Data Binding in Silverlight Application


In this article you will learn the basic concept of simple data binding in Silverlight application. I have covered different types of binding modes available and how to use it declaratively and programmatically. We will also see how to use binding for collection, importance of INotifyPropertyChanged Interface method and ObservableCollection class. Finally our ultimate goal is to fetch the information form back end or from .NET object and show it in the user interface. 

Please find some of my other article on Silverlight technology.
Introduction to Data Binding

Data binding is the process of establishing connection between source and destination.  In Silverlight application data binding, source is the CRL object and the destination is Silverlight controls (XAML Elements). Let me show you in visual.


Binding Modes

There are three types of data binding happens in Silverlight applications between source and destination.
  1. OneTime data binding
  2. OneWay data Binding
  3. TwoWay data binding
OneTime data binding: as per the name suggests data binding happens between source and target only once. In this binding source (CRL object) data will bind with target (XAML element) only when page executes first time, later on any changes made with source will not be reflected back to the destination. You will prefer to use this binding mode to reduce overhead if you know the source property won't change.

OneWay data binding: In this data binding source will informs about the changes immediately to the destination control. We will be using this binding only for frequently changed elements.

TwoWay data binding: this happens in bidirectional mode, whenever any changes in the backend or CRL object, it will inform to the XAML controls immediately, and vice versa.

Binding in Silverlight requires three things.
  • A dependency property in FrameworkElement descendent that you are binding to. Here FrameworkElement in Silverlight is any control that is used to show the data like TextBox and dependency property is the Text property of the TextBox control.
  • A standard property in .NET object.
  • A binding object to handle the communications between these two.
To implement the data binding in XAML code, you first need to implement a binding statement. Here is the syntax of the binding statement. Here I am using user control resources to hold the .NET object and assign that to the target control using DataContext property and in the Text property of the TextBox control you will see the Binding statement with {} bracket. 

Binding statement has many properties but here is the list of frequently used properties of the Binding statement:
  • Path: is the name of the source property to get the data from.
  • Mode: is the connection type (OneTime,OneWay and TwoWay)between source and target.
  • Source: is the standard CLR object that contains the data.
  • Converter: used to specify the converter object that is called by the binding engine to modify the data as it is passed between source and destination.
  • Converter Culture: specifies a parameter that can be passed to the conversion of the data.
  • Conversion parameter: specifies a parameter that can be passed to the converter.
DataContext property can be set in parent control instead of repeating for each control like I have shown in the previous screen.

<Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" DataContext="{StaticResource employeeInfo}">
              <TextBox x:Name="tbFirstName"  Text="{Binding Path=FirstName, Mode=OneTime,}"
                        HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top" MinWidth="200" Margin="20"></TextBox>
               <TextBox x:Name="tbLastName"  Text="{Binding Path=LastName, Mode=OneTime}"
                        HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top" MinWidth="200" Margin="20,60"></TextBox>

Binding can also be performed programmatically. What you need to do is just create new binding object and call SetBinding() method to perform the binding between the source and target. Here is sample code to do that.


Before we proceed further, let me show you the .NET object which I am using for each example.

using System;
using System.Net;
using System.Windows;
using System.Windows.Controls;
using System.Windows.Documents;
using System.Windows.Ink;
using System.Windows.Input;
using System.Windows.Media;
using System.Windows.Media.Animation;
using System.Windows.Shapes;
using System.ComponentModel;

namespace DataBinding
    public class Employee :INotifyPropertyChanged
        public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;
        public void OnPropertyChanged(PropertyChangedEventArgs e)
            if (PropertyChanged != null)
                PropertyChanged(this, e);
        private int employeeID;
        public int EmployeeID
                return employeeID;
                if (employeeID != value)
                    employeeID = value;
                    OnPropertyChanged(new PropertyChangedEventArgs("EmployeeID"));
        private string firstName;
        public string FirstName
            get { return firstName; }
                if (firstName != value)
                    firstName = value;
                    OnPropertyChanged(new PropertyChangedEventArgs("FirstName"));
        private string lastName;
        public string LastName
            get { return lastName; }
                if (lastName != value)
                    lastName = value;
                    OnPropertyChanged(new PropertyChangedEventArgs("LastName"));
        private string title;
        public string Title
            get { return title; }
                if (title != value)
                    title = value;
                    OnPropertyChanged(new PropertyChangedEventArgs ("Title"));


Binding Collections

ListBox is the one of the control used to bind collection of data, all collection control class are represented by the ItemsControl class. Binding a collection to an ItemsControl is as simple as assigning the ItemsSource property to some collection and assigning the DisplayMemberPath to a property of a collection item.

<Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="White">
        <ListBox x:Name="lbEmployees" Height="200" Width="300"></ListBox>


Change Notification

As we discussed earlier to allow changes made in data source will reflect immediately to the target. How is this possible? Yes this is possible by implementing INotifyPropertyChanged interface, it is descendent from ObservableCollection<T> and the interface is implemented for you. What you need to do is take the namespace System.ComponentModel to implement INotifyPropertyChanged interface.  This has the single method called PropertyChanged(). When setting a property value you need to call OnPropertyChanged() method if any value changed.  


To provide notifications of collection changes, we need to inherit our collection object from ObservableCollection<T>. Add a reference to System.Collections.ObjectModel before using ObservableCollection. In this example I am also adding some employees information which you will see on the screen.

When you come XAML code binding process will be bit different as comparing with single object binding. required I have .NET object collection UserControl.Resources section and I want to bind that to ListBox. ItemsSource property of ListBox control is used to set the object collection binding (simply set the binding statement). Once you set the ItemsSource property of the ListBox control, object collection is associated with ListBox control but you also need to use DisplayMemberPath property to set the name of the object data you want to show in the listbox.  In order to show the selected item in the TextBox you have to establish the relation between the listBox and TextBox. Use the ElementName property of the TextBox and use the SelectedItem.Property.


Please find the attachment for examples used in this article.


I hope you enjoyed my article; please do not forget to write your comments on this article, which is very important for me.

Similar Articles