.NODE

Modern Controls

Many of the controls you've looked at so far (like buttons, menus, and text boxes) have been around since the early days of Windows 3.1 without much more than the occasional facelift. As development entered the 32-bit world, more sophisticated controls began to appear and gain popularity. Controls like the TabControl, ListView, and TreeView began to do wonders organizing complex information. At the same time, the ToolBar and StatusBar revamped the look of the standard Windows application with a more modern feel.

In this chapter, you learn about all these controls. More important, you learn the tricks and techniques you need to master them. Custom control classes, one of my favorite themes, returns in this chapter with a few remarkable examples. You see how to create subclassed controls that are fine-tuned for specific data, or can automatically communicate and synchronize themselves with other controls.

The ImageList

The ImageList is a special type of collection that holds images of a preset size and color depth. Other controls access pictures in the ImageList using the appropriate index numbers. In this way, an ImageList acts as a resource for other controls, providing icons for controls like the ToolBar and TreeView.

  Note 

In some respects, the ImageList isn't really a control. It doesn't have a graphical representation, and the end user never interacts with it directly. On the other hand, ImageList objects are usually created and configured at design time when you are building the user interface. They are also closely linked to other modern controls like ListView, TreeView, and ToolBar controls.

To create an ImageList at design time, drag it onto your form (it will appear in the component tray). The basic properties for the ImageList are described in Table 6-1.

Table 6-1: ImageList Members

Member

Description


ColorDepth

A value from the ColorDepth enumeration that identifies the color resolution of the images in the control. Some common choices are 8-bit (256 color mode), 16-bit (high color), and 24-bit (true color).


Images

The collection of Image objects that are provided to other controls.


ImageSize

A Size structure that defines the size of the contained images. ImageList controls can only contain images that share the same size and color-depth. Images are converted to the specified format when they are added.


TransparentColor

Some image types, like icons and GIFs, define a transparent color that allows the background to show through. By setting the Transparent Color property, you can define a new transparent color that will be used when this image is displayed. This is useful for graphic formats that don't directly support transparency, like bitmaps.


Draw()

This method provides a quick and easy way to take an image and output it to a GDI+ drawing surface.


  Tip 

Transparent regions are a must when mixing custom images and standard controls. If you simply use an icon with a grey background, your interface becomes garish and ugly on a computer where the default color scheme is not used, as a grey box appears around the image.You also run into problems if the icon can be selected, at which point it is highlighted with a blue background.

You can add, remove, and rearrange images using the ListView designer. Just click the ellipsis (…) next to the Images property in the Properties window. Images can be drawn from almost any common bitmap file, including bitmaps, GIFs, JPEGs, and icons. When you add a picture, some related read-only properties about its size and format appear in the window (see Figure 6-1).

click to expand
Figure 6-1: The ImageList designer

Dealing with the ImageList in Code

If you look at the automatically generated code, you'll see that the image files you add are stored in a resource file in your project (as is any binary data added at design time). When the form is loaded, the images are deserialized into Image objects and placed in the collection. A special class, the ImageListStreamer, makes this process a simple one-line affair, regardless of how many images are in your ImageList. This code is inserted automatically by VS .NET, and doesn't need to be modified manually

this.imagesLarge.ImageStream = ((System.Windows.Forms.ImageListStreamer)
 (resources.GetObject("imagesLarge.ImageStream")));

If you want to have an ImageList object around for a longer period (for example, to use in different forms), you should create it directly in code. You might also want to create Image objects out of graphic files rather than use a project resource.

First, you need a variable to reference the ImageList.

private ImageList iconImages = new ImageList();

Then, you can create a method that fills the ImageList.

// Configure the ImageList.
iconImages.ColorDepth = System.Windows.Forms.ColorDepth.Depth8Bit;
iconImages.ImageSize = new System.Drawing.Size(16, 16);

// Get all the icon files in the current directory.
string[] iconFiles = Directory.GetFiles(Application.StartupPath, "*.ico");

// Create an Image object for each file and add it to the ImageList.
// You can also use an Image subclass (like Icon).
foreach (string iconFile in iconFiles)
{
 Icon newIcon = new Icon(iconFile);
 iconImages.Images.Add(newIcon);
}

Once you have images in an ImageList control, you can use them to provide pictures to another control. Many modern controls provide an ImageList property, which stores a reference to an ImageList control. Individual items in the control (like tree nodes or list rows) then use an ImageIndex or similar property, which identifies a single picture in the ImageList by index number (starting at 0). You look at examples that use this technique later in this chapter.

In the meantime, you should also note that the ImageList can be a useful way to store images that you need to use in any scenario. The example that follows loops through an ImageList and draws its images directly onto the surface of a form. The result is shown in Figure 6-2.

click to expand
Figure 6-2: Directly outputting an ImageList

// Get the graphics device context for the form.
Graphics g = this.CreateGraphics();

// Draw each image using the ImageList.Draw() method.
for (int i = 0; i < iconImages.Images.Count; i++)
{
 iconImages.Draw(g, 30 + i * 30, 30, i);
}

// Release the graphics device context.
g.Dispose();

As with all manual drawing, these icons are erased as soon as the form is repainted (for example if you minimize and then maximize it). I tackle this issue in Chapter 12.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

ListView and TreeView

The ListView and TreeView are probably the most widespread and distinctive controls in modern application design. As far as controls go, they have it all: an attractive appearance, a flexible set of features, and an elegant ability to combine different types of functionality and information. Thanks to Windows Explorer, they are also widely recognized and understood by intermediate users.

These days, it's hard to find programs that don't use TreeView and ListView. The Windows operating system makes heavy use of them in configuration and administration windows. Other Microsoft software that uses the MMC snap-in model follows suit, like SQL Server and even configuration utilities for the .NET platform (see Figure 6-3).

click to expand
Figure 6-3: Configuring assembly settings in .NET

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Basic ListView

The ListView control is most often used for a multicolumn list of items. It actually supports four distinct modes that you have probably already seen in Windows Explorer. You specify the mode by setting the ListView.View property to one of the values from the View enumeration.

  • LargeIcon, which displays full-sized (32 × 32 pixel) icons with a title beneath each one. Items are displayed from left to right, and then on subsequent lines.
  • SmallIcon, which displays small (16 × 16 pixel) icons with descriptive text at the right. Items are displayed from left to right, and then on subsequent lines.
  • List, which displays small icons with descriptive text at the right. It's the same as SmallIcon, except it fills items from top to bottom, and then in additional columns. The scrollbar (if needed) is horizontal.
  • Details, which displays the familiar multicolumn layout. Each item appears on a separate line, and the leftmost column contains a small icon and label. Column headers identify each column, and allow user resizing (and sorting, if the application supports it). The Details view is the only view that supports showing more than an icon and one piece of information per item.
  Tip 

In Visual Studio.NET, the ListView control uses a designer that allows you to add items and subitems. To use it, just click the ellipses (…) next to the Items property in the Property Window. It's quite impressive, but I won't discuss it in this chapter, as pure code gives a clearer understanding of the issues involved.

To understand the different styles of ListView, it helps to create a simple example. First, create a ListView and two ImageList controls, one to hold any required small icons and one to hold large icons. You can associate the ListView with the corresponding ImageList like this:

listAuthors.SmallImageList = imagesSmall;
listAuthors.LargeImageList = imagesLarge;

Once the ImageList is associated, images can be assigned to individual list items by setting a convenient ImageIndex property. You can change the ImageIndex at any time to indicate an item that has changed status.

What follows is the code needed to load information into a ListView, in response to a button click. This example relies on a GetProducts() method that returns a DataTable (either by querying a database or by constructing it manually). I won't talk about the ADO.NET code you might use to create this DataTable (as this is better served by a dedicated book about databases and .NET), although you can look at the online code for this chapter to see the details. As with most of the examples I use, the data is retrieved from an XML file, which guarantees that you can use the examples even if you don't have a relational database product handy.

private void cmdFillList_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 // Fill a DataTable using a helper class (not shown).
 DataTable dt = StoreDB.GetProducts();

 foreach (DataRow dr in dt.Rows)
 {
 // Create the item, with the text from the ModelName field.
 ListViewItem listItem = new ListViewItem(dr["ModelName"].ToString());

 // Give every item the same picture.
 listItem.ImageIndex = 0;

 // Add the item to the ListView.
 listAuthors.Items.Add(listItem);
 }
}

This is ListView code is at its simplest. ListViewItem objects are created, and added to the list. The ListViewItem constructor allows you to specify the default item text (the Text property) and the ImageIndex points to the first picture in the collection. Note that the ImageIndex applies to both the SmallImageList and LargeImageList, meaning that your ImageList objects must use the exact same ordering. The appropriate picture is chosen based on the view style.

