Windows Dev Center

How to Create a Simple Combo Box

This topic describes how to create, add items to, and retrieve items from a simple combo box. Specifically, the accompanying code examples demonstrate how to perform the following functions:

  • Dynamically create a simple combo box in a parent window.
  • Add a list of items to the combo box and display an initial item in the selection field of the combo box.
  • Detect when the user has selected an item from the combo box.
  • Retrieve the selected item from the combo box.

What you need to know

Technologies

Prerequisites

  • C/C++
  • Windows User Interface Programming

Instructions

Step 1: Create an instance of the combo box.

The example application calls the CreateWindow function to create a child window of the application window. The WC_COMBOBOX window style specifies that it is a combo box.


// Create the Combobox
//
// Uses the CreateWindow function to create a child window of 
// the application window. The WC_COMBOBOX window style specifies  
// that it is a combobox.

 int xpos = 100;            // Horizontal position of the window.
 int ypos = 100;            // Vertical position of the window.
 int nwidth = 200;          // Width of the window
 int nheight = 200;         // Height of the window
 HWND hwndParent =  m_hwnd; // Handle to the parent window

 HWND hWndComboBox = CreateWindow(WC_COMBOBOX, TEXT(""), 
     CBS_DROPDOWN | CBS_HASSTRINGS | WS_CHILD | WS_OVERLAPPED | WS_VISIBLE,
     xpos, ypos, nwidth, nheight, hwndParent, NULL, HINST_THISCOMPONENT,
     NULL);



Step 2: Load the combo box with the item list.

The application sends a CB_ADDSTRING message for each item in the list. After the list is loaded, the application sends the CB_SETCURSEL message to display an initial item in the combo box selection field.


// load the combobox with item list.  
// Send a CB_ADDSTRING message to load each item

TCHAR Planets[9][10] =  
{
    TEXT("Mercury"), TEXT("Venus"), TEXT("Terra"), TEXT("Mars"), 
    TEXT("Jupiter"), TEXT("Saturn"), TEXT("Uranus"), TEXT("Neptune"), 
    TEXT("Pluto??") 
};
       
TCHAR A[16]; 
int  k = 0; 

memset(&A,0,sizeof(A));       
for (k = 0; k <= 8; k += 1)
{
    wcscpy_s(A, sizeof(A)/sizeof(TCHAR),  (TCHAR*)Planets[k]);

    // Add string to combobox.
    SendMessage(hWndComboBox,(UINT) CB_ADDSTRING,(WPARAM) 0,(LPARAM) A); 
}
  
// Send the CB_SETCURSEL message to display an initial item 
//  in the selection field  
SendMessage(hWndComboBox, CB_SETCURSEL, (WPARAM)2, (LPARAM)0);


Step 3: Detect when the user selects an item and retrieve it from the combo box.

When the user makes a selection from the list, the combo box sends a CBN_SELCHANGE notification to the parent window via a WM_COMMAND message. The application retrieves the handle to the combo box from the lParam field of the notification message and sends a CB_GETCURSEL message to the combo box to retrieve the index of the selected list item. After obtaining the item index, the application sends a CB_GETLBTEXT message to get the item. It then displays the item in a message box.

Note   The CBN_SELCHANGE notification is sent and processed before the item is placed in the combo box selection field. As result, in this example, the selected item won't appear in selection field until after the message box is closed.

switch (message)
{   
    case WM_COMMAND:

        if(HIWORD(wParam) == CBN_SELCHANGE)
        // If the user makes a selection from the list:
        //   Send CB_GETCURSEL message to get the index of the selected list item.
        //   Send CB_GETLBTEXT message to get the item.
        //   Display the item in a messagebox.
        { 
            int ItemIndex = SendMessage((HWND) lParam, (UINT) CB_GETCURSEL, 
                (WPARAM) 0, (LPARAM) 0);
            TCHAR  ListItem[256];
            (TCHAR) SendMessage((HWND) lParam, (UINT) CB_GETLBTEXT, 
                (WPARAM) ItemIndex, (LPARAM) ListItem);
            MessageBox(hwnd, (LPCWSTR) ListItem, TEXT("Item Selected"), MB_OK);                        
        }
        
        wasHandled = true;
    result = 0;
    break;


Complete example


// Windows Header Files:
#include <windows.h>
#include <CommCtrl.h>

// C RunTime Header Files
#include <math.h>

#include <objbase.h>

/******************************************************************
*                                                                 *
*  Macros                                                         *
*                                                                 *
******************************************************************/
template<class Interface>
inline void
SafeRelease(
    Interface **ppInterfaceToRelease
    )
{
    if (*ppInterfaceToRelease != NULL)
    {
        (*ppInterfaceToRelease)->Release();

