Q1 2012 beta release is out the door and we have some exciting new improvements
to brag about. Among everything else is a feature long waited for - client-side
databinding for RadListView. In a series of blog posts, I will try to introduce
you to the specifics of the client-side databinding with RadListView and give you
some insight into the new client capabilities that you can leverage to build performant
data bound UI on the client. We will start with a brief introduction to HTML templates,
binding expressions and databinding API, we'll go down to databinding to web services
and various data sources and will finish off with some advanced topics like client-side
paging, sorting, filtering and item selection support.
If you want to skip sections ahead, here is a brief table of contents that you can
To start off, let's clarify what does client-side databinding mean for a control
that is entirely template-driven and does not have UI of its own. If you have ever
worked with the ASP.NET ListView control, or its older sibling - the Repeater, you already know what a template-driven
control means. These are, essentially, databound lists. The developer uses a series
of template definitions to give the list a layout of its own. During databinding,
templates are instantiated sequentially for every item from the data source and
you get the final UI rendered into the browser. This all happens on the server-side.
Telerik RadListView for ASP.NET AJAX already extends this
server-side databinding model, providing additional templates, paging, sorting,
filtering and grouping off-the-box.
Starting with Q1 2012, we have extended this databinding model to the client. You
can now use HTML templates to define a layout that is databound entirely on the
client-side. RadListView provides quite an extensive set of templates available for
People already using RadListView with server-side databinding will immediately recognize
these template names. They work the same with client-side databinding too. The major
difference is, while server templates are defined as first-level children of the
RadListView control in the markup, all client templates are exposed
as properties under RadListView.ClientSettings.DataBinding. Also, the
server templates allow server controls, naturally. The client templates are nothing
more than string properties, so they allow HTML only.
Let's get to the interesting part and define a rather simple client-bound RadListView.
Just like with server-side databinding, you need at least 3 definitions to make
a list view show up on your page:
Let's define the skeleton of a simple RadListView that will be used to render an
unordered list in the browser:
We define our LayoutTemplate to contain a <ul> element.
We further give this element and id attribute. By setting the RadListView.ClientSettings.DataBinding.ItemPlaceHolderID
property the value of this ID, we instruct RadListView to take the unordered list
as the parent container for all items that will be rendered by RadListView. Without
specifying the HTML element that will contain all databound items, there is no way
for RadListView to tell where it should place the rendered items during databinding.
Once we setup our layout and item place holder, we can define an ItemTemplate
that will be rendered for every bound item during databinding. In our case, we specify
a <li> element that will represent an item in the resulting unordered
NOTE: Client-side templates in RadListView are plain string properties. Even
though you can define them in the markup view in Visual Studio, no IntelliSense
support is provided. Code completion for HTML tags is the best Visual Studio can
offer when editing string templates.
We have defined our basic UI in the above RadListView. Let's see how we can make
the list view show some data inside the HTML elements we have put in there. We can
use a set of binding expression in the client-side HTML templates in RadListView.
#= ... #
# ... #
#: ... #
In a server-bound template, you can use the <%# ... %> binding
expression along with Eval() to render the value of a field from the
data item. Equivalently, with a client-bound template, you can use the #= [field
name] # expression to render the value of a data field.
<%# ... %>
Turning back to our RadListView definition, let's define a binding expression that
will show the value of a field id in our list items:
We have defined a binding expression in the ItemTemplate, telling RadListView
to render the value of the id field in the data items as content of the list
Time to see the result of our effort so far. For the purpose of this example, we
The actual databinding is done through the client-side RadListView API. We need
to find the RadListView client component once the page and the client-side AJAX
framework have finished loading. The auto-registered pageLoad() function
is a good candidate. We then set the list view data source and databind:
We run the page to see what we've created and get our first client-bound RadListView:
That wasn't so difficult, was it? We made our list view render a couple of HTML
elements right in the browser after page load. Let's go on and test some other binding
expressions. You have probably noted the above sample data items have a name
field that contains HTML. If we keep using the #= ... # expression
with this field, we will get the values in this field rendered and interpreted as
HTML in the browser:
If we need to ensure HTML in field values is encoded, we can use the #: ... #
What happens in RadListView during client-side databinding? The control takes the
template definitions strings and runs them through a client-side templating engine.
of client templates. Here are a couple of the more popular template engines out
on the web:
Jeremy Askenas has started a nice little test bench on jsperf.com that tests the performance of these
template engines. Later revisions add even more templating implementations.
identical templates. This function can additionally be provided with a so called
of any binding expressions inside the HTML template. In our RadListView, the ItemTemplate
contained a couple of binding expressions. These expressions were evaluated in the
context of an object - the binding context. The id and name
fields that we used in our binding expressions are part of the fields in this binding
NOTE: The binding context of an HTML template is not the same as the execution
context of a function. In your binding expressions, this.id is not
equivalent to id. Do not use this in your binding expressions.
In RadListView, all fields from the data item bound to a particular template are
copied over to the binding context. In our example, the id, name
and value fields are copied to the context of the binding expressions
inside the ItemTemplate. Additionally, here is a list of all fields
and functions available in the context of the binding expressions:
The above lists is expected to grow, so don't take it as the definitive API reference.
The only definitive reference for any control is the online help documentation.
Using the above context fields, you have access to the RadListView client component,
item indices and selected state at your disposal during template databinding. The
format() function is worth a better explanation. It can be used to
format numeric and date values from your data items during databinding.
Turning back to our RadListView example, we can see the value field
in the data items is a numeric field, possibly representing a currency value. Using
format() in our binding expressions, we can render the values from
this field formatted as currency:
The result of the format() function is a string representing a currency
value in the format we specified:
The new HTML templates in RadListView allow you to easily define a client-bound
layout in your application. You can use binding expressions, context fields and
functions to render, format and shape data values according to your needs. Client-side
you and provide you with a flexible model for binding HTML to data right in the
browser. What is more - it steps on building blocks already familiar to ASP.NET
developers. ASP.NET itself is template-driven. We all know how to define, use and
bind templates. RadListView takes this approach to the next level, providing the
written to enable that.
with closing braces on new lines) to make RadListView databind on the client. Half
in this series, we'll see how many more do we need to make RadListView databind
automatically to a JSON service. I bet on -8, making a total of 0 (zero) lines of
If we managed to catch your attention, don't stop here. Try the live RadListView demos, download the trial today and give the sweet stuff a
go yourself. Leave a comment, suggestion or share the joy below in the comments
or in our beta forums.
Veli Pehlivanov is a Technical Lead at one of Telerik’s ASP.NET AJAX teams, where he primarily
works on RadGrid and a few other data- and input-centric controls, including RadListView,
RadCalendar and RadInput. Veli's interests lie in the area of web development, C#,
of technology and is keen on delivering efficient software and a greater value for