Sliding Task Lists project (day 5) – Reorder Lists and client side update panel refresh

Yesterday, I have added the ability to save new tasks without postbacks to database. Today, I’m going to bring the lists to life. So far, you could have notice that lists with the tasks were simple html lists (mock up functionality), however today I’ll convert those lists to atlas control toolkit ReorderList control, because I want to allow user to order the tasks in list by the priority.

I will explain the code only for the first list („Big Tasks“) since the rest of the code (for other lists) is pretty much same. So, here is how the code for Big Tasks list looks now:


You notice that I’ve wrapped the whole code in UpdatePanel. This is so because I want to refresh this list when user adds new task (NOTE: If you don’t intend to allow users to add new items or edit existing items, you don’t need Update Panel. Reordering works well without it as well).

I’ve already written the post on ReorderList (you can read it here), so I won’t repeat myself. However, this time I’m using SqlDataSource, and in that data source I make sure that only the big, uncompleted tasks for the currently logged in user are pulled out. The update command simply changes the priority (hmm… I must admit I’m not sure do I need this update command here… maybe it would work without it as well?!).

Anyway, I’ve made a textbox where I put the user name when page loads so I can use it here in this select statement (in case you wonder what is ‘txtUserName’).

The last thing I have in this update panel is the hidden link button. I use this so that I can call the click event on it from javascript and in doing so refresh the update panel. Now, you may wonder why I haven’t simply added trigger for control event and hook it up to the save button in ModalPopup. I’ve tried, but it doesn’t work. Seems like this button is losing it’s ability to do postbacks when inside of the ModalPopup. I’m not really sure on why is this not working, but for the time being, I’ll just let it be at that. I’m sure there is some theoretical explanation for this, but I thought a little mystery could bring some more readers 🙂 … hmmm maybe some violence would help as well… ok, back to atlas.

The change in javascript file (tasks.js) is following:


You’ll notice that in AddBigTask_Callback function, just before I tell user that “new big task has been added”, I call __doPostBack(‘lnkRefreshBigTasks’,’’). This is the very same function that would be called if that hidden link button inside of the update panel would be clicked. I’m pretty sure this is not the best / intended way to refresh the update panel from javascript, since it is obviously looks like a hack. However, up to now, I have not found a more appropriate method of doing this.

Tomorrow, I’ll be polishing the application… styling the look and feel, adding update progress images and making sure it works in IE and FF as well.

The working version of STL can be found here :

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Sliding Task Lists project (day 4) – database tables and saving new tasks with atlas

After the most of UI has been created, in order to get this application to actually do something, I needed to add one database table and one stored procedure. The ‘tblTasks’ table will hold all the tasks, regardless of their type and who do they belong to. Here is how the table looks like:

IDTask – int
UserName – varchar(100)
TaskTitle – varchar(500)
StartDate – datetime
CompletedDate – datetime
IsBigTask – bit
IsQuickTask – bit
IsEverydayTask – bit
IsCompleted – int

If you’d like the SQL script to create this table, open the following link:


In addition to this, I’ve also created a ‘pr_AddTask’ stored procedure that will add any kind of task to ‘tblTasks’. Take a look at the stored procedure:


Now, let’s go back to the application. In previous post I’ve created the three ModalPopups, each of them designed to add different kind of task to the lists. I will explain here the code logic for the “Big tasks”, since the rest of code is pretty much identical. First one little update from the last post. We don’t actually need UpdatePanel there, so I’ve just removed it. The three panels representing the ModalPopups are created by following code:


Next update from the last post happened in the ModalPopupExtender. Open the code and I’ll discuss it then:


You can see that I’ve added OnOkScript property to the each one of the extenders. This property holds the name of the javascript function to be called, when user clicks the “Save” button in our “add task” panels. Since you can see that we are going to use javascript, naturally next thing we need to do is link our external javascript file to the default.aspx. so that looks like this :


To add tasks we’ll need to do two more things. First is javascript code that will call methods on web service and second the web service methods to actually add data to database. Let’s start with web service. Add new web service to your project and name it ws_tasks.asmx. Select option “Place code in separate file”. The code behind for this web service should look like this:


Notice that there are three methods; each one takes care of adding one type of tasks to the database. The methods receive task title and user name (of the current user logged in) as two parameters. The rest is pretty easy, so I won’t explain it here. Maybe just to note that @is_big_task, @is_quick_task and @is_everyday_task are optional parameters of ‘pr_AddTask’ stored procedure with the default value of false, so we don’t need to add all the parameters in each of the methods.

