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Home > Archive > SSW Standards > Better Software Suggestions > SSW Microsoft Visual Studio .NET (Windows Forms) Suggestions

  1. Neat format when copying Tables and Views (developers) and .NET Data Grids (end users)

    When a row is copied to the clipboard from a table/view in Microsoft Access and pasted into a word-processing document (e.g. WordPad, Word), the data is automatically formatted as a table.
    This doesn't work with .NET DataGrids; instead, when pasted into a document, the row comes out as a string of characters and tabs that make up the row, not as a formatted table.

    Figure: The pasted row turns out alright when copied from Access.

    Figure: This is the same row copied from a Visual Studio DataGrid/DataGridView - the formatting should be as good as Access was in 1992!

    In addition, add the ability to copy from a list box. Once you have this, then I won't have this silly recommendation .

  2. Right-Click/Filter-By Control for Tables and Views (developers) and .NET Data Grids (end users)

    This is exactly the same functionality I requested for Outlook , but giving developers access to this Control would be very handy.

  3. Make .NET TreeView Tri-State

    The .NET TreeView control allows for the display of checkboxes beside each item. If these checkboxes were tri-state; i.e. could be either checked, unchecked or gray, it would make it easier for certain types of information to be represented.

    For example, if the sub-items of a particular tree node were partially selected and the node was collapsed, the checkbox for that node would fittingly be neither checked nor unchecked but gray.

    Figure: Here's an example of where a tri-state-checkbox TreeView could be implemented.

  4. Invoking an OLE DB Data Link Properties Dialog Box

    The OLE DB Data Link Properties Dialog Box (see screenshot) is a commonly used dialog that allows a user to configure a connection to an OLE DB data source.

    There are well documented methods of invoking this dialog box from a Visual Basic 6.0 application. (See Microsoft's HOWTO: Invoke the OLE DB Data Link Properties Dialog Box in Visual Basic Code page.) For .NET programmers, however, there will be a native .NET class for handling this.

    Data link properties
    Figure: OLE DB Data Link Properties Dialog Box

    Figure: Visual Studio 2005 comes with a new Database Connection dialog, but it is not publicly accessible from an API

    It would be a good thing for developers to use the standard UDL control to get database settings in their applications.

    This functionality could be provided as part of the System.Windows.Forms as a standard UI form (for example "File Open" functionality). You will be able to filter out datasources based on their type (e.g. hide all OLE types) just as you might filter out file extensions.

    PS: And please Scott Guthrie (from the ASP.NET team), give us the same thing in a web control.

  5. Make Separate Event Handlers for ToolBarButtons (this is total inconsistency)

    Visual Basic .NET has made the implementation of menus on forms quite simple and straightforward. Each MenuBar has its own MenuItems, and each of these MenuItems can be assigned a separate event handler, as in the following example.

    Private Sub MenuItem6_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs)
        Handles MenuItem6.Click
    End Sub

    Private Sub MenuItem7_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MenuItem7.Click
    End Sub

    Private Sub MenuItem9_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MenuItem9.Click
    End Sub
    Figure: VB .NET menu example

    There are similarities between creating MenuItems for a MenuBar and creating ToolBarButtons for a ToolBar. It would be easy and convenient to handle each toolbar button's Click event separately. However, this is not possible.

    The only way to process such an event at all, currently, is to use the ToolBar's ButtonClick event, as seen below.

    Private Sub ToolBar1_ButtonClick(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.ToolBarButtonClickEventArgs)
        Handles ToolBar1.ButtonClick
        If e.Button Is btnNewClient Then
        ElseIf e.Button Is btnApplyFilter Then
        ElseIf e.Button Is btnRemoveFilter Then
            MsgBox("Logic Error")
        End If
    End Sub
    Figure: Toolbar ButtonClick event

    As you can see, it would be simpler and less messy if we had each menu item's Click event handled in a separate event procedure.

  6. DirtyProvider control

    Many intrinsic .NET controls could benefit from an IsDirty property (or equivalent) that allows you to query whether or not the control has been changed by the user in any way.
    An IsDirty property could be provided by an extended provider in much the same way as the Tooltip property is provided by the ToolTip control.

    The code below demonstrates the use of an IsDirty property.

    If DirtyProvider1.GetIsDirty(Me) = True Then
       Dim result As MsgBoxResult = MsgBox("Do you want to save changes?", MsgBoxStyle.YesNoCancel, "Save")
       Select Case result
          Case MsgBoxResult.Yes
          Case MsgBoxResult.Cancel
             e.Cancel = True
          Case MsgBoxResult.No
             ' Do nothing - the form will close
          Case Else
             MsgBox("Logic Error")
       End Select

    End If
    Figure: Example IsDirty code
  7. Make Extender Provider Properties More Visible

    Extender providers are objects that add properties to other controls. They are useful in a number of areas. For example, the ErrorProvider control adds an Error property to all controls, through which the developer can provide notification of errors to the user.

    However, properties specific to a particular extender provider are often difficult to locate in the properties window because they're mixed in with other properties belonging to a control. Extender provider properties will be separated from normal properties; this could be done by:

    • Color-coding them in the properties window (using the background color)
    • Allowing the user to select an extender provider from the top combo (see figure)


      Figure: Extender provider could be selected from the top combo box

    Furthermore, when an extender provider and a normal control are selected simultaneously, none of the extender properties are shown in the properties window, as seen below.

