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Binding HTML Elements to Data

To display the data provided by a data source object (DSO), the author binds elements on an HTML page to the DSO. Using the About Data Binding Architecture or the corresponding data binding properties makes it easy. This topic shows how to bind an element to data, lists the elements that support data binding, and describes the capabilities of those elements. Capabilities include support for updating the data to which an element is bound and the data format in which the data is displayed (either HTML or plain text).

Bindable HTML elements fall into two categories: single-valued and tabular consumers. Single-valued consumers bind to a single field of the current record provided by a DSO. Tabular consumers, such as the table element, bind to an entire data set and use their contained elements as a template to repeat the data. The procedure for binding it to data is described later in this article.

This topic contains the following sections.

Binding a Single-Valued Element to Data

The procedure for binding a single-valued element to data is the same regardless of the element. Elements can be bound to data at design time using the DATASRC and DATAFLD attributes, or DHTML Object Model Support for Data Binding using the dataSrc and dataFld properties exposed by the corresponding objects in the Document Object Model (DOM).

Binding a Single-Valued Element to Data at Design Time

Given a text box, for example, a page author can bind that element to data as follows:

<INPUT TYPE=TEXTBOX DATASRC="#dsoComposers" DATAFLD="compsr_last">

The dataSrc attribute in this example specifies the ID, prefixed by a hash mark (#), of a DSO embedded on the page. The hash mark is required. The dataFld attribute identifies the field in the data provided by the DSO to which the text box should be bound.

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:

Binding a TABLE to Data

Because the table element is a tabular data consumer, it relies on the elements that it contains to bind to the individual fields in the data set provided by the DSO. The contained elements serve as a template, and they are repeated once for each record in the data set. The table specifies the dataSrc attribute. The contained elements specify the dataFld attribute and inherit the dataSrc from the table.

When binding a table to data, it is not possible to databind to a tr if it is contained by a tFoot or tHead.

Here's a simple example:

<TABLE DATASRC="#dsoComposer">
  <TD><SPAN DATAFLD="compsr_first"></SPAN></TD>

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:

If a databound table element includes a tBody element, this is recognized as a part of the template for databinding and is repeated for each row in the dataset, in a manner similar to the tr element. Consider the following databound table.

<TABLE DATASRC="#dsoComposer">
  <TD><SPAN DATAFLD="compsr_first"></SPAN></TD>

In this example, the table that renders in the browser contains one tBody element for each row of data in the data source.

Note  When multiple tBody elements occur in the document, the tBodies collection can be used in script to reference these objects.

As with single-valued consumers, a tabular data consumer can be bound to data at run time using the DHTML Object Model. The procedure for accomplishing this is described below.

Elements That Support Data Binding

The previous sections use a TEXTBOX, a span element, and a table element to illustrate how to bind single-valued and tabular consumers to the data provided by a DSO. Many other HTML elements can be bound to data. Some of these elements support updating the data to which they are bound. Changes can be persisted to the back-end data set if the DSO supports update. Other elements support About Data Binding Architecture in addition to the plain text default using the dataFormatAs attribute.

The following sections list additional HTML elements that support data binding.

Read-only Elements

Bindable HTML elements that supply read-only functionality include a, button, div, img, frame, iframe, label, marquee, and span.

Additionally, the button, div, label, marquee, and span elements support the usage of the dataFormatAs attribute or property to render the data to which they are bound as plain text (default) or as HTML. The data displayed by the element is automatically updated as the record pointer maintained by the DSO moves, or as the underlying data to which the element is bound changes. The following are descriptions of these read-only elements.


An anchor element applies the data supplied by a DSO to the href attribute; thus, the supplied data should represent a URL. The following is an example of a bound anchor.

<A DATASRC="#dsoLinks" DATAFLD="link_href"><SPAN DATASRC="#dsoLinks

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


A button element renders the data supplied by a DSO on its face. The following is an example of a bound button.

<BUTTON DATASRC="#dsoLinks" DATAFLD="link_friendly"></BUTTON>

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


A div element is useful for displaying a block of text. The following is an example of a bound div.

<DIV DATASRC="#dsoComposer" DATAFLD="compsr_biography"></DIV>

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


A frame element applies the data supplied by a DSO to its src attribute; thus, the bound value should represent a URL. So that the binding occurs successfully, the DSO supplying data to a bound frame should be present in the head section of the HTML file containing the frameSet element. The following is an example of a bound frame.

