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Module 7:

Menus, Keyboard Accelerators, the Rich Edit Control, and Property Sheets – Part 1





Program examples compiled using Visual C++ 6.0 (MFC 6.0) compiler on Windows XP Pro machine with Service Pack 2. Topics and sub topics for this Tutorial are listed below:

  1. The Document View Architecture

  2. Menus, Keyboard Accelerators, the Rich Edit Control, and Property Sheets

  3. The Main Frame Window and Document Classes

  4. Windows Menus

  5. Keyboard Accelerators

  6. Command Processing

  7. Command Message Handling in Derived Classes

  8. Update Command User Interface Handlers

  9. Commands That Originate in Dialogs

  10. The Application Framework's Built-In Menu Items

  11. Enabling/Disabling Menu Items

  12. MFC Text Editing Options

  13. The CEditView Class

  14. The CRichEditView Class

  15. The CRichEditCtrl Class


The Document View Architecture


Menus, Keyboard Accelerators, the Rich Edit Control and Property Sheets


In all the book's examples to this point, mouse clicks have triggered most program activity. Even though menu selections might have been more appropriate, you've used mouse clicks because mouse-click messages are handled simply and directly within the MFC Library version 6.0 view window. If you want program activity to be triggered when the user chooses a command from a menu, you must first become familiar with the other application framework elements.

This module concentrates on menus and the command routing architecture. Along the way, we introduce frames and documents, explaining the relationships between these new application framework elements and the already familiar view element. You'll use the menu editor to lay out a menu visually, and you'll use ClassWizard to link document and view member functions to menu items. You'll learn how to use special update command user interface (UI) member functions to check and disable menu items, and you'll see how to use keyboard accelerators as menu shortcut keys.

Because you're probably tired of circles and dialogs, next you'll examine two new MFC building blocks. The rich edit common control can add powerful text editing features to your application. Property sheets are ideal for setting edit options.


The Main Frame Window and Document Classes


Up to now, you've been using a view window as if it were the application's only window. In an SDI application, the view window sits inside another window: the application's main frame window. The main frame window has the title bar and the menu bar. Various child windows, including the toolbar window, the view window, and the status bar window, occupy the main frame window's client area, as shown in Figure 2 and Figure 1 is a WordPad, provided as a comparison. The application framework controls the interaction between the frame and the view by routing messages from the frame to the view.


WordPad as a real application.


Figure 1: WordPad as a real application.


The child windows within an SDI main frame window.


Figure 2: The child windows within an SDI main frame window.


Look again at any project files generated by AppWizard. The MainFrm.h and MainFrm.cpp files contain the code for the application's main frame window class, derived from the class CFrameWnd. Other files, with names such as MymfcproDoc.h and MymfcproDoc.cpp, contain code for the application's document class, which is derived from CDocument. In this module you'll begin working with the MFC document class. You'll start by learning that each view object has exactly one document object attached and that the view's inherited GetDocument() member function returns a pointer to that object.


Windows Menus


A Microsoft Windows menu is a familiar application element that consists of a top-level horizontal list of items with associated pop-up menus that appear when the user selects a top-level item. Most of the time, you define for a frame window a default menu resource that loads when the window is created. You can also define a menu resource independent of a frame window. In that case, your program must call the functions necessary to load and activate the menu.

A menu resource completely defines the initial appearance of a menu. Menu items can be grayed or have check marks, and bars can separate groups of menu items. Multiple levels of pop-up menus are possible. If a first-level menu item is associated with a subsidiary pop-up menu, the menu item carries a right-pointing arrow symbol, as shown next to the Start Debug menu item in Figure 3.








Multilevel pop-up menus example (from Microsoft Visual C++).


Figure 3: Multilevel pop-up menus example (from Microsoft Visual C++).


Visual C++ includes an easy-to-use menu-resource editing tool. This tool lets you edit menus in a wysiwyg environment. Each menu item has a properties dialog that defines all the characteristics of that item. The resulting resource definition is stored in the application's resource script (RC) file. Each menu item is associated with an ID, such as ID_FILE_OPEN, that is defined in the resource.h file.

The MFC library extends the functionality of the standard menus for Windows. Each menu item can have a prompt string that appears in the frame's status bar when the item is highlighted. These prompts are really Windows string resource elements linked to the menu item by a common ID. From the point of view of the menu editor and your program, the prompts appear to be part of the menu item definition.


