Welcome!

.NET Authors: Elizabeth White, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Sematext Blog, ITinvolve Blog, Aditya Banerjee

Related Topics: .NET

.NET: 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) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
Aravind 05/06/08 09:09:19 AM EDT

Great work, Thank you so much.

Tony 04/02/08 04:22:56 PM EDT

Thank you very much, I have been looking for a nice simple way to do this. Awesome article.

Pranoti 03/07/08 03:18:06 PM EST

Thank your very much, your tutorial helped me a lot

Saurabh 01/28/08 10:49:37 PM EST

It's really awesome. It really works. Thanks a lot. Really nice article.

Aseem 12/20/07 06:07:54 AM EST

Thanks for the easy to follow instructions in the article. How do we add a second layer to our tab navigation? IE when you click on one tab, the subtabs for that tab appear. Any help would be great also I need it urgently. Please help it out.
Also i m getting a error "object required" when taking my mouse on any of the tabs, bt is working fine.
Thanks

Dave 11/26/07 02:05:38 PM EST

Thanks for the easy to follow instructions in the article. How do we add a second layer to our tab navigation? IE when you click on one tab, the subtabs for that tab appear. Any help would be great.

AK 11/16/07 04:51:45 PM EST

Great! Worked really good for me first time, may have to make a dummies version for the less experienced...

Rob 08/08/07 06:19:13 PM EDT

Thanks for sharing that. Instructions were great and it all worked first time. I'm used to the tab control in Access and its good to have it in asp.net

ChuckO 06/14/07 03:39:41 PM EDT

The information in this article is not all correct. I followed his instructions and get the following error.

Content controls have to be top-level controls in a content page or a nested master page that references a master page.

John Bowyer 12/30/05 03:35:37 AM EST

I have implemented the tab control as documented to the best of my ability and it appears to have missing ingredients from the article.

When I select a tab, it does not highlight. In short it does not look like a tab at all. I also have dynamic mouse flyouts.

The article specifies as a class: TabMenu that is not inclided in Listing 1.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...