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Common Features

All of the list controls in this library share a common set of features:

  • The controls supports various data source types just like other .NET controls such as the standard combo box (data sets, data views, data tables, array lists or any other collection object that implement the IList interface, and simple strings).

  • The controls have item indexer properties that allow you to retrieve any column value by name from the data source for the currently selected item or any row in the data source. Any column value from the data source can be retrieved, not just those used as the display and value members.

  • A simple ListItem object is supplied that can be used with an array list as the data source for the list controls.

  • For the combo box controls, the Items collection is sortable in ascending or descending order if not using a data source (i.e. items are added directly to the Items collection).

  • All of the controls are Windows XP theme-aware and will utilize the current theme by default if the application has a manifest file or if Application.EnableVisualStyles() has been called.

  • Design-time support is included for defining formatting, layout, data source, and many other control properties.

The Radio Button List Control and Its Features

The RadioButtonList control provides a single-selection radio button group that supports data binding, layout options, and data source indexers. It provides a similar set of properties as the combo box control for working with the selected item (i.e. SelectedIndex, SelectedValue, etc.). It also provides the following features:

  • The radio button list supports four different layout methods (single column, single row, down then across, and across then down). For the last two, the control will automatically lay out the radio buttons in columns using a best fit algorithm. Properties are also provided to let you modify the padding around the list and between columns and rows.

  • The radio button list is resizable at runtime and can scroll both vertically and horizontally when necessary to display items that exceed the bounds of the control.

  • The control supports an image list to display images for each radio button entry. Images can be displayed with or without text.

  • Alignment properties are provided for the checkmark, image, and text so that you can define the layout of the radio button entries in the list.

  • The control supports displaying entries as normal radio buttons or as button controls without the checkmark.

  • An optional title can be displayed on the border above the list.

The Checkbox List Control and Its Features

The CheckBoxList control provides a multi-selection checkbox group that supports data binding, layout options, and data source indexers. It provides the same set of properties and features as the RadioButtonList control shown above (using checkboxes instead) and provides the following additional features:

  • The Checked and CheckState properties of any checkbox in the list can be retrieved or set by index (numeric) position or by key (ValueMember) value.

  • The indices of the checked items or the values of the checked items from the data source can be returned using the CheckedIndices and CheckedItems properties.

  • The checkbox list can use three-state checkboxes (checked, unchecked, and indeterminate).

  • Each checkbox in the list can be bound to an individual field in another data source using the BindingMembers and BindingMembersDataSource properties.

  • By setting the BorderStyle to Sunken, the ListBackColor to Window, and the FlatStyle to Flat you can simulate a CheckedListBox control's appearance but gain access to all of the additional features of the CheckBoxList control such as data binding, layout options, formatting, an image list, data source indexers, setting the check state of items by key, etc.

The Combo Box Controls and Their Features

The AutoCompleteComboBox is identical to the standard combo box control with the addition of auto-completion to select matching entries as the user types text. The auto-complete feature is available in all combo box styles (DropDown, DropDownList, and Simple).

The MultiColumnComboBox provides the same features as the standard combo box control but with a drop-down list that is capable of showing multiple columns of information. It also provides the following features:

  • The control supports auto-completion in all combo box styles to select matching entries as the user types text.

  • Various new events have been added and behavior changes made to fix problems that are present in the standard combo box control. See the tutorial for more information.

  • Unlike other implementations of multi-column combo boxes, the form hosting the control will not lose focus. Instead, the control acts like the normal combo box allowing the parent form to retain focus and the text box portion to retain the keyboard cursor.

  • The drop-down portion auto-sizes itself when first displayed based on the defined settings. It also positions itself correctly on the screen either below or above the combo box to show the maximum number of items based on its defined settings.

  • The drop-down portion is resizable at runtime and can scroll both vertically and horizontally when necessary. The Simple combo box style is also supported.

  • If no column settings are defined, the drop-down will display all columns from the data source with basic formatting.

  • If type information is available in the data source, the drop-down will automatically show Boolean values using a checkbox column.

  • A ColumnFilter property allows you to let the drop-down add the data source columns automatically but limits them to the ones that you specify.

  • For finer control over the columns displayed as well as their formatting options, column style definitions can be used to specify the columns to display in the drop-down as well as their format (alignment, column header text, format string, null text, width, etc).

  • When defining column styles, you can use the standard text box or boolean data grid columns supplied with .NET or you can use custom third-party column types such as label columns, image columns, progress bar columns, etc (all drop-down data is read-only).

  • If you define drop-down column styles, setting the Width property to -1 will cause the drop-down to size the column to the preferred width. Setting the width to zero will cause the drop-down to size the column to the longest value in the data source for the column. Setting the width to any other positive value will size the column to the specified width.

The UserControlComboBox provides the same features as the standard combo box control but with a drop-down that is capable of showing any user control that you define. It also provides the following features:

  • Various new events have been added and behavior changes made to fix problems that are present in the standard combo box control. See below for more information.

  • The control supports auto-completion in all combo box styles to select matching entries as the user types text.

  • The drop-down portion displays a user control that you create and derive from the supplied DropDownControl class. This allows it to show non-standard lists such as tree views, list views, or any combination of controls that you can imagine. For this control, the parent form will lose the focus when the drop-down is displayed so that controls within the drop-down can gain the focus.

  • The drop-down portion auto-sizes itself when first displayed based on the defined user control. It also positions itself correctly on the screen either below or above the combo box to show as much of the user control as possible.