Finally, to make the code a little more interesting, a group of radio buttons allows the user to switch between the different view styles. Rather than scatter the code for this in multiple procedures, use a single method that retrieves a tag value:

private void NewView(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 // Set the current view mode based on the number in the tag value of the
 // selected radio button.
 listAuthors.View = (View)(((Control)sender).Tag);

 // Display the current view style.
 this.Text = "Using View: " + listAuthors.View.ToString();
}

The tag values can be set at design time or in code when the form is first loaded:

optLargeIcon.Tag = View.LargeIcon;
optSmallIcon.Tag = View.SmallIcon;
optDetails.Tag = View.Details;
optList.Tag = View.List;

The NewView() method is attached to the CheckedChanged control event for all four option buttons in the form's initialization code:

this.optList.CheckedChanged += new System.EventHandler(this.NewView);
this.optDetails.CheckedChanged += new System.EventHandler(this.NewView);
this.optSmallIcon.CheckedChanged += new System.EventHandler(this.NewView);
this.optLargeIcon.CheckedChanged += new System.EventHandler(this.NewView);

If you try this application, you'll see that it doesn't appear to work in details view. The reason is that the ListView only displays information in details view if you have added the appropriate column headers. The example below rewrites the ListView code to fill multiple columns of information. Note, however, that this extra information is ignored in other view styles.

private void cmdFillList_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 DataTable dt = StoreDB.GetProducts();

 // Suspending automatic refreshes as items are added/removed.
 listAuthors.BeginUpdate();

 foreach (DataRow dr in dt.Rows)
 {
 ListViewItem listItem = new ListViewItem(dr["ModelName"].ToString());
 listItem.ImageIndex = 0;

 // Add sub-items for Details view.
 listItem.SubItems.Add(dr["ProductID"].ToString());
 listItem.SubItems.Add(dr["Description"].ToString());

 listAuthors.Items.Add(listItem);
 }

 // Add column headers for Details view.
 listAuthors.Columns.Add("Product", 100, HorizontalAlignment.Left);
 listAuthors.Columns.Add("ID", 100, HorizontalAlignment.Left);
 listAuthors.Columns.Add("Description", 100, HorizontalAlignment.Left);

 // Re-enable the display.
 listAuthors.EndUpdate();
}

When adding a ColumnHeader, you have the chance to specify a width in pixels, a title, and the alignment for values in the column. Figure 6-4 shows the four different view styles. This test program is included with the chapter code with the project name ListViewExample.

click to expand
Figure 6-4: Different view styles with the ListView control

The ListView is different from almost any other grid control in that it designates every column except the first one as a subitem. This idiosyncrasy shouldn't trouble you too much, but note that it causes the column header indexes to differ from the subitem indexes. For example, listItem.SubItems.Items(0) is the first subitem while the corresponding column is listAuthors.Columns.Items(1).

  Tip 

The previous example uses a ListView for its most common task: representing items. However, ListView controls can also represent actions. For example, consider the Control panel, that uses a ListView in LargeIcon view to provide access to a number of different features. Remember, different view styles suggest different uses (and in the case of the Details view, show different information), so you should not allow the user to change the style through a setting in your application. Instead, choose the most suitable style when creating the control.

Table 6-2: Basic ListView Members

Member

Description


Columns

Holds the collection of ColumnHeader objects used in Details view.


FocusedItem, SelectedItem, and SelectedIndices

Allows you to retrieve the item that currently has focus or the currently selected items (the user can select multiple icons by dragging a box around them or by holding down the Ctrl key). You can also examine the Focused and Selected properties of each ListViewItem.


Items

Holds the collection ListViewItem objects displayed in the ListView.


LargeImageList and SmallImageList

References the ImageList control that is used for large and small icons. The individual icons are identified by the ListViewItem.ImageIndex property.


MultiSelect

When set to false, prevents a user from selecting more than one item at a time.


View

Sets the ListView style using the View enumeration.


SelectedItemIndexChanged event

Occurs whenever the user selects an item, except when the same item is selected twice in a row.


 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Advanced ListView Tricks

To unlock all the functionality of the ListView control, you need to delve deeper into the .NET classes that support it. Some of the highlights are described in Table 6-3.

Table 6-3: Advanced ListView Members

Member

Description


Activation and HoverSelection

Activation determines how items in the ListView are highlighted. If you select OneClick, the mouse cursor becomes a hand icon when it hovers over an item. The HoverSelection property, when set to true, automatically selects an item when the user hovers over it. This formerly cutting-edge feature is now discouraged as being unintuitive (and somewhat "touchy").


Alignment

Sets the side of the ListView that items are aligned against.


AllowColumnReorder

When set to true, the user can drag column headers around to rearrange column order in Details view, without requiring any code.


AutoArrange and ArrangeIcons()

In SmallIcon and LargeIcon view, this property determines whether icons automatically snap to a grid, or can be positioned anywhere by the user.


CheckBoxes, CheckedIndices, and CheckedItems

When CheckBoxes is true, every item will have a check box next to it. The state of the check box is reflected in the ListViewItem.Checked property of each item. You can also retrieve checked items directly (using CheckedItems) or their index values (CheckedIndices).


FullRowSelect

When set to true, the entire row will be highlighted when you select an item in Details view, not just the first column. It's a useful setting for database applications that are using the ListView as a grid control.


GridLines

Displays attractive column and row gridlines in Details view. Useful if you are displaying many rows of complex or hard to read information.


HeaderStyle

Allows you to configure whether column headers respond to clicks (Clickable) or ignore them (Nonclickable).


LabelEdit

When set to true, ListViewItem text can be modified by the user or in code using the BeginEdit() method.


LabelWrap

Allows the text label to wrap in one of the icon views.


Sorting

Allows you to specify an ascending or descending sort order, which considers the main text of the ListViewItem only (not any subitems).


BeginUpdate() and EndUpdate()

Allows you to temporarily suspend the ListView drawing, so that you can add or modify several items at once.


EnsureVisible()

Scrolls to make sure a specified ListViewItem is visible. You indicate the item by its zero-based row index.


GetItemAt()

Retrieves the ListViewItem at the given X and Y coordinate. Useful for hit testing and drag-and-drop operations.


AfterLabelEdit, and BeforeLabelEdit events

Events that fire before and after a label is modified. Both events provide the index to the appropriate ListViewItem, and a property that allows you to cancel the edit.


ColumnClick event

Occurs when a user clicks a column. Could be used for programmatic sorting by column, but the current ListView class does not support it.


ItemCheck event

Occurs when the state of a checkbox next to an item is changed.


If you decide to use the ListView as a grid control, you can use a few useful properties to fine-tune the display by adding gridlines and row selection (rather than single-column value selection):

listAuthors.GridLines = true;
listAuthors.FullRowSelect = true;

You probably also want to add the ability to sort and rearrange columns. If you only need to sort using the ListItem.Text property, you can make use of the Sorting property.

listAuthors.Sorting = SortOrder.Ascending;

If you want to provide column sorting in details view, life is a little more difficult. The ListView control has no intrinsic support for sorting by column. However, you can easily develop a custom IComparer sorting class to handle the task. This class has a simple responsibility: examine two ListView objects, and return a 1, 0, or −1 depending on how they compare.

The best option is to create an IComparer class that stores a column index as a public member variable, allowing it to provide sorting for any column. In addition, the example includes a Boolean member variable called Alphabetic that allows two types of sorting: numeric or letter-by-letter alphabetic. For simplicity's sake, this class doesn't use any type of error checking.

public class CompareListViewItems : IComparer
{
 // This index identifies the column that is used for sorting
 public readonly int Column;

 // Is the sort alphabetic or number?
 public readonly bool Alphabetic;

 public CompareListViewItems(int columnIndex, bool alphabetic)
 {
 this.Column = columnIndex;
 this.Alphabetic = alphabetic;
 }

 public int Compare(object x, object y)
 {

 // Convert the items that must be compared into ListViewItem objects.
 string listX = ((ListViewItem)x).SubItems[Column].Text;
 string listY = ((ListViewItem)y).SubItems[Column].Text;

 // Sort using the specified column and specified sorting type.
 if (Alphabetic)
 {
 return listX.CompareTo(listY);
 }
 else
 {
 if (int.Parse(listX) > int.Parse(listY))
 {
 return 1;
 }
 else if (int.Parse(listX) == int.Parse(listY))
 {
 return 0;
 }
 else
 {
 return -1;
 }
 }
}

Now, you can easily create a ListView that re-sorts itself as a column header when it is clicked by handling the ColumnClicked event, generating a new CompareListViewItems object, and calling the ListView.Sort() method:

private void listAuthors_ColumnClick(object sender, ColumnClickEventArgs e)
{
 // Specify an alphabetic sort based on the column that was clicked.
 listAuthors.ListViewItemSorter = new CompareListViewItems(e.Column, true);

 // Perform the sort.
 listAuthors.Sort();
}

Another interesting trick is column reordering. This allows the user to rearrange columns by dragging the column header. This technique takes place automatically, if you set the AllowColumnReorder property to true. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to save these view settings and apply them later. To manage this type of advanced data display, you may want to consider the DataGrid control described in Chapter 9.

