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The DockPanel layout
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for the buttons. It wouldn t be easy, but it would be possible. In the next section, we will talk about the DockPanel. The DockPanel can be used to solve some of the same problems but in a different way. As with the StackPanel, the DockPanel, while flexible, is designed to handle a different set of scenarios.
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The DockPanel layout
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A DockPanel is useful when you want to position various elements on the edges of your window. For example, you might put a menu and a toolbar at the top, an explorer bar at the left, and a status bar at the bottom. The remaining space would contain the main content with which the user interacts. As with a StackPanel, if you put a series of items on the same side, they will stack one after the other. In fact, if you add all the items at the top or the left, the behavior will be similar to that of a StackPanel. Similar but not identical. The big difference is that a StackPanel keeps taking up space as you add more items (the reason we added a scrollbar), whereas a DockPanel tries to constrain all its content in the available space. Figure 4.20 shows what happens when we take some of the content from the example StackPanel and put it into a DockPanel, but with everything docked to the top. Notice that the Sixth button has been expanded to fill the remaining available space. By Figure 4.20 By default, a DockPanel default, the last control always takes up all the tries to use up the available space. remaining space, although you could change that behavior by setting the LastChildFill property:
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<DockPanel LastChildFill="False">
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If LastChildFill is turned off (it defaults to True), then the last control is docked like any other control, and nothing fills any remaining space. If you do this and then set the Sixth button to be docked to the top, then the result would look similar to a StackPanel; but, if you want that type of behavior, the StackPanel is obviously a better fit. Also, notice that the properties we d set previously for some of the controls are applied on the DockPanel as well properties such as Width, Padding, and HorizontalAlignment. Of course, the more common use of a DockPanel is to lay out a number of different controls on different edges of the screen, as seen in figure 4.21. If you were brave, you could probably emulate all this docking with the use of a series of nested StackPanels, but the DockPanel is rather more appropriate. Let s see how all of this is defined.
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Docked Top
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Docked Left
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Docked Bottom
Figure 4.21 A DockPanel with items docked to most sides and a control in the remaining space
Defining a DockPanel in XAML Listing 4.10 contains the XAML for the layout shown in figure 4.21. We can either manually type the XAML or use the editor, although we d have to clear some properties that the editor puts into place.
Listing 4.10 XAML for a DockPanel with a number of real-looking controls
<DockPanel x:Name="dockPanel1"> <Menu DockPanel.Dock="Top"> Docks menu <MenuItem Header="_File"/> at top <MenuItem Header="_Edit"/> <MenuItem Header="_Help"/> </Menu> <ToolBarTray Background="White" DockPanel.Dock="Top"> <ToolBar Band="1" BandIndex="1"> Toolbar tray <Button>A</Button> holds toolbar <Button>B</Button> <Separator/> <Button>C</Button> </ToolBar> Docks status </ToolBarTray> bar at bottom <StatusBar DockPanel.Dock="Bottom"> <StatusBarItem> <TextBlock>Ready</TextBlock> </StatusBarItem> StackPanel with several </StatusBar> expanders on left <StackPanel DockPanel.Dock="Left"> <Expander Header="Useful"> <StackPanel> <Button>Don't</Button> <Button>Press</Button> <Button>Me!</Button> </StackPanel> </Expander>
Docked top
The DockPanel layout
<Expander Header="Less useful"></Expander> <Expander Header="Silly"></Expander> Control takes up remaining </StackPanel> space and isn t docked <Button Padding="10 10"> <TextBlock TextWrapping="Wrap" TextAlignment="Center">This is all of the remaining space that is not docked</TextBlock> </Button> </DockPanel>
Once again, we re setting properties on the controls that don t belong to the controls themselves, but are used by the parent:
DockPanel.Dock="Top"
Dock is also an attached property, as we talked about when discussing the Canvas in section 4.2.3, and can be set to Top, Bottom, Left, or Right. The order in which the con-
trols are listed is also important. For example, if we put the status bar after the StackPanel on the left that s designed to look like an explorer bar, we d get a result like that in figure 4.22. See how the status bar no longer goes all the way across the bottom. WPF has some nice support for menus, toolbars, and the like. We ll see much more of this in chapter 10. We can also add items to a DockPanel programmatically.
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