The focus of this article is to extend and improve the .NET
ListView control is very useful, but has a nasty flicker problem associated with it.
My goal is to eliminate or significantly reduce this flicker.
The solution provided in this article only works with Windows XP with an associated manifest file.
This is the first of three articles I am writing to improve the
The others will not require XP.
In addition, other things I will discuss in this article do not require XP.
There are two situations in which you will encounter flickering.
Dynamically adding items
If you attempt to add multiple items while using an
ImageList with multiple icons
foreach loop), and you would like these items to display as
they are being added, you need to use
Update() (you can use others like
Any of the above mentioned will cause an annoying flicker.
To avoid the flicker, you do not place
Update() etc inside
This will cause the
ListView to be blank until all of the items are added.
At times, this is the best way to go, but if doing this requires a significant amount of time, it is not a
good idea as the user will think the program has locked up.
Resizing the main form with a ListView docked
ListView is Docked, as in Windows Explorer (and you have a good amount of items),
resizing the main form will cause all of the items to flicker.
Update: I originally had three. Third one being updating/changing an item, but you just need to
Update() rather than
Refresh() to fix this.
Why does it flicker?
When you add a new item to the
ListView, the control invalidates itself.
This causes the background to be erased, and all items to be redrawn again.
It should only invalidate the bounds of the new item, causing only the item to be drawn, but it doesn't.
This means that calling
Update() will have the same effect,
where you would expect
Update() to only update the new or changed items. In my next article,
I will discuss a couple of techniques to allow only the newly added item to be redrawn.
Another reason it flickers is because it is not truly double-buffered. You can extend the
ListView class, and add
true), but it has no effect. The technique described here shows you how to double buffer the
DoubleBuffering the ListView
If you are familiar with programming the
using only the Win32 API, or MFC, you will notice that you can set particular styles for the
ListView. Most of these styles are already set in the .NET
ListView, and are customizable (for example, the
how icons will be aligned.. will they be auto-arranged, etc).
There are also "Extended" Styles for the
These styles add a few extras such as using One-Click activate with hot-tracking (similar to Windows 98 Explorer
in web-mode, where clicking the item once will launch the item, "entering" the item will cause it to be selected"
etc..) There is also an extended style to allow gridlines to be drawn around
items in Details/Report mode (This is already implemented in .NET, when you choose details view and show gridlines).
In Windows XP, there is an extended-style called
This is what we want. Unfortunately it is only available for Common Controls version 6, which means we need
Windows XP as well as a manifest file (or embedded resource). Additionally there is a style called
LVS_EX_BORDERSELECT which tells the
ListView (in Large Icon mode) to
highlight the border of the icon rather than to paint over it (This is available with Common Controls version 4.71,
so this will work without XP).
So now our goal is to actually make use of these extended styles.
This is pretty easy to do if you're familiar with the
SendMessage Windows function.
We import this function from user32.dll, and use it to retrieve and set extended styles. Here's the code:
public void SetExStyles()
LVS_EX styles = (LVS_EX)SendMessage(this.Handle,
(int) LVM.LVM_GETEXTENDEDLISTVIEWSTYLE, 0,0);
styles |= LVS_EX.LVS_EX_DOUBLEBUFFER | LVS_EX.LVS_EX_BORDERSELECT;
(int) LVM.LVM_SETEXTENDEDLISTVIEWSTYLE, 0, (int) styles);
We start by retrieving any existing Extended Styles. We then add
BORDERSELECT, and use
SendMessage to add these extra styles to the current
This method should be called AFTER the
ListView's handle has been created.
If not, it will not work as the
Handle has not been defined yet.
In other words, do not make a call to this in your main Form's constructor.. it should happen
after the entire form has loaded.
LVS_EX is an enumerated type of int. Each constant in here defines the proper
LVM is also an enumerated type representing
Once you've made a call to this method, you can make a loop similar to this to add items to this
for (int i=0; i < 500; i++)
listviewXp.Items.Add("item name", iconIndex);
Now you will be able to see the items as they are being drawn, and you will no longer get the nasty flicker.
In addition, if your
ListView is docked, you can resize your form without the flicker problem.
You can also call
listview.Update() after you have made a change to an
existing item and the change will be made without flicker.
Running and using the sample
Using the sample demo
Be sure you are using Windows XP and have both the exe and manifest file in the same directory.
Run it, and press the button to watch the items appear without flicker.
If you are not using XP, you will still see flicker, but you will be able to see the
Compiling the sample app
Open up Visual Studio .NET and compile it.
Before you run it, copy the manifest file to the Debug or Release directory where the exe is.
Using ListViewXP in your own app
Just copy the ListViewXP.cs file and add it to your app. Note that if you want the double buffering effect,
you must provide the manifest file. You can copy the one I provided and rename it to YourAppName.exe.manifest.
You may use and distribute this class freely, but if you do so, please include a comment that includes my name
and a link to this article. Also, if you do use it, please let me know how it worked for you.
SendMessage function from user32.dll allows us to extend the .NET
so we can add DoubleBuffering support in XP to eliminate flicker.
Additionally, we can use this function to add other extended
and this technique can be applied to other controls as well. Hope you enjoyed the article.