4: Advanced Controls and Customization in Visual Studio .NET

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4: Advanced Controls and Customization
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In 2, we introduced most of the controls available in the Controls task pane However, we didn t talk about the advanced controls The controls listed in the Advanced category of the Controls task pane include those that you will typically use less often or that are associated with complicated data structures Therefore, we have deferred our discussion of these controls until now Although you may use them less often, you may nd that these controls can be invaluable, depending on the types of scenarios you are trying to ful ll Let s talk about each of these controls brie y so you have a good understanding of them all
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Hyperlink By now, we re sure you are intimately familiar with hyperlinks Hyperlinks are used so ubiquitously throughout most applications that it only makes sense that InfoPath would include not only support for textual hyperlinks but also a Hyperlink control You may wonder why we need a control to show hyperlinks Think of it this way Let s say that you want to include a hyperlink in your form, but you want it to change depending on other data entered into the form or on a link you ve stored in a database (so you can easily change the link without having to change all the form templates that reference it) To do so, you need the Hyperlink control The Hyperlink control allows you to pull either the hyperlink URL and/or the text displayed to the user from the underlying data source itself When you insert the Hyperlink control, the rst thing you see is the Insert Hyperlink dialog (Figure 41) By default, you can type in the values for Address (under Link to) and Text (under Display) for the hyperlink After you type in the necessary data and click the OK button, a normal hyperlink is inserted into the form In this case, the hyperlink is not a control it s just a typical, familiar hyperlink Instead, if you click the Data source radio button for either the Link to or Display values in the Insert Hyperlink dialog, you can choose from where in the underlying data source you want these values to come Once you click on one of the Data source radio buttons, the Select XPath button becomes
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Figure 41: Insert Hyperlink dialog
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Figure 42: Select a Field or Group dialog
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enabled (The button to the right of the Data source text box is called the Select XPath button, as shown in the tool-tip text that appears when you hover your mouse over the button) If you click on either of these buttons, the Select a Field or Group dialog appears (Figure 42) From this dialog you can then choose from where in the data source you want the value to come
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4: Advanced Controls and Customization
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Figure 43: Hyperlink control in design mode
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Once you have chosen a data eld from the Select a Field or Group dialog, the Hyperlink control is inserted, as shown in Figure 43 This control has a dashed border just like layout tables do Also, just as with layout tables, this dashed border indicates that the border is visible in design mode only When lling out a form, users will not see borders for this control In fact, in that mode when there is data in the eld (or elds) that you chose from the Select a Field or Group dialog, the Hyperlink control appears as a normal hyperlink Of course, you can always explicitly set visible borders for the Hyperlink control by selecting the control in design mode and then clicking on the Borders and Shading menu item on the Format menu If you explicitly add a border, when users ll out a form, they ll see the hyperlink looking more like a Text Box control that cannot be edited
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Expression Box The Expression Box control might be considered one of the more advanced controls in the Controls task pane This control allows you to include expressions in your form that contain constant values or calculations that could involve XPaths that point to elds or groups in the underlying data source Other controls can contain calculations and constant expressions as well, but the Expression Box differs from other controls in that the data in the Expression Box is not stored back to the underlying data source The data used in an expression can come directly from the data source, but the main purpose of the Expression Box is to perform calculations on other data in the data source and to display the results in the form For example, you may want to use an Expression Box to calculate and display the sum of all the expenses in a repeating table When you insert an Expression Box, the rst thing you see is the Insert Expression Box dialog (Figure 44) In this dialog, you can enter an XPath expression by hand or click on the fx button (also called the Edit Formula button) to build the expression
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