Friday, September 28, 2007

JavaScript Gotcha: Check for undefined before null

Do you see anything wrong with this line?

if (a !== null typeof(a) !== 'undefined') {
// Do something with a

... Well neither did I - but I've had users complaining of an application just giving them a "white screen" - typical of a JavaScript error to abort everything else. The second time I looked at it I could see what the problem was - I was checking for "a !== null" but a did not yet exist! The correct way to do this is

if(typeof(a) !== 'undefined' && a !== null) {
// Do something with a

Note to self: Always check undefined before null!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

JavaScript Hashtable based on MS AJAX

I was looking to implement a JavaScript hashtable and after find a number of near identical implementations, I decicded to modify one that I found at to be based on the MS Ajax Patern.

Anyways, here it is:

Mbccs.Psp.Web.Manager.Hashtable = function() {
this._hash = new Array();
this._keys = new Array();
this._getEnum = new Array();
this._count = 0;

Mbccs.Psp.Web.Manager.Hashtable.prototype = {
getAt : function(index) {
return this._hash[this._getEnum[index]];

get : function (key) {
return this._hash[key];

remove : function (key) {
for (var i = this._keys.length - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
if (this._keys[i] == key) {
this._keys.splice(i, 1);
this._getEnum.splice(i, 1);
this._hash[key] = null;

this._count = this._keys.length;

put : function (key, value) {
if (value == null)
return null;
if (this._hash[key] == null) {
this._keys[this._keys.length] = key;
this._count = this._keys.length;
this._getEnum[this._count - 1] = key;

this._hash[key] = value;


if(typeof(Sys) !== 'undefined')

Friday, September 21, 2007

Office 2003 SP3 Released

Microsoft seemingly quietly released Office 2003 SP3 - if you're not already running Office 2007, you can download the service pack at

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why does iTunes setup need to close Outlook?!

Everytime I update iTunes I remember why I left it so long - the install process is quite annoying! Can someone please explain to me why it's necessary to close Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer while installing iTunes?

It drives me even more crazy when I see Apple advertisements poking at certain annoyances in Windows yet Apple is usually the worst offender - Apple clearly does not understand the Windows environment, even though most of their software users are Windows users.

Now only if I could understand why it creates shortcuts everywhere meanwhile it only has 2 checkboxes to disable a few of them. grr!

Persisting the scroll position of child DIV's using MS AJAX


While the ScriptManager and UpdatePanel found in Microsoft AJAX do a good job of persisting your pages scroll position during partial post back operations, you might be surprised to find out the same is not for scrollable child DIV's contained within an UpdatePanel.

The PersistentScrollPosition control presented in this article seeks to remedy this issue using a client-side behavior and ASP.NET server control implemented using Microsoft AJAX.


While it is certainly not my intention to review the internals of the UpdatePanel and PageRequestManager or implementing any of the client-side components (Sys.Component, Sys.UI,Behavior, Sys.UI.Control), a quick understanding can go a long way into understanding and resolving this particular problem. There are two key items to keep in mind for this control:

  1. Client-side components are disposed of and recreated during the partial post back lifecycle so you can't use the controls instance to store any data you need to survive this.
  2. The HTML output of the UpdatePanel is completely replaced during a partial post back (assuming it was triggered) through the innerHTML property, which is why the scroll position problem exists in the first place.

Using the code

For those who just want the solution, using the code is straight forward. The control has one property you need to set named ControlToPersist. This is a string which takes the ID of the server-side container DIV (it must have runat="server").

<asp:UpdatePanel runat="server" ID="UpdatePanel" UpdateMode="always">
<asp:Button runat="server" ID="btnPostBack" Text="Post Back" OnClick="btnPostBack_Click" />
<br />
<div style="width:590px;height:400px;overflow-y:scroll;overflow-x:hidden;" runat="server" id="persistMe">
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit...</p>

<mbc:PersistentScrollPosition runat="server" ID="psf1" ControlToPersist="persistMe" />

Building the Control

The control consists of two parts, both of which for the most part are very "cookie cutter". On the server side, we inhert from Control and implement IScriptControl and INamingContainer and create a HiddenField during initialization to store our scroll position in between partial post backs.

public class PersistentScrollPosition : Control, IScriptControl, INamingContainer
protected override void OnInit(EventArgs e)

// Create hidden control for storage
storage = new HiddenField();
storage.ID = "storage";

When creating the script descriptors for the client-side initiation, we pass through the scrollable DIV's ClientID as the controls ElementID and we pass in a reference to the HiddenField's DOM element using the AddElementProprety method of the ScriptComponentDescriptor class.

public IEnumerable<scriptdescriptor /> GetScriptDescriptors()
ScriptComponentDescriptor scd =
new ScriptBehaviorDescriptor("Mbccs.WebControls.PersistentScrollPosition", Control.ClientID);
scd.AddElementProperty("storage", storage.ClientID);
yield return scd;

On the client-side, the control inherits from the Sys.UI.Behavior base class. Upon control intialization, it hooks into two events:
The scroll DOM event of the DIV, and the EndRequest event of the Sys.WebForms.PageRequestManager class. The EndRequest event is when the scroll state is restored, but I'll get to that shortly.

    initialize : function() {
Mbccs.WebControls.PersistentScrollPosition.callBaseMethod(this, 'initialize');

this._scrollDelegate = Function.createDelegate(this, this._onScroll);
this._endRequestDelegate = Function.createDelegate(this, this._onEndRequest);

var prm = Sys.WebForms.PageRequestManager.getInstance();

$addHandler(this.get_element(), 'scroll', this._scrollDelegate);


When the DIV is scrolled, the x,y scroll position is serialized and stored in the HiddenField server-side control we created earlier.

_onScroll : function(e) {            
this._storage.value =

_getScrollPosition : function() {
var el = this.get_element();

if (el) {
return {
x: el.scrollLeft 0,
y: el.scrollTop 0

To prevent null's from floating around, the x,y coordinates are coerced into 0's if either the scrollLeft or scrollTop properties are null.

The EndRequest event is fired when "an asyncronous postback is finished and control has been returned to the browser," ( so it's a perfect time to restore our scroll state.

_onEndRequest : function(sender, args) {        
var o = null;
if(this._storage.value !== '')
o = Sys.Serialization.JavaScriptSerializer.deserialize(this._storage.value);

if (o) {
var el = this.get_element();
el.scrollLeft = o.x;
el.scrollTop = o.y;
this._storage.value = '';

The dispose method isn't usually a place of any particular interest, but its worthy of noting that it you need to unhook the DIV's scroll event prior to calling dispose on the base class.

dispose : function() {            
$removeHandler(this.get_element(), 'scroll', this._scrollDelegate);

Mbccs.WebControls.PersistentScrollPosition.callBaseMethod(this, 'dispose');

var prm = Sys.WebForms.PageRequestManager.getInstance();

delete this._endRequestDelegate;
delete this._scrollDelegate;

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Strongly typed URL's for ASP.NET

I came across an interesting article today on The Code Project titled Strongly typed URL's for ASP.NET by Brian Chavez which is a Visual Studio add-in that creates strongly typed classes for your site's file structure and navigation.

It's actually a neat concept - it creates a static class with strongly typed members that map to the actual files - if you ever change a filename, instead of worrying about updating it across the site, just use the generated class and you won't have any problems!

The only thing that I can see getting annoying is having to continually update the generated class - I suppose you could add this to your build process, but when first building a site, it might get tedious as you are constantly adding new files to the project structure.

In any event, it's worth a look!