        (*ppInterfaceToRelease) = NULL;
    }
}

#ifndef Assert
#if defined( DEBUG ) || defined( _DEBUG )
#define Assert(b) if (!(b)) {OutputDebugStringA("Assert: " #b "\n");}
#else
#define Assert(b)
#endif //DEBUG || _DEBUG
#endif


#ifndef HINST_THISCOMPONENT
EXTERN_C IMAGE_DOS_HEADER __ImageBase;
#define HINST_THISCOMPONENT ((HINSTANCE)&__ImageBase)
#endif

/******************************************************************
*                                                                 *
*  DemoApp                                                        *
*                                                                 *
******************************************************************/

class DemoApp
{
public:
    DemoApp();
    ~DemoApp();

    HRESULT Initialize();

    void RunMessageLoop();

private:
    HRESULT CreateResources();
    void DiscardResources();

    static LRESULT CALLBACK WndProc(
        HWND hWnd,
        UINT message,
        WPARAM wParam,
        LPARAM lParam
        );

 private:
    HWND m_hwnd;

 };



#include "SimpleComboBox.h"

/******************************************************************
*                                                                 *
*  The application entry point.                                   *
*                                                                 *
******************************************************************/

int WINAPI WinMain(
    HINSTANCE     /* hInstance */,
    HINSTANCE     /* hPrevInstance */,
    LPSTR     /* lpCmdLine */,
    int     /* nCmdShow */
    )
{
    // Ignore the return value because we want to run the program even in the
    // unlikely event that HeapSetInformation fails.
    HeapSetInformation(NULL, HeapEnableTerminationOnCorruption, NULL, 0);
    if (SUCCEEDED(CoInitialize(NULL)))
    {
        {
            DemoApp app;

            if (SUCCEEDED(app.Initialize()))
            {
                app.RunMessageLoop();
            }
        }
        CoUninitialize();
    }

    return 0;
}

/******************************************************************
*                                                                 *
*  DemoApp::DemoApp constructor                                   *
*                                                                 *
*  Initialize member data.                                         *
*                                                                 *
******************************************************************/

DemoApp::DemoApp() :
    m_hwnd(NULL)
{
}

/******************************************************************
*                                                                 *
*  Release resources.                                             *
*                                                                 *
******************************************************************/

DemoApp::~DemoApp()        
{
    // TODO: Release app resource here.
}

/*******************************************************************
*                                                                  *
*  Create the application window and the combobox.                 *
*                                                                  *
*******************************************************************/

HRESULT DemoApp::Initialize()
{
    HRESULT hr;

    // Register the window class.
    WNDCLASSEX wcex = { sizeof(WNDCLASSEX) };
    wcex.style         = CS_HREDRAW | CS_VREDRAW;
    wcex.lpfnWndProc   = DemoApp::WndProc;
    wcex.cbClsExtra    = 0;
    wcex.cbWndExtra    = sizeof(LONG_PTR);
    wcex.hInstance     = HINST_THISCOMPONENT;
    wcex.hbrBackground = (HBRUSH)(COLOR_WINDOW+1);;
    wcex.lpszMenuName  = NULL;
    wcex.hCursor       = LoadCursor(NULL, IDC_ARROW);
    wcex.lpszClassName = TEXT("DemoApp");

    RegisterClassEx(&wcex);

    // Create the application window.
    //
    // Because the CreateWindow function takes its size in pixels, we
    // obtain the system DPI and use it to scale the window size.
    int dpiX = 0;
    int dpiY = 0;
    HDC hdc = GetDC(NULL);
    if (hdc)
    {
        dpiX = GetDeviceCaps(hdc, LOGPIXELSX);
        dpiY = GetDeviceCaps(hdc, LOGPIXELSY);
        ReleaseDC(NULL, hdc);
    }

    m_hwnd = CreateWindow(
        TEXT("DemoApp"),
        TEXT("Simple Combo Box Example"),
        WS_OVERLAPPEDWINDOW,
        CW_USEDEFAULT,
        CW_USEDEFAULT,
        static_cast<UINT>(ceil(640.f * dpiX / 96.f)),
        static_cast<UINT>(ceil(480.f * dpiY / 96.f)),
        NULL,
        NULL,
        HINST_THISCOMPONENT,
        this
        );

    hr = m_hwnd ? S_OK : E_FAIL;
    if (SUCCEEDED(hr))
    {
        ShowWindow(m_hwnd, SW_SHOWNORMAL);
        UpdateWindow(m_hwnd);
    }


