GDI+ Controls

Overview

Owner-drawn controls are one of the most ambitious projects a developer can undertake. This is not because they are conceptually tricky, but because a moderately sophisticated control needs a great deal of basic code just to handle all aspects of its appearance. If you can create a control using composition (i.e., a user control) or by inheriting from a similar control class, as shown in Chapter 7, you'll save yourself a great deal of effort. On the other hand, if you need complete control over drawing and behavior, or you want to introduce some of the unusual GDI+ features to your user interface, you need to create a control that performs its painting manually.

The prime advantage to GDI+ controls is freedom. The prime disadvantage with GDI+ controls is that they aren't nearly as autonomous as prebuilt controls. For example, with custom GDI+ controls you need to handle the following details manually:

  • Scrolling support
  • Focus cues (i.e., indicating when the control has focus)
  • The "pushed" state appearance for a button control
  • Special cues or "hot tracking" appearance changes when the mouse moves over the control
  • Hit testing to determine if a click was made in an appropriate area

This chapter introduces several example controls, and shows how they confront these problems and add a few visual treats.

 
Chapter 13 - GDI+ Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Simple GDI+ Controls

The first type of GDI+ control that might occur to you to use is one that simply wraps one of the GDI+ drawing features you examined in the previous chapter. For example, you might want to provide a simple shape control that renders a closed figure depending on the properties you set. Or, you might want to create a special type of label that paints itself with a textured brush, or a gradient that the developer can configure through the appropriate properties. That's the type of example considered next with the GradientLabel control.

A Gradient Label

The first example presents a special label that allows the developer to add a gradient background by choosing two colors. The developer can also specify the usual properties like Text, Font, and ForeColor, and configure the type of gradient fill through an additional property. The GradientLabel control is a quick and painless way to add a label with a gradient background to a splash screen or wizard in your application without having to rewrite the basic GDI+ code.

The GradientLabel class inherits from UserControl and overrides the drawing logic. This isn't necessary—it could simply inherit from the base Control class and incur slightly less of an overhead, but the UserControl approach makes it easy to work with the GradientLabel class in a test project, rather than requiring a separate DLL and client test program.

public class GradientLabel : System.Windows.Forms.UserControl
{
 // (Code omitted.)
}

The first step is to create the required properties. In this case, you need to store information about the text to be displayed on the label, the two colors for the gradient, and the type of gradient to be used.

private string text;
private Color colorA = Color.LightBlue;
private Color colorB = Color.Purple;
private LinearGradientMode gradientStyle = LinearGradientMode.ForwardDiagonal;

Each member variable requires a separate property procedure. For brevity's sake, I've left out the optional attributes you could use to configure the category and the corresponding description for each property. Note that each property invalidates the display, ensuring that the gradient and text are repainted as needed.

[Browsable(true),
 DesignerSerializationVisibility(DesignerSerializationVisibility.Visible)]
public override string Text
{
 get
 {
 return text;
 }
 set
 {
 text = value;
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}

public Color ColorA
{
 get
 {
 return colorA;
 }
 set
 {
 colorA = value;
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}

public Color ColorB
{
 get
 {
 return colorB;
 }
 set
 {
 colorB = value;
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}

public LinearGradientMode GradientFillStyle
{
 get
 {
 return gradientStyle;
 }
 set
 {
 gradientStyle = value;
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}
  Tip 

Note that the user control class already provides a Text property. However, this Text property will not appear in the Properties window unless you manually override it and set the Browsable attribute to true. Also, this property will not be serialized (stored in the form designer code when configured at design-time) unless you add the DesignerSerializationAttribute. This is a source of much confusion for beginning control developers. Always remember, if you inherit from a control and have trouble storing an existing property, you may need to override it and modify this attribute!

