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Creating ASP.NET Horizontal Menu Control

By Bryian Tan
Posted On Jun 15,2010
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Category: ASP.Net
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Creating ASP.NET Horizontal Menu Control



A few weeks ago, I was working on an ASP.NET web application and need a simple horizontal menu with submenu. I decided to use ASP.NET Menu control, just drag and drop the control on to the page. Simple enough, but the control does not provide access key and target window support on menu item. I have put together a tutorial on how to:

1.      Include an access key attribute

2.      Include a target attribute

3.      Include a Site Map Path    


Figure 1



Getting Started

Here is the structure of my project. You are welcome to download this demo.


Figure 2


Putting everything together

First, add a Site Map to the website project. Open the web.sitemap file and populate it with your navigation data and structures. To underline certain character of the menu title, we can use the HTML underline tag (<u></u>). In order to parse the XML flawlessly we must replace the less than sign (<) with & lt; (no spaces). Then, include an accesskey and target attribute with a value to each siteMapNode. See below for example.

Site Map

Listing 1


      <siteMapNode url="Default.aspx" title="& lt;u>H& lt;/u>ome" description="Home"

                   accesskey="H" />

      <siteMapNode url="~/Views/Menu1.aspx" title="& lt;u>M& lt;/u>enu1" 

                   description="Menu1" accesskey="M" />

        <siteMapNode url="~/Views/Menu2.aspx" title="M&lt;u>e&lt;/u>nu2"

                     description="Menu2" accesskey="E" />


    <siteMapNode url="~/Views/Menu3.aspx" title="Me&lt;u>n&lt;/u>u3"

                 description="Menu3" accesskey="N" target="_blank" />


    <siteMapNode url="~/Views/Menu4.aspx" title="Men&lt;u>u&lt;/u>4"

                 description="Menu4" accesskey="U">

      <siteMapNode url="~/Views/Menu4Sub1.aspx" title="Menu4&lt;u>S&lt;/u>ub1"


                   accesskey="S" />

      <siteMapNode url="~/Views/Menu4Sub2.aspx" title="Menu4Su&lt;u>b&lt;/u>2"


                   target="_blank" accesskey="B" />







Master Page

Add a Master Page to the website project. Drag a SiteMapDataSource control on to the page and then the menu control and wrap the menu control inside a div tag. The details description of each menu property can be found on Menu Properties. Set the staticdisplaylevels ="2" and orientation="Horizontal" to display the menu control in horizontal mode. We can use an inline style sheets or place the CSS style in an external file. In this tutorial, the CSS style is located in style.css file. See listing 2.

Listing 2


<asp:SiteMapDataSource id="MenuSource" runat="server" />

<div class="background">

   <asp:menu id="NavigationMenu" CssClass="NavigationMenu" 

        staticdisplaylevels="2" DynamicHorizontalOffset="1"

        staticsubmenuindent="1px" MaximumDynamicDisplayLevels="4"





        runat="server" Height="30px">


        <staticmenuitemstyle ItemSpacing="10" CssClass="staticMenuItemStyle"/>

        <statichoverstyle CssClass="staticHoverStyle" />

        <StaticSelectedStyle CssClass="staticMenuItemSelectedStyle"/>

        <DynamicMenuItemStyle CssClass="dynamicMenuItemStyle" />     

        <dynamichoverstyle CssClass="menuItemMouseOver" />

        <DynamicMenuStyle CssClass="menuItem" />

        <DynamicSelectedStyle CssClass="menuItemSelected" />



             <asp:MenuItemBinding DataMember="siteMapNode"

                    NavigateUrlField="url" TextField="title" 

                    ToolTipField="description" />






Drag a SiteMapPath control on to the page. The purpose of this control is to display navigation path that shows the user the current page location. See listing 3.

