VB6 Tip: Give users more options by generating an auto-OK dialog box

Using this timed-response technique, you can give your users the option of changing program defaults or letting the program run with the established defaults.

With some programs, it may be desirable to let them run unattended. But what if you want to give the user the option of changing program defaults, or letting the program run on its own using the defaults?

One way to do this is to use what I call auto-OK dialog boxes. As the program runs, the dialog box pops up to let the user change options if desired. If the user doesn't respond within a certain time, the dialog box closes itself and the program continues.

I'll demonstrate how you can create this kind of dialog box. This technique is based on the Timer control and is accomplished this way:

  • Place a timer on the form with its Interval property set to 1000 (1 second).
  • In the form's Load event procedure, initialize a Time Remaining variable to the total number of seconds the dialog box should remain open. At the same time, set the Timer control's Enabled property to True so that it starts running.
  • In the Timer control's Timer event procedure, decrement the Time Remaining variable by 1. Optionally, you can display the time remaining on the dialog box.
  • When the Time Remaining variable reaches zero, call the Click event procedure for the form's OK button or equivalent, closing the form and continuing program execution.

Here's some sample code. At the form level, declare the following:

Dim TimeLeftAs Integer

Here's the form's Load event procedure:

Private Sub Form_Load()

Timer1.Interval = 1000
Timer1.Enabled = True

End Sub

Here's the Timer event procedure:

Private Sub Timer1_Timer()

TimeLeft = TimeLeft - 1
lblTimeRemaining.Caption = TimeLeft
If TimeLeft = 0 Then
    Timer1.Enabled = False
    Call OKButton_Click
End If

End Sub

In this example, the form's OK button is named OKButton. The code in the OK Button's event procedure, which isn't included here, will take whatever actions are required to close the dialog box and continue program execution.

An optional feature would be to use the Change event procedure of any controls on the form to turn the timer off. This cancels the countdown if the user makes any changes to the options that are presented on the form.

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