Figure 913 Default Property Highlighted in the Property Browser in .NET

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Figure 913 Default Property Highlighted in the Property Browser
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Default properties aren't terribly useful, but setting the correct default event properly can save a developer's time when using your component
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Whereas DefaultEventAttribute and DefaultPropertyAttribute affect the behavior only of the Property Browser, DefaultValueAttribute serves a dual purpose: It also plays a role in helping the Designer determine which code is serialized to InitializeComponent Properties that don't have a default value are automatically included in InitializeComponent Those that have a default value are included only if the property's value differs from the default To avoid unnecessarily changing a property, your initial property values should match the value set by DefaultValueAttribute DesignerSerializationVisibilityAttribute is another attribute that affects the code serialization process The DesignerSerializationVisibilityAttribute constructor takes a value from the DesignerSerializationVisibility enumeration: enum DesignerSerializationVisibility { Visible, // initialize this property if nondefault value Hidden, // don't initialize this property Content // initialize sets of properties on a subobject } The default, Visible, causes a property's value to be set in InitializeComponent if the value of the property is not the same as the value of the default If you'd prefer that no code be generated to initialize a property, use Hidden: [ DefaultValueAttribute(true),
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DesignerSerializationVisibilityAttribute( DesignerSerializationVisibilityHidden) ] public bool ShowDigitalTime { get { } set { } } You can use Hidden in conjunction with BrowsableAttribute set to false for run-time-only properties Although BrowsableAttribute determines whether a property is visible in the Property Browser, its value may still be serialized unless you prevent that by using Hidden By default, properties that maintain a collection of custom types cannot be serialized to code Such a property is implemented by the clock control in the form of a "messages to self" feature, which captures a set of messages and displays them at the appropriate date and time To enable serialization of a collection, you can apply DesignerSerializationVisibility Content to instruct the Designer to walk into the property and serialize its internal structure: [ CategoryAttribute("Behavior"), DescriptionAttribute ("Stuff to remember for later"), DesignerSerializationVisibilityAttribute (DesignerSerializationVisibilityContent) ] public MessageToSelfCollection MessagesToSelf { get { } set { } } The generated InitializeComponent code for a single message looks like this: void InitializeComponent() { thisclockControl1MessagesToSelfAddRange( new ClockControlLibraryMessageToSelf[] { new ClockControlLibraryMessageToSelf( new SystemDateTime(2003, 2, 22, 21, 55, 0, 0), "Wake up")}); } This code also needs a "translator" class to help the Designer serialize the code to construct a MessageToSelf type This is covered in detail in the section titled "Type Converters" later in this chapter
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While we're talking about affecting code serialization, there's another trick that's needed for accessing a component's hosting form For example, consider a clock control and a clock component, both of which offer the ability to place the current time in the hosting form's caption Each needs to acquire a reference to the host form to set the time in the form's Text property The control comes with native support for this requirement: Form hostingForm = thisParent as Form; Unfortunately, components do not provide a similar mechanism to access their host form At
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design time, the component can find the form in the designer host's Container collection However, this technique will not work at run time because the Container is not available at run time To get its container at run time, a component must take advantage of the way the Designer serializes code to the InitializeComponent method You can write code that takes advantage of this infrastructure to seed itself with a reference to the host form at design time and run time The first step is to grab the host form at design time using a property of type Form: Form hostingForm = null; [BrowsableAttribute(false)] public Form HostingForm { // Used to populate InitializeComponent at design time get { if( (hostingForm == null) && thisDesignMode ) { // Access designer host and obtain reference to root component IDesignerHost designer = thisGetService(typeof(IDesignerHost)) as IDesignerHost; if( designer != null ) { hostingForm = designerRootComponent as Form; } } return hostingForm; } set {} } The HostingForm property is used to populate the code in InitializeComponent at design time, when the designer host is available Stored in the designer host's RootComponent property, the root component represents the primary purpose of the Designer For example, a Form component is the root component of the Windows Forms Designer DesignerHostRootComponent is a helper function that allows you to access the root component without enumerating the Container collection Only one component is considered the root component by the designer host Because the HostingForm property should go about its business transparently, you should decorate it with BrowsableAttribute set to false, thereby ensuring that the property is not editable from the Property Browser Because HostForm is a public property, the Designer retrieves HostForm's value at design time to generate the following code, which is needed to initialize the component: void InitializeComponent() { thismyComponent1HostingForm = this; } At run time, when InitializeComponent runs, it will return the hosting form to the component via the HostingForm property setter: Form hostingForm = null; [BrowsableAttribute(false)] public Form HostingForm { get { } // Set by InitializeComponent at run time set { if( !thisDesignMode ) {
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// Don't change hosting form at run time if( (hostingForm != null) && (hostingForm != value) ) { throw new InvalidOperationException ("Can't set HostingForm at run time"); } } else hostingForm = value; } } In this case, we're using our knowledge of how the Designer works to trick it into handing our component a value at run-time that we pick at design-time
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