The final step is to add the drawing logic, which is made up of three separate steps:

  • Set the ResizeRedraw property of the control to true so it will be refreshed every time the size changes.
  • Override the OnPaintBackground() method, add the code to generate the gradient fill, and don't call the base implementation on the method. This way, the blank grey background is not painted before the gradient, and control drawing or refreshing takes place faster and with less flicker.
  • Override the OnPaint() method and add the code needed to paint the label text with the current font and forecolor.
// Ensure it will be repainted when resized.
private void GradientLabel_Load(object sender,
 System.EventArgs e)
{
 this.ResizeRedraw = true;
}

protected override void OnPaintBackground(
 System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs e)
{
 LinearGradientBrush brush = new LinearGradientBrush(e.ClipRectangle, colorA,
 colorB, gradientStyle);
 // Draw the gradient background.
 e.Graphics.FillRectangle(brush, e.ClipRectangle);
}
protected override void OnPaint(System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs e)
{
 base.OnPaint(e);

 // Draw the label text.
 e.Graphics.DrawString(text, this.Font, new SolidBrush(this.ForeColor), 0, 0);
}

Figure 13-1 shows the gradient label sized to fill a form.

click to expand
Figure 13-1: The GradientLabel

Improving the GradientLabel s Design Time Support

As it stands, the GradientLabel works seamlessly. You can easily configure the two colors from an automatically provided color picker at design-time, and the results appear immediately in the IDE.

However, there are a couple of changes you can make to improve the control. First, consider ColorA, ColorB, and GradientFillStyle properties. These properties are really all parts of the same setting, and together they determine the background fill. If you wrapped these three settings into one class, they would be easier to find and set at design time, and easier to reuse in any other control that might need a gradient fill.

Here's how the custom class would look. It uses a special TypeConverter attribute that instructs Visual Studio .NET to expose this object as an expandable set of subproperties in the Properties window.

[TypeConverter(typeof(ExpandableObjectConverter))]
public class GradientFill
{

 private Color colorA = Color.LightBlue;
 private Color colorB = Color.Purple;
 private LinearGradientMode gradientStyle= LinearGradientMode.ForwardDiagonal;

 public Color ColorA
 {
 get
 {
 return colorA;
 }
 set
 {
 colorA = value;
 }
 }

 public Color ColorB
 {
 get
 {
 return colorB;
 }
 set
 {
 colorB = value;
 }
 }

 [System.ComponentModel.RefreshProperties(RefreshProperties.Repaint)]
 public LinearGradientMode GradientFillStyle
 {
 get
 {
 return gradientStyle;
 }
 set
 {
 gradientStyle = value;
 }
 }
}

The new GradientLabel control does not define any of these properties. Instead, it now defines a single GradientFill property. Note that this property requires the DesignerSerializationVisibility attribute set to Content. This instructs Visual Studio .NET to serialize all embedded child properties of the GradientFill class. Without it, you'll face the "disappearing configuration" problem all over again.

private GradientFill gradient = new GradientFill();

[DesignerSerializationVisibility(DesignerSerializationVisibility.Content)]
public GradientFill GradientFill
{
 get
 {
 return gradient;
 }
 set
 {
 gradient = value;
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}

You'll also need to modify a single code statement in the background painting code:

LinearGradientBrush brush = new LinearGradientBrush(e.ClipRectangle,
 gradient.ColorA, gradient.ColorB, gradient.GradientFillStyle);

This design also provides an opportunity to get a little fancy by creating a custom thumbnail of the gradient in the Properties window. To add this extra bit of finesse, all you need to do is create a UITypeEditor for the GradientFill class, and override the PaintValue() method. Here's the complete code:

public class GradientFillEditor : UITypeEditor
{
 public override bool GetPaintValueSupported(
 System.ComponentModel.ITypeDescriptorContext context)
 {
 return true;
 }
 public override void PaintValue(
 System.Drawing.Design.PaintValueEventArgs e)
 {
 GradientFill fill = (GradientFill)e.Value;
 LinearGradientBrush brush = new LinearGradientBrush(e.Bounds,
 fill.ColorA, fill.ColorB, fill.GradientFillStyle);

 // Paint the thumbnail.
 e.Graphics.FillRectangle(brush, e.Bounds);
 }
}

Finally, attach the UITypeEditor to the GradientFill class with an Editor attribute, as you did in Chapter 8:

[TypeConverter(typeof(ExpandableObjectConverter)),
Editor(typeof(GradientFillEditor), typeof(UITypeEditor))]
public class GradientFill

The GradientLabel now retains its effortless design-time support, with the added frill of a thumbnail gradient in the Properties window next to the GradientFill property (see Figure 13-2). You can also reuse the GradientFill and GradientFillEditor to add similar features to countless other custom control projects.

click to expand
Figure 13-2: Custom thumbnails with the GradientLabel

A Marquee Label

The next example presents another graphical label control—with a twist. This control automatically refreshes its display in response to a timer, scrolling a line of text across the visible area. The code is quite similar to the previous example, except for the fact that it adds double-buffering so that the label can be scrolled smoothly without flicker.

