Accessing Controls in ListView Templates

Today when doing some application building I came across a case where I wanted to embed a ASP control inside one of the template of the asp:ListView control. This is legal and simple todo, however it has some interesting effects. Since the control is embedded in a template it is not made available in the code behind file and in my case I wanted to be able to access the control in the code behind file. Here is an example of what my markup looked like:

<asp:ListView ID="ListView1" runat="server">
<td><asp:PlaceHolder ID="ItemPlaceHolder" runat="server"></asp:PlaceHolder></td>
<asp:Button ID="ButtonTest" runat="server" Text="Button" />

I searched the Internet for a solution to this problem and many of the common solutions to the problem I found where to hooked to ItemCreated or DataBound event from the ListView, then using FindControl to find the control and store it in a variable that was part of the page class. While this is entirely doable it leads to really clunky code and there is a much better method for doing this. Controls have the same life cycle methods that the page itself has an by handling the Init event for the button I can get access to the button as soon as it is created and store a copy off that can be used when other parts of the page fire events.

Here is the change to the markup above:

 <asp:Button ID="ButtonTest" runat="server" Text="Button" oninit="ButtonTest_Init" />

And here is what the code behind looks like:

 public partial class _Default : System.Web.UI.Page {
    Button ButtonTest;

    protected void ButtonTest_Init(object sender, EventArgs e) {
        ButtonTest = (Button)sender;
        ButtonTest.Text = "Foo";

    protected void ListView1_ItemDeleted(object sender, ListViewDeletedEventArgs e) {
        ButtonTest.Text = "Add";


The ButtonTest_Init event handler stores the button in ButtonTest and changes it's text. You will also note that because I've done this I can now access the button inside other event handlers the ListView may fire, which was my initial goal. All in a very clean manner not hooking ListView events and not calling FindControl.