Why Do We Add Runat Server to a Web Control?


Heather Bennett

Why Do We Add Runat Server to a Web Control?

When creating a web application, you may come across the runat="server" attribute in HTML controls. This attribute is used in ASP.NET to specify that a control should be treated as a server control rather than a client-side control.

But why do we need to add runat="server"? Let’s dive into the reasons behind it.

What are Server Controls?

In ASP.NET, there are two types of controls: server controls and client controls. Server controls are components that run on the server and generate HTML output to be sent to the client browser. On the other hand, client controls are purely HTML-based and are handled by the client’s browser.

Server controls offer several advantages over client controls. They provide enhanced functionality, such as event handling and server-side processing. They also offer better maintainability, as they can be easily managed and manipulated on the server side.

The Role of Runat Server

The runat="server" attribute is used to indicate that an HTML control should be treated as a server control. When this attribute is added to an HTML element, it allows you to access and manipulate that control on the server side within your ASP.NET code.

Note: The runat="server" attribute can only be added to certain HTML elements, such as <div>, <span>, or <input>. It cannot be added to every HTML element.

Actionable Benefits of Runat Server

  • Server-Side Event Handling: One of the primary advantages of using server controls is the ability to handle events on the server side. By adding runat="server" to a control, you can write code to respond to events triggered by that control.
  • Access to Server-Side Methods and Properties: Server controls expose a wide range of methods and properties that can be accessed in your server-side code.

    These methods and properties allow you to manipulate the control’s behavior, appearance, and data.

  • Data Binding: With server controls, you can easily bind data from various data sources to your controls. This allows you to display dynamic content based on user input or database values.
  • State Management: Server controls automatically manage their state across postbacks. This means that any changes made to a control’s properties during one request are preserved during subsequent requests.


To better understand the concept, let’s take a look at some examples:

Example 1:

In this example, we have a button control with the ID “myButton”. By adding runat="server", we can handle its click event on the server side.

<button id="myButton" runat="server" onclick="myButton_Click">Click Me</button>

In the code-behind file (C#), we would define the event handler as follows:

protected void myButton_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    // Perform actions when the button is clicked

Example 2:

In this example, we have a label control with the ID “myLabel”. By adding runat="server", we can update its text property on the server side.

<label id="myLabel" runat="server"></label>

In the code-behind file (C#), we would update the label’s text property as follows:

myLabel.Text = "Hello, World!";


The runat="server" attribute is essential for converting HTML controls into server controls in ASP.NET. By doing so, you gain access to powerful server-side functionality, including event handling, data binding, and state management. Understanding when and how to use this attribute is key to developing dynamic and interactive web applications.

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