Label Editing

The ListView includes an automatic label-editing feature that you have probably already witnessed in Windows Explorer. You trigger the label editing by clicking a selected item once. This automatic editing is confusing to many new users. If you use it, you should also provide another way for the user to edit the corresponding information.

To enable label editing, set the LabelEdit property to true. You can programmatically start label editing for a node using the node's BeginEdit() method.

private void cmdStartEdit_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 // The user clicked a dedicated "Edit" button.
 // Put the label of the first selected item into edit mode.
 if (list.SelectedItems.Count > 0)
 {
 list.SelectedItems[0].BeginEdit();
 }

 // (You might also want to disable other controls until the user completes
 // the edit and the AfterLabelEdit event fires.)
}

In addition, you can prevent certain nodes from being edited by handling the BeforeLabelEdit event and setting the Cancel flag to true. You can also fix up any invalid changes by reacting to the AfterLabelEdit event.

  Tip 

If you want to use the BeginEdit() method but prevent users from modifying the label by clicking it, you must set the LabelEdit property to true. To prevent users from editing labels directly set a special form-level property (like AllowEdit) before you use the BeginEdit() method, and check for this property in the Before-LabelEdit event. If it has not been set and the user has started the edit, then you should cancel it.

Adding Information to a ListView

A typical application often needs to store information about display items that isn't rendered in the user interface. For example, you might want to keep track of unique identifier numbers that will allow you to look up a given item in a database, but you won't show this information to the end user, because it's of no use. Sometimes, programmers handle this in a control-specific way using hidden columns or other work arounds. However, a more generic and elegant approach is to find some way to bind the extra information to the control.

There are three ways that you can add additional information to a ListView control to represent custom data.

  • Assign a DataRow object to the Tag property of a ListViewItem. The advantage of this technique easily accommodates any type of data, and doesn't require modifications if the data fields change (information is held in a weakly typed name/value collection of fields).
  • Assign a custom data object to the Tag. This allows you to wrap all the datarelated functionality you need into a neat object. The disadvantage is that it requires more steps. For example, if you are retrieving your data from a database, you need to create the corresponding object, initialize its data, and then assign it to the Tag property.
  • Derive a custom ListViewItem, and add the properties you need for your particular type of data. Though this is the only approach directly explained in the MSDN reference, it is probably the least convenient because it tightly integrates details about the structure of your data into the user interface code. That means that you need to modify these classes if the data changes or if you move to a different type of control (like the TreeView).

Chapter 9 introduces a reusable pattern that allows a control to interact with data objects without needing to know their database-specific internals. It also provides the flexibility to change data access strategies or the display control.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Basic TreeView

The TreeView is a hierarchical collection of elements, which are called nodes. This collection is provided through the TreeView.Nodes property. With this collection, it's quite easy to add a few basic nodes:

treeFood.Nodes.Add("Apple");
treeFood.Nodes.Add("Peach");
treeFood.Nodes.Add("Tofu");

In this example, three nodes are added with descriptive text. If you've worked with the TreeView before through its ActiveX control, you might notice that the .NET implementation dodges a few familiar headaches, because it doesn't require a unique key for relating parent nodes to child nodes. This means it's easier to quickly insert a new node. It also means that unless you take specific steps to record a unique identifier with each item, you won't be able to distinguish duplicates. For example, the only difference between the two "Apple" entries in the example is their respective position in the list.

To specify more information about a node, you have to construct a TreeNode object separately, and then add it to the list. In the example that follows, a unique identifier is stored in the Tag property.

TreeNode newNode = new TreeNode();
newNode.Text = "Apple";
newNode.Tag = 1;
treeFood.Nodes.Add(newNode);

In this case, a simple integer is used, but the Tag property can hold any type of object if needed, even a reference to a corresponding database record.

foreach (DataRow drFood in dtFoods.Rows)
{
 TreeMode newNode = new TreeNode();
 newNode.Text = drFoods["Name"].ToString();
 newNode.Tag = drFood;
 treeFood.Nodes.Add(newNode);
}

TreeView Structure

Nodes can be nested in a complex structure with a virtually unlimited number of layers. Adding subnodes is similar to adding submenu items. First you find the parent node, and then you add the child node to the parent's Nodes collection.

TreeNode node;

node = treeFood.Nodes.Add("Fruits");
node.Nodes.Add("Apple");
node.Nodes.Add("Peach");

node = treeFood.Nodes.Add("Vegetables");
node.Nodes.Add("Tomato");
node.Nodes.Add("Eggplant");

The Add() method always returns the newly added node object. You can then use this node object to add child nodes. If you wanted to add child nodes to the Apple node you would follow the same pattern, and catch the node reference returned by the Add() method.

This code produces a hierarchical tree structure as shown in Figure 6-5.

click to expand
Figure 6-5: A basic TreeView

Microsoft suggests that the preferred way to add items to a TreeView is by using the AddRange() method to insert an entire block of nodes at once. It works similarly, but requires an array of node objects.

TreeNode[] nodes = new TreeNode[2];

nodes[0] = new TreeNode("Fruits");
nodes[0].Nodes.Add("Apple");
nodes[0].Nodes.Add("Peach");

nodes[1] = new TreeNode("Vegetables");
nodes[1].Nodes.Add("Tomato");
nodes[1].Nodes.Add("Eggplant");

treeFoods.Nodes.AddRange(nodes);

By using this technique, you ensure that the TreeView is updated all at once, improving performance dramatically. You can achieve a similar performance gain by using the BeginUpdate() and EndUpdate() methods, which suspends the graphical refresh of the TreeView control, allowing you to perform a series of operations at once.

// Suspend automatic refreshing.
treeFood.BeginUpdate();

// (Add or remove several nodes here.)

// Enable automatic refreshing.
treeFood.EndUpdate();

TreeView Navigation

The TreeView's multileveled structure can make it difficult to navigate through your tree structure to perform common tasks. For example, you might want to use a TreeView to provide a hierarchical list of check box settings (as Windows does for the View tab in its Folder Options, shown in Figure 6-6). You can configure the TreeView to display check boxes next to each node by setting a single property:

treeSettings.CheckBoxes = true;

click to expand
Figure 6-6: Using a TreeView to configure settings

When the OK or Apply button is clicked, you then search through the list of settings and make the corresponding changes.

The following section of code might seem like a reasonable attempt, but it won't work:

foreach (TreeNode node in treeSettings.Nodes)
{
 // (Process node here.)
}

The problem is that the TreeView.Nodes collection only contains the first level of the nodes hierarchy, which in this case corresponds to the main groupings (like "Files and Folders.") The correct code would go another level deep:

Dim node, nodeChild As TreeNode
foreach (TreeNode node in treeSettings.Nodes)
{
 // (Process first-level node here.)
 foreach (TreeNode nodeChild in node.Nodes)
 {
 // (Process second-level node here.)
 }
}

Alternatively, if you have a less structured organization where similar types of elements are held at various levels, you need to search through all the nodes recursively. The following code calls a ProcessNodes procedure recursively until it has walked through the entire tree structure.

private void cmdOK_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 // Start the update.
 ProcessNodes(treeSettings.Nodes);
}

private void ProcessNodes(TreeNodeCollection nodes)
{
 foreach (TreeNode node in nodes)
 {
 ProcessNode(node);
 ProcessNodes(node.Nodes);
 }
}

private void ProcessNode(TreeNode node)
{
 // Check if the node interests us.
 // If it does, process it.
 // To verify that this routine works, display the node text.
 MessageBox.Show(node.Text);
}
  Tip 

To count all the nodes in your tree, you don't need to enumerate through the collections and sub-collections. Instead, you can use the TreeView.GetNodeCount() method. Make sure you specify true for the required parameter-this indicates that you want to count the items in subtrees. Each TreeNode object also provides a GetNodeCount() method, allowing you to count the items in selected branches of a tree.

You can also use relative-based navigation. In this model, you don't iterate through the whole collection. Instead, you go from a current node to another node.

currentNode = currentNode.Parent.Parent.NextNode;

This example takes the current node, finds its parent (by moving one level up the hierarchy), then finds the parent's parent, and then moves to the next sibling (the next node in the list that is at the same level). If there is no next node, a null reference is returned. If one of the parents is missing, an error occurs. Table 6-4 lists the relative-based navigation properties you can use.

