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Styling tips for WPF Simple Styles

This page applies to WPF projects only

Microsoft Expression Blend enables you to go above and beyond simply working with default or system controls as you design the user interface (UI) for your application. Instead, you can actually customize and style controls to your liking to make them perform the way you want and—through the use of resources in Expression Blend—give them a unique, attractive look to differentiate your application from others as a way to create a highly branded experience or to create a consistent UI across all of your applications.

Simple styles are a set of custom, ready-to-use style resources for a set of common system controls, such as the Button and ListBox controls. Expression Blend provides these simple style resources because modifying the style of a system control requires some knowledge of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) styles and templates in order to not break the functionality of the control. You can use the simple styles in Expression Blend as a self-contained set of resources that you can quickly modify to create a unique look for your application, without having to start with an understanding of WPF styles and templates.

Simple styles are available in the Assets panel, in the Styles category, by clicking Simple Styles. After you select a simple style from the Assets panel, the icon for the simple style appears underneath the Assets button Cc294894.0d8b8d29-1af9-418f-8741-be3097d76eab(en-us,Expression.30).png and is selected, ready to be drawn on the artboard. When you draw a simple style (such as the SimpleButton) onto the artboard, you actually create an instance of the system control (such as the Button), but with the SimpleButton style applied to it.

The Assets panel showing the available simple style controls
Cc294894.7ac13e33-029a-4ce3-aa85-ca623b6b9caa(en-us,Expression.30).png

The following table lists the available simple styles and the controls to which they apply.

Simple style

Control to which it applies

Icon

SimpleButton

Button

Cc294894.05df1779-a68f-436b-b834-a91b7995a3ec(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleCheckBox

CheckBox

Cc294894.91bc7bff-27d2-4dfe-93ab-844f2952186f(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleComboBox

ComboBox

Cc294894.b174a511-dd12-4a45-a986-034de7693de9(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleComboBoxItem

ComboBoxItem

SimpleExpander

Expander

Cc294894.a9e00db8-c14d-404f-88cb-5f37a41bc783(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleLabel

Label

Cc294894.a27042f1-4067-4239-b99a-8b2e4c223de0(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleListBox

ListBox

Cc294894.ffd7a7c3-6bcd-4ed3-a59e-1f28d06ec4ae(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleListBoxItem

ListBoxItem

SimpleMenu

Menu

Cc294894.015a263c-0b2b-4253-ac57-b86fcb8c9591(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleMenuItem

MenuItem

Cc294894.82c89430-1209-4aa1-b534-cf1cedac74c7(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleProgressBar

ProgressBar

Cc294894.1a4a4117-497e-4920-acaa-d84cb5a1ce83(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleRadioButton

RadioButton

Cc294894.33646a24-f5a1-4b74-9496-e0aaddb922c6(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleRepeatButton

RepeatButton in a ListBox control

SimpleScrollBar

ScrollBar

Cc294894.6513a026-499e-4296-8a67-7558b466bd33(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleScrollBarRepeatButtonStyle

RepeatButton in a ScrollBar control

SimpleScrollViewer

ScrollViewer

Cc294894.5ca26a94-31cd-4fda-83c5-a9564b5b019d(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleSeparator

Separator in a ListBox, Menu, or ToolBar control

SimpleSlider

Slider

Cc294894.bf689d92-3c74-4218-815c-e98c930ac189(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleSliderThumb

Thumb in a Slider control

SimpleTabControl

TabControl

Cc294894.f13847cd-7fdf-4757-a648-d5ece98fcaea(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleTabItem

TabItem in a TabControl

SimpleTextBox

TextBox

Cc294894.343296b4-5c7d-4145-84cc-91b08ba67a1b(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleThumbStyle

Thumb in a ScrollBar in a ListBox control

SimpleTreeView

TreeView

Cc294894.39c99139-8723-49c9-a3e7-f99232d939cb(en-us,Expression.30).png

SimpleTreeViewItem

TreeViewItem in a TreeView control

SimpleTreeViewItemToggleButton

ToggleButton in a TreeView control

The simple style resources are contained in a resource dictionary named SimpleStyles.xaml. After you add a simple style to the artboard from the Tools panel, the SimpleStyles.xaml resource dictionary is added to your project, and all of the simple style resources are visible in the Resources panel.

The SimpleStyles.xaml resource dictionary includes brush resources and other templates that are used by the simple styles. You can make any of the following changes to the simple styles:

  • Change the colors   The colors that are used by all of the simple styles are stored as resources that you can change.

    To change one of the color resources, click the down arrow button next to the color resource in the Resources panel.

    For information about brushes, see Setting colors, brushes, and masks.

    Choosing to edit a brush resource in the Resources panel
    Cc294894.64136c65-52bc-4225-a948-b1171634baca(en-us,Expression.30).png
  • Change the style   You can use the style of a control in Expression Blend to specify properties and triggers that will be used as defaults by the control to which the style is applied. The properties (such as the background brush color) will affect the control's appearance, and the triggers will affect how the control responds to property changes and events. For example, the SimpleButton style includes a trigger for the IsMouseOver property such that the button's appearance is changed when the user moves their mouse pointer over the control. The trigger occurs when the IsMouseOver property changes from False to True.

    To change one of the simple styles, click the Edit Resource button next to the simple style in the Resources panel.

    Choosing to edit a style resource in the Resources panel
    Cc294894.a6080791-03cf-43ae-9476-22d33e9d8ce4(en-us,Expression.30).png
  • Change the control template   The template of a control defines its appearance by defining the child controls that are contained within the control. For example, the control template for the SimpleTextBox element contains a Grid element, which in turn contains a Border element, which contains a ScrollViewer element named PART_ContentHost. The ScrollViewer element displays the content of the TextBox when the SimpleTextBox style is applied to a TextBox on the artboard. Just like the style, you can set property and event triggers in the control template.

    To change the control template for a simple style, click the Edit resource button next to the simple style in the Resources panel, right-click the Style element that appears in the Objects and Timeline panel, point to Edit Template, and then click Edit Current.

    Choosing to edit the control template when starting from the editing scope of the style
    Cc294894.a64c8f57-1243-4482-87ad-b9d5aac62867(en-us,Expression.30).png
    Cc294894.alert_tip(en-us,Expression.30).gifTip:

    Control templates are wrapped inside styles so that the style that is applied to a control includes both the appearance (parts) and the behavior for the control. This is important to remember when choosing between Edit a Copy and Edit Current.

For a detailed comparison between styles and templates, see Styling a control that supports templates.

The simple styles are resources that can be applied and managed like any other resource.

For an example, see Apply a style resource.

For more information about resources, see Creating reusable resources.

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