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Posted 11 Apr 2012
Licenced Ms-PL

Easily Add a Ribbon into a WinForms Application (C#)

, 30 Dec 2012
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Easily add ribbon to WinForm Application for .NET Framework 2.0, 3.5 & 4.0
This is an old version of the currently published article.

The above download contains:

  • Ribbon source code: RibbonSource0.4 
  • Demo: RibbonDemo0.4
  • Sample: RibbonSample (Part 2) - Sample project explained in this article [Part 2
  • Sample: RibbonMdiSample (Part 4) - Sample project explained in this article [Part 4]
  • Edited DLL: (edited) DLL - Modified DLL as described in [Part 4])


Part 1: Background 

The ribbon that is going to be used in this article is an open source project created by Jose Menendez Poo and SpiderMaster The ribbon creator has posted an article explaining what this ribbon is all about at here: A Professional Ribbon You Will Use (Now with orb!). However, that article doesn't describe how to use it in your project. Therefore, this article will show how to use it.

Original development platform: .NET Framework 2.0. Can be used in .NET Framework 3.5 and 4.0.

Obtain Ribbon for .NET Framework 3.5 and 4.0

(Updated: 22 Apr 2012) 

To obtain the DLL for .NET Framework 3.5 and 4.0, you can either convert the original source project of this ribbon from .NET Framework 2.0 to 4.0, or create a blank class project of .NET Framework 4.0.

If you choose to create a blank class, add all .cs files from the source code of System.Forms.Ribbon into your class, and add additional reference for:

  • System.Design
  • System.Drawing
  • System.Windows.Forms

Then, you have to modify GlobalHook.cs (refer [Part 4, Step 2]). Find private void InstallHook(). Add a return statement at the beginning of the method so nothing is done.

Next, please note that in your new WinForms project, after the first build, the target framework will initially switch to .NET Framework 4.0 Client Profile. You have to manually switch it back to .NET Framework 4.0. This is because Client Profile does not support System.Design which is required by the Ribbon to run internally.

Part 2: How to Use this Ribbon Control  

Updated: Note for Visual Studio 2012 

You have to modify some of the source code before using it in Visual Studio 2012. Open the source code, find this file > GlobalHook.cs. Open GlobalHook.cs and find this method:

private void InstallHook()
    /// Error check
    if (Handle != 0) throw new Exception("Hook is already installed");

Replace the whole method with this:

private void InstallHook()

You should be able to compile it regardless of target framework of 2.0, 3.5, 4.0 or 4.5. This might not be the best patch, but this is what I currently know that work. 

  1. Download the Ribbon source code and obtain System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll.
  2. Create a blank WinForms project.
  3. There are two methods to add the ribbon into the form. 
    • Using code to add the ribbon
    • Drag and drop

Using code to add the ribbon

Add a Reference to System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll in your project.

Right click on Reference in Solution Explorer, choose Add.

Locate System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll.

Open the designer of Main Form. In this example, Form1.Designer.cs.

This is the initial code for Form1.Designer.cs:

namespace WindowsFormsApplication1
    partial class Form1
        /// <summary>
        /// Required designer variable.
        /// </summary>
        private System.ComponentModel.IContainer components = null;

        /// <summary>
        /// Clean up any resources being used.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="disposing">true if managed
        /// resources should be disposed; otherwise, false.</param>
        protected override void Dispose(bool disposing)
            if (disposing && (components != null))

        #region Windows Form Designer generated code

        /// <summary>
        /// Required method for Designer support - do not modify
        /// the contents of this method with the code editor.
        /// </summary>
        private void InitializeComponent()
            this.components = new System.ComponentModel.Container();
            this.AutoScaleMode = System.Windows.Forms.AutoScaleMode.Font;
            this.Text = "Form1";


Add three lines of code into Form1.Designer.cs.

private System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon ribbon1;
this.ribbon1 = new System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon();

Save and close Form1.Designer.cs.