The control uses three significant properties: Text; ScrollTimeInterval, which determines how frequently the timer fires; and ScrollPixelAmount, which determines how much the text is scrolled with every timer tick. An additional private member variable, called position, is defined to track how far the text has scrolled. This property is not made available to the client (although it could be if you wanted to allow the text to be set at a specific scroll position).

Here's the property procedure code for the MarqueeLabel control:

private string text;
private int scrollAmount = 10;
private int position = 0;

[Browsable(true),
 DesignerSerializationVisibility(DesignerSerializationVisibility.Visible)]
public override string Text
{
 get
 {
 return text;
 }
 set
 {
 text = value;
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}

public int ScrollTimeInterval
{
 get
 {
 return tmrScroll.Interval;
 }
 set
 {
 tmrScroll.Interval = value;
 }
}

[DefaultValue(10)]
public int ScrollPixelAmount
{
 get
 {
 return scrollAmount;
 }
 set
 {
 scrollAmount = value;
 }
}

When the control is instantiated, it checks the current mode. In design mode, it disables the timer. The text still appears on the control, but it is not automatically scrolled (which would be a potentially distracting and CPU-wasting approach).

private void MarqueeLabel_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 this.ResizeRedraw = true;
 if (!this.DesignMode)
 {
 tmrScroll.Enabled = true;
 }
}

At runtime, the timer simply increments the private position variable and invalidates the display with each tick:

private void tmrScroll_Tick(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 position += scrollAmount;

 // Force a refresh.
 this.Invalidate();
}

The painting logic takes care of the rest. First, the OnPaintBackground() method is overridden to prevent the default grey background from being painted (which would add significant flicker). Next, the OnPaint() method draws the blank background and the scrolled text to an image object in memory, and paints it to the form at once. (This is the double-buffering technique presented in the last chapter.)

protected override void OnPaintBackground(System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs e)
{
 // Do nothing.
 // To prevent flicker, we will draw both the background and the text
 // to a buffered image, and draw it to the control all at once.
}

protected override void OnPaint(System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs e)
{

 // The following line avoids a design-time error that would
 // otherwise occur when the control is first loaded (but does not yet
 // have a defined size).
 if (e.ClipRectangle.Width == 0)
 {
 return;
 }

 base.OnPaint(e);
 if (position > this.Width)
 {
 // Reset the text to scroll back onto the control.
 position = -(int)e.Graphics.MeasureString(text, this.Font).Width;
 }

 // Create the drawing area in memory.
 // Double buffering is used to prevent flicker.
 Bitmap blt = new Bitmap(e.ClipRectangle.Width, e.ClipRectangle.Height);
 Graphics g = Graphics.FromImage(blt);

 g.FillRectangle(new SolidBrush(this.BackColor), e.ClipRectangle);
 g.DrawString(text, this.Font, new SolidBrush(this.ForeColor), position, 0);

 // Render the finished image on the form.
 e.Graphics.DrawImageUnscaled(blt, 0, 0);

 g.Dispose();
}

If the text has scrolled off the form, the position is reset. However, the new starting position is not (0, 0). Instead, the text is moved to the left by an amount equal to its length. That way, when the scrolling resumes, the last letter appears first from the left side of the control, followed by the rest of the text.

The online samples for this chapter include a test program (shown in Figure 13-3) that allows you to try out the marquee control and dynamically modify its scroll speed settings.

click to expand
Figure 13-3: The MarqueeLabel test utility

 
Chapter 13 - GDI+ Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Creating Button Controls

The label controls are fairly easy to develop because they are essentially static pieces of user interface. Other controls may need to support user interaction. For example, a button control needs to receive mouse clicks and a text box needs to handle key presses. To create one of these controls can require significant extra code and thorough testing to verify that its behavior is consistent under all circumstances.

