“Click here to download this report in Excel (CSV) format.”
We’ve probably all implemented this functionality in ASP.NET applications at least several times. Any time you’re dealing with report data, it’s expected that the data be available for download. Unfortunately, AJAX makes this somewhat difficult. Since there is no traditional HTTP response, you have no context with which to send the file to the browser for normal download.
Enter inline frames (IFRAME). Probably one of the most under utilized HTML elements around, dynamically creating an IFRAME allows you to round trip an HTTP request and response without disrupting the AJAX-ness of your async postback. Since any browser that supports XmlHttpRequest supports IFRAMEs, it is as safe to use as AJAX is in the first place. This is a simple example of the technique, using a static list of files in a dropdown, but it could be adapted to more dynamic file creation scenarios easily.
Click here to read the rest of this post »