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ASP.NET - Error Handling

Error handling in ASP.Net has three aspects:

  1. Tracing - tracing the program execution at page level or application level.

  2. Error handling - handling standard errors or custom errors at page level or application level

  3. Debugging - stepping through the program, setting break points to analyze the code

In this tutorial, we are going to discuss tracing and error handling and we will look into debugging in the next tutorial.

To understand the concepts, create the following sample application. It has a label control, a dropdown list and a link. The dropdown list loads an array list of famous quotes and the selected quote is shown in the label below. It also has a hyperlink which has a nonexistent link.

<%@ Page Language="C#" 
         Inherits="errorhandling._Default" %>

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" 

<html xmlns="" >
<head runat="server">
    <title>Tracing, debugging and error handling</title>
    <form id="form1" runat="server">
        <asp:Label ID="lblheading" runat="server" 
            Text="Tracing, Debuggin and Error Handling">
        <br />
        <br />
        <asp:DropDownList ID="ddlquotes" 
        runat="server" AutoPostBack="True" 
        <br />
        <br />
        <asp:Label ID="lblquotes" runat="server">
        <br />
        <br />
        <asp:HyperLink ID="HyperLink1" runat="server" 
        NavigateUrl="mylink.htm">Link to:</asp:HyperLink>

The code behind file:

public partial class _Default : System.Web.UI.Page
   protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
      if (!IsPostBack)
         string[,] quotes = 
        {"Imagination is more important than Knowledge.", 
         "Albert Einsten"},
        {"Assume a virtue, if you have it not",
        {"A man cannot be comfortable without his own 
         approval", "Mark Twain"},
        {"Beware the young doctor and the old barber",
         "Benjamin Franklin"},
       {"Whatever begun in anger ends in shame",
         "Benjamin Franklin"}
     for (int i=0; i<quotes.GetLength(0); i++)
        ddlquotes.Items.Add(new ListItem(quotes[i,0], 
   protected void ddlquotes_SelectedIndexChanged(object sender, 
                                                 EventArgs e)
     if (ddlquotes.SelectedIndex != -1)
       lblquotes.Text = String.Format("{0}, Quote: {1}", 
          ddlquotes.SelectedItem.Text, ddlquotes.SelectedValue);


To enable page level tracing, you need to modify the Page directive and add a Trace attribute as:

<%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" 
            Trace ="true" %>

It provides the following information at the top:

  • Session ID

  • Status Code

  • Time of Request

  • Type of Request

  • Request and Response Encoding

The status code sent from the server, each time the page is requested shows the name and time of error if any. The following table shows the common HTTP status codes :

Informational (100 - 199)
101Switching protocols
Successful (200 - 299)
204No content
Redirection (300 - 399)
301Moved permanently
305Use proxy
307Temporary redirect
Client Errors (400 - 499)
400Bad request
402Payment required
404Not found
408Request timeout
417Expectation failed
Server Errors (500 - 599)
500Internal server error
503Service unavailable
505HTTP version not supported

Error Handling:

Although ASP.Net can detect all runtime errors, still some subtle errors may still be there. Observing the errors by tracing is meant for the developers, not for the users.

Hence, to intercept such occurrence, you can add error handing settings in the web.config file of the application. It is application wide error handling. For example, you can add the following lines in the web.config file:

	<customErrors mode="RemoteOnly"
<error statusCode="403" redirect="NoAccess.htm"	/>
<error statusCode="404" redirect="FileNotFound.htm" />

The <customErrors> section has the possible attributes:

  • Mode: It enables or disables custom error pages. It has the three possible values:

    • On: displays the custom pages.
    • Off: displays ASP.Net error pages (yellow pages)
    • remoteOnly: displays custom errors to client, display ASP.Net errors locally
  • defaultRedirect: It contains the URL of the page to be displayed in case of unhandled errors.

To put different custom error pages for different type of errors, the <error> sub tags are used, where different error pages are specified, based of the status code of the errors.

To implement page level error handling, the Page directive could be modified:

<%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" 
            Trace ="true" 
            ErrorPage="PageError.htm" %>