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Dynamically Updating Portions of a Cached Page 

Caching a page can dramatically increase the performance of a Web application. However, in some cases you need most of the page to be cached and some fragments within the page to be dynamic. For example, if you create a page of news stories that is entirely static for set periods of time, you can set the entire page to be cached. If you wanted to include a rotating ad banner that changed on every page request, then the part of the page containing the advertisement needs to be dynamic.

To allow you to cache a page but substitute some content dynamically, you can use ASP.NET post-cache substitution. With post-cache substitution, the entire page is output cached with specific parts marked as exempt from caching. In the example of the ad banners, the AdRotator control allows you to take advantage of post-cache substitution so that ads dynamically created for each user and for each page refresh.

There are three ways to implement post-cache substitution:

  • Declaratively, using the Substitution control.

  • Programmatically, using the Substitution control API.

  • Implicitly, using the AdRotator control.

Substitution Control

The ASP.NET Substitution control specifies a section of a cached page that is created dynamically rather than cached. You place a Substitution control at the location on the page where you want the dynamic content to appear.

At run time, the Substitution control calls a method that you specify with the MethodName property. The method must return a string, which then replaces the content of the Substitution control. The method must be a static method on the containing Page or UserControl control.

Using the substitution control causes client-side cacheability to be changed to server cacheability, so that the page will not be cached on the client. This ensures that future requests to the page call the method again to generate dynamic content.

Substitution API

To create dynamic content for a cached page programmatically, you can call the WriteSubstitution method in your page code, passing it the name of a method as a parameter. The method that handles the creation of the dynamic content takes a single HttpContext parameter and returns a string. The return string is the content that will be substituted at the given location. An advantage of calling the WriteSubstitution method instead of using the Substitution control declaratively is that you can call a method of any arbitrary object, rather than calling a static method of the Page or the UserControl object.

Calling the WriteSubstitution method causes client-side cacheability to be changed to server cacheability, so that the page will not be cached on the client. This ensures that future requests to the page call the method again to generate dynamic content.

AdRotator Control

The AdRotator server control implements support for post-cache substitution internally. If you place an AdRotator control on your page, it will render unique advertisements on each request, regardless of whether the parent page is cached. As a result, a page that includes an AdRotator control is only cached server-side.

See Also

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