Use PromptBox to get simple user input in Silverlight

When we create Silverlight application we will run into a situation where we need to get very simple input from a user apart from traditional ok or cancel. If you are after the simple ok or cancel then message box serve the purpose but if you need to get some kind of data from the user as simple as a number or a string, then we do not need to create popup window or child window in Silverlight if you are using component one controls.

Out of the box, component provides a user control called C1PromptBox which as the name suggests, prompt the user for an input and goes on it merry way without cluttering code with complicated code.

Let’s look at this with simple example;

C1PromptBox.Show(“Enter your age”, “Age prompt”, (s, r) =>
If (r ==MessageBoxResult.OK)
//age will be in s, parse the age out
// user pressed cancel

If you expect the last two line to execute after getting user input, then if condition has to be inside the C1PromoptBox.Show bot outside like the code shown

above. The proper way to write the code

In the above example, when the code executes it will prompt the small message box to enter the age and you parse or handle the value on the event user press ok button.

One thing we need to be mindful, the Show event is a delegate so if you have any instructions that need to execute after prompt is successful, it has to be inside the MessageBoxResult.OK condition not outside the show delegate since UI will take control back after show event is successful.

Here is a scenario;

  1. public void PromptAge()
  2. {
  3. int age = 0;
  4. C1PromptBox.Show(… get age);
  5. if (age <= 30)
  6. HandleLessThanThirtyAge();
  7. }

In the above example we are expecting the dialog to be shown for user to enter the age. After the user enters the age, line 05 gets control and executes HandlesLessThanThirtyAge method if the age is less than or equal to 30. But that is not how it works. When PromptAge executes, it execute prompt box and while it wait for user to enter something, the UI thread continues and executes 05 through so age will be always 0 and it never executes the method on 06. The reason for that is, the behavior on how to handle ok or cancel is delegate inside the prompt box. So for it work properly. ie, after user enters the ages, get the age and based on the age to execute the HandleLessThanThirtyAge, we need to move the if condition inside the PromptBox delegate itself as shown below

  1. public void PromptAge()
  2. {
  3. C1PromptBox.Show("msg", "prompt", (s, r) =>
  4. {
  5. if (r == MessageBoxResult.OK)
  6. {
  7. //parse age from s
  8. if (age <= 30)
  9. HandleLessThanThirtyAge()
  10. }
  11. };
  12. }
One of the feature missing in this is default value for the prompt, I requested this feature with Component One and it is schedule be part of their feature release. By providing most commonly used value as default value, we could save one key stoke for the user. Once the feature is available I will update this blog.

Creating Excel like grid in Silverlight – C1FlexGridBook

If you are developing a business application, you will run into a situation where the end users want to export the data to excel and do some work there and then import the sheet back to the application. This is very normal, the main reason the users ask for it because Silverlight does not have a grid which look and behaves like Excel. There are bunch of work around for this, but I really like the C1FlexGridBook control from Component One. This gird out of the box gives excel like look and feel with less amount of code. Some of the basic features like created tabbed sheet at the bottom of the control to look like worksheets in Excel and many more.

Lets see how to create a simple excel like grid using C1FlexGridBook. What we need to create is Component One dlls for


We need Excel, FlexGridBook and FlexGridBook.

So how do we go about adding the control. So in the XAML I created simple tag for C1FlexGridBook as follows


I am planning to create the columns in the code behind (I am trying figure out a problem so two birds with single stone). The data that I am binding is a collection of customers like the following


where the data structure is


When the page is navigated to the pages I create a customer collection like the following


Now all is left is to create the sheets and bind the data to the grid in each sheet. Here is where you have to be very careful. I would strongly recommend you to create skeleton sheets but do not creating individual grid with data binding, rather, you create the grid for the first and default sheet or the sheet the user wants to see. So here are the steps

Create the sheets with AddSheet and pass in the sheet name as the first parameter as shown below.


We also bound out collection to grid by doing that, the current grid associated with the sheet get the data from customers. We set the autogenerate to false since I have collection that I want to appear properly. So below create the dynamic columns on the fly


now the question is why would I need a cell template? Since the data is boolean I want to display a check box rather than textblock.


