Various screen shots
After programming in BASIC, FORTRAN, Assembly, PLI, C, and then C++ for a
combined 30+ years, I finally decided to check out the 21st century and write
my first meaningful application in .Net. It was going to be a variation of an
personal information manager that I had put out as shareware a number of years
ago. At first I was enamored with the seemingly endless amount of classes,
controls and documentation, and the ease at which one could quickly develop in
this new environment. However, it did not take long to realize that there were
many deficiencies in the way some of the controls operated, holes in the
documentation, as well as outright bugs. As I developed my new application
there were many times where I just wish something worked differently.
The first small annoyance was how the progress bar painted the bar in little
separate boxes instead of a smooth continuous bar and didn't incorporate a
percent complete indicator. Then there was the inability to change colors in
the predefined dialogs such as the
PrintPreviewDialog and others. Before long I
began rolling my own versions of various controls so that I felt I had more
control (no pun intended) over how they worked. And, of course, I would have
the source code to fix problems and enhance the controls as I had done for
years when the MFC source code was freely distributed.
One of the main areas I wanted to coordinate was simply to be able to pick a
color scheme for all my controls and somehow everything in the application
could easily use that color scheme. Then there were the many simple little
things that I wanted that were just not available in the .Net controls, such as
the ability to paint a picture in a frame but still get keystroke events (I use
that in my
LeerColorPicker to allow keystrokes to move the
crosshairs around.) And then there was that nasty Interop thing that we needed
to use in order to do things that just was not included in the first two
iterations of the Framework. I wanted to write much of that stuff once so I
wouldn't have to think about it again.
So what are LeerTools?
Simply put, they are a collection of controls, dialogs, methods and some Interop
wrappers that worked the way I felt I needed to write the quality of
application I hoped to create. And having been a user of some open source code
in my career, I decided to give back to the development community and release
this suite of tools. Although many of the controls are basically replacements
for some things that are available in .Net, either using or just reviewing the
code can prove to be useful in several ways:
Some of the controls offer features that are not available in the .Net
Some of the controls just don't exist in .Net Framework.
Having the source code makes it easier to customize the controls to your
The concept of the
to have a consistent color scheme can certainly be broadened to provide a total
look and feel across the controls.
Buried throughout may be interesting examples of how to do certain things
and/or workaround known problems.
The collection of additional Methods may save some time in reinventing the
Note that most of the LeerTools controls do not inherit from the .Net
counterparts. For the most part they inherit from very basic classes such as
What is included in LeerTools?
LeerButton - A button control that adds features such as a detent
style, separator style (for use in
LeerControlBar), and an
optional drop-down arrow to be used for displaying an additional context menu
(similar to the Back button in Internet Explorer.)
- My version of a context menu. All LeerTools menus are based on an ILeerMenu
interface that can make it easy to design other parents for a set of menus.
These context menus have several styles, and include an optional label
appearing alongside a dropdown menu (a feature I had seen in some other
LeerControlBar - This control provides what the MFC
did, but the .Net
ToolBar> sorely left out. That is, it can be
the container for any other type of control that fits within the boundaries of
the bar, not just variations of a button. This is one of my favorite controls
as none of the toolbars in my application are strictly buttons. A neat feature
of this control is that it will optionally automatically create a dropdown list
for button controls that can't be seen because the user has shrunk the window
containing the control bar. In addition, the
a vertical orientation in addition to the standard horizonatal orientation. The
uses the vertical form to display the "favorites" buttons.
LeerExplorer - This control is actually derived from the .Net
It provides a standard tree view of the computer's file system, must the same
as you would see in Windows Explorer program.
LeerFolderCombo - A variation of
that presents a dropdownlist look at the shell's file system to facilitate
selecting a folder. It performs like the folder drop down in the common file
dialogs we all have come to love.
LeerMenuBar - This is similar to the
control. It does not, however, need to reside at the top of a form.
It can be placed anywhere on a form and can be any width. Similar to the
can automatically create a dropdown to the right of the bar with menu items
that cannot be seen when a form shrinks too small to show all the menu items.
LeerPictureBox - A simple control designed to display an unscaled
image in its center. I created this control so that I can get keyboard events
from a control that is displaying a picture, which I could not get from a .Net
PictureBox. I use this control, for example, in my
- A non-glamorous progress bar that shows a smooth bar (rather than a series of
boxes), and allows a percent complete to be displayed as well.
