Http is a stateless protocol. Hence the state of controls is not saved between postbacks. Viewstate is the means of storing the state of server side controls between postbacks. Viewstate stores the state of controls in HTML hidden fields. In other words, it is a snapshot of the contents of a page.
When set to True, the ‘EnableViewState’ property enables storing the state of an object in a page between postbacks. Objects are saved in a Base64 encoded string. Because it is a Base64 encoded string, it is not readable by the human eye. However it is also not difficult to decode the viewstate and view the contents of the viewstate when it is passed over the wire. In this article we will see how to decode and view the contents of a viewstate.
Step 1: Create an asp.net application with 2 textboxes, a label and a button as shown below. On the button click, we will concatenate the values of the 2 textbox and display this information in the label control.
<form id="form1" runat="server">
<asp:TextBox ID="TextBox1" runat="server"></asp:TextBox>
<asp:TextBox ID="TextBox2" runat="server"></asp:TextBox>
<asp:Label ID="Label1" runat="server"></asp:Label><br />
<asp:Button ID="Button1" runat="server" OnClick="Button1_Click" Text="Button" />
<br /> </div>
Step 2: Add the button click event:
protected void Button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
Label1.Text = TextBox1.Text + " " + TextBox2.Text;
Protected Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
Label1.Text = TextBox1.Text & " " & TextBox2.Text
Step 3: Execute the page and enter some values in the textbox. We will enter the value ‘I Love’ and ‘MindStick.com’ respectively in the two textboxes. Now click the button. The label will contain the concatenated value and should display ‘I Love MindStick.com’. Now right click on the page > View Source.
Along with the other html text, you will see the following:
<input type="hidden" name="__VIEWSTATE" id="__VIEWSTATE" value="/wEPDwUJODczNjQ5OTk0D2QWAgIDD2QWAgIFDw8WAh4EV
Step 4: Shown above in the blue colored text is the viewstate. This is the Base64 encoded string which we will be decoding. Do the following. Add another textbox and button control on to the page. Rename the textbox to ‘txtViewState’ and set its ‘TextMode’ property to ‘Multiline’. Set the text property of the button control to ‘View ViewState’ as shown below:
<br />View State<br />
<asp:TextBox ID="txtViewState" runat="server" TextMode="MultiLine" Width="667px"></asp:TextBox><br />
<asp:Button ID="Button2" runat="server" OnClick="Button2_Click" Text="View ViewState" />
On the button click add the following code.
protected void Button2_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
byte decode = Convert.FromBase64String(txtViewState.Text);
txtViewState.Text = System.Text.Encoding.ASCII.GetString(decode);
Protected Sub Button2_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
Dim decode As Byte() = Convert.FromBase64String(txtViewState.Text)
txtViewState.Text = System.Text.Encoding.ASCII.GetString(decode)
Step 5: Repeat Step 3. Copy the blue colored text and paste it in the ‘txtViewState’ textbox. Now click on the second button ‘View ViewState’. You will see that the decoded viewstate is displayed in the textbox as shown below:
? 873649994d d‑ TextI Love MindStick.comddd???I?????y???H
Even though there are junk characters displayed in the textbox, however you can make out that the textbox contained the word ‘I Love MindStick.com’
Well that was simple, wasn’t it? In the coming articles we will see how to encrypt viewstate in order to prevent its contents to be decoded. I hope this article was useful and I thank you for viewing it.