jQuery TextBox Water Mark with asp.net

A jQuery alternative to the AjaxControlToolkit TextBoxWaterMarkExtender

I stole majority of this code from http://www.aspcode.net/A-watermark-texbox-with-JQuery-and-aspnet.aspx but I added a bit to make it swap css classes as well

$().ready(function() {
  swapValues = [];
  $(".wm").each(function(i) {
    swapValues[i] = $(this).val();
    $(this).focus(function() {
      if ($(this).val() == swapValues[i]) {
    }).blur(function() {
        if ($.trim($(this).val()) == "") { $(this).val(swapValues[i]).addClass("watermark") } }) })

To use it, make sure your TextBox has (one of) it's css classes set to "wm". If you want a seperate style to be applied add that initially as well, in my example, it swaps "watermark" in and out as a css class.

<asp:TextBox ID="txt" runat="server"
  Text="this is the watermark" CssClass="wm watermark" />

Common Asp.Net Regular Expression Validators

Some of my most commonly used RegularExpressionValidators

Regular Expressions (regexs) are infinitely uesful in validation, but they can be a pain in the butt. With constant help from two amazing websites: RegExLib to find regexs and regexpal to test my own I have been able to put together some of my most commonly users validators.

Email Address

<asp:RegularExpressionValidator ID="regEmail" runat="server"
  ControlToValidate="someTextBox" ErrorMessage="invalid email"
  ValidationExpression="^([a-zA-Z0-9_\-\.]+)@((\[[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}\.)|(([a-zA-Z0-9\-]+\.)+))([a-zA-Z]{2,4}|[0-9]{1,3})(\]?)$" />

Phone Number

<asp:RegularExpressionValidator ID="regPhone" runat="server"
  ControlToValidate="someTextBox" ErrorMessage="invalid phone"
  ValidationExpression="^(\+[1-9][0-9]*(\([0-9]*\)|-[0-9]*-))?[0]?[1-9][0-9\- ]*$" />

Zip Code

<asp:RegularExpressionValidator ID="regZip" runat="server"
  ControlToValidate="someTextBox" ErrorMessage="invalid zip"
  ValidationExpression="^\d{5}((-|\s)?\d{4})?$" />

Password Length (just change the 8's to your desired value)

<asp:RegularExpressionValidator ID="regPwLength" runat="server"
  ControlToValidate="someTextBox" ErrorMessage="too short"
  ValidationExpression="^.{8}.*$" />


<asp:CompareValidator ID="cvDate" runat="server"
  ControlToValidate="someTextBox" ErrorMessage="invalid date"
  Operator="DataTypeCheck" Type="Date" />

If you noticed, for date it is CompareValidator - why reinvent the wheel?

My new coffee mug

The perfect coffee mug for a .Net programmer... or any geek really

Here's what it says:

The sad part is that I actually wrote the Beverage, Me and Cup classes to make sure all the highlighting was correct :P

Make sure you have consistent page titles on your web site

A simple way to catch inconsistency in your titles

Page Titles are often overlookd aspects of web design and can be a simple way to add a little value and professionalism to your site. Users can use your page title to quickly scan bookmarks or on tabs in their browser. Therefore, I feel it is good practice to have a consistent page title naming scheme across your site.

Often I seem to screw up making titles for my pages or forget to add one altogether, or even worse, have the dreaded 'Untitled Page' that was ever=resent before VS2008 SP1. I use MasterPages so there is a centralized structure to build on, and I used this to come up with a way to provide a consistent page title:
string TITLE_ROOT = "My Site";
protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
  this.Page.Title = (string.IsNullOrEmpty(this.Page.Title) || this.Page.Title.Equals("Untitled Page"))
    ? TITLE_ROOT : TITLE_ROOT + " :: " + this.Page.Title;

This way, any page that uses this MasterPage will have a nicely formatted title. If you forgot to set a title it would simply be:
My Site

But, say you titled the page "Welcome New Users!", it would then look like this:
My Site :: Welcome New Users!

An easy way to catch myself from making mistakes as well as making it much more consistent.

C-Sharpener.com - Another Project

Learn to Program Asp.Net/C# is Just Days - Guaranteed!

If you have been here before you have likely noticed the ad banner over to the right of the page. That is one of my newer projects that you can check out at C-Sharpener.com.

It is a video series provided with code and throrough explanations of how to get started in the web application and web programming world. The videos cover everything from setting up your environment (with all free tools) and arrays to things such as AJAX and Linq-to-SQL. If it doesn't work, I give you your money back - it's that simple.

Slick-Ticket Trouble Ticketing/Help Desk System

My first Open-Source Project!

This is a simple, to-the-point system. It was born out of loathing of the system that I was forced to use. It was tested in a live environment with hundreds of users and ultimately de-throned our expensive and bloated ticketing software. I really enjoyed developing this and my users and I really enjoy using it, I hope some other people out there like it.
  • Full Integrated with Active Directory means not another layer of permissions to add
  • Intuitive interface allows users to jump right in
  • Integrated help/faq system for administrators to inform users


  • Utilizes .Net 3.5 (C#)
  • Asp.Net architecture built with Linq-to-SQL
  • Utilizes Asp.Net AJAX and the AJAX Control Toolkit
  • Completely customizable colors/themes
  • Installation program included, just load it on your machine and follow the directions


  • SQL 2005 Database (SQLExpress works fine)
  • .Net 3.5
  • Active Directory

It is available for download at CodePlex. I also have a site up at http://slick-ticket.com with a demo site soon on the horizon.