Keyboard Accelerators


You've probably noticed that most menu items contain an underlined letter. In Visual C++ (and most other applications), pressing Alt-F followed by S activates the File Save menu item. This shortcut system is the standard Windows method of using the keyboard to choose commands from menus. If you look at an application's menu resource script (or the menu editor's properties dialog), you will see an ampersand (&) preceding the character that is underlined in each of the application's menu items.

Windows offers an alternative way of linking keystrokes to menu items. The keyboard accelerator resource consists of a table of key combinations with associated command IDs. The Edit Copy menu item (with command ID ID_EDIT_COPY), for example, might be linked to the Ctrl-C key combination through a keyboard accelerator entry. A keyboard accelerator entry does not have to be associated with a menu item. If no Edit Copy menu item were present, the Ctrl-C key combination would nevertheless activate the ID_EDIT_COPY command.


Command Processing


The MFC application framework provides a sophisticated routing system for command messages. These messages originate from menu selections, keyboard accelerators, and toolbar and dialog button clicks. Command messages can also be sent by calls to the CWnd::SendMessage or PostMessage() function. Each message is identified by a #define constant that is often assigned by a resource editor. The application framework has its own set of internal command message IDs, such as ID_FILE_PRINT and ID_FILE_OPEN. Your project's resource.h file contains IDs that are unique to your application.

Most command messages originate in the application's frame window, and without the application framework in the picture, that's where you would put the message handlers. With command routing, however, you can handle a message almost anywhere. When the application framework sees a frame window command message, it starts looking for message handlers in one of the sequences listed here.


SDI Application

MDI Application





SDI main frame window

MDI child frame window


MDI main frame window Application


Table 1: SDI vs MDI.


Most applications have a particular command handler in only one class, but suppose your one-view application has an identical handler in both the view class and the document class. Because the view is higher in the command route, only the view's command handler function will be called.

What is needed to install a command handler function? The installation requirements are similar to those of the window message handlers you've already seen. You need the function itself, a corresponding message map entry, and the function prototype. Suppose you have a menu item named Zoom (with IDM_ZOOM as the associated ID) that you want your view class to handle. First you add the following code to your view implementation file:






void CMyView::OnZoom()


    // command message processing code



Now add the following function prototype to the CMyView class header file (before the DECLARE_MESSAGE_MAP macro):


afx_msg void OnZoom();


Of course, ClassWizard automates the process of inserting command message handlers the same way it facilitates the insertion of window message handlers. You'll learn how this works in the next example, MYMFCPRO.


Command Message Handling in Derived Classes


The command routing system is one dimension of command message handling. The class hierarchy is a second dimension. If you look at the source code for the MFC library classes, you'll see lots of ON_COMMAND message map entries. When you derive a class from one of these base classes, for example, CView, the derived class inherits all the CView message map functions, including the command message functions. To override one of the base class message map functions, you must add both a function and a message map entry to your derived class.


Update Command User Interface Handlers


You often need to change the appearance of a menu item to match the internal state of your application. If your application's Edit menu includes a Clear All item, for example, you might want to disable that item if there's nothing to clear. You've undoubtedly seen such grayed menu items in Windows-based applications, and you've probably also seen check marks next to menu items.

The MFC library takes a different approach by calling a special update command user interface (UI) handler function whenever a pop-up menu is first displayed. The handler function's argument is a CCmdUI object, which contains a pointer to the corresponding menu item. The handler function can then use this pointer to modify the menu item's appearance. Update command UI handlers apply only to items on pop-up menus, not to top-level menu items that are permanently displayed. You can't use an update command UI handler to disable a File menu item, for example.

The update command UI coding requirements are similar to those for commands. You need the function itself, a special message map entry, and of course the prototype. The associated ID, in this case, IDM_ZOOM, is the same constant used for the command. Here is an example of the necessary additions to the view class code file:






void CMyView::OnUpdateZoom(CCmdUI* pCmdUI)


    pCmdUI->SetCheck(m_bZoomed); // m_bZoomed is a class data member



Here is the function prototype that you must add to the class header (before the DECLARE_MESSAGE_MAP macro):


afx_msg void OnUpdateZoom(CCmdUI* pCmdUI);


Needless to say, ClassWizard automates the process of inserting update command UI handlers.


