Executing Long Running Operations - Part II


In the Part-I of this two part series we saw how to handle long running operations in Web Services. You may need to execute such operations in web applications also. This article shows you how to use multithreading capabilities of .NET framework to achieve this.

The scenario

The example that we are going to develop consists of following steps:

  • We have a web form (WebForm1.aspx) that is our main web page containing long running operation.
  • You initiate the long running operation by clicking on the appropriate button provided on the web form.
  • This triggers the operation in a new thread.
  • A new window is opened to indicate the status of processing.
  • Your first web form (WebForm1.aspx) can be used to do some other things.
  • Once the operation is over the status window indicates that it is complete.
  • You can now close the status windows and continue using the main form.

The Solution

  • Create a new web application (C#) on VS.NET
  • Add two web forms to it called MainForm.aspx and StatusForm.aspx
  • Drag and drop a button (Button1) on the main form
  • Go in the code behind file of Global.asax
  • Declare a public static variable here called ProcessingResults. This variable will be used to check if the processing is over.
public static ArrayList ProcessingResults=new ArrayList();
  • Go in the code behind of main form.
  • Declare a variable called g of type Guid. This variable uniquely identifies our long running operation and is stored in the above ArrayList.
Guid g;
  • Create a function called StartProcessing() that represents our long running task.
  • Note that this function must be void and not accepting any parameters because we would like to run it on a new thread.
public void StartProcessing()
	DateTime dt1=DateTime.Now;
	DateTime dt2=dt1.AddMinutes(2);
	TimeSpan ts=new TimeSpan(0,0,0);
  • Note how we have added the Guid value in the ProcessingResults ArrayList at the end of the operation.
  • Now, write the Click event handler of Button1 as follows:
private void Button1_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
ThreadStart ts=new ThreadStart(this.StartProcessing);
Thread t=new Thread(ts);
('statusform.aspx?id=" + g.ToString() + "')</script>");
  • Here, we trigger the processing by creating a new thread. The ThreadStart delegate wraps the function StartProcessing()
  • We then emit certain client side JavaScript to open a new window and display StatusForm.aspx in it.
  • We also pass the same Guid to this form in the query string.
  • Go in the code behind of StatusForm.aspx and write following code in its Page_Load event:
private void Page_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
string g=Request.QueryString["id"];
Label1.Text="Processing Completed!";
Response.AddHeader("Refresh", "2");
  • Here, we add a response header to this page so that after every 2 seconds it gets refreshed automatically.
  • With each refresh we check the ProcessingResults ArrayList for occurrence of id parameter passed via query string. If that is found it indicates that the thread has finished the processing (recollect that we have added it to the same ArrayList at the end of StartProcessing() function).
  • We then remove the Guid from the ArrayList.


Using .NET multithreading capabilities you can handle long running operations in web applications nicely. In this example we initiated the operation by creating a new thread and then polling the server for the results of processing. If you do not need the status of process completion then you can skip the logic of storing the Guid and polling the server.


Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant, trainer, author, and meditation teacher. He has been programming, meditating, and teaching for 25+ years. He conducts instructor-led online training courses in ASP.NET family of technologies for individuals and small groups. He is a published author and has authored or co-authored books for Apress and Wrox press. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he also teaches Ajapa Yoga to interested individuals. To know more about him click here.

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Posted On : 17 October 2004

Tags : ASP.NET Web Services Web Forms Multithreading Performance