Listing 3

<div id="e">

        <asp:SiteMapPath ID="SiteMapPath1" runat="server"



            PathSeparator=" >> ">

            <PathSeparatorStyle ForeColor="#5D7B9D" CssClass="currentNodeStyle" />

            <CurrentNodeStyle ForeColor="#333333" CssClass="currentNodeStyle" />

            <NodeStyle ForeColor="#7C6F57"  CssClass="currentNodeStyle"  />

            <RootNodeStyle  ForeColor="#5D7B9D" CssClass="currentNodeStyle"  />




Master Page code behind

Include a MenuItemDataBound and SiteMapResolve event handlers on to the Page_Load event. The purpose of the former event is to insert the target attribute value and create access key for the menu item before it is rendered or displayed in a Menu control. The latter event is to modify the text displayed by the SiteMapPath control.

Listing 4

NavigationMenu.MenuItemDataBound += new                MenuEventHandler(NavigationMenu_MenuItemDataBound);

SiteMap.SiteMapResolve +=

       new SiteMapResolveEventHandler(SiteMap_SiteMapResolve);


Below is the implementation of the NavigationMenu_MenuItemDataBound method. The MenuItemDataBound event occurs when a menu item in a Menu control is bound to data.  That being said, it will loop through each siteMapNode and look for the accesskey and target attribute. There is a target property associated with the menu item and we can set its target window with the target attribute value.  See listing 5.


Listing 5

void NavigationMenu_MenuItemDataBound(object sender, MenuEventArgs e)


        SiteMapNode node = (SiteMapNode)e.Item.DataItem;


        //set the target of the navigation menu item (blank, self, etc...)

        if (node["target"] != null)


            e.Item.Target = node["target"];


        //create access key button

        if (node["accesskey"] != null)


            CreateAccessKeyButton(node["accesskey"] as string, node.Url);




To get the access key to work, add a Panel control on to the master page and a JavaScript function to redirect the webpage to the one that is specified. See below.

Listing 6

<asp:Panel ID="AccessKeyPanel" runat="server" />


<script type="text/javascript">

 function navigateTo(url) {

    window.location = url;




Below is the implementation of the CreateAccessKeyButton method.  Create an HtmlButton control dynamically and attach an onclick event to it. Set the style.left property to -2555px to hide the control. A complete list of access key in different browsers is available here.

Listing 7

//create access key button

    void CreateAccessKeyButton(string ak, string url)


        HtmlButton inputBtn = new HtmlButton();

        inputBtn.Style.Add("width", "1px");

        inputBtn.Style.Add("height", "1px");

        inputBtn.Style.Add("position", "absolute");

        inputBtn.Style.Add("left", "-2555px");

        inputBtn.Style.Add("z-index", "-1");

        inputBtn.Attributes.Add("type", "button");

        inputBtn.Attributes.Add("value", "");

        inputBtn.Attributes.Add("accesskey", ak);

        inputBtn.Attributes.Add("onclick", "navigateTo('" + url + "');");





The SiteMap.SiteMapResolve event get trigger when the CurrentNode property is accessed. It will call the ReplaceNodeText method recursively and replace the HTML underline tag. See listing 8.


Listing 8

SiteMapNode SiteMap_SiteMapResolve(object sender, SiteMapResolveEventArgs e)


        SiteMapNode currentNode = SiteMap.CurrentNode.Clone(true);

        SiteMapNode tempNode = currentNode;

        tempNode = ReplaceNodeText(tempNode);


        return currentNode;



    //remove <u></u> tag recursively

    internal SiteMapNode ReplaceNodeText(SiteMapNode smn)


        //current node

        if (smn != null && smn.Title.Contains("<u>"))


            smn.Title = smn.Title.Replace("<u>", "").Replace("</u>", "");



        //parent node

        if (smn.ParentNode != null)


            if (smn.ParentNode.Title.Contains("<u>"))


                SiteMapNode gpn = smn.ParentNode;

                smn.ParentNode.Title = smn.ParentNode.Title.Replace("<u>", "").Replace("</u>", "");

                smn = ReplaceNodeText(gpn);



        return smn;



Using the Code:

Since the menu is in the master page, right click the website project, add new item, Web Form and check the Select Master Page checkbox.