Before I forget, make sure to add the reference to this web service in your script manage tag. It should look like this :


And finally, the last thing we have here is writing javascripts that will call the methods on web service and send them the two needed parameters when user clicks ‘Save’. Let’s take Big Tasks for example. First we have ‘AddBigTask()’ function (remember that we set OnOkScript property of ModalPopup for BigTasks to this function). This function gets the value of the task title and the username of the user currently logged in. You’ll notice that I’m getting a userLoginName value here. That is nothing else then the value of <asp:LoginName control. Lastly we call the STL.Tasks.AddBigTask method on our web service. We send the two required parameters and add at the end the name of the function we want to be called back when task is saved in database. In the ‘AddBigTask_Callback(result)’ function I empty the textbox (reset it…) and simply give a user alert message that her task has been added.


Ok, that’s it for today. Tomorrow we are going to bind the data from the database to the lists, so after all this application will look like it works 🙂 !

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Sliding Task Lists project (day 3) – using ModalPopup extender to create panels for adding new tasks

ModalPopup extender
For people that read this blog for some time now, you may remember the post “Darken the page and set focus on the user input”. Ok here is a better/quicker solution and it’s called ModalPopup extender. Like the saying goes: live and learn!

Today, I’ve added panels (only the UI, the save button is not functional yet) that open when user chooses to add a task to one of the lists. Since, the application is designed to have three different categories of tasks (big, quick and everyday) I have three link buttons (“Add Big Task”, “Add Quick Task” and “Add Everyday Task”).

The code for link buttons looks like this:


Next thing I’ve done is added three panels, each representing my modal popup window, where I’ll let users enter the task. One panel holds the modal popup for “Big Tasks”, one for “Quick Tasks” and one of course for the “Everyday Tasks”. You’ll notice I’ve wrapped the code inside the panel in UpdatePanel control, so that I can later perform saving to database without a full postback. The code for these three panels looks like this:


The last thing I’ve done today was adding the ModalPopupExtender, so that I can convert those panels into modal popup windows. Take a look at the code first and I’ll explain then the ModalPopupProperties for the first panel:


TargetControlId property determines which control will fire up the modal popup. In my case those are the link buttons I’ve added at the top in the action bar. Next property is PopupControlID. This property indicates which control will act as modal popup window. In my case those are the three panels. Next property is the BackgroundCssClass, which is really interesting feature. It lets you set the css class for the whole background screen behind your popup. Keep reading, because I’ll show you the CSS I’ve used to make background blurred and transparent. Next property is OkControlID. This is simply the id of the control that represents confirmation or ok (hehe) button of your popup. You’ll notice I have a save button in each of the panels, and those are my OkControls. Following control is cancel control and similar to the ok control, this one represents cancellation (closes popup with no actions/consequences).

Now we are only left with the css and few tricks there. First of all, here is the css for the transparent blurred background (remember the BackgroundCssClass property we set to modal_bg) :


You need to use filter and opacity properties both, because one works in IE and not in FF and vice versa. However the 70 and 0.7 both represent 70% transparency.

And finally the last thing. I’ve noticed that I need to set to my panels position:absolute, otherwise they all show when page loads. Try leaving that out and you’ll see what I mean.


The working (take that working with reserve. Only the things explained on this blog are working.) application can be found here :

Tomorrow we’ll create the database tables and add code for adding/saving new tasks, so drop by if you get a chance.

