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Working with Menus and Dialog Boxes. Objectives. You will be able to Create and edit menus for Windows Forms applications. Write code to handle menu commands. Use a standard Open File dialog to permit a user to select a file to be opened. The Schedule Viewer Program.

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You will be able to

  • Create and edit menus for Windows Forms applications.
  • Write code to handle menu commands.
  • Use a standard Open File dialog to permit a user to select a file to be opened.
the schedule viewer program
The Schedule Viewer Program
  • Existing program in Downloads area.
  • Reads a CSV file consisting of schedule entries and displays the schedule.
  • File path is hard coded.
    • Program opens the file on startup.
the schedule viewer program1
The Schedule Viewer Program
  • We will add a menu.
    • Traditional Windows menu.
    • Includes an Open command.
  • We will also add an Open File dialog
    • Permit the user to select the file to be viewed.
    • Traditional Windows Look and Feel
  • There is a zipped project folder and a data file in the Downloads area of the class web site:
  • Also, download the CSV schedule files.
  • Put the csv files into a convenient folder and set the path string in Form1.cs to match the Spring 2010.
  • Build and run the project
tighten up some more columns
Tighten Up Some More Columns

cols[3].AutoSizeMode = DataGridViewAutoSizeColumnMode.None;

cols[3].Width = 30; // Credit Hours

cols[6].AutoSizeMode = DataGridViewAutoSizeColumnMode.None;

cols[6].Width = 30; // Seats Open

menu conventions
Menu Conventions
  • Windows programs often have a menu bar.
  • Follow a pattern in their menus
        • File
          • New
          • Open
          • Save
          • Print
          • Exit
        • Edit
          • Copy
          • Paste
  • Users are familiar with this pattern.
how to create a menu
How to Create a Menu
  • Design Time
    • Normal case
    • Menu Editor in Visual Studio .NET
  • Run Time
    • Program can build menu dynamically
creating a menu at design time
Creating a Menu at Design Time
  • Open Form1 [Design]
  • View Toolbox
  • Expand “Menus & Toolbars” section
  • Drag the MenuStrip to the form.
add menustrip to form1
Add MenuStrip to Form

Menu component appears here (in “component tray”)

the component tray
The Component Tray
  • Represents components that do not otherwise provide a visible surface at design time.
  • Provides a way to access and set the properties of those components at design time.
  • Right click on control in component tray and select “Properties” to view and set its properties.
working with the menustrip

Menu template appears here

Type the menu heading here. (e.g., &File)

Working with the MenuStrip
working with the menustrip1
Working with the MenuStrip
  • A menu strip template appears at the top of the design surface.
    • If not, click on menuStrip1 in the component tray.
    • May need to expand the grey strip just below the title bar.
  • Type &File in the “Type Here” box
  • Type &Open in the next box that appears under the first one.
Why “&”
  • The “&” in front of a letter in a menu caption defines a key to open that menu.
  • At runtime, the F in the menu caption will be underlined as a cue to the user
  • The user can type ALT+F to open the menu.
    • Same effect as clicking on the caption.
  • Holding down ALT, the user can type O to select the Open command.
    • Same effect as clicking on the command.
menu events
Menu Events
  • There are a lot of menu events
    • See Events in Properties window.
    • You can write code to handle any of these events.
    • Normally you only need to be concerned with one of them: Click
how to provide a click function
How to Provide a “Click” Function
  • In designer mode, click on the menu caption. (e.g., File)
  • The menu drops down.
  • Double click on the menu item.
  • Visual Studio creates a stub for the Click function for that item and takes you to that point in the code window.
menu events1
Menu Events

Double click here.

how to provide a click function1
How to Provide a “Click” Function

This appears in the editor window:

private void openToolStripMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)



You normally won’t need to use these arguments.

Add your code to handle the “Open” command here.

add open event handler
Add Open Event Handler
  • Fill in a dummy event handler for now:

MessageBox.Show("Open command");

build and start
Build and start
  • Menu should appear.
  • Open should display message box.
add code to handle open command
Add Code to Handle Open Command
  • Modify the program to open c:\schedule_2011_fall.csv and display the schedule when the user clicks Open
  • Move the call to import_schedule() and following statements from Form1_Load to openToolStripMenuItem_Click
    • replacing MessageBox.Show()
    • Try it!
adding commands to the menu
Adding Commands to the Menu
  • Continue for as many commands as you need for that menu
  • Example:



  • To create a separator bar, type a minus sign as the command name.
adding commands to the menu1
Adding Commands to the Menu
  • Continue to add command names and separator bars as needed.
  • Example:







  • Note that these are the conventional access keys for commands by these names.
setting menu item properties
Setting Menu Item Properties
  • Right click on the menu component in the component tray
  • Select “Properties” on the pop up menu.
setting menustrip properties
Setting MenuStrip Properties
  • You can change properties of the overall MenuStrip in its Properties window.
  • Example: RightToLeft supports languages that write from right to left.
    • You won’t need to think about this so long as you only use English in your application.
    • FYI – Microsoft provides extensive support for “internationalization”.
setting menu item properties1
Setting Menu Item Properties
  • Each item on the menu has its own properties.
  • Right click on the item to open a context menu, then click on Properties.
setting properies of open

Right click here.

Then click here.

Setting Properies of Open

Properties window for the menu item appears.

shortcut keys
Shortcut Keys
  • Shortcut Keys vs. Access Keys
    • Access Keys, like Alt+X, only work when the menu is dropped down.
      • When you could click the command
    • A “shortcut” key can be used at any time
      • Example: Ctrl+S for Save
    • You can use the Properties window to define shortcut keys.
      • Ctrl+O for Open
shortcut keys2
Shortcut Keys
  • At runtime the menu will indicate the shortcut key in the form Ctrl+O
how to disable a menu item
How to Disable a Menu Item
  • Sometimes a command doesn’t make sense.
    • e.g. “Print” when there is nothing to print
  • Rather than giving an error message, make the command unavailable.
  • You could remove the item from the menu,
    • or you could just disable it.
  • Set the Enabled property to false.
exit command
Exit Command
  • Let’s add an Exit command to the File menu.
  • If you have not already done so,
    • Type – in command name box to create a separator.
    • Type E&xit for the Exit command.
adding the exit command
Adding the Exit Command

Double click on Exit command to add event handler.

example exit command
Example: Exit Command

private void exitToolStripMenuItem_Click(

object sender, EventArgs e)




Try it!

End of Section

common dialog controls
Common Dialog Controls
  • Permit the user to say where to open or save a file by navigating to it.
  • Let’s add an Open File dialog for our Open command.
    • Replace hard coded file path.
adding an openfiledialog
Adding an OpenFileDialog
  • View > Toolbox
  • Expand Dialogs section
  • Drag OpenFileDialog to form
adding an openfiledialog2
Adding an OpenFileDialog

openFileDialog1 appears in the component tray.

add to import schedule
Add to import_schedule

void import_schedule()


StreamReader Reader = null;

String input_line;

String file_name;

Schedule = new List<Schedule_Record>();

file_name = @"C:\schedule_2011_spring.csv";

openFileDialog1.FileName = file_name;

DialogResult result = openFileDialog1.ShowDialog();

if (result == DialogResult.OK)


file_name = openFileDialog1.FileName;


  • Adding a menu bar to a Windows program is easy.
  • Menu commands work essentially just like buttons.
  • Common File Dialogs permit uses to select files in the customary manner.