ASP.NET – Sending Email Both in HTML and Plain Text

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

In this article you will learn how to send email using ASP.NET. Yes, there are plenty of other articles that cover sending email via .NET, but after spending a day doing research, I was amazed at how many articles failed to provide either a correct solution or a real world example. I found that many articles suggest you create your HTML email by using a string with the HTML markup in it. That’s crazy and not at all a real world solution, at least not for most situations. In this article we will look at a more realistic solution. One in which we use a regular HTML file as our template for the email. The template file will be a standard HTML file with the exception of some placeholders that we will use to populate our content and images right before we send the email. Think mail-merge in Microsoft Word. Finally, we will also learn how to send the email in such a way that if the email recipient’s mail-client can’t render HTML they will get an alternate plain text version.

Let’s start by looking at the code in its entirety; the people that just want to grab the code and use it can do so. I will then explain the code.

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IDing the Problem of ASP.NET

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

I love ASP.NET, but one thing I find extremely frustrating is dealing with the automatically generated ID properties that it places on page elements.

For example, let’s say you have a div with an id of “contentTop” like below:

  1. <div id="contentTop" runat="server" >...</div>

Because you have made the control a server-side control by adding the runat=”server” attribute it will now be rendered with a different ID when it hits the browser (view the source code and you will see). It will get rendered as something like this:

  1. <div id="ctl00_contentTop" >...</div>

This is because ASP.NET generates its own IDs to ensure that every element on the page has a unique ID. Developers that work with JavaScript and CSS will immediately see the problem. This causes difficulty when using JavaScript and CSS which rely on those IDs to reference elements, as they can’t easily predict what the generated ID will be. When it comes to CSS specificity the ID selector is extremely useful. In addition, anyone that uses JavaScript knows that getElementById (or one of the JavaScript library ways) is the most popular way to target an element. So why the hell does ASP.NET do this to us? Honestly, I can’t really tell why, other than the fact that they must not trust us enough to be able to uniquely ID our elements ourselves.

But I don’t want to just complain here, I would like to provide some solutions too.

Solution

The solution will be found in the ClientID property of the server-side control. The ClientID property represents the ID that ASP.NET will use for the element on the client.

Using the ScriptManager we place the ClientID in a hidden form field. This can all be done in the code-behind file by using the following code:

  1. ScriptManager.RegisterHiddenField(this, "contentTop", contentTop.ClientID);

Be sure to have included the ScriptManager to your page, like so:

  1. <asp:ScriptManager ID="ScriptManager1" runat="server">
  2.     </asp:ScriptManager>

Now we can use JavaScript to retrieve the value from our hidden form fields.

  1. var id = form1.contentTop.value;
  2. var cTop = document.getElementById('id');

That’s it, if you know of another way, please let us know.
Happy coding.

3 C# 3.0 Shortcuts

Monday, June 16th, 2008

1. Automatic Properties

Automatic properties provide you with a shorthand for defining a new property. No more do we have to create the private property and then use Getters and Setters to access and set that property. Here’s the old code:
[ASP]
private string _Name;

public string Name
{
get {return _Name;}
set {_Name = value;}
}
[/ASP]

Now here’s the code using automatic properties:
[ASP]
public string Name {get; set;}
[/ASP]

Oh my! How nice is that? The C# compiler creates the Getters and Setters and the private fields for you automagically!

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