LeerSkin - A set of colors properties that can be used by all
other LeerTools controls and dialogs. The
method lets a form propogate its skin to all compatible LeerTools controls that
are contained within its boundaries.
LeerTabBar - This control is like a
without the pages. It shows just the tabs so that you can have the
functionality of tabs but not be limited to the metaphor of "one tab to one
LeerTabControl - This is a more traditional tab control that
consists of an underlying
LeerTabBar where each tab is associated
LeerCharacterPicker - The
dialog allows you to select any character in the range range 32-255 from within
any available system font. It is useful when you need to add a special
character into a document and you do not know the character code or do not know
how to enter the keystrokes to get that character.
LeerColorPicker - The
is a compact and powerful color selection dialog. Its crosshair color selector
(one of three ways to select a color) is based on the
Hue/Saturation/Brightless(or luminescence) presentation (see
http://www.nebulus.org/tutorials/2d/photoshop/color/color2.html for a
discussion of these terms.), which in my opinion, makes it possible to see a
wider selection of colors making it quicker to get close to the color you wish
to choose. It also has some nice features such as displaying basic and/or
web-safe color wells for quick color picking, the ability to choose a web-safe
color close to the custom color you have selected, and easy to use retention of
custom colors selected, shows hex color values if you want to use those colors
in HTML pages, and more.
LeerFilePicker is a replacement for
OpenFileDialog using all LeerSoft components. It uses a
LeerFolderCombo to select the folder, a vertically oriented
to display common locations a user might browse to, and a
ListView to display
the individual files. The
LeerFilePicker contains most of the elements in the
OpenFileDialog except some that are included as properties, but not
implemented. The benefits of using the
LeerFilePicker is that it's
appearance can be controlled by a
is closed and therefore you get what you get.)
- Presents a dialog that allows a user to select any shell folder. It is not
the prettiest of the LeerTools, but gets the job done.
- Displays a dialog from which you can select the following attributes of a
font: name, style, size, strikeout/underline, text and background colors.
LeerPrintPreviewDialog - Displays a print preview for a .Net
The main reason for the existence of this dialog is to be able to control the
skin look and feel of the dialog, which cannot be done with the built in
Not to mention I wanted source so that I could choose to change its behavior.
Methods class that contains a few dozen [hopefully] helpful
routines, such as a routine to fetch the icon for a file from the shell, and a
routine that displays a simple yes/no or ok/cancel type of message box but uses
for look and feel.
MultiMedia class that provides for playing and/or recording
audio files. It currently will play almost any format, but the implementation
provided only records wav or wma files. The
MultiMedia class is
based on the excellent BASS sound library from un4seen developments (http://www.un4seen.com),
which is ONLY free to use for non-commercial purposes. They have various
reasonable licensing prices for commercial packages, and their software
contains and enormous amount of additional functionality that LeerTools does
not expose. The
MultiMedia class is actually an implementation of
IMultiMedia interface so that you can rewrite the
class with any other library you may have should you need to use this in a
commercial application. LeerTools only internally uses the
class for playing a sound when a popup menu pops up.
LeerTools contains wrappers for some of the frequently used interfaces, such
interface used to get information about shell objects.
LeerTools also has a large set of enumerations, structures and interop
definitions for may Win32 functions.
Using the code
The best way to get started is to unzip the application, compile the solution
(please use .Net Framework 1.1 as there are a few bugs that were fixed in 1.1
that I rely on), then add the LeerTools.dll to your VS design tools. If
you like, you might create a new section for LeerTools to keep the new controls
separate. The sample application is not pretty nor heavily commented, but does
demonstrate a good deal of the functionality. The LeerTools source files,
however, are extremely heavily commented and I have supplied a reasonably
accurate LeerTools.chm documentation file created with NDOC.
Note: LeerTools was written entirely in C# on Windows XP Pro,
and tested both in the included sample application as well as in a large scale
application that makes moderately heavy use of all the controls. However, there
has not been any formal beta testing. There is a lot of code, some of which is
depends quite a bit on Windows messaging and it may take a few versions to get
any kinks out. In addition, I do not know any reason why they would not be
usable in Visual Basic.Net, but I do not use that language and therefore have
not tested it. I welcome any feedback (good or bad), requests for
changes/enhancements, bug fixes, bug reports or questions. Enjoy.
LeerFilePicker can be a little slow when filling the
ListView with the
contents of a folder that has a large number of files in it. It may be possible
to speed it up if I tapped into the Indexing Service.
- Version 1.1 is the first version released to the public.