Understanding The ASP.NET Page Life Cycle

Understanding the Page Life Cycle in ASP.NET is essential knowledge for developing ASP.NET apps, without a firm understanding of the Page Life Cycle developing apps will be an uphill battle.

When a web page is sent to the Web Server for processing, it goes through a sequence of steps before it finally gets displayed in the Web Browser. This article discusses these series of steps and events that occur in a page life cycle in ASP.NET.

From The Web Browser to IIS

When a POST request is initiated from the client side, the Web Server traps the request and it is usually routed to an .aspx web page. The request is actually routed to the HTTP Pipeline, a chain of managed objects.

After the HTTP Page handler class is identified, the ProcessRequest () method is called which eventually fires the different page events in the life cycle of a web page. The sequence of events that takes place in the life cycle of a web page in ASP.NET is:

  1. Page_Init
  2. LoadViewState
  3. LoadPostData
  4. Page_Load
  5. RaisePostDataChangedEvent
  6. RaisePostBackEvent
  7. Page_PreRender
  8. SaveViewState
  9. Page_Render
  10. Page_UnLoad

All these events are associated with their respective handlers and you can even override them to customize their default behaviour. The following section discusses each of these events in detail.

The Page Life Cycle Events Explained

Once the request for the web page arrives at the web server, the ASP.NET runtime determines whether the page needs to be parsed or whether a cached version of the page needs to be rendered to the requestor. Then the Request and the Response objects for the page are set and the page life cycle starts.

The Page_Init event is the first event to be triggered in the page life cycle. It is responsible for the initialization activities that are essential to create a page instance. In this phase of the page life cycle, all the server controls of the web page are initialized to their default values. However, it should be noted that the View State for a page is not available at this stage of the page life cycle and a server control of the page cannot access other server controls of the page at this phase.

You can use the Page_Init event to create or re-create the controls that need to be created or re-created dynamically. The following example illustrates how you can override the OnInit() method.

protected override void OnInit(EventArgs e)
if (Page != null)
Page.Trace.Write ("The OnInit method has been called");

Next, the LoadViewState method is called. “The load view state stage only happens when the page has been posted back.  During this stage the view state data saved from the previous page visit is loaded and recursively populated into the Page’s control hierarchy”. This method restores the View State information of a web page that was last saved using the SaveViewState method. You can override the LoadViewState() method to get an idea on how the viewstate is actually restored.

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