Wednesday, February 4, 2015

EditLabel UserControl

EditLabel is editable Label control, who's text can be modified at run-time by double-clicking on it. Under the hood, it contains a Label control and TextBox control. It works like a Label control until you double-click it with the mouse. When double-clicked it enters 'edit-mode' where a TextBox overlays the Label. The control will AutoSize to the characters you type in the TextBox, updating the Label's size at the same time. You can leave the control's edit mode by hitting either enter, the escape key, or letting the control lose focus. After editing, the control acts like a label again, with the updated text. You can check out the code for the EditLabel project here on my GitHub.

The EditLabel isn't too interesting by itself, but I wanted to blog about it for all the interesting attributes that I never knew about until I started getting into designing controls, and controlling how controls are displayed in the designer window in visual studio.

The first thing my EditLabel control needed was and event that the parent form could subscribe to know when the text changed. Creating the event simply isn't enough. If you want the event to show up in the Visual Studio's Form Designer when you click on events, you need to add the Browsable and EditorBrowsable attribute. This will make is show up in the designer. You can control the description that appears as well as what category it shows up under when viewing events/properties in the Categorize view as opposed to Alphabetical view by using the Description and Category attributes respectively:

[Category("Property Changed")]
[Description("Event raised when the value of the Text property is changed on Control.")]
[Browsable(true), EditorBrowsable(EditorBrowsableState.Always)]
public new event EventHandler TextChanged;

There is also the notion of default events. That is, the event for which a handler is added when you double click the control in the designer. For example, when you double click a TextBox, it automatically adds the TextChanged event, instead of, say, the KeyDown event. To make an event the default event, add the DefaultEvent attribute at the control's class-level declaration:

public partial class EditLabel : UserControl

Another thing I wanted was the Text property. Like a Label or a TextBox control, I wanted a public Text property that could be edited at design time. However, every time I re-built the project, the text would get reset to the default. As it turns out, if you want modifications to properties to be persisted, it must be serialized to the MainForm.Designer.cs, or whatever the auto-generated Designer.cs file is. In order to tell the designer to serialize changes made at design time to Designer.cs file, you have to add the DesignerSerializationVisibility attribute above the property. Here is the attributes and declaration for the Text property:

[Description("The text associated with the control.")]
[Browsable(true), EditorBrowsable(EditorBrowsableState.Always)]
public override string Text
   get { return ctrlLabel.Text; }
   set { ChangeText(value); }

You can view the full EditLabel.cs here, or view the entire EditLabel project here.