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Creating a 'Progress Cursor'

, 2 Jul 2012 CPOL
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Utility to display a circular progressbar as cursor.



This article explains how we can customize the cursor to display a circular progress bar.

Because I often get questions about extending functionality of this utility, it has now entered the world of OSS at github. You can fork the repo here.  

Class diagram


Using the code

Using the code is pretty simple, as you can see in 1-1.

var progressCursor = Van.Parys.Windows.Forms.CursorHelper.StartProgressCursor(100);

for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++)

 //do some work

1-1 Basic usage of ProgressCursor

The library also has some points of extensibility, by handling the 'EventHandler<CursorPaintEventArgs> CustomDrawCursor' event. By handling this event, the developer can choose to extend the default behaviour by running the DrawDefault method on the CursorPaintEventArgs instance (1-2).

progressCursor.CustomDrawCursor += progressCursor_CustomDrawCursor;

void progressCursor_CustomDrawCursor(object sender, 
                    ProgressCursor.CursorPaintEventArgs e)
	//add text to the default drawn cursor
	           SystemFonts.DefaultFont, Brushes.Black, 0,0);
	//set Handled to true, or else nothing will happen,
	//and default painting is done
	e.Handled = true;
1-2 ProgressCursor extension using events

IProgressCursor also implements IDisposable, which makes the 'using' statement valid on this interface. The advantage is that no custom exception handling has to be done to ensure the End() method is called on the ProgressCursor. An example of the usage is found in 1-3.

using (var progressCursor = CursorHelper.StartProgressCursor(100))
    for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++)

        //simulate some work
1-3 ProgressCursor implements IDisposable

Why implement IDisposable 

A classic usage of the default cursor classes would be like this:

private void DoStuff()
    Cursor.Current = Cursors.WaitCursor;

        //do heavy duty stuff here...
        Cursor.Current = Cursors.Default;

If one wouldn't implement the cursor change like this, the cursor could 'hang' and stay 'WaitCursor'. To avoid this Try Finally coding style, I implemented IDisposable on the IProgressCursor like this (2-2):

public ProgressCursor(Cursor originalCursor)
    OriginalCursor = originalCursor;


public void Dispose()

public void End()
    Cursor.Current = OriginalCursor;
2-2 Classic sample of Cursor usage

How it works

Creating a custom cursor 

Basically, all the 'heavy lifting' is done by two imported user32.dll methods (1-3). These can be found in the class UnManagedMethodWrapper (what would be the right name for this class?).

public sealed class UnManagedMethodWrapper
	public static extern IntPtr CreateIconIndirect(ref IconInfo iconInfo);

	[return: MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.Bool)]
	public static extern bool GetIconInfo(IntPtr iconHandle, ref IconInfo iconInfo);
1-3 P/Invoke methods

These methods are called in CreateCursor (1-4):

private Cursor CreateCursor(Bitmap bmp, Point hotSpot)
	//gets the 'icon-handle' of the bitmap
	//( equivalent of bmp as Icon)
	IntPtr iconHandle = bmp.GetHicon();
	IconInfo iconInfo = new IconInfo();
	//fill the IconInfo structure with data from the iconHandle
	UnManagedMethodWrapper.GetIconInfo(iconHandle, ref iconInfo);
	//set hotspot coordinates
	iconInfo.xHotspot = hotSpot.X;
	iconInfo.yHotspot = hotSpot.Y;
	//indicate that this is a cursor, not an icon
	iconInfo.fIcon = false;
	//actually create the cursor
	iconHandle = 
	  UnManagedMethodWrapper.CreateIconIndirect(ref iconInfo);
	//return managed Cursor object
	return new Cursor(iconHandle);
1-4 Cursor magic!

MSDN documentation:

Circular progress cursor drawing

int fontEmSize = 7;

var totalWidth = (int) Graphics.VisibleClipBounds.Width;
var totalHeight = (int) Graphics.VisibleClipBounds.Height;
int margin_all = 2;
var band_width = (int) (totalWidth*0.1887);

int workspaceWidth = totalWidth - (margin_all*2);
int workspaceHeight = totalHeight - (margin_all*2);
var workspaceSize = new Size(workspaceWidth, workspaceHeight);

var upperLeftWorkspacePoint = new Point(margin_all, margin_all);
var upperLeftInnerEllipsePoint = new Point(upperLeftWorkspacePoint.X + band_width, 
                                 upperLeftWorkspacePoint.Y + band_width);

var innerEllipseSize = new Size(((totalWidth/2) - upperLeftInnerEllipsePoint.X)*2, 
            ((totalWidth/2) - upperLeftInnerEllipsePoint.Y)*2);

