This article describes
an approach to displaying word documents within a web page using a simple custom
server control. There are several approaches that may be used to get a word
document into a web page, but that the one demonstrated in this example appears
to be the easiest and most reliable method of delivery that I have encountered
in terms of actually embedding the document. Some
alternative approach will download the document to the user's machine and open
it in Word or the Word Viewer is it is installed.
Figure 1: Embedding and Displaying
The approach used in this example is based upon conversion of the Word document
into an MHT file. This conversion is
accomplished by using the Word file Save As option and selecting the MHT file
type prior to saving. The MHT file type
is a single web page with all content embedded. The
control described in this project will display an MHT file.
There are two solutions included with this download, one is web custom control
library containing a single custom control used to render out the Word document
(in MHT format), and the other is a test web site used to display a document
through the use of the control.
Figure 2 (below) shows the solution explorer for the project. The
project appearing at the top of the solution is the test web site, it contains
only a single web page (default) and it includes an MHT converted Word document
file for testing purposes. The
bottom project is the class library with the single control included ("ShowWordMhtVb").
The references in the test web site are per the default configuration; the class
library references include the default references but also include the following
Figure 2: Solution
Explorer with Both Projects Visible.
The Web Custom Control Project
Within project, there is a single custom control provided in the example. The
example is entitled, "ShowWordMhtVb.vb". The
code for the project is very simple and should take very little time to
implement. The control code starts out
with the default imports and class declaration:
Public Class ShowWordMhtVb
After the class declaration, a declarations region was added and a single local
member variable was defined and included within that region. The
local member variable is used to retain the path to the Word document loaded
into the control.
Private mFilePath As String
The next bit of code in the class is contained in a new region called "Properties". Within
this region is a single property entitled, "FilePath". The
property is used to provide public member access to the file path member
variable. The attributes associated with
this property indicate that the property is visible (Browsable)
in the property editor, defines the property editor category under which to show
the property in the editor, and provides the text used to describe the property
which viewed in the property editor (Description). The
editor defined specifies an association between this property and the URL
Editor; when the developer using the control edits the property at design time,
the URL editor will be displayed to allow the developer to navigate to and
select a target file based using this editor. The System.Design reference
is needed to support this portion of the design.
Word MHT format file.")> _
Public Property FilePath() As String
Set(ByVal Value As String)
= String.Empty Then
Dim tilde As Integer =
<> -1 Then
= Value.Substring((tilde + 2)).Trim()
Notice that in the set side of the property, the code is written to remove the
tilde from in front of the file path if the tilde is present. If
the tilde is left intact after setting the property to point to a file using the
URL Editor, the tilde would otherwise be included in the HTML rendered to the
page and the file would not found. It is
necessary to strip this character from the file path in order to use the URL
Editor to set this property at design time.
The last bit of code needed to finish the control is contained in a region
called "Rendering". This
region contains a single method used to override the RenderContents method. WithinRenderContents,
a string builder is created and then populated with the HTML needed to render
the control on a page. In this instance,
the simplest way to display the MHT file is through the use of an IFrame. Looking
at the string builder, note that the IFrame contains the source property which
points to the file path property added earlier in this project. Further,
the width and height of the IFrame is set such that the width of the control is
fixed at 100% while the height of is set to the actual height of the control. After
the string builder is populated, the content is dumped into a div. The
entire control is constructed within a try catch block, if the try fails, the
catch block will render out "Display Word MHT Control" into a box on the page in
lieu of showing the control. When the
control is first added to the page, it does not point to a file and so the try
will fail, this prevents an error from occurring during that initial placement
of the control.
Protected Overrides Sub RenderContents(ByVal writer As HtmlTextWriter)
Dim sb As New StringBuilder()
src=" + FilePath.ToString() & "
height=" + Height.ToString() & "
Word MHT Control")
The Test Web Project
The default page included in the web project is provided to serve as a test bed
for the control. The page contains only
a label and icon used as a banner and the custom control with its file path
property set to point to the MHT file. The
MHT file was added to the web site content and is also included in the web
project. When this site is viewed, the
control will display the Word document in the defined area.
This article demonstrates an approach that may be used to develop a custom
control through which Word documents may be embedded into a web page. The
purpose of the control is to allow the Word document to be included within a web
page as opposed to the alternative of opening the document into a separate page
or evoking a download to the document for local viewing in Word or the Word
Viewer. Naturally, the code included in
the custom control could be added directly into any page and the same effect
could be achieved, however, by adding the code once into a custom control, the
developer need only drop the control into the form and set the file path and
dimensions to display Word documents without repeating the manual addition of
the code each time it is needed.
The control may be used with Word doc files, however without the conversion to
MHT format, the browser will attempt to download the file locally for viewing. If
the intent is to embed rather than download, this approach is valid.