The Workspace for WindowForms

Nuget Package:

PM> Install-Package HBD.WinForms.Shell


This post, I would like to share my Winforms Shell application, that provides the core foundation for the Winforms application. With this foundation, it can be load the external modules from the pre-defined folders when it started. So that you can add-in and maintenance the modules easily.

How does it work?

This Shell application had been developed based on HBD.Mef library to loading and executing external modules when it starts. For more information about HBD.Mef you can found in here.

Build-In Services

In this Shell there are a few services had been developed and exposed into Mef that helps you to interact with the Shell component. 1. The IMainMenuService will help to add Menu Item into the Menu-bar of Main window.

Menu Bar

  1. The IStatusBarService will help to set the status into the Status-Bar of Main window.

Status Bar

  1. The IMainViewService will help to interact with Tab Manager of the Main window. That allow to add/remove UserControl into TabManager.

Tab Manager

  1. The NavigationManager will provide the details in the below section. # Quick Start – Develop a new module for HBD.WinForms.Shell

1. Add New Module

  • Open Visual Studio and create a new Class Library project example project name is Demo.Module.
  • Install the latest version of HBD.WinForms.Shell from Nuget.
  • Add new class named StartupDemoModule and inherited from HBD.Mef.WinForms.Modularity.WinFormModuleBaseand  then implement 2 abstract methods (GetStartUpViewTypes and MenuConfiguration(IMainMenuService menuSet)) as below. Remember to add the ModuleExport attribute into your StartupDemoModule class.
  • Add 2 new User Controls Named View1 and View2 as below.

Demo Module Views

  • On each view overwrite the Text property and return the View Title and add the Export attribute as below.

2. Setup Publish Shell folder.

  • Copy folder [Solution Directory]\packages\HBD.WinForms.Shell\tools\WinForms.Shell to [Solution Directory]\Publish\WinForms.Shell 

3. Update project’s properties.

  • Right click on the project select Properties
  • Add below code into Post-build event
  • Set Start external program under Debug to Publish\WinForms.Shell\HBD.WinForms.Shell.exe
  • And set Working directory to Publish\WinForms.Shell folder.

Demo Module Debug

4. Add Module config and Debug your module.

  • Add a new Module_Demo.json file with the following content.
  • Set Build action of this config file as below

Demo Module Json

  • Run your module the Shell application will display as below.

Demo Shell

Navigation between the Views.

From version 1.0.1 a new interface had been added into HBD.Mef.WinForms.Common to provide the communication channel between the views. So that the view and navigate to the other view with the parameters.

1. Implementation.

If your view wants to be navigated from the other view you need to implement the INavigationAware interface and handle OnNavigatedTo(WinformNavigationContext navigationContext) method, This method will be called when navigating from the other view.

  • The interface
  • The view implementation

2. Using NavigationManager

The sample code below will handle the button event and navigate to the other view

Navigation Manager

When running the application and click the button. View2 will be open and display the message was passed from View1.

3. Recommendation

There are 2 base classes had been provided in HBD.Mef.WinForms for your Forms and Views. So that when you create a new Form or View, it can be inherited from this form instead.

  • The FormBase
  • The ViewBase
  • The Form implementation
  • The View implementation

Demo.Module source code

You can download the Demo.Module source code here in Github

Hope this Shell will help you to develop a plugin-able application faster and easier. Your feedback and ideas are much appreciated. Please feel free to drop me an email with your opinion.Nuget Dependences