Binding a Collection to a Grid with Templates in VS .NET

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You might expect to be able to bind the collection of Customer objects to a grid or table control and get a tabular rendering of that data the way you can today with the DataGridView or DataGrid controls Unfortunately, a rich, tabular, data-bound control has not been added to the WinFx control suite yet, so you have to do a fair amount of work to generate a UI that contains a data-bound grid of controls that simulates a DataGridView-like experience One approach would be to programmatically loop through the collection of data and dynamically add child controls to a grid control That can get a little messy, tedious, and error prone A more elegant but slightly less intuitive way is to use item templates in WinFx You can use item templates to define a template for the content of other controls, and that content can be arbitrarily complex and contain other elements For example, to create a grid of text boxes on the fly in response to data binding, you can set up the XAML in Listing B3 Instead of a Window object, this example defines aPage as part of a NavigationApplication In a NavigationApplication, a NavigationWindow gets created automatically, and the Page specified as theStartupUri in the NavigationApplication element is loaded into that window as the starting page This gives you a navigation experience like a browser, but in a rich Windows application
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Listing B3 Dynamic Grid with Templates
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<Page x:Class="CustomersViewerXAMLPage1" xmlns="http://schemasmicrosoftcom/winfx/avalon/2005" xmlns:x="http://schemasmicrosoftcom/winfx/xaml/2005" Loaded="PageLoaded" > <PageResources> </PageResources> <Grid HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top"> <ColumnDefinition Width="400" /> <RowDefinition Height="50"/> <RowDefinition /> <Grid GridRow="0"> <ColumnDefinition Width="100*" /> <ColumnDefinition Width="100*" /> <ColumnDefinition Width="100*" /> <TextBlock GridColumn="0">Company</TextBlock> <TextBlock GridColumn="1">Contact</TextBlock> <TextBlock GridColumn="2">Phone</TextBlock> </Grid> <ItemsControl GridRow="1" Margin="20,0,20,20" ItemsSource="{Binding}">
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<ItemsControlItemTemplate> <DataTemplate> <Grid> <ColumnDefinition Width="100*" /> <ColumnDefinition Width="100*" /> <ColumnDefinition Width="100*" /> <TextBox Text="{Binding Path=CompanyName}"
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GridColumn="0" /> <TextBox Text="{Binding Path=ContactName}" GridColumn="1" /> <TextBox Text="{Binding Path=Phone}" GridColumn="2" /> </Grid> </DataTemplate> </ItemsControlItemTemplate>
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</ItemsControl> </Grid> </Page>
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In Listing B3, the ItemTemplate is defined under the ItemsControl The ItemsControl is bound to the default data context, which gets set in the code-behind on page load as described shortly What happens is that for each item in the bound collection, an instance of the contents of the DataTemplate gets injected into the ItemsControl So this creates an instance of aGrid, with its content controls each bound to the appropriate part of the current item, rendered for each row in the data source The data context in this sample is set to a data set of customers through thePageLoaded event handler: private void PageLoaded(object sender, EventArgs e) { SqlConnection conn = new SqlConnection( "server=localhost;database=Northwind;trusted_connection=true"); SqlDataAdapter adapter = new SqlDataAdapter( "SELECT * FROM Customers", conn); DataSet ds = new DataSet(); adapterFill(ds, "Customers"); DataContext = dsTables["Customers"]DefaultView; }
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Templates in XAML allow you to specify the shape of the content that is rendered for individual items in a control collection The controls can be rendered based on data items in a collection as was done here This gives you a lot of flexibility for dynamically constructing a form based on bound data
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Control Styling in WinFx
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Styles let you declaratively determine what the content of a given WinFx element will contain Styles can also be used to dynamically alter the content of an element at runtime Using styles, you can set look-and-feel properties such as background colors, fonts, and the like But you can also dynamically inject child elements into the content of another element using a style A style basically sets up a template that can be applied to a control or to its content Styles cascade down the element tree in a similar fashion to data contexts This is a wonderful thing, because it means you no longer have to repetitively apply the same property to a collection of controls to get them all behaving or looking the same You can simply apply a style to that control at an element level above where the multiple controls live, and they will all pick up that style automatically You can also explicitly set a style to a named style instance if the style defines a Key attribute Take the case of a TextBlock control Say that you have a set of threeTextBlock controls, and you want them all to have a background color of light blue and a font of Comic Sans 14 Rather than having to set the Font and Background properties on each of the TextBlock controls as you would in Windows Forms, you can instead simply define a style at the window or grid level that contains style settings for TextBlocks, and all of the childTextBlock elements below the level where that style was defined will automatically pick up whatever property settings and content that style defines You can also define a style for a TextBlock or other control that has aKey attribute, and then use that style to explicitly set the style for one or more controls without having to set all of the associated properties one by one The following is some XAML that does this for a window with three TextBlocks in a grid It uses the cascading style for TextBlocks from the window level for two of the controls and then explicitly sets the style of another TextBlock to a different style based on its key <Window x:Class="SimpleSylesWindow1" xmlns="http://schemasmicrosoftcom/winfx/avalon/2005" xmlns:x="http://schemasmicrosoftcom/winfx/xaml/2005" Text="SimpleStyles" > <WindowResources>
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<Style TargetType="{x:Type TextBlock}"> <Setter Property="FontFamily" Value="Comic Sans MS"/> <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="14" /> <Setter Property="Background" Value="LightBlue" /> </Style> <Style x:Key="ExplicitStyle"> <Setter Property="ControlFontFamily" Value="Times New Roman" /> <Setter Property="ControlFontSize" Value="24" /> </Style>
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</WindowResources> <Grid> <ColumnDefinition /> <RowDefinition /> <RowDefinition /> <RowDefinition /> <TextBlock GridColumn="0" GridRow="0">Label1</TextBlock> <TextBlock GridColumn="0" GridRow="1"
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Style="{StaticResource ExplicitStyle} ">Label2</TextBlock> <TextBlock GridColumn="0" GridRow="2">Label3</TextBlock> </Grid> </Window>
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The first Style defined in the WindowResources element says that any child elements of type TextBlock that don't explicitly set their style to something else should inherit the style settings of a light blue background and Comic Sans MS size 14 font The second Style element defines a different style that applies to any controls, but that needs to be set explicitly using its key The first and third TextBlocks in the
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This document was created by an unregistered ChmMagic, please go to http://wwwbisentercom to register it Thanks grid don't explicitly set a style, so they are automatically styled based on the default style for TextBlocks at that scope, which translates to the first style declared at the window level The second TextBlock explicitly sets its style to the ExplicitStyle key, and therefore gets set with Times New Roman size 24 font with the default white background
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