<!-- Add DSO reference here -->
    <FRAME DATASRC="#dsoFAQ" DATAFLD="frame_question" ...>
    <FRAME DATASRC="#dsoFAQ" DATAFLD="frame_answer" ...>

The code behind the following button implements a frame-based FAQ. The first frame displays the question, the second frame displays the answer, and the third frame contains navigation buttons. The first and second frames are bound to a two-column table. The first column in the table contains relative paths to pages containing questions. The second column contains relative paths to pages containing the answers. Since the DSO is embedded in the head of the outer page containing the frameSet, the code behind the navigation buttons drills out of the page in which it resides using the top object and references the DSO by its ID. The top object returns an object reference to the outermost containing window.

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


An iframe element applies the data supplied by a DSO to its src attribute; thus, the data should represent a URL. In contrast to the frame case, the DSO can be declared anywhere on the page. The following is an example of a bound iframe.


Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


An img element applies the data supplied by a DSO to locate, load, and display the image typically pointed to by its src attribute. Supplying raw image data through the bound column is not supported. The following is an example of a bound img tag.

<IMG DATASRC="#tdcImages" DATAFLD="image"></SPAN>

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


Use a label element to describe another bound element on the page. A label applies the data supplied by a DSO to its caption. The following is an example of a bound label.

<LABEL FOR=somecontrolid DATASRC="#DSC1" DATAFLD="label_col"></LABEL>

Since a label is associated with other elements indicated by its htmlFor attribute, using a bound label within a repeated table can yield unexpected results. If the htmlFor attribute references another element within the repeated table, the label tag will not be associated with the elements, since there will be multiple elements with the same ID/NAME as a result of the repetition.


The legend element adds a caption to the box drawn by the fieldSet element. When databinding is used with the legend element, the data supplied by the DSO appears in the fieldSet caption. The following is an example of a bound legend element.

<LEGEND DATASRC=#tdcElements DATAFLD="element"></LEGEND>

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


A marquee element uses its bound data to replace the text that appears between its opening and closing tags. The following is an example of a bound marquee.


Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


Like a div, a span is a read-only data consumer. Use a span to display inline text or limited HTML text. If the span is used to display HTML text, that text should not include any HTML block elements. When the current record or the underlying value in the bound column provided by the DSO changes, the span reflects the change. The following is an example of a bound span.

<SPAN DATASRC="#dsoComposer" DATAFLD="compsr_last"></SPAN>

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:

Elements That Support Update

The input (with the exception of the button type), select, textArea, object, and applet elements support updating the data to which they are bound, if the underlying DSO supports update functionality. The following are descriptions of these individual elements.


The input element represents a set of HTML intrinsic controls. Each of the types that support data binding (input type=checkbox, input type=hidden, input type=password, input type=radio, and input type=text) is detailed in the following sections.

security note Security Alert  Using the input element incorrectly can compromise the security of your application. In general, don't assume that user input is valid or benign. Avoid rendering unverified user input as HTML, or transferring that input from an untrusted context to a trusted context within your application. You should review Security Considerations: Dynamic HTML before continuing.

Although check boxes allow a value attribute that is used when submitting an HTML form on a page, Windows Internet Explorer MSHTML uses check boxes as simple Boolean selections. Check boxes generate the Boolean values true or false depending on whether they are checked or not. The binding agent coerces the values to and from the underlying data set. The following coercions are supported, based on the type of the bound column.

The following table describes the values that a bound check box expects a DSO to supply for various data types.

Data typeExpected True valueExpected False value
String"True" | "1" | <nonempty string> "False" | "0" | <zerolength string>

The following is an example of a bound check box.

<INPUT TYPE=CHECKBOX DATASRC="#dsoSurvey" DATAFLD="us_resident"> U.S. Resident

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


The HIDDEN type is used to store information in the page that isn't displayed to the user. The element is populated with data from the current record, but it cannot be modified. The following is an example of a bound hidden field.


The PASSWORD type is basically the same as the TEXT type except that the bound text is not displayed to the user. Be careful when using this input type, because the associated data is fully accessible to scripts through the data-binding object model, as well as directly through the element's value. The following is an example of a bound password.

security note Security Alert  Passwords submitted through INPUT type=password are not encrypted and therefore not secure. Using Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) is strongly recommended. You should also use the post method for submitting passwords. This submission method hides the password from most users by placing it in the HTTP header. The get method submits the password as part of the URL string, which might be exposed in the Address bar and the status bar. For more information, see Security Considerations: Dynamic HTML.


Radio buttons are used to select a single value from a set of alternatives. They can be used to select the value for an enumerated field in a database. One radio button is specified for each of the alternatives using a separate input. The name attribute on the input determines the logical grouping of alternatives. One value is bound for all the inputs with the same name attribute. All members of a group must specify the corresponding dataSrc and dataFld attributes. The following is an example of a bound radio button group.

