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Custom Forms Designer RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    I need to create a custom forms designer and I was looking for different options when I found http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/bb510103.aspx where it shows the possibility of using Visual Studio Isolated Shell.

    Let me explain what I am trying to achieve first. We are in a business of developing customised software applications using Microsoft .NET & SQL Server technologies. Our application has a dynamic nature and many of the application’s visual aspects (mainly the Forms) are dynamically constructed upon request. At the moment we are using a third party component from Developer Express called Vertical Grid to achieve the result but the trouble is as the name suggests, Vertical Grid lays out all the controls in a vertical grid with labels on the left and editable controls on right which is not very user friendly.

    I have been allocated to investigate the possibility of creating our own Form’s Designer application which would have a list of available controls from the schema’s (custom xml documents we have) and the administrator can use the designer to move those controls around and have a real world feeling of a form rather than just have all controls in a vertical grid. So basically all I need is an application where I can list controls in a toolbox (just like VS2008), a designer area (no code behind is required) and the property box to change properties of any control. At the end I would take the output of the designer code (if possible in our own xml format so we can render them ourselves). Again the main purpose of this is to let one of the client administrator design the user interface layout and save the layout for distribution.

    I have got Visual Studio 2008 Professional SP1, .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 SDK 1.1 installed. So my question is can I use Visual Studio 2008 SDK to create an isolated Visual Studio Shell application that I can distribute to the clients so they don’t have to purchase and install Visual Studio and still manage to achieve what I want? If I am on a wrong track then could you please point me to the correct direction or a resource so I can ask more question and get more help?

    In a nutshell all I want is the Toolbox, Designer surface to drop controls and then move them around and a standard property box. I don’t need the menu or toolbar or solution explorer or debug windows or anything like that at all. I would also like to know licensing implications of distribution.

    Hope I have provided clear information for you to understand what I need to achieve. If you have any questions the please don’t hesitate to ask me and I will get back to you as quick as possible.

    Cheers :)

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010 12:15 AM

Answers

  • Hello,

    Thanks for using MSDN forum.

    Do you want to reuse the windows form's designer surface functionalities (including dragging and dropping from toolbox) and save the form's data into an xml file without requiring buying Visual Studio license? Please correct me if my undersanding is wrong.

    If so, Isolated shell is not required here. Actually, I don't think windows form's package is allowed to be distributed along with a shell.

    My suggestion for you is to host windows form designer in a windows form application and you can customize the designer serialization by writing your own serializer.

    The following links can help you to understand how to do it:

    Create And Host Custom Designers With The .NET Framework 2.0

    Designer Serialization Overview

    Hope it helps.


    Hongye Sun [MSFT]
    MSDN Subscriber Support in Forum
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    Thursday, April 29, 2010 6:51 AM

All replies

  • Hello,

    Thanks for using MSDN forum.

    Do you want to reuse the windows form's designer surface functionalities (including dragging and dropping from toolbox) and save the form's data into an xml file without requiring buying Visual Studio license? Please correct me if my undersanding is wrong.

    If so, Isolated shell is not required here. Actually, I don't think windows form's package is allowed to be distributed along with a shell.

    My suggestion for you is to host windows form designer in a windows form application and you can customize the designer serialization by writing your own serializer.

    The following links can help you to understand how to do it:

    Create And Host Custom Designers With The .NET Framework 2.0

    Designer Serialization Overview

    Hope it helps.


    Hongye Sun [MSFT]
    MSDN Subscriber Support in Forum
    If you have any feedback on our support, please contact msdnmg @ microsoft.com

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help and unmark them if they provide no help.
    Welcome to the All-In-One Code Framework! If you have any feedback, please tell us.
    See what's happening in MSDN forum? Follow us at Twitter.
    Thursday, April 29, 2010 6:51 AM
  • Thanks Hongye.

    Yes I do want to use a Toolbox and Drag & Drop controls on to a designer surface and also want to use the PropertyBox. I don't want the code view as all I need it to be able to retrieve the xml of those controls.

    To be more clear I don't really want to show all the controls either, I just want to show selected components only (e.g. a list from xml file or something like that). But the most required feature would be to have the designer surface which has the snap to grid, align and all the fancy features of a visual studio.

    We already have a license for Visual Studio and if I create it using the Isolated Shell then I am pretty good on licensing front.

    I will look further into Create And Host Custom Designers.

    Cheers :)

    Friday, April 30, 2010 9:22 AM
  • Hi Hongye Sun,

    Thanks for your links

    I saw you Link, Create And Host Custom Designers With The .NET Framework 2.0 , But I don't know how I can design an existing form (I have some forms in my application and want customize them in run-Time) with this custom designer.

     

    Would you help me.

     

    Best regards, Mohammad.

    Monday, November 15, 2010 5:04 PM