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Posted 22 Jul 2008

Persistent Splitter control in Visual WebGui

, 22 Jul 2008 CPOL
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Implementing a Persistent Splitter control in Visual WebGui


Visual WebGui is powerful framework for developing AJAX-based enterprise applications. It is built on top of ASP.NET, and implements a "WinForms"-like programming model to develop enterprise web applications using a rich user interface. It offers a broad range of user controls compatible with the user controls available in WinForms programming model.

Among them there is the Splitter control, which allows to split the workplace in two or more panels, each containing its own controls.

A very useful feature for a splitter is to remember its position at runtime. In this article, I will create a new splitter component, by enhancing the stock Splitter control from Visual Webgui toolbox, to make it remember its location at runtime.

However, one nice feature for splitters would be to allow users to customize the size of the panels, to widen / narrow them to meet various needs, and remember the size when the application is used next time.

So I enhanced the built-in Visual WebGui splitter to implement this feature.

Implementation Details

The thing I faced when I tried to implement this was how to set the splitter position at runtime. After some tests, I noticed the position of the splitter is actually determined not by some properties of the splitter itself, but by the size of the control the splitter is docked on.

To save / restore the splitter position, I use a cookie.

The Persistent Splitter component has design time support, and it has two properties that can be set at design time:

  • CookieName - The name of the cookie used to save / load the splitter name
  • DockedControl - The name of the control the splitter is docked on

The Persistent splitter has two main working private methods:

  • SaveSplitterPosition – This is called from the Resize event handler for the control the splitter is docked on, and, depending on the dock style of the splitter, it saves in the cookie the value of the width (for vertical splitter) or height (for horizontal splitter) of the docking control.
  • RestoreSplitterPosition – This is called from the SET accessor of the HostControlLoaded property. It tells the splitter that the component that hosts the splitter and related controls (particularly the control the splitter is docked on) was loaded, so their position can be manipulated in code).

The code in SaveSplitterPosition is straightforward:

private void SaveSplitterPosition()
    // if we have the cookie name set
    if (m_cookieName != string.Empty)
        // if this is vertical splitter, save the width of docked control
        if (this.Dock == DockStyle.Left || this.Dock == DockStyle.Right)
		(m_cookieName, m_dockedControl.Width.ToString()); 
        // if this is horizontal splitter, save the height of docked control
        else if (this.Dock == DockStyle.Top || this.Dock == DockStyle.Bottom)

		(m_cookieName, m_dockedControl.Height.ToString());
            // for safety
            throw new Exception(string.Format("{0}: Invalid Dock value", this.Name));

RestoreSplitterPosition works similarly. There is only one issue – since in this method we change the size of the docked control, this will fire Resize event, which will cause the event handler to call SaveSplitterPosition, which will attempt to save the cookie value again. To prevent this, we unbind from Resize event when we start the procedure, and bind again when finishing it. The code is shown below:

private void RestoreSplitterPosition()
    if (m_dockedControl != null && m_cookieName != string.Empty)
        // we unbind from resize event of docked control, 
        // to avoid saving the position again in cookie
        m_dockedControl.Resize -= new EventHandler(m_dockedControl_Resize);
            // read the last location from cookie
            string offsetStr = VWGHelper.GetCookiesParameter(m_cookieName);
            bool dockValid = false;
            if (offsetStr != string.Empty)
                int offsetInt = Int32.Parse(offsetStr);
                // if vertical splitter
                if (this.Dock == DockStyle.Left || this.Dock == DockStyle.Right)
                    m_dockedControl.Width = offsetInt; 
                    dockValid = true;
                // if vertical splitter
                else if (this.Dock == DockStyle.Top || this.Dock == DockStyle.Bottom)
                    m_dockedControl.Height = offsetInt;
                    dockValid = true;
                if (!dockValid) // for safety
                    throw new Exception(string.Format("{0}: 
				Invalid Dock value", this.Name));
        catch (Exception ex)
            throw new Exception
		("Error in PersistentSplitter.RestoreSplitterPosition", ex) ;
            // we make sure we rebind to resize event, 
            // to save new splitter position if user changes it
            m_dockedControl.Resize = new EventHandler(m_dockedControl_Resize);

Using the Code

The PersistentSplitter functionality is controlled by the HostControlLoaded property. This is write/only, and is used to notify the splitter when the component the splitter is docked on is available. At that moment, the splitter can restore its position by adjusting the size of its docking component. This should happen in Load event of the host component (form or user control) by setting the HostControlLoaded property to true. This tells the PersistentSplitter control that all controls on the form were loaded, so it can set the size of left control from the cookie to restore its position (as below):

private void Form1_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    persistentSplitter1.HostControlLoaded = true;

You can view a sample application using the PersistentSplitter component here.



This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Bogdan Zamfir
Software Developer (Senior)
Romania Romania
I work as Independent Software Developer and Consultant for more than 15 years, with customers from USA, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia.

I'm always looking for new, interesting and challenging projects, and trying to learn something new every day.

You can visit my webpage at to find out more about me

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