To illustrate some of these considerations, the next example presents a button that's been created from scratch by deriving from the base Control class.

A Hot Tracking Button

This example develops a HotTrackButton that displays an image and text. When the mouse is positioned over the image, it appears with a raised border (see Figure 13-4).

click to expand
Figure 13-4: The HotTrackButton

This control project raises some unique, subtle challenges:

  • The clickable portion of the button should only include the image. Thus, the control needs to use hit testing when a click is detected, and suppress click events if the text portion is clicked.
  • The button can appear in several states, including disabled, selected (when the mouse is positioned above the image), depressed (when the button is pushed), and normal.
  • The button must be able to deal with any valid image size.

The first step is to create a control class that provides a member variable to track its current state. In our example, a State enumeration is defined to help track the valid button states.

public class HotTrackButton : Control
{
 public enum State
 {
 Normal,
 MouseOver,
 Pushed
 }

 private State state = State.Normal;

 // (Other code omitted.)
}

Next, you need to create the button's public interface. This includes an Image property to store the picture it will display, and a Text property to store the caption text. Every control automatically inherits the Text property; however, the HotTrackButton class needs to override it to make sure that the control is invalidated (and thus repainted) when the text is changed.

private Image image;
private Rectangle bounds;

public Image Image
{
 get
 {
 return image;
 }
 set
 {
 image = value;
 bounds = new Rectangle(0, 0, image.Width + 5, image.Height + 5);
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}

// You must override this property to invalidate the display and
// provide automatic refresh when the property is changed.
public override string Text
{
 get
 {
 return base.Text;
 }
 set
 {
 base.Text = value;
 this.Invalidate();
 }
}

Notice that a private member variable called bounds is used to track the drawing area of the control. This rectangle is slightly larger than the image itself, because it needs to accommodate the focus rectangle. When the button changes state in response to a mouse action, the control class code can then invalidate just the region defined by the bounds rectangle, guaranteeing a faster refresh.

The next step is to override four mouse-related methods, including OnMouseMove(), OnMouseDown(), OnMouseUp(), and OnMouseLeave(). The code in these methods sets the button state appropriately, and forces a repaint if the state has changed.

protected override void OnMouseMove(System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs e)
{
 base.OnMouseMove(e);

 // Check if the mouse pointer is over the button.
 // If the mouse moves off the button surface, it will be deactivated,
 // even if the button is being held in a pressed position.
 // The code repaints the button only if needed.
 if (bounds.Contains(e.X, e.Y))
 {
 if (state == State.Normal)
 {
 state = State.MouseOver;
 this.Invalidate(bounds);
 }
 }
 else
 {
 if (state != State.Normal)
 {
 state = State.Normal;
 this.Invalidate(bounds);
 }
 }
}

protected override void OnMouseLeave(System.EventArgs e)
{
 // Reset the button appearance. This will also deactivate the button
 // if it has been pressed but not released.
 // The code repaints the button only if needed.
 if (state != State.Normal)
 {
 state = State.Normal;
 this.Invalidate(bounds);
 }
}
protected override void OnMouseDown(System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs e)
{
 // Change the button to a pushed state, provided the mouse pointer is
 // over the image and the Left mouse button has been clicked
 if (bounds.Contains(e.X, e.Y) &&
 (e.Button & MouseButtons.Left) == MouseButtons.Left)
 {
 state = State.Pushed;
 this.Invalidate(bounds);
 }
}

protected override void OnMouseUp(System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs e)
{
 // Change the button to a normal state and repaint if needed.
 if (!((e.Button & MouseButtons.Left) == MouseButtons.Left))
 {
 state = State.Normal;

 if (bounds.Contains(e.X, e.Y))
 {
 state = State.MouseOver;
 }
 else
 {
 state = State.Normal;
 }

 this.Invalidate(bounds);
 }
}

Finally, the paint logic renders the button in the appropriate state and the associated text. It uses a raised three-dimensional border when the mouse is positioned over the button, and a sunken border when it is clicked, which is similar to the image bar style used in Microsoft Outlook. The text is placed to the right of the picture, and is vertically centered with the mid-point of the image by measuring the image and font sizes.