Points of Interest

The hover menu appears to not working on mobile devices. To remedy this problem, I include a TreeView control and set its visible property to false. This control expands its entire node by default. That will take care of the mentioned problem. In the code behind, hide the Menu control and show the TreeView control if requesting browser is a mobile device. See listing 9.

Listing 9

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)


       if (Request.Browser.IsMobileDevice)


            NavigationMenu.Visible = false;

            NavigationTreeView.Visible = true;



When I tested the menu on IE 8, the hover menu did not render correctly. To overcome this problem, I set the DynamicMenuStyle z-index to 200, see style.css. The submenu is also not working with Google Chrome. After some research, I found the solution for it. See listing 10.

Listing 10

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)


       if (Request.UserAgent.IndexOf("AppleWebKit") > 0)



            NavigationMenu.DynamicMenuStyle.Width = Unit.Pixel(120);



New Update

I have received several complaints from the reader concerning the menu control not displaying correctly on Safari and Google Chrome browsers. Somehow the menu items are stacked on each other and the submenu widths are gapped apart. After doing some research, I found the answer here, see listing 11. To fix the submenu width, remove the display:block from the dynamicMenuItemStyle in the css file.

Listing 11

protected override void AddedControl(Control control, int index)


        if (Request.ServerVariables["http_user_agent"].IndexOf("Safari", StringComparison.CurrentCultureIgnoreCase) != -1)

            this.Page.ClientTarget = "uplevel";


        base.AddedControl(control, index);


I also rewrite the logic to detect mobiles browser with the code from Vincent Van Zyl. See listing 12.

Listing 12

    public static readonly string[] mobiles =



                    "midp", "j2me", "avant", "docomo",

                    "novarra", "palmos", "palmsource",

                    "240x320", "opwv", "chtml",

                    "pda", "windows ce", "mmp/",

                    "blackberry", "mib/", "symbian",

                    "wireless", "nokia", "hand", "mobi",

                    "phone", "cdm", "up.b", "audio",

                    "SIE-", "SEC-", "samsung", "HTC",

                    "mot-", "mitsu", "sagem", "sony"

                    , "alcatel", "lg", "eric", "vx",

                    "NEC", "philips", "mmm", "xx",

                    "panasonic", "sharp", "wap", "sch",

                    "rover", "pocket", "benq", "java",

                    "pt", "pg", "vox", "amoi",

                    "bird", "compal", "kg", "voda",

                    "sany", "kdd", "dbt", "sendo",

                    "sgh", "gradi", "jb", "dddi",

                    "moto", "iphone"



    public static bool isMobileBrowser()



        HttpContext context = HttpContext.Current;


        if (context.Request.Browser.IsMobileDevice)


            return true;



        if (context.Request.ServerVariables["HTTP_X_WAP_PROFILE"] != null)


            return true;



        if (context.Request.ServerVariables["HTTP_ACCEPT"] != null &&



            return true;




        if (context.Request.ServerVariables["HTTP_USER_AGENT"] != null)


            for (int i = 0; i < mobiles.Length; i++)


                if (context.Request.ServerVariables["HTTP_USER_AGENT"].



                    return true;




        return false;


Add the code shown below in the Page_Load event

Listing 13

if (isMobileBrowser())


            NavigationMenu.Visible = false;

            NavigationTreeView.Visible = true;



If you find any bugs or disagree with the contents, please drop me a line and I'll work with you to correct it.

Tested on IE 6.0/7.0/8.0, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari


Access in different Browsers

ASP.NET Menu Control Cannot Work in Google Chrome browser and Apple Safari browser

Detecting a mobile browser in ASP.NET

IE8 and the ASP.NET Menu control

Menu Properties

Menu..::.MenuItemDataBound Event

Problem displaying asp .net menu control in Google Chrome

SiteMap..::.SiteMapResolve Event



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