Customizing Common Dialog Boxes

You can use the common dialog boxes in their standard form, or you can customize them. From the user's perspective, the chief benefit of the common dialog box is its consistent appearance and functionality from application to application. Therefore, it is important that you customize a common dialog box only when it is absolutely necessary for an application. Otherwise, the consistent appearance and simple coding interface are lost. Appropriate customizations leave intact as many of the original controls as possible. Increasing the size of the dialog box or adding new controls in the space already available in the dialog box is an appropriate customization. Hiding original controls or otherwise changing the intended functionality of the original controls is a less appropriate customization.

This section discusses the following methods for customizing a common dialog box:

Custom Templates

Common dialog boxes have default templates that define the number, type, and position of the standard controls in the dialog box. You can define a custom template to give users access to additional controls that are unique to your application.

For all common dialog boxes except the Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes, you modify the default template to create a custom template that replaces the default template. The custom template defines the type and position of the standard controls as well as any additional controls.

When you create a custom dialog box template by modifying the default dialog box template, make sure the identifiers for any added controls are unique and do not conflict with the identifiers of the standard controls. The following table lists the name of the default template file and include file for each of the common dialog box types.

Dialog box typeTemplate fileInclude file
ColorColor.dlgColorDlg.h
FindFindtext.dlgDlgs.h
FontFont.dlgDlgs.h
Open (multiple selection)Fileopen.dlgDlgs.h
Open (single selection)Fileopen.dlgDlgs.h
Page SetupPrnsetup.dlgDlgs.h
PrintPrnsetup.dlgDlgs.h
Print Setup (obsolete)Prnsetup.dlgDlgs.h
ReplaceFindtext.dlgDlgs.h

 

To enable a custom template, you must set a flag in the Flags member of the corresponding structure for the dialog box. If the template is a resource in an application or dynamic-link library, set an ENABLETEMPLATE flag in the Flags member, and use the hInstance and lpTemplateName members of the structure to identify the module and resource name. If the template is already in memory, set an ENABLETEMPLATEHANDLE flag in the Flags member, and use the hInstance member to identify the memory object that contains the template.

In most cases, you must also enable a hook procedure for the dialog box to support and process input for the additional controls in your custom template.

For the Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes, the default templates are not available for modification. Instead, your custom template defines a child dialog box that includes only the items to be added to the standard dialog box. The custom template can also define a static control that specifies the location of the cluster of standard controls in the child dialog box. For more information, see Explorer-Style Custom Templates.

Hook Procedures for Common Dialog Boxes

For each of the common dialog boxes, you can enable a hook procedure to process messages from the default dialog box procedure. There are two general types of common dialog hook procedures:

  • The standard hook procedure used with most common dialog boxes
  • The Explorer-style hook procedure supported by the Open and Save As dialog boxes

When you provide a standard hook procedure for one of the common dialog boxes, the default dialog box procedure handles its messages as follows.

MessageHandling
WM_INITDIALOG The default dialog box procedure processes the message before passing it to the hook procedure. The message's lParam parameter is a pointer to the initialization structure specified when the dialog was created.
All other messagesThe hook procedure receives the message first. Then, the return value of the hook procedure determines whether the default dialog procedure processes the message or ignores it.

 

For the Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes, the hook procedure does not receive messages intended for the standard controls in the dialog box. Instead, it receives notification messages from the dialog box and messages for any additional controls that you defined in a custom template. For more information, see Explorer-Style Hook Procedures.

To enable a hook procedure, set an ENABLEHOOK value in the Flags member of the corresponding structure for the dialog box. If an ENABLEHOOK flag is set, an lpfnHook member of the structure must specify the address of the hook procedure.

The following table shows the type of hook procedure to provide for each of the common dialog boxes.

Dialog box typeHook procedure
Color CCHookProc
Find or Replace FRHookProc
Font CFHookProc
Open or Save As (Explorer-style) OFNHookProc
Open or Save As (Old-style) OFNHookProcOldStyle
Print PrintHookProc
Page Setup PageSetupHook

 

For the Page Setup dialog box, you can also specify a PagePaintHook hook procedure. This is a special hook procedure that you can use to customize the appearance of the sample page displayed by the Page Setup dialog box.

Note    The Print Setup dialog box has been superseded by the Page Setup dialog box. Applications should use the Page Setup dialog box. However, for compatibility, the PrintDlg function continues to support display of the Print Setup dialog box. You can provide a SetupHookProc hook procedure for the Print Setup dialog box.

Common Dialog Messages

Common dialog boxes use messages to notify your window procedure or hook procedure when certain events occur. In addition, there are messages that you can send to a common dialog box to retrieve information or to control the behavior or appearance of the dialog box. This section describes the common dialog messages registered by the RegisterWindowMessage function, messages used by the Font dialog box and Page Setup dialog box, and messages used by the Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes.

