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Panels Overview

Updated: July 2010

Panel elements are components that control the rendering of elements—their size and dimensions, their position, and the arrangement of their child content. The Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) provides a number of predefined Panel elements as well as the ability to construct custom Panel elements.

This topic contains the following sections.

Panel is the base class for all elements that provide layout support in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Derived Panel elements are used to position and arrange elements in Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) and code.

The WPF includes a comprehensive suite of derived panel implementations that enable many complex layouts. These derived classes expose properties and methods that enable most standard user interface (UI) scenarios. Developers who are unable to find a child arrangement behavior that meets their needs can create new layouts by overriding the ArrangeOverride and MeasureOverride methods. For more information on custom layout behaviors, see Custom Panel Elements.


XAMLPad is a tool that eases the development of Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) based user interfaces by parsing markup in real time and displaying the results in a window. This tool is very useful when experimenting with layout. You may wish to have the application open in order to view the results of the various Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) samples contained in this topic. For more information, see XAMLPad.

All Panel elements support the base sizing and positioning properties defined by FrameworkElement, including Height, Width, HorizontalAlignment, VerticalAlignment, Margin, and LayoutTransform. For additional information on positioning properties defined by FrameworkElement, see Alignment, Margins, and Padding Overview.

Panel exposes additional properties that are of critical importance in understanding and using layout. The Background property is used to fill the area between the boundaries of a derived panel element with a Brush. Children represents the child collection of elements that the Panel is comprised of. InternalChildren represents the content of the Children collection plus those members generated by data binding. Both consist of a UIElementCollection of child elements hosted within the parent Panel.

Panel also exposes a Panel.ZIndex attached property that can be used to achieve layered order in a derived Panel. Members of a panel's Children collection with a higher Panel.ZIndex value appear in front of those with a lower Panel.ZIndex value. This is particularly useful for panels such as Canvas and Grid which allow children to share the same coordinate space.

Panel also defines the OnRender method, which can be used to override the default presentation behavior of a Panel.

Attached Properties

Derived panel elements make extensive use of attached properties. An attached property is a specialized form of dependency property that does not have the conventional common language runtime (CLR) property "wrapper". Attached properties have a specialized syntax in Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), which can be seen in several of the examples that follow.

One purpose of an attached property is to allow child elements to store unique values of a property that is actually defined by a parent element. An application of this functionality is having child elements inform the parent how they wish to be presented in the user interface (UI), which is extremely useful for application layout. For more information, see Attached Properties Overview.

Many objects derive from Panel, but not all of them are intended for use as root layout providers. There are six defined panel classes (Canvas, DockPanel, Grid, StackPanel, VirtualizingStackPanel, and WrapPanel) that are designed specifically for creating application UI.

Each panel element encapsulates its own special functionality, as seen in the following table.

Element Name

UI Panel?




Defines an area within which you can explicitly position child elements by coordinates relative to the Canvas area.



Defines an area within which you can arrange child elements either horizontally or vertically, relative to each other.



Defines a flexible grid area consisting of columns and rows. Child elements of a Grid can be positioned precisely using the Margin property.



Arranges child elements into a single line that can be oriented horizontally or vertically.



Handles the layout of tab buttons in a TabControl.



Arranges content within a ToolBar control.



UniformGrid is used to arrange children in a grid with all equal cell sizes.



Provides a base class for panels that can "virtualize" their children collection.



Arranges and virtualizes content on a single line oriented horizontally or vertically.



WrapPanel positions child elements in sequential position from left to right, breaking content to the next line at the edge of the containing box. Subsequent ordering happens sequentially from top to bottom or right to left, depending on the value of the Orientation property.

There are six panel classes available in WPF that are optimized to support UI scenarios: Canvas, DockPanel, Grid, StackPanel, VirtualizingStackPanel, and WrapPanel. These panel elements are easy to use, versatile, and extensible enough for most applications.

Each derived Panel element treats sizing constraints differently. Understanding how a Panel handles constraints in either the horizontal or vertical direction can make layout more predictable.

Panel Name




Constrained to content

Constrained to content




StackPanel (Vertical Orientation)


Constrained to content

StackPanel (Horizontal Orientation)

Constrained to content




Constrained, except in cases where Auto apply to rows and columns


Constrained to content

Constrained to content

More detailed descriptions and usage examples of each of these elements can be found below.


