Category Archives: WPF

WPF Popup focus nightmares

We have a fairly advanced windowing system for the app I’m developing, and one of the side effects is that when using controls inside a Popup control, the keyboard focus does not always behave correctly for the controls inside the popup.

I found this great article which immediately solved my problem :

The root cause of my issue is that a Popup’s HWND has the WS_EX_NOACTIVATE flag set, meaning that the focus is not set properly.

Credit to Philipp Sumi and Andrew Smith.



Leave a comment

Filed under UI Hints, Useful, UX, WPF

The great WPF ToggleButton and Popup Conundrum

For a while now we’ve been using a very simple pattern for opening custom popups by binding to the IsChecked property of a ToggleButton. It’s simple, needs no code-behind, and works 99% of the time.

However, it has a very annoying 1% which is the following:

  • You want your popup to open when the toggle button is clicked – OK
  • You want your popup to close when the user clicks elsewhere – off the window, etc – OK
  • You want your popup to close when you click the toggle button again- BUT THIS DOESN’T WORK

The reason is because the events happen as follows:

  • Open the Popup by clicking on the Toggle Button
  • Click on the Toggle button again
  • Before the “Click” is processed by the toggle button, the Popup handles the fact that the user has clicked elsewhere and so closes
  • By closing, the popup sets the IsChecked state of the toggle button back to unchecked via the 2-way binding
  • Now the “Click” is handled by the toggle button, but at this point the popup is closed, and the toggle button is not checked, so it re-checks itself, and re-opens the Popup !

The Solution

Many people have tried to solve this by using Timers, behaviours, fiddling with the Binding, but there is an annoyingly simple solution:

On the ToggleButton set the Property ClickMode=”Press”

…and you’re done…


Leave a comment

Filed under UI Hints, UX, WPF

While you were sleeping…

I just came across an interesting use case which I thought I’d share – why let your application churn away doing unnecessary processing if the user isn’t paying attention?

So I started looking into detecting whether the workstation is locked, or if the screensaver is running – two fairly reliable ways of telling that the user has gone walkabout…

To detect a locked workstation, you need to listen out for:


…which fires each time the user locks or unlocks the workstation.

To detect the state of the screensaver, you have to do slightly more work – there are no helpful events – instead you need some sort of polling mechanism to call away to a Win32 function:

private const int SPI_GETSCREENSAVERRUNNING = 0x0072;
[DllImport("user32.dll", SetLastError=true)]
static extern bool SystemParametersInfo(int action, int param, ref int retval, int updini);

int active = 1;
SystemParametersInfo(SPI_GETSCREENSAVERRUNNING, 0, ref active, 0);
bool screenSaverActive = (active == 1);

So I stitched these 2 bits of logic together into a nice helper class and now I can tell (within reason) when my users are there or not, and give our servers a break every now and then.

Leave a comment

Filed under UI Hints, Useful, Winforms, WPF

An “excellent UX design”

This UI is described as “excellent” , “elegant”, and “clear and compact” :


Leave a comment

Filed under UX, WPF

Like WPF – and this MVVM Tutorial

It’s been a while since a last posted, but as with any new love there’s always an intense honeymoon period when you can’t keep your hands off! In my case, it’s WPF – a new toy that is ticking all the right boxes for a GUI nut like me.

The initial buzz soon wore off when I realised that you shouldn’t really try to write WPF apps like you did with Winforms – and then the real fun started as I rapidly scaled the learning curves of styling, databinding, MVVM and MEF.

One resource that really helped switch my brain over from old-school winforms was a video by Jason Dollinger over at Lab49 :

The video starts with a “badly written” WPF app (i.e. WPF written as if it was winforms) and then, over the course of 90 minutes, Jason  gently refactors it towards a slick, high-performance MVVM implementation.

Leave a comment

Filed under C#, UI Hints, WPF