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XFontDialog - Customizing CFontDialog Part I: Adding Font Filters

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7 Oct 2008CPOL6 min read 146.9K   2.9K   46   20
XFontDialog demonstrates how to customize CFontDialog by removing unwanted controls


In one project I was involved in, we had to display font selection dialog. My Product Manager had some issues with MFC's CFontDialog. He is very focused on reducing support costs by simplifying user interface, to eliminate anything that might be confusing or misleading. OK, it is hard to argue against this goal. In case of CFontDialog, he didn't like all the controls that were unnecessary for our application. Here is what the standard CFontDialog looks like:

Image 1

My Product Manager didn't like Effects, Font Style, or Script controls, since our app used only Font and Font Size values. I was starting to feel a little apprehensive (since I had never once won an argument with him), so I pointed out that we could easily eliminate some of the unnecessary controls. I asked him to come back tomorrow for a demonstration. For the rest of day, I tried to figure out how to remove controls he didn't like. I was only partially successful, because CFontDialog provides very little in its API to facilitate customizing user interface. When the Product Manager came by next day, this is what I showed him:

Image 2

He thought it looked really lame, and I had to agree. The Font Style combo was still there, and getting rid of Effects controls only left a big hole in the dialog - the Sample control had not even been resized to take advantage of free space on left. Finally, the best I could do was to disable Script combo.

But I had found out two things in my research into CFontDialog: first, you could use your own dialog template, based on the template provided in Font.Dlg; and second, there was a hook proc you could supply in your own CFontDialog-derived class.

After a few days playing with CFontDialog, I knew it would be possible to customize the font dialog to look the way we wanted. Mostly this involved editing the template used for the standard font dialog, and moving the unwanted controls outside the dialog:

Image 3

I also had to create new controls for sample text, because CFontDialog insists on reverting to text "AaBbYyZz" when you select new font in fonts combo.

To jump ahead a bit, here is final dialog:

Image 4

This is more compact than the standard font dialog, but looks enough like it that our users won't have to learn a completely different UI. At the same time, it removes the elements that might be frustrating to try to select (with no apparent effect, since they're not used in our apps). Plus, it gave us an opportunity to add some features that permitted better integration with our apps.

CXFontDialog Features

Here are the features in the new CXFontDialog:
screenshot Removal of all controls except font list and size list
screenshot Font filters to select only specific groups of fonts to display
screenshot Visual indication of monospaced fonts
screenshot New APIs for monospaced and symbol fonts
screenshot API to set caption of font dialog
screenshot API to set sample text of font dialog

Implementation Notes

The main source for technical information that I relied on to customize CFontDialog is the MSDN documentation on the CHOOSEFONT Structure. This struct includes the lpfnHook member that allows you to set your hook proc, and the lpTemplateName and hInstance members, which must be set in order to load the customized template. What MSDN doesn't tell you is where to find the default template. For VS 6.0, I found it in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98\Include\Font.Dlg. For Visual Studio 8 and 9, it's located in the Platform SDK's Include directory. After I found it, next step was to set up a separate XFontDialog.rc file, and cut and paste the template from Font.Dlg. To set up XFontDialog.rc, I used the techniques I describe in my article XDialogImport - How to share dialogs between projects.
Note that by not defining IDD_XFONTDIALOG, the Class Wizard will treat IDD_XFONTDIALOG as a string. The advantage of this is that there is no possibility of conflicts with any other dialog resource ids in your project.

Now I can use Visual Studio Resource Editor to configure controls like I wanted - moving unwanted controls to the side and marking them not visible. I also make sample control bigger, and add static control to top of font list - so for monospaced fonts, you will see MONOSPACED displayed:

Image 11

I then use Class Wizard to generate new CXFontDialog class by double-clicking on template in Resource Editor:

Image 12

I select CFontDialog as base class, and enter CXFontDialog for new class name:

Image 13

And finally I am able to use Class Wizard for the new class:

Image 14

You will notice that all symbolic names in Font.Dlg have been converted to numeric IDs. This doesn't matter, since these IDs must not change anyway or CFontDialog would not work. (I assign names to these IDs inside XFontDialog.cpp to make it easier to work with.) I have added two handler functions to CXFontDialog: OnCtlColor() and OnShowMonoSpaced(), which is called from within the hook proc when user selects a monospaced font (this is where the MONOSPACED gets displayed). I also add DoModal() function, which is where dialog template and hook function are specified. The key function is the hook proc, where WM_INITDIALOG is caught. This is where font filters (if any) are applied.