The Canvas element enables positioning of content according to absolute x- and y-coordinates. Elements can be drawn in a unique location; or, if elements occupy the same coordinates, the order in which they appear in markup determines the order in which the elements are drawn.

Canvas provides the most flexible layout support of any Panel. Height and Width properties are used to define the area of the canvas, and elements inside are assigned absolute coordinates relative to the area of the parent Canvas. Four attached properties, Canvas.Left, Canvas.Top, Canvas.Right and Canvas.Bottom, allow fine control of object placement within a Canvas, allowing the developer to position and arrange elements precisely on the screen.

ClipToBounds Within a Canvas

Canvas can position child elements at any position on the screen, even at coordinates that are outside of its own defined Height and Width. Furthermore, Canvas is not affected by the size of its children. As a result, it is possible for a child element to overdraw other elements outside the bounding rectangle of the parent Canvas. The default behavior of a Canvas is to allow children to be drawn outside the bounds of the parent Canvas. If this behavior is undesirable, the ClipToBounds property can be set to true. This causes Canvas to clip to its own size. Canvas is the only layout element that allows children to be drawn outside its bounds.

This behavior is graphically illustrated in the Width Properties Comparison Sample.

Defining and Using a Canvas

A Canvas can be instantiated simply by using Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) or code. The following example demonstrates how to use Canvas to absolutely position content. This code produces three 100-pixel squares. The first square is red, and its top-left (x, y) position is specified as (0, 0). The second square is green, and its top-left position is (100, 100), just below and to the right of the first square. The third square is blue, and its top-left position is (50, 50), thus encompassing the lower-right quadrant of the first square and the upper-left quadrant of the second. Because the third square is laid out last, it appears to be on top of the other two squares—that is, the overlapping portions assume the color of the third box.

WindowTitle = "Canvas Sample" 
'Create a Canvas as the root Panel 
Dim myParentCanvas As New Canvas()
myParentCanvas.Width = 400
myParentCanvas.Height = 400

' Define child Canvas elements 
Dim myCanvas1 As New Canvas()
myCanvas1.Background = Brushes.Red
myCanvas1.Height = 100
myCanvas1.Width = 100
Canvas.SetTop(myCanvas1, 0)
Canvas.SetLeft(myCanvas1, 0)

Dim myCanvas2 As New Canvas()
myCanvas2.Background = Brushes.Green
myCanvas2.Height = 100
myCanvas2.Width = 100
Canvas.SetTop(myCanvas2, 100)
Canvas.SetLeft(myCanvas2, 100)

Dim myCanvas3 As New Canvas()
myCanvas3.Background = Brushes.Blue
myCanvas3.Height = 100
myCanvas3.Width = 100
Canvas.SetTop(myCanvas3, 50)
Canvas.SetLeft(myCanvas3, 50)

' Add child elements to the Canvas' Children collection

' Add the parent Canvas as the Content of the Window Object 
Me.Content = myParentCanvas
<Page WindowTitle="Canvas Sample" xmlns="">
  <Canvas Height="400" Width="400">
    <Canvas Height="100" Width="100" Top="0" Left="0" Background="Red"/>
    <Canvas Height="100" Width="100" Top="100" Left="100" Background="Green"/>
    <Canvas Height="100" Width="100" Top="50" Left="50" Background="Blue"/>

The compiled application yields a new UI that looks like this.

A typical Canvas Element.


The DockPanel element uses the DockPanel.Dock attached property as set in child content elements to position content along the edges of a container. When DockPanel.Dock is set to Top or Bottom, it positions child elements above or below each other. When DockPanel.Dock is set to Left or Right, it positions child elements to the left or right of each other. The LastChildFill property determines the position of the final element added as a child of a DockPanel.

You can use DockPanel to position a group of related controls, such as a set of buttons. Alternately, you can use it to create a "paned" UI, similar to that found in Microsoft Outlook.

Sizing to Content

If its Height and Width properties are not specified, DockPanel sizes to its content. The size can increase or decrease to accommodate the size of its child elements. However, when these properties are specified and there is no longer room for the next specified child element, DockPanel does not display that child element or subsequent child elements and does not measure subsequent child elements.


