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"Simplify Your C# WinForms Development with the ControlHelpers Class"

Introduction:
  

  
In the realm of C# WinForms development, simplicity and efficiency are paramount. Building robust Windows applications often involves repetitive tasks, intricate UI interactions, and complex event handling. This is where the ControlHelpers class steps in, offering a streamlined solution to simplify your WinForms journey.
  

  
Why ControlHelpers?
  

  
Developed with the aim of reducing the code complexity that often plagues WinForms projects, ControlHelpers is a versatile class that empowers you to achieve more with less effort. Whether you're a seasoned WinForms developer or just starting your journey, ControlHelpers can significantly improve your development workflow and enhance the user experience of your applications.
  

  
What Does ControlHelpers Solve?
  

  
ControlHelpers addresses common challenges faced in WinForms development:
  

  
Cumbersome UI Manipulation: WinForms applications often require extensive UI manipulation, such as enabling or disabling controls, setting properties, or managing visibility. ControlHelpers simplifies these operations.
  

  
Event Management: Handling events in a WinForms application can become intricate as your project grows. ControlHelpers streamlines event registration and management.
  

  
Code Reusability: With ControlHelpers, you can encapsulate common UI-related operations into reusable methods, reducing redundant code in your projects.
  

  
What to Expect in This Tutorial:
  

  
In this tutorial, we'll dive deep into the ControlHelpers class, exploring its features, capabilities, and real-world applications. Whether you want to simplify UI manipulation, improve event handling, or enhance the maintainability of your WinForms projects, ControlHelpers has you covered.
  

  
We'll start with an overview of what ControlHelpers is and why it's a valuable addition to your toolkit. Then, we'll guide you through the steps of getting started, incorporating ControlHelpers into your project, and demonstrate its usage with practical examples.
  

  
By the end of this tutorial, you'll be well-equipped to leverage the power of ControlHelpers in your WinForms development endeavors, making your applications more efficient, maintainable, and user-friendly.
  

  
Let's embark on this journey to simplify your C# WinForms development with ControlHelpers.

​

The class code:

    using System;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Windows.Forms;

public enum ControlType
{
    Label,
    Button
}

public enum ControlAlignment
{
    Left,
    Center,
    Right
}

public enum ControlOrientation
{
    Horizontal,
    Vertical
}

public static class ControlHelpers
{
    public static void AddControlAbove(
        Control target,
        ControlType controlType,
        string[] texts,
        Font font,
        int verticalGapAboveTarget = 0,
        int horizontalGapBetweenControls = 0,
        Color[] backgroundColors = null,
        ControlAlignment alignment = ControlAlignment.Center,
        ControlOrientation orientation = ControlOrientation.Horizontal)
    {
        int totalWidth = 0;

        // Measure the width of each control at the current font size.
        Control[] measureControls = new Control[texts.Length];
        for (int i = 0; i < texts.Length; i++)
        {
            switch (controlType)
            {
                case ControlType.Label:
                    measureControls[i] = new Label() { Text = texts[i], Font = font, AutoSize = true };
                    break;
                case ControlType.Button:
                    measureControls[i] = new Button() { Text = texts[i], Font = font, AutoSize = true };
                    break;
            }
            totalWidth += measureControls[i].PreferredSize.Width;
        }
        totalWidth += horizontalGapBetweenControls * (texts.Length - 1);

        // If the total width exceeds the target control's width, calculate the scaling factor.
        float scalingFactor = 1;
        if (totalWidth > target.Width)
        {
            scalingFactor = (float)target.Width / totalWidth;
            font = new Font(font.FontFamily, font.Size * scalingFactor);
        }

        // Calculate the starting X based on alignment
        int startingX = target.Location.X;
        if (alignment == ControlAlignment.Center)
        {
            startingX += (target.Width - (int)(totalWidth * scalingFactor)) / 2;
        }
        else if (alignment == ControlAlignment.Right)
        {
            startingX += target.Width - (int)(totalWidth * scalingFactor);
        }

        int startingY = target.Location.Y - verticalGapAboveTarget - (int)(font.GetHeight());
        int offset = 0;

        for (int i = 0; i < texts.Length; i++)
        {
            Control newControl;
            switch (controlType)
            {
                case ControlType.Label:
                    newControl = new Label() { Text = texts[i], Font = font, AutoSize = true };
                    break;
                case ControlType.Button:
                    newControl = new Button() { Text = texts[i], Font = font, AutoSize = true };
                    break;
                default:
                    throw new ArgumentException("Invalid ControlType specified.");
            }

            if (backgroundColors != null && i < backgroundColors.Length)
            {
                newControl.BackColor = backgroundColors[i];
            }

            newControl.Location = new Point(startingX + offset, startingY);

            if (orientation == ControlOrientation.Horizontal)
            {
                offset += (int)(measureControls[i].PreferredSize.Width * scalingFactor) + (int)(horizontalGapBetweenControls * scalingFactor);
            }
            else
            {
                startingY -= newControl.Height + verticalGapAboveTarget;
            }

            target.Parent.Controls.Add(newControl);
        }
    }
}

The code in form1 example of how to use the class: In this example I'm using the randomColors but you can choose to use instead the backgroundColors.

    public Form1()
{
    InitializeComponent();

    // Define font, colors, actions, tooltips, etc.
    Font labelFont = new Font("Microsoft Sans Serif", 12);
    string[] texts = new string[5];
    for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
    {
        texts[i] = "Label " + (i + 1);
    }

    Color[] backgroundColors = new Color[5];
    for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
    {
        if (i % 3 == 0)
            backgroundColors[i] = Color.Red;
        else if (i % 3 == 1)
            backgroundColors[i] = Color.Green;
        else
            backgroundColors[i] = Color.Blue;
    }

    Random random = new Random();
    Color[] randomColors = new Color[5];
    for (int i = 0; i < randomColors.Length; i++)
    {
        randomColors[i] = Color.FromArgb(random.Next(256), random.Next(256), random.Next(256));
    }

    ControlHelpers.AddControlAbove(
        pictureBoxImageToCrop,
        ControlType.Label,
        texts,
        labelFont,
        10,
        5,
        randomColors
    );
}

A screenshot showing the results of using the class.  on the left I created 5 buttons and on the right I created 10 labels:

https://imgur.com/a/A0XXirK