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Although you can build a Windows application using any text editor, there s really no point. As you ve already seen, Visual Studio increases your productivity, and integrates an editor, compiler, test environment, and debugger into a single work environment. Few serious .NET developers build commercial applications outside Visual Studio. We ll get to the full-blown example for this chapter very shortly, but first you ll start off with a simple Windows application. Open Visual Studio and choose File New Project, or select the Create: Project link on the Start page. In the New Project window, select Windows Forms Application (instead of the console application you ve been using up until now). Create a new C# Windows application and name it Learning CSharp Windows Forms, as shown in Figure 18-1. You may name the project anything you like, and the name can include spaces, as shown, but no special characters other than the hyphen and underscore, which is why we ve spelled out the # symbol.
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We created the project in this chapter using Visual C# 2008 Express. If you re using the full version of Visual Studio 2008, your screens will look different. Everything will still work, but Visual Studio has more options, so you may need to look around a bit to find the ones we use here.
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Visual Studio responds by creating a Windows Forms application and, best of all, putting you into a design environment. This is the visual environment we were talking about earlier, and this is where you ll create your application. The Design window displays a blank Windows form (Form1). Select View Toolbox or press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-W, then X to display the Toolbox, because you ll need it in a minute. Then select View Properties Window (or press Ctrl-W, P) to bring up the Properties window as well. You may need to drag the Properties window to its traditional place on the lower right, docking it there as we showed you in 2.
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Before proceeding, take a look around your environment, as shown in Figure 18-2. The Toolbox, on the left side of the screen, is filled with controls that you can add to your Windows Forms application, simply by dragging and dropping them onto the form. In the upper-right corner, you should see the Solution Explorer, a window that displays all the files in your projects (if not, click View Solution Explorer). From this point on, your applications will consist of multiple files. Already you can see the familiar Program.cs in the Solution Explorer, but you re looking at Form1.cs right now. The Solution Explorer helps you switch from one file to another. In the lowerright corner is the Properties window. Each of your controls is actually a class, and like any class, there are a number of internal members, called properties. Instead of reading the code in an editor window, as you re used to, you can view and set the properties straight from the Properties window. Time to check that part out. Click on a label in the Toolbox, and then drag it onto the form. You ll see some guide lines that indicate where on the form the label will go, but it doesn t really matter where you put it for this example. Also notice that the label gives itself a name, label1. The purpose of this name is to distinguish this label
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18: Creating Windows Applications
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from any other labels you add to the page, although you re free to change it to a more meaningful name. In fact, meaningful names are good practice, and we ll use them in the file-copier example later in the chapter, but label1 will do for this example. Click on the label, and its properties will appear in the Properties window, as shown in Figure 18-3. You ll notice that there are a lot of properties, most having to do with format and appearance. That makes sense; this is a label, after all. To add text to label1, you edit its Text property. Scroll up or down until you can see the Text property for label1. Then click in the space next to the word Text, and type in Hello World . As soon as you finish typing and click somewhere else, the text of label1 on the form changes to Hello World . Now change the font for the lettering in the HelloWorld label. Scroll up or down until you find the Font property, then click the + sign next to the property to expand it. Then click on the ellipsis next to the Font property to open the Font editor, as shown in Figure 18-4. Play around with the formatting as much as you like, then click OK to accept your changes, or else Cancel. A label is nice and visual, but it doesn t do much by itself. From the Toolbox, drag a button control onto the form, somewhere near your label. Click on the button to access its properties in the Properties window, and change its Text property to Cancel. You can always tell which control s properties you re looking at by checking the drop-down box at the top of the Properties window.
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