ASP.NET Expressions

Posted on Thu 10 May 2012 in ASP.NET

ASP.NET Expression is written inline surrounded with <% %> in other words you will write them with your markup in .ASPX files for specific task, for example if want to access a connection string there an expression for that

<%$ ConnectionStrings:DefaultConnection %>

Let’s lists all ASP.NET Expression and it’s task:

  1. Directive Expression <%@ .. %> 

    • It’s used in Web Forms .ASPX files or User Control .ASCX files to set settings, for example the Page directive where you can declare Title, Master Page, Language, etc. aspx <%@ Page Title="Home Page" Language="C#" MasterPageFile="~/Site.Master" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="Default.aspx.cs" Inherits="ASPNETExpressions._Default" %>
  2. Data-Binding Expression <%# .. %>

    • Create binding between server control with data source when calling DataBind() method, most of the time you’ll see this expression inside Data Bound Controls like GridView and DetailView.

      aspx <asp:TextBox runat="server" ID="txtFirstName" Text="<%# Eval("FirstName") %>"/>

  3. Expression Builder <%\$ .. %>

    • This expression is used to set controls properties that located in configuration files Web.Config such as AppSettings, ConnectionStrings, or Resources
    • Its syntax is <$ Expression Prefix: Expression Value %> aspx <%$ ConnectionStrings:DefaultConnection %>
  4. Server-side Comment Expression <%-- .. --%>

    • It’s to comment a block of code so that it’ll not rendered or executed inside the page. aspx <%— This is a comment —%>
  5. Displaying Expression <%= .. %> 

    • It’s the simplest way to display one piece of information such as Integer or String inside the page, it’ll be converted to Response.Write(). aspx <%= DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("dd/MM/yyyy") %>


Every time you’ll see <% look at the next character:

  • If it @ then it’s Directive Expression.
  • If it = then it’s Displaying Expression.
  • If it # then it’s Data-Binding Expression.
  • If it -- then it’s Comment.
  • If it \$ then it’s Expression Builder.


If you make incorrect syntax inside these expression, Exception will be thrown.

Microsoft Support: Introduction to ASP.NET inline expressions in the .NET Framework