The Common Dialog Box Library defines a set of message strings. You can pass a constant associated with one of these message strings to RegisterWindowMessage to get a message identifier. You can then use the identifier to detect and process messages sent from a common dialog box, or to send messages to a common dialog box. The following table shows the message constants and describes their use.

ContantsUse
COLOROKSTRING A Color dialog box sends this message to the hook procedure when the user selects a color and clicks the OK button. The hook procedure can accept the color, or reject it and force the dialog box to remain open.
FILEOKSTRING An Open or Save As dialog box sends this message to the hook procedure when the user selects a file name and clicks the OK button. The hook procedure can accept the file name, or reject it and force the dialog box to remain open.

For Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes, this message has been superseded by the CDN_FILEOK notification message.

FINDMSGSTRING A Find or Replace dialog box sends this message to the window procedure of its parent window when the user clicks the Find Next, Replace, or Replace All, or closes the dialog box. The message's lParam parameter is a pointer to a FINDREPLACE structure containing the user's input.
HELPMSGSTRING All common dialog boxes send this message to the window procedure of their parent window when the user clicks the Help button.

For Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes, this message has been superseded by the CDN_HELP notification message.

LBSELCHSTRING An Open or Save As dialog box sends this message to the hook procedure when the user changes the selection in the File Name list box.

For Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes, this message has been superseded by the CDN_SELCHANGE notification message.

SETRGBSTRING A hook procedure can send this message to a Color dialog box to set the current color selection.
SHAREVISTRING An Open or Save As dialog box sends this message to the hook procedure if a sharing violation occurs for the selected file when the user clicks the OK button.

For Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes, this message has been superseded by the CDN_SHAREVIOLATION notification message.

 

Some common dialog boxes send and receive other window messages. The hook procedure for a Font dialog box can send any of the WM_CHOOSEFONT_* messages to the Font dialog box. For more information, see Font Dialog Box. The Page Setup dialog box sends the WM_PSD_* messages if you have enabled a PagePaintHook hook procedure. For more information, see Page Setup Dialog Box.

The Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes support a set of predefined messages. These include notification messages sent in the form of a WM_NOTIFY message to your hook procedure, and messages that your hook procedure can send to the dialog box. For a complete list of these messages, see Explorer-Style Hook Procedures.

Help Support

Common dialog boxes provide context-sensitive help for the standard controls of the dialog box. To provide additional help for a common dialog box, you can display a Help button and process messages generated when the user clicks the button. The Help button is a supplement to the default context-sensitive help. The Help button is useful for describing the general purpose of the dialog box as it applies to your application.

Context-Sensitive Help

All common dialog boxes provide context-sensitive help for the standard controls of the dialog box. The user can display help for individual controls by any of the following methods:

  • Selecting the control and pressing the F1 key.
  • Clicking the ? button in the title bar and subsequently clicking on a control.
  • Clicking the right mouse button over a control.

If you customize a dialog box by adding new controls, you must also extend help support for these controls by processing requests for help in the hook procedure. The hook procedure receives the following messages when the user requests help.

User actionMessage
Click the right mouse button over a control. WM_CONTEXTMENU
Pressed the F1 key. WM_HELP
Clicked the ? button on the title bar and then clicked a control. WM_HELP

 

You should process these messages for the controls you have added, but let the default dialog box procedure process the messages for the standard controls. For more information about how to process these messages, see Help.

The Help Button

You can display a Help button in any of the common dialog boxes by setting a SHOWHELP value in the Flags member of the initialization structure for the dialog box. If you display the Help button, you must process the user's request for help. The processing can be done either in one of your application's window procedures or in a hook procedure for the dialog box. Typically, you would process the request for help by calling the WinHelp function.

To process help messages in one of your window procedures, you must get a message identifier for the string defined by the HELPMSGSTRING value and identify the window to receive messages. To get the message identifier, specify HELPMSGSTRING as the parameter in a call to the RegisterWindowMessage function. When you create the dialog box, use the hwndOwner member of the dialog box initialization structure to identify the window that is to receive the messages. The dialog box procedure sends the message to the window procedure whenever the user clicks the Help button.

To process help messages in a hook procedure, you should process the WM_COMMAND message. The hook procedure provides help if the wParam parameter of this message indicates that the user clicked the Help button. The identifier of the Help button is the pshHelp constant defined in the Dlgs.h file.

Hook procedures for the Explorer-style Open and Save As dialog boxes do not receive WM_COMMAND messages for the Help button. Instead, the dialog box sends a CDN_HELP notification message to the hook procedure when the Help button is clicked.

 

 

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