Steve Wellens

Programming in the .Net environment



Master Page, Child Pages: Dynamic Communication Flexibility

Over on the ASP.NET forums, where I am a moderator, a user asked a question concerning Master Pages. I thought it was an interesting enough question to spend a little time on it and write a BLOG entry (golf season hasn't started in my state yet).

The question was how to have "static" buttons on a Master Page call functions in child pages when clicked. As usual, I wanted the simplest possible way to accomplish the goal.

The first thing to do is create a Master Page with three "Aux" buttons. I used a simple table to keep the buttons at the top of the form and they are all disabled by default. It will be up to the child pages to enable them as needed.

<%@ Master Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeFile="MasterPage.master.cs" Inherits="MasterPage" %>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">
<html xmlns="">
<head runat="server">
   <form id="form1" runat="server">
         <asp:Button ID="_AuxButton1" runat="server" Text="Aux 1" Enabled="false" />
         <asp:Button ID="_AuxButton2" runat="server" Text="Aux 2" Enabled="false" />
         <asp:Button ID="_AuxButton3" runat="server" Text="Aux 3" Enabled="false" />
          <div style="background-color: #00FFFF">
              <br />
              This is Placeholder1:
              <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="ContentPlaceHolder1" runat="server">

Next, we expose the Master Page buttons as properties so the external entities, aka child pages, can have access to them:

public partial class MasterPage : System.Web.UI.MasterPage
    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    // expose the Aux buttons
    public Button AuxButton1
        get { return _AuxButton1; }
    public Button AuxButton2
        get { return _AuxButton2; }
    public Button AuxButton3
        get { return _AuxButton3; }


That's it for the Master Page. In the child page, we've set the MasterPageFile but there is one more thing we do to make life simpler: We set the MasterType property so the child pages "knows about" the type of Master Page:

<%@ Page Language="C#" MasterPageFile="~/MasterPage.master" AutoEventWireup="true"
    CodeFile="Child1.aspx.cs" Inherits="Child1" Title="Untitled Page" %>
<%@ MasterType TypeName="MasterPage" %>
<asp:Content ID="Content1" ContentPlaceHolderID="ContentPlaceHolder1" runat="Server">
    This is child content<br />
    <asp:Label ID="Label1" runat="server" Text="Label"></asp:Label><br />
    <asp:Label ID="Label2" runat="server" Text="Label"></asp:Label>

Then, in the child page's Page_Load function, we hookup the buttons:

public partial class Child1 : System.Web.UI.Page
    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
        // hook up our events to the master pages buttons
        Master.AuxButton1.Click += Aux1_Click;
        Master.AuxButton2.Click += Aux2_Click;
        // by default, the buttons are disabled, if we are
        // going to use them, enable them
        Master.AuxButton1.Enabled = true;
        Master.AuxButton2.Enabled = true;
        // custom button text
        Master.AuxButton2.Text = "Click me!"
    // functions called from Master Page
    protected void Aux1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Label1.Text = "Aux1Clicked!";
    protected void Aux2_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Label2.Text = "Aux2 has been clicked!";

Here is what the browser looks like after we've clicked the aux buttons:

  • Aux button 3 remains disabled because we did not connect it to any function.
  • Aux button 2 has custom text we applied.
  • The two Child Page label controls have been updated from the Master Page.


I hope someone finds this useful.

Steve Wellens


crever said:

Dude... I've been trying to figure out how to do this forever.  Thanks.

Sean McCown, SQL Server MVP

# March 30, 2009 10:14 PM

sina said:

Could this method be used to trigger an AJAX pannel update containing a Gridview ? I followed the example above but the grid does not get updated when the button in the Master page is clicked.

# April 22, 2009 7:37 PM

SGWellens said:

You could try calling Update() on the update panel from within the child page's function.

# April 22, 2009 9:18 PM

cheung said:

Thanks it is very useful at this times for me :)

thanks you !

# May 18, 2009 6:04 PM

Rahul said:


i was actully looking for this kind of solution...

# May 26, 2009 2:55 AM

Mic said:

Very good and simple example

# September 29, 2010 1:49 AM

Praveen said:

very simple and helpful  

Thank you...

# November 17, 2010 9:17 AM

subramani said:

Excellent article .. thanks a lot :)

# December 7, 2010 5:33 AM

Prashant said:

Thanks...........S much

# January 17, 2011 5:17 AM

mahesh said:

Explanation is very good.

Nice article.

# September 7, 2011 3:19 AM

hexxen said:

just what i needed, thank you.

# May 23, 2012 7:12 PM