By default, the last child of a DockPanel element will "fill" the remaining, unallocated space. If this behavior is not desired, set the LastChildFill property to false.

Defining and Using a DockPanel

The following example demonstrates how to partition space using a DockPanel. Five Border elements are added as children of a parent DockPanel. Each uses a different positioning property of a DockPanel to partition space. The final element "fills" the remaining, unallocated space.

WindowTitle = "DockPanel Sample" 
'Create a DockPanel as the root Panel 
Dim myDockPanel As New DockPanel()
myDockPanel.LastChildFill = True 

' Define the child content 
Dim myBorder1 As New Border()
myBorder1.Height = 25
myBorder1.Background = Brushes.SkyBlue
myBorder1.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
myBorder1.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
DockPanel.SetDock(myBorder1, Dock.Top)
Dim myTextBlock1 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock1.Foreground = Brushes.Black
myTextBlock1.Text = "Dock = Top"
myBorder1.Child = myTextBlock1

Dim myBorder2 As New Border()
myBorder2.Height = 25
myBorder2.Background = Brushes.SkyBlue
myBorder2.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
myBorder2.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
DockPanel.SetDock(myBorder2, Dock.Top)
Dim myTextBlock2 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock2.Foreground = Brushes.Black
myTextBlock2.Text = "Dock = Top"
myBorder2.Child = myTextBlock2

Dim myBorder3 As New Border()
myBorder3.Height = 25
myBorder3.Background = Brushes.LemonChiffon
myBorder3.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
myBorder3.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
DockPanel.SetDock(myBorder3, Dock.Bottom)
Dim myTextBlock3 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock3.Foreground = Brushes.Black
myTextBlock3.Text = "Dock = Bottom"
myBorder3.Child = myTextBlock3

Dim myBorder4 As New Border()
myBorder4.Width = 200
myBorder4.Background = Brushes.PaleGreen
myBorder4.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
myBorder4.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
DockPanel.SetDock(myBorder4, Dock.Left)
Dim myTextBlock4 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock4.Foreground = Brushes.Black
myTextBlock4.Text = "Dock = Left"
myBorder4.Child = myTextBlock4

Dim myBorder5 As New Border()
myBorder5.Background = Brushes.White
myBorder5.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
myBorder5.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
Dim myTextBlock5 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock5.Foreground = Brushes.Black
myTextBlock5.Text = "This content will Fill the remaining space"
myBorder5.Child = myTextBlock5

' Add child elements to the DockPanel Children collection
Me.Content = myDockPanel
<Page xmlns="" WindowTitle="DockPanel Sample">
  <DockPanel LastChildFill="True">
    <Border Height="25" Background="SkyBlue" BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1" DockPanel.Dock="Top">
      <TextBlock Foreground="Black">Dock = "Top"</TextBlock>
    <Border Height="25" Background="SkyBlue" BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1" DockPanel.Dock="Top">
      <TextBlock Foreground="Black">Dock = "Top"</TextBlock>
    <Border Height="25" Background="LemonChiffon" BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1" DockPanel.Dock="Bottom">
      <TextBlock Foreground="Black">Dock = "Bottom"</TextBlock>
    <Border Width="200" Background="PaleGreen" BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1" DockPanel.Dock="Left">
      <TextBlock Foreground="Black">Dock = "Left"</TextBlock>
    <Border Background="White" BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1">
      <TextBlock Foreground="Black">This content will "Fill" the remaining space</TextBlock>

The compiled application yields a new UI that looks like this.

A typical DockPanel scenario.


The Grid element merges the functionality of an absolute positioning and tabular data control. A Grid enables you to easily position and style elements. Grid allows you to define flexible row and column groupings, and even provides a mechanism to share sizing information between multiple Grid elements.

How is Grid Different from Table?