Commands That Originate in Dialogs


Suppose you have a pop-up dialog with buttons, and you want a particular button to send a command message. Command IDs must be in the range 0x8000 to 0xDFFF, the same ID range that the resource editor uses for your menu items. If you assign an ID in this range to a dialog button, the button will generate a routable command. The application framework first routes this command to the main frame window because the frame window owns all pop-up dialogs. The command routing then proceeds normally; if your view has a handler for the button's command, that's where it will be handled. To ensure that the ID is in the range 0x8000 to 0xDFFF, you must use Visual C++'s symbol editor to enter the ID prior to assigning the ID to a button.


The Application Framework's Built-In Menu Items


You don't have to start each frame menu from scratch; the MFC library defines some useful menu items for you, along with all the command handler functions, as shown in Figure 4.








The standard SDI frame menus.


Figure 4: The standard SDI frame menus.


The menu items and command message handlers that you get depend on the options you choose in AppWizard. If you de-select Printing and Print Preview, for example, the Print and Print Preview menu items don't appear. Because printing is optional, the message map entries are not defined in the CView class but are generated in your derived view class. That's why entries such as the following are defined in the CMyView class instead of in the CView class:





Enabling/Disabling Menu Items


The application framework can disable a menu item if it does not find a command message handler in the current command route. This feature saves you the trouble of having to write ON_UPDATE_COMMAND_UI handlers. You can disable the feature if you set the CFrameWnd data member m_bAutoMenuEnable to FALSE.

Suppose you have two views for one document, but only the first view class has a message handler for the IDM_ZOOM command. The Zoom item on the frame menu will be enabled only when the first view is active. Or consider the application framework-supplied Edit, Cut, Copy, and Paste menu items. These will be disabled if you have not provided message handlers in your derived view or document class.


MFC Text Editing Options


Windows itself supplies two text editing tools: edit control and Windows rich edit common control. Both can be used as controls within dialogs, but both can also be made to look like view windows. The MFC library supports this versatility with the CEditView and CRichEditView classes.


The CEditView Class


This class is based on the Windows edit control, so it inherits all the edit control's limitations. Text size is limited to 64 KB, and you can't mix fonts. AppWizard gives you the option of making CEditView the base class of your view class. When the framework gives you an edit view object, it has all the functionality of both CView and CEdit. There's no multiple inheritance here, just some magic that involves window sub-classing. The CEditView class implements and maps the clipboard cut, copy, and paste functions, so they appear active on the Edit menu.


The CRichEditView Class


This class uses the rich edit control, so it supports mixed formats and large quantities of text. The CRichEditView class is designed to be used with the CRichEditDoc and CRichEditCntrItem classes to implement a complete ActiveX container application.


The CRichEditCtrl Class


This class wraps the rich edit control, and you can use it to make a fairly decent text editor. That's exactly what we'll do in the MYMFCPRO example. We'll use an ordinary view class derived from CView, and we'll cover the view's client area with a big rich edit control that resizes itself when the view size changes. The CRichEditCtrl class has dozens of useful member functions, and it picks up other functions from its CWnd base class. The functions we'll use in this module are as follows.











Creates the rich edit control window (called from the parent's WM_CREATE handler)


Sets the size and position of the edit window (sizes the control to cover the view's client area)


Retrieves plain text from the control (other functions available to retrieve the text with rich text formatting codes)


Stores plain text in the control


Gets a flag that is TRUE if the text has been modified (text modified if the user types in the control or if the program calls SetModify(TRUE))


Sets the modify flag to TRUE or FALSE


Gets a flag that indicates whether the user has selected text


Sets the control's default format characteristics


Sets the format characteristics of the selected text


Table 1: Functions used in MYMFCPRO project.


If you use the dialog editor to add a rich edit control to a dialog resource, your application class InitInstance() member function must call the function AfxInitRichEdit().



Continue on next module...part 2.





Further reading and digging:

  1. MSDN MFC 7.0 class library online documentation.

  2. MSDN MFC 9.0 class library online documentation.

  3. Porting & Migrating your older programs.

  4. MSDN Library

  5. DCOM at MSDN.

  6. COM+ at MSDN.

  7. COM at MSDN.

  8. Windows data type.

  9. Win32 programming Tutorial.

  10. The best of C/C++, MFC, Windows and other related books.

  11. Microsoft Open Specification Documentation.

  12. Unicode and Multi-byte character set: Story and program examples.





| Tenouk C & C++ | MFC Home | Modeless Dialog & Windows Common Dialogs 2 | Menus, Key Acc., Rich Edit & Property Sheets 2 | Download | Site Index |