Dialog Layout Manager in MFC

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# Dialog Layout Manager in MFC

Aug 2009

Sometimes I write some tools using C++ and MFC. In the Linux world it is common that GUI windows are resizeable. In Windows its not the case, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to resize a dialog window to see more information, like more rows and colums in a list. After repositioning and resizing controls in a window with my custom code I've decided to automate this task.

There are many possible approaches to this problem. WinAPI (and thus MFC) does not provide by itself any solution to automatically align controls inside a resizeable window. Each control has just its fixed rectangle (left, top, width, height) inside parent window. Delphi VCL uses Align property to snap selected controls (like Panel containing child controls) to left, right, top or bottom edge of the window. Qt encourages to design all windows with Layouts. For example, Vertical Layout splits the window into rows and automatically adjusts controls inside, one under the other.

But the solution of my choice is the one based on .NET. Controls in Windows Forms have a property called Anchor so they can be anchored to any of four possible window edges: left, top, right and bottom. If a controls is anchored only to left and top edges, it just doesn't change its position or size. If the control is anchored to right and bottom edges (for example: a button), it changes its position as window is resized so it preserves its distance to right and bottom edge of the window. If the control is anchored to all four possible window edges, it is resized to preserve distance to all window edges same as designed (for example: a list occupying central part of the window).

I've written a class which I called DialogLayoutManager. It's very easy to use and automates control resizing and repositioning inside an MFC window. All you need to do at the beginning is to create an object of this class, register your controls with selected anchors and call Save method:

  DialogLayoutManager::ANCHOR_RIGHT | DialogLayoutManager::ANCHOR_BOTTOM);
  DialogLayoutManager::ANCHOR_RIGHT | DialogLayoutManager::ANCHOR_BOTTOM);

Layout manager remembers positions and sizes of registered controls together with starting window size. Now all you need to do when the window is resized is to call Restore method. Layout manager will adjust registered controls according to new window size and specified anchors. For example, two buttons showed above will stay in bottom-right corner of the window.

void CDialog01::OnSize(UINT nType, int cx, int cy)
  if (LayoutManager && LayoutManager->IsSaved())

Here is the code of my DialogLayoutManager class and usage example: DialogLayoutManager.cpp. It's easy to translate this code to pure WinAPI.

Comments | #gui #mfc #winapi Share


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