Table and Grid share some common functionality, but each is best suited for different scenarios. A Table is designed for use within flow content (see Flow Document Overview for more information on flow content). Grids are best used inside of forms (basically anywhere outside of flow content). Within a FlowDocument, Table supports flow content behaviors like pagination, column reflow, and content selection while a Grid does not. A Grid on the other hand is best used outside of a FlowDocument for many reasons including Grid adds elements based on a row and column index, Table does not. The Grid element allows layering of child content, allowing more than one element to exist within a single "cell." Table does not support layering. Child elements of a Grid can be absolutely positioned relative to the area of their "cell" boundaries. Table does not support this feature. Finally, a Grid is lighter weight than a Table.

Sizing Behavior of Columns and Rows

Columns and rows defined within a Grid can take advantage of Star sizing in order to distribute remaining space proportionally. When Star is selected as the Height or Width of a row or column, that column or row receives a weighted proportion of remaining available space. This is in contrast to Auto, which will distribute space evenly based on the size of the content within a column or row. This value is expressed as * or 2* when using Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML). In the first case, the row or column would receive one times the available space, in the second case, two times, and so on. For additional information on star sizing see the Use Star Sizing Sample sample. By combining this technique to proportionally distribute space with a HorizontalAlignment and VerticalAlignment value of Stretch it is possible to partition layout space by percentage of screen space. Grid is the only layout panel that can distribute space in this manner.

Defining and Using a Grid

The following example demonstrates how to build a UI similar to that found on the Run dialog available on the Windows Start menu.

'Create a Grid as the root Panel element. 
Dim myGrid As New Grid()
myGrid.Height = 165
myGrid.Width = 425
myGrid.Background = Brushes.Gainsboro
myGrid.ShowGridLines = True
myGrid.HorizontalAlignment = Windows.HorizontalAlignment.Left
myGrid.VerticalAlignment = Windows.VerticalAlignment.Top

' Define and Add the Rows and Columns. 
Dim colDef1 As New ColumnDefinition
colDef1.Width = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Auto)
Dim colDef2 As New ColumnDefinition
colDef2.Width = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Star)
Dim colDef3 As New ColumnDefinition
colDef3.Width = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Star)
Dim colDef4 As New ColumnDefinition
colDef4.Width = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Star)
Dim colDef5 As New ColumnDefinition
colDef5.Width = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Star)

Dim rowDef1 As New RowDefinition
rowDef1.Height = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Auto)
Dim rowDef2 As New RowDefinition
rowDef2.Height = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Auto)
Dim rowDef3 As New Controls.RowDefinition
rowDef3.Height = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Star)
Dim rowDef4 As New RowDefinition
rowDef4.Height = New GridLength(1, GridUnitType.Auto)

' Add the Image. 
Dim img1 As New Image
img1.Source = New System.Windows.Media.Imaging.BitmapImage(New Uri("runicon.png", UriKind.Relative))
Grid.SetRow(img1, 0)
Grid.SetColumn(img1, 0)

' Add the main application dialog. 
Dim txt1 As New TextBlock
txt1.Text = "Type the name of a program, document, or Internet resource, and Windows will open it for you."
txt1.TextWrapping = TextWrapping.Wrap
Grid.SetColumnSpan(txt1, 4)
Grid.SetRow(txt1, 0)
Grid.SetColumn(txt1, 1)

' Add the second TextBlock Cell to the Grid. 
Dim txt2 As New TextBlock
txt2.Text = "Open:"
Grid.SetRow(txt2, 1)
Grid.SetColumn(txt2, 0)

' Add the TextBox control. 
Dim tb1 As New TextBox
Grid.SetRow(tb1, 1)
Grid.SetColumn(tb1, 1)
Grid.SetColumnSpan(tb1, 5)

' Add the Button controls. 
Dim button1 As New Button
Dim button2 As New Button
Dim button3 As New Button
button1.Content = "OK"
button1.Margin = New Thickness(10, 0, 10, 15)
button2.Content = "Cancel"
button2.Margin = New Thickness(10, 0, 10, 15)
button3.Content = "Browse ..."
button3.Margin = New Thickness(10, 0, 10, 15)

Grid.SetRow(button1, 3)
Grid.SetColumn(button1, 2)
Grid.SetRow(button2, 3)
Grid.SetColumn(button2, 3)
Grid.SetRow(button3, 3)
Grid.SetColumn(button3, 4)

