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Develop with the Windows Ribbon, Part 1 273
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Galleries provide Live Preview. To see Live Preview in action, select a shape from the Shapes gallery and draw it. Leave the shape selected. Select a color by clicking on one of the colors in the Color gallery, and then click the Fill button. On the drop-down menu that appears, hover your mouse cursor over the various fill options. Can you see how the filling for the selected shape changes as you do this Now choose one of the filling options to actually apply the change.
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Programming with the Windows Ribbon Framework
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The first impression you might have is that a Ribbon is a container for regular user32-based controls, but it is not. The Office team wanted to make sure that other Ribbon implementations adhere to the Office Fluent UI guideline, so they took a legal-based approach. The Windows team, on the other hand, decided to make sure that the user follows the guideline by making it hard (or impossible) to break the rules. The Windows Ribbon is rich, with many control types and many group layouts and sizing policies. But it is not flexible. You cannot put your own control or owner draw controls in the Ribbon. You can choose the pictures for the icons, or you can use galleries with your images. For Windows, the Ribbon is one control2. Using Spy++, you find that the main Ribbon has a Windows class named "NetUIHWND" and that it has no child windows. Figure 11-5 shows the Spy++ output for the main Ribbon window (control).
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For drop-down elements such as menus and galleries the Ribbon framework uses more user32 controls
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274 Introducing Windows 7 for Developers
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Figure 11-5 The one user32 HWND handle for all the ribbon controls.
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Figure 11-6 shows the Windows relationship of the main Ribbon window.
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Figure 11-6 The Ribbon has no child window.
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If you re familiar with programming user interfaces, you know that working with the bare user32 APIs is hard, mainly because you have to deal with many tiny details. Think about the CreateWindow() API compared to creating CWnd in MFC, Form in WinForms, or Windows in WPF. To simplify UI programming, we want and need a UI framework. The Windows Ribbon Framework team decided that this is a good opportunity to change not just the way the user interacts with the application, but also the way the native developer interacts with the UI APIs. They have created a new UI framework that is based on the concept of separating the UI from code.
Develop with the Windows Ribbon, Part 1 275
Using declarative programming is not a new approach. WPF, Silverlight, and Media Center Markup Language are all following it. In this approach, the UI content, layout, and even UI behavior is scripted using an XML-based language, while the command execution logic is written in a code-behind file using an imperative programming language. In WPF and Silverlight, the UI is written using XAML and the code-behind file is written usually in C# or Visual Basic .NET. In the Windows Ribbon UI framework, the UI is scripted using XML with XAML-like syntax and the code-behind file is written using C/C++ and COM.
You can argue that the separation of the UI and code is not new to native code. Dialog templates can be used with user32 APIs without any framework such as MFC. The dialog template defines the controls and the layout of the dialog, while in runtime the DialogBoxParams() API loads it and uses the dialog with code-behind file approach. However, dialog templates are not based on XML and do not contain UI behavior, just a static layout of user32 controls.
To use the Ribbon UI, the XML file has to be compiled to a binary file. The compiled binary file needs to be embedded as a Win32 resource in one of the application modules. You ll see how to do it soon, but first let s look at XML.
The Ribbon markup language is somewhat similar to XAML: it looks the same, but it does not have all the XAML extensions. What it does have in common with XAML is the ability to use property element syntax. Property elements are a way to declare XML attributes outside the tag declaration. For example, these two XML snippets have the same meaning: