Visual Programming

  Visual Basic Tutorial

Creating Menus

Objectives

This guide  will help you to: -  

  • add menus to your application

Introduction

The Menu Editor

       Creating the Menu Bar

       Creating Menu Items

       Using the ALT Key Shortcuts

       Using the CTRL Key Shortcuts

Menu Click Events

       File>Exit

       Help>About

       Edit>Copy

       Edit>Paste

       Edit>Cut

Help Desk Exercise


Introduction

Most Windows applications have a menu bar that allows the user to choose actions to perform within an application without cluttering up the form with multiple command buttons.

Here is a simple Notepad Menu:-

Visual Basic allows the programmer to add a menu bar to an application that has all the common features of a standard Windows menu bar. Visual Basic uses the Menu Editor to create menu structures.


The Menu Editor

It is useful to layout a menu on paper before designing it in the menu editor, a typical menu structure is shown below: -  

File 

Edit 

Window 

Help 

New 

Open 

Close

Save

Print

Exit  

Cut
Copy 

Paste 

1. Window name
2. Another window name

Contents

About 

After the menu has been designed on paper, the menu editor dialogue box can be used to create the menus.

Creating a Menu Bar

The easiest way to get used to the Menu Editor is to use it.  Lets create a simple menu.

Choose a form you are going to add the menu to.  Open up the Menu Editor .

To access the Menu Editor dialogue box, first make sure you are displaying the form you wish to add the menu to.  It won't work if you are displaying the white coding window.

Use the menu design toolbar button.

Select Tools>>Menu Editor from the VB menu

Hit the [CTRL + E] keystroke combination.

You should see...

The most important parts of the Menu Editor are the Name and Caption properties.  

Caption - the text displayed on the menu.  

Name - the name by which a menu option is referred to in the code.  


Type in the following:-

File in the Caption box

mnuFile for the Name

Click on the Next button



Now type in the following:-

Edit in the Caption box

mnuEdit for the Name

Click on the Next button

 



 

Keep on adding menu items till you have a list like mine.  I.e. File, Edit, Window, Help

Then close the Menu Editor by clicking the OK button

 

Your form should now display a simple menu like so...

Note: You must make sure you give every menu item a Name.  Also, you cannot use the same Name more than once.  If you don't include a Name, you will get an error message when you try to close the menu editor.

 

Creating Menus Items

If you run your menu program you will notice that clicking on the menu does not make any menus drop-down.  That is what we need to do next - add items to each menu in the bar to make drop-down menus.

Open up Menu Editor again.  Select the Edit menu item and click on the Insert button.

Type in the following:-

New in the Caption box

mnuNew for the Name

Click on the Ok button.  Run your program.  You will see that the New  menu item is not in the correct place.  It should be inside the File menu.

We can correct this. Open up Menu Editor again.



Select the New menu item.  Click on the indent arrow button

This will make the New  menu item go inside the File menu.

Close the menu editor and click the File menu.  You will see that the New menu item is in the correct place now.

 

 

Note: The menu names are typed in flush left to the menu design window but using the indent button indents any menu options. If an option is indented twice it will become a sub menu of a menu option.

If a menu option is placed incorrectly it can be moved through the menu structure by using the up and down arrows in the menu design window.  

 

Now let's finish the menu.  Create a menu that has the same menu items as mine - shown in the pictures below.

Create this in the Menu Editor

This should give you the menu shown to the right.

 
         

Create this in the Menu Editor

This should give you the menu shown to the right.

 
         

Create this in the Menu Editor

This should give you the menu shown to the right.

 
         

Create this in the Menu Editor

This should give you the menu shown to the right.

 

 

Using the ALT Shortcut Keys

Most menu names and menu options have an underlined letter used for accessing the option from the keyboard. Try it for yourself.  Open up say Microsoft Word and you will see many of the menu items have an underlined character.  Try pressing ALT-F.  This will open up the File menu.  Now press N.  This will select the New item.

A few more ALT shortcuts are listed in the table below

File 

Edit 

 

New 

Open 

Close

Save

Print

Exit

 

ALT F N

ALT F O

ALT F C

ALT F S

ALT F P

ALT F X

  

Cut
Copy 

Paste 

 

ALT F T
ALT F C
ALT F P

ALT shortcuts can be created by opening up Menu Editor and by placing an ampersand (&) in the Caption before the letter to be underlined.

 

Activity A

For the menu items in the list above, create ALT key shortcuts by opening up the Menu Editor. Place an ampersand (&) in the Caption before any letter to be underlined.

Using the CTRL Shortcut Keys

Another method for accessing a menu item using the keyboard is by using a CTRL key shortcut instead of the ALT key.  Many users for example, are used to pressing CTRL S for saving a document or CTRL C for copying and CTRL V for pasting.  There are others.  Some are listed below.

File 

Edit 

 

New 

Open 

Close

Save

Print

Exit

 

 

CTRL O

 

CTRL S

CTRL P

 

  

Cut
Copy 

Paste 

 

CTRL X
CTRL C
CTRL V

 

Activity B

For the menu items in the list above, create CTRL key shortcuts by opening up the Menu Editor. You can add a shortcut to a menu item by selecting the one you want from the shortcut drop-down list.

