Encosia - ASP.NET, AJAX, jQuery, and more

Making Angular’s $http work with Request.IsAjaxRequest()

AJAX, Angular, JavaScript By . Posted May 7, 2015

A question that I see come up often is why Angular’s $http AJAX methods seem to be incompatible with server-side features in popular frameworks like ASP.NET MVC, Express, Django, and Rails that modify their responses for AJAX-based requests.

Examples range from partial rendering techniques like Rails’ Turbolinks (aka UpdatePanel 2.0) to endpoints that respond with nothing but a JSON representation of the page’s content instead of rendering HTML at all. A wide range of these sort of server-side features in various frameworks and libraries work that way, so the discrepancy between the behavior in Angular vs. client-side libraries like jQuery can be puzzling.

In this post, I’ll briefly explain the mechanism that your server-side framework uses to detect AJAX requests, show you how to make a single Angular $http request compatible with that mechanism, expand that to automatically apply to all requests sent through any $http method, and then explain why Angular doesn’t seem to work right by default.

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Button click handlers, AJAX, and premature submission

AJAX, JavaScript By . Updated February 1, 2014

When you begin moving from server-side web development to a client-side approach to driving your user interfaces, a common first experiment is to enhance an existing button with some JavaScript that runs when the button is clicked. For example, clicking a button that should request and display the current time from a server is basically the “hello world” of AJAX.

Unfortunately, that common learning progression is prone to a confusing outcome when you’re working with buttons within form elements. The problem is that you need to take into account that the browser’s form submission mechanism is not interrupted by client-side JavaScript by default.

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Using CORS to access ASP.NET services across domains

AJAX, ASP.NET, jQuery By . Updated May 9, 2013

Successfully completing a cross-domain request to an ASMX service using CORS

Work on client-side applications long enough and it’s just about inevitable that you’ll eventually want to make an AJAX request that breaches the browser’s XMLHttpRequest security restrictions. Limitations on cross-domain requests are great when they’re preventing malicious sites from malfeasing, but are a thorn in the side when they complicate your legitimate applications.

Traditionally, direct communication across the same-origin boundary required using a rickety (though clever) workaround called JSONP. JSONP is a reasonable compromise if all you need to do is make blind requests to a third-party API like Twitter, but comes up short if you need to use any HTTP verb other than GET. Of course, that’s a deal-breaking issue when you’re working with ASMX ScriptServices or ASPX page methods.

Luckily, a relatively new feature has been making its way into browsers which provides a robust solution to the cross-domain AJAX problem: CORS.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to recognize exactly which requests are cross-origin, how to enable CORS for your ASP.NET site, and the extra configuration necessary when you’re working with ASP.NET’s JSON-enabled services.

Before we get started, I want to emphasize that this approach won’t work with any version of IE prior to IE10. If supporting older versions of IE is a requirement in your target environment, you’re stuck with something like JSONP or a server-side proxy. This will work in any version of IE if Chrome Frame is installed and enabled by your site/server though.

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ASP.NET page methods are only as secure as you make them

AJAX, ASP.NET, jQuery By . Posted September 8, 2011

One of the most persistent misconceptions about ASP.NET’s page methods is the notion that they have some intrinsic protection against requests that don’t originate from the page where they’re defined. Since a page method’s code resides within a page’s code-behind file, it’s intuitive to assume that those methods benefit from some form of inherent security.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

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Use ASP.NET’s HttpHandler to bridge the cross-domain gap

AJAX, ASP.NET, jQuery By . Updated August 5, 2011

When you’re developing client-side applications, a problem you’ll almost inevitably have to deal with is how to work with services that reside outside your website’s domain. Though many modern APIs do support JSONP, which is a clever workaround to somewhat mitigate the cross-domain problem, JSONP has its own problems.

Worse, if you encounter an API with no JSONP support, the cross-domain barrier can quickly become a formidable one. CORS is slowly becoming a viable alternative, but it requires that the remote service support it via special HTTP headers and browser support for CORS is still not ubiquitous.

Until CORS is more broadly supported, an alternative solution is to bounce cross-domain requests through the web server that hosts your website. In ASP.NET, the best tool for implementing that sort of middleman endpoint is the HttpHandler.

In this post, I’ll show you how to create an HttpHandler to service cross-domain requests, how to use jQuery to communicate with the handler, and an example of one improvement that this approach makes possible.

