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Articles / Desktop Programming / MFC
Posted 19 Nov 1999


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Office 97 style Colour Picker control

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4.93/5 (39 votes)
8 Dec 2007CPOL3 min read
A simple drop in color chooser control

Colour Picker image

In an effort to have the latest and greatest wizz-bang features in my programs I unashamedly ripped of the colour picker from Office 97.

Initially I tried to modify an owner drawn combo box and combine that with a multicolumn combobox, but current multicolumn combo boxes are really just a single column with dividing lines drawn in. I then decided to write the whole thing from scratch based on a button, since it would at least give me a BN_CLICKED notification to get things started.

The colour picker is in two parts: an owner drawn button that reflects the currently selected colour, and a popup colour chooser window to select this colour. When the user clicks on the button the popup window appears and all mouse messages are captured until the left mouse button is clicked, or until the Enter or Escape keys are pressed. The popup window can be navigated using the mouse or the keyboard and includes tooltips explaining what each colour is.

The control can be incorporated into a project like any other CButton derived control. Either Create the control manually, subclass an existing CButton or DDX_control it. The control also comes with a DDX_ColourPicker routine to get/set the colour of the control using a variable of type COLORREF.

The Colour Picker is contained in the class CColourPicker. It uses the class CColourPopup for the popup window. These classes are contained in the file, and a sample project is contained in

CColourPicker only has the following public member functions:

void     SetColour(COLORREF crColour);
COLORREF GetColour();

void     SetDefaultText(LPCTSTR szDefaultText);
void     SetCustomText(LPCTSTR szCustomText);

void     SetSelectionMode(UINT nMode); // Either CP_MODE_TEXT or CP_MODE_BK

UINT     GetSelectionMode();

void     SetBkColour(COLORREF crColourBk);
COLORREF GetBkColour();
void     SetTextColour(COLORREF crColourText);
COLORREF GetTextColour();

SetDefaultText allows you to set the text that will appear in the "Default" area of the colour chooser. If you pass NULL, then the Default area will not be available to the user. If this area is availble and the user selects it, the value CLR_DEFAULT will be returned.

SetCustomText allows you to set the text that will appear in the "Custom" area of the colour chooser. If you pass NULL, then the Custom area will not be available to the user. The Custom area allows the user to select a custom colour using the standard windows colour selection dialog.

You can choose whether the colour chosen using the dropdown colour chooser will affect the text or the background colour using the function SetSelectionMode(int nMode). Possible values for nMode are CP_MODE_TEXT to make colour changes affect the text colour, and CP_MODE_BK to make changes affect the background (default).

SetColour, GetColour and the the DDX-function will set and get the colour according to the current selection mode. To access the text colour and the background colour directly use the Set/GetTextColour and Set/GetBkColour functions.

There are also a number of user messages that may be handled to get more information from the control. These are:

CPN_SELCHANGEColour Picker Selection change
CPN_DROPDOWNColour Picker drop down
CPN_CLOSEUPColour Picker close up
CPN_SELENDOKColour Picker end OK
CPN_SELENDCANCELColour Picker end (cancelled)

These messages can be handled using

in you message map entries, where MessageFn is of the form

afx_msg LONG MessageFn(UINT lParam, LONG wParam);

The demo program gives an example of how to do this.


Alexander Bischofberger kindly supplied the Selection mode modifications, as well as the background and text color methods. Paul Wilkerson fixed a focus related bug, and Geir Arne Trillhus also helped fix a few bugs.


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

Written By
Founder CodeProject
Canada Canada
Current passion project: CodeProject.AI Server. Please join in!

Chris is the Co-founder of the popular code-sharing site, the digital advertising agency and the content marketing agency ContentLab.IO.

He's been programming way too long and has been, in various guides, an astrophysicist, mechanic, mathematician, physicist, breeder of carnivorous plants, hydrologist, geomorphologist, defence intelligence researcher and then, when all that got a bit rough on the nerves, a serial entrepreneur.

