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XPander Controls Converged

, 4 Jan 2004
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WinXP like animated collapsing group box control.


There are a number of XP like grouping controls on CodeProject and elsewhere:

(Please let me know if I missed someone!)

Thanks to all those who wrote those nice controls. All these controls implement a number of features, however no single control implements all those features. So I decided to shamelessly copy their code and "Converge" everything in one! Wink | ;-) Also most of them were in C#, so I decided to start with VB.NET for this one. I used VS 2003 but they should work in VS 2002 also.

Feature list

  • Images on the left side of caption.
  • Animated expand/collapse. Animation can be switched off and the timing can also be changed. Gives the feeling of gradual fade away.
  • Drawing in gray if disabled.
  • Gradient fills.
  • Different chevron styles
  • Can be shown as non-collapsible
  • Tooltips
  • Office 2003 line style for the caption
  • Completely customizable

Using the control

You can use it in two ways:

  1. Drop XPanderList control to your form and then drop XPander controls to the XPanderList control.
  2. Or just drop XPander control to your form.

Most of the properties exposed on the controls are self-explanatory but some important ones are:

  • CaptionStyle - Choose a caption style. FlatLine makes it look like, Office 2003 flat caption with a line in the end, style.
  • ChevronStyle - Different chevron styles. Image, ArrowsInCircle, Triangle.
  • CollapsedImage, ExpandedImage, ExpandedHighlightImage, CollapsedHighlightImage - Specify your own bitmaps for chevrons! (Make sure that you have ChevronStyle set to Image.)
  • Image - Image on the left side of the caption.
  • CanToggle - Is the user allowed to expand/collapse? If False chevrons are not displayed, clicking on the caption does nothing and mouse cursor remains default.
  • ShowTooltips - Whether to show tool tips or not. Tool tip text is same as the caption text.
  • Animated - Enable/disable animation.
  • AnimationTime - How fast/slow (time). Used only if Animated is True. Value 0 behaves as if Animated=False
  • CaptionTextHighlightColor - Caption is drawn in this color when hovering.
  • CaptionHeight - Caption height can be adjusted. All child controls on this "group" are repositioned automatically with caption height change.

There are more properties for adjusting caption attributes like height, font, colors and so on.

Also methods Expand(), Collapse() are available on XPander and ExpandAll(), CollapseAll() are available on XPanderList.

Using the code

The "original articles" do such a good job of explaining the code so I will not repeat it here. They can be found with the links above.

Points of interest

Note that properties like CaptionLeftColor of type Color (and other properties like it) can be "Reset" using the VS.NET designer. This is achieved by using the DefaultValue attribute:

<Description("Determines the ending (dark) " + _ 
    "color of the caption gradient fill."), _
    DefaultValue(GetType(Color), "198, 210, 248"), _
    Category("Caption")> _
Public Property CaptionRightColor() As Color

To draw disabled strings I use:

ControlPaint.DrawStringDisabled(g, CaptionText, _ 
    m_CaptionFont, capcolor, CaptionRectF, format)

Similarly to draw disabled images I use:

ControlPaint.DrawImageDisabled(g, m_ExpandedImage, _ 
    Me.Width - m_ExpandedImage.Width - 8, 2 + _ 
    imageOffsetY, Me.CaptionRightColor) 


Once again since this is more a copy/paste/organize operation then "new code", all credits go to those who wrote the original controls namely Daren May, Derek Lakin, Rob Tomson and the people who made TaskVision.

Revision history

  • Ver 1.2
    • New properties for pane color handling to get a look similar to Longhorn group boxes!. PaneBottomRightColor, PaneTopLeftColor, PaneOutlineColor
    • New property ImageOffset between image and caption top.
    • New property CaptionTextAlign, can be Left,Middle or Right
    • New CaptionStyle=WrapAroundLine
    • New ChevronStyle=PlusMinus
  • Ver 1.1
    • DrawChevronImage replaced by ChevronStyle. Currently you can select Image, ArrowsInCircle, Triangle or None.
    • FlatCaptionStyle replaced by CaptionStyle which can be Normal or FlatLine.
    • Reorganized most of the code to make it much more readable.
    • CaptionCurveRadius is also exposed now. Set it to 0 to remove curved captions.
    • Standard border styles can be used with BorderStyle. Enable border drawing by setting DrawBorder to True

Note: If you are already using version 1.0, you will have to change your form code to use CaptionStyle and ChevronStyle instead of FlatCaptionStyle and DrawChevronImage.

Happy XPanding!


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralBugs during Mouse Hover Pinmembernetfusion30-Apr-09 1:09 
Generalusing this in visual web developer Pinmemberdualshock0310-Mar-08 0:43 
GeneralBug!? help me! Pinmemberscheisse8312-Sep-07 11:26 
Questionprogramming work? PinmemberAlex Niswander20-Jan-07 8:47 
AnswerRe: programming work? Pinmemberdaveauld16-Apr-10 5:15 
QuestionHeader has a verticle gradient instead of horizontal Pinmemberrwbaker23-Jun-06 4:02 
AnswerRe: Header has a verticle gradient instead of horizontal Pinmemberssamayoa1-Jul-06 8:06 
GeneralRe: Header has a verticle gradient instead of horizontal Pinmemberrwbaker1-Jul-06 10:18 
GeneralThanks a lot! PinmemberCodingWolf29-Mar-06 15:50 
QuestionXPander returning an error in VS.NET 2005 PinmemberNick49784-Nov-05 21:24 
AnswerRe: XPander returning an error in VS.NET 2005 PinmemberbqStony13-Feb-06 4:14 
QuestionExpanding left to right Pinmemberavantip1807-Oct-05 11:02 
AnswerRe: Expanding left to right Pinmembermkg10-Oct-05 7:35 
QuestionI want to ask you How to run it when having error? Pinmembermyphuong24431-Aug-05 20:24 
AnswerRe: I want to ask you How to run it when having error? Pinmembermkg10-Oct-05 7:37 
GeneralRe: I want to ask you How to run it when having error? Pinmembermyphuong24410-Oct-05 18:00 
QuestionXPander Control have error? Pinmembermyphuong24431-Aug-05 18:29 
GeneralRun XPander Controls have errors! Pinmembermyphuong24429-Aug-05 19:18 
AnswerRe: Run XPander Controls have errors! Pinmembermkg31-Aug-05 8:58 
GeneralLittle bug Pinmembertitan_pi81-Aug-05 6:31 
GeneralRe: Little bug Pinmembermkg31-Aug-05 8:59 
GeneralAdding XPander to XPanderList at Runtime Pinmemberslipmat17-Mar-05 18:10 
GeneralTransparent Background Pinmemberromias4-Feb-05 3:49 
GeneralRe: Transparent Background Pinmembermkg10-Feb-05 6:08 
GeneralRe: Transparent Background Pinmembermkg10-Feb-05 6:26 

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