Most software applications involve, in one way or another, data access and reporting. Web applications in particular must perform these two functions, so Web programmers are looking for any automated (or even semi-automated) method of associating rows of data with graphical HTML elements such as drop-down lists or tables. The answer to this growing demand for automatic binding between data sources and graphical elements is .NET data bound controls.
Data bound controls play a key role in the development of .NET applications because they allow you to associate controls and their individual properties with one or more fields in any .NET-compliant data source. The power of .NET is the versatility of these data bound controls. You use them in the same way regardless of the programming model—Microsoft Windows Forms, Microsoft Web Forms, or Microsoft .NET Web services.
In this chapter, we’ll discuss the two levels of data binding, simple and complex, as well as the most important Web controls that can be data bound. Data binding and data bound Web controls are the focus of any Active Server Pages (ASP) .NET application, so we’ll explore them at length in the next few chapters. (Web controls are also referred to as ASP.NET controls, server controls, and .NET Web controls.) Getting a handle on the key programming techniques is vital for building effective Web solutions.