How to use friendly URLs in Web Forms

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There are many benefits to using friendly URLs. Not only can they help you eliminate query string parameters and file extensions from the URL line, but they're also good for the following:
  • Cleaner query string
  • User does not know the actual page name
  • Easier for users to use
With friendly URLs, instead of this: You get this: Friendly URLs are available in Web Forms and MVC. I've seen many examples of friendly URLs using MVC, but very few using Web Forms. So, I thought I'd take a few minutes to discuss how you can go about doing this. Actually, the process is almost identical. First, you need to download the Microsoft.Asp.Net.FriendlyUrls.Core.dll if you don’t already have it in your project. (If you have an older ASP.NET application, you probably don’t have it.) If you're starting a new project in Visual Studio 2013, and choose the Web Forms template, this DLL is already present. If you want to use friendly URLs in an older project, select Tools | NuGet Package Manager | Manage NuGet Packages for Solution from the Visual Studio menu. Search online for Microsoft.AspNet.FriendlyUrls and install the Microsoft.AspNet.FriendlyUrls.Core. You don’t need any of the other DLLs in the NuGet packages list, just the “Core” DLL. If you have an App_Start folder, look for a class called RouteConfig.cs. If it’s there, then you already have what you need. If it’s not, add a class called RouteConfig to your project. Add the following using statements at the top of this new class file: using System.Web.Routing; using Microsoft.AspNet.FriendlyUrls; Either add the following method, or modify it to look like the following. This assumes you have three pages in your project; Default.aspx, Customers.aspx and Products.aspx. Feel free to substitute your page names as appropriate. public static void RegisterRoutes(RouteCollection routes) { routes.EnableFriendlyUrls(); routes.MapPageRoute("", "Default", "~/Default.aspx"); routes.MapPageRoute("", "Customers", "~/Customers.aspx"); routes.MapPageRoute("GetCustomer", "GetCustomer/{CustomerId}", "~/Customers.aspx"); routes.MapPageRoute("", "Products", "~/Products.aspx"); routes.MapPageRoute("GetProduct", "GetProduct/{ProductId}", "~/Products.aspx"); } In the above page routes you have some parameter placeholders denoted by the curly braces {}. These are what you use to pass any parameters, and the names you use to retrieve those values. The next step is to open your Global.asax and either add or check to see if you have the following using statement at the top of the file: using System.Web.Routing; In the Application_Start() event you now need to call the RegisterRoutes method you created in the last step. The RouteTable.Routes object, created by the ASP.NET engine, is what you add to in your RegisterRoutes method: RouteConfig.RegisterRoutes(RouteTable.Routes); You can now run your ASP.NET application type in any of the following: http://localhost:xxxx/Products http://localhost:xxxx/GetProduct/22 http://localhost:xxxx/Customers http://localhost:xxxx/GetCustomer/ABC From any <a> tag on your webpages you can now use the following syntax: <a href="Products">Get All Products</a> <a href="GetProduct/22">Get Product #22</a> Notice that you don’t need the “.aspx” extension. If you're using the Response object to redirect from code behind, you may also use the same shorthand for any route that does not have a parameter. Response.Redirect("Products"); Response.Redirect("Customers");

Passing parameters using the Response object

If you're going to pass either a customer ID or a product ID to your pages, and you want to use the Response object, you need to set things up a little differently. Remember, you created the following map page route in the RouteConfig class: routes.MapPageRoute("GetProduct", "GetProduct/{ProductId}", "~/Samples/ProductView.aspx"); To redirect to this page, you use the RedirectToRoute method of the Response object. Response.RedirectToRoute("GetProduct", new {ProductId = 33}); The first parameter you pass to the RedirectToRoute method must match the first parameter in the MapPageRoute. The second parameter is an object with the name in the braces {ProductId} set to the value you wish to pass (in the above case, 33).

Retrieving the passed parameters

To retrieve the value passed, you use the Page.RouteData.Values property. Pass in the name of the parameter you're looking for, in this case “ProductId,” and it will return either a null if not found, or the value. You typically retrieve these values from the Page_Load event procedure. if (Page.RouteData.Values["ProductId"] != null) { int ProductId = Convert.ToInt32(Page.RouteData.Values["ProductId"]); }


Using friendly URLs is quite easy to accomplish in either Web Forms or MVC. You can download the friendly URLs “Core” DLL from NuGet to add to any project. Then with just a few lines of code you can start calling your pages in a very user-friendly manner.

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Paul Sheriff