protected override void OnPaint(System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs e)
{
 if (image == null)
 {
 // Draw the text without the image.
 e.Graphics.DrawString(this.Text, this.Font,
 new SolidBrush(this.ForeColor), 10, 0);
 }
 else
 {
 if (!this.Enabled)
 {
 // Paint the picture in a disabled state.
 ControlPaint.DrawImageDisabled(e.Graphics, image, 2, 2,
 this.BackColor);
 }
 else
 {
 // Paint the image according to the button state.
 switch (state)
 {
 case State.Normal:
 e.Graphics.DrawImage(image, 2, 2);
 break;
 case State.MouseOver:
 ControlPaint.DrawBorder3D(e.Graphics, bounds,
 Border3DStyle.Raised, Border3DSide.All);
 e.Graphics.DrawImage(image, 2, 2);
 break;
 case State.Pushed:
 ControlPaint.DrawBorder3D(e.Graphics, bounds,
 Border3DStyle.Sunken, Border3DSide.All);
 e.Graphics.DrawImage(image, 3, 3);
 break;
 }
 }

 // Paint the caption text next to the image.
 e.Graphics.DrawString(this.Text, this.Font,
 new SolidBrush(this.ForeColor), bounds.Width + 3,
 (bounds.Height - this.Font.Height) / 2);
 }
}

The drawing logic benefits from the ControlPaint class, which provides the DrawBorder3D() and the DrawImageDisabled() methods. This class, which was described in the previous chapter, could also help with the DrawFocusRect() method if you wanted to expand the control to be able to handle keyboard events.

The only remaining task is to make sure the click event is only raised when the image is clicked. You can accomplish this by overriding the OnClick() method, and only calling the base implementation (which raises the event) if the mouse is currently positioned over the image.

protected override void OnClick(System.EventArgs e)
{
 // Only propagate the click to the client if it was detected over the image.
 if (state == State.Pushed)
 {
 base.OnClick(e);
 }
}

There's clearly a lot more you could add to this button control. For example, you could allow the user to change the orientation, place the text under the image, add support for text wrapping, or even create a compound control that contains a collection of images. From a conceptual point of view, these additions are easy. However, you'll find that the code can grow quite lengthy with the additional commands needed to evaluate the state and render the button control appropriately.

  Note 

If creating an owner-drawn button control is so much work, why bother? The answer is simple: it allows you to develop a proprietary graphical look for your application. If you do this successfully, your application appears to be more sophisticated, slick, and powerful than a competitor's application. Microsoft recognizes this reality, and outfits business-centric applications like Access and Excel with finely tooled graphics-using controls they don't release to anyone else. Never underestimate the appeal of an attractive user interface on your users!

 
Chapter 13 - GDI+ Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Reconsidering the Vector Drawing Program

Chapter 11 developed the basic framework for a control-based drawing program using the label control. The program worked well and introduced a basic framework that could accommodate any type of control. The only problem is that the .NET Framework doesn't include controls for common shapes like circles, triangles, and squares. Instead, the program "faked" a square by using a label control with a border.

Now that you've covered GDI+, there's a far better solution available, and it only takes a little bit more coding. The basic concept is to create an owner-drawn control that paints the appropriate shape. Substitute this control in the place of the bordered label. The drawing framework handles the dragging, resizing, and coloring automatically by setting properties like Location, Size, and Font.

There is a possible problem. If the user draws a circle, you want the circle shape to act like a circle for all mouse operations. In other words, the user shouldn't be able to click on a part of the control outside the circle and use that to move the control. Similarly, this "invisible" portion of the control shouldn't overwrite other controls on the drawing surface.

Figure 13-5 shows a drawing program with shapes that doesn't take this into account.

click to expand
Figure 13-5: A flawed drawing program

Solving the Bounding Problem

Luckily, .NET makes it easy to create a control that has a nonrectangular bounding area. In fact, you saw this technique in Chapter 5 with shaped forms. All that's required is to set the control's Region property, which defines a new clipping region.

Figure 13-6 shows a drawing program that uses the region property to define control borders. Note that this does have a side effect: the control cannot be as effectively antialiased (or blended with the background). As a result, the border appears more jagged.

click to expand
Figure 13-6: A corrected drawing program

This new drawing program supports rectangles, circles, and squares, but it could easily support any arbitrary or unusual shape. The program works by dynamically creating an instance of a custom shape control.

