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Posted 11 Apr 2012

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

, 2 Jan 2013 Ms-PL
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Easily add ribbon to WinForm Application for .NET Framework 2.0, 3.5, 4.0 & 4.5
This is an old version of the currently published article.



Part 1: Background 

The ribbon that is going to be used in this article is an open source project created by Jose Menendez Poo. However, the original author of the ribbon has stopped support of it. A group of fans of this ribbon re-host and continue to develop/enhance and support the ribbon. 

The original 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.

Old Site: (By original author, but has stopped support) 

New Site: (Re-host by fans of the ribbon) 

The latest released ribbon (10 Jan 2012) supports Visual Studio 2008, 2010 and 2012. 

Part 2: How to Use this Ribbon Control   

  1. Download the latest build of System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.dll (released on 10 Jan 2012) 
  2. Create a blank WinForms project.
  3. Add a Reference to System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.dll in your project.

Right click on Reference in Solution Explorer, choose Add.

Locate System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.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: 

private void InitializeComponent()
    ribbon1 = new System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon();
    this.components = new System.ComponentModel.Container();
    this.AutoScaleMode = System.Windows.Forms.AutoScaleMode.Font;
    this.Text = "Form1";
private System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon ribbon1; 

Save and close Form1.Designer.cs

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

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.

Well, some of you might not able to see the extra command links of "Add Button", "Add ButtonList", "Add ItemGroup"... etc at the Properties Explorer.  


Well, what you need to do is right click at the Properties Explorer and Tick/Check the [Commands]. 



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. 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.
  2. Create the Click event for the ribbon buttons.
  3. 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)
  4. Next, set the MainForm's properties of IsMdiContainer to True.
  5. 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;
  6. These forms run normally, but you will notice there is an annoying Control Box appearing at the top of the Ribbon Bar control.
  7. To get rid of the Control Box, we need to rearrange these codes in the correct sequence.
  8. f1.ControlBox = false;
    f1.FormBorderStyle = System.Windows.Forms.FormBorderStyle.None
    f1.MaximizeBox = false;
    f1.MinimizeBox = false;
    f1.WindowState = FormWindowState.Maximized;
  9. First, we create another form named MdiChildForm.cs. Open the designer for MdiChildForm.
  10. Add the below code to MdiChildForm.Designer.cs at the right sequence:
  11. 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;
  12. Save and close MdiChildForm.cs and MdiChildForm.Designer.cs.
  13. Modify all forms (forms that will be loading in MainForm.cs's MDI) to inherit MdiChildForm.
  14. 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
  15. Open forms and load it into the MDI client of MainForm.
  16. void cmdForm1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Form1 f1 = new Form1();
        f1.MdiParent = this;
  17. 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. To make your own color theme, create another class and inherit RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTable. 
  2. Change all the color objects into your desired colors. 
  3. Example: (the first five colors have been filled for your reference).
  4. 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 = 
  5. Then, in the Load event of MainForm.cs, add this line:
  6. 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:

02 Jan 2013 

  • Introduce new compiled version of ribbon, released on 10 Jan 2012. 

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
Writing programs is an art.

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