State Management in ASP.NET

In today’s post, we’ll explore the various state management techniques ASP.NET provides. But first we need to underline the fact several times that HTTP is a stateless protocol. Being so, it provides huge scalability, but the programmers need to find some ways to store data (even forms) between page requests.

ASP.NET has several answers to this question:

  1. View State
  2. Query String
  3. Custom Cookies
  4. Session State
  5. Application State
  6. Control State
  7. Profiles
  8. Caching

Now I’d like to examine the first six, because I plan to give the topic of caching a full post, and profiles are a bit different from the others.
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Configuring Session State

Session State:

Session State enables you to store information, which is persisted during page changes. It’s stored server-side, and is essentially a collection like ViewState, or Application state. The syntax is straightforward: Session[“Key”] = Value;

Session state is not shared between clients, like application state. Every user has his/her own session ID, which guaranteed (statistically) to be large enough not to be guessed or reverse-engineered.

To access his or her private session information, the user must provide the session ID. It can be stored two ways (just like the authentication information): in a cookie (ASP.NET_SessionId is the name) or in a modified URL, serving clients who don’t support cookies.

Using Session State:

To store a datatable in a user’s session, just type the following:
DataTable dt = new DataTable();
Session[“Cart”] = dt;

Retrieval is quite easy, too:

Dt  = Sesion[“dt”] as DataTable;

Session state can be used in every page of your application, but it’s not immortal. Session information can be lost if:

  • User closes/restarts browser.
  • May be lost when the user requests the same page on a different browser window. The original page will have the session, but the new may not. This behavior depends on the browser.
  • Timeout, due to inactivity. By default, it lasts 20 minutes.
  • If you call Session.Abandon();

Sessions lost when the hosting application domain is recreated (e.g.: change a configuration file, recompile application). For a workaround for this situation, you can use out-of-process session management.

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