Me.Content = myGrid
<Page xmlns="" 
      WindowTitle="Grid Run Dialog Sample" 
  <Grid Background="#DCDCDC"
      <ColumnDefinition Width="Auto" />
      <ColumnDefinition Width="*" />
      <ColumnDefinition Width="*"/>
      <ColumnDefinition Width="*"/>
      <ColumnDefinition Width="*"/>
      <RowDefinition Height="Auto" />
      <RowDefinition Height="Auto" />
      <RowDefinition Height="*" />
      <RowDefinition Height="Auto" />

    <Image Grid.Column="0" Grid.Row="0" Source="RunIcon.png" />
    <TextBlock Grid.Column="1" Grid.ColumnSpan="4" Grid.Row="0" TextWrapping="Wrap">
      Type the name of a program, folder, document, or
      Internet resource, and Windows will open it for you.
    <TextBlock Grid.Column="0" Grid.Row="1">Open:</TextBlock>
    <TextBox Grid.Row="1" Grid.Column="1" Grid.ColumnSpan="5" />
    <Button Margin="10, 0, 10, 15" Grid.Row="3" Grid.Column="2">OK</Button>
    <Button Margin="10, 0, 10, 15" Grid.Row="3" Grid.Column="3">Cancel</Button>
    <Button Margin="10, 0, 10, 15" Grid.Row="3" Grid.Column="4">Browse ...</Button>

The compiled application yields a new UI that looks like this.

A typical Grid Element.


A StackPanel enables you to "stack" elements in an assigned direction. The default stack direction is vertical. The Orientation property can be used to control content flow.

StackPanel vs. DockPanel

Although DockPanel can also "stack" child elements, DockPanel and StackPanel do not produce analogous results in some usage scenarios. For example, the order of child elements can affect their size in a DockPanel but not in a StackPanel. This is because StackPanel measures in the direction of stacking at PositiveInfinity, whereas DockPanel measures only the available size.

The following example demonstrates this key difference.

'Add root Grid 
Dim myGrid As New Grid
myGrid.Width = 175
myGrid.Height = 150
Dim myRowDef1 As New RowDefinition
Dim myRowDef2 As New RowDefinition

'Define the DockPanel 
Dim myDockPanel As New DockPanel
Grid.SetRow(myDockPanel, 0)

'Define an Image and Source. 
Dim myImage As New Image
Dim bi As New BitmapImage
bi.UriSource = New Uri("smiley_stackpanel.png", UriKind.Relative)
myImage.Source = bi

Dim myImage2 As New Image
Dim bi2 As New BitmapImage
bi2.UriSource = New Uri("smiley_stackpanel.png", UriKind.Relative)
myImage2.Source = bi2

Dim myImage3 As New Image
Dim bi3 As New BitmapImage
bi3.UriSource = New Uri("smiley_stackpanel.PNG", UriKind.Relative)
myImage3.Stretch = Stretch.Fill
myImage3.Source = bi3

'Add the images to the parent DockPanel.

'Define a StackPanel. 
Dim myStackPanel As New StackPanel
myStackPanel.Orientation = Orientation.Horizontal
Grid.SetRow(myStackPanel, 1)

Dim myImage4 As New Image
Dim bi4 As New BitmapImage
bi4.UriSource = New Uri("smiley_stackpanel.png", UriKind.Relative)
myImage4.Source = bi4

Dim myImage5 As New Image
Dim bi5 As New BitmapImage
bi5.UriSource = New Uri("smiley_stackpanel.png", UriKind.Relative)
myImage5.Source = bi5

Dim myImage6 As New Image
Dim bi6 As New BitmapImage
bi6.UriSource = New Uri("smiley_stackpanel.PNG", UriKind.Relative)
myImage6.Stretch = Stretch.Fill
myImage6.Source = bi6

'Add the images to the parent StackPanel.

'Add the layout panels as children of the Grid
<Page xmlns=""
      WindowTitle="StackPanel vs. DockPanel">
  <Grid Width="175" Height="150">
      <ColumnDefinition />
      <RowDefinition />
      <RowDefinition />

    <DockPanel Grid.Column="0" Grid.Row="0">
      <Image Source="smiley_stackpanel.png" />
      <Image Source="smiley_stackpanel.png" />
      <Image Source="smiley_stackpanel.png" Stretch="Fill"/>

    <StackPanel Grid.Column="0" Grid.Row="1"  Orientation="Horizontal">
      <Image Source="smiley_stackpanel.png" />
      <Image Source="smiley_stackpanel.png" />
      <Image Source="smiley_stackpanel.png" Stretch="Fill"/>

The difference in rendering behavior can be seen in this image.

