ASP.NET Interview questions and answers for caching

What is caching?
High-performance Web applications should be designed with caching in mind. Caching is the technique of storing frequently used items in memory so that they can be accessed more quickly. Caching is important to Web applications because each time a Web form is requested, the host server must process the Web form’s HTML and run Web form code to create a response. By caching the response, all that work is bypassed. Instead, the request is served from the reponse already stored in memory.

Caching an item incurs considerable overhead, so it’s important to choose the items to cache wisely. A Web form is a good candidate for caching if it is frequently used and does not contain data that frequently changes. By storing a Web form in memory, you are effectively freezing that form’s server-side content so that changes to that content do not appear until the cache is refreshed.

What directive is used to cache a web form?
The @OutputCache page directive is used to cache a Web form in the server’s memory.

What is the use of duration attribute of @OutputCache page directive?
The @OutputCache directive’s Duration attribute controls how long the page is cached. For example if you set the duration attribute to 60 seconds, the Web form is cached for 60 seconds.

The first time any user requests the Web form, the server loads the response in memory and retains that response for 60 seconds. Any subsequent requests during that time receive the cached response.

After the cache duration has expired, the next request for the Web form generates a new response, which is then cached for another 60 seconds. Thus the server processes the Web form once every 60 seconds at most.

What are the 2 required attributes of the @OutputCache directive?
The @OutputCache directive has two required attributes:
How do you cache multiple responses from a single Web form?
The VaryByParam attribute lets you cache multiple responses from a single Web form based on varying HTTP POST or query string parameters. Setting VaryByParam to None caches only one response for the Web form, regardless of the parameters sent.

You can also cache multiple responses from a single Web form using the VaryByHeaders or VaryByCustom attribute.

The VaryByCustom attribute lets you cache different responses based on a custom string. To use VaryByCustom, override the GetVaryByCustomString method in the Web application’s Global.asax file.

Is it possible to cache a web form without using @OutputCache directive?
Yes, you can cache a web form using the Response object’s Cache property, which returns an HttpCachePolicy object for the response. The HttpCachePolicy object provides members that are similar to the OutputCache directive’s attributes.

Give a simple example to show how to cache a web form without using @OutputCache directive?
For example, the following code caches the Web form’s response for 60 seconds:
private void Page_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
// Cache this page
DateTimeLabel.Text = System.DateTime.Now.ToString();
// Set OutputCache Duration. Response.Cache.SetExpires(System.DateTime.Now.AddSeconds(60));
// Set OutputCache VaryByParams.
Response.Cache.VaryByParams["None"] = true;
// Set OutputCache Location.

The preceding code is equivalent to the following OutputCache directive:
@ OutputCache Duration="5" VaryByParam="None" Location="Any"

What is @OutputCache directive’s Location attribute and the HttpCachePolicy object’s SetCacheability property used for?
The @OutputCache directive’s Location attribute and the HttpCachePolicy object’s SetCacheability property determine where Microsoft ASP.NET stores cached responses. By default, ASP.NET caches responses at any available location that accepts cache items - the client, proxy servers, or the host server. In practice, those locations might or might not allow caching, so you can think of the Location/SetCacheability setting as more of a request than a command.

What is HttpCachePolicy object’s SetAllowResponseInBrowserHistory method used for?
You can override the cache location settings using the HttpCachePolicy object’s SetAllowResponseInBrowserHistory method. Setting that method to True allows the response to be stored in the client’s history folder even if the location setting is None or Server.

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