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Posted 4 Aug 2011

Listview with Custom Scrollbars

, 4 Aug 2011
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Listview with custom scrollbars

Just for those who don't know, I'm talking about the C# Wrapper class of the Windows ListView control.

From time to time, I come across postings of guys asking if it's possible to replace the Listviews builtin scroll bars. The answers vary in a wide range. Everything is included, from "not possible" to nice hacks. Maybe I missed something, but I have not found any nice 'download-extract-run' solution. :-) Another thing that was not included (I think) in a single post was how to attach a custom scroll bar, and with custom, I don't mean a user-drawn Windows scroll bar.

For the Impatient

I created a custom and styleable scroll-bar control and a custom ListView control which inherits from the original one, but has the ability to attach one or more custom scrollbars.

The style code is encapsulated in separate painters and is/can be reused in other projects or other user controls. But if you are interested in the painters, read on.

For the impatient, check out the code at:

git clone git://

The code is:


In the Program.cs file to enable the scroll bar sample and run it.

The painter, scroll-bar and listview code is located at:


The sample attaches three scroll-bars with slightly different styles to a single ListView:


The following sections describe the components and the implementation in detail.

The Painters

The painters are not directly associated with the scroll-bars, the ListView or anything else. In general, they just paint something, or in special cases, they forward filtered input data to another painter.

I encapsulated the drawing in painters because I want it to be reusable, e.g., the currently included painters are not only used to draw the scroll-bars they are also used to draw all kind of buttons, but they are currently not part of Deveck.Utils.

The painter interface looks really simple:

public abstract class Painter
   public enum State
   public abstract void Paint(Graphics g, Rectangle position,
       State state, string text, Image img, Font textFont, 
       Rectangle? referencePosition);
  • Rectangle position: The rectangle which can be used by this painter
  • State state: One of several states (normal, hover, pressed) which may affect the colors used
  • string text: Text to be printed. A painter is not required to print the text, because there may be another chained painter
  • Image img: Image associated with the target. A painter is not required to paint the image
  • Rectangle? referencePosition: This rectangle is used for font scaling. If supplied, the supplied textFont is the font for the referencePosition size and needs to be scaled to position

The currently available painters are:

  • Office2007BlackButtonPainter
  • Office2007BlueButtonPainter
  • WindowsStyledButtonPainter
  • SymbolPainter

There are also some special painters which filter the input data, therefore called filter painters.

  • PainterFilterNoText: Removes the text and calls the subsequent painter
  • PainterFilterSize: Adjusts the passed bounds, e.g., add padding and center, max size or stretch by specified ratio and call the subsequent painter

Another special painter is:

  • StackedPainter

It accepts multiple painters or filters and calls them in the order they were specified.

The scroll-bar

The custom scroll-bars need to implement a simple interface ICustomScrollbar as shown below. They do not need to be derived from Control but may be required. The interface should be self-explanatory. Take a look at the CustomScrollbar, but it's quite straight forward with up down buttons for small scroll changes, a slide-able thumb for easy and fast mouse scrolling and large changes by pressing the area between up-down button and thumb, just like an ordinary scroll-bar.

The code is:

public delegate void ScrollValueChangedDelegate(
    ICustomScrollbar sender, int newValue);
public interface ICustomScrollbar
  event ScrollValueChangedDelegate ValueChanged;

  int LargeChange { get; set; }
  int SmallChange { get; set; }

  int Maximum { get; set; }
  int Minimum { get; set; }        
  int Value { get; set; }        

The Custom ListView

The custom listview is a bit more tricky, and requires knowledge of how Windows GUIs work, behind nice designers. Fortunately, .NET provides us with the WndProc method where we can capture all events of interest, but more on that in a second.

First, we need to define the changes we need to make to the default listview control.

  • We need a reliable way to scroll the list by code
  • We need a way to get the current scroll value and number of visible items
  • We need to get rid of the builtin scroll-bar
  • We need to be informed on all actions that should change the scroll value to update the scroll-bar
  • We need to put it all together

How to Scroll the List by Code

The first approach to this problem is to simply set the TopItem of the list, and it works... sometimes, but not always. Going deeper into it reveals that the .NET listview wrapper just guesses the scroll value, because the native listview does not support an operation like this. So what is the solution? Set the TopItem multiple times, till the correct item is on top, yes it is an ugly hack. ;)

The code is as follows:

public void SetScrollPosition(int pos)
  pos = Math.Min(Items.Count - 1, pos);

  if (pos < 0 || pos >= Items.Count)


  for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
    if(TopItem != null && TopItem.Index != pos)
      TopItem = Items[pos];

How to Get the Current Scroll Value and Number of Visible Items

At first sight, this may look exactly like the first problem. We may get the current scroll value by querying the TopItem but we also need the max, min and change values. So we need to pinvoke the getScrollInfo method which returns us a SCROLLINFO structure. This structure also contains the change value, and fortunately the large change value is equal to the visible item count, because the list always scrolls a complete page if a large change is processed.

The code is as shown below:

public void GetScrollPosition(out int min, out int max, 
  out int pos, out int smallchange, out int largechange)
  SCROLLINFO scrollinfo = new SCROLLINFO();
  scrollinfo.cbSize = (uint)Marshal.SizeOf(typeof(SCROLLINFO));
  scrollinfo.fMask = (int)ScrollInfoMask.SIF_ALL;
  if (GetScrollInfo(this.Handle, (int)SBTYPES.SB_VERT, ref scrollinfo))
    min = scrollinfo.nMin;
    max = scrollinfo.nMax;
    pos = scrollinfo.nPos;
    smallchange = 1;
    largechange = (int)scrollinfo.nPage;

    min = 0;
    max = 0;
    pos = 0;
    smallchange = 0;
    largechange = 0;

and you are ready. This really hides the scroll-bars, but gives you no chance to scroll the list, even by code.

So this brings the mentioned WndProc into the game. The code block below only shows a snippet of WndProc look at the source for the complete method.

We need to capture the 'calcsize' message, retrieve the window-style and disable the scrollbar if it was activated.

Take a look at the code below:

protected override void WndProc(ref Message m)
    int style = (int)GetWindowLong(this.Handle, GWL_STYLE);
    if ((style & WS_VSCROLL) == WS_VSCROLL)
      SetWindowLong(this.Handle, GWL_STYLE, style & ~WS_VSCROLL);


How to Get Informed on all Actions of Interest

We are nearly done now, we just need to update the scroll-bars if items are added or removed, the list gets cleared or the list gets scrolled by some other mechanisms. So we again hook into the WndProc method and capture the corresponding messages.

protected override void WndProc(ref Message m)
   if (m.Msg == WM_VSCROLL)
     int max, min, pos, smallchange, largechange;
     GetScrollPosition(out min, out max, out pos, out smallchange, out largechange);
     if (ScrollPositionChanged != null)
       ScrollPositionChanged(this, pos);

     if (_vScrollbar != null)
       _vScrollbar.Value = pos;


   else if (m.Msg == LVM_INSERTITEMA || m.Msg == LVM_INSERTITEMW)

   else if (m.Msg == LVM_DELETEITEM || m.Msg == LVM_DELETEALLITEMS)




It works! And it looks great. Check out the source and leave your comment.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Apache License, Version 2.0


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Austria Austria
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