    DATASRC="#dsoOrders" DATAFLD="cardname">MasterCard
    DATASRC="#dsoOrders" DATAFLD="cardname">American Express
<INPUT TYPE="RADIO" NAME="cards" VALUE="visa" 
    DATASRC="#dsoOrders" DATAFLD="cardname" >Visa

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


The TEXT type is used as a simple text box. The value of the text box can be bound to a field in the data source using the dataSrc and dataFld attributes. The following is an example of a bound text box.



When dataSrc and dataFld are specified on an object, Internet Explorer attempts to bind to the object's default property. The defaultbind attribute specified in an object's type information uniquely identifies the default property. If a default property is not specified in this way, Internet Explorer uses the property with DISPID 0.

The following is an example of binding the default value on the object tag.

<OBJECT ID=oControl1 WIDTH=100 HEIGHT=100
    DATASRC="#DSC1" DATAFLD="controlData">

Additionally, Internet Explorer supports binding to arbitrary object properties through the object's contained param tags. To do this, apply the dataSrc and dataFld attributes to the param tag. The property's value is initialized with the data supplied by the DSO. The following is an example of binding the params on the object tag.

<OBJECT ID="oControl1" WIDTH=100 HEIGHT=100
<PARAM NAME="ForeColor" DATASRC="#DSC1" DATAFLD="forecolor">
<PARAM NAME="BackColor" DATASRC="#DSC1" DATAFLD="backcolor">

Bindings can be applied simultaneously to the object's default value as well as to its param tags.


A select element supplies the functionality of a drop-down combo box or a list box. Internet Explorer supports binding to a single selected element, but not to to multiple selections.

The items in a select control are specified using option tags. The Dynamic HTML (DHTML) Object Model defines an options array that corresponds to the collection of option tags for a select. Each option has a corresponding index, text, and value. select has a selectedIndex property that corresponds to the index of the option currently selected. If no item is selected, the selectedIndex is set to -1. The text attribute of an option corresponds to the text that follows the tag and represents the string that is displayed for that option tag in the select . The value attribute provides the value that is to be returned when the HTML form is submitted. Value is also what is stored into the bound column of the data source.

Initially, the selectedIndex property of a bound select element will be set to the index of the value in the options array that corresponds to the field of the data source. If the value is not a member of the options array, the index property is set to -1 and, if the select is a combo, no value is displayed. When the user changes the selected item, the corresponding option value (attribute) is used to update the value of the bound field of the data source. Validation events are fired as with other controls.

If a select element is bound to an empty record, the selectedIndex property is not available. This scenario can arise when using the Remote Data Service (RDS) DSO if a select element databinds to a blank record. By updating the selected option, the blank databound record is updated and RDS returns the modified record to the server.

The following is an example of a bound select.

<OPTION VALUE=mc>MasterCard
<OPTION VALUE=amex>American Express

Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


A textArea is a multirow text box for data input, similar to the input type=text intrinsic. As such, it supports the update of the data if the DSO supports the update feature. The following is an example of a bound textArea.


Click the button to see a working example.

Code example:


Internet Explorer supports binding to the param tags of an applet. The following example specifies a binding on the xyz property of the application.

<APPLET CODE=somecode>
    <PARAM NAME="xyz" VALUE="abc" DATASRC="#Ctrl1" DATAFLD="Column1">
    <PARAM NAME="Title" VALUE="BoundApplet">
Property name resolution

The name attribute of the param specifies the basename of the Java methods used to get and set the value of the property. This is termed basename because the method of the Java applet to retrieve the value of the property is get<basename>. Correspondingly, the method used to set the value of the Java applet is set<basename>. This naming convention is consistent with the JavaBeans 1.0 specification. The applet used in the preceding section is expected to have methods named getxyz and setxyz.


Notifications are not fired by the application when property values change. Property changes are detected only when the current record changes. During this transition, the binding agent interrogates the application and transfers a modified data value, after validation, to the data source. When values are changed directly in the data source, the binding agent is notified by the data source and transfers the value to the application immediately. For more information, see DHTML Event Model Support for Data Binding.

Name space co-mingling

The bound param in the preceding example is the most complicated specification possible. That is, it addresses the case where there is a binding to a property specified by the name attribute, and there is a parameter to the application with the same name with a corresponding value attribute. This essentially co-mingles two name spaces: the parameter name space for the application and the binding name space, since the name attribute is used for both. In such cases, the application ignores the unexpected dataSrc and dataFld attributes on the param when fetching a parameter (applications explicitly fetch parameters using the getParameter method), and the binding agent recognizes the attributes and attempts binding using the get and set methods specified above.

The simplest example is one where there is no conflict between the parameter name space and the property name space. An example would be:

    <PARAM NAME="backcolor" DATASRC="#DSC1" DATAFLD="Color">

In this example, the backcolor property has only dataSrc and dataFld attributes; no value attribute is specified.

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