    Extended provider

    Figure: Extender provider properties will be shown when extender provider and regular control are selected.

  8. Sub forms

    Access sub forms were fantastic. So simply and so effective. Visual Studio needs an out-of-the-box equivalent to manage Master/Child relationships.

  9. Hiding properties in inherited forms

    Using special attributes, it is possible to hide properties from the designer in inherited forms (see Rules to Better Windows Forms ). However, it would be better to be able to disable properties (have them appear grayed out or with strikethrough).

  10. Would like a Bread crumb control for windows forms

    This would be used in wizards this is too much work to do manually at the moment.

    Extended provider
    Figure: Bread crumb control for SSW Upsizing PRO!.

  11. ListView shouldn't change the checkbox's checkstate on double click

    By default, ListView with checkboxes will automatically check or uncheck the checkbox on double click. This default behaviour somehow could be very annoying and make your ListView looks bugged if you have a custom action for double click event.

    Example of ListView that will have custom action on double click:
    This ListView needs custom action on double click.
    Users would expect to edit the value of "Path" on double click, not check/uncheck the checkbox.
    Double click will really just do 1 action (edit).

    How we fix this:

    private bool isDoubleClick = false; 
    private void listView1_MouseDown(object sender, System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs e) 
    { if ((e.Button == MouseButtons.Left) && (e.Clicks >= 2) ) 
        { isDoubleClick = true; } 
    private void listView1_ItemCheck(object sender, System.Windows.Forms.ItemCheckEventArgs e) 
    { if (isDoubleClick) 
        { e.NewValue = e.CurrentValue; isDoubleClick = false; } 
    private void listView1_DoubleClick(object sender, System.EventArgs e) 
    { // Your custom action for double click goes here. :) 

    Make a boolean property "Automatically check/uncheck checkbox on double click".
    Automatically check/uncheck the checkbox is good (and needed) if the ListView doesn't have any action on double click.

  12. Need the ability to trim characters from a string that does not completely fit into a ListView column

    To implement a custom string trimming in ListView, we need to override the Paint event of the ListView. However, the ListView in .NET 1.x is not really a .NET control, it is just wrapper around the control in ComCtl. It doesn't have the OwnerDraw property and Paint Event like other .NET controls.
    There are a few workarounds like generating Paint Event for ListView on CodeProject.com, but they don't work out really good.

    Update: .NET Framework 2.0

    This can be implemented easily in .NET Framework 2.0.


    Figure: This can be implemented easily in .NET Framework 2.0


    1. Set OwnerDraw of ListView to True.
    2. ListView in .NET 2.0 has DrawColumnHeader, DrawItem, and DrawSubItem event handlers. In this case, DrawSubItem is what we need, add the code like below:
      Private Sub ListView1_DrawSubItem(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.DrawListViewSubItemEventArgs)
      Handles ListView1.DrawSubItem e.DrawText(TextFormatFlags.PathEllipsis) 
      End Sub
  13. Make ComboBox control sortable

    We believe ComboBox control will have a property to make it sortable, which may be called 'SortMember' like the existing properties of 'DisplayMember' and 'ValueMember'.
  14. Ctrl+A to select all text for TextBox

    We believe TextBox control will have a property to enable Ctrl+A to select all text for TextBox, which may be called 'AcceptsCtrlA' like the existing properties 'AcceptsReturn' and 'AcceptsTab"; It will make us easy to copy all text by CTRL+A and then CTRL+C - especially for copy long text in multiple-lines TextBox;

    Private Sub txtScript_KeyDown(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.KeyEventArgs) Handles txtScript.KeyDown 
    If e.Control And Also e.KeyCode = Keys.A Then
    End If 
    End Sub 

    Figure: Get CTRL+A to select all text in TextBox.

  15. A top CheckBox to "select all" in windows forms

    The header of a checkbox column (e.g. in DataGridView) will contain a checkbox by default. When this checkbox is checked, all checkboxes below are checked too. This checkbox is more than a check box with all things (e.g. properties, methods and events) applied to a CheckBox control.

    A top checkbox to select all checkboxes
    Figure: A top checkbox to select all checkboxes underneath it in a windows form
  16. Adding an error provider on a tab header

    According to our experience, the error provider icon will be able to show on a tab header to indicate the tabpage contains errors.

    Add an error provider on a tab
    Figure: Add an error provider on an Tab Header.
  17. Transparent images don't get rendered correctly

    Transparent images don't get rendered correctly
    Figure: Transparent images don't get rendered correctly.

    Transparent images don't get rendered correctly
    Figure: Transparent images don't get rendered correctly in project properties form as well.

    The purple area will be rendered as transparent.

  18. Add support for pasting in screenshots

    We can always paste images into the content in Outlook, but we don't have any control to support this feature. Sometimes images are more expressive than words, especially when we want to describe a kind of state or result. Why can't we just paste in the sceenshots from the clipboard?

    See the similar suggestion to web forms

  19. Have a CheckedListBox support Control+A and Control+C

    Add support for Control+A to select all items.
    Add support for Control+C to copy all items to the clipboard.

    These functionalities should be default in Windows Forms
    Figure: Windows Forms should have the same functionality

    See the same suggestion at Microsoft WPF Suggestions .


Jatin Valabjee
Adam Cogan
Edward Forgacs
Ryan Tee