How To Use

To integrate CXFontDialog into your app, you first need to add following files to your project:

  • XFontDialog.cpp
  • XFontDialog.h
  • XFontDialog.rc
  • XFontDialogRes.h
Note that XFontDialogRes.h - even though basically empty - is needed if you want to edit the dialog template in the resource editor.

You also need to add XFontDialog.rc to project rc file - go to View | Resource Includes... and in the bottom listbox, scroll down to the end. Insert #include "XFontDialog.rc" right before the #endif:

Image 15

Next, include header file XFontDialog.h in appropriate project files. Now you are ready to start using CXFontDialog.

Demo App

The XFontDialogTest.exe demo shows how to use CXFontDialog:

Image 16

Revision History

Version 1.1 - 2008 October 7

  • Changed the way that the monospaced attribute is determined. Previously I was using this technique:
    bIsMonoSpaced = (tm.tmPitchAndFamily & TMPF_FIXED_PITCH) == 0;
    but I discovered that some monospaced fonts (such as the excellent Pragmata font by Fabrizio Schiavi) did not mark the font in this way. So I resorted to the simpler, but more reliable method of comparing the widths of the '!' and 'W' characters. If they're the same, that means the font is monospaced.
  • Added API to allow setting the sample text.
  • Enlarged the dialog to make more fonts visible in the fonts combo.
  • Added VS2005 project.

Version 1.0 - 2003 June 21

  • Initial public release.


This software is released into the public domain. You are free to use it in any way you like, except that you may not sell this source code. If you modify it or extend it, please to consider posting new code here for everyone to share. This software is provided "as is" with no expressed or implied warranty. I accept no liability for any damage or loss of business that this software may cause.


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

Written By
Software Developer (Senior) Hans Dietrich Software
United States United States
I attended St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto, with the intention of becoming a priest. A friend in the University's Computer Science Department got me interested in programming, and I have been hooked ever since.

Recently, I have moved to Los Angeles where I am doing consulting and development work.

For consulting and custom software development, please see

Comments and Discussions

QuestionIs there a way Pin
Member 1380532822-Feb-20 20:32
Member 1380532822-Feb-20 20:32 
QuestionWhile adding style to the dialog... Pin
jung-kreidler19-Aug-15 4:49
jung-kreidler19-Aug-15 4:49 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Darryl Major27-May-13 3:28
Darryl Major27-May-13 3:28 
Generalhey thanks a lot buddy.. Pin
Sreenivasulu Gundala19-Jan-10 22:34
Sreenivasulu Gundala19-Jan-10 22:34 
GeneralAwesome Pin
Michael Klim25-Feb-09 10:20
Michael Klim25-Feb-09 10:20 
GeneralThe extra CXFontDialogTestDlg func. to keep chosen in CFontDialog font color. Pin
Oleg Boyko16-Nov-08 17:59
Oleg Boyko16-Nov-08 17:59 
Generalhandling the size of the fonts Pin
rupesh_gangi30-Oct-07 6:51
rupesh_gangi30-Oct-07 6:51 
QuestionHow to make .rc and res.h files Pin
ali130585-May-05 10:32
ali130585-May-05 10:32 
QuestionCan you make the Color drop down visible Pin
Jia Qing29-Mar-05 22:25
Jia Qing29-Mar-05 22:25 
AnswerRe: Can you make the Color drop down visible Pin
Anonymous3-Apr-05 20:32
Anonymous3-Apr-05 20:32 
AnswerRe: Can you make the Color drop down visible Pin
taphan26-Oct-05 1:08
taphan26-Oct-05 1:08 
Generalchanging colorpicker. Pin
Member 290590520-Feb-05 6:35
Member 290590520-Feb-05 6:35 
GeneralRe: changing colorpicker. Pin
blikstad21-Feb-05 8:23
blikstad21-Feb-05 8:23 
GeneralThanks! Pin
robosport28-Aug-04 15:19
robosport28-Aug-04 15:19 
GeneralEffects & color Pin
mhassan24-Sep-03 4:54
mhassan24-Sep-03 4:54 
GeneralThanks for all the inside info on the font chooser Pin
JonesWooHoo28-Jul-03 1:35
JonesWooHoo28-Jul-03 1:35 
GeneralSmall Windows bug with font dialog Pin
Damir Valiulin3-Jul-03 10:13
Damir Valiulin3-Jul-03 10:13 
GeneralRe: Small Windows bug with font dialog Pin
Hans Dietrich4-Jul-03 18:29
mentorHans Dietrich4-Jul-03 18:29 
GeneralCompile Error Pin
John R. Shaw24-Jun-03 14:57
John R. Shaw24-Jun-03 14:57 
GeneralRe: Compile Error Pin
Hans Dietrich25-Jun-03 3:37
mentorHans Dietrich25-Jun-03 3:37 

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