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So here's what I'm trying to accomplish. Say I have two windows forms. frmMain, and frmSettings. When the program launches, frmMain loads. I want the user to have an alternative launch option (maybe in a context menu?) that only loads frmSettings, without starting up frmMain. Is there any way of doing this, or something similar? I'm using with visual studio.
Thanks in advance.
Updated 25-Dec-15 3:54am
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 25-Dec-15 3:45am    
This problem is easily solved. But to start with, you need to use correct or at least non-ambiguous terminology.
What do you mean by "VB" and "form"? Can as I assume that in fact this is "VB.NET" and System.Windows.Forms.Form?
Now, the hint for you: to have a context menu or anything which assume selection, you should have a form shown already; that form can be a main form. Even better, have only one form changing its content.
Member 10427243 25-Dec-15 9:59am    
Your assumptions are correct. And I have made the changes you suggested for clarity. The problem with having only one form is that my program is a launcher. It combines the launching of several related programs. As it is right now the user will have to wait for all these processes to start, then close one of them to edit its settings.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 25-Dec-15 13:50pm    
I answered, but it all sounds pretty bad...
Ralf Meier 25-Dec-15 7:33am    
Have you thought about Command-line Parameters ?
Member 10427243 25-Dec-15 10:01am    
I have never used them before in any of my programs, but I'm looking into it now.

1 solution

What you want is not a problem at all, but you should understand that a "selector of next form" is a control (set of radio boxed, menu, list box, etc) which needs a form to be shown. So, if you need to work with this selector first, that form should become a main form. If you don't need it anymore, you should hide it on closing, not close. This is because closing of the main form causes exit from the event loop and eventually termination of the application. Such replacement of closing with hiding is done this way:

using System.Windows.Forms:


public class MyMainForm {

    protected override void OnFormClosing(FormClosingEventArgs e) {
        e.Cancel = e.CloseReason == CloseReason.UserClosing;



Use OnFormClosing, don't mix it up with OnClosing, which is there probably only due to historical reasons; no need to use it.
As after that no form will cause application to exit, you may need to cause some other form to play this role. You can call Application.Exit explicitly from some menu, from overridden Form.OnClosed, and so on.

Now, many ask how to really change the main form. This is easy, too, but does not provide very flexible technique. You can think about it, too. The form becomes main if it is used in <></>. Therefore, you have to run application several times (!). For example, in entry point, you can have three forms:
class SelectorForm : Form {
    internal void AddChoice(Form[] forms) { /* ... */ }
    internal Form ChoiceTaken { get { return /* ... */ } }

class frmSettings : Form { }
class frmMain : Form { }
Then you can move from one main form to another, depending on choice taken in first main form:
static void Main() {
    SelectorForm mainForm = new SelectorForm();
    frmMain newMainForm = new frmMain();
    frmSettings settingsForm = new frmSettings();
    mainForm.AddChoice(new Form[] { newMainForm, settingsForm });
    newMainForm = mainForm.ChoiceTaken;
    if (newMainForm == null)

However, all those approaches would rather indicate bad design.

I would not pose the whole problem the way you did. I would suggest not to go your way, no matter what technique you may use. You really don't need to chose what form to show. This is inconvenient, awkward in implementation, and even can confuse some users. I can even guess why such bad design appeared. You probably designed both forms first and created some prototype, but did not plan thoroughly what to do with those forms in your final product, but don't want to throw out your work. I would like to say: throwing out your work is one of the most important virtues in software development, and pointless "reuse" is bad thing.

There are many variants of more civilized approaches. Why not showing setting always and keeping the setting in main form? But then you should allow to change setting at any time, which would need more work. As I don't know what's in settings, I don't know if it's suitable of not.

You can keep everything in one single form. How? Look at Visual Studio. Can you notice that there is one (non-modal) form? Can you create such thing? Yes, you can.

Yes, you can use command line, so your whole application would normally run without settings, but settings are shown with certain command-line parameter. It might be suitable if settings are rarely shown. Besides, you can persist settings and load last settings on each execution, and change setting in a settings form which is show through a menu. The settings form won't be needed to show first.

And so on… The final decision can be suggested only by someone who knows your goals well. The whole idea to create a "program launcher" is already pretty suspicious, so I would question first if you really need such launcher, or is it merely an attempt to "reuse" some less then perfect applications. I don't know, really.

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