Screenshot: StackPanel vs. DockPanel screenshot

Defining and Using a StackPanel

The following example demonstrates how to use a StackPanel to create a set of vertically-positioned buttons. For horizontal positioning, set the Orientation property to Horizontal.

WindowTitle = "StackPanel Sample" 
' Define the StackPanel 
Dim myStackPanel As New StackPanel()
myStackPanel.HorizontalAlignment = Windows.HorizontalAlignment.Left
myStackPanel.VerticalAlignment = Windows.VerticalAlignment.Top

' Define child content 
Dim myButton1 As New Button()
myButton1.Content = "Button 1" 
Dim myButton2 As New Button()
myButton2.Content = "Button 2" 
Dim myButton3 As New Button()
myButton3.Content = "Button 3" 

' Add child elements to the parent StackPanel

Me.Content = myStackPanel
<Page xmlns="" WindowTitle="StackPanel Sample">
    <StackPanel HorizontalAlignment="Left"
        <Button>Button 1</Button>
        <Button>Button 2</Button>
        <Button>Button 3</Button>

The compiled application yields a new UI that looks like this.

A typical StackPanel element.


WPF also provides a variation of the StackPanel element that automatically "virtualizes" data-bound child content. In this context, the word virtualize refers to a technique by which a subset of elements are generated from a larger number of data items based upon which items are visible on-screen. It is intensive, both in terms of memory and processor, to generate a large number of UI elements when only a few may be on the screen at a given time. VirtualizingStackPanel (through functionality provided by VirtualizingPanel) calculates visible items and works with the ItemContainerGenerator from an ItemsControl (such as ListBox or ListView) to only create elements for visible items.

The VirtualizingStackPanel element is automatically set as the items host for controls such as the ListBox. When hosting a data bound collection, content is automatically virtualized, as long as the content is within the bounds of a ScrollViewer. This greatly improves performance when hosting many child items.

The following markup demonstrates how to use a VirtualizingStackPanel as an items host. The VirtualizingStackPanel.IsVirtualizing attached property must be set to true (default) for virtualization to occur.

<StackPanel DataContext="{Binding Source={StaticResource Leagues}}">
    <TextBlock Text="{Binding XPath=@name}" FontFamily="Arial" FontSize="18" Foreground="Black"/>
        <ListBox VirtualizingStackPanel.IsVirtualizing="True" 
                 ItemsSource="{Binding XPath=Team}" 
                 ItemTemplate="{DynamicResource NameDataStyle}"/>      


WrapPanel is used to position child elements in sequential position from left to right, breaking content to the next line when it reaches the edge of its parent container. Content can be oriented horizontally or vertically. WrapPanel is useful for simple flowing user interface (UI) scenarios. It can also be used to apply uniform sizing to all of its child elements.

The following example demonstrates how to create a WrapPanel to display Button controls that wrap when they reach the edge of their container.

WindowTitle = "WrapPanel Sample" 

' Instantiate a new WrapPanel and set properties 
Dim myWrapPanel As New WrapPanel()
myWrapPanel.Background = Brushes.Azure
myWrapPanel.Orientation = Orientation.Horizontal

myWrapPanel.Width = 200
myWrapPanel.HorizontalAlignment = Windows.HorizontalAlignment.Left
myWrapPanel.VerticalAlignment = Windows.VerticalAlignment.Top

' Define 3 button elements. The last three buttons are sized at width  
' of 75, so the forth button wraps to the next line. 
Dim btn1 As New Button()
btn1.Content = "Button 1"
btn1.Width = 200
Dim btn2 As New Button()
btn2.Content = "Button 2"
btn2.Width = 75
Dim btn3 As New Button()
btn3.Content = "Button 3"
btn3.Width = 75
Dim btn4 As New Button()
btn4.Content = "Button 4"
btn4.Width = 75

' Add the buttons to the parent WrapPanel using the Children.Add method.

