Customizing the Bound Control Types in VS .NET

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Customizing the Bound Control Types
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The built-in controls and mappings give you a lot of flexibility for creating data-bound controls, but inevitably there will be situations where you want something different than what is set up as the defaults, or you will want to plug in your own data-bound controls The details of how to create custom data-bound controls are discussed later in this book; let's focus here on how to change the list of controls presented as options for items in the Data Sources window and how you can make your own controls capable of being plugged in for use in the Data Sources window If you select the Customize option at the bottom of the list shown inFigure 513, the Visual Studio Options dialog displays (seeFigure 514) (This is the same as choosing Tools > Options in Visual Studio) The Data UI Customization node of the Windows Forms Designer is selected in the tree of option categories This is where you can set the mappings between data member types and the control options presented by the Data Sources window As you can see in Figure 514, when you select a built-in NET type on the left, you can select from a list of associated controls on the right The controls selected on the right will be the ones presented as control mapping options in the Data Sources window (see Figure 513) for any data members of the associated type The list also shows which control type is set as the default (indicated by (default) next to the control type name), and you can change this by using the Default and Clear Default buttons Set to the right of the list
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Figure 514 Customizing Control Mappings
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There is also an item in the Data type drop-down list at the top named [List], which displays the list of controls available for collections of data, such as data tables or object types that contain properties as their data members (specifically, objects that implement the IList interface) This list only contains the DataGridView control by default, because the Details view isn't really a control type, but a Data Sources-specific control generation mechanism that will always be available for any complex type that exposes public properties Additionally, the Data type drop-down list contains a type of [Other], which lets you specify a list of controls that should be presented for
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data members that are a custom type When you use the [Other] type and add control types to the list of options presented in the Data Sources window, you could potentially generate data-binding code that won't compile The type of the default binding property on the control type you select (determined by the DefaultBindingProperty attribute set on the control class definition) needs to match the data type of the bound data member to ensure that data binding will successfully compile and run If there is a suitable type converter between the data member type and the bound control property type, you should also be okay To have your own custom controls available for selection in the list of control options, there are several things you have to do First, you have to develop a custom Windows Forms control that supports either simple or complex data binding Simple binding means that the control will have individual properties bound to individual data members These controls will also need to support a default binding property You can think of complex data binding being broken into two types for this discussion: lookup and table-oriented complex binding Lookup complex data binding is the kind that ComboBox and ListBox controls support, including a data source, display member, value member, and selected item Table-oriented complex data binding assumes the whole collection is going to be rendered in some form, so the control only needs the data source and data member Developing controls that support these aspects is discussed in detail in 10 If you have a custom or third-party control that is decorated with the appropriate attributes that allow it to work correctly with the Data Sources window (specifically, the control has a DefaultBindingProperty, Lookup-BindingProperties, or ComplexBindingProperties attribute on the class), you will need to add it to the Toolbox in Visual Studio before it becomes available for selection in the Data UI Customization settings shown in Figure 514 You add a control to the Toolbox in one of two ways
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The easier way is to simply drag the DLL that contains the controls onto the Toolbox from a Windows Explorer window The second way is to right-click in the Toolbox and select Choose Items This displays the Choose Toolbox Items dialog shown in Figure 515 Click on the Browse button and find the assembly containing your custom controls Once you select that assembly, the controls within it will be added to the list and checked for inclusion in the Toolbox
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