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Creating Tabbed MDI Form

, 31 Oct 2008 CPOL
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A tutorial for creating a tabbed MDI form


This is a tutorial for creating a tabbed MDI form. With this step, you'll know how easy it is to create a tabbed MDI form.


When I was trying to make a text editor, I found this trick.

Using the Code

I create a second form called frmChild. This is the template form for MDI child. But first, create a Parent form which has: tab container, menu / button to add and delete, menu to browse the tabs. To set Parent form as MDI parent, in properties window, set isMDIContainer = true. You may add menu to list your MDI child, but this is for checking for your MDI children, are they synchronized with tabs or not. Don't forget to set the control of the child form as public if you want that the control can be accessed from the Parent form. Open frmChild.Designer.cs, navigate below "Windows Form Designer generated code" region. You will see something like this:

private System.Windows.Forms.RichTextBox richTextBox1; 

Change the line like this:

public System.Windows.Forms.RichTextBox richTextBox1; 

That's it! From this example, now you can access richtextbox from the Parent form. From the add menu click event, suppose it's called mnuAdd_Click, add new child form and tab, also tab list menu:

private void mnuAdd_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        frmChild newChild = new frmChild();   //add new child
        TabPage childTab = new TabPage();     //create new tab page
        newChild.MdiParent = this;            //set as child of this form
        newChild.Name = "Child" + createdTab.ToString();
        newChild.Text = " Child no " + createdTab.ToString();
        childTab.Name = newChild.Name;
                 //make sure name and text are same
        childTab.Text = newChild.Text;
                 //this is for synchronize later
        tabControl1.TabPages.Add(childTab);          //add new tab
        newChild.richTextBox1.Parent = childTab;     //attach to tab
        ToolStripMenuItem newMenuTab = new ToolStripMenuItem();
                 //create menu to hold tab
        newMenuTab.Text = newChild.Text;
                 //make sure the name and text are same to synchronize later
        newMenuTab.Name = newChild.Name;
        mnuTab.DropDownItems.Add(newMenuTab);        //add menu item
        newMenuTab.Click += new EventHandler(newMenuTab_Click);
                 //add event handler
         //this is to make sure that tab page is selected in the same time
   //as new form created so that corresponding tab and child form is active
        createdTab++;   //increment of course

When tab list menu is clicked, you select one tab, you want the corresponding Child form to be activated too.

void newMenuTab_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
   foreach (TabPage theTab in tabControl1.TabPages)
       if (theTab.Text == sender.ToString ())   //sender is the clicked menu 
       { /*when menu is clicked, activate the corresponding form and tab page*/
          tabControl1.SelectTab(theTab);    /* when menu is clicked, select 
                    tab and activate MDI child*/
          foreach (Form WantToSelect in this.MdiChildren)
             if (WantToSelect.Name == theTab.Name)    /*this is why you must 
	    make sure child form's and tab page's name are same for easier control*/
                 WantToSelect.Select();            //activate MDI child

of course, you want the corresponding mdiChild to be selected when you clicked the tab.

private void tabControl1_Selected(object sender, TabControlEventArgs e)
  foreach (frmChild  WantToSelect in this.MdiChildren )
    if (tabControl1.SelectedTab != null) /*if no child has created, an error
                                will occur */
       if (WantToSelect.Name == tabControl1.SelectedTab.Name)    /*again, this
 is why you must make sure child form's and tab page's name are same for 
easier control*/
       {                                                                           //
           WantToSelect.Select();  //activate MDI child

The corresponding mdiChild must close when the tab is closed. Suppose the close menu is called mnuClose_Click.

private void mnuClose_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
      //this is why you must make sure menu's and tab page's name are same
      //because of synchronize routine, you must close the form first before tab.
      //if tab first, activated tab will change and so the child form, 
      //this will be the closed form. The wrong form will close....

The last thing is the importance of activating the corresponding tab with the Child form. For example, accessing richtextbox properties.

private void lblChar_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
  frmChild childForm = (frmChild ) this.ActiveMdiChild ;  //this is the reason
          //why synchronization between tab and active MDI child is important
  lblChar.Text = "Char : " + childForm.richTextBox1.TextLength.ToString(); 

Points of Interest

That's just the sample code, actually, I'm not using RichTextBox for my text editor. Instead, I'm using scintilla net wrapper.


  • 31st October, 2008: Initial post


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


About the Author

Engineer Donatus Inc.
Indonesia Indonesia
I'm currently a student of Brawijaya University. I work on programming just for hobby. I learn programming since 2nd year of my college. That's when I first bought my PC on year 2004.

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Comments and Discussions

Questionso handsome Pin
zsinba8-May-12 16:21
memberzsinba8-May-12 16:21 

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