' Add the WrapPanel to the Page as Content 
Me.Content = myWrapPanel
<Page xmlns="" WindowTitle="WrapPanel Sample">
  <Border HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top" BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="2">
        <WrapPanel Background="LightBlue" Width="200" Height="100">
            <Button Width="200">Button 1</Button>
            <Button>Button 2</Button>
            <Button>Button 3</Button>
            <Button>Button 4</Button>

The compiled application yields a new UI that looks like this.

A typical WrapPanel Element.

Panel elements can be nested within each other in order to produce complex layouts. This can prove very useful in situations where one Panel is ideal for a portion of a UI, but may not meet the needs of a different portion of the UI.

There is no practical limit to the amount of nesting that your application can support, however, it is generally best to limit your application to only use those panels that are actually necessary for your desired layout. In many cases, a Grid element can be used instead of nested panels due to its flexibility as a layout container. This can increase performance in your application by keeping unnecessary elements out of the tree.

The following example demonstrates how to create a UI that takes advantage of nested Panel elements in order to achieve a specific layout. In this particular case, a DockPanel element is used to provide UI structure, and nested StackPanel elements, a Grid, and a Canvas are used to position child elements precisely within the parent DockPanel.

Dim myDockPanel As New DockPanel()

Dim myBorder2 As New Border()
myBorder2.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
myBorder2.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
DockPanel.SetDock(myBorder2, Dock.Left)
Dim myStackPanel As New StackPanel()
Dim myButton1 As New Button()
myButton1.Content = "Left Docked"
myButton1.Margin = New Thickness(5)
Dim myButton2 As New Button()
myButton2.Content = "StackPanel"
myButton2.Margin = New Thickness(5)
myBorder2.Child = myStackPanel

Dim myBorder3 As New Border()
myBorder3.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
myBorder3.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
DockPanel.SetDock(myBorder3, Dock.Top)
Dim myGrid As New Grid()
myGrid.ShowGridLines = True 
Dim myRowDef1 As New RowDefinition()
Dim myRowDef2 As New RowDefinition()
Dim myColDef1 As New ColumnDefinition()
Dim myColDef2 As New ColumnDefinition()
Dim myColDef3 As New ColumnDefinition()
Dim myTextBlock1 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock1.FontSize = 20
myTextBlock1.Margin = New Thickness(10)
myTextBlock1.Text = "Grid Element Docked at the Top"
Grid.SetRow(myTextBlock1, 0)
Grid.SetColumnSpan(myTextBlock1, 3)
Dim myButton3 As New Button()
myButton3.Margin = New Thickness(5)
myButton3.Content = "A Row"
Grid.SetColumn(myButton3, 0)
Grid.SetRow(myButton3, 1)
Dim myButton4 As New Button()
myButton4.Margin = New Thickness(5)
myButton4.Content = "of Button"
Grid.SetColumn(myButton4, 1)
Grid.SetRow(myButton4, 1)
Dim myButton5 As New Button()
myButton5.Margin = New Thickness(5)
myButton5.Content = "Elements"
Grid.SetColumn(myButton5, 2)
Grid.SetRow(myButton5, 1)
myBorder3.Child = myGrid

Dim myBorder4 As New Border()
myBorder4.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
myBorder4.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
DockPanel.SetDock(myBorder4, Dock.Bottom)
Dim myStackPanel2 As New StackPanel()
myStackPanel2.Orientation = Orientation.Horizontal
Dim myTextBlock2 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock2.Text = "This StackPanel is Docked to the Bottom"
myTextBlock2.Margin = New Thickness(5)
myBorder4.Child = myStackPanel2

Dim myBorder5 As New Border()
myBorder5.BorderBrush = Brushes.Black
myBorder5.BorderThickness = New Thickness(1)
Dim myCanvas As New Canvas()
myCanvas.ClipToBounds = True 
Dim myTextBlock3 As New TextBlock()
myTextBlock3.Text = "Content in the Canvas will Fill the remaining space."
Canvas.SetTop(myTextBlock3, 50)
Canvas.SetLeft(myTextBlock3, 50)
Dim myEllipse As New Ellipse()
myEllipse.Height = 100
myEllipse.Width = 125
myEllipse.Fill = Brushes.CornflowerBlue
myEllipse.Stroke = Brushes.Aqua
Canvas.SetTop(myEllipse, 100)
Canvas.SetLeft(myEllipse, 150)
myBorder5.Child = myCanvas

