Data Repeater Controls in ASP.NET

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.NET framework offers multiple options for achieving the development tasks and it is always challenging to decide when to use what. The data repeater controls in .NET i.e. Repeater, User Control, Custom control, dropdown list etc offers functionality of repeating the data on pages and we would discuss about those controls and their usage.


To explore the different data repeater controls in ASP.NET and understand when to use what.


With the time progressing, .Net framework has become very rich in terms of functionality it offers and also the readymade controls which make the developers job a lot easy. I still remember the days of ASP.NET 1.0 and 1.1 where one had develop many controls on their own or extend the existing control to achieve their goals. Some of the examples are datagrid, list etc for which we have now more rich controls like grid-view etc. But with .Net framework offering multitudes of options, the onus has fallen on developer/architects to choose the best option and this task is easier said than done. One such instance would be the options for achieving display of repeated data. Following are the options

·     Repeater Control

·     User Control

·     Custom Control

·     List controls

Let’s discuss about these options including their base classes, facilities/features etc


Name of the Control


Inheritance, implements and features

Repeater Control

It is a basic container control that allows creating custom lists from any data available to the page i.e. it allows custom layout by repeating a specified template for each item displayed in the list.

·        Inherits from System.Web.UI.Control and part of System.Web.UI.WebControls

·        For reusability one needs to copy and paste the code snippet

·        Needs lot of hand coding to use

User Control

It is a composite control which acts just like webpage and wherein one can add server controls, mark up, properties and methods.

·       Inherits from System.Web.UI.TemplateControl and member of System.Web.UI.

·        Intrinsically reusable

·        Doesn’t provide templates by default rather ITemplate needs to be implemented.

·        Not so difficult to develop and also easy to use

Custom Control

This essentially extends the specific control whose functionality is not sufficient for the cause and requires advanced knowledge to author.

·        If the control is supposed to render a user interface (UI) element or any other visible element on the client, one should derive your control from System.Web.UI.WebControls.WebControl or a from class that derives from it. In case when control is supposed to render an element that is not visible in the client browser, such as a hidden element or a meta element, one needs to derive custom control from System.Web.UI.Control.

          Needs advanced knowledge to author and available in toolbox

List Controls

Allows the user to select a single item from a drop-down list. A list control is based on the idea of a repeated control i.e. which needn’t be an individual control rather it can also be a tree of controls with a common root.

·        Inherits from  System.Web.UI.WebControls.ListControl and member of ystem.Web.UI.WebControls

·        Doesn’t provide templates by default rather ITemplate needs to be implemented.

·        Easiest to use for listing



The records to be bounded have  custom (layout)  but fixed pattern and reusable --- limited layout capabilities

Custom List control , ITemplate classes

Page specific solution

Repeater or inline code

Different views of same content or changing of templates at run time e.g. header, menus

User Control

Full control over layout and enhanced functionality

Custom Control with templates

Summary & Conclusion

We explores the options for data repeater controls in ASP.NET and also discussed about their base classes, features etc. We explored couple of scenarios to drive to choice of such controls over each other. Hope this discussion would help developer and architects to categorise their requirements and settle for better choice of controls in turn to win over the usual dilemma in software development as what to use and when.



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About the Author

Full Name: Vishwas Sutar
Member Level: HonoraryPlatinum
Member Status: Member,MVP
Member Since: 5/30/2011 2:13:10 AM
Country: India
Extensive and rich experience across gamut of technologies and programming languages like PB,VB,C++,VB.NET, C#, Classic ASP,ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC.

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