Set Visible property with server tag in Framework 3.5

I have been working in a .NET Framework 4 project using server tags like <%=whatever %> to set the visibility of runat=”server” controls, like the following:

  <div id="MyId" runat="server" visible="<%=MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind %>" >

This works on framework 4, but now trying to use this on a Framework 3.5 project it doesn’t seems to work. Is this a Framework 4 only feature? Is there a coolest (and .aspx side) alternative to setting the visibility from codebehind? I’m using the ugly:
    MiId.Visible = MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind

Thanks in advance,



Thanks for your comments that makes me understand my problem and the solution!

It was my fault in more than one thing.

In the VS2010 project we were using <%# instead of <%=

Also, I didn’t notice that in the VS2010 project we were using pages inherited not from “Page”, but from a CustomPage class, that was making the binding automatically, without me noticing it, and that makes me think that was a Framework 4.0 only feature.

As you told here, if you have the following markup:

  <div id="MyId" runat="server" visible="<%# MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind %>" >

you can make it work, adding the following to the codebehind:
    public bool  MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind = true;
    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) {
        // Or if you want only for one control, MyId.DataBind();             

As I read, this DataBind() can reduce performance of the application. Do you have idea of how much? Could this be understood as a “professional” technique to be used on big projects, or do you think it should be avoided?

I love the way it makes markup readable and easy to understand in a single view, but I wouldn’t like to be guilty of slow code because that.


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

The code you posted is not valid syntax for server tags in the ASP.NET 2.0 or ASP.NET 4.0 runtimes. In either version, trying to set the visible property using <%= ... %> in a server tag should result in a parser error:

Parser Error Message: Cannot create an object of type ‘System.Boolean’
from its string representation ‘<%=MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind%>’
for the ‘Visible’ property.

You have two options other than just setting the Visible property in the codebehind or a <script runat="server"> tag. The first is to use a databinding on the Visible property. You’ll need to call the DataBind() method on either MyId or one of its parent controls for the value to be bound.

<div id="MyId" runat="server" visible="<%# MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind %>" >

The other option is to write the code as follows:
<% if(MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind) { %>
<div id="MyId" runat="server">
<% } %>

The disadvantage of this approach is that you won’t be able to programmatically add controls to the page or control that contains the code blocks. If you try to you should get an error:

The Controls collection cannot be modified because the control
contains code blocks (i.e. <% … %>)

All that being said, I think just setting the property the way you are doing it now is the way to go.

Method 2

As for ASP.NET aspx page’s inline expression. <% %> can only be used at
aspx page or user control’s top document level, but can not be embeded in
server control’s tag attribute (such as <asp:Button... Text =<% %> ..>).
As you’ve found you can create custom expression builder in ASP.NET 2.0 to
add your inline expression.

BTW, another means for supplying values to server control properties in
aspx inline tempalte is using <%# %> databinding expression. This is
built-in supported. The only different from other inline expression is that
method on the target control or its Container control.

Steven Cheng

Microsoft MSDN Online Support Lead

Full post here:

And workaround here: Inline Expression Issue

Method 3

Here is another approach which maintains the simplicity of the code from your original question. Here you would have to remove the runat=”server” from the div tag and use css “display:none” instead of the “Visible” property. The downside to this approach is that the tag still gets sent to the browser even if it is not visible and the visibility is handled on the client side.

<div style='<%=MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind ? "" : "display: none" %>' >

Method 4

Just set a variable to true/false on your pageLoad event like this

private bool IsEditMode {get; set;}      

protected bool IsVisible 
    get { retun IsEditMode ;}
    set { IsEditMode =value;}

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    if (!Page.IsPostBack)
        // based on some condition set this to true or false 

Then in your control properties inside aspx page, set their visibility via a property like
Visible="<%# !IsEditMode %>"

Method 5

Another approach is ti give an ID to the control and set the visible in code.

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e){
   MyId.Visible = MyVisiblePropertyOnCodeBehind;

<div id="MyId" runat="server">Content</div>

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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