Chris has programmed everything from FORTRAN on a CRAY to Python on a Pi, but generally leans on TypeScript, C#, and SQL for the front, middle and back bits of his applications. His current focus is on ensuring developers know enough about Artificial Intelligence to be dangerous.

Comments and Discussions

QuestionLicense Query- For Chris Maunder Pin
rahulsia811-Dec-15 17:26
Memberrahulsia811-Dec-15 17:26 
AnswerRe: License Query- For Chris Maunder Pin
Chris Maunder1-Dec-15 17:40
cofounderChris Maunder1-Dec-15 17:40 
QuestionOh nice. It's just what i need right now! Pin
JOhn Blacky23-Jan-15 16:39
MemberJOhn Blacky23-Jan-15 16:39 
QuestionControl behavior Pin
David Crow22-Mar-12 3:31
MemberDavid Crow22-Mar-12 3:31 
GeneralNice ! Thank you ! Pin
wangningyu22-Nov-10 21:02
Memberwangningyu22-Nov-10 21:02 
GeneralVery long text in the Custom or Default Text Area Pin
mihi6422-Aug-09 10:00
Membermihi6422-Aug-09 10:00 
GeneralRe: Very long text in the Custom or Default Text Area Pin
Chris Maunder23-Oct-09 18:16
cofounderChris Maunder23-Oct-09 18:16 
GeneralProblem with Colour Picker control Pin
BobInNJ1-Mar-09 6:14
MemberBobInNJ1-Mar-09 6:14 
GeneralRe: Problem with Colour Picker control Pin
Chris Maunder1-Mar-09 15:59
cofounderChris Maunder1-Mar-09 15:59 
GeneralRe: Problem with Colour Picker control Pin
Steve Palm4-Mar-09 10:41
MemberSteve Palm4-Mar-09 10:41 
GeneralRe: Problem with Colour Picker control Pin
rbid8-Mar-09 1:55
Memberrbid8-Mar-09 1:55 
GeneralThanks! Pin
hwfmoon9-Oct-08 5:03
Memberhwfmoon9-Oct-08 5:03 
GeneralXP Style Pin
JimmyO9-Aug-08 22:20
MemberJimmyO9-Aug-08 22:20 
GeneralAs of VC++2008 (VC9) Pin
alcbz4-Jun-08 0:52
Memberalcbz4-Jun-08 0:52 
GeneralRe: As of VC++2008 (VC9) Pin
Member 9063139-Jan-09 13:38
MemberMember 9063139-Jan-09 13:38 
GeneralOffice 2007 style Color Picker control Pin
OwfAdmin14-Jul-07 21:31
MemberOwfAdmin14-Jul-07 21:31 
GeneralRe: Office 2007 style Color Picker control Pin
Kuryn29-Nov-07 13:42
MemberKuryn29-Nov-07 13:42 
Generalnot compiling with VC7+ Pin
toxcct5-May-06 0:12
Membertoxcct5-May-06 0:12 
GeneralRe: not compiling with VC7+ [now fixed] Pin
toxcct10-May-06 2:43
Membertoxcct10-May-06 2:43 
GeneralRe: not compiling with VC7+ [now fixed] Pin
Dr.Luiji19-Dec-07 23:51
professionalDr.Luiji19-Dec-07 23:51 
QuestionNon-MFC Version? Pin
jobe37746-Feb-06 23:31
Memberjobe37746-Feb-06 23:31 
GeneralCOLORREF Value Pin
Dody_DK1-Dec-05 1:47
MemberDody_DK1-Dec-05 1:47 
Generalputting custom color palette Pin
laiju13-Jun-05 21:57
Memberlaiju13-Jun-05 21:57 
GeneralRe: putting custom color palette Pin
laiju13-Jun-05 22:05
Memberlaiju13-Jun-05 22:05 
QuestionHow do I add this to MFC Grid Control. Pin
Member 155548-Nov-04 4:30
MemberMember 155548-Nov-04 4:30 

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