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Magic Library Docking Manager Designer

, 16 May 2013 CPOL
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Provides docking support without writing one line of code.

Sample Image - DockingManagerExtender.gif


Some days ago as I coded the HelloWorld in C#, there was darkness around me. After crawling through all the articles from CodeProject, there was light. A few days later I got my first version of magic library, from this time my HelloWorld applications looks cool.

Now, much time later, spent millions of hours coding C# in my spare time and on my job, I still use the magic library. With the knowledge gained from using commercial products like Syncfusion Essentiel Tools I felt it's time to write a component for Visual Studio which provides easy access to the great docking features of Magic Library.

Key features

  • You control the docking behavior of your controls in the properties (PropertyGrid).
  • Automatic State Persistence takes care of user customization. The customized layouts are stored in the Isolated Storage.
  • Accessible wrapped DockingManager, all features of future releases of DockingManager are reachable.
  • Needed code is generated by the ©Visual Studio Designer.
  • .NET friendly design with IExtenderProvider.


The component implements the IExtenderProvider interface and wraps a Crownwood.Magic.Docking.DockingManager. The IExtenderProvider extends the controls on your Form with a few of the Crownwood.Magic.Docking.Content properties. At run time the component manages the Content settings for each control and attaches the controls to the wrapped DockingManager.

Using the code

Before you begin, make sure your project has a valid reference to the Magic Library. Go to the Toolbox window, right-click and select Customize Toolbox from the context menu. In the Customize Toolbox dialog, go to the .NET Framework Components tab and select the DockingManagerExtender.dll assembly that you just compiled. Now drop the DockingManagerExtender component to your form.

The component provides the following:

Public Instance Properties

AutomaticStatePersistence Enable or disable the Automatic State Persistence feature. If enabled, the customized docking settings made by the user are persistent by User/Domain/WorkingArea
ContainerControl Gets or sets the object to which the docking manager instance is attached
DockingManager The wrapped Crownwood.Magic.Docking.DockingManager. Direct access to all properties.
InnerControl Sets or gets the Control for which the docking windows will not be allowed to dock inside of the specified control.
OuterControl Sets or gets the Control for which docking windows will not be allowed to dock outside of the specified control.
PlainTabBorder Gets or sets the flag indicating that the appearance is defined as VisualStyle.Plain and this PlainTabBorder property is defined then a full dumped border is drawn around the docking window content.
VisualStyle Gets or sets the VisualStyle which is used to draw content.

Public Instance Methods

LoadConfigFromStream Restores the docking configuration.
ResetAutoPersistent Reset Automatic State Persistence. Changes takes effect after restarting application.
SaveConfigToStream Stores the docking configuration.

Please make sure that the ContainerControl property points to your form, otherwise the component cannot work properly.

Select one of your controls on this form, hit F4 and scroll down to the end in the PropertyGrid. Now you should see new properties like these ones.

After you set ADockingEnable to true, you could change the other properties. This is important, cause if the control is not dock enabled, the other properties are not valid.

If you like to know more about these properties, please refer directly to Magic Docking - VS.NET Style.

ADockingEnable Enables and disables the docking for the control.
CloseButton Enables and disables the close button of the docking window.
DockingStyle Dock style for the control.
FullTitle Text displayed in docking control title.
Icon Icon displayed in tabbed/hide mode.
TabbedMode Indicates if tabbed docking is preferred.
Title Text displayed in tabbed/hide mode.

After enabling docking for your controls, hit F5 to start debugging. If everything went right the controls are docked, finish.

In depth

There are three classes which where used to build this component. For detailed view, please refer to the NDOC generated Help File.


Class Description
DockingContent Wraps Crownwood.Magic.Docking.Content and extends it with needed properties.
DockingManagerConverter DockingManagerConverter provides a TypeConverter for the Crownwood.Magic.Docking.DockingManager
DockingManagerExtender DockingManagerExtender enhances Crownwood.Magic.Docking.DockingManager for design time. It extends the controls on your form with properties, which defines the docking behavior at run time.


  • The order of the controls in the InitializeComponent() method is important for docking order. If you like to dock two controls (A,B) in tabbed mode on the left side, and another (C) not tabbed on the left upper side, please make sure control (C) comes before (A,B), otherwise the docking order is not correct.
  • Every time you change the docking properties with AutomaticStatePersistence, true, you do not see the changes made directly. The DockingManager overrides the changes made with the stored settings. To solve this problem you should not use AutomaticStatePersistence for development.



  • 29.10.2003 - Version 1.1 released which supports UserControl's as ContainerControl
  • 27.05.2003 - bug fixed, generated IsolatedStorage path longer than 260 chars in some cases, updated downloads.
  • 24.05.2003 - experimental release



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


About the Author

Chris Richner
Software Developer (Senior) Zeit AG
Switzerland Switzerland
My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there. (Charles Kettering)

  • 1996 - 1998 PC Board PPL, HTML, DHTML, Javascript and ASP
  • 1999 - 2001 coding Centura against Sql Database (SqlBase,MSSQL,Oracle)
  • 2002 - 2004 C# Windows Forms
  • 2005 - 2006 C# ASP.NET, Windows Forms
  • 2006 - 2009 C#, WCF, WF, WPF
  • 2010 - 2012 C#, Dynamics CRM, Sharepoint, Silverlight
  • 2013 - 2013 C#, WCF DS (OData), WF, WPF
  • 2014 - now C#, Azure PaaS, Identity, OWIN, OData, Web Api
  • family & friends
  • chilaxing ,)
  • coding

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralGrats !! + Small Bug with visualStyle + Info about the "System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException" Pin
Hadi.TALEB14-Jun-04 6:45
memberHadi.TALEB14-Jun-04 6:45 
GeneralRe: Grats !! + Small Bug with visualStyle + Info about the "System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException" Pin
Jerry Maguire14-Jun-04 12:40
memberJerry Maguire14-Jun-04 12:40 
Hi Hadi.TALEB,

Thank you for your research on this bug. I never used the VisualStyle Plain, maybe that's the reason why i never noticed this bug. I think the work around with the changed initialize order should work, but i will try to figure out a solution and change the code as soon as i'm back from my usa trip (end of july). If somebody finds a solution and change the code it would be nice to send me a copy.. thanks Smile | :)

In the meanwhile i recommend to use your work around, but i have no idea what causes the ArgumentOutOfRangeException in my sample application.

.:[Jerry Maguire | site | rss]:.

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