Double click and open Form1.cs, and now the Ribbon control is added into the main form.

Drag and drop

This is a simpler way to add the ribbon into a form. Simply create a new tab in the Toolbox. Drag and drop the DLL into the new tab. Click on any area of Toolbox. Right click > Add Tab.

Give the new tab a name.

Drag the DLL into the new tab area.

Drag the Ribbon into the form. That is it.

And this will automatically add a reference to System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon for you.

4. Click on the Ribbon and click Add Tab

5. Click on the newly added RibbonTab, then click Add Panel.

6. Click on the newly added RibbonPanel, go to Properties. You will see a set of available controls that can be added to the RibbonPanel.

7. Try to add some buttons into the RibbonPanel.

8. Click on the RibbonButtons, go to Properties.

9. Let's try to change the image and the label text of the button.

10. This is how your ribbon looks like now.

11. Now, create the click event for the buttons. Click on RibbonButton, go to Properties, modify the Name of the button.

12. Open the code for Form1.cs.

This is what we have initially:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Data;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Text;
using System.Windows.Forms;

namespace WindowsFormsApplication1
    public partial class Form1 : Form
        public Form1()

13. Add the Button's Clicked event for the RibbonButton.

public Form1()
    cmdNew.Click += new EventHandler(cmdNew_Click);
    cmdSave.Click += new EventHandler(cmdSave_Click);

void cmdNew_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    MessageBox.Show("Button \"New\" Clicked.");

void cmdSave_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    MessageBox.Show("Button \"Save\" Clicked.");

14. Press F5 to run the application. Done.

15. You might want to inherit your Main Form into a RibbonForm to have extra features. Such as:

Note: Inherit the Main Form to RibbonForm will have some compatibility problems with some of the System.Windows.Forms controls.  

16. In the code for Form1.cs, change this line:

public partial class Form1 : Form

to this line:

public partial class Form1 : RibbonForm

A sample project ( that is used to explain this article is downloadable at top.

Part 3: Caution While Using With Visual Studio 2010 

Always save and close straight away after you have finished designing the GUI editing of Main Form (the form that contains the ribbon control).

Don't Run (press F5) the application while the Main Form is open in Visual Studio 2010. Or else, you might experience that the ribbon control has disappeared. You will end up redesigning/redrawing the ribbon and reconnecting all the events that are associated with the ribbon.

Part 4: Using this Ribbon with an MDI Enabled WinForm 

The following guide will show how to apply this ribbon with an MDI (Multi Document Interface) enabled WinForm. 

Simple Walkthrough

I'll briefly explain what are we going to do here.

The original System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll obtained from the source code is not fully compatible with System.Windows.Forms's MDI client. You'll experience a delay while closing forms within the MDI client area. Therefore, we have to make some modifications on the DLL so that it will enable us to use the Ribbon with MDI fluently. The sample project described in this article can be downloaded at the top. You may download it, and view the code to have a better understanding of the workflow of implementing MDI with this ribbon control.

This guide will also show you how to eliminate the control box (highlighted in the below picture) when a MDI child form is maximized within the MDI client control of the main form. This will help make the appearance of the application look less weird.


  1. Start off by modifying the original System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll.
  2. Download the source code of the ribbon. Open GlobalHook.cs.
  3. Find private void InstallHook(). Add a return statement at the beginning of the method so nothing is done.
  4. Build the solution and obtain the newly edited System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll. We'll use this to build our next MDI WinForm. Or, you can simply download it (which I've modified) at the top of this page.
  5. Add this edited System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll as reference and start building the application.

