Combining jQuery Mobile with ASP.NET Web Forms

I’ve written quite a few articles on this blog about combining ASP.NET MVC and jQuery Mobile, but recently I had occasion to combine JQM with ASP.NET Web Forms. Not surprisingly, there turn out to be at least as many compatibility issues with Web Forms as there are with MVC – and since they’re different from the MVC problems I’ve already blogged about, I thought I might as well share them with you here.

The first problem isn’t really a Web Forms issue – it’s all about the fact that the default template created by Visual Studio includes a ScriptManager.

Now, the ScriptManager is a useful control. It’s not just about Ajax. It can be used to ensure that you have scripts when you need them and don’t end up with duplicate copies of the same script resources – ensuring, for example, that jQuery is only added to the page once, no matter how many  validators you add.

However, the ScriptManager has one big drawback from the point of view of JQM: you have to put it inside the HTML form. Here’s what happens if you don’t:

screen grab of error

So the ScriptManager goes inside the form, and the form, of course, needs to be inside the data-role=”page” element. Otherwise, the action attribute wouldn’t be set correctly when you navigate to a new page.  So the obvious thing to do is leave it alone and add the appropriate <div> elements and  data-roles for jQuery Mobile.  And at first it looks like it’s going to work:

jQuery Mobile screen grab

Unfortunately, appearances are deceptive. The ScriptManager acts as a placeholder for the scripts it adds to the page – so the scripts are being added inside the data-role=”page” element. And JQM replaces the content of the page element using Ajax – over and over again. The result is that pretty soon you are disappearing into recursive hell.

The following requests all followed  a single click on the home link:

Many calls to the home page

So – the ScriptManager has to go altogether. That’s fine. We can put the necessary script references in the head and everything works.

Unless we add validators to the page.

The problem is that in the absence of the ScriptManager to prevent duplication, the validators add jQuery to the page irrespective of whether it’s already there – and that reappearance of jQuery AFTER jQuery Mobile breaks JQM. So the next step to running JQM successfully with Web Forms is turning off client side validation.  Or maybe it’s time to give up on the traditional validators and use a version of my data annotation validator from an earlier post….

Kevin Rattan

For other related information, check out these courses from Learning Tree:

jQuery: A Comprehensive Hands-On Introduction

Building ASP.NET Web Applications: Hands-On

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