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How to: Create a Lookup Table for a Windows Forms ComboBox, ListBox, or CheckedListBox Control 

Sometimes it is useful to display data in a user-friendly format on a Windows Form, but store the data in a format that is more meaningful to your program. For example, an order form for food might display the menu items by name in a list box. However, the data table recording the order would contain the unique ID numbers representing the food. The following tables show an example of how to store and display order-form data for food.

OrderDetailsTable
OrderID ItemID Quantity

4085

12

1

4086

13

3

ItemTable
ID Name

12

Potato

13

Chicken

In this scenario, one table, OrderDetailsTable, stores the actual information you are concerned with displaying and saving. But to save space, it does so in a fairly cryptic fashion. The other table, ItemTable, contains only appearance-related information about which ID number is equivalent to which food name, and nothing about the actual food orders.

The ItemTable is connected to the ComboBox, ListBox, or CheckedListBox control through three properties. The DataSource property contains the name of this table. The DisplayMember property contains the data column of that table that you want to display in the control (the food name). The ValueMember property contains the data column of that table with the stored information (the ID number).

The OrderDetailsTable is connected to the control by its bindings collection, accessed through the DataBindings property. When you add a binding object to the collection, you connect a control property to a specific data member (the column of ID numbers) in a data source (the OrderDetailsTable). When a selection is made in the control, this table is where the form input is saved.

To create a lookup table

  1. Add a ComboBox, ListBox, or CheckedListBox control to the form.

  2. Connect to your data source.

  3. Establish a data relation between the two tables. Introduction to DataRelation Objects
    Introduction to DataRelation Objects
    Introduction to DataRelation Objects
    Introduction to DataRelation Objects
    Introduction to DataRelation Objects
    Introduction to DataRelation Objects

  4. Set the following properties. They can be set in code or in the designer.

    Property Setting

    DataSource

    The table that contains information about which ID number is equivalent to which item. In the previous scenario, this is ItemTable.

    DisplayMember

    The column of the data source table that you want to display in the control. In the previous scenario, this is "Name" (to set in code, use quotation marks).

    ValueMember

    The column of the data source table that contains the stored information. In the previous scenario, this is "ID" (to set in code, use quotation marks).

  5. In a procedure, call the Add method of the ControlBindingsCollection class to bind the control's SelectedValue property to the table recording the form input. You can also do this in the Designer instead of in code, by accessing the control's DataBindings property in the Properties window. In the previous scenario, this is OrderDetailsTable, and the column is "ItemID".

    ListBox1.DataBindings.Add("SelectedValue", OrderDetailsTable, "ItemID")
    
    

    listBox1.DataBindings.Add("SelectedValue", OrderDetailsTable, "ItemID");
    
    

    listBox1.get_DataBindings().Add("SelectedValue", OrderDetailsTable, "ItemID");
    

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