16 Apr 2011

Enabling shell styles for the ListView and TreeView controls in C#

For those who remember the Common Controls OCX's featured in Visual Basic 5 and 6, there was one peculiarity of these. In Visual Basic 5, the Common Controls were linked directly to their shell counterparts. As the shell was updated, so did the look of any VB app using these. However, for Visual Basic 6, this behaviour was changed and they didn't use the shell for drawing.

Curiously enough, history repeats itself in a limited way with Visual Studio .NET. If you use the ListView or TreeView controls on Windows Vista or higher, you'll find they are somewhat drawn according to the "classic" Windows style - no gradients on selection highlights, column separators (ListView) or alternate +/- glyphs (TreeView).

Fortunately however, it is quite simple to enable this with a single call to the SetWindowTheme API when creating the control.

    [DllImport("uxtheme.dll", CharSet = CharSet.Unicode)]
    public extern static int SetWindowTheme(IntPtr hWnd, string pszSubAppName, string pszSubIdList);

In the sample application (available for download from the link below), we create two new ListView and TreeView classes which inherit from their System.Windows.Forms counterparts.

In each class, override the OnHandleCreated method, and check to see what OS is being run - if you try to call SetWindowTheme on an unsupported OS, you'll get a crash. In this case, I'm checking for Windows Vista or higher.

If the version is fine, call SetWindowTheme with the handle of the control, and the name of the shell style - explorer in this case.

It's as simple as that - now when you run the application, the controls will be drawn using whatever shell styles are in use.

using System;

namespace ShellControlsExample
{
  class TreeView : System.Windows.Forms.TreeView
  {
    protected override void OnHandleCreated(EventArgs e)
    {
      base.OnHandleCreated(e);

      if (!this.DesignMode && Environment.OSVersion.Platform == PlatformID.Win32NT && Environment.OSVersion.Version.Major >= 6)
        NativeMethods.SetWindowTheme(this.Handle, "explorer", null);
    }
  }
}

For the TreeView control, I'd also recommend setting the ShowLines property to false as it will look odd otherwise.

Downloads

shellcontrolsexample.zip

Sample which shows how to display ListView and TreeView controls using Visual Styles in Windows Vista or higher via the SetWindowTheme API.

16 April 2011 8.97 KB

Comments

  • # DotNetKicks.com
    16/04/2011 17:37

    Enabling shell styles for the ListView and TreeView controls in C#
    You've been kicked (a good thing) - Trackback from DotNetKicks.com

  • # DotNetShoutout
    16/04/2011 17:47

    Enabling shell styles for the ListView and TreeView controls in C#
    Thank you for submitting this cool story - Trackback from DotNetShoutout

  • Gravatar
    # GoluSingh
    22/02/2012 10:03

    This is one of the best articles so far I have read online. Just useful information. Very well presented. It helped me lot to complete my task. When I was searching an article on Treeview control over the internet, I found another nice article related to this topic which is also helped me lot. I would like share that article with you, please see at once...
    http://www.mindstick.com/Articles/022711d0-b15d-4dc0-b50b-e1a9b4cb6a82/?How%20to%20use%20Tree%20View%20Control%20in%20C#

    Thanks Everyone for your precious post.

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