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Posted 27 Apr 2002

Tracker - A Windows Form graph control

, 27 Apr 2002
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A Windows Form control similar to the Task Manager memory graph in Windows 2000

Sample Image

Sample Image


My first intention was to build a Windows Control like that one you can see in Windows Task Manager which goes with Windows2000. Considering that is the really simple control, I decided to add a few things to improve it a little bit. You can use this control to visually track down any variable in your program linking it with control's Value property.

Added Properties

I wrote a few properties to provide additional capabilities of the control:

  • Value
  • Maximum
  • Minimum
  • UpperRange
  • LowerRange
  • RefreshingTime
  • Grid

Value property can be set between Maximum and Minimum properties. When Value is out of normal range, defined with LowerRange and UpperRange properties, control draws it in a defferent color. RefreshingTime property sets a frequency of redrawing the control giving four possible values of choice. Grid property gives you opportunity to change the density of the grid lines.

Drawing The Control

The code required for drawing the control is located in two methods:

Protected Overrides Sub OnPaintBackground(ByVal pevent As _
Protected Overrides Sub OnPaint(ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.PaintEventArgs)

I used OnPaintBackground to draw normal range area gaining effect that you can see on two pictures above. In OnPaint the control draws grid lines, value (changes the color when value is out of normal range defined with LowerRange and UpperRange properties) and control's border as showed in next segments of code:

'Grid lines
For i = 1 To CInt(Me.Height / mGrid)
   e.Graphics.DrawLine(Pens.DarkGreen, 0, i * mGrid, Me.Width, i * mGrid)
Next i
For i = 1 To CInt(Me.Width / mGrid)
   e.Graphics.DrawLine(Pens.DarkGreen, i * mGrid - mover, 0, 
                                i * mGrid - mover, Me.Height)
Next i

For i = 1 To values.Count - 1 
   If CInt(values(i)) Me.UpperRange Or CInt(values(i)) Me.LowerRange Then 
      e.Graphics.DrawLine(Pens.Red, Me.Width - intDivision * (values.Count - i), _
             CInt(Me.Height * (Me.Maximum - CInt(values(i))) / (Me.Maximum - Me.Minimum)), _
             Me.Width - intDivision * (values.Count - i + 1), _
             CInt(Me.Height * (Me.Maximum - CInt(values(i - 1))) / (Me.Maximum - Me.Minimum))) 
      e.Graphics.DrawLine(Pens.Yellow, Me.Width - intDivision * (values.Count - i), _
             CInt(Me.Height * (Me.Maximum - CInt(values(i))) / (Me.Maximum - Me.Minimum)), _
             Me.Width - intDivision * (values.Count - i + 1), _
             CInt(Me.Height * (Me.Maximum - CInt(values(i - 1))) / (Me.Maximum - Me.Minimum))) 
   End If 
Next i

'Control's border
ControlPaint.DrawBorder3D(e.Graphics, 0, 0, Width, Height, Border3DStyle.Sunken)

To redraw the control in certain interval of time I used a thread and started it in the constructor of the control using thread's Start method. You have to declare thread's delegate ThreadStart and thread's method where you specify the program code executed by a thread:

To fully enable double-buffering, you must set the UserPaint, AllPaintingInWmPaint, and DoubleBuffer control style bits to true. Double-buffering prevents flicker caused by the redrawing of the control. The best place to do that is the constructor of the class. Setting ResizeRedraw control style to true ensures that the control is redrawn when it is resized.

Private otter As New ThreadStart(AddressOf MyThreadProc)
Private oThread As New Thread(otter)

MyThreadProc calls control's Invalidate method and thread's Sleep method with RefreshingTime control's property as an argument. Everything happens in Do While Loop.

Design-Time Attributes

Because components can be displayed in a designer, such as Visual Studio .NET, they require attributes that provide metadata to design-time tools. Every property which I added to the control has a few attributes in order to better describe a component to the user. To simplify finding the added properties of the control you should specify the category in which the property (or event) will be displayed in a visual designer. You can do that with Category("name_of_the_category") attribute in a definition of the property. Description("text") attribute describes meaning of the property. DefaultValue("value") defines default value of the property, and if you change it in Properties Window it will become bold. These are only basic attributes which are necessary for describing a real professional component.

Demo Application

To show how the control behaves on the form you can open new Windows Application Project, add it to the ToolBox (Tracker.dll) and double-click icon in the ToolBar with name Tracker ( Sample Image ). You can move the control, resize it in Visual Designer in VS.NET and change its properties in the Properties Window.

For a practical purpose of this demo I added only a TrackBar on the form and adjusted its property Maximum to the same value as Tracker's property Maximum. After that only one line of the code in the TrackBar's Scroll event is necessary (by double-clicking the TrackBar):

Me.Tracker1.Value = Me.TrackBar1.Value

Run the application and good luck !


I have created this control in VB.NET Standard Edition which comes without Component Designer. It's good idea to add a test project (Windows Application) to existing solution in order to test control's behaviour on the form. As soon as you compile your control, all changes are visible in design mode of your test form. I have tested the control only in Windows2000, and there is no reason that it shouldn't be working in other versions of Windows starting with Win98 as indicated in Microsoft .NET documentation.


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

Andelko Pavelic
Australia Australia
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

QuestionLicense Pin
Pearl Almeida10-Sep-13 0:57
memberPearl Almeida10-Sep-13 0:57 
QuestionStart from another point other than zero? Pin
ivanf116-Jan-09 7:49
memberivanf116-Jan-09 7:49 
AnswerRe: Start from another point other than zero? Pin
BTDex8-Jun-10 8:37
memberBTDex8-Jun-10 8:37 
Generalneed the same control in C# Pin
Anonymous25-Aug-05 4:16
sussAnonymous25-Aug-05 4:16 
Generaltracker.bmp Pin
guru24219-Jul-05 17:50
memberguru24219-Jul-05 17:50 
GeneralRe: tracker.bmp Pin
guru2428-Aug-05 8:51
memberguru2428-Aug-05 8:51 
GeneralRe: tracker.bmp Pin
guru2428-Aug-05 8:52
memberguru2428-Aug-05 8:52 
GeneralRe: tracker.bmp Pin
wubee14-Nov-06 5:55
memberwubee14-Nov-06 5:55 
GeneralRe: tracker.bmp Pin
guru24214-Nov-06 6:24
memberguru24214-Nov-06 6:24 
GeneralRe: tracker.bmp Pin
wubee15-Nov-06 3:22
memberwubee15-Nov-06 3:22 
GeneralRe: tracker.bmp Pin
guru24215-Nov-06 8:11
memberguru24215-Nov-06 8:11 
GeneralRe: tracker.bmp Pin
arsdigita15-Nov-06 16:08
memberarsdigita15-Nov-06 16:08 
GeneralainUsage of Microsoft Graph 9.0 library for drawing graphs Pin
Gohian26-Sep-03 1:14
memberGohian26-Sep-03 1:14 
GeneralAnother Code bug... Pin
agent-smith8-May-03 17:47
memberagent-smith8-May-03 17:47 
GeneralWhere can I find the tool for performance testing Pin
Pathi Gorantla24-Nov-02 23:57
memberPathi Gorantla24-Nov-02 23:57 
GeneralCode Error Pin
Richard Lund28-Apr-02 22:05
memberRichard Lund28-Apr-02 22:05 

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