Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Nick Basinger, Kevin Benedict, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud

Microsoft Cloud: Article

Implementing Tab Navigation with ASP.NET 2.0

Using MasterPages, a SiteMapDataSource, and the Menu control

One of the most basic ways to navigate within an application is by use of a tab control. Tabs are easy to use and users are very familiar with them. There have been many implementations of tab controls for Web applications, but they had often required advanced client-side script that was only supported in a few browsers, or they required extensive and confusing server-side include files. ASP.NET 2.0 provides a few things that make this easier to do with no dependency on functional code. In this article I'll show you how you can use the new features of ASP.NET 2.0 to easily create a tab control for your Web application.

To get started, create a new Web site (use your favorite language) on your computer and call it TabDemo. ASP.NET 2.0 introduces a new set of data providers and controls based on the notion of a site map. The site map is the central data store for site navigation data. Let's start by defining a simple site map that we can use for our site. Add a new sitemap to the site (use the default name of Web.sitemap). Listing 1 shows a simple sitemap that will demonstrate the tabs nicely.

Now that we have our sitemap, we can continue with the actual user interface. To get the most benefit from the tab control, we'll use a master page to keep everything together. Add a new master page to your Web site and call it MasterPage.master (see Figure 1).

In order to make our tabs seem as though they're physically connected to our content, we'll need to create a master HTML table to contain the tabs. Delete the code between the <form> and </form> tags in the MasterPage.master file and replace it with the HTML in Listing 2.

That will give us the main table that will hold all of our content (including our tab control). Now we need to define the table that actually holds our tabs and the tab "panels." Let's take a look at Listing 3. It shows the HTML that we should put into the TD with the ID of ContentContainer.

Notice the use of the TD with the CSS class TabMenuSpacer. This cell forces the empty area behind the tabs to take up all of the excess space to the right of the menu. We need to add the SiteMapDataSource to our page so that the menu will be bound to our site map. This is easy to do. Simply add the following code just below the main table:


<asp:SiteMapDataSource ID="TabMenuSitemap" runat="server" ShowStartingNode="false" />

This adds a new SiteMapData-Source to the page. Since we used the default name of Web.sitemap for our site map, ASP.NET will automatically use it as the main site map for the site, so we don't have to do anything else. If you add another site map to the site, you'll need to define a new site map provider to the web.config file that points to your new site map, and then set the SiteMapProvider property of the SiteMapDataSource to your new site map provider. It's also important to point out that we set the ShowStartingNode property to false. We did this because we have a flat site map and we don't want to show the top-most parent node for our menu (since the site map is defined in XML, we had to have a root node, even though we'll never use it).

Let's go ahead and take a look at what we have so far. Delete the Default.aspx page that Visual Studio added to your site and replace it with a new Default.aspx page. This time, when you add the page, check the box labeled "Select master page." Then select MasterPage.master as the master page. Build and run the Web application. At this point, you'll see a very simple page that doesn't look like a whole lot (see Figure 2).

The reason our page looks so odd is because we haven't yet defined the Cascading Style Sheet for the page. We need to add the CSS that will actually render what we have as a Tab menu. Add a new style sheet to your project and name it Stylesheet.css. Then, add the following to the <head> of MasterPage.master:


<link href="StyleSheet.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />

This will link in the new style sheet. Let's take a look at the individual styles that make up our tab control. We'll start with the CSS class named TabMenuContainer. This style is applied to the entire tab menu. We just need to make sure that we have a top border so that our menu has a lid on it.


.TabMenuContainer
{
border-top: solid 1px black;
}

The next style that we're concerned with is the TabMenuItem. This is the style that is applied to all of our tabs in their unselected state.


.TabMenuItem
{
background-color: #FFFFBC;
text-align:center;
font-size: xx-small;
border: solid 1px black;
border-left: none;
padding: 3px 3px 3px 3px;
}

Notice that we've defined a border with a single pixel black line. We then set the left border to be nothing. This is actually an intentional move that prevents the tabs from looking bad against the border of the main container.

The secret to this whole method is in the next style. This is the style that is applied to the selected menu item:


..TabMenuItemSelected
{
background-color: White;
text-align:center;
font-size: xx-small;
border-right: solid 1px black;
border-bottom: none;
border-top: none;
border-left: none;
padding: 5px 3px 5px 3px;
}

We set the bottom border to "none" and the background color to white. This will allow the tab to look as if it is attached to the content cell. We also set the top border to "none" to give the selected tab just a little more height than the other tabs.

Since we want our tab panels (the cell that contains the Content-PlaceHolder control) to be the same height from page to page, we should set them to be a specific height. Once again, we use CSS to define a style to do this. In the HTML for the master page we added a table cell to the right of the content container and set its CSS class to SiteContentSpacer. Let's set the style for that to be a specific height.


.SiteContentSpacer
{
height: 200px;
visibility: hidden;
}

Not only did we set the height of the content to 200 pixels (a very small number just for demonstration purposes), but we also made the cell invisible. Listing 4 shows the entire style sheet that contains all of the styles used to make our tab control demo.

Once we've added the remaining styles to the style sheet, we can take a look at the final product. Figure 3 shows a screenshot of the resulting page with our tab control and all of the styles defined.

The tab control is a very useful user interface element that is common to many applications. With the introduction of master pages, SiteMapDataSource, and the menu control in ASP.NET 2.0, creating tabs in Web applications is easy. Best of all, once you have the master page set up for tabs, all you have to do to use them is to set the master page on your new Web forms and edit the page as you normally would. Also, since the solution relies on CSS, these tabs work in the latest Web browsers without any client-side coding.

Comments (10)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...