  6. Let's first create a Ribbon application with the edited System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon.dll like this. Don't inherit the MainForm (the form that contains the ribbon control) with RibbonForm. Inheritance of RibbonForm is not compatible with the MDI client control.
  7. Create the Click event for the ribbon buttons.
  8. public partial class MainForm : Form
        public MainForm()
            cmdCloseForm.Click += new EventHandler(cmdCloseForm_Click);
            cmdForm1.Click += new EventHandler(cmdForm1_Click);
            cmdForm2.Click += new EventHandler(cmdForm2_Click);
            cmdWelcome.Click += new EventHandler(cmdWelcome_Click);
        void cmdWelcome_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        void cmdForm2_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        void cmdForm1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        void cmdCloseForm_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
  9. Next, set the MainForm's properties of IsMdiContainer to True.
  10. Create a few forms that needs to be opened in MainForm's MDI. You can name them anything, of course, but we take these as examples:
    • Form1.cs
    • Form2.cs
    • WelcomeForm.cs

    and the codes we use to open the forms in MDI might look like this:

    void cmdForm1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Form1 f1 = new Form1();
        f1.MdiParent = this;
        f1.ControlBox = false;
        f1.MaximizeBox = false;
        f1.MinimizeBox = false;
        f1.WindowState = FormWindowState.Maximized;
  11. These forms run normally, but you will notice there is an annoying Control Box appearing at the top of the Ribbon Bar control.
  12. To get rid of the Control Box, we need to rearrange these codes in the correct sequence.
  13. f1.ControlBox = false;
    f1.FormBorderStyle = System.Windows.Forms.FormBorderStyle.None
    f1.MaximizeBox = false;
    f1.MinimizeBox = false;
    f1.WindowState = FormWindowState.Maximized;
  14. First, we create another form named MdiChildForm.cs. Open the designer for MdiChildForm.
  15. Add the below code to MdiChildForm.Designer.cs at the right sequence:
  16. this.WindowState = System.Windows.Forms.FormWindowState.Normal;
    this.ControlBox = false;
    this.FormBorderStyle = System.Windows.Forms.FormBorderStyle.None;
    this.MaximizeBox = false;
    this.MinimizeBox = false;

    In the Load event of MdiChildForm, add this:

    public partial class MdiChildForm : Form
        public MdiChildForm()
            this.Load += new System.EventHandler(this.MdiChildForm_Load);
        private void MdiChildForm_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
            this.ControlBox = false;
            this.WindowState = FormWindowState.Maximized;
  17. Save and close MdiChildForm.cs and MdiChildForm.Designer.cs.
  18. Modify all forms (forms that will be loading in MainForm.cs's MDI) to inherit MdiChildForm.
  19. Form1.cs

    Change this:

    public partial class Form1 : Form

    to this:

    public partial class Form1 : MdiChildForm


    Change this:

    public partial class Form2: Form

    to this:

    public partial class Form2: MdiChildForm


    Change this:

    public partial class WelcomForm: Form

    to this:

    public partial class WelcomForm: MdiChildForm
  20. Open forms and load it into the MDI client of MainForm.
  21. void cmdForm1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Form1 f1 = new Form1();
        f1.MdiParent = this;
  22. Done. A sample project ( that is used in this article can be downloaded at the top. 

Part 5: Alternative Ribbon 

You may also want to have a look at:

Part 6: How to Make a New Theme, Skin for this Ribbon Programmatically 

Default Theme

Example color theme of RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTableBlack.cs (ready made by ribbon author).

Another custom theme

  1. Open the source code. In Solution Explorer, there is a file/class named RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTable.cs. This class defines all the colors of each component in the ribbon.
  2. There is a class named RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTableBlack.cs. This is an example of a customized theme. (Shown above, picture 2.)

  3. To make your own color theme, create another class and inherit RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTable.cs.
  4. Change all the color objects into your desired colors.
  5. A sample is available inside the source code file.

