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SandBar
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SandBar Features in Depth
Specifications
 

Operating Systems

  • Windows 98, ME
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP, 2003
  • Windows Vista, 2008
  • Windows 7

Development Environments

  • Visual Studio 2005
  • Visual Studio 2008
  • Visual Studio 2010
 

SandBar has a robust set of features, all geared to help the developer create the perfect toolbar/menuing system. Most of its features are highly customisable and extensible.

Toolbars

  • Can be standalone in any container or part of a SandBar layout to allow docking and floating.
  • Can be docked at any orientation, allowing for vertical button layout.
  • Support imagelists, direct icon assignment or direct image assignment.
  • The user's chosen layout can easily be persisted to and restored from a file.
  • Any control can be hosted on a toolbar by extending base classes.
  • All text is fully localisable.
  • Right-to-left layout is fully supported for languages such as Hebrew or Arabic.
  • ContainerBars extend the toolbar to give the Office task pane look and feel.
  • StatusBars extend the toolbar to give specialised statusbar appearance and functionality.
  • Easy linking of toolbar items to menu items removes the need to write code to handle toolbar button activation.
  • Automatic toolbar conversion can convert your standard .net toolbars to SandBar toolbars.
  • In-situ editing of toolbar items at design time including drag-and-drop and clipboard support.

Menuing

  • Supports smooth animations including slide, fade and unfold.
  • Support imagelists, direct icon assignment or direct image assignment.
  • Completely proprietary menu system allows docking, floating and even hosted controls.
  • Any top-level menu item can be used as a context menu on any control.
  • Optional automatic MDI window list functionality.
  • Optional automatic menu merging functionality.
  • Little-used items can be initially hidden until the user clicks a chevron button.
  • Right-to-left layout is fully supported for languages such as Hebrew or Arabic.
  • Shortcut pairs are supported for advanced editing operations (e.g. Ctrl+K, Ctrl-C).
  • Automatic menu conversion can convert your standard .net menus to SandBar menus.
  • Advanced menu designers allow you to design and configure your menu system visually.

Look and Feel

  • Pluggable renderer system allows complete control over drawing of all toolbar and menu items.
  • Includes renderers to mimic Office XP, Office 2003 and Visual Studio 2005.
  • Other renderers are available for download from this site.

Flexible Layout System

SandBar includes a powerful layout engine which allows you to give your users maximum flexibility when customising your applications. SandBar uses this layout engine to power its various controls, including toolbars, menus, statusbars and containerbars. These controls can be docked to any location in your container or floated at any location on the screen. Docked bars can sit next to other bars and slide in to position automatically when the layout changes. They can optionally stretch to fill available space on their row.

As well as being movable, bars can also be torn off the sides of the form in to a floating state. They then stay hovering above your form, visible when the form is active, until the user drags them back in to a container or changes their position. While floating, a toolbar can be resized; items wrap intelligently to fit in the layout space available. Persisting the toolbar layouts configured by your users is made easy with two simple functions, which can optionally persist the visible states of all the buttons on the toolbar.

"Action Buttons" at the end of each toolbar provide access to any buttons that are hidden due to space constraints, and also allow the user to turn buttons on and off at will.

When short of space, buttons are either hidden and accessed via a "chevron" that appears in the actions button on the end of a toolbar, or wrapped to the next line. Five different levels of importance can be applied to toolbar items, and those that are least important can be hidden first when space gets tight.

The SandBar menuing system can be heavily customised and extended by the developer. For instance, you may want a popup menu that looks different from standard menus in order to better present a specific set of options. An example of this is the dropdown colour selection tool in Microsoft Word, which shows many options on one row as well as an option to choose a custom colour. An example of writing a custom menu is provided with the SandBar demonstration application.


Task Panes

Container bars are specially extended toolbars with a different layout engine, that allow controls to be safely hosted and designed within the confines of a SandBar toolbar. Although you can put any control in a container bar they are designed to offer the same look and feel as the Microsoft Office "Task Panes".

The best way to understand container bars is to think of them as ordinary toolbars with a slightly different look and layout. Differences in container bars are outlined below.

  • A titlebar separate from toolbar buttons shows the toolbar text, as well as optionally a gripper, actions button and close button. The visibility of the buttons depends on context. The titlebar changes appearance to reflect when the container bar contains the focus.
  • A "client area" where child controls are placed. This is actually another control designed specifically for this purpose and is added seamlessly by the designer when adding a container bar.
  • Resize handles. Container bars have a thin margin where it is possible to drag the sides to increase or decrease the size of the bar, depending on which side of the toolbar layout system it is docked.
  • The toolbar itself. This is relegated to a small area just underneath the titlebar and is drawn with a different appearance to normal toolbars. This is most noticable with the Office 2003 Renderer, shown on the right.

Container bars retain all the design-time functionality of normal toolbars. The toolbar itself, although just under the titlebar and drawn differently, allows the same selection and manipulation of its buttons. You can still click the actions button to add buttons.


Localization

All instances of English text in SandBar can be localised to any language.

SandBar is one of the only toolbar/menu libraries to support right-to-left menu layout for languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. Shown right is a SandBar layout mimicing the Arabic version of Microsoft Word with the Edit menu open.

Because the same advanced layout engine is shared between all bars, you can choose to make toolbars and statusbars right-to-left aware as well as just menus.


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