From now on, we’re going to be creating Windows Applications, rather than Console
Applications. Windows Applications make use of something called a Form.
The Form is blank at first. You then add control to your form, things like buttons,
text boxes, menus, check boxes, radio buttons, etc. To get your first look at
a Windows Form, do the following.
If you still have your Console Application open from the previous section,
click File from the menu bar at the top of Visual C# Express. From the
File menu, click on Close Solution
To create your first Windows form project, click the File menu again. This time,
select New Project from the menu. When you do, you’ll see the New
Project dialogue box again.
If you have Visual Studio 2015 or 2017, click Visual C#, under Templates
on the left:
From the available templates, select Windows Forms Application or Windows
Forms App. Keep the Name on the default of WindowsFormsApplication1
(or WindowsFormsApp1 for 2017 users) and then click OK.
If you have Visual Studio 2019, you’ll see the Create a new project
dialog box again. Select C# as the language again. This time, scroll
down and select Windows Forms App:
When you click OK a new Windows Application project will be created
for you. In 2019, you’ll have another screen, Configure your new
project. You can leave everything on the default (unless you need
to change the save location) and just click Create.
All users will then get a new project:
The obvious difference from the Console Application you created in the previous
section is the blank Form in the main window. Notice the Toolbox, though,
on the left hand side. We’ll be adding controls from the Toolbox to that blank
Form1 you can see in the image above.
If you can’t see the Toolbox, you may just see the Tab, as in the following
image (the Community 2015 and 2017 editions have an extra tab called Server
If your screen looks like the one above, move your mouse over to the Toolbox
tab. It will expand to look like the first one. If you want to permanently display
the Toolbox, click on the pin symbol in the middle:
Notice the Solution Explorer on the right side of your screen. (If you can’t
see the Solution Explorer, click its entry on the View menu at the top
of Visual Studio Express.) If you compare it with the Solution Explorer when
you created your Console Application, you can see the similarities:
Both projects have sections for Properties, References, and a Program.cs file.
Double click the Program.cs file to open it, and you’ll see some familiar code:
And here’s the code from the Console Application:
Both have the same using lines, a namespace, a class called Program, and a Main Method.
The Main Method is the entry point for your programme. The code between the
curly brackets of Main will get executed when the programme first starts. The
last line in the WindowsApplication1 code above is the one that Runs
Form1 when the Application starts.
You can do other things here. For example, suppose you had a programme that
connects to a server. If it finds a connection then it loads some information
from a database. In the Main Method, you could check that the server connection
is OK. If it’s not, display a second form; if it’s OK, then display the first
But don’t worry if all that code has you scratching your head. The thing to
bear in mind here is that a method called Main starts your programme.
And Program.cs in the Solution Explorer on the right is where the code
for Main lives.
But we won’t be writing code in the Program.cs file, so we can close it. Have
a look near the top of the coding window, and you’ll some tabs:
Click the X to close the tab. You should now see your form again (you may have
a Start tab as well. You can close this, if you want).
To see the window where you’ll write most of your code, right click Form1.cs
in the Solution Explorer:
The menu has options for View Code and View Designer.
The Designer is the Form you can see at the moment. Click View Code
from the menu to see the following window appear (you can also press
the F7 key on your keyboard):
This is the code for the Form itself (ignore the Form1_Load lines as you may
not have them). This Form:
The code has a lot more using statements than before. Don’t worry about
these for now. They just mean “using some code that’s already been written”.
The code also says partial class Form1. It’s partial because some code
is hidden from you. To see the rest of it (which we don’t need to alter), click
the arrow symbol next to Form1.cs in the Solution Explorer:
Now double click Form1.Designer.cs. You’ll see the following code:
Again, you see partial class Form1, which is the rest of the
code. Click the plus symbol next to Windows Form Designer generated
code. You’ll see the following:
InitializeComponent is code (a Method) that is automatically generated
for you when you create a new Windows Application project. As you add things
like buttons and text boxes to your form, more code will be added here for you.
But you don’t need to do anything in this window, so you can right click the
Form1.Designer.cs tab at the top, and click Close from the menu.
Or just click the X.
Click back on the Form1.cs tab at the top to see you form again. If
the tab is not there, right click Form1.cs in the Solution Explorer on the right.
From the menu, select View Designer. Here’s what you should be looking
It’s in Designer view that we’ll be adding things like buttons and text boxes
to our form. But you can run this programme as it is. From the Debug
menu at the top, click Start Debugging (Or you can just press the F5
key on your keyboard.):
When you click Start Debugging, Visual C# will Build the programme first, and
then run it, if it can. If it can’t run your programme you’ll see error messages.
But you should see your form running on top of Visual Studio. It will have
its own Red X, and it’s own minimize and maximize buttons. Click the Red X to
close your programme, and to return to Visual C# Express.
From now on, when we say Run your programme, this is what we mean: either press
F5, or click Debug > Start Debugging. You can also select Debug
> Start Without Debugging.
OK, time for you to start adding things to the form, and to do a little coding!
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