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Design-Time Storage of Form Objects in Visual Basic 6 (VB6)

If you know how Form objects are stored, you will be able to move them from one project to another or from one version of VB to another.

After a form has been designed and saved, the information from the form is separated into two components. The first component is a text description of the form itself—all objects contained on the form, all object properties and their values, as well as any code associated with the form and the objects. This text-based information is stored in an ASCII text file with the extension .FRM. Figure 4.21 shows a sample of a text-based .FRM file. Any word processor or text editor can open this file.


FIGURE 4.21 Sample .FRM file containing the form information.

The second file is .FRX. It contains all graphics-related information required by the form. If a Picture control or Image control is used, and a bitmap graphic is referenced by the control, that image must be stored internally. This information is stored in the separate .FRX file and is in a binary format. The .FRM file will contain references to the .FRX file and a number indicating the image to be referenced for specific controls.

Knowing how the form objects are stored after designing them can be very useful. If a form is taken to another project and doesn't seem to load properly, you could open the text file and determine whether that form uses paths for files that are not the same in the new environment.

Often as forms are moved between projects, the references to various controls are not always the same. You can use a text editor to open the file and verify the references that should be included within that project.

Another reason that you may need to look at the form's text file would be that of an old form from a previous version of Visual Basic being used within a newer version. By opening the text file with an editor, any problem lines can be removed.

The same technique is probably even more useful when taking Form objects from a newer version of VB and going to an older version of the software.

This section has covered how forms are brought into memory and removed from memory. If you need to display a form, use the Show method. Use the Hide method to make a form invisible. The storage of the design-time form is separated into a text-description file with the extension .FRM. Graphics information is stored in an .FRX file. Both files together implement the form.

Creating Data Input Forms and Dialog Boxes topics

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