  6. Example: (the first five colors have been filled for your reference).
  7. In this example, we'll name the new theme MyCoolThemeSkin.

    using System;
    using System.Collections.Generic;
    using System.Text;
    using System.Drawing;
    namespace System.Windows.Forms
        public class MyCoolThemeSkin
            : RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTable
            public RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTableBlack()
                #region Fields
                OrbDropDownDarkBorder = Color.Yellow;
                OrbDropDownLightBorder = Color.FromKnownColor(KnownColor.WindowFrame);
                OrbDropDownBack = Color.FromName("Red");
                OrbDropDownNorthA = FromHex("#C2FF3D");
                OrbDropDownNorthB = Color.FromArgb(201, 100, 150);
                OrbDropDownNorthC = 
                OrbDropDownNorthD = 
                OrbDropDownSouthC = 
                OrbDropDownSouthD = 
                OrbDropDownContentbg = 
                OrbDropDownContentbglight = 
                OrbDropDownSeparatorlight = 
                OrbDropDownSeparatordark = 
                Caption1 = 
                Caption2 = 
                Caption3 = 
                Caption4 = 
                Caption5 = 
                Caption6 = 
                Caption7 = 
                QuickAccessBorderDark = 
                QuickAccessBorderLight = 
                QuickAccessUpper = 
                QuickAccessLower = 
                OrbOptionBorder = 
                OrbOptionBackground = 
                OrbOptionShine = 
                Arrow = 
                ArrowLight = 
                ArrowDisabled = 
                Text = 
                RibbonBackground = 
                TabBorder = 
                TabNorth = 
                TabSouth = 
                TabGlow = 
                TabText = 
                TabActiveText = 
                TabContentNorth = 
                TabContentSouth = 
                TabSelectedGlow = 
                PanelDarkBorder = 
                PanelLightBorder = 
                PanelTextBackground = 
                PanelTextBackgroundSelected = 
                PanelText = 
                PanelBackgroundSelected = 
                PanelOverflowBackground = 
                PanelOverflowBackgroundPressed = 
                PanelOverflowBackgroundSelectedNorth = 
                PanelOverflowBackgroundSelectedSouth = 
                ButtonBgOut = 
                ButtonBgCenter = 
                ButtonBorderOut = 
                ButtonBorderIn = 
                ButtonGlossyNorth = 
                ButtonGlossySouth = 
                ButtonDisabledBgOut = 
                ButtonDisabledBgCenter = 
                ButtonDisabledBorderOut = 
                ButtonDisabledBorderIn = 
                ButtonDisabledGlossyNorth = 
                ButtonDisabledGlossySouth = 
                ButtonSelectedBgOut = 
                ButtonSelectedBgCenter = 
                ButtonSelectedBorderOut = 
                ButtonSelectedBorderIn = 
                ButtonSelectedGlossyNorth = 
                ButtonSelectedGlossySouth = 
                ButtonPressedBgOut = 
                ButtonPressedBgCenter = 
                ButtonPressedBorderOut = 
                ButtonPressedBorderIn = 
                ButtonPressedGlossyNorth = 
                ButtonPressedGlossySouth = 
                ButtonCheckedBgOut = 
                ButtonCheckedBgCenter = 
                ButtonCheckedBorderOut = 
                ButtonCheckedBorderIn = 
                ButtonCheckedGlossyNorth = 
                ButtonCheckedGlossySouth = 
                ItemGroupOuterBorder = 
                ItemGroupInnerBorder = 
                ItemGroupSeparatorLight = 
                ItemGroupSeparatorDark = 
                ItemGroupBgNorth = 
                ItemGroupBgSouth = 
                ItemGroupBgGlossy = 
                ButtonListBorder = 
                ButtonListBg = 
                ButtonListBgSelected = 
                DropDownBg = 
                DropDownImageBg = 
                DropDownImageSeparator = 
                DropDownBorder = 
                DropDownGripNorth = 
                DropDownGripSouth = 
                DropDownGripBorder = 
                DropDownGripDark = 
                DropDownGripLight = 
                SeparatorLight = 
                SeparatorDark = 
                SeparatorBg = 
                SeparatorLine = 
                TextBoxUnselectedBg = 
                TextBoxBorder = 
  8. Then, in the Load event of MainForm.cs, add this line:
  9. namespace RibbonDemo
        public partial class MainForm : RibbonForm
            public MainForm()
                this.Load +=new EventHandler(MainForm_Load);
            private void MainForm_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
                (ribbon1.Renderer as RibbonProfessionalRenderer).ColorTable = 
                    new MyCoolThemeSkin();

