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WPF Auto-complete Control

, 14 Dec 2009
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Implementing an auto-complete control in WPF by extending the ComboBox control.

Introduction

There seems to be a lack of support for an auto-complete control in WPF. The closest one to it is the ComboBox which is the base of our implementation for this article.

Background

An auto-complete control is one that allows the user to enter text while querying for a possible selection based on what the user has already entered. The most popular auto-complete implementation deals with querying of a "Starts With" of the current text in the control.

How it Works

Here are some of the properties we care about in the ComboBox:

  • IsEditable- This allows the user to input text into the control.
  • StaysOpenOnEdit - This will force the combobox to stay open when typing.
  • IsTextSearchEnabled - This uses the default "auto-complete" behavior of the ComboBox.

The Magic

By using a combination of the above properties (pretty self-explanatory) and a timer to control the delay of the query, an event which allows the user to attach a new data source, and some styles, we could implement an auto-complete control.

Using the Control

XAML

<Window x:Class="Gui.TestWindow"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
    xmlns:ctr="clr-namespace:Gui.Controls"
      Title="Auto Complete Test" 
      Height="200" Width="300" 
      Loaded="Window_Loaded">
    <StackPanel>
        <StackPanel.Resources>
            <ResourceDictionary 
              Source="/Gui.Controls;component/Styles/AutoComplete.Styles.xaml" />
        </StackPanel.Resources>
        
        <Label>Cities:</Label>
        <ctr:AutoComplete x:Name="autoCities" 
           SelectedValuePath="CityID" DisplayMemberPath="Name" 
           PatternChanged="autoCities_PatternChanged" 
           Style="{StaticResource AutoCompleteComboBox}"
           Delay="500"/> 
        <!-- can also do binding on selected value -->
    </StackPanel>
</Window>

Similar to a combo box, an auto-complete control utilizes the DisplayMemberPath and SelectValuePath properties to bind to a specific data source.

Code-Behind

/// <summary>
/// occurs when the user stops typing after a delayed timespan
/// </summary>
/// <param name="sender"></param>
/// <param name="args"></param>
protected void autoCities_PatternChanged(object sender, 
          Gui.Controls.AutoComplete.AutoCompleteArgs args)
{
    //check
    if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(args.Pattern))
        args.CancelBinding = true;
    else
        args.DataSource = TestWindow.GetCities(args.Pattern);
}

We can utilize the PatternChanged event to subscribe to changes to the the data source. This data source is also equal to a pattern the user has currently entered into the control.

Points of Interest

We utilize the MVVM pattern to create a ViewModel of any entity bound to the data source which contains the HighLight property. Through the use of styles, this highlighted section will be reflected in the dropdown.

History

  • Dec. 14, 2009 - Initial creation.

License

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

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About the Author

Yang Yu
Architect Prognex Corp.
Canada Canada
Love startups, programming, and machine learning.
 
CEO and Founder of FansFave.com
 
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mryuyang
Twitter: http://twitter.com/mryangyu

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberVolcano_881018-Nov-10 17:38 

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