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Save programming time by utilizing VB6's layout tools

The task of positioning and sizing lots of controls into an efficient and easy-to-use form layout can be rather time-consuming. Peter Aitken explains how you can save a lot of programming time by taking advantage of VB6's form layout tools.

The ability to easily create complex and attractive forms is one of Visual Basic's strengths. Even so, the task of positioning and sizing lots of controls into an efficient and easy-to-use form layout can be rather time-consuming. By taking advantage of VB6's form layout tools, you can save a lot of time.

The most basic of these tools is the align to grid feature. By default, each VB form that you create displays a grid of dots on it. All controls that you place on the form automatically "snap" to this grid, both their position and size. This makes it a lot easier to align controls and make them the same size than if you had pixel-level control over their position and size. Using the Options dialog box (select Tools | Options and then click the General tab), you can control the size of the grid, specify whether it's displayed, and decide whether controls snap to it.

You can find other layout tools in the Format menu. Most of these tools require that you first select two or more controls. You can do so either by dragging a box around the controls or by clicking the controls while holding down the [Shift] key. When you select multiple controls, you'll notice that one of them displays black handles, while the others display white handles. VB uses the control with the black handles as the template for subsequent layout commands. These commands are:

  • Format | Align: aligns all selected controls to the template control either vertically or horizontally.
  • Format | Make Same Size: makes all selected controls the same size (width, height, or both) as the template control.
  • Format | Horizontal Spacing: lets you change, remove, or equalize the horizontal spacing between the selected controls.
  • Format | Vertical Spacing: lets you change, remove, or equalize the vertical spacing between the selected controls.

Once you get the hang of these layout commands, I think you'll find that your form design goes a lot faster.

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1 comments
xLoggr
xLoggr

with some minor modifications: Snap To Grid is now at Tools | Options, Windows Form Designer | General The control acting as template now has white handles instead of black. Also, see Center of Form and Order formatting options. Thanks for the article... never noticed these tools before.