The shape control has the following features:

  • It provides a ShapeType enumeration that defines the shapes it can represent. The programmer chooses a shape by setting the Shape property.
  • The shape control uses a private path member variable that references a GraphicsPath object with the associated shape. Whenever the Shape property is modified, the control creates a new GraphicsPath, and adds the appropriate shape to it. It then sets the control's Region property, effectively setting its clipping bounds to match the shape.
  • The painting logic is the easiest part. It simply uses the FillPath() method to draw the shape and the DrawPath() method to outline it.

Here's the complete Shape class code:

public class Shape : System.Windows.Forms.UserControl
{
 // The types of shapes supported by this control.
 public enum ShapeType
 {
 Rectangle,
 Ellipse,
 Triangle
 }

 private ShapeType shape = ShapeType.Rectangle;
 private GraphicsPath path = null;

 public ShapeType Type
 {
 get
 {
 return shape;
 }
 set
 {
 shape = value;
 RefreshPath();
 this.Invalidate();
 }
 }

 // Create the corresponding GraphicsPath for the shape, and apply
 // it to the control by setting the Region property.
 private void RefreshPath()
 {
 path = new GraphicsPath();
 switch (shape)
 {
 case ShapeType.Rectangle:
 path.AddRectangle(this.ClientRectangle);
 break;
 case ShapeType.Ellipse:
 path.AddEllipse(this.ClientRectangle);
 break;
 case ShapeType.Triangle:
 Point pt1 = new Point(this.Width / 2, 0);
 Point pt2 = new Point(0, this.Height);
 Point pt3 = new Point(this.Width, this.Height);
 path.AddPolygon(new Point[] {pt1, pt2, pt3});
 break;
 }
 this.Region = new Region(path);
 }

 protected override void OnResize(System.EventArgs e)
 {
 base.OnResize(e);
 RefreshPath();
 this.Invalidate();
 }

 protected override void OnPaint(System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs e)
 {
 base.OnPaint(e);
 if (path != null)
 }
 e.Graphics.SmoothingMode = SmoothingMode.AntiAlias;
 e.Graphics.FillPath(new SolidBrush(this.BackColor), path);
 e.Graphics.DrawPath(new Pen(this.ForeColor, 4), path);
 }
 }
}

The drawing framework needs a slight modification: instead of creating a label control, it creates a Shape object and sets the Shape property depending on the user's menu selection. The menu options ("New Rectangle," "New Ellipse," and "New Triangle") are represented by three menu objects (mnuRectangle, mnuEllipse, and mnuTriangle), and the click event for each of these objects triggers the same event handler:


private void mnuNewShape_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 // Create and configure the shape with some defaults.
 Shape newShape = new Shape();
 newShape.Size = new Size(40, 40);
 newShape.ForeColor = Color.Coral;

 // Configure the appropriate shape depending on the menu option selected.
 if (sender == mnuRectangle)
 {
 newShape.Type = Shape.ShapeType.Rectangle;
 }
 else if (sender == mnuEllipse)
 {
 newShape.Type = Shape.ShapeType.Ellipse;
 }
 else if (sender == mnuTriangle)
 {
 newShape.Type = Shape.ShapeType.Triangle;
 }

 // To determine where to place the shape, you need to convert the
 // current screen-based mouse coordinates into relative form coordinates.
 newShape.Location = this.PointToClient(Control.MousePosition);

 // Attach a context menu to the shape.
 newShape.ContextMenu = mnuLabel;

 // Connect the shape to all its event handlers.
 newShape.MouseDown += new MouseEventHandler(lbl_MouseDown);
 newShape.MouseMove += new MouseEventHandler(lbl_MouseMove);
 newShape.MouseUp += new MouseEventHandler(lbl_MouseUp);

 // Add the shape to the form.
 this.Controls.Add(newShape);
}

With this minor modification, the drawing program now handles the ownerdrawn controls seamlessly, supporting the same features for resizing, dragging, and changing the fill color.

One minor quirk appears with the ellipse shape. The drawing program only allows a shape to be resized using its bottom right corner. However, the ellipse's corners are clipped off to fit the circular region.

