The button presented in this example has been developed in stages. I shall
walk you through the stages one by one, so that you can create a custom control
yourself easily. Round buttons are specific cases of elliptic buttons.
My motivation for this article started with me trying to
imitate the round button of Windows Media Player. I wanted to create a custom
control in C# and round button is a control developers popularly try to
implement when implementing custom controls. I searched codeproject and google,
there was none, and I decided to create one myself.
Custom controls are easier to create in C# than in MFC,
thanks to FCL. There was an article by Chris Maunder on how to create an
elliptic button using MFC. The code in this sample looks simpler because of some
FCL functions that come free.
What’s Special About this Button
The button I developed has the following properties:
It is elliptical/ round
HoverColor – color of the button when you
hover over it
TextStartPoint – point at which we start
drawing text of the button. Coordinates are relative to upper-hand left corner
of the bounding rectangle of the button.
ColorGradient – This parameter allows you to
shade the button. Indicates how sharp a color transition you want.
ColorStepGradient – Indicates how many every
pixels you want color change.
FadeOut – Indicates if you want darker color
outside or inside. Indicate true for darker color along the rim, and false for
Why should You use Round Buttons?
Why would you create a round button at all? First, if you
want nice UI. Second, if a regular rectangular button is not as good as one, for
example, that looks like a cigar. Windows Media Player’s play button mimics
today’s round buttons on multimedia player stations and conveys the idea more
accurately than a rectangular one.
It is easier to create a round button in C#, and you would
like to use .Net to create it if you want it to seamlessly integrate with other
UI development environments like VB.Net. In order to use it, you’d need an
operating system with the .Net framework installed. In order to replace buttons
in existing projects with this new one, you want to replace the word
RoundButton in the
InitializeComponents() function in your forms and add a reference
to the dll hosting code for this button.
The mother of all controls in C# is the
Control class. It has all the features that you’d want out of a control and MSDN
describes the features well. If you are authoring a new control and your control
is going to be similar to a standard existing control, you will do well to
extend that class. In our example, we extend the
Button class. To
create a listbox having checkboxes and showing images instead of text, you would
CheckedListBox class. If you want to create a control
from scratch that has no behavioral resemblance to any controls that you know
of, you want to extend the
UserControl class. You can create a
composite control also using
The basic philosophy to create a round button is simple –
Button class, have a
Paint handler, draw
your ellipse in the handler. There are other intricacies, however. If you are
having your own
Paint handler, you will not be calling the default
Paint handler, which means more responsibilities:
You will have to set the region for the button so that if
the user clicks at a point which lies outside the bounding circle but inside the
bounding rectangle, that does not translate to a click.
You would affect other properties related to drawing like:
text, image and backgroundImage. If you are not calling the default
Paint handler, you have to draw the text and images, aligned as the user wants
Time to code. In the following, I describe briefly the steps
in which I developed this button.
Simple round button. Visuals done. Behaviorally similar to a
rectangular button. We create one pen and one brush. The pen, to draw the
boundary ellipse/ circle; the brush: to fill interior of the ellipse.
_pen = new Pen(_color);
_brush = new SolidBrush(Color.FromKnownColor (KnownColor.Control));
_brushInside = new SolidBrush(_color);
protected override void OnPaint(PaintEventArgs pe)
Graphics g = pe.Graphics;
g.FillRectangle(_brush, 0, 0, ClientSize.Width, ClientSize.Height);
g.DrawEllipse(_pen, 0, 0, ClientSize.Width, ClientSize.Height);
g.FillEllipse(_brushInside, 0, 0, ClientSize.Width, ClientSize.Height);
Additionally, you want to expose a color property that the
end user can populate in design mode.
The implementation in Step 1 has a bug: if you click at a
point which lies outside the bounding circle but inside the bounding rectangle,
that gets interpreted as a click.
To fix that, we add the following code in
OnPaint to set the window region correctly:
GraphicsPath path = new GraphicsPath();
path.AddEllipse(0, 0, ClientSize.Width, ClientSize.Height);
this.Region = new Region(path);
Rest of the code should be easy to interpret. I have
developed functions, step by step, to make the coloring code more appealing and
fixing problems because we are avoiding the call to the default
Paint handler. I called the function where I do the painting inside the button
ColorButton, and developed different
Brief overview of the functions:
ColorButton1 – flat coloring of the
ColorButton2 – fills color with color
gradient. Color gets darker towards the righthand-bottom corner.
ColorButton3 - fills color with color
gradient. Color gets darker towards the center. Respects the image property set
by the user
ColorButton4 – Adds fade-in/ out property.
Color gets lighter (fade out) or darker (fade in) towards the center.
ColorButton4 modified to take in pen and brush arguments. Needed for hover-coloring. I
added handlers for
MouseLeave to color
the button differently on mouse hover. Draws a focus rectangle when the button
Using the Button
In a fresh project, go to the Toolbox, add / remove items,
browse and point to the dll for the button. In an existing project, change text
These are known issues:
Does not give a perfect 3D look, consequently, the property
FlatStyle is ignored
Note that we have taken care of:
- Windows accessibility requirements
- Localization issues. Text written in a right-to-left language will appear
TextAlign are currently ignored. The image is currently drawn at the center and
text coordinates depends on the property