 


Menu Click Events

Although you have learnt how to create your menus, you have not yet learnt how to make them do something when the user clicks on them.  You place the code for making something happen inside each menu item's click event.  Let's have some examples:-

File>Exit

Go to your form.  You should have created a File>Exit menu item.  Click on the File>Exit menu item.  This should take you to the white coding window where you should see the following.



Private Sub mnuExit_Click()

End Sub

All we need to do is add the code inside this click event sub routine to close the application.

The command is..

Unload Me

I.e.



Private Sub mnuExit_Click()
   Unload Me
End Sub

You should also unload any other forms in your application.  e.g. Unload form1 or Unload frm2 etc.

Now when your program runs when you click on File>Exit your program should close.

Help>About

Do you have an About form?  If not perhaps you should create one.  To display the About box when the user clicks on Help>About we just need to put the appropriate code in the click event for this menu item.

Go to your form.  Click on the Help>About menu item.  This should take you to the white coding window where you should see the following.



Private Sub mnuAbout_Click()

End Sub

All we need to do is add the code inside this click event sub routine to show the About form.

The command is..

frmAbout.Show

You have to use the name of your own About form though. Mine is called frmAbout but yours is probably called something else.



Private Sub mnuExit_Click()
   frmAbout.Show  'make use you use your form name
End Sub

Now when your program runs it will show your About box when you click on Help>About.

Have a look at say Microsoft Word's About box.  When it appears, can you go back to the main window without closing the About box first?  I'll bet you can't. 

We can make sure that our own About box must be closed before allowing the user to go back to the main program window too.  All we have to do is change the frmAbout.Show line too..

frmAbout.Show vbModal

Try it and you'll see the difference.

Edit>Copy

One common aspect of most menus are the Cut, Copy and Paste options on the Edit menu which allow an application to interact with the windows clipboard. Visual Basic allows the user to send information to the clipboard and receive information from the clipboard.

To send information contained in a text box to the clipboard: - the syntax is

Clipboard.SetText controlname.property

Let's try it. But first we need say a textbox on the form so we can copy text from it to the clipboard.  So at a textbox to your form. I will assume it's name is Text1.

Now click on the Edit>Copy menu item.  This should take you to the white coding window where you should type in the following.



Private Sub mnuCopy_Click()
   Clipboard.Clear
   Clipboard.SetText Text1
End Sub

OR we could be more specific and have Clipboard.SetText Textl.SelText for only selected text.

When you run your program and type something in the textbox and select it, click on Edit>Copy.  To check if it has copied it, opun up notepad and see if it pastes the word you typed into the textbox.

Edit>Paste

To receive text based information from the clipboard: - the syntax is

controlname.property = Clipboard.GetText ()

Let's try it. But first we need say another textbox to paste the clipboard contents to. So create another textbox on your form.  I will assume it's name is Text2.

Now click on the Edit>Paste menu item.  This should take you to the white coding window where you should type in the following.



Private Sub mnuPaste_Click()
    Text2 = Clipboard.GetText ()
End Sub

When you run your program and type something in the textbox, click on Edit>Copy. Now place your mouse cursor in the second textbox and click on Edit>Paste.  This should paste whatever you typed into the first textbox into the second textbox.

Edit>Cut

Cutting is copying a word or group of words to the clipboard but then you additionally clear the place where you cut the information from. 

To cut whatever word is in the first textbox on your form, all we need to do is copy the information to the clipboard and then clear the textbox.

So, click on the Edit>Cut menu item.  This should take you to the white coding window where you should type in the following.



Private Sub mnuPaste_Click()
   Clipboard.Clear  'clear the clipboard
   Clipboard.SetText Text1.SelText   ' copy whatever is selected in the textbox
   Text1.SelText = ""   ' clear the textbox
End Sub

When you run your program and type something in the textbox, click on Edit>Cut. Your textbox should be cleared.  Now place your mouse cursor in the second textbox and click on Edit>Paste.  This should paste whatever you typed into the first textbox into the second textbox.


Help Desk Exercise

You will need to add a menu to your 'help desk' application.  The menu you need will depend totally on how you have designed your forms. 

Since you will have at least two different forms, a troubleshooting  form and a fault log  form, you will need to be aware that the menus on each form may well be slightly different.  For example, do you think you would need to File>Save menu item on both forms?  I would have thought you would only need it on on the fault log  form. 

It is best to separately draw the menu you want for each form. 

~Try the activity~

Activity C

Have you created your 'troubleshooting' form?

If so, try designing the menu on paper before using the menu editor.  You should draw your menu on a piece of paper or in Word.  E.g.

File 

Edit 

Window 

Help 

Print

Exit  

Copy 

1. Window name
2. Another window name

Contents

About 

Now justify each menu item by explaining what will happen when the user clicks on each item.  I.e.

File>Print

When the user clicks on this, whichever problem the user is looking at in the listbox will be printed out.

File>Exit

When the user clicks on this the program will close.

Edit>Copy

When the user clicks on this whichever problem the user is looking at in the listbox will be copied to the clipboard.  This will allow them to paste it into another application, say Word or Notepad for example.s

I will let you carry on with the rest.  Your menu may have different items.  It is useful for you to justify each menu item because it will make you think carefully if it is a sensible item or not.

~Now try the activity~

Activity D

Have you created your 'Fault Log' form?

If so, design a menu for it in the same way as above.

 


Fini
 

 

 

   

  Unit Information

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ADR 2002