A feature I always missed in most MDI products (like Microsoft Word or
Microsoft FrontPage) was a simple means to see which views/docs are currently
open and to switch easily between them. Using the 'Window' menu can be quite
cumbersome. I wanted something like Oz Solomonovich's Window
Tabs Add-In. In my current project I have to do an MDI application with
several different views and I don't want my users to become as frustrated as me
about this topic. So I decided to make my own
As it turns out, it was very easy to do so.
CMDITabs is a little control that adds 'tabs' to an MFC MDI
application with which the user can switch between views. The appearance can
also be customized to display the view icons. This is useful if you have
different types of views, otherwise I would suggest to turn the icons off. The
tabs can be placed at the bottom or at the top of the views. The control is
smart enough to reflect all changes in the views (open, close, new, change
After writing this article I discovered, that there is a similar solution for
tabbing between MDI views in the doc/view section of Code Project.
First I was a little bit frustrated, thinking I had reinvented the wheel again
. But on a closer look I liked my MDITabs better because of three
- it looks nicer and hasn't got a space wasting double border frame
- it is more stable due to its simpler implementation (read the bug list
in the comments)
- it is smaller, you have only one class to use, not three
So I sent this article int to the Code Project.
How to use
CMDITabs in your code is extremely simple. Add
MDITabs.h and MDITabs.cpp to your project. In your
CMainFrame class add a new member
CMDITabs (don't forget to include 'MDITabs.h'). Insert
after all toolbars and status bars have been set up created. It is important for
proper layout that the MDI tabctrl is created last. To synchronize view
operations with the MDI Tabs, it is necessary to override
OnUpdateFrameTitle from the base class
CMainFrame class. After calling the base class implementation
you have to call the
Update() function of
class CMainFrame : public CMDIFrameWnd
virtual void OnUpdateFrameTitle(BOOL bAddToTitle);
void CMainFrame::OnUpdateFrameTitle(BOOL bAddToTitle)
That's it! Build and start your application, open some views and enjoy
switching between them
- Double clicking on a tab maximizes the view.
- Right clicking on a tab displays the view's system menu. You can change the
menu by simply changing the views system menu, if you like (see demo project
CChildFrame::OnCreate()). If you need to supply a total different
(independant) menu, your view can answer the
- The tabs are hidden when there are less than one (two) view(s) open. Use
SetMinViews() or the style
MT_HIDEWLT2VIEWS to change
- In the
Create() function you can supply some styles to
customize the appearance of the control:
||tabs appear at bottom |
||tabs appear at top|
||use view icons as images|
||hide tabs when there are less than two views (default is one
The private MFC message
WM_SIZEPARENT provides a way to attach
windows to the MDI client area of a doc/view app.
OnSizeParent to attach itself at the bottom of the MDI
client area. If you want another layout you need to change this function. The
Z-order of the MDIClient siblings is important for the layout algorithm.
Siblings are asked to position themselves in Z-order (search for
WM_SIZEPARENT on MSDN to get more info). That's the reason why
CMDITabs must be created after all other control and status bars
have been done in
CMainFrame::OnCreate(). Otherwise the status bar
would appear above the tabs, destroying proper layout.
Synchronizing Views and Tabs
The tab control must always reflect the list of views. Instead of monitoring
all possible view changing events (close, open, new, changing titles/icons) I
hooked into the
CMainFrame::OnUpdateFrameTitle() function. I
discovered, that this function gets called when something view-related happens.
Here you have to call
CMDITabs::Update() which in response
completely rebuilds its tab list. It does so by querying the child windows of
the MDIClient window, circumventing the complex doc/view organization of MFC!
The simpler the solution the robuster it works!
I'm developing for fun since 1985, starting with UCSD Pascal on some old machines (no harddisk, but four floppies!), then moving quickly on to assembler on the famous C64 and Amiga. During university I started professional development for Windows/Unix/Linux, using a myriad of languages (Pi, 386/486, Cobol, Modula2, OML, C, C++, VB, Prolog, Eiffel, Delphi, Perl, Pascal, Assembler). Currently my favorite languages are C# 3.0 and Python.