Screenshots (Click for full-size images)

Settings interface for the administrator, including the theme customizer Adding a new ticket User profile, most data is pulled directly frorm AD (though you can change it)
*Also notice the different style with the sidebar on the opposite side
Integrated FAQ/Help section for information sharing Easy interface to view the tickets you are interested in View/comment a ticket in progress
*This is Licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2)

Shout it kick it on DotNetKicks.com

Why I decided to stick with Linq-to-SQL over Linq-to-Entities

I tried to make the switch... but Linq-to-Entities is just so much more work!

Recently I tried, I really tried to like L2E, but I just can't do it! It adds layer upon layers of extra crap I have to do over L2S while offering little to no improvements over the soon to be deprecated ORM. I am officially sticking with L2S until they get L2E better developed. Now I am hardly the first person to write about this, but I feel my concrete examples are somewhat helpful when trying to decide.

Now I have read a bunch of reason of why not to switch, but I stubbornly went along and tried it myself. I like to dumb down my reasons to simple examples of why I have come to loathe L2E (these are all using the same exact DB):


I'll just show you on this one, it may not seem like a lot, but try it for yourself and see how confusing the syntax can get:


<asp:EntityDataSource ID="edsState" runat="server"
  EntitySetName="state" Select="it.[state_id], it.[state_name]">


<asp:LinqDataSource ID="ldsState" runat="server"
  Select="new (state_id, state_name)" TableName="states" />

Now I don't know about you, but the L2S is just easier to understand. Why the hell do I have to use it.[column_name]? That doesn't make any sense. Not to mention the GUI may as well not be there if you are trying to use automatic Delete, Update or Insert.


This one is HUGE! Let's say you have a Foreign Key relation of state_id that relates to a table states and Primary Key that is also named state_id; here is how you do that in both frameworks:


item itm = new item() { item_name = "party" };
itm.state = db.state.First(s => s.state_id = 5));


item itm = new item() { item_name = "party", state_id = 5 };

Now this is a super abbreviated case, but you can see the huge amount of overhead this can create not to mention programming time. I made these as succinct as I could not to try to advantage one over the other and the L2E is just burdensome. Even if I were to make a simple Get() method for state it would still make another call to the DB when I already know the relation integer!!! What an unnecessary step. And this extra work increases like crazy on large object with multiple relations.

Updating your Model

Now I can't relaly show this as an example, so I will just try to explain it. One big pain (I thought) in L2S was the fact that you had to pull your tables back in to your dbml every time you made a change to the DB (I know there are tools for this, but I am talking stock). L2E had this nifty feature that allowed you to 'refresh from the database' that I thought would actually work. The problem is, that if you change anything with any complexity whatsoever, like a Foreign Key, or even something as simple as changing a data type from VARCHAR to INT it seems to completely break your edmx. And this isn't simple to fix like a dbml, not even close. You can't drag a table into a edmx, and you can't seem to fix it through the refresh so what do you do?
  • Delete your edmx completely
  • Go into your web.config and delete the ConnectionString (unless you want duplicates)
  • Completely remake your edmx
  • Redo any changes in the crappy naming conventions to ALL of your tables that you changed (more on this later)
Wow... all that because I changed a relation? No thank you. Dragging that table into the dbml doesn't seem so bad now.

Relations Part 2

This one isn't as big of a deal, but it is annoying.


item itm = db.item.First(i => i.item_id == 12);
string whatState = itm.stateReference.Value.state_name;


item itm = db.items.First(i => i.item_id == 12);
string whatState = itm.state.state_name;

Just simpler in L2S and you don't have to remember the Load() if you forget, and it's in a lot of code, it can be extremely aggravating wondering why your relation is empty. Not to mention that reference.value syntax in there... more unnecessary (in my eyes) crap.

Relations Part 3

And this was the straw that broke the camels back... I was so used to the simplicity and convenience of L2S that this drove me nuts and was the reason I decided to give up. Relations are used so well with L2S that to show relations in something like a Repeater or GridView is almost trivially easy


Who knows?!


<asp:BoundField DataField="item.state.state_name" HeaderText="State Name" SortExpression="item.state.state_name" />

but since L2E requires that wonderful Load() method, it is now not so easy - to tell you the truth, I never figured it out how to make it work, probably have to call something on the RowDataBound event, but at this point I figured what is the point?

I am officially resigning from L2E (for now) and going back to L2S... maybe next go-round L2E won't be such a pain? Isn't new technology supposed to make our lives easier? Going from L2S to L2E is like 'upgrading' from a blender to a hand-mixer; it will get done, it will just take you longer and be more frustrating. Hopefully, considering that is the was MS is heading.

Shout it kick it on DotNetKicks.com

Using orderby with an EntityDataSource

This can be confusing when you are selecting all (*)

In a LinqDataSource if you want to sort by a column called 'item_id' you simply put:

but if you use that syntax with a EntityDataSource you will get this error:
System.Data.EntitySqlException: 'group_name' could not be resolved in the current scope or context. Make sure that all referenced variables are in scope, that required schemas are loaded, and that namespaces are referenced correctly., near simple identifier

But in an EntityDataSource you will need to do:

Notice that it will always be it. That confused me for a while... the problem is that if you are selecting certain items and not using the auto-update, insert or delete features, the orderby dialogue in the GIU is very simple, but when you want to use these features, it mysteriously disappears.

SQL State and Country lists

sql files to make and fill country and state lists with abbreviations

Doesn't get any more straight-forward than that, here is the table structures:
CREATE TABLE dbo.country (
country_name VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
country_abbrev VARCHAR(3) NOT NULL

CREATE TABLE dbo.state (
state_name VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
state_abbrev VARCHAR(2) NOT NULL