Preview 3 - Html.ListBox and Html.DropDownList - Please Add Prompt Support Back


Not sure if this is the appropriate feedback venue but I'm missing the ability to add a "prompt" to select tags - e.g., add a prompt "choose one..." as first option element BEFORE actual options are displayed.

Preview 2 / April 16 2008 release had the following in SelectBuilder.cs.  I modified this routine to add the "prompt" option BEFORE the options loop and it worked well.   I don't see any support for the "prompt" htmlattribute in Preview 3 source release.

                //see if one of the settings is a prompt
                if (htmlAttributes.ContainsKey("prompt")) {
                    string prompt = TagBuilder.CreateTag(HtmlTagType.Option, "", new RouteValueDictionary(new { text = htmlAttributes["prompt"].ToString(), value = "" }));






6/2/2008 3:03:07 PM 4300 articles. 0 followers. Follow

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Hey Shawn,

I agree, I really liked that feature. If you are intereted, I have implemented the workaround below:


// <%= Html.DropDownList("promptList", new PromptSelectList(items, "ValueField", "TextField", selectedValue) { Prompt = "Please select" }) %>

public class PromptSelectList : SelectList
public string Prompt { get; set; }

public override IList<ListItem> GetListItems()
IList<ListItem> items = base.GetListItems();

if (!String.IsNullOrEmpty(Prompt))
items.Insert(0, new ListItem() { Text = Prompt, Value = String.Empty });

return items;

public PromptSelectList(SelectList selectList)
: this(selectList.Items, selectList.DataValueField, selectList.DataTextField, selectList.SelectedValue)

public PromptSelectList(SelectList selectList, string prompt)
: this(selectList.Items, selectList.DataValueField, selectList.DataTextField, selectList.SelectedValue)
this.Prompt = prompt;

public PromptSelectList(IEnumerable items)
: base(items)

public PromptSelectList(IEnumerable items, object selectedValue)
: base(items, selectedValue)

public PromptSelectList(IEnumerable items, string dataValueField, string dataTextField)
: base(items, dataValueField, dataTextField)

public PromptSelectList(IEnumerable items, string dataValueField, string dataTextField, object selectedValue)
: base(items, dataValueField, dataTextField, selectedValue)


Richard Szalay

6/5/2008 10:07:22 AM

 Hi Shawn, I did it with an extension method on IQueryable<T>, so if you're using LINQ-to-SQL (or anything that returns IQueryable<T>) you can write something like this:


var items = myDataContext.Countries.WithSelectItem(c => c.Name);
You now have a new country added to the beginning of the list with c.Name = "<select>". Here's the extension method:
        public static IQueryable WithSelectItem(this IQueryable items, Expressionstring>> propertyExpression) 
            where T : new()
            if (propertyExpression.Body.NodeType != ExpressionType.MemberAccess)
                throw new ArgumentException(expression_not_property);
            var memberExpression = propertyExpression.Body as MemberExpression;
            var property = memberExpression.Member as PropertyInfo;
            if (property == null)
                throw new ArgumentException(expression_not_property);

            var selectItem = new T();
            property.SetValue(selectItem, "&lt;select>", null);

            var selectItems = new List { selectItem }.AsQueryable();
            return selectItems.Union(items);
6/5/2008 10:29:40 AM

Hi everyone,

This is a very common feature request and we're hoping to add it to a future preview of ASP.NET MVC. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!



6/6/2008 12:09:34 AM


Thanks for the replies and suggestions.  I came up with the following in HtmlHelper.Select.cs:

        private string SelectInternal(string name, MultiSelectList selectList, bool usedViewData, bool allowMultiple, IDictionary<string, object> htmlAttributes) {
            if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(name)) {
                throw new ArgumentException(MvcResources.Common_NullOrEmpty, "name");
            if (selectList == null) {
                throw new ArgumentNullException("selectList");

            // If we haven't already used ViewData to get the entire list of items then we need to
            // use the ViewData-supplied value before using the parameter-supplied value.
            if (!usedViewData) {
                object defaultValue;
                if (ViewData.TryGetValue(name, out defaultValue)) {
                    selectList = new MultiSelectList(selectList.Items, selectList.DataValueField, selectList.DataTextField,
                        (allowMultiple) ? defaultValue as IEnumerable : new[] { defaultValue });

            // Convert each ListItem to an <option> tag
            StringBuilder listItemBuilder = new StringBuilder();

            // SHWARE - add support for prompt to preview 3
            if (htmlAttributes.ContainsKey("prompt"))
                listItemBuilder.AppendLine("<option value=\"\">" + HttpUtility.HtmlEncode(htmlAttributes["prompt"].ToString()));
            // END SHWARE

            foreach (ListItem item in selectList.GetListItems()) {

            TagBuilder builder = new TagBuilder("select") {
                Attributes = ToStringDictionary(htmlAttributes),
                InnerHtml = listItemBuilder.ToString()
            TryAddValue(builder.Attributes, "name", name);
            TryAddValue(builder.Attributes, "id", name);
            if (allowMultiple) {
                TryAddValue(builder.Attributes, "multiple", "multiple");
            return builder.ToString();
Kinda like how Preview 2 / April 16 release handled prompts. I love having the source available. Yes Hope MVC is released with source.  Having the ability to tweak things is one of it's nicest features so far. Big Smile


Thanks again,




6/6/2008 12:48:54 PM

Here's a pretty simple solution that doesn't require modifying the source code. It basically just creates a list of the object in question and then unions that with the linq query.

Dim oStatePrompt As New RefState()
        oStatePrompt.StateCode = "Select..."
        oStatePrompt.StateId = -1
        Dim oStatePromptList As New List(Of RefState)()

<%=Html.DropDownList("FirstState", New SelectList(oStatePromptList.Union(edc.RefStates.Where(Function(_s) _s.Deleted = False)), "StateId", "StateCode", ViewData.Model.StateId), oDDStyle)%>
6/17/2008 5:18:39 PM

All excellent solutions, but for someone who's looking for something easy-peasy

List<Class> instance = _classSvc.GetClassCollection().ToList();

instance.Insert(0,new Class{ Code="Select", Id=0}); // assuming your class is like this  public int Id { get; set; }  public string Code { get; set; }

ViewData["VIEWDATA"] = new SelectList(class, "Id", "Code");


// <%=Html.DropDownList("ForeignKeyId", (SelectList)ViewData["VIEWDATA"])%>


Hope this helps!

4/17/2009 1:14:51 AM

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