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jQuery 1.5’s AJAX rewrite and ASP.NET services: All is well

AJAX, ASP.NET, jQuery By . Posted February 2, 2011

jQuery 1.5’s complete overhaul of the AJAX API has led to several people contacting me recently, understandably nervous about how the rewrite will impact working with ASMX ScriptServices and ASPX page methods. Seeing the default calling syntax change to $.ajax(url, settings) was especially unsettling to many.

I’m happy to report that the short answer is: jQuery 1.5’s new AJAX module has almost no negative impact on any of the techniques you may have read about here. The rewrite maintains very good compatibility for the $.ajax(settings) calling syntax and for now-deprecated features such as dataFilters.

One advanced dataFilter usage appears to be broken, but it’s something that you probably already stopped using with jQuery 1.4. To be clear, I’ll briefly enumerate all of the techniques I’ve re-tested and jQuery 1.5’s impact (or lack thereof) on each.

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Understanding jQuery’s impact on Microsoft and ASP.NET

AJAX, ASP.NET, jQuery By . Updated May 19, 2011

It hasn’t been easy keeping up with the twists and turns that Microsoft’s client-side frameworks and libraries have taken in the past couple years. Even today, I still hear from a surprising number of developers that don’t realize the ASP.NET Ajax Library is dead.

With that in mind, I’ve been writing an article on and off for the past several months that attempts to disambiguate Microsoft’s various client-side initiatives and hopefully provide some clarity. When Karsten from Mix Online contacted me about writing another article for them, we decided that this would be a perfect follow up to the jQuery article I wrote for them last year.

Here’s the first few paragraphs:

When Microsoft announced they would begin providing official support for jQuery, few of us realized how profoundly that announcement would eventually impact client-side development on the ASP.NET platform. Since that announcement, using jQuery with ASP.NET has moved from the obscure, to a central role in ASP.NET MVC’s client-side story, and now to the point of potentially superseding ASP.NET AJAX itself.

The journey hasn’t been all smooth. With Microsoft’s move toward jQuery, the ASP.NET AJAX, Microsoft Ajax Library, ASP.NET Ajax Library and Ajax Control Toolkit roadmaps have been uncertain at times. This has made it difficult to keep track of which projects are still relevant, and especially which you should choose going forward.

In my last article for Mix Online, I discussed what ASP.NET needed to know about jQuery from development perspective. In this article, I want to provide clarity on the events that led us to this point, talk about what portions of the current AJAX framework are and aren’t affected by recent changes and show you where we’re headed next. In addition, I’ll dive into the implications of the recent announcement about the adoption of Microsoft’s template library by the jQuery core.

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ASMX ScriptService mistake – Invalid JSON primitive

AJAX, ASMX Mistakes and Misconceptions, ASP.NET By . Updated June 9, 2010

One group of searches that consistently brings traffic here is variations on the error: Invalid JSON primitive. Unfortunately, the post that Google sends that traffic to doesn’t address the issue until somewhere within its 150+ comments.

Today, the topic gets its own post.

If you’ve worked with ASMX ScriptServices or Page Methods without ASP.NET AJAX’s client-side proxy (e.g. using jQuery or pure XMLHttpRequest code), you’ve may have seen this cryptic error yourself. Or, perhaps you’ve just arrived here due to seeing it for the first time.

Either way, you may be surprised to learn that the most common reason for this error is that you’ve lied to ASP.NET during your AJAX request.

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ASMX ScriptService mistake: Installation and configuration

AJAX, ASMX Mistakes and Misconceptions, ASP.NET By . Updated August 9, 2012

Continuing my series of posts about ASMX services and JSON, in this post I’m going to cover two common mistakes that plague the process of getting a project’s first ASMX ScriptService working: Installing System.Web.Extensions into the GAC and configuring your web.config.

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ASMX and JSON – Common mistakes and misconceptions

AJAX, ASMX Mistakes and Misconceptions, ASP.NET By . Posted March 3, 2010

While we were recording episode 5 of Mastering jQuery, I found myself running down a lengthy list of misconceptions and potential pitfalls when it comes to using ASMX services for AJAX callbacks. After years of fielding questions revolving around that topic, I suppose I’ve developed a decent handle on the issues most often encountered.

To preemptively surface some of that commonly requested information, I’m going to publish a series of relatively short posts, each describing one mistake or misconception that I’ve seen come up frequently.

To get started, I want to cover one of the most fundamental of these misconceptions: That ASMX services can’t return JSON.

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