Table 6-4: Relative-based Navigation Properties

Node Property

Moves…


Parent

One level up the hierarchy, to the node that contains the current node.


FirstNode

One level down the node hierarchy, to the first node in the current node's Nodes collection.


LastNode

One level down the node hierarchy, to the last node in the current node's Nodes collection.


PrevNode

To the node at the same level, but just above the current node.


NextNode

To the node at the same level, but just below the current node.


The next example shows how you could use the relative-based navigation to walk over every node in a tree.

private void cmdOK_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 // Start the update.
 ProcessNodes(treeUsers.Nodes.Item[0]);
}

private void ProcessNodes(TreeNode nodeStart)
{
 do
 {
 ProcessNode(nodeStart);

 // Check for contained (child nodes).
 if (nodeStart.Nodes.Count > 0)
 {
 ProcessNodes(nodeStart.FirstNode);
 }

 // Move to the next (sibling) node.
 nodeStart = nodeStart.NextNode();
 }
 while (nodeStart != null);
}

private void ProcessNode(TreeNode node)
{
 // Check if the node interests us.
 // If it does, process it.
 // To verify that this routine works, display the node text.
 MessageBox.Show(node.Text);
}

This type of navigation is generally less common in .NET programs, because the collection-based syntax is more readable and easier to deal with.

  Note 

The Nodes collection is not read-only. That means that you can safely delete and insert nodes while enumerating through the Nodes collection.

Manipulating Nodes

Now that you have a good idea of how to add nodes and find them in the tree structure, it's time to consider how nodes can be deleted and rearranged. Once again, you use the methods of the Nodes collection.

Generally, the best way to delete a node is by first obtaining a reference to the node. You could also remove a node using its index number, but index numbers can change as nodes are removed or if sorting is used, so they raise the potential for unexpected problems.

Once again, consider our tree of food products:

TreeNode node;

node = treeFood.Nodes.Add("Fruits");
node.Nodes.Add("Apple");
node.Nodes.Add("Peach");

node = treeFood.Nodes.Add("Vegetables");
node.Nodes.Add("Tomato");
node.Nodes.Add("Eggplant");

You can now search for the "Fruits" node in the collection and delete it. Note that when you use the Remove() method, all the child nodes are automatically deleted as well.

foreach (TreeNode searchNode in treeFood.Nodes)
{
 if (searchNode.Text == "Fruits")
 {
 treeFood.Nodes.Remove(searchNode);
 }
}

You can use the Remove() method to delete a node that exists several layers down the hierarchy. What that means is that if you obtain a reference to the "Apple" node, you can delete it directly from the treeFood.Nodes collection even though the collection doesn't really contain that node.

TreeNode nodeApple, nodeFruits;
nodeFruits = treeFood.Nodes.Add("Fruits");
nodeApple = nodeFruits.Nodes.Add("Apple");

// This works. It finds the nodeApple in the nodeFruits.Nodes sub-collection.
treeFood.Nodes.Remove(nodeApple);

// This also works. It directly removes the apple from nodeFruits.Nodes.
nodeFruits.Nodes.Remove(nodeApple);

The Nodes property provides an instance of the TreeNodeCollection. Table 6-5 lists a few more of its node manipulation features. Some, like the ability to Clear() all child nodes and Insert() a node at a specific position, are particularly useful.

Table 6-5: Useful TreeNodeCollection Methods

Method

Description


Add()

Adds a new node at the bottom of the list.


AddRange() and CopyTo()

Allows you to copy node objects to and from an array. This technique and CopyTo() can be used to update a TreeView in a single batch operation, and thereby optimize performance. The CopyTo() method copies the entire tree into an array, which allows you to easily transfer it to another TreeView control or serialize it to disk.


Clear()

Clears all the child nodes of the current node. Any sublevels are also deleted, meaning that if you call this method for the TreeView the whole structure is cleared.


Contains()

Returns true or false, depending on whether a given node object is currently part of the Nodes collection. If you want to provide a search that is more than one level deep, you need write your own method and use recursion, as shown in the previous examples.


IndexOf()

Returns the current (zero-based) index number for a node. Remember, node indexes change as nodes are added and deleted. This method returns −1 if the node is not found.


Insert()

This method allows you to insert a node in a specific position. It's similar to the Add() method, but it takes an additional parameter specifying the index number where you want to add the node. The node that is currently there is shifted down. Unlike the Add() method, the Insert() method does not return the node reference.


Remove()

Accepts a node reference and removes the node from the collection. All subsequent tree nodes are moved up one position.


.NET provides another way to manipulate nodes-using their own methods. For example, you can delete a node without worrying about what TreeView it belongs to by using the Node.Remove() method. This shortcut is extremely convenient.

nodeApple.Remove();

Nodes also provide a built-in clone method that copies the node and any child nodes. This can allow you to transfer a batch of nodes between TreeView controls without needing to iterate over the Nodes collection. (A node object cannot be assigned to more than one TreeView control.)

// Select the first node.
TreeNode node = treeOrigin.Nodes[0];

// Clone it and all the sublevels.
TreeNode nodeNew = node.Clone();

// Add the nodes to a new tree.
treeDestination.Add(nodeNew);

Selecting Nodes

On their own, TreeNode objects don't raise any events. The TreeView control, however, provides notification about important node actions like selections and expansions. Each of these actions is composed of two events: a "Before" event that occurs before the TreeView display is updated, and an "After" event that allows you to react to the event in the traditional way when it is completed. (You'll see in some of the advanced examples how the "Before" event can allow you to perform just-in-time node additions. This technique is used in Table 6-6 lists the key TreeView events.

Table 6-6: TreeView Node Events

Event

Description


BeforeCheck and AfterCheck

Occurs when a user clicks to select or deselect a check box.


BeforeCollapse and AfterCollapse

Occurs when a user collapses a node, either by double-clicking it or by using the plus/minus box.


BeforeExpand and AfterExpand

Occurs when a user expands a node, either by double-clicking it or by using the plus/minus box.


BeforeSelect and AfterSelect

Occurs when a user clicks a node. This event can also be triggered for other reasons. For example, deleting the currently selected node causes another node to be selected.


Every custom event in the TreeView is node-specific, and provides a reference to the relevant node. The TreeView control also inherits some generic events that allow it to react to mouse-clicks and other actions that occur to any part of the control, but these are generally not very useful. These TreeView node-based events provide a special TreeViewEventArgs object. This object has two properties: a Node property that provides the affected node, and an Action property that indicates how the action was triggered. The Action property uses the TreeViewAction enumeration, and can indicate whether an event was caused by a key press, mouse-click, or a node expansion/collapse.

The next example reacts to the AfterSelect event and gives the user the chance to remove the selected node. You'll notice that when a node is deleted, the closest node is automatically selected.

private void treeUsers_AfterSelect(object sender,

 System.Windows.Forms.TreeViewEventArgs e)
{
 string message;
 message = "You selected " + e.Node.Text + " with this action: " +
 e.Action.ToString() + "

Delete it?";

 DialogResult result;
 result = MessageBox.Show(message, "Delete", MessageBoxButtons.YesNo);
 if (result == DialogResult.Yes)
 {
 e.Node.Remove();
 }
}

Depending on your TreeView, just having a reference to the node object may not be enough. For example, you might add duplicate node entries into different subgroups. This technique isn't that unusual: for example, you might have a list of team members subgrouped by role (programmer, tester, documenter, and so on). A single team member might play more than one role. However, depending on what subgroup the selected node is in, you might want to perform a different action.

In this case, you need to determine where the node is positioned. You can use the node-relative properties (like Parent) to move up the tree, or you can retrieve a string that represents the full path from the node's FullPath property. A few possible values for the FullPath property are:


Fruits
FruitsPeach
CountryStateCityStreet

In these examples, a backslash is used to separate each tree level, although you can set a different delimiter by setting the TreeView.PathSeparator property.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Advanced TreeView Tricks

The TreeView is a sophisticated control, and it provides a great deal of customization possibilities. Some of the additional appearance-related properties are described in Table 6-7.

Table 6-7: TreeView Appearance Properties

Property

Description


CheckBoxes

Set this to true to display a check box next to each node.


FullRowSelect

When set to true, selecting a node shows a highlight box that spans the full width of the tree.


HotTracking

When set to true, the text in a node changes to a highlighted hyperlink style when the user positions the mouse over it.


Indent

Specifies the left-to-right distance between each level of items in the tree, in pixels.


ShowLines, ShowPlusMinus, and ShowRootLines

Boolean properties that configure the appearance of lines linking each node, the plus/minus box that allows users to easily expand a node, and the root lines that connect the first level of objects together.


