Working with CheckBoxList

I know the content of this post is outdated for most users, as most users have moved on to something other than ASP.NET Web Forms. But for those of you still using web forms, and even for those using MVC, I have some code I’m about to remove (as the requirements changed), and as such, want to post it in case it helps someone else.

There are times when a series of options are presented in a CheckBoxList, such as a list of rows. For this, typically what’s used is the CheckBoxList control, which renders a table. In each cell of the table is a checkbox defined as <input type=”checkbox” />. Each of these checkboxes represented a role; however, to add to the speciality of the situation, the first item displays an “All” item. This “All” item represents all of the items in the list, but does not check the other items. Instead, it’s a manually inserted item with no entry from the database, nothing from the underlying Roles table. To start, here is the CheckBoxList control:

<asp:CheckBoxList ID="RolesList" runat="server" 
   DataTextField="RoleName" DataValueField="RoleKey"
   RepeatLayout="Table" RepeatColumns="3" 
   RepeatDirection="Horizontal" />

To show the all item in the list, the following code was used. Noticed the CSS class used.

Dim item As New ListItem("All", "")
item.Attributes("class") = "AllItem"

In script, we grab all of the inner checkboxes, and do it in a way we don’t have to understand the underlying markup (as server controls hide the underlying client markup in this case). The :checkbox pseudo selector grabs all of the checkboxes generically as shown below:

var roles = $("#RolesList").find(":checkbox");

With this list, we can attach to the clicking of all the items. The first item of the list is the “All” item (note that the trick I used to identify this special item was to add an AllItem class definition). If the “All” item was checked, the handler removed checkboxes from all of the other checkboxes. Otherwise, when checking another item that’s not the “All” item, the handler removes the check from the first item. How it was done is shown below: () {
	var allItem = $(this).parent().hasClass("AllItem");

	if (allItem) {
		if (this.checked == true) {
			roles.not(":first").attr("checked", false);
	else {
		roles.eq(0).attr("checked", false);

To begin, we check if the current checkbox has the AllItem; the CheckBoxList control attaches the AllItem class to the parent SPAN element above the INPUT element, which is why the parent() method is used. To set the checked on the first item, I used the .eq(0) method, or finding the first item in the list of roles, as checked (which happens to be our “All” item). Otherwise, the not() method is used to remove all but the All checkbox and clear those check marks.

And voila, we have list with a special “All” item as the first designated item.


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