That’s it. Now if you would run the code you will see a result something like the following,


With very little code from control perspective, we got a grid which looks like excel. If you notice, it has following excel features out of the box

1. Row and Column numberings.

2. Office theme.

3. Fixed column heading for application.

4. Default Excel like filtering.

5. At the bottom, you see the sheets and also it comes with default behavior to let the user create new sheets.

6. Excel like navigation to move between sheets with forward and backward navigation button.

7. Navigate to first or last sheet with fast navigation.

8. If you have lot of sheets and want to navigate to a specific sheet, then right lick on the left or right navigation, it shows available sheets and just click on the sheet name you navigate to that sheet.

I really enjoyed working with this control. If you like it or would like to know more about this control send me a note.

Elegant way to create combo box in C1FlexGrid (Tip 8)

You are asked to create a Silverlight application to show a grid where one or more columns are combo boxes. This is a very common scenario. It can be very easily solved by creating a data edit template on the grid column and show a combo box, with a converter. There are lots of examples for this scenario, one in code project and another one in Manish blog. When I binged, there are lot of information in stack overflow. There is a much better solution if you are using Component One.

If you have component one, then we can remove all these data template, combo box and converters with simple property called Value Converter. Lets see the problem statement. We need to create a grid, with employee name and job title.


When you enter title in edit mode, it show available jobs like the following


Nothing special here, it is the standard combo box which shows all the available jobs for user to pick from. So how do we solve this problem using the special Value Converter?

Lets start from ViewModel this time. 

Code Snippet
  2. public List<Person> People
  3. {
  4.     get
  5.     {
  6.         List<Person> list = new List<Person>();
  7.         list.Add(new Person { ID = 1, Name = "Ajay", JobID = 1 });
  8.         list.Add(new Person { ID = 2, Name = "Jeeem", JobID = 2 });
  9.         return list;
  10.     }
  11. }

Nothing new in the view model, it is same as you would build a collection in any other program. How about View?

Code Snippet
  1. <c1:C1FlexGrid Name="_flex" ItemsSource="{Binding People}" AutoGenerateColumns="False">
  2.     <c1:C1FlexGrid.Columns>
  3.         <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Name}"/>
  4.         <c1:Column Binding="{Binding JobID, Mode=TwoWay}" Header="Title"/>
  5.     </c1:C1FlexGrid.Columns>
  6. </c1:C1FlexGrid>

Look at that, there is nothing special here either. We have a grid with two columns, first column is name and second column is Job ID. Please note that, we are not using combo box here. Ok so far we did not do anything new and I still want a combo box in second column. Lets go to the view code behind, that’s where the magic happens.

Code Snippet
  1. public Dictionary<int, string> dict = new Dictionary<int, string>();
  3. public MainPage()
  4. {
  5.     InitializeComponent();
  6.     dict.Add(1, "Manager");
  7.     dict.Add(2, "Team Lead");
  8.     _flex.Columns[1].ValueConverter = new ColumnValueConverter(dict);
  9. }

We first create a dictionary, where we are going to keep the options available to show in the combo box. Line 6 and 7 adds two job titles to the dictionary and finally in line 8, we say, for second column use the value converter and point to new instance Column Value Converter with dictionary collection. This informs flex grid that, this column needs to a combo box and use the dictionary to show the string value of the value bound to the column.

Look at the code, it is very simple and elegant. I really like the approach more than writing data template, converters etc.,

One things, I haven’t figured out yet is to bind the value converter directly to view model property. If we could do it, we can eliminate all code from code behind. If I find a solution, I will post it here.

Component One Silvelright FlexGrid Tip 6 (Group Header customatization)

Continuing our previous example of using Data Table to create grid on the fly, we will add one more column for grouping purpose to produce an output like the following


This also shows how to do grouping when using DataTable in Silverlight. So lets look at the code which generates the data to populate the grid and also grouping.

private void LoadData()
   _dataTableWithData = new DataTable();
   for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
      int grp = ((i>3)?1:i);
      _dataTableWithData.Rows.Add(i, "Name" + i.ToString(), i, grp);
   var gd = _dataTableWithData.DefaultView.GroupDescriptions;
   gd.Add(new PropertyGroupDescription("Group"));

As you can see, we create group row as we would create normal group row in FlexGrid. When we run the code it creates the groups properly but I do not like the default group header information in the group row. It shows

Group: value (number item)