A simple workaround is to add the ability to resize the shape from any of its sides. The revised MouseMove event handler is shown as follows.

private void lbl_MouseMove(object sender, System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs e)
{
 // Retrieve a reference to the active shape.
 Control currentCtrl;
 currentCtrl = (Control)sender;

 if (isDragging)
 {

 // Move the control.
 currentCtrl.Left = e.X + currentCtrl.Left - clickOffsetX;
 currentCtrl.Top = e.Y + currentCtrl.Top - clickOffsetY;
 }
 else if (isResizing)
 {
 // Resize the control, according to the resize mode.
 if (currentCtrl.Cursor == Cursors.SizeNWSE)
 {
 currentCtrl.Width = e.X;
 currentCtrl.Height = e.Y;
 }
 else if (currentCtrl.Cursor == Cursors.SizeNS)
 {
 currentCtrl.Height = e.Y;
 }
 else if (currentCtrl.Cursor == Cursors.SizeWE)
 {
 currentCtrl.Width = e.X;
 }
 }
 else
 {
 // Change the cursor if the mouse pointer is on one of the edges
 // of the control.
 if (((e.X + 5) > currentCtrl.Width) &&
 ((e.Y + 5) > currentCtrl.Height))
 {
 currentCtrl.Cursor = Cursors.SizeNWSE;
 }
 else if ((e.X + 5) > currentCtrl.Width)
 {
 currentCtrl.Cursor = Cursors.SizeWE;
 }
 else if ((e.Y + 5) > currentCtrl.Height)
 {
 currentCtrl.Cursor = Cursors.SizeNS;
 }
 else
 {
 currentCtrl.Cursor = Cursors.Arrow;
 }
 }
}
  Note 

Be sure to check out the DrawingShapes example with this chapter.With remarkably few lines of code, it implements a drawing program that lets you add, move, resize, and remove shapes. Using these principles, you could create something more practical for your organization, like a custom diagramming tool.

 
Chapter 13 - GDI+ Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

A Simple Graphing Control

The last control considered here is a simple bar chart. It's a good demonstration of how you can create a higher-level GDI+ control. Instead of representing a single shape or button, it renders a complete display according to the supplied data.

The basis of the chart is a BarItem class that stores information for a single bar. This information consists of a numerical value and a short title that can be displayed along with the bar.

public class BarItem
{
 public string ShortForm;
 public decimal Value;

 public BarItem(string shortForm, decimal value)
 {
 this.ShortForm = shortForm;
 this.Value = value;
 }
}

The data for a bar chart is made up of a collection of BarItem objects. Thus, to support the control you can create a strongly typed collection that only accepts BarItem objects. You could use an ordinary ArrayList or Hashtable collection with the control, but you would not be able to prevent the user from adding invalid objects to the chart data.

public class BarItemCollection : CollectionBase
{
 public void Add(BarItem item)
 {
 this.List.Add(item);
 }

 public void Remove(int index)
 {
 // Check to see if there is an item at the supplied index.
 if ((index > Count - 1) || (index < 0 ))
 {
 throw new System.IndexOutOfRangeException();
 }
 else
 {
 this.List.RemoveAt(index);
 }
 }

 public BarItem Item(int index)
 {
 // The appropriate item is retrieved from the List object and
 // explicitly cast to the BarItem type.
 return (BarItem)this.List[index];
 }
}

The SimpleChart control provides a BarItemCollection through its Bars property. The client programmer must create and add the appropriate BarItem objects. A more sophisticated control might add dedicated UITypeEditors that allow BarItem objects to be created and added at design time.


public class SimpleChart : System.Windows.Forms.UserControl
{
 private BarItemCollection bars = new BarItemCollection();

 public BarItemCollection Bars
 {
 get
 {
 return bars;
 }
 set
 {
 bars = value;
 RebuildChart();
 }
 }

 // (Drawing logic omitted.)
}

The last ingredient is the drawing logic for the chart. This logic consists of two parts. The first part steps through the data and determines the maximum BarItem value. All other bar items are sized proportionally.

private int barWidth
decimal maxValue;

public void RebuildChart()
{
 // Find out how much space a single bar can occupy.
 barWidth = (int)(this.Width / bars.Count);

 // Set the maximum value on the chart.
 maxValue = 0;
 foreach (BarItem bar in bars)
 {
 if (bar.Value > maxValue)
 {
 maxValue = bar.Value;
 }
 }

 this.Invalidate();
}

The RebuildChart() method is public, and the client must call it after adding the appropriate BarItem objects. Alternatively, you could add a BarChanged event to the BarItemCollection class, and rebuild the chart in the SimpleChart control whenever this event occurs. However, this approach could hamper performance, because the chart would be recalculated multiple times, as each individual bar is added.