Sorted

When set to true, nodes are sorted in each group alphabetically using their text names. There is no way to specify a custom sort order, other than to add the nodes in a predetermined order.


The TreeNode also provides some useful properties that haven't been discussed yet (Table 6-8). Mainly, these properties allow you to determine the state of node. Additional properties exist that let you modify a node's background and foreground color, and determine its relatives, as you saw earlier.

Table 6-8: TreeNode State Properties

Property

Description


Checked

True if you are using a TreeView with check box nodes, and the node is checked.


IsEditing

True if the user is currently editing this node's label. Label editing is explained later in this section.


IsExpanded

True if this node is expanded, meaning its child nodes are displayed.


IsSelected

True if this is the currently selected node. Only one node can be selected at a time, and you can control which one is using the TreeView.SelectedNode property.


IsVisible

True if the node is currently visible. A node is visible if its parent is collapsed, or if you need to scroll up or down to find it. To programmatically show a node, use its EnsureVisible() method.


Node Pictures

One frequently used feature is the ability to assign icons to each node. As with all modern controls, this works by using a paired ImageList control.

treeFood.ImageList = imagesFood;

You can assign a default picture index that will be used by any node that does not specifically override it:

treeFood.ImageIndex = 0;

You can set an image for each individual node through the properties of the TreeNode object. Each node can have two linked images: a default image, and one that is used when the node is selected.

TreeNode node = new TreeNode("Apples");
node.ImageIndex = 1;
node.SelectedImageIndex = 2;
treeFood.Nodes.Add(node);

Expanding and Collapsing Levels

You've already learned how to react when the user expands and collapses levels. However, you can also programmatically expand and collapse nodes. There are many uses for this trick:

  • Restoring a TreeView control to its "last viewed" state, so users can continue right where they left off with the control in the exact same state.
  • Ensuring that a particular node or set of nodes is visible to correspond with another activity. For example, the user might have made a selection in a different part of the window, or might be using a wizard that is stepping through the process.
  • Configuring the TreeView when the window is first loaded so that the user sees the most important (or most commonly used) nodes.

.NET provides a few ways to accomplish these tasks. First, every node provides four useful methods: Collapse(), Expand(), ExpandAll(), and Toggle(). The Expand() method acts on the immediate children, while ExpandAll() expands the node and all subnodes. To expand or collapse the entire tree, you can use one of the TreeView methods: ExpandAll() or CollapseAll().

node.Expand(); // Expand the node to display its immediate children.
node.Toggle(); // Switches the node: it was expanded, so now it is collapsed.
node.ExpandAll(); // Expand all nodes and subnodes.
tree.ExpandAll(); // Expand the entire tree.

You can also use a node's EnsureVisible() method. This extremely useful method expands whatever nodes are required to make a node visible, and scrolls to the appropriate location. This is extremely useful if you are iterating through a tree looking for a node that matches certain criteria.

// Search the first level of a TreeView control.
foreach (TreeNode node in tree.Nodes)
{
 if ((int)(node.Tag) == 12)
 {
 // Collapse the whole tree to hide unimportant nodes.
 tree.CollapseAll();

 // Expand just the node that interests the user.
 node.EnsureVisible();
 break;
 }
}

The TreeView control also provides a TopNode property that references the first fully visible node at the top of the current display window. It also provides a VisibleCount property that identifies the maximum number of nodes that can be displayed at a time in the TreeView at its current height.

TreeView Drag and Drop

TreeView controls can support drag-and-drop operations just as easily as any other .NET control. However, when information is dragged onto a TreeView, you generally need to determine what node it was "dropped" on. To perform this magic, you need to perform your own hit testing, with a little help from the TreeView.GetNodeAt() method.

The following example presents a form with two TreeViews. The user can drag a node from one TreeView to the other TreeView, or to another location in the same TreeView (see Figure 6-7). When a node is dropped, its content is copied, and the original branch is left untouched. Best of all, the code is generic, meaning that one set of event handlers responds to the events from both trees.

click to expand
Figure 6-7: Drag-and-drop operations with a TreeView

To start, you need to make sure that both TreeView controls can receive drag-and-drop events. At the same time, disable the HideSelection property so that you can highlight the node that will be the drop target, even if the TreeView doesn't have the focus.

treeOne.AllowDrop = true;
treeTwo.AllowDrop = true;
treeOne.HideSelection = false;
treeTwo.HideSelection = false;

The step is to create the MouseDown event handling logic that starts the drag-and-drop operation. This code needs to investigate whether there is a node under the mouse pointer. If there is, the node is copied (along with all subnodes) and a drag-and-drop operation is started.

private void tree_MouseDown(object sender, System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs e)
{
 // Get the tree.
 TreeView tree = (TreeView)sender;

 // Get the node underneath the mouse.
 TreeNode node = tree.GetNodeAt(e.X, e.Y);
 tree.SelectedNode = node;

 // Start the drag-and-drop operation with a cloned copy of the node.
 if (node != null)
 {
 tree.DoDragDrop(node.Clone(), DragDropEffects.Copy);
 }
}

Note that all the TreeView event handlers handle events in both trees. For example, the MouseDown event handler is attached to treeOne.MouseDown and treeTwo.MouseDown. This provides the flexibility that allows the user to drag nodes back and forth between both trees. In addition, this means that the event handler must retrieve the TreeView reference from the sender parameter to determine which tree fired the event.

Next, both trees need to handle the DragOver event. Note that you use this event, instead of the DropEnter event, because the operation is permitted or allowed based on whether there is a node under the current mouse pointer.

private void tree_DragOver(object sender, System.Windows.Forms.DragEventArgs e)
{
 // Get the tree.
 TreeView tree = (TreeView)sender;

 // Drag and drop denied by default.
 e.Effect = DragDropEffects.None;

 // Is it a valid format?
 if (e.Data.GetData(typeof(TreeNode)) != null)
 {
 // Get the screen point.
 Point pt = new Point(e.X, e.Y);

 // Convert to a point in the TreeView's coordinate system.
 pt = tree.PointToClient(pt);

 // Is the mouse over a valid node?
 TreeNode node = tree.GetNodeAt(pt);
 if (node != null)
 {
 e.Effect = DragDropEffects.Copy;
 tree.SelectedNode = node;
 }
 }
}

Note that the drag-and-drop events provide mouse coordinates in the screen's frame of reference (measuring from the top left corner of the desktop). To perform the hit testing, you need to convert this point to a point in the TreeView control's coordinate system (which measures from the top left of the control).

Finally, the actual copied node is inserted by a DragDrop event handler. The node that contains the added node is expanded to ensure that the addition is visible.

private void tree_DragDrop(object sender, System.Windows.Forms.DragEventArgs e)
{
 // Get the tree.
 TreeView tree = (TreeView)sender;

 // Get the screen point.
 Point pt = new Point(e.X, e.Y);

 // Convert to a point in the TreeView's coordinate system.
 pt = tree.PointToClient(pt);

 // Get the node underneath the mouse.
 TreeNode node = tree.GetNodeAt(pt);

 // Add a child node.
 node.Nodes.Add((TreeNode)e.Data.GetData(typeof(TreeNode)));

 // Show the newly added node if it is not already visible.
 node.Expand();
}

You can try this example in the TreeViewDragAndDrop project. This example doesn't provide any restrictions—it allows you to copy nodes anywhere you want. Most programs probably add more restrictive logic in the DragOver event handler. In addition, you might want to create a tree where dragging and dropping moves items instead of copies them. In this case, the easiest approach is to store a reference to the original node object (without cloning it):

tree.DoDragDrop(node, DragDropEffects.Copy);

The DragDrop event handler would then remove the node from the source tree, and add it to the target tree. However, you would typically need to perform some validation to ensure that the dragged node is an allowed child of the target node.


TreeNode nodeDragged = e.Data.GetData(typeof(TreeNode));

// Copy to new position.
node.Nodes.Add(nodeDragged.Clone());

// Remove from original position.
nodeDragged.Remove();
  Tip 

For even more advanced drag-and-drop possibilities, you can use the DoDragDrop() method with an instance of a custom class that encapsulates all the relevant information, instead of just the TreeView object.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Taming the TreeView

The TreeView control provides a sophisticated infrastructure that allows it to be used in countless different ways. Each individual TreeView, however, is generally only used in a specific set of limited ways, depending on the underlying data it represents. That means that the TreeView is an ideal control for subclassing.

