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Enabling Windows XP Visual Style UI for your C# applications

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31 Oct 20033 min read 178.7K   2.7K   49   29
Enabling Windows XP Visual Style UI for your C# applications
  • Download demo project - 9 Kb

      Sample Image - XPStyleUI.jpg


      This article shows the technique of giving your C# Applications a Windows XP-like appearance.


      Recently when I developed my first C++ application using Visual Studio .NET I found that the TreeView and ListView controls looked somewhat similar to those found on Windows XP, the block for + and - had a 3d look and when I move the cursor on the column-headers of ListView a yellow border appears; since such a facility is not available in C# I decided to probe the C++ project to see if such a UI could be provided in C# and found the right information which allows to give C# applications XP Style look to controls, the method of doing so surprisingly turned out to be quite simple.


      This works in .NET 7.0 and 7.1 and Windows XP Operating System (not Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 Server); in Visual Studio .NET 7.1 the application object has a property Application.EnableVisualStyles().

      How To

      Using Visual Studio .NET wizard create a "Windows Application" , on the displayed form drop the following controls

      • CheckBox
      • RadioButton
      • Button

      Now Build Solution and Start your application, you will see no effect on the displayed window. Now open NotePad and mark and copy the code in the "Contents of Manifest file" section below the block within the border only and paste in the newly opened NotePad file and save the file with name "your_project_name".exe.manifest in "your_project"\bin\debug folder OR download the Demo zip and copy the included "WindowsApplication1.exe.manifest" file in the the above mentioned folder and rename it; now Start your project (no need to rebuild solution), you will still find no effect on the displayed Window, read the section "Setting Properties" to know more.

      You have to do a copy/pase operation since only select type of files can be posted in the article.

      Point to Note

      You can drop / copy the above Manifest file "WindowsApplication1.Exe.manifest" in the same location as your completed applications executable and rename the file to the "name of your application".Exe.manifest (without quotes) and remember to distribute this file along with the executable.

      Setting Properties

      Some of the controls in Visual Studion .NET have a property named FlatStyle, this property is set to "Standard" for these controls by default, you have to set this property to System for these controls to have a Windows XP Style look ("System" means that the Operating system is responsible setting for its Visual Style). below is a Table showing names of controls which have such property.


      Drawback of FlatStyle

      Setting Flatstyle to "System" prevents these controls from displaying Images, this possibly is the reason why this property has been added to these controls, if you intend to display images in any of these controls then you must set it to anything other then "System".

      Contents of Manifest file

      Below is the content of the Manifest file "WindowsApplications1.Exe.manifest", this file is in xml format and can be opened and edited using any text editor like notepad or wordpad, and you can add the name of your project in this file but it will not have any effect on the application

      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
      <assembly xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1" manifestVersion="1.0">
      <description>Your app description here</description>


      This method of giving your applications a XP Style look does not embed the information in the manifest file in the completed applications, if the apps you develop are for in-house purposes or to clients you know personally this is the best approach, but if you are developing applications for unknown client's you can lookup the .NET utilities Application Linker (al.exe) and Strong Name (sn.exe) to embed information about your product in the applications executable, these utilities are generally run in a Dos-Console and have many switches to be set.


      • New Article.
    • License

      This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

      A list of licenses authors might use can be found here

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      India India
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      Comments and Discussions

      GeneralRe: Already Posted Pin
      Heath Stewart2-Nov-03 10:52
      protectorHeath Stewart2-Nov-03 10:52 
      GeneralRe: Already Posted Pin
      Derek Lakin2-Nov-03 21:16
      Derek Lakin2-Nov-03 21:16 
      GeneralRe: Already Posted Pin
      Heath Stewart3-Nov-03 2:40
      protectorHeath Stewart3-Nov-03 2:40 
      GeneralRe: Already Posted Pin
      Allan Wissing5-Nov-03 23:10
      Allan Wissing5-Nov-03 23:10 
      GeneralRe: Already Posted Pin
      Member 26118818-Nov-03 5:32
      Member 26118818-Nov-03 5:32 
      GeneralApplication.EnableVisualStyles is't OK Pin
      jGuzman1-Nov-03 3:47
      jGuzman1-Nov-03 3:47 
      GeneralRe: Application.EnableVisualStyles is't OK Pin
      Mighell011-Nov-03 6:48
      Mighell011-Nov-03 6:48 
      GeneralRe: Application.EnableVisualStyles is't OK Pin
      Mark Pitman4-Nov-03 4:29
      Mark Pitman4-Nov-03 4:29 
      I would recommend NOT using EnableVisualStyles. Do some searching in Google Groups and you will find many people are having problems with it. When I try it in anything but the simplest of applications, I get seemingly unrelated exceptions and random strange behavior.
      GeneralRe: Application.EnableVisualStyles is't OK Pin
      Guy Harwood4-Nov-03 22:19
      Guy Harwood4-Nov-03 22:19 
      General.NET XP Theme Add-In Pin
      Mikhail Esteves28-May-04 11:13
      sussMikhail Esteves28-May-04 11:13 

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