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A listbox with disabled items

, 2 Apr 2009 CPOL
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A custom listbox control with disabled list items.


This is a listbox User Control with an option for disabled items. The disabled item can be marked as disabled with a prefix that you choose, or by choosing a boolean column in the source database for the list DataSource.


I had some projects that I needed a listbox to display disabled item. The ListBox that comes with VS does not expose this attribute for the listbox items. I ended up writing my own User Control with the ability to mark some items as disabled. This is great if you have an application that uses a database and has many users that update the data, and you want to mark an object as disabled if you can't use it any more, or if say, some one else is working on the same object at that time.

Using the code

The base for this solution is using the DrawMode.OwnerDrawFixed attribute in the ListBox control. We need to start by creating a UserControl project and inherit from ListBox. Then, just add the following line inside the constructor of the control:

this.DrawMode = DrawMode.OwnerDrawFixed; 

This means that we control how the listbox is drawn.

Next, we need to override the method OnDrawItem(DrawItemEventArgs e). This method does the drawing of the items inside the listbox control. Here, we choose if we want to draw the item as disabled or not.

This is the code for a disabled item base using a prefix for disabled items:

string item = this.Items[e.Index].ToString();
//Check if the item is disabled
if (item.StartsWith(prefix))
    item = item.Remove(0, prefix.Length);
    myBrush = Brushes.Gray;
if (!item.StartsWith(prefix))
    // Draw the background of the ListBox control for each item.
// Draw the current item text based on the current Font and the custom brush settings.
e.Graphics.DrawString(item, e.Font, myBrush, e.Bounds, StringFormat.GenericDefault);

Next, we want to enable selecting an item.

//If the selected item is a disabled item dont select it
if ((e.State & DrawItemState.Selected) == 
     DrawItemState.Selected && item.StartsWith(prefix))
    this.SelectedIndex = -1; 
//if the selected item is not disable change the text color to white
else if ((e.State & DrawItemState.Selected) == DrawItemState.Selected)
    myBrush = Brushes.White;
    e.Graphics.DrawString(item, e.Font, myBrush, e.Bounds, 
    if (!item.StartsWith(prefix))
        // If the ListBox has focus, draw a focus
        // rectangle around the selected item.

Now, we must draw the item back into the listbox control:


In the attached source code, you will find the code for connecting the disabled items to a column in a database.

That's it. Enjoy!

Points of interest

It is always fun to play with the built-in controls. Remember, you can do any thing you want (almost) in VS.


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


About the Author

Ron Levy
Software Developer
Israel Israel
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Comments and Discussions

QuestionHi, Can it been used on WinCE or .netcf platform? Pinmemberwilliechen14-Nov-11 6:17 
GeneralList box font and leading... Pinmembermarketware8-Jan-10 6:54 
GeneralWhy not do this in a control PinmemberDonsw28-Apr-09 16:05 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberOrlandoCurioso9-Apr-09 3:03 
GeneralHorrible code PinmemberOrlandoCurioso3-Apr-09 5:41 
GeneralRe: Horrible code PinmemberRon Levy4-Apr-09 21:54 
The purpose of this code was actually for the DB part, not the a listbox that have not datasource like in the demo.
The demo is just a demo, and no debugging was made.
This article is just for the concept of a disable listbox and of course one can think of better ways to do this.
I will check out the IntegerCollection as you mention.
By the way the Brush is a dispoable object but, we need it to redraw the items always. I will add a check to see if it is already in use.
The GetItemText() will not help us here because we will need to pass it the item object that we dont have.
Regardless, I hope you still have good thoughts about Hafia.
GeneralRe: Horrible code PinmemberOrlandoCurioso5-Apr-09 2:21 
Generalgreat idea PinmemberMember 47772992-Apr-09 4:33 

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