Working with Context Menus

MMC generates default context menus for the items in the scope and result panes, and snap-ins can extend these default context menus by providing context menu items of their own. The default context menus contain items, for example, for the New and All Tasks menus. These default menus are integral to the usability of the console, because they provide lists of the methods (or tasks) that can be invoked on a given item or a list of the objects that can be created within a given container.

Snap-ins add their own items to the default context menus by implementing the IExtendContextMenu interface. The snap-in's implementation of IExtendContextMenu calls methods in IContextMenuCallback, which is implemented by MMC. Some snap-ins also call methods in IContextMenuProvider (also implemented by MMC) when they need to build a context menu from scratch.

IContextMenuCallback is a callback mechanism that has one method, AddItem, for adding single items to a context menu. MMC provides the snap-in with an instance of IContextMenuCallback when one is required. Snap-ins should not call QueryInterface for an instance of IContextMenuCallback, nor should they keep the instance of IContextMenuProvider beyond the scope in which it is provided.

The IExtendContextMenu interface is implemented by the snap-in and allows items to be added using the callback mechanism just mentioned. MMC calls the IExtendContextMenu::AddMenuItems method to give the extension an opportunity to add menu items. The snap-in typically calls the IContextMenuCallback::AddItem method zero or more times to add items to the context menu. MMC calls the IExtendContextMenu::Command method if the user selects an item added by the snap-in in the AddMenuItems method call.

Most snap-ins do not need to use the IContextMenuProvider interface. This interface allows snap-ins to add extensible context menus to result pane views other than the default list view. For example, if the view is an OCX, the snap-in itself can create the context menu using the Windows API. However, using the Windows API does not allow other snap-ins to extend this context menu as they can on other items. Instead, the OCX should call QueryInterface for a pointer to the IContextMenuProvider interface, and generate the context menu using its COM methods. This context menu can then be extended by other snap-ins. Incidentally, IContextMenuProvider derives from IContextMenuCallback, so it implicitly contains the IContextMenuCallback::AddItem method.

IContextMenuProvider methods include EmptyMenuList, which clears the context menu, and ShowContextMenu, which displays the menu. Its two remaining methods, AddPrimaryExtensionItems and AddThirdPartyExtensionItems, give other snap-ins the opportunity to extend the context menu.

The snap-in that has added an item to the scope or result pane is always considered to "extend" the item's context menu. MMC always calls its implementation of the IExtendContextMenu::AddMenuItems method if that snap-in implements the IExtendContextMenu interface. Snap-ins that wish to extend the context menus of items that they did not add must explicitly register themselves as being context menu extensions for items (scope or result) of that particular node type. For more information, see Extending the Context Menu of a Primary Snap-in.

When a snap-in adds a menu item, it must specify an insertion point in the context menu where that item should be located. The default context menus created by MMC contain a set of insertion points where snap-ins can add items. To maintain consistency, snap-ins can only add items at these predefined insertion points. Snap-ins creating context menus from scratch using the IContextMenuProvider interface must provide these insertion points to allow other extensions to add items to their context menus.

The CONTEXTMENUITEM structure provides a variety of flags that can be set to manage MMC context menus, even when they are nested deeply and items are to be inserted in specific positions on the menu. MMC enforces menu integrity.

Related topics

Working with Context Menus: Interfaces
Working with Context Menus: Implementation Details
Extending a Primary Snap-in's Context Menu
Extending the Context Menu of a Primary Snap-in