Visual C++ and MFC Programming

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Tutorial 3 discusses MFC controls and their customization.

Microsoft Foundation Class Library

Tutorial 4 covers message maps, which let you handle events in MFC. Let's say you want to create a Windows application. You might, for example, need to create a specialized text or drawing editor, or a program that finds files on a large hard disk, or an application that lets a user visualize the interrelationships in a big data set. Where do you begin? A good starting place is the design of the user interface. First, decide what the user should be able to do with the program and then pick a set of user interface objects accordingly. The Windows user interface has a number of standard controls, such as buttons, menus, scroll bars, and lists, that are already familiar to Windows users.

Introduction to MFC Programming with Visual C++

With this in mind, the programmer must choose a set of controls and decide how they should be arranged on screen. A time-honored procedure is to make a rough sketch of the proposed user interface by tradition on a napkin or the back of an envelope and play with the elements until they feel right. For small projects, or for the early prototyping phase of a larger project, this is sufficient.


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The next step is to implement the code. It greatly reduces the amount of code that must be written to create a Windows program. MFC is portable, so that, for example, code created under Windows 3. MFC is therefore the preferred method for developing Windows applications and will be used throughout these tutorials.

Solution 1

When you use MFC, you write code that creates the necessary user interface controls and customizes their appearance. You also write code that responds when the user manipulates these controls. For example, if the user clicks a button, you want to have code in place that responds appropriately. It is this sort of event-handling code that will form the bulk of any application.

Once the application responds correctly to all of the available controls, it is finished. You can see from this discussion that the creation of a Windows program is a straightforward process when using MFC. The goal of these tutorials is to fill in the details and to show the techniques you can use to create professional applications as quickly as possible. The vocabulary used to talk about user interface features and software development in Windows is basic but unique. Here we review a few definitions to make discussion easier for those who are new to the environment. You can create these controls either in code or through a "resource editor" that can create dialogs and the controls inside of them.

In this set of tutorials we will examine how to create them in code.

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Windows supports several types of application windows. A typical application will live inside a "frame window". A frame window is a fully featured main window that the user can re-size, minimize, maximize to fill the screen, and so on. Windows also supports two types of dialog boxes: modal and modeless.

A modal dialog box, once on the screen, blocks input to the rest of the application until it is answered. A modeless dialog box can appear at the same time as the application and seems to "float above" it to keep from being overlaid. Windows also provides an organizing scheme called the Multiple Document Interface, or MDI for more complicated applications. The MDI system allows the user to view multiple documents at the same time within a single instance of an application.

For example, a text editor might allow the user to open multiple files simultaneously.

MFC Desktop Applications

When implemented with MDI, the application presents a large application window that can hold multiple sub-windows, each containing a document. The single main menu is held by the main application window and it applies to the top-most window held within the MDI frame. Individual windows can be iconified or expanded as desired within the MDI frame, or the entire MDI frame can be minimized into a single icon on the desktop.

The MDI interface gives the impression of a second desktop out on the desktop, and it goes a long way towards organizing and removing window clutter. Each application that you create will use its own unique set of controls, its own menu structure, and its own dialog boxes. A great deal of the effort that goes into creating any good application interface lies in the choice and organization of these interface objects. All window-based GUIs contain the same basic elements and all operate in the same way. On screen the user sees a group of windows, each of which contains controls, icons, objects and such that are manipulated with the mouse or the keyboard.

The interface objects seen by the user are the same from system to system: push buttons, scroll bars, icons, dialog boxes, pull down menus, etc.


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These interface objects all work the same way, although some have minor differences in their "look and feel. From a programmer's standpoint, the systems are all similar in concept, although they differ radically in their specifics. To create a GUI program, the programmer first puts all of the needed user interface controls into a window. For example, if the programmer is trying to create a simple program such as a Fahrenheit to Celsius converter, then the programmer selects user interface objects appropriate to the task and displays them on screen. In this example, the programmer might let the user enter a temperature in an editable text area, display the converted temperature in another un-editable text area, and let the user exit the program by clicking on a push-button labeled "quit".

As the user manipulates the application's controls, the program must respond appropriately. The responses are determined by the user's actions on the different controls using the mouse and the keyboard. Each user interface object on the screen will respond to events differently. For example, if the user clicks the Quit button, the button must update the screen appropriately, highlighting itself as necessary.

Then the program must respond by quitting. Normally the button manages its appearance itself, and the program in some way receives a message from the button that says, "The quit button was pressed. Do something about it. Windows follows this same general pattern.

Windows Programming/Microsoft Foundation Classes - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

In a typical application you will create a main window and place inside it different user interface controls. These controls are often referred to as child windows-each control is like a smaller and more specialized sub-window inside the main application window.


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As the application programmer, you manipulate the controls by sending messages via function calls, and they respond to user actions by sending messages back to your code. If you have never done any "event-driven" programming, then all of this may seem foreign to you. However, the event-driven style of programming is easy to understand. The exact details depend on the system and the level at which you are interfacing with it, but the basic concepts are similar. In an event-driven interface, the application paints several or many user interface objects such as buttons, text areas, and menus onto the screen.

Now the application waits-typically in a piece of code called an event loop-for the user to do something. The user can do anything to any of the objects on screen using either the mouse or the keyboard. The user might click one of the buttons, for example. The mouse click is called an event. Event driven systems define events for user actions such as mouse clicks and keystrokes, as well as for system activities such as screen updating.

At the lowest level of abstraction, you have to respond to each event in a fair amount of detail. This is the case when you are writing normal C code directly to the API. In such a scenario, you receive the mouse-click event in some sort of structure. Code in your event loop looks at different fields in the structure, determines which user interface object was affected, perhaps highlights the object in some way to give the user visual feedback, and then performs the appropriate action for that object and event.

When there are many objects on the screen the application becomes very large. It can take quite a bit of code simply to figure out which object was clicked and what to do about it. Fortunately, you can work at a much higher level of abstraction. In MFC, almost all these low-level implementation details are handled for you. If you want to place a user interface object on the screen, you create it with two lines of code. If the user clicks on a button, the button does everything needed to update its appearance on the screen and then calls a pre-arranged function in your program.

This function contains the code that implements the appropriate action for the button. MFC handles all the details for you: You create the button and tell it about a specific handler function, and it calls your function when the user presses it. Tutorial 4 shows you how to handle events using message maps. One of the best ways to begin understanding the structure and style of a typical MFC program is to enter, compile, and run a small example. The listing below contains a simple "hello world" program. If this is the first time you've seen this sort of program, it probably will not make a lot of sense initially.

Don't worry about that. We will examine the code in detail in the next tutorial. Click Finish to create new project.

MFC Dialog based app Visual C++ 2019

Figure 6. To be sure that the Class name is CbuttonDlg. Just click OK after all. Show in Figure 6. From the above picture we can see that in the Category it has two choice one is Value, another is Control. The difference is that Value is only saving the data in that member variable. Add code to OnButton1 for display the message after click the button.