What if I do not want to show the number of item in the parenthesis, how would I go about not showing it? That is what we are going to see today. This is easily achieved by using a custom converter for GroupHeaderConverter. Here is the custom header converter that we need to do to show only ‘Group : GroupName’

public class GroupHeaderConverter:IValueConverter
  public object Convert(object value, Type targetType, object parameter, System.Globalization.CultureInfo culture)
     var group = value as CollectionViewGroup;
     if (group != null)
        return string.Format("Group: {0}", group.Name);
     return null;

  public object ConvertBack(object value, Type targetType, object parameter, System.Globalization.CultureInfo culture)
   throw new NotImplementedException();

As you can see it is very simple value converter. For every group, we check and see if the row is a group row and if it is, then just return “Group: ” + One thing you need to make sure to use, the first type conversion. Make sure you you get the group information of type CollectionViewGroup. With that you get all group related information. Which is very powerful if you want to handle grouping completely different. Now that we have a group header converter, we need to let flex grid know to use this converter for the group headers by

_flex.GroupHeaderConverter = new GroupHeaderConverter();
That's all about it, now if you run the program you get the group header the way we wanted it to be.


Not only we saw how to customize the group header, we also saw how to do grouping in Data Table. Thanks Bernardo for the pointers.

Working with DataTable in Silverlight 4

Silverlight 4 out of the box does not support DataTable as its desktop counter part, WPF. But third party controls are here for the rescue. In this blog we will look at, what it take to create a simple grid and use Data Table that we love. As you might have guessed it, I am using Component One controls. Component One provides a namespace C1.Silverlight.Data, which have DataTable implementation that we have been using. So now that we know, we can use Data table, lets create a simple Grid and populate the data.

Create a Silverlight application and add grid control in your XAML as follow;

<Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="White">
        <c1:C1FlexGrid ItemsSource="{Binding DataTableWithData, Mode=TwoWay}" IsReadOnly="False" AutoGenerateColumns="True" Name="_flex"/>

Nothing new here, my Flex Grid control bound a property in my view model. Before we go and code, we require following references in our project to run




Now lets look at the view model code;

private DataTable _dataTableWithData;

publicDataView DataTableWithData




        if(_dataTableWithData == null)





_dataTableWithData property is our underlying data source. Which is nothing but DataTable, which is Component One data table type. If you notice we are not really binding data table to the grid control rather, we are binding DataView to the grid control. DataView implements the IEnumerable interface thus make it bindable to grid control. If you were like me trying out and not seeing the data in your grid, probabily your property type is incorrect.

Now lets look at the code which loads data to the data table

private void LoadData()
     _dataTableWithData = new DataTable();
     for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
          _dataTableWithData.Rows.Add(i.ToString(), "Name" + i.ToString(), i);

There is nothing special here, creating and populating the data table as you would do in any other format. Now lets run and see the result;



That’s about it. To summarize

1. Make sure you use the references I mentioned above in your project.

2. Use Data Table as local variable to hold data but do not bind control to that property.

3. Use DataView type for binding it to the grid.

4. To bind data table to grid, you return ‘DefaultView’ of the data table.

Using ChildsItemPath in C1FlexGrid to create clean MVVM code.

In the latest Component One drop, they have added a new property in C1FlexGrid called ‘ChildItemsPath’. It is a cool feature. In this blog, I am going to go through a simple example of using ChildItemsPath.

First lets see what made me to get to this property. In the current project I am working on, I had to create a grid with the following requirements

1. When there are no children in a group row, grid has to show only the group row and no child rows.

2. Group rows should be editable.

3. When user selects a row in the grid, we need to do something in the view model so I need to know which record user selected.

Just to give you an idea of the data model that I am working with.

ParentID – Parent Description – Child ID – Child Description

We are going to group on Parent ID and show Parent ID and Parent Description in the group row. So like any good old programmer, I approached this problem head on by creating a model like the one above and then created a Paged Collection View with group on Parent description, bind the collection to my C1FlexGrid. With this couple of things happened.