A Project Tree

You can easily create custom TreeView classes that are targeted for a specific type of data. Consider the ProjectTree class that follows:

public class ProjectTree : TreeView
{
 // Use an enumeration to represent the three types of nodes.
 // Specific numbers correspond to the database field code.
 public enum StatusType
 {
 Unassigned = 101,
 InProgress = 102,
 Closed = 103
 }

 // Store references to the three main node branches.
 private TreeNode nodeUnassigned = new TreeNode("Unassigned", 0, 0);
 private TreeNode nodeInProgress = new TreeNode("In Progress", 1, 1);
 private TreeNode nodeClosed = new TreeNode("Closed", 2, 2);

 // Add the main level of nodes when the control is instantiated.
 public ProjectTree() : base()
 {
 base.Nodes.Add(nodeUnassigned);
 base.Nodes.Add(nodeInProgress);
 base.Nodes.Add(nodeClosed);
 }

 // Provide a specialized method the client can use to add nodes.
 public void AddProject(string name, StatusType status)
 {
 TreeNode nodeNew = new TreeNode(name, 3, 4);
 nodeNew.Tag = status;

 switch (status)
 {
 case StatusType.Unassigned:
 nodeUnassigned.Nodes.Add(nodeNew);
 break;
 case StatusType.InProgress:
 nodeInProgress.Nodes.Add(nodeNew);
 break;
 case StatusType.Closed:
 nodeClosed.Nodes.Add(nodeNew);
 break;
 }
 }
}

When you use this class in a program, you don't add nodes objects; instead, you add projects. The only variable elements for a project are the name and the status. Once your class has these two pieces of information, it can automatically add a node to the correct branch with the correct icon. (The icons are identified by numbers and only come into effect if an appropriately configured ImageList is attached to the ImageList property. This detail could be incorporated in the ProjectTree class, but it would require more work and wouldn't produce any obvious benefits.)

The client might use this custom TreeView as follows:

ProjectTree treeProjects = new ProjectTree();
treeProjects.Dock = DockStyle.Fill;
this.Controls.Add(treeProjects);

treeProjects.ImageList = imagesProjects;
DataTable dtProjects = GetAllProjects();

foreach (DataRow drProject in dtProjects.Rows)
{
 treeProjects.AddProject(drProject("Name").ToString(),
 drProject("Status").ToString());
}

The resulting display is shown in Figure 6-8.

click to expand
Figure 6-8: A custom TreeView

The appeal of this approach is that the appropriate user interface class wraps many of the extraneous details and makes the rest of the code more readable. Depending on your application, you might want to develop a custom TreeView like this into a separate assembly you can reuse in different products.

There's no limit to the possible features you can add to a TreeView class. For example, you can add special methods for finding nodes or presenting context menus. The danger is that you will make the control too specific, locking functionality into places where it can't be reused. Remember to think of your custom TreeView as a generic TreeView designed for a specific type of data. However, it should allow many different possible uses of that data. For example, if you determine that a user action should result in a database select or update, you must raise an event from the TreeView, and allow the code receiving that event to take care of the data layer.

A Data Aware TreeView

Another approach is to create a custom TreeView that recognizes the appropriate DataRow objects natively. When an item is selected, the custom class raises a specialized event that is more useful than the generic AfterSelect event. A different event is raised depending on the type of selected item, and the original DataRow object is returned as an argument.

public class ProjectUserTree : TreeView
{
 // Use an enumeration to represent the two types of nodes.
 public enum NodeType
 {
 Project,
 User
 }

 // Define a new type of higher-level event for node selection.
 public delegate void ItemSelectEventHandler(object sender,
 ItemSelectEventArgs e);

 public class ItemSelectEventArgs : EventArgs
 {
 public NodeType Type;
 public DataRow ItemData;
 }

 // Define the events that use this signature and event arguments.
 public event ItemSelectEventHandler UserSelect;
 public event ItemSelectEventHandler ProjectSelect;

 // Store references to the two main node branches.
 private TreeNode nodeProjects = new TreeNode("Projects", 0, 0);
 private TreeNode nodeUsers = new TreeNode("Users", 1, 1);

 // Add the main level of nodes when the control is instantiated.
 public ProjectUserTree() : base()
 {
 base.Nodes.Add(nodeProjects);
 base.Nodes.Add(nodeUsers);
 }

 // Provide a specialized method the client can use to add projects.
 // Store the corresponding DataRow.
 public void AddProject(DataRow project)
 {
 TreeNode nodeNew = new TreeNode(project["Name"].ToString(), 2, 3);
 nodeNew.Tag = project;
 nodeProjects.Nodes.Add(nodeNew);
 }

 // Provide a specialized method the client can use to add users.
 // Store the corresponding DataRow.
 public void AddUser(DataRow user)
 {
 TreeNode nodeNew = new TreeNode(user["Name"].ToString(), 2, 3);
 nodeNew.Tag = user;
 nodeUsers.Nodes.Add(nodeNew);
 }

 // When a node is selected, retrieve the DataRow and raise the event.
 protected override void OnAfterSelect(TreeViewEventArgs e)
 {
 base.OnAfterSelect(e);

 ItemSelectEventArgs arg = new ItemSelectEventArgs();
 arg.ItemData = (DataRow)e.Node.Tag;

 if (e.Node.Parent == nodeProjects)
 {
 arg.Type = NodeType.Project;
 ProjectSelect(this, arg);
 }
 else if (e.Node.Parent == nodeUsers)
 {
 arg.Type = NodeType.User;
 UserSelect(this, arg);
 }
 }
}

This technique of intercepting events and providing more useful, higher-level events is quite helpful, and provides an easier model to program against.

  Tip 

Chapter 9 shows an example of how a TreeView can interact without ADO.NET data objects, without needing to understand the underlying field structure. Look for the Decoupled TreeView example toward the end of the chapter.

Unusual Trees

Another reason you might want to create a custom TreeView is to create an unusual tree like the one Windows uses for print settings (see Figure 6-9).

click to expand
Figure 6-9: Windows print settings

When a node is clicked in this window, an edit control (like a text box) is provided allowing information to be added in-place. Implementing a design like this, as long as you define clear rules, is fairly straightforward. You could store a collection of controls, or even store a control in each node's Tag property. In the OnAfterSelect() method, check to see if the node has a corresponding control, and if it does, display it next to the node.

Design Time Support for the Custom TreeView

You'll notice that your custom control class isn't added to the Toolbox. To accomplish that, you need to create a separate control project, as explained in Chapter 8. However, there's no reason that you can't use the custom TreeView class by instantiating manually in your code, as we saw earlier:

ProjectTree tree = new ProjectTree();
tree.Dock = DockStyle.Fill;
this.Controls.Add(tree);

Another approach that works well for derived controls is to create a more basic, related control, and then modify the designer code in your form so that it creates your control instead. Then, you'll find that you can work with your control at design time, even setting its properties through the Properties window, without needing to create a separate project.

In this example, you create a standard TreeView. Then, replace the following two lines (found at different places in the designer code):

private tree As System.Windows.Forms.TreeView;
this.tree = new System.Windows.Forms.TreeView();

With these lines (where CustomTreeView is the namespace of your project):

private tree As CustomTreeView.ProjectTree;
this.tree = new CustomTreeView.ProjectTree();

The tree even appears in the designer with its three main branches. Unfortunately, it also develops the nasty habit of adding its basic set of nodes twice: one at design-time, which is serialized in the form's designer code, and again at runtime. Chapter 8 explains how to code around these quirky behaviors. You can also refer to the CustomTreeView project included with the online samples.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

The ToolBar

The ToolBar control represents a strip of buttons that gives access to various features in an application. Conceptually, toolbars play the same role as menus. The difference is that toolbars are only a single level deep and are often restricted to the most important functions. Menus use a multilayered hierarchical structure that provides a single point of access to all features in an application.

Toolbar buttons can include text and variable-size pictures. You can layer several toolbars on a form, and attach drop-down menus to a button. Figure 6-10 shows some common toolbar button styles.

click to expand
Figure 6-10: Toolbar styles

Unfortunately, .NET does not currently provide any way to create a "cool bar," the snap-in toolbar strip used in applications like Microsoft Word that can include other controls (like drop-down list boxes) and can be manually detached by the user into floating tool windows. This is likely to change with future .NET framework releases (or third-party development). Until then, you can start to create your own using the information in Chapter 8, or use ActiveX interop with the components provided with Visual Studio 6.

Most of the ToolBar properties are appearance-related (see Table 6-9).

Table 6-9: Appearance-related ToolBar Properties

Member

Description


Appearance

ToolBarAppearance.Normal makes buttons appear three-dimensional, like command buttons. ToolBarAppearance.Flat gives toolbar buttons a more modern look. They begin flat, and appear raised when the mouse moves over them. Separators on a toolbar with the Appearance property set to Flat appear as etched lines rather than spaces.