  • The drop-down portion is resizable at runtime and can scroll both vertically and horizontally when necessary. The Simple combo box style is also supported.

The Data List Controls and Their Features

The DataList control allows you to specify a user control template that is used to display and edit information from a data source similar in nature to the DataList web server control, the subform control or continuous forms detail section in a Microsoft Access form, or the DataRepeater control from Visual Basic 6. It provides the following features:

  • Add, update, and delete behavior is detected based on the data source and each behavior can also be disabled via properties on the control.

  • If additions are allowed, the data list will display a "new row" placeholder at the end of the list. A new row is automatically added to the data source if you modify any of the controls in the placeholder row template.

  • The control will refresh the displayed rows automatically if it detects changes to its data source such as rows directly added to or removed from the data source or direct changes made to fields in a row in the data source rather than through the row template.

  • The control supports data set relationships so you can use it to edit information displayed in a master/detail format.

  • Navigation controls are provided that let you move from record to record, jump to a specific record, delete a row, and jump to the new row item.

  • A caption area can be displayed at the top of the data list similar to the caption option in the DataGrid control.

  • A customizable separator can be shown to provide a dividing line between rows in the list.

  • A row header can be shown to indicate the currently selected row. An indicator is also displayed on the new row item when it does not have the focus.

  • If row headers are visible, one or more rows can be selected by clicking on a row header and dragging the mouse. Shift-clicking the mouse on a row header can be used to extend the selection up or down. Methods and properties are also provided to set the row selection range.

  • Clicking and dragging in the row headers within the current selection will fire the BeginDrag event so that you can initiate a drag and drop operation.

  • Various events are provided to let you add functionality for occurrences such as rows being data bound, adding a row, deleting a row, a row being made the current row, etc.

  • A user control derived from the supplied TemplateControl class is used to provide a means for displaying and editing rows from the data source. This template can contain any controls in any layout that you need to display and edit information (text boxes, combo boxes, list boxes, radio buttons, etc).

  • The template controls for each row are initialized and bound as they are scrolled into view to save time and resources. This makes it ideal for small data sets and still makes it responsive when dealing with much larger data sets. It also lets you customize the formatting of elements on a row-by-row basis (i.e. color-code fields in each row based on their value, etc).

  • User controls derived from the TemplateControl class can also be specified to provide a header and/or footer for the data list. The header and footer are placed in fixed positions vertically but will scroll horizontally with the data rows if necessary. As with the data rows, the header and footer templates can contain any controls in any layout that you need to display and edit information (text boxes, combo boxes, list boxes, radio buttons, etc). Since the header and footer templates are fixed, they are bound to the data source as a whole rather than to individual rows within the data source. Information in bound fields in the header and footer will update as you move from row to row in the detail section.

  • Definable shortcut keys are provided to let you delete rows in the data source, jump to the new row item, jump to the row number navigation text box, and to switch between the header, detail, and footer sections.

  • Hitting the Escape key will cancel changes to the current row.

  • Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab let you tab out of the data list to the following or preceding control on the form. When tabbing back into the data list, the last focused row will regain the focus.

  • A ClickableLabel control is provided so that clicking a label in a row template will give it the focus. This can also be used in other forms to focus a control when its associated label is clicked.

The Data Navigator Control and Its Features

The DataNavigator control allows you to navigate through a data source using a set of VCR-style buttons displaying one row at a time.

  • Add, update, and delete behavior is detected based on the data source and each behavior can also be disabled via properties on the control.

  • The control supports data set relationships so you can use it to edit information displayed in a master/detail format.

  • Navigation controls are provided that let you move from record to record, jump to a specific record, delete a row, and add a new row.

  • Various events are provided to let you add functionality for occurrences such as adding a row, deleting a row, a row being made the current row, etc.

  • Definable shortcut keys are provided to let you delete rows in the data source, add a new row to the data source, and jump to the row number navigation text box.

  • Hitting the Escape key will cancel changes to the current row.

The Extended Tree View Control and Its Features

The ExtendedTreeView control is a fully owner-drawn tree view control that overcomes some limitations in the way the default tree view is drawn. It also provides several additional features to make it easier to use than the standard tree view control.

  • Several visual changes have been made to make it look better (the node background color draws all the way across, unthemed checkboxes do not have the thick black border, hot tracking works on nodes with their own font, and many more).

  • Two new draw events, TreeNodeDrawing and TreeNodeDrawn are raised in place of the standard DrawNode event to give you more options to customize the tree node appearance before and after it has been drawn.

  • When using a state image list without checkboxes, a new ChangeStateImage event is raised when the image is clicked or the space bar is hit.

  • When LabelEdit is set to true, F2 initiates editing on the selected node. Additional hot keys are also supported to expand and collapse the nodes in the tree.

  • The AllowCollapse property can be used to specify whether or not nodes can be collapsed when ShowPlusMinus is false.

  • The control implements IEnumerable and IEnumerable<T> so that you can enumerate all of its nodes recursively using a simple for/each loop. You can also use TreeNodeEnumerator to enumerate the nodes in one branch and, optionally, its subsequent siblings. This saves you from having to write recursive methods to handle child nodes.

  • The SyncParentChildCheckedState property can be set to true to ensure that the checked state of parent and child nodes is synchronized.

  • An item indexer property is available to retrieve nodes from the tree view by node name.

  • Methods have been added to allow setting or getting the check state of a node by name as well as for checking and unchecking all nodes in the tree view.

  • The CheckedNodes property can be used to obtain a collection containing the current set of checked nodes.

See Also