First one, when I have a record like the following

1 – Parent1 – null – null

where Parent1 have no children, it created a group row with 1 – Parent1 and created an empty child row. That was not expected behavior. So I wrote a small hack when the grid loading, I check and see if the rows have null value then change the height of row to 0. Pretty hack but, the group row did how expand/collapse button, giving the user the impression there is data. Next comes editing group row. I was trying to figure out how to edit the group row, while think about it, I looked at the model again and then it occurred to me, I could change my collection like the following

ID – Description

|- ID – Description

|- ID – Description

Something like

   1:  public class TestType1 : INotifyPropertyChanged
   2:  {
   3:          public int ID { get; set; }
   4:          public string Description { get; set; }
   5:          public ObservableCollection<TestType1> Children { get; set; }
   7:          public TestType1()
   8:          {
   9:              Children = new ObservableCollection<TestType1>();
  10:          }
  12:          public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;
  13:          private void NotifyPropertyChanged(string info)
  14:          {
  15:              if (PropertyChanged != null)
  16:              {
  17:                  PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(info));
  18:              }
  19:          }
  20:  }

Anytime when you have a collection like this, you should consider using ChildItemsPath, it is the new property added to C1FlexGrid. So how do we go about using it. Lets see the XAML

   1:      <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="White"
   2:            d:DataContext="{d:DesignInstance sampleData:DesignMainViewModel, IsDesignTimeCreatable=True}">
   3:          <c1:C1FlexGrid ItemsSource="{Binding MyCollection1}" AutoGenerateColumns="False" Name="flex" SelectionMode="Row" ChildItemsPath="Children">
   4:              <i:Interaction.Triggers>
   5:                  <i:EventTrigger EventName="SelectionChanged">
   6:                      <i:InvokeCommandAction Command="{Binding SelectionChanged}" CommandParameter="{Binding ElementName=flex, Path=SelectedItem}"/>
   7:                  </i:EventTrigger>
   8:              </i:Interaction.Triggers>
   9:              <c1:C1FlexGrid.Columns>
  10:                  <c1:Column Binding="{Binding ID, Mode=TwoWay}"/>
  11:                  <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Description, Mode=TwoWay}"/>
  12:              </c1:C1FlexGrid.Columns>
  13:          </c1:C1FlexGrid>
  14:      </Grid>

The last parameter in line (3) is the new property I was talking about. All you have to specify, which is the child collection property in the model that it has to group on.

As you can see from the line 4-8, after learning about triggers and behaviors, I no longer write code behind code to pass data to view model. If you can get the data from the gird, then use event trigger. So in our case, the third requirement was to pass the selected item to view model when the user select a row. that is what implemented in 4-8.

Line 5 – We are interested in listening SelectionChanged event.

Line 6 – When SelectionChanged event fires, Sl intercenpts and fires View Model command implementation for Selection Changed with Selected Item from the gird as the argument.

Lets look at the View Model for command implementation

   1:          public IActionCommand<object> SelectionChanged { get; set; }
   3:          public List<TestType1> MyCollection1
   4:          {
   5:              get
   6:              {
   7:                  List<TestType1> list = CreateData();
   8:                  return list;
   9:              }
  10:          }
  12:          private List<TestType1> CreateData()
  13:          {
  14:              List<TestType1> list = new List<TestType1>();
  15:              for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
  16:              {
  17:                  TestType1 parentData = new TestType1 { ID = i, Description = i.ToString() };
  18:                  for (int j = 0; j < i; j++)
  19:                  {
  20:                      TestType1 childData = new TestType1 { ID = j, Description = j.ToString() };
  21:                      parentData.Children.Add(childData);
  22:                  }
  23:                  list.Add(parentData);
  24:              }
  25:              return list;
  26:          }
  28:          public MainViewModel()
  29:          {
  30:              SelectionChanged = new ActionCommand<object>(
  31:                  p => {
  32:                      TestType1 t = p as TestType1;
  33:                      int k = 0;
  34:                  });
  35:          }

Line 1- Command declaration

Line 3-25 – Collection generation for XAML data binding.

Line 30-34 – Action<T> implementation for Selection Changed Command.

With this code if I would run I get the following screen


Where the first row does not have children so it does not show expand or collapse icon. Since mode is set to two way, I am able to edit group row as well as child rows. With Event Trigger, there is no code in the view’s code behind.

That’s it.

