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Exontrol Software - ExTab FAQ page

Frequently Asked Questions - ExTab Component

Listed below are the questions that we are asked quite often. Before you write us, be sure to check here. 

Are you looking for something?

Just press CTRL+F ( or select Tab\Find menu item ) and you have a dialog that will help you to locate the string that are you looking for.

Where can I find the control's release notes?

The control's release notes can be found on our web site, looking for the Release Notes column in the control's main page. Click here for direct link. 

How do I build my OWN tab?

The Exontrol Tab library installs the  TabBuilder component ( Exontrol.TabBuilder is the control's identifier ) that helps you to build new tab controls. Before showing how you can build your own tab control, we have to review for a bit how the TabBuilder can be used. If you already know how to use the TabBuilder component click here to see how to start your own tab control. 

  • If you are a VB developer, click the 'Toolbox' panel, and choose the 'Components'  from the panel's context menu. Once that you check and apply the 'ExTab 1.0 Control Library' from the opened dialog, your 'Toolbox' panel will include two new components: Tab and TabBuilder .
  • If you are a VC developer, select the dialog where you want to insert the component, select 'Insert ActiveX Control' from its context menu, and dbl click the 'ExTabBuilder ActiveX Control' item in the opened dialog. 

Once that you have inserted a TabBuilder component to a form or dialog, you are ready to build new tab controls. Of course, you can use the TabBuilder component to load and change already saved tab controls. When the form that contains a TabBuilder component is opened, the TabBuilder component automatically shows the 'Zoom' and 'Properties' panels. The 'Zoom' panel helps user to magnify different portions of the screen. The 'Properties' panel contains information like, background color, background picture for the selected object.

The TabBuilder component looks like following:

  The TabBuilder's toolbox contains the following buttons:

New Tab Creates a new file. 
Open Opens a file.
Save Saves the content to a file, or update the component when the builder was opened using 'Edit tab' context item menu. ''Save As , if you are pressing the 'Shift'  key while clicking the 'Save' button you can choose a new file where to save the tab's content.
Properties A check button that indicates whether the 'Properties' panel is visible or hidden. The 'Properties' panel holds information about background of the selected object. Also, the the 'Properties' panel contains the entire list of pictures used by the skin. Details here.
Zoom A check button that specifies whether the 'Zoom' panel is visible or hidden. You can use the 'Zoom' panel to magnify different portions of screen. In order to visualize a specified portion of the screen you can press "CTRL" key while moving the mouse, or you can click into the 'Zoom' window and drag the focused rectangle to the area being magnified.
Test A simple button that opens a new window where you can see the tab control in runtime mode. If you are doing changes to the tab's content you can click the Test button to see how the Tab control will act in runtime environment.
Lines A check button that indicates whether the TabBuilder draws the grid lines around different objects. The grid lines are not painted in the Tab control when it is running.
Alignment A set of six radio buttons that indicates the object's alignment relative to its parent. The list of radio buttons in their listed order is:  None, Left, Right, Client, Top and Bottom. For instance, if an object has the Left Alignment, that means that the object shares the left area of the parent with itself. The object's coordinates are defined in the edit controls labeled: X, Y, CX and CY. The edit controls that handle coordinates are enabled based on the object's alignment. For instance, if the object's alignment is left, only the CX coordinate will be enabled, or if the object's alignment is Client, then all coordinates are enabled. The coordinates are relative to the parent object, and they may contain arithmetic expressions, and % sign as well. 
New Object Creates a new child object. The newly created object is child of the selected object. By default, the newly created object has no picture or color associated to it. You have to define the object's background using the 'Properties' panel. You can also, insert a new child object whild TabBuilder is focused by pressing the 'Insert'  key.
Delete Deletes an object. Also, you can remove the selected object by pressing the 'Delete' key. Note, that some objects are not allowed to be deleted, because they define how the TAB control looks like.

The TabBuilder's client area shows the main objects that define a tab control like follows:

Area where the TAB control draws the pages of the Tab control. The area must define the looks for the FOCUS page as well for a NORMAL page. The TAB control uses the FOCUS page when painting the focused ( activated ) page of the tab control. The NORMAL page is used by the control when painting all other pages that are not focused or activated. The way how you define these objects is how your TAB control will look like. Important to note is that the FOCUS and NORMAL objects ( pages ) are separated by an object that defines the distance between pages. The distance is used by the TAB control when painting the pages. The width of this object may contain negative numbers as well, if you have some kind of overriding in your tab control.
The TAB's client area. The top and bottom borders define also the height of the overriding area when TAB is running. The way how you define this object is the way how the TAB's client area will look like in the runtime mode.

Notes:

  • the selected object is always marked using markers. 
  • any change in the 'Properties' panel will be reflected in the selected object.
  • use 'Up' key to select the parent of the selected object, while the TabBuilder is focused. 
  • use the 'Down' key to select the first child of the selected object, while the TabBuilder is focused.
  • use the 'Left' or 'Right' key to move through the objects that have the same parent as selected object.
  • you can change the order of the objects ( that have the same parent ) using combination of CTRL + PgUp or CTRL + PgDn key.

