Layout Management with the WinForms Dock Control

In this post we will show you how to build a sample application with customizable layout based on the WinForms Dock control, which is part of MindFusion WinForms pack. You can find further details about the control at its web page.

For the purpose of the demonstration we’ve chosen an entertaining topic – a cooking recipes electronic book. Our book so far has only three recipes, all for sweets. Lets start by looking at the

I. Architecture of the sample.

The sample has two custom classes – Ingredient and Recipe. Each Ingredient has quantity, name and an image, which illustrates it. The Recipe class holds a strongly typed list with Ingredient objects, the title for each recipe, an image for the recipe, an icon for the recipe and preparation instructions.

The application consists of the dock control, which contains four DockItem-s : for the recipes, for their images, for their ingredients and with the preparation instructions. Any dock item can be dragged, dropped, aligned, minimized, hidden etc.

The API of the cook book application

The API of the cook book application

II. The Dock Control.

We create an empty WinForms project and add the Dock control from the toolbox. The dock control fills the entire client area:

this.dockControl1.Dock = System.Windows.Forms.DockStyle.Fill;         
this.dockControl1.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(0, 0);           
this.dockControl1.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(784, 562);

These properties are set in the Property grid.

Each dock item is created with a title and id, which helps us identify it.

titleItem = new DockItem() { Header = "Recipe Name", Id = "Name" };
titleItem.DockStyle = DockStyle.Left;      
titleItem.Content = GetContent("Name");

The DockStyle property is responsible for the initial layout of the dock item. You can choose among various dock styles – fill, bottom, top and more.

The GetContent method is very important. It prepares the controls that will be placed into each dock item and returns the appropriate one according to the parameter.

Once the dock item is created, let’s not forget to add it:


III. Creating the Content.

Let’s see how the content for a dock item is created. Let’s take the grid with the ingredients. It is identified with the “Ingredients” id:

private Control GetContent(string contentType)
  Control control = null;
  else if (contentType == "Ingredients")
             grid = new DataGridView();
             grid.DefaultCellStyle.BackColor = Color.FromArgb(247, 226, 189);
             grid.Dock = DockStyle.Fill;
             grid.MultiSelect = false;
             grid.DataSource = selectedRecipe.Ingredients;
             grid.RowTemplate.MinimumHeight = 35;
             grid.RowHeadersWidthSizeMode =
             grid.ColumnHeadersHeightSizeMode = DataGridViewColumnHeadersHeightSizeMode.DisableResizing;
             grid.AutoSizeColumnsMode = DataGridViewAutoSizeColumnsMode.Fill;
             grid.SelectionMode = DataGridViewSelectionMode.FullRowSelect;
             grid.BackgroundColor = Color.FromArgb(253, 244, 247);

             control = grid; 
return control;

The idea is clear: you create the control, which will be rendered in the dock item and assign it to DockItem.Content. Here we make different customization for the grid – we change the color of table rows, adjust the height, turn off multiple row select and more.

IV. Changing the Content.

We change the content by handling the SelectedIndexChanged event for the ListView, which lists our recipes. When the user selects a new list item, we extract its Recipe and change the content of the other DockItem-s:

selectedRecipe = recipes[recipesListView.SelectedIndices[0]];
tb.Text = selectedRecipe.Preparation;
grid.DataSource = selectedRecipe.Ingredients;
pictureBox.Image = Image.FromFile(selectedRecipe.ImageUrl);

Here is the final output of the sample application:

MindFusion WinForms Dock COntrol

A Sample electronic cook book based on MindFusion WinForms Dock Control

You can download the sample directly from this link:

MindFusion WinForms Layout Control Sample: Electronic Cook Book in C#

MindFusion WinForms Layout Control Sample: Electronic Cook Book in VB.NET

Enjoy the fast, easy and straight-forwarded manner in which you can create a WinForms application with a flexible layout and multiple panels.

MindFusion Charting for WinForms, V3.6

MindFusion has released a new version of its Charting for WinForms programming control. Here is an overview of the most important new features:

Custom Formatting of Labels
You can now use custom formatting for numeric labels for all chart types. The formatting is applied when you set the format of the label to NumberFormat.Custom. The properties that set the custom number format use the .net custom format strings.

Labels in a WinForms bar chart

Labels in a WinForms bar chart

Sorting of Bars
MindFusion WinFormsCharting control offers you greatly improved sorting of bar values in a bar chart. You can use the SortOrder property to sort the bars in each series or cluster in ascending or descending order. You can also sort each series/cluster with the SortSeriesBy property. You can preserve the color of each bar when sorted if you set the SortColor property to true.

A WinForms chart with sorted bars.

A WinForms chart with sorted bars.

License keys
MindFusion no longer provides separate trial and licensed versions of its components. Instead, you should set the LicenseKey property to disable the component’s evaluation mode and stop displaying trial messages. If your application has more than one Diagram instance or other controls by MindFusion, a single call to MindFusion.Licensing.LicenseManager.AddLicense(key) is enough to specify the key for all the controls. You can find your license key strings listed on the Keys & Downloads page at your account.


  • Bars are now outlined with the consecutive pen from the ChartPens collection rather than the AxisPen.
  • Drawing of line and area charts has greatly been improved – the control now draws only the visible portion of the chart rather than the whole chart, which was clipped to the visible rectangle.
  • AreaOpacity property added to radar charts.
  • AxesOnTop property in radar charts sets the order of drawing for the graphic and the axes.
  • SortYData and SortXData properties added to line charts.
  • In line charts colors can be sorted with line series or scatters when those get sorted.

The trial version is available for direct download from this link:

Download MindFusion.Charting for WinForms 3.6

Technical support is available at the forum, help desk or at e-mail All inquiries are answered within hours of being received.

About MindFusion.Charting for WinForms: a professional programming component for WinForms, which lets you create remarkable charts fast and easy. The tool supports all major chart types – line, pie, radar and bar – and numerous variations of them – column, area, bubble, polar, doughnut etc. 3D charts are supported as well.

Charting for WinForms supports a rich user interaction model with features like zoom, hit testing, drill down, mouse dragging and more. You can use delegates to present mathematical functions, undefined values are also acceptable. Values can be data arrays or retrieved through a database.

The appearance of each chart is fully customizable. The control offers strong design-time support with custom collection editors and chart wizards. At your disposal is a set of predefined appearance themes and a theme editor tool. A full list of the features can be read here.