Adding a Most Recently Used List to a Submenu


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The latest version of this topic can be found at Adding a Most Recently Used List to a Submenu.

This walkthrough builds on the demonstrations in Adding a Submenu to a Menu, and shows how to add a dynamic list to a submenu. The dynamic list forms the basis for creating a Most Recently Used (MRU) list.

A dynamic menu list starts with a placeholder on a menu. Every time the menu is shown, the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) asks the VSPackage for all commands that should be shown at the placeholder. A dynamic list can occur anywhere on a menu. However, dynamic lists are typically stored and displayed by themselves on submenus or at the bottoms of menus. By using these design patterns, you enable the dynamic list of commands to expand and contract without affecting the position of other commands on the menu. In this walkthrough, the dynamic MRU list is displayed at the bottom of an existing submenu, separated from the rest of the submenu by a line.

Technically, a dynamic list can also be applied to a toolbar. However, we discourage that usage because a toolbar should remain unchanged unless the user takes specific steps to change it.

This walkthrough creates an MRU list of four items that change their order every time that one of them is selected (the selected item moves to the top of the list).

For more information about menus and .vsct files, see Commands, Menus, and Toolbars.

To follow this walkthrough, you must install the Visual Studio SDK. For more information, see Visual Studio SDK.

The procedures in this walkthrough assume that the name of the VSPackage is TopLevelMenu, which is the name that is used in Adding a Menu to the Visual Studio Menu Bar.

  1. Open TestCommandPackage.vsct.

  2. In the Symbols section, in the GuidSymbol node named guidTestCommandPackageCmdSet, add the symbol for the MRUListGroup group and the cmdidMRUList command, as follows.

    <IDSymbol name="MRUListGroup" value="0x1200"/>  
    <IDSymbol name="cmdidMRUList" value="0x0200"/>  
  3. In the Groups section, add the declared group after the existing group entries.

    <Group guid="guidTestCommandPackageCmdSet" id="MRUListGroup"   
        <Parent guid="guidTestCommandPackageCmdSet" id="SubMenu"/>  
  4. In the Buttons section, add a node to represent the newly declared command, after the existing button entries.

    <Button guid="guidTestCommandPackageCmdSet" id="cmdidMRUList"  
        type="Button" priority="0x0100">  
        <Parent guid="guidTestCommandPackageCmdSet" id="MRUListGroup" />  
            <ButtonText>MRU Placeholder</ButtonText>  

    The DynamicItemStart flag enables the command to be generated dynamically.

  5. Build the project and start debugging to test the display of the new command.

    On the TestMenu menu, click the new submenu, Sub Menu, to display the new command, MRU Placeholder. After a dynamic MRU list of commands is implemented in the next procedure, this command label will be replaced by that list every time that the submenu is opened.

  1. In TestCommandPackageGuids.cs, add the following lines after the existing command IDs in the TestCommandPackageGuids class definition.

    public const string guidTestCommandPackageCmdSet = "00000000-0000-0000-0000-00000000"; // get the GUID from the .vsct file  
    public const uint cmdidMRUList = 0x200;  
  2. In TestCommand.cs add the following using statement.

    using System.Collections;  
  3. Add the following code in the TestCommand constructor after the last AddCommand call. The InitMRUMenu will be defined later

  4. Add the following code in the TestCommand class. This code initializes the list of strings that represent the items to be shown on the MRU list.

    private int numMRUItems = 4;  
    private int baseMRUID = (int)TestCommandPackageGuids.cmdidMRUList;  
    private ArrayList mruList;  
    private void InitializeMRUList()  
        if (null == this.mruList)  
            this.mruList = new ArrayList();  
            if (null != this.mruList)  
                for (int i = 0; i < this.numMRUItems; i++)  
                        "Item {0}", i + 1));  
  5. After the InitializeMRUList method, add the InitMRUMenu method. This initializes the MRU list menu commands.

    private void InitMRUMenu(OleMenuCommandService mcs)  
        for (int i = 0; i < this.numMRUItems; i++)  
            var cmdID = new CommandID(  
                new Guid(TestCommandPackageGuids.guidTestCommandPackageCmdSet), this.baseMRUID + i);  
            var mc = new OleMenuCommand(  
                new EventHandler(OnMRUExec), cmdID);  
            mc.BeforeQueryStatus += new EventHandler(OnMRUQueryStatus);  

    You must create a menu command object for every possible item in the MRU list. The IDE calls the OnMRUQueryStatus method for each item in the MRU list until there are no more items. In managed code, the only way for the IDE to know that there are no more items is to create all possible items first. If you want, you can mark additional items as not visible at first by using mc.Visible = false; after the menu command is created. These items can then be made visible later by using mc.Visible = true; in the OnMRUQueryStatus method.

  6. After the InitMRUMenu method, add the following OnMRUQueryStatus method. This is the handler that sets the text for each MRU item.

    private void OnMRUQueryStatus(object sender, EventArgs e)  
        OleMenuCommand menuCommand = sender as OleMenuCommand;  
        if (null != menuCommand)  
            int MRUItemIndex = menuCommand.CommandID.ID - this.baseMRUID;  
            if (MRUItemIndex >= 0 && MRUItemIndex < this.mruList.Count)  
                menuCommand.Text = this.mruList[MRUItemIndex] as string;  
  7. After the OnMRUQueryStatus method, add the following OnMRUExec method. This is the handler for selecting an MRU item. This method moves the selected item to the top of the list and then displays the selected item in a message box.

    private void OnMRUExec(object sender, EventArgs e)  
        var menuCommand = sender as OleMenuCommand;  
        if (null != menuCommand)  
            int MRUItemIndex = menuCommand.CommandID.ID - this.baseMRUID;  
            if (MRUItemIndex >= 0 && MRUItemIndex < this.mruList.Count)  
                string selection = this.mruList[MRUItemIndex] as string;  
                for (int i = MRUItemIndex; i > 0; i--)  
                    this.mruList[i] = this.mruList[i - 1];  
                this.mruList[0] = selection;  
                                  "Selected {0}", selection));  

To test the MRU menu list

  1. Build the project and start debugging

  2. On the TestMenu menu, click Invoke TestCommand. Doing this displays a message box that indicates that the command was selected.

    System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note

    This step is required to force the VSPackage to load and correctly display the MRU list. If you skip this step, the MRU list is not displayed.

  3. On the Test Menu menu, click Sub Menu. A list of four items is displayed at the end of the submenu, below a separator. When you click Item 3, a message box should appear and display the text, "Selected Item 3". (If the list of four items is not displayed, ensure that you have followed the instructions in the earlier step.)

  4. Open the submenu again. Notice that Item 3 is now at the top of the list and the other items have been pushed down one position. Click Item 3 again and notice that the message box still displays "Selected Item 3", which indicates that the text has correctly moved to the new position together with the command label.

Dynamically Adding Menu Items