Home > Software, Web > XSLT handler in ASP.net

XSLT handler in ASP.net

Next I will explain you a solution that may come handy to you. First of all, the problem. Quite simple: you have some HTML pages, that you would like to include them in your pages, but in a different format/layout. Unfortunately you cannot modify the pages as you’re not the author. Just to understand better, let’s say that you want to include some Wikipedia articles in your pages. But they have to match with your own layout and you want only some sections of them.
So you have to transform an HTML into another. This sounds pretty much like XSLT and this is what we will use. It will be your task to write the XSLT. I’m only going to tell you how to integrate in your web application.

For the sake of simplicity and reuse, we will write an ASP.net handler for XSLT file that it will take the XSLT file and receive as a parameter the XML/HTML/XHTML URL and it will output the transformed result.

Find below the code for it:

public class XSLTHandler : IHttpHandler
    // process the request
    public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
        // the XSLT argument list
        XsltArgumentList xslArg = new XsltArgumentList();

        String url = context.Request.QueryString.Get("u");
        // if no URL, either special or from u parameter then send a NOT_FOUND error
        if (url == null)
            send(context.Response, HttpStatusCode.NotFound);

        // adding the URL as an XSLT parameter
        xslArg.AddParam("url", "",  url);

            // load the XML document at the specified URL
            XmlDocument xmlDoc = loadXMLDocument(url,
                    ? context.Request.Form.ToString() : null);

            // load xsl
            String xslPath = context.Request.MapPath(context.Request.Url.LocalPath);

            // try to get the compiled XSLT from cache
            XslCompiledTransform xslTransform = (XslCompiledTransform)context.Cache.Get(xslPath);
            if (xslTransform == null)
                // if the XSLT file doesn't exist, send a 404
                if (!File.Exists(xslPath))
                    send(context.Response, HttpStatusCode.NotFound);


                // put the XSLT into cache
                context.Cache.Insert(xslPath, xslTransform, new CacheDependency(xslPath));

            // transform
            context.Response.ContentType = "text/html";
            xslTransform.Transform(xmlDoc, xslArg, context.Response.Output);

        catch (HttpException exc)
            if (exc.GetHttpCode() == (int) HttpStatusCode.Redirect)
                // if it is to be redirected, redirect to the url
                // if any other error, then send the error code
                send(context.Response, (HttpStatusCode)exc.GetHttpCode());
        catch (Exception)
            // if other error send an internal server error response
            send(context.Response, HttpStatusCode.InternalServerError);

    // IHttpHandler method
    public bool IsReusable
            return false;

    private void send(HttpResponse Response, HttpStatusCode StatusCode)
        Response.StatusCode = (int)StatusCode;
        Response.StatusDescription = StatusCode.ToString();

    /// Load and returns an XML document from the given url.
    /// the url where is the XML content
    /// if not null the request will be a POST request 
    /// and the parameters are sent along with the request; if null then the request method is GET
    /// the loaded XML document
    public static XmlDocument loadXMLDocument(String url, String postParams)
        Object reader;
        if (url.StartsWith("/") || (!url.Contains(Uri.SchemeDelimiter)))
            // if it is a local request then use the internal execute instead of making a web request
            // also the form and query string parameters are preserved
            StringWriter writer = new StringWriter();
            HttpContext.Current.Server.Execute(url, writer, true);
            reader = new StringReader(writer.ToString());
            // create webrequest
            HttpWebRequest request = (HttpWebRequest)WebRequest.Create(url);
            request.Timeout = RequestTimeout;
            // you can also add a proxy
            //request.Proxy = WebProxy;
            if (postParameters != null)
                // Set values for the request back
                request.Method = "POST";
                request.ContentType = "application/x-www-form-urlencoded";
                request.ContentLength = postParameters.Length;

                // Write the request
                StreamWriter stOut = new StreamWriter(request.GetRequestStream(), System.Text.Encoding.ASCII);

            // get the response of the request
            HttpWebResponse response = (HttpWebResponse)request.GetResponse();

            // if something went wrong don't try to parse the document
            if (response.StatusCode != HttpStatusCode.OK)
                throw new HttpException((int)response.StatusCode, response.StatusDescription);

            if (response.ContentType.StartsWith("text/html"))
                // if it is HTML transform it with SgmlReader
                // create instance of SGMLReader and change settings
                SgmlReader sgmlReader = new SgmlReader();
                sgmlReader.WebProxy = Configuration.Proxy;
                sgmlReader.DocType = "HTML";
                sgmlReader.CaseFolding = CaseFolding.ToLower;
                sgmlReader.InputStream = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream(), Encoding.UTF8, true);

                reader = sgmlReader;
            else if (response.ContentType.StartsWith("text/xml"))
                // if not html simply get it from the response
                reader = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream(), Encoding.UTF8, true);
                // redirect to the normal page, as it is nor HTML nor XML
                throw new HttpException((int)HttpStatusCode.Redirect, url);
        // load the XML document
        XmlDocument xmlDoc = new XmlDocument();
        if (reader is TextReader)
        else if (reader is XmlReader)
        return xmlDoc;

To explain shortly what happens: when a file like t.xslt is requested, the XSLTHandler will process the request. First it will load and compile the XSLT file using XSLTCompiledTransform, trying first to load the XSLT compiled object from cache.
Next step is to retrieve the XML/XHTML/HTML content from the URL given as the url parameter. If the content is HTML, then it will be transformed using an SGML parser into XHTML, so it can be transformed with XSLT. Then the actual processing takes place and the result is generated into the response output.

Of course the above code can be extended. You can put in the app configuration if you want to use the cache, what proxy to use, if you want to allow only URLs from some hosts to be parsed and so on. Also other parameters can be added as XSLT arguments: the URL of the XSLT file, the HTTP headers, the request parameters etc.

You saw in the code references to an SgmlReader and I also told you above about feeding the HTML content first into an SGML parser. But how to do it? The SgmlReader is already implemented and you can download it from here and use it like an XmlReader.

Last step is to configure the handler into the Web.config, by simply adding the handler to process *.xsl files:

        <add verb="*" path="*.xsl" type="XSLTHandler" />

That’s it!

Categories: Software, Web Tags: , , ,
  1. werienne
    January 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    i found a very simple tutorial on how to associate xsl in to xml using ASP.NET

    http: //webscenery.blogspot.com/

  2. January 26, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    The downside of this is that you have to put this code on every page. My solution is more transparent and smoothly integrated.

  3. May 22, 2009 at 3:08 am

    You should look into other blogging platforms, wordpress is getting slower and slower these days, I really like the site tho so its worth the wait!!

  1. October 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm

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