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XP style Explorer Bar (Win32/MFC)

, 4 Mar 2004
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Implementation of a shellstyle.dll aware XP Windows Explorer Bar


This article presents a full implementation of the Windows XP Explorer Bar as a set of Win32 controls and a MFC wrapper. The Explorer Bar works on Windows 98/Me/2k/XP and is fully shellstyle.dll aware, i.e. can be used with any XP visual theme (standard, 3rd party non-standard, and the classic Windows scheme).

The new custom controls include extended button controls, extended static controls, tasklink controls, and collapsible header controls.


The Windows Explorer that comes with Windows XP introduces a fancy new control bar called "Explorer Bar". The bar handles one or more collapsible panes containing tasklinks or informative text and having a collapsible header control.

The Explorer Bar is neither exported by any API nor uses it the standard XP theme renderer. All bitmaps and metrics reside in specialized DLLs named "shellstyle.dll".

The implementation presented here has a full parser for this non-standard information and a highly sophisticated rendering engine allowing fade and roll effects to be applied to expanding/collapsing panes.

Using the code

The zip archive contains a Platform SDK like HTMLHelp file (explorerbar.chm) with the full documentation (Win32/MFC). You must build all configurations of explorerbar.dsw before using the library. If you are interested in the sample application, then build ExpBarSample.dsw as well.

After building all configurations of explorerbar.dsw you find the library in "explorerbar\lib" and the MFC wrapper in "explorerbar\lib\MFC".

General comments, points of interest

Approx. 18.000 lines of code needed to be written in order to support all functionalities of the Windows XP Explorer Bar, i.e. expect bug-fixes!

Even if the Explorer Bar will be exported in the future by an API, it will not work under Windows 98/Me/2k because it will probably use a new XP theme renderer tightly linked to Windows XP.

One big TODO item is a pure MFC version of the Explorer Bar. This would simplify the message handling stated in the Explorer Bar SDK (HTMLHelp). The current implementation (explorerbar.dll) has been written for Win32 applications for maximum platform support.


Version 1.0 is the first published version of the Explorer Bar. It is embedded in the great sizeable control bar by Cristi Posea.


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.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Ingo A. Kubbilun
Software Developer (Senior)
Germany Germany
Dipl.-Inform., 26 years experience (1985-2011) in coding/software development (C/C++/C#/Java/x86-Assembler), experienced in Win32/MFC/WPF development, UNIX (Linux/Solaris), and especially in IT-security

Comments and Discussions

GeneralA problem with refresh [modified] Pinmemberyyyzlf30-Nov-09 22:22 
QuestionWindows 7? PinmemberStefan Dahlin28-Oct-09 5:32 
AnswerRe: Windows 7? PinmemberMember 850700522-Dec-11 4:39 
QuestionI can't build this project!Why? Pinmemberhunzaixa16-Apr-08 23:01 
Generali can not build this project, pls help me. Pinmemberthuong1012773-Mar-08 19:11 
Generalnice control Pinmemberan77777-Nov-07 16:58 
QuestionVISTA ? PinmemberMichael Chourdakis21-Jun-07 7:14 
Generalerror Pinmemberaldo hexosa6-May-07 12:58 
GeneralShareable Section created by the linker PinmemberMichael Chourdakis24-Apr-07 7:29 
GeneralRe: Shareable Section created by the linker PinmemberMichael Chourdakis24-Apr-07 7:44 
QuestionA big error Pinmemberyhw198504011-Apr-07 16:52 
Generalexplorer bar width Pinmembermanuel3579-Feb-07 8:33 
GeneralRe: explorer bar width PinmemberTornado8a15-Aug-07 22:45 
GeneralLoad C runtime library without using manifest Pinmembersunika12-Nov-06 4:24 
QuestionDisable TaskLink32? PinmemberStefan Dahlin6-Sep-06 1:48 
Generalvs2005 error! Pinmemberkurome29-May-06 16:11 
GeneralRe: vs2005 error! PinmemberNew_Rulz31-May-06 1:39 
GeneralRe: vs2005 error! Pinmemberkurome4-Jun-06 14:42 
QuestionHow can I prevent closing the Explorer bar Pinmemberfrewah27-May-06 13:01 
AnswerRe: How can I prevent closing the Explorer bar Pinmemberfrewah27-May-06 13:38 
QuestionToo many paint messages Pinmembergunag3-May-06 2:16 
AnswerRe: Too many paint messages Pinmembernanfang28-Sep-07 6:28 
QuestionHow to change the style on the fly (kind of a solution) PinmemberLars [Large] Werner19-Apr-06 7:29 
QuestionAgain Hiding/Showing problem Pinmembergunag7-Apr-06 4:20 
GeneralUpdate on the problem: Again Hiding/Showing problem Pinmembergunag7-Apr-06 4:58 

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