish this with the list Web server controls: the Repeater, DataList, and DataGrid controls. All of these controls render (or have the option to render) as HTML tables.

The differences between the list controls and the Table control are:

  1. The list controls are data-bound; they work only against a data source, whereas the Table control can display any combination of HTML text and controls, whether or not they are data-bound.
  2. To specify the layout of their elements the list controls use templates. The Table control supports the TableCell child control, which we can fill as we would any HTML <TD> element.

Table Web Server Control Object Model

For TableRow controls the Table control acts as a parent control. The table supports a property called Rows that is a collection of TableRow objects. We specify the rows for the table by managing this collection — adding or deleting items in it —. The TableRow control in turn supports a collection called Cells of TableCell objects.

The content to be displayed in the table is added to the TableCell control. The cell has a Text property that we set to any HTML text. Alternatively, we can display controls in the cell by creating instances of, and adding controls to, the cell's Controls collection.

To control the appearance of the entire table, such as Font, BackColor, and ForeColor, the parent Table control supports properties. These properties are supported by The TableRow and TableCell controls as well, therefore, overriding the parent table appearance we can specify the look of individual rows or cells.

Binding Data to the Control

We can use the Table control (unlike the list Web server controls; see above) to display data from a database although it is not inherently data bound.

We can bind any property of a Table control to a data source as with all Web server controls. However, the Table control does not support a property that we use to display data directly. Instead, we typically add TableCell controls to the table. We can then either bind the Text property of individual TableCell controls to data, or we can add data-bound controls (such as a Label or TextBox control) to the cell.

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About the author

John Godel United States

John H. GODEL has an experience more than 22 years in the area of software development. He is a software engineer and architect. His interests include object-oriented and distributed computin...

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