The OnPaint() routine steps through the collection of bars, and draws each one onto the form with the appropriate proportional size. Each bar is created using two rectangles and an outline, for a nice shadowed effect. The BarItem.ShortForm text is also drawn onto each bar.

protected override void OnPaint(System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs e)
{
 base.OnPaint(e);

 if (bars.Count == 0)
 {
 return;
 }

 int x = 0;
 int baseLine = this.Height;
 Font textFont = new Font("Tahoma", 8);

 // Draw each item.
 foreach (BarItem bar in bars)
 {
 int height = (int)(bar.Value / maxValue * this.Height);
 int top = this.Height - height;

 // Draw bar (two rectangles are used for a shadowed effect),
 // along with an outline.
 e.Graphics.FillRectangle(Brushes.LightBlue, x + 4, top,
 barWidth - 7, height);
 e.Graphics.DrawRectangle(new Pen(Color.White, 4), x + 4, top,
 barWidth - 4, height);
 e.Graphics.FillRectangle(Brushes.SteelBlue, x + 8, top + 4,
 barWidth - 9, height - 5);

 // Draw title.
 e.Graphics.DrawString(bar.ShortForm, textFont, Brushes.White,
 x + 15, top + 5);
 x += barWidth;
 }

 // Draw the grid.
 e.Graphics.DrawLine(Pens.Black, 0, this.Height - 1, this.Width,
 this.Height - 1);
 e.Graphics.DrawLine(Pens.Black, 0, 0, 0, this.Height);
}

The code that follows creates a simple chart when the form first loads. The chart is shown in Figure 13-7.

click to expand
Figure 13-7: A sample chart

private void Form1_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 simpleChart1.Bars.Add(new BarItem("1999", 10));
 simpleChart1.Bars.Add(new BarItem("2000", 20));
 simpleChart1.Bars.Add(new BarItem("2001", 5));
 simpleChart1.Bars.Add(new BarItem("2002", 27));
 simpleChart1.RebuildChart();
}

This is the same pattern you could follow to create any type of static control. In many ways, it's an easier task than creating a button or a user input control because it doesn't need to support user input or receive the focus, although it may require a significant amount of drawing code. For a faster refresh, you could apply the double-buffering techniques discussed earlier in this chapter.

If you want to start tweaking the SimpleChart control, there are several interesting avenues. You might want to start by developing a better axis, allowing customizable bar captions, or creating a pie chart mode (the Graphics class also exposes a DrawPie() and FillPie() method). Look for SimpleChart project with the online samples for this chapter.

 
Chapter 13 - GDI+ Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

The Last Word

GDI+ controls represent the fusion of two remarkable new features: the nextgeneration drawing framework GDI+, and .NET's simple and elegant class-based control development. The potential for owner drawn .NET controls is limitless, and major tool vendors have already begun developing .NET equivalents for common UI widgets like advanced scrollbars and image controls. Look for these on the Internet—some are even available to experiment with at no cost.

If you want to master control development, the best approach is to review as many code examples as possible. There's no limit to what you can accomplish with dedication and a little ingenuity, but owner-drawn controls can require as much sheer code as a basic sales ordering database application. Microsoft, on its MSDN home page, provides several control samples that range from quirky and useless to genuinely groundbreaking.

The next chapter shifts the focus to a new topic: integrating Help into your .NET applications, and creating intelligent interfaces.

 
Chapter 14 - Help and Application-Embedded Support
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Help and Application Embedded Support





User Interfaces in C#(c) Windows Forms and Custom Controls
User Interfaces in C#: Windows Forms and Custom Controls
ISBN: 1590590457
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 142
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