var outerEllipseRectangle = 
    new Rectangle(upperLeftWorkspacePoint, workspaceSize);
var innerEllipseRectangle = 
    new Rectangle(upperLeftInnerEllipsePoint, innerEllipseSize);

double valueMaxRatio = (Value/Max);
var sweepAngle = (int) (valueMaxRatio*360);

var defaultFont = new Font(SystemFonts.DefaultFont.FontFamily, 
                           fontEmSize, FontStyle.Regular);
string format = string.Format("{0:00}", (int) (valueMaxRatio*100));
SizeF measureString = Graphics.MeasureString(format, defaultFont);
var textPoint = new PointF(upperLeftInnerEllipsePoint.X + 
  ((innerEllipseSize.Width - measureString.Width)/2), 
    upperLeftInnerEllipsePoint.Y + 
    ((innerEllipseSize.Height - measureString.Height)/2));


Graphics.DrawEllipse(BorderPen, outerEllipseRectangle);
Graphics.FillPie(FillPen, outerEllipseRectangle, 0, sweepAngle);

Graphics.FillEllipse(new SolidBrush(Color.White), innerEllipseRectangle);
Graphics.DrawEllipse(BorderPen, innerEllipseRectangle);

Graphics.DrawString(format, defaultFont, FillPen, textPoint); 

What does it (try to) solve

End users tend to have the impression to be waiting longer on a process with no progress visualization, then a process with progress indication. 


  • 2011-08-30: Initial version.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Pieter Van Parys
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberMichael Grünwaldt12-Jul-12 0:48 
GeneralGDI objects aren't managed and need to be disposed Pinmemberjeffb423-Jul-12 18:31 
GeneralRe: GDI objects aren't managed and need to be disposed PinmemberPieter Van Parys3-Jul-12 20:49 
GeneralRe: GDI objects aren't managed and need to be disposed Pinmemberjeffb424-Jul-12 11:34 
Eventually, the GC will clean up the objects, but there are several caveats...
First, when a GDI-based object is created, not only is managed memory for the .NET object used, but a GDI resource handle is used as well.   GDI resources not only consume memory, but are finite (go try and create 1000 font object).   Fonts, Pens and other GDI resources have a limited number which can be created.   That's why one is only supposed to hold onto a GDI resource for only as long as they need it, then quickly release it.   Get in, get out.
When a .NET GDI object isn't disposed of, the GDI resource just sits there until the GC runs, which isn't something one can count on.   Also, it's possible to still have free memory available on your system, but to run out of GDI handles.
Second, this also assumes that when the GC runs, that no references to the objects remain.   We've seen with WinForm events where even after the Form goes away (and one would assume that the memory would get cleaned up by the GC), that there are some lingering weak references to some of the objects, and they don't get released or cleaned up.
I haven't tried it, but it would be interesting to test your cursor control with PerfMon.   Try two tests:   Have one test create a single instance and run for a few hours, and another test that consecutively creates the cursor, runs through a normal loop (the one you currently have), then repeat for a few hours.
Nice control & article though.   Hope this helps,
Questionnice PinmemberCIDev2-Jul-12 4:31 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmentorMd. Marufuzzaman2-Jul-12 3:41 
QuestionVote of 5 PinmemberGanesanSenthilvel2-Jul-12 1:37 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembermanoj kumar choubey20-Feb-12 22:36 
QuestionWin32 handle passed to Cursor is not valid or is the wrong type. PinmemberMember 40789589-Dec-11 6:05 
AnswerRe: Win32 handle passed to Cursor is not valid or is the wrong type. Pinmembersapatag5-Jul-12 3:15 
GeneralGreat idea! Pinmemberdanlobo13-Oct-11 9:16 
Questionvery nice PinmemberCIDev11-Oct-11 7:06 
QuestionNice One PinmemberGandalf - The White10-Oct-11 3:15 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberOshtri Deka9-Oct-11 1:28 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberPieter Van Parys12-Oct-11 6:08 
QuestionVery good Pinmembermarc ochsenmeier19-Sep-11 10:35 
AnswerRe: Very good PinmemberPieter Van Parys20-Sep-11 1:23 
QuestionLove It! PinmemberNickPace8-Sep-11 14:05 
AnswerRe: Love It! PinmemberPieter Van Parys8-Sep-11 23:50 
GeneralAwesome! Pinmemberabdurahman ibn hattab7-Sep-11 3:00 
GeneralRe: Awesome! PinmemberPieter Van Parys7-Sep-11 7:13 
QuestionGreat stuff PinmemberKDME7-Sep-11 2:23 
AnswerRe: Great stuff PinmemberPieter Van Parys7-Sep-11 5:26 
QuestionMy vote of 5 PinmemberFilip D'haene7-Sep-11 0:36 
AnswerRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberPieter Van Parys7-Sep-11 7:14 

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