Article Change Log:

31 Dec 2012

  • Part 2: Guide added for using the ribbon in Visual Studio 2012 

27 Apr 2012

  • Content added: Part 6: How to Make a New Theme, Skin for this Ribbon Programmatically

15 Apr 2012

  • Content added: Part 1: Background - Emphasize that Ribbon applicable on .NET Framework 3.5 and 4.0 

14 Apr 2012

  • Content added: Part 2: Step 3 - Added second method to add Ribbon into Form  

12 Apr 2012

  • Content added: Part 4: Using this Ribbon with MDI Enabled WinForm   

11 Apr 2012

  • Initial release.  


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)


About the Author

Software Developer
Malaysia Malaysia
Programming is an art.

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Comments and Discussions

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GeneralThanks for your excellent control Pin
Southmountain20-Mar-18 16:23
memberSouthmountain20-Mar-18 16:23 
QuestionFrom where to get System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.dll Pin
Mou_kol19-Mar-18 22:12
memberMou_kol19-Mar-18 22:12 
AnswerRe: From where to get System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.dll Pin
RickZeeland20-Mar-18 8:20
mvpRickZeeland20-Mar-18 8:20 
PraiseMessage Closed Pin
19-Mar-18 19:15
membersarawilliams112219-Mar-18 19:15 
QuestionMouseClick not processed when Ribbon is updating Pin
Marco Tenuti4-Dec-17 9:35
memberMarco Tenuti4-Dec-17 9:35 
Questionhow to drop down a menu items from the OrbDropDown? Pin
Mahmoud Ayman8-Nov-17 21:51
memberMahmoud Ayman8-Nov-17 21:51 
QuestionHow to stop auto hide of Ribbon Tab on double click on menu. Pin
Ramveer Singh from Gurgaon, Haryana20-Mar-17 23:03
memberRamveer Singh from Gurgaon, Haryana20-Mar-17 23:03 
AnswerRe: How to stop auto hide of Ribbon Tab on double click on menu. Pin
niuzj20-May-17 16:45
memberniuzj20-May-17 16:45 
SuggestionRe: How to stop auto hide of Ribbon Tab on double click on menu. Pin
谢龙6-Sep-17 21:10
professional谢龙6-Sep-17 21:10 
QuestionRibbon Controls alignment inside a RibbonPanel Pin
fastlater_pro6-Mar-17 15:28
memberfastlater_pro6-Mar-17 15:28 
QuestionRibbonButtons keep showing focus if you drag from them Pin
AndrewInEssex8-Feb-17 6:53
memberAndrewInEssex8-Feb-17 6:53 
AnswerRe: RibbonButtons keep showing focus if you drag from them Pin
AndrewInEssex21-Feb-17 1:47
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GeneralRe: RibbonButtons keep showing focus if you drag from them Pin
AndrewInEssex7-Apr-17 1:35
memberAndrewInEssex7-Apr-17 1:35 
Generalprivate ribbon Pin
kh2tech24-Dec-16 1:30
professionalkh2tech24-Dec-16 1:30 
QuestionCopy to Another Computer Pin
Shawn Kanyer12-Dec-16 13:29
memberShawn Kanyer12-Dec-16 13:29 
QuestionCould not load file or assembly Pin
sidali.kadi9-Dec-16 10:33
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QuestionMousewheel on Combos Pin
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QuestionEnable or disable tabs in case of MDI project Pin
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Questionhow to call event button click from mdiParent Pin
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AnswerRe: how to call event button click from mdiParent Pin
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