<Page xmlns="" WindowTitle="Nested Panels">
  <Border Background="AliceBlue" 
      <Border BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1" DockPanel.Dock="Left">
          <Button Margin="5">Left Docked</Button>
          <Button Margin="5">StackPanel</Button>
      <Border BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1" DockPanel.Dock="Top">
        <Grid ShowGridLines="True">
            <ColumnDefinition />
            <ColumnDefinition />
            <ColumnDefinition />
          <TextBlock FontSize="20" Margin="10" Grid.ColumnSpan="3" Grid.Row="0">Grid Element Docked to the Top.</TextBlock>
          <Button Grid.Row="1" Grid.Column="0" Margin="5">A Row</Button>
          <Button Grid.Row="1" Grid.Column="1" Margin="5">of Button</Button>
          <Button Grid.Row="1" Grid.Column="2" Margin="5">Elements</Button>
      <Border BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1" DockPanel.Dock="Bottom">
        <StackPanel Orientation="Horizontal">
          <TextBlock Margin="5">This StackPanel is Docked to the Bottom.</TextBlock>
      <Border BorderBrush="Black" BorderThickness="1">
        <Canvas ClipToBounds="True">
          <TextBlock Canvas.Top="50" Canvas.Left="50">
            Content in the Canvas will Fill the remaining Space.
          <Ellipse Height="100" Width="125" Fill="CornflowerBlue" Stroke="Aqua" Canvas.Top="100" Canvas.Left="150"/>

The compiled application yields a new UI that looks like this.

A UI that takes advantage of nested panels.

While WPF provides an array of flexible layout controls, custom layout behaviors can also be achieved by overriding the ArrangeOverride and MeasureOverride methods. Custom sizing and positioning can be accomplished by defining new positioning behaviors within these override methods.

Similarly, custom layout behaviors based on derived classes (such as Canvas or Grid) can be defined by overriding their ArrangeOverride and MeasureOverride methods.

The following markup demonstrates how to create a custom Panel element. This new Panel, defined as PlotPanel, supports the positioning of child elements through the use of hard-coded x- and y-coordinates. In this example, a Rectangle element (not shown) is positioned at plot point 50 (x), and 50 (y).

Public Class PlotPanel
    Inherits Panel
    'Override the default Measure method of Panel. 

    Protected Overrides Function MeasureOverride(ByVal availableSize As System.Windows.Size) As System.Windows.Size

        Dim panelDesiredSize As New Size()

        For Each child As UIElement In InternalChildren
            panelDesiredSize = child.DesiredSize

        Return panelDesiredSize

    End Function 
    Protected Overrides Function ArrangeOverride(ByVal finalSize As System.Windows.Size) As System.Windows.Size
        For Each child As UIElement In InternalChildren
            Dim x As Double = 50
            Dim y As Double = 50
            child.Arrange(New Rect(New System.Windows.Point(x, y), child.DesiredSize))
        Return finalSize
    End Function 
End Class

To view the complete sample, see Create a Simple Custom Panel Sample.

To view a more complex custom panel implementation, see Create a Custom Content-Wrapping Panel Sample.

WPF supports a number of features that assist in the creation of localizable UI.

All panel elements natively support the FlowDirection property, which can be used to dynamically re-flow content based on a user's locale or language settings. For more information, see FlowDirection.

The SizeToContent property provides a mechanism that enables application developers to anticipate the needs of localized UI. Using the WidthAndHeight value of this property, a parent Window always sizes dynamically to fit content and is not constrained by artificial height or width restrictions.

DockPanel, Grid, and StackPanel are all good choices for localizable UI. Canvas is not a good choice, however, because it positions content absolutely, making it difficult to localize.

For additional information on creating WPF applications with localizable user interfaces (UIs)s, see the Use Automatic Layout Overview.




July 2010

Fixed the example in the section, “WrapPanel.”

Customer feedback.