AutoSize

When true (the default), the toolbar sizes itself to accommodate the toolbar buttons, based on the button size, the number of buttons, and the DockStyle of the toolbar.


BorderStyle

When set to BorderStyle.Fixed3D the toolbar has a sunken, three-dimensional appearance. With BorderStyle.FixedSingle, the toolbar has a flat thin border around it.


ButtonSize

A size structure specifying a size for each button. If a size is not set, the default is used (24 pixels by 22 pixels), or a size is assigned that is large enough to accommodate the image and text for the button.


Divider

The default, true, displays a raised edge along the top of the toolbar to help separate it (typically from a menu).


DropDownArrows

When false, no down arrow is shown for toolbars that have linked menus (although the drop-down menu is still shown when the button is clicked). When set to true, drop-down buttons provide an arrow that the user must click to show the menu.


ImageList

The attached ImageList used for button pictures.


ShowToolTips

If set to true, you can set the ToolTipText property of each button object to assign a tooltip (the ToolTipProvider extender control is not used).


TextAlign

Sets the alignment for the button text on the toolbar. The options are underneath the image or to the right of the image.


Wrappable

If true (the default), and the toolbar becomes too small to display all the buttons on the same line, the toolbar is broken into additional lines, with the breaks occurring at the separators.


The most important part of a ToolBar is its Buttons property, which contains the collection of button controls. As with the TreeView and ListView, you can add individual ToolBarButton objects using a special designer in Visual Studio.NET (shown in Figure 6-11), or through code.

click to expand
Figure 6-11: Toolbar designer

Each ToolBarButton provides its own set of important properties, as listed in Table 6-10.

Table 6-10: ToolBarButton Properties

Member

Description


DropDownMenu

References a ContextMenu object that contains the dropdown menu that is shown for the button. You also must set the Style for the button to DropDown.


Enabled and Visible

When not enabled, the button appears dimmed (greyed out) and does not respond to button clicks. Buttons that are not visible do not appear in the toolbar.


ImageIndex

Assigns a picture from the ImageList bound to the toolbar.


PartialPush and Pushed

You can set Pushed to true to indent a button. This is typically used with toggle buttons, which can be pushed and unpushed by the user. PartialPush shows a dimmed pushed button, which is meant to show a combination of the pushed and unpushed states (for example, a Bold button might appear partially pushed if the current selection has both bold and normal text).


Style

Configures the type of button from the ToolBarButtonStyle enumeration. You can use PushButton for the standard button, Separator for an etched line between buttons (or just a space, depending on the ToolBar.Appearance setting), or ToggleButton for a button that appears sunken when clicked and retains the sunken appearance until clicked again.


Tag

Allows you to attach other information to a ToolBarButton. This property needs to be specifically added to this class by the .NET framework, as ToolBarButton does not inherit from the base Control class.


Text

The text that appears on the button face.


ToolTipText

The tooltip that is shown for the button, if the ToolBar.ShowToolTips property is true.


Reacting to button clicks is not much different than reacting to a menu. You can handle each ToolBarButton.Click event separately, or you can handle them with the same event handler, and inspect the object reference to determine which button was clicked.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Synchronizing the ToolBar

Usually, a toolbar duplicates functionality that is available in a window's menu. This can result in some rather tiresome state management code that has to carefully disable or enable menu items and the corresponding toolbar button at the same time. To simplify this process, you can create a customized menu class that automatically forwards its state to a linked toolbar control.

This custom control project is a little trickier than some of the previous examples. For one thing, it limits your ability to use the menu designer, because the custom menu items need to be created and added through code.

There's also more than one way to approach this problem. One possibility is to create a custom MenuItem class that stores a reference to a linked toolbar button.

public class LinkedMenuItem : MenuItem
{
 public ToolBarButton LinkedButton;

 // To save space, only one of the original constructors is used.
 public LinkedMenuItem(string text) : base(text)
 { }

 public bool Enabled
 {
 get
 {
 return base.Enabled;
 }
 set
 {
 base.Enabled = value;
 if (LinkedButton != null)
 {
 LinkedButton.Enabled = value;
 }
 }
 }
}

On the downside, this technique requires you to shadow the Enabled property (because it is not overridable), which is a sleight of hand that can further hamper design-time support for the menu. On the other hand, this is an extremely flexible approach. You could even replace LinkedButton with a collection that provides a whole series of controls that could be automatically enabled or disabled in the Enabled property procedure. Note that defensive programming is used to test the LinkedButton property before attempting to configure the referenced control, in case it has not been set.

The client program can create a linked menu using this class like this:

MainMenu menuMain = new MainMenu();
this.Menu = menuMain;

LinkedMenuItem menuItem1 = new LinkedMenuItem("File");
LinkedMenuItem menuItem2 = new LinkedMenuItem("Exit");

// This ToolBarButton is defined as a form-level variable.
menuItem2.LinkedButton = this.ToolBarButton2;

menuMain.MenuItems.Add(menuItem1);
menuItem1.MenuItems.Add(menuItem2);

// Both the ToolBarButton and MenuItem are disabled at once.
menuItem2.Enabled = false;

Another approach is to create a special MainMenu class. This class could provide an additional method that disables controls in tandem, without forcing you to observe this practice if you want to deal with MenuItem objects on your own. On the downside, you could forget to use the appropriate methods, and end up in an unsynchronized state. On the other hand, this approach provides you with more freedom. Figure 6-12 illustrates the difference.

click to expand
Figure 6-12: Two ways to synchronize a menu and toolbar

The link is performed simply by setting the Tag property of the ToolBarItem to reference the appropriate MenuItem, but there are other possibilities. The Linked-MainMenu needs to iterate over all the buttons to find the matching one.

public class LinkedMainMenu : MainMenu
{
 public ToolBar LinkedToolbar;

 public void Enable(MenuItem item)
 {
 SetEnabled(true, item);
 }

 public void Disable(MenuItem item)
 {
 SetEnabled(false, item);
 }

private void SetEnabled(bool state, MenuItem item)
 {
 item.Enabled = state;
 if (LinkedToolbar != null)
 {
 foreach (ToolBarButton button in LinkedToolbar.Buttons)
 {
 if ((MenuItem)button.Tag == item)
 {
 button.Enabled = state;
 }
 }
 }
 }
}

And the client would follow this pattern:

LinkedMainMenu menuMain = new LinkedMainMenu();
menuMain.LinkedToolbar = myToolBar; // myToolBar is a form-level variable
this.Menu = menuMain;

MenuItem menuItem1 = new MenuItem("File");
MenuItem menuItem2 = new MenuItem("Exit");
menuMain.MenuItems.Add(menuItem1);
menuItem1.MenuItems.Add(menuItem2);

// (Create toolbar buttons as usual.)
ExitToolBarButton.Tag = menuItem2;

// Both the ToolBarButton and MenuItem are disabled at once.
menuMain.Disable(menuItem2);

In this case, I walked through two different approaches to creating a custom control. The following chapters won't have the luxury to be quite as discursive, but it's important that you start to think about all the possibilities for enhancing, customizing, and integrating controls. This is one of the most exciting aspects of .NET user interface programming.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

The StatusBar

The StatusBar control is used to display brief information throughout the life of the application. This information should never be critical or take the place of informative messages or progress indicators, as many users won't notice it. This information should also be kept to a minimum to prevent a cluttered interface. Some possible status bar information includes:

  • Information about the application mode or operating context. For example, if your application can be run by many different types of users, you might use a status bar panel to provide information about the current user level (e.g., Administrator Mode). Similarly, a financial application might provide a label indicating U.S. Currency Prices if it's possible to switch regularly between several different pricing modes.
  • Information about the application status. For example, a database application might start by displaying Ready or Connected To… when you first log in, and then display Record Added when you update the database. This technique avoids stalling advanced users with a confirmation window where they need to click an OK button, but it can also easily be missed, leaving it unsuitable for some situations.
  • Information about a background process. For example, Microsoft Word provides some information about print operations while they are being spooled in its status bar.
  • Information about the current document. For example, most word processors use a status bar to display the current page count and the user's position in the document. Windows Explorer uses the status bar to display ancillary information like the total number of files in a folder.

These are some of the most useful ways to use a status bar. Status bars should never be used to display the current time. This common default is essentially useless, because the current time is always displayed in the system tray anyway.

Although a status bar can be docked to any side (as set by the Dock property), it is always placed at the bottom of the window by convention.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Basic StatusBar

There are two ways to use a status bar. You can display a single piece of text, or a combination of panels that can contain text or icons. To use a simple status bar, just set the ShowPanels and Text properties. This doesn't provide any border around the status bar (see Figure 6-13), so you might want to add an extra horizontal line above using a group box control.

click to expand
Figure 6-13: The simplest possible status bar

statusBar.ShowPanels = false;
statusBar.Text = "Ready";

You can also tweak the Font for the current text and the SizingGrip property, which enables or disables the grip lines on the bottom right corner of the status bar (where the user can grab to resize the form).

