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This chapter examined the different ways to customize the visual appearance of your Web application in ASP.NET 2.0. It began with the simplest, namely the common appearance properties that are available for most server controls. These properties allow you to control colors, borders, and text formatting. Although these properties are very useful for customizing the appearance of your Web output, they do not contain the full formatting power of Cascading Style Sheets. Luckily, ASP.NET server controls fully support styles via the CssClass and the Style properties. I recommended that you minimize the amount of appearance formatting in your server controls as much as possible, and instead externalize appearance settings in your CSS files. The benefit to this approach is that your Web Form's markup becomes simpler, easier to modify, and scales better to different devices.

The chapter also covered two important features of ASP.NET 2.0: themes and master pages. Themes provide a way to customize the appearance of Web server controls on a site-wide basis. Themes can still be integrated with CSS; doing so allows the developer to completely separate style from content. The master pages mechanism provides a much sought-after templating technique to ASP.NET. With master pages, elements that are common throughout a site, such as headers, footers, navigation elements, and the basic site layout itself, can be removed from Web Forms and placed instead within a master page. This significantly simplifies the Web Forms within a site, making the site as a whole easier to create and maintain.

The brief final section in the chapter covered user controls. These are an essential part of most real-world Web sites. User controls provide a consistent, object-oriented approach to user interface reuse in ASP.NET.

The next chapter covers another vital part of your Web site's appearance, its navigation system. It examines how you can programmatically move from page to page as well as the new controls in ASP.NET 2.0 devoted to navigation: the Menu, Tree, and SiteMap controls.

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