Creating Footer Row in Silverlight using Component One C1FlexGrid

Everyone now and then you will run into a requirement for adding a footer row for a data grid. If you are not using a third party control, you could use two grids in a user control to achieve this. Top grid houses the data and bottom grid with one row which will listen to data change in the first grid and generate the summary row.

Recently the new version of Component One, you can get the footer row out of the box if you were using C1FlexGrid/C1FlexGridExcel. Lets see how can we use it to achieve adding a footer row. Lets start out the basic requirement for this example.

1. Display personal information in a Grid, need to display, Name, Age, Sex and Salary.

2. Display a footer row which includes total number of rows, average of Age and salary total.

Lets start out building Silverlight application. Since I am a big fan of design time data and I can get that out of box using Jounce, I am going to create a new Jounce Application.

Create Model first

public class Person : INotifyPropertyChanged
        public string Name { get; set; }
        public int Salary { get; set; }
        public char Sex { get; set; }
        public int Age { get; set; }

        public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;
        private void NotifyPropertyChanged(string info)
            if (PropertyChanged != null)
                PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(info));


Make sure you modify the interface for View Model to get personal information (IMainViewModel.cs)

public interface IMainViewModel
        List<Person> People { get; }


My design time data comes from the design viewmodel

public classDesignMainViewModel : IMainViewModel


        publicList<Person> People




                List<Person> ppl = newList<Person>();

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "a", Age = 20, Salary = 1000, Sex = ‘f’ });

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "b", Age = 21, Salary = 1100, Sex = ‘m’});

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "c", Age = 22, Salary = 1200, Sex = ‘m’});

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "d", Age = 23, Salary = 1300, Sex = ‘f’ });

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "e", Age = 24, Salary = 1400, Sex = ‘f’ });

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "f", Age = 25, Salary = 1500, Sex = ‘f’ });

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "g", Age = 26, Salary = 1600, Sex = ‘m’});

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "h", Age = 27, Salary = 1700, Sex = ‘m’});

                ppl.Add(newPerson() { Name = "i", Age = 28, Salary = 1800, Sex = ‘f’ });





my runtime view model

    public class MainViewModel : BaseViewModel, IMainViewModel
        public List<Person> People
                List<Person> ppl = new List<Person>();
                ppl.Add(new Person() { Name = "a", Age = 20, Salary = 1000, Sex = 'f' });
                ppl.Add(new Person() { Name = "b", Age = 21, Salary = 1100, Sex = 'm' });
                ppl.Add(new Person() { Name = "c", Age = 25, Salary = 2100, Sex = 'f' });
                ppl.Add(new Person() { Name = "d", Age = 27, Salary = 2100, Sex = 'f' });
                return ppl;

Now we have data to load, lets look at the XAML

<c1:C1FlexGridExcel Name="flex" AutoGenerateColumns="False" ItemsSource="{Binding People}">
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Name,Mode=OneWay}" GroupAggregate="Count"/>
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Age, Mode=TwoWay}" GroupAggregate="Average"/>
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Sex}"/>
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Salary, Mode=TwoWay}" GroupAggregate="Sum"/>

If you notice, all I am doing is binding the column to display and also specifying what kind of aggregation we need to display in footer row. As per the requirement, we want to total number of personal so I added the group aggregate function as ‘Count’ and Average for Age and Sum for Salary. So my design time screen will look like the following


So far no footer row. In the current release, you can add the footer row in the code behind as follows

public MainPage()
            var gr = new C1.Silverlight.FlexGrid.GroupRow();


So to add a footer row, all you have to create a group row and add that as the ColumnFooter rows. With this change if you compile and run it


You can apply style, color and all the goodies you would do to any group row, you can do it here as well.

**** Update 8/5/11 *******

There is a support for design time data so you can do it in XAML itself rather than code behind, which I really like. We need to add ColumnFooterRows in the XAML that’s all about it. Modified XAML would be something like the following

<c1:C1FlexGridExcel Name="flex" AutoGenerateColumns="False" ItemsSource="{Binding People}">
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Name,Mode=OneWay}" GroupAggregate="Count"/>
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Age, Mode=TwoWay}" GroupAggregate="Average"/>
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Sex}"/>
                <c1:Column Binding="{Binding Salary, Mode=TwoWay}" GroupAggregate="Sum"/>

With this change now if you look at the design view you will see the footer row, you do not need to run the program to see it.