    // Create the Combobox
    //
    // Uses the CreateWindow function to create a child window of 
    // the application window. The WC_COMBOBOX window style specifies  
    // that it is a combobox.

     int xpos = 100;            // Horizontal position of the window.
     int ypos = 100;            // Vertical position of the window.
     int nwidth = 200;          // Width of the window
     int nheight = 200;         // Height of the window
     HWND hwndParent =  m_hwnd; // Handle to the parent window

     HWND hWndComboBox = CreateWindow(WC_COMBOBOX, TEXT(""), 
         CBS_DROPDOWN | CBS_HASSTRINGS | WS_CHILD | WS_OVERLAPPED | WS_VISIBLE,
         xpos, ypos, nwidth, nheight, hwndParent, NULL, HINST_THISCOMPONENT,
         NULL);


    
    // load the combobox with item list.  
    // Send a CB_ADDSTRING message to load each item

    TCHAR Planets[9][10] =  
    {
        TEXT("Mercury"), TEXT("Venus"), TEXT("Terra"), TEXT("Mars"), 
        TEXT("Jupiter"), TEXT("Saturn"), TEXT("Uranus"), TEXT("Neptune"), 
        TEXT("Pluto??") 
    };
           
    TCHAR A[16]; 
    int  k = 0; 

    memset(&A,0,sizeof(A));       
    for (k = 0; k <= 8; k += 1)
    {
        wcscpy_s(A, sizeof(A)/sizeof(TCHAR),  (TCHAR*)Planets[k]);

        // Add string to combobox.
        SendMessage(hWndComboBox,(UINT) CB_ADDSTRING,(WPARAM) 0,(LPARAM) A); 
    }
      
    // Send the CB_SETCURSEL message to display an initial item 
    //  in the selection field  
    SendMessage(hWndComboBox, CB_SETCURSEL, (WPARAM)2, (LPARAM)0);

    return hr;
}


/******************************************************************
*                                                                 *
*  The main window's message loop.                                *
*                                                                 *
******************************************************************/

void DemoApp::RunMessageLoop()
{
    MSG msg;

    while (GetMessage(&msg, NULL, 0, 0))
    {
        TranslateMessage(&msg);
        DispatchMessage(&msg);
    }
}


/******************************************************************
*                                                                 *
*  The window's message handler.                                  *
*                                                                 *
******************************************************************/

LRESULT CALLBACK DemoApp::WndProc(HWND hwnd, UINT message, WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam)
{
    LRESULT result = 0;

    if (message == WM_CREATE)
    {
        LPCREATESTRUCT pcs = (LPCREATESTRUCT)lParam;
        DemoApp *pDemoApp = (DemoApp *)pcs->lpCreateParams;

        ::SetWindowLongPtrW(
            hwnd,
            GWLP_USERDATA,
            PtrToUlong(pDemoApp)
            );

        result = 1;
    }
    else
    {
        DemoApp *pDemoApp = reinterpret_cast<DemoApp *>(static_cast<LONG_PTR>(
            ::GetWindowLongPtrW(
                hwnd,
                GWLP_USERDATA
                )));

        bool wasHandled = false;

        if (pDemoApp)
        {
            switch (message)
            {   
                case WM_COMMAND:

                    if(HIWORD(wParam) == CBN_SELCHANGE)
                    // If the user makes a selection from the list:
                    //   Send CB_GETCURSEL message to get the index of the selected list item.
                    //   Send CB_GETLBTEXT message to get the item.
                    //   Display the item in a messagebox.
                    { 
                        int ItemIndex = SendMessage((HWND) lParam, (UINT) CB_GETCURSEL, 
                            (WPARAM) 0, (LPARAM) 0);
                        TCHAR  ListItem[256];
                        (TCHAR) SendMessage((HWND) lParam, (UINT) CB_GETLBTEXT, 
                            (WPARAM) ItemIndex, (LPARAM) ListItem);
                        MessageBox(hwnd, (LPCWSTR) ListItem, TEXT("Item Selected"), MB_OK);                        
                    }
                    
                    wasHandled = true;
                result = 0;
                break;

            case WM_DISPLAYCHANGE:
                {
                    InvalidateRect(hwnd, NULL, FALSE);
                }
                wasHandled = true;
                result = 0;
                break;

            case WM_DESTROY:
                {
                    PostQuitMessage(0);
                }
                wasHandled = true;
                result = 1;
                break;
            }
        }

        if (!wasHandled)
        {
            result = DefWindowProc(hwnd, message, wParam, lParam);
        }
    }

    return result;


Related topics

About Combo Boxes
ComboBox Control Reference
Using Combo Boxes
ComboBox

 

 

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