Adding a Toolbar to a Form

 

Download the Toolbar icons needed for this tutorial

The toolbar is a very popular and much-used addition to a programme. It's difficult to think of a piece of software that doesn't make use of them. VB.NET lets you add toolbars to your forms, and the process is quite straightforward. Let's see how it's done:

Either start a new Windows project, or keep the one you currently have. To add a toolbar to the top of your form, expand the Toolbox and locate the ToolStrip control:

The Toolstrip control in VB NET

Double click the ToolStrip control, and it will be added to the top of your form:

A Toolstrip has been added to a VB NET form

You should also notice the ToolStrip object that appears at the bottom of the window:

The Toolstrip object

ToolStrips work by adding buttons and images to them. The button is then clicked, and an action performed.

Click on your ToolStrip to select it. In the property box for the ToolStrip, you'll notice that it has the default Name of ToolStrip1. We'll keep this Name. But locate the Items (Collection) property:

The Items property

Click the button with the three dots in it. This brings up the Items Collection Editor:

The Items Collection Editor

To add a new button to your ToolStrip, click the Add button at the top. The button appears in the Members box (ToolStripButton1):

ToolStripButton

Notice that the new button has its own list of properties, just to the right. To add an image to this new button, locate the Image property:

Properties of the ToolStripButton

Click the small button with the 3 dots in it to bring up the Select Resource box:

The Resources Dialogue Box

In the image above, we've selected "Project resource file", and then clicked the Import button. We then navigated to some Bitmap images and imported the five that you can see in the screenshot above (these are in the BITMAP folder that you download at the top of this tutorial). Click OK when you have imported some images. You will be returned to the Item Collection Editor. Click OK on this, as well. The ToolStrip on your form will then look like this:

images/vb_2010/aToolStrip2_p308.gif

The second of those images is a dropdown list of available ToolStrip options:

ToolStrip options

To add a new button to the toolstrip, click on Button from the drop down menu in the image above. A default button is added called ToolStripButton2. (The first button is called ToolStripButton1.)

Add a new button

To change the picture of the new button, locate the Image property in the properties area bottom right:

Image properties

Click the button with the three dots in it to bring up the Select Resource dialogue box again. Select Project resource file from the list, and choose a new icon:

Select Resource

The default button image will then change to the one you selected:

Button image changed

(If you wanted to, you could change the name of the button. Just delete ToolStripButton2 from the Name property and type a new one.).

Repeat the steps above to add more buttons to the toolstrip. It should then look something like ours:

More buttons added

There is, however, a problem with our toolstrip images: they all have an awful grey background. You can get rid of background colours on toolstrip images by changing the ImageTransparentColor property.

Make sure one of your buttons is selected. In the properties area in the bottom right, locate ImageTransparentColor. The default is Magenta. You can change this. Click inside the Magenta text box and press the delete key on your keyboard. Change Magenta to the numbers 192, 192, 192. (This is the RGB colour of our grey background. We got these numbers from image editing software.) Press the Enter key on your keyboard and these numbers will change to the named colour Silver:

Transparent Color

Change all the other colours on your toolstrip from Magenta to Silver. When you run your form again, it should look like this:

Button transparent backgrounds

Of course, if you click on the buttons nothing will happen. We need to write the code that gets them to work. We’ll do that now.

 

Coding For your Toolbar buttons

Double click your first ToolStripbutton to bring up the coding window. It should look like this:

VB NET coding window for a ToolStrip button

You can place any code you like, here. Try a message box, as in the image below:

A simple message activated from a toolbar button

Run your programme and click your ToolStrip button. You should see the message box display. In a real programme, however, the code would be the same code for a menu item - it's just shortcut, after all!

In the next part, you'll learn how to create multiple forms in a VB NET project.

 

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