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Using Skins Without MFC

, 17 Jul 2001 GPL3
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A Simple Skinning Library
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Sample Image - SkinStyle.jpg

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SkinStyle is a picture based skin system written in Visual C++/Win32 and loosely based on Cuneyt Elibol's MFC/SkinSys. The major difference is SkinStyle is written without any MFC. Much of the functionality found in SkinSys is not found in this version of SkinStyle.


  • SkinStyle Source
  • A Simple Example

Download Directories

Once you download and extract the files, you'll see several new folders. Here is what each are used for.

  • Root : The SkinStyle Code
  • SkinTest : An Example Project And Skin


Create a class that inherits from SkinDialog

class KSkinTest : public SkinDialog
	// here we are overriding the OnKeyDown member of SkinDialog
	// so the app will exit on ESC
	virtual void OnKeyDown(WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam)
		if ( wParam == VK_ESCAPE )
			::PostMessage(m_hWnd, WM_CLOSE, 0, 0);
	// we also override the OnButtonPressed member of SkinDialog
	// to catch the user pushing one of the buttons
	virtual BOOL OnButtonPressed(char *ButtonName);


Now lets look at how to handle buttons being pressed...

// This member function is called with the name of the button being pressed
BOOL KSkinTest::OnButtonPressed(char *ButtonName)
	if(strcmp(ButtonName, "BUTTON_EXIT") == 0)
		::PostMessage(m_hWnd, WM_CLOSE, 0, 0);

	else if(strcmp(ButtonName, "BUTTON_MINIMIZE") == 0)
		::ShowWindow(m_hWnd, SW_MINIMIZE);

	else if(strcmp(ButtonName, "YOUR_DEFINED_BUTTON") == 0)
		// Do Something...
	return FALSE;

Once you have defined your new dialog class it can be used in WinMain like this

int WINAPI WinMain(HINSTANCE hInst, HINSTANCE, LPSTR lpCmd, int nShow)
	KSkinTest win;

	HWND hParent;

	// GetFile is a user defined function that returns a file with the full path...

	char *SkinFile = GetFile(NULL);

	if(SkinFile[0] == 0) 
		return 0;

	// here we create the dialog
	hParent = win.CreateEx("SkinTest", 	// Text in caption
				CW_USEDEFAULT, 	// x coord
				CW_USEDEFAULT, 	// y coord
				hInst, 		// HINSTANCE
				SkinFile);	// full path of skin file

	win.SetSticky(true);	// make the dialog sticky

	win.ShowWindow(nShow);	// Show the new dialog
	win.UpdateWindow();	// Update it

	return win.MessageLoop();	// Enter the message loop

Skin file format

A Skin file consists of three parts (more to come later)

  • [SCREEN] : This section contains the image files to display
    • Mask : This specifies the mask image for the dialog
    • Main : This specifies the main image for the dialog
    • Down : This specifies the image displayed when a widget is pressed
    • Over : This specifies the image displayed when the mouse is over a sensitive widget
    • Disabled : This specifies the image displayed when the dialog is inactive

  • [BUTTONINFO] : This section contains a numbered list of buttons to display
    • #=BUTTON_NAME,x,y,width,height,TOOL_TIP,FALSE

  • [TEXTINFO] : This section contains a numbered list of labels to display

For example:


2=BUTTON_BABEL,12,425,43,19,Babel Preferences,FALSE
4=BUTTON_STATUS,119,425,25,19,User Status,FALSE

1=TEXT_STATUS,Courier New,FALSE,TRUE,-8,3496550,136,424,64,6,Offline,User Status


At this stage I am unable to reload skins at run time? This is apparent in the sample app.

Additional Notes

This is by no means a finished product! This is my first attempt at writing a terribly complicated Win32 application library. I wanted something similar to SkinSys in functionality but without the overhead of MFC. There will be bugs and errors! I hope that you find this code useful. If you have any improvements/suggestions, comments/flames, or questions please e-mail me or post here.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The GNU General Public License (GPLv3)


About the Author

John Roark
Software Developer (Senior)
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

QuestionVery basic, but works fine Pinmembermerano8-Jul-12 10:40 
Generalnice work! think you! Pinmembersfengtfw8-Apr-08 21:14 
GeneralUse that with c# Pinmemberdaniel2023-Mar-08 9:49 
GeneralThe SKIN "down" doesn't work Pinmembermau.deg26-Oct-06 7:59 
GeneralRe: The SKIN "down" doesn't work Pinmembermerano8-Jul-12 10:32 
GeneralImprovements Pinmembersk8er_boy2874-Oct-06 5:37 
GeneralRe: Improvements Pinmembermau.deg22-Oct-06 23:52 
GeneralMoving the window. PinmemberDeath2-Feb-05 10:51 
I'm making my own Skinable Interface. I've been able to move my Window around, but relatively buggy.
I was wondering how you got your Window to move around like you did. I've looked over your code a few times but I just don't see it. I probably just don't see it, but if you would be so kind, do you think you could point it out...?
GeneralRe: Moving the window. PinmemberJohn Roark2-Feb-05 11:03 
GeneralRe: Moving the window. PinmemberDeath2-Feb-05 11:13 
QuestionHow to Skin a Window PinmemberSaifadam Pathan21-Apr-04 21:37 
Generalwhy can't resize the dialog Pinmemberfbhyq@21cn.com29-Sep-03 19:16 
GeneralSkinMagic Toolkit Pinmemberjedyking13-Apr-03 5:56 
GeneralRe: SkinMagic Toolkit Pinmemberaiker25-Nov-03 19:00 
QuestionMicrosoft Web Browser Object into DialogBox, without MFC? PinmemberAdrian Bacaianu8-Apr-03 21:56 
GeneralRe: Another way for skinnable application PinsussThe ~Coder12-Apr-03 13:48 
GeneralRe: Another way for skinnable application PinsussCoolTool13-Apr-03 9:09 
GeneralRe: Another way for skinnable application PinsussThe ~Coder13-Apr-03 9:26 
GeneralRe: Another way for skinnable application PinsussThe ~Coder12-Apr-03 13:49 
GeneralRe: Another way for skinnable application PinsussCoolTool13-Apr-03 9:07 
GeneralRe: Another way for skinnable application PinsussCoolTool13-Apr-03 9:07 
GeneralRe: Another way for skinnable application PinsussThe ~Coder13-Apr-03 9:26 
GeneralVery good, but there's a bug PinmemberChris Miller23-Aug-02 21:35 
Questionwhy no icon on task bar? PinmemberAnonymous26-Feb-02 18:16 
AnswerRe: why no icon on task bar? PinmemberGalito13-Mar-02 18:46 
Generalreal good app. PinmemberAnonymous26-Feb-02 5:31 
GeneralLoading skin dynamically PinmemberAnonymous25-Feb-02 23:29 

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