The 'Properties' panel is a resizable window that's visible only if the button is pressed. The caption of its window is 'Background'. The 'Properties' panel is always updated when the selected object is changed. The 'Properties' panel defines the list of pictures used by the skin. The 'Properties' panel looks like follows:

Use the Picture menu to insert, delete a picture object from the skin file. Note that all picture files are saved to the skin file ( tab file ), no matter if they are used or not. The TabBuilder compresses the file, so even if you are using a bitmap file or a gif file, the file of the tab will be compressed!  The 'Properties''s toolbox contains the following buttons ( in their order ):

A set of two radio buttons that defines the way how the picture is displayed on the selected object: tiled or stretched. 
A set of three radio buttons that defines the picture's transparency. If the first button is pressed, the picture is opaque, so no transparent colors are used. If the second button is pressed, the picture is transparent. No picture or background is applied to the selected object. If the third button is pressed, the last two buttons defines the transparent color from and transparent color to.  In order to select a new transparent color, you have to click on the one of the last two buttons and drag to the desired color. Once that you have selected a  transparency color, you have to presses the button again to apply the transparent color to the selected object. 
Defines a set of predefined colors. The X button clears the background color of the selected object. The bottom-right button ( bellow to X button ), helps user to add a custom color. How? Click the button and drag to desired color. Once that you have selected a custom color, you can presses the button again to apply the color to the selected object. 
The X, Y, CX, CY edit controls define the coordinates of the picture on the background of the selected object. 

Now, that we are ready to go, we will show you how to create a new TAB control that looks like follows using the TabBuilder component:

Run the form that contains the TabBuilder, and click the file new button in order to create a new tab file.

Step 1. Processing the picture. So, before starting we need to  work on the picture to eliminate all things that we don't need it, like texts, colors, tabs and so on. We used mspaint application, but you can use any image processing tool that you want. So, the template picture becomes:

 

We have used red color, because we want to use RED color as a transparent color, but you can pick up any color that you want. 

Step 2. Load the picture. Click the Picture menu on the 'Properties' panel, select the Add New menu item, and select the file saved to Step 1. Click the 'Open' button, and the TabBuiler will load the picture. Click the 'None' item in the 'Properties' panel, because the selected object is exactly the client area of the TAB control, and the picture is tiled on its background. We changed the main object's background color, using the 'Up' key until we reached the root object, and after that we have selected the menu color in the custom color button.  After all these your builder should look like follows:

 

Step 3. Building the FOCUS page. Now, we have to work on how the FOCUS page should look like. We will use the RED color as transparent color, and after we done the FOCUS object the builder should look like:

Step 3. Building the NORMAL page. Because in that case the FOCUS and NORMAL page look the same, we just do the same thing as we did for the FOCUSED page. SO, the next step should look like follows:

Step 4. Building the borders for the client area. The client area is designed like follows:

Step 4. Test. We are ready now to check our tab control. All that we need to do is to click the button, and we have now the:

 

Step 5. Correction and adjustments. As we can see the distance between pages is a bit larger, and we have a distortion on the top-left side. We are going to select the object between FOCUS and NORMAL pages and we have to set the distance to -2 like follows:

Finally our TAB control will look like follows:

Of course, between steps it is recommended saving the skin file, using the (save) button. Here's the simple.etb file that was obtained by doing the steps mentioned above.

How can I add at runtime a new control to my tab?

The Container property returns or sets the container of a control on a Form. By default, the control's container is the Form that hosts the control. The following sample adds the Command1 object to the active page of the exTab control:

Set Command1.Container = Tab1

How can I determine the control's client area?

The ClientLeft, ClientTop, ClientWidth and ClientHeight properties determines the position and the size of the control's client area. The client area of the exTab control cannot be changed at runtime. You can change the position and size of the client area by using the control's TAB editor ( select the "Edit tab" item from control's context menu, while it is design mode ).

How do I arrange all pages to fit the control's client area?

The TabAutoResize property specifies whether the control arranges the visible pages to fit the control's client area. 

Will exTab work on MS Access?

The exTab component requires a container that implements ISimpleFrameSite interface. Unfortunately, the VBA ( MS Access ) container doesn't support the ISimpleFrameSite interface. The ISimpleFrameSite interface handles simple frame controls ( exTab ) that act as simple containers for other nested controls. Some controls merely contain other controls. In such cases, the simple control container, called a simple frame, doesn't have to implement all container requirements. It can delegate most of the interface calls from its contained controls to the outer container that manages the simple frame.

The inside controls are not shown when the exTab is hosted by an UserControl. Is there something I can do?

You need to expose the ICLeft property in the UserControl object exactly like follows:
Public Property Let ICLeft(ByVal cn As String, ByVal newVal As Long)
    Controls(cn).Left = newVal
End Property

Public Property Get ICLeft(ByVal cn As String) As Long
    ICLeft = Controls(cn).Left
End Property 

The exTab component looks for the ICLeft property in the container, if it doesn't provide properties to export the inside controls. The Form object doesn't require such of method. The Form object exposes properties to access all inside controls.