Alternatively, you can create a status bar that contains different pieces of information. This information is represented as a collection of StatusBarPanel objects in the Panels property. You can configure this collection at design-time using the custom designer, or at runtime in code.


StatusBarPanel pnlNew = new StatusBarPanel();
pnlNew.Text = "Ready";
statusBar.Panels.Add(pnlNew);

The StatusBarPanel object provides several appearance-related properties (see Table 6-11).

Table 6-11: StatusBarPanel Properties

Property

Description


Alignment

Determines how the text is aligned. The default is HorizontalAlignmnent.Left.


AutoSize

Determines how the panel should be sized using one of the values from the StatusBarPanelAutoSize enumeration. Contents means the panel is automatically sized to fit the text length. None means that the panel is fixed in size (based on its Width property). Spring means that the panel takes up all available space. You can use this for the last panel, or you can set several panels to spring (and grow proportionately as the status bar is expanded).


BorderStyle

Each panel can be displayed with the default sunken border, a different border, or no border at all.


Icon

You can display an icon in a panel along with its text by setting this property to a valid Icon object. The icon appears at the left of the panel.


MinWidth

If you are using autosizing, this is the minimum width the panel is given.


Text

The text that appears in the panel.


ToolTipText

The tooltip that appears when the user hovers the mouse over the panel.


Width

The current width of the panel, in pixels.


The code that follows creates a more sophisticated multipaneled status bar, shown in Figure 6-14:

click to expand
Figure 6-14: A status bar with panels

StatusBarPanel pnlStatus = new StatusBarPanel();
pnlStatus.Text = "Ready";
pnlStatus.Icon = new Icon(Application.StartupPath + "\active.ico");
pnlStatus.AutoSize = StatusBarPanelAutoSize.Contents;

StatusBarPanel pnlConnection = new StatusBarPanel();
pnlConnection.Text = "Connected to " + serverName;
pnlConnection.AutoSize = StatusBarPanelAutoSize.Spring;

statusBar.Panels.Add(pnlStatus);
statusBar.Panels.Add(pnlConnection);

The StatusBar raises a PanelClick event that provides information about the mouse position and the StatusBarPanel object that was clicked. You can respond to this event to create system tray-like functionality. For example, you could add an icon that can be clicked to change modes. This technique can be neat, but it is often not obvious to the average end user.

  Tip 

You will probably want to use form-level variables to store a reference to the StatusBarPanel objects that you need to update regularly.

Synchronizing the StatusBar to a Menu

There is no automatic way to connect menu item Help text to a status bar panel (some C++ programmers may remember this was a feature of the MFC application wizard). Before I tell you how you can do this, I should warn you why you might not want to.

The problem with putting menu Help text in the status bar is that even advanced users rarely associate two controls together when they are separated by so much physical space. In other words, those who need the Help text will have no idea that it is there. Even worse, most users don't understand that they can hover over a menu item to select it, and probably just understand clicking a menu item, which immediately activates without providing the helpful information. Many critics complain that the status bar Help text feature is just a gambit to use up extra space in the status bar (see Figure 6-15).

click to expand
Figure 6-15: An unhelpful status bar in Microsoft Paint

If you still want to create this interface, all you need to do is handle the MenuItem.Select method. This technique is very similar to the example shown in Chapter 4. However, the MenuItem class doesn't provide any Tag property where you can store additional information (like the Help text). Instead, you have to keep a hashtable collection handy, and use the control reference to look up the Help string.

// This method handles mnuOpen.Click, mnuNew.Click, mnuSave.Click, and so on.

private void mnu_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
{
 Status.Text = HelpCollection[sender];
}

You could also perform the same trick using a custom menu control, and overriding the OnSelect() method. It's similar to the technique used in the previous examples for the MenuItem interaction with a ToolBar. Chapter 7 shows a third way to implement this type of design-this time using a custom extender provider.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

The TabControl

The TabControl is another staple of Windows development-it groups controls into multiple "pages." The technique has become remarkably successful because it allows a large amount of information to be compacted into a small, organized space. It's also easy to use because it recalls the tabbed pages of a binder or notebook. Over the years, the tab control has evolved into today's form, which is sometimes called property pages.

In .NET, you create a TabControl object, which contains a collection of TabPage objects in the TabPages property. Individual controls are then added to each TabPage object. The example that follows shows the basic approach, assuming your form contains a TabControl called tabProperties.

TabPage pageFile = new TabPage("File Locations");
TabPage pageUser = new TabPage("User Information");

// Add controls to the tab pages.
// The code for creating and configuring the child controls is omitted.
pageUser.Controls.Add(txtFirstName);
pageUser.Controls.Add(txtLastName);
pageUser.Controls.Add(lblFirstName);
pageUser.Controls.Add(lblLastName);
tabProperties.TabPages.Add(pageFile);
tabProperties.TabPages.Add(pageUser);

The output for this code is shown in Figure 6-16.

click to expand
Figure 6-16: The TabPage control

  Note 

Chapter 11 presents an example that allows you to add controls to a TabPage without needing to supply a Location property. Instead, the layout is managed automatically.

The TabControl is easy to work with, and usually configured at design time. Some of its members are described in Table 6-12. TabPage properties are shown in Table 6-13.

Table 6-12: TabControl Members

Member

Description


Alignment

Sets the location of the tabs. With very few exceptions, this should always be TabAlignment.Top, which is the standard adopted by almost all applications.


Appearance

Allows you to configure tabs to look like buttons that stay depressed to select a page. This is another unconventional approach.


HotTrack

When set to true, the text in a tab caption changes to a highlighted hyperlink style when the user positions the mouse over it.


ImageList

You can bind an ImageList to use for the caption of each tab page.


Multiline

When set to true, allows you to create a tab control with more than one row of tab pages.


Padding

Configures a minimum border of white space around each tab caption. This does not affect the actual tab control, but it is useful if you need to add an icon to the TabPage caption and need to adjust the spacing to accommodate it properly.


RowCount and TabCount

Retrieves the number of rows of tabs and the number of tabs.


SelectedIndex and SelectedTab

Retrieves the index number for the currently selected tab, or the tab as a TabPage object, respectively.


ShowToolTips

Enables or disables tooltip display for a tab. This property is usually set to false.


SizeMode

Allows you to configure tab captions to be a fixed size, expand to the width of the contents, or match the size of the contents.


SelectedIndexChanged event

Occurs when the SelectedIndex property changes, usually as a result of the user clicking on a different tab.


Table 6-13: TabPage Properties

Property

Description


ImageIndex

The image shown in the tab.


Text

The text shown in the tab.


ToolTipText

The tooltip shown when the user hovers over the tab, if the TabControl.ShowToolTips property is true. No ToolTipProvider is used.


 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

The NotifyIcon

In past programming frameworks, it's been difficult to use a system tray icon. In .NET it's as easy as adding a simple NotifyIcon control.

  Note 

Like almost all invisible controls, the NotifyIcon doesn't inherit from the Control class. In other words, the list of members in Table 6-14 is essentially all you have to work with.

Table 6-14: NotifyIcon Members

Member

Description


ContextMenu

The ContextMenu linked the system tray. It is displayed automatically when the user right-clicks the icon.


Icon

The graphical icon that appears in the system tray (as an Icon object).


Text

The tooltip text that appears above the system tray icon.


Visible

Set this to true to show the icon. It defaults to false, giving you a chance to set up the rest of the required functionality.


Click, DoubleClick,
MouseDown,
MouseMove,
and MouseUp events

These events work the same as the Control class events with the same name. They allow you to respond to the mouse actions.


The NotifyIcon is an invisible control that appears in the component tray when added at design time. In many cases, it's more useful to create the NotifyIcon dynamically at runtime. For example, you might create a utility application that loads into the system tray and waits quietly, monitoring for some system event or waiting for user actions. In this case, you need to be able to create the system tray icon without displaying a form. A complete example of this technique is shown in Chapter 11.

 
Chapter 6 - Modern Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

The Last Word

In this chapter you've toured some of the most important controls used in typical Windows user interfaces. Even as I've introduced these staples, I've already started to show you how you can tweak and extend them with custom control classes. Developing custom controls is one of the key ways to tame these full-featured controls. You'll see more examples throughout the book, including Chapter 7, where you will tackle a directory browser TreeView that reads information from the underlying file system automatically.

 
Chapter 7 - Custom Controls
 
byMatthew MacDonald  
Apress 2002
has companion web siteCompanion Web Site
 

Custom Controls





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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