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Multi Document Interface (MDI) tab page browsing with C#

, 22 Dec 2005
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An article on tab page browsing in MDI Windows forms.

Sample Image


Multi Document Interface (MDI) tab page browsing has been very popular among many Windows applications especially internet browsers such as Opera, Mozilla, Maxthon and many others. After failing to find an article on it, I decided to write one myself to show any interested reader that creating an MDI tab page browsing can be done with pretty simple but neat coding. All that is needed is a little creativity.

Using the code

The source code is a template of the tab page window application. The template can be used for creating a tab-page capable window program.

The code

First, in the parent form, set the IsMDIContainer property to true. Attach a TabControl component to the form and set the Dock property to Top.

Next, in the child form, create a non-initialized TabControl and a TabPage. Create a property for these two objects. Later, we will see that these two objects will contain references to the TabControl in the parent form and the corresponding child TabPage.

private TabControl tabCtrl;
private TabPage tabPag;

public TabPage TabPag
        return tabPag;
        tabPag = value;

public TabControl TabCtrl
        tabCtrl = value;

When the MDI child form is closing, destroy the corresponding tab page.

private void MDIChild_Closing(object sender, System.ComponentModel.CancelEventArgs e)
    //Destroy the corresponding Tabpage when closing MDI child form

    //If no Tabpage left
    if (!tabCtrl.HasChildren)
        tabCtrl.Visible = false;

When the MDI child form is activated, activate the corresponding tab page.

private void MDIChild_Activated(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
    //Activate the corresponding Tabpage
    tabCtrl.SelectedTab = tabPag;

    if (!tabCtrl.Visible)
        tabCtrl.Visible = true;

When the child form is created, add the reference values of the TabControl and TabPage to its fields.

private void NewMenuItem_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
    //Creating MDI child form and initialize its fields
    MDIChild childForm = new MDIChild();
    childForm.Text = "MDIChild " + childCount.ToString();
    childForm.MdiParent = this;

    //child Form will now hold a reference value to the tab control
    childForm.TabCtrl = tabControl1;

    //Add a Tabpage and enables it
    TabPage tp = new TabPage();
    tp.Parent = tabControl1;
    tp.Text = childForm.Text;

    //child Form will now hold a reference value to a tabpage
    childForm.TabPag = tp;

    //Activate the MDI child form

    //Activate the newly created Tabpage
    tabControl1.SelectedTab = tp;

When a tab page is selected, activate its corresponding MDI child form.

private void tabControl1_SelectedIndexChanged(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
    foreach (MDIChild childForm in this.MdiChildren) 
        //Check for its corresponding MDI child form
        if (childForm.TabPag.Equals(tabControl1.SelectedTab)) 
            //Activate the MDI child form

That's all!


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author

Fabian Tang

Singapore Singapore
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberkarthik reddy mereddy21-Aug-13 20:38 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmembernarenderkumardhull6-Feb-13 23:45 
QuestionThanks you Pinmembermatafill++c2-Sep-11 1:39 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberSkySoftHelper29-Aug-10 14:19 
RantRe: My vote of 1 PinmemberMatthysDT30-Aug-10 21:47 
QuestionDoesnt not work correctly Pinmembersantoshkandhukuri27-May-10 3:52 
Generalmulti-tab app Pinmemberm_shir19-Apr-10 22:02