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Sliding Task Lists project (day 2) – implementing Asp.NET 2 membership provider

Sliding Task Lists project - login page
Today I’ve protected the Sliding Task Lists application with Asp.NET 2 membership provider. Since we are using SQL Server 2005 (remotely) and not SQL Express we needed to do several things in order to complete this step.

I will not go in details here, since Membership provider is way out of scope of this blog, but for starters here are few links : This is a quick start for Membership provider and here is the blog post on how to get membership provider working on full blown SQL Server 2005.

So, basically today I’ve created the login page. You’ll notice some degree of atlas being used there. When you click the “Register!” button, CreateUserWizard appears without postback. This was done very simply with using two UpdatePanel controls. I have noticed that standard Login control has issues with UpdatePanel, so I left that out. The CreateUserWizard on the other hand works fine inside of UpdatePanel.

I’ve also used the little processing image there, which I’ve explained in detail how to create in this post : Always visible loading image.

I have not zipped the whole project yet, since there is not so much to be seen. However, tomorrow or day after tomorrow when I get into more exciting atlas stuff, I’ll provide you with daily updated project files.

Till then, feel free to visit the Sliding Task Lists project and register. Keep in mind that I’ve just laid down the html interface, nothing is functional yet, but we are getting there 🙂

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Sliding Task Lists project (day 1) – building a user interface

I like to start web applications by making the user interface first. That way it’s much easier for me to understand the scope of the project and even define it. The design itself, I’ve done in the very first part of this series. Today I’ve done the HTML/CSS part of this application (you will notice that links don’t do anything… it’s pure HTML/CSS – no atlas yet).

You can check out how it looks like on reblogger lab :

I’m working on getting this folder to be an application, so that I can provide you with a live functioning example every day.

There is really not too much to be said about the today’s work, except that it needed to be done. I haven’t used tables for design, and basically I’ve just laid the groundwork.

Tomorrow, I will add the Asp.NET membership provider so we can all use our own lists :).

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Sliding Task Lists project – building an atlas application from a scratch

Sliding Task Lists project
After explaining numerous Atlas functionalities on this blog, I’ve decided it would be a good idea to put all these concepts into practice. So, over the period of next 10 days or so, I’ll build a small, but completely Atlas based application. Along the way, I’ll write regular blog posts about everything being done and how I did it.

The “sliding task lists” application is a kind of to do list, that I practice every day for my work, but I’m using notepad for it (not so web 2.0, ehh?). Basically, I’m going to build this application for myself and show you the process. There is a possibility, the actual application will be hosted somewhere on reblogger lab, but I’m not 100% sure just yet.

So, here is what I need. All my tasks are divided into three different lists.

  1. “Big tasks” – when I’m developing reblogger, adding a new feature to it represents the big task, since it can anywhere from several days to several weeks to get it done.
  2. “Quick tasks” – this is for example adding a contact page on Something that takes at most 1-2 hours. I decided I will do every day one item of this list, so that I don’t get buried in those little things.
  3. “Everyday tasks” – this is something that I need to do everyday, no matter what else pops out. Writing a post on this blog is one of these everyday tasks.

The idea is following. I have to do ALL the tasks from my “everyday tasks” list every day. Pretty obvious. I have to do 1 (but I may change this in future) of “quick tasks” every day. The rest of the day I spend on working on big tasks. I always work on the first item in the list, so the order is important since it indicates priority.

Some other requirements: I want to be able to add tasks, edit them, and delete them. I want to be able to reorder tasks when my priorities change. I want an easy way to mark task finished. And finally I want to have a way to see what I’ve done so far this day and what I still need to do.

I’m going to use atlas to build this application. So obviously, you can imagine there will be no postbacks, but there will be a lot of drag-and-dropping and stuff like that.

I’ll work for about 2 hours a day on this project and every day I’ll blog on this. Feel free to ask questions, give suggestions or simply criticize me when I do something that could be done much better.

I hope you’ll have fun with this series and maybe even learn a thing or two.

I’ve opened the flickr set with the GUI mock up, so you can go there and check it out.

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