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Dynamically Modifying the Appearance of a Menu

When a menu system is created at design time, the programmer can control property settings for menu items. After these properties are set, they can be altered at runtime to assist the user in interpreting which selections have been made, which items are turned on, and which commands are available.

To dynamically alter the appearance of a menu system, the menu object is referenced along with the desired property to be altered. This syntax is the same for regular controls found on a VB form. The following sections explore the syntax used in setting menu properties.

The following code assumes that Form1 has a complete menu system already defined. The View menu has a sub-menu item called Toolbar. This menu item is having the Checked property set to true to indicate the toolbar is visible (see the result in Figure 3.4):

mnuViewToolbar.Checked = True

This code uses the same syntax that other objects use: the object name, a period separator, followed by the property to be set, and then the value after the assignment operator.

Sample menu with properties that change at runtime
FIGURE 3.4 - Sample menu with properties that change at runtime.

The following code demonstrates more menu objects and their property settings:

mnuViewStatusBar.Checked = True
mnuFileOpen.Enabled = False
mnuFormatFontBold.Checked = True
mnuPopUp.Visible = False

In these examples, notice how the use of the menu naming convention helps decipher which menu is to be affected. The object name starts with the mnu prefix followed by the top-level menu item named View, followed by the sub-level menu item, StatusBar. This ensures easy readability when going through source code.

Altering application menus at design time is not very different from controlling other objects. The one difficulty that programmers have with menus is remembering to control both the user interface and the menus. The interface can always be seen, but menus must first be opened to view their states. One common technique used to assist with maintaining a consistent interface is to call a procedure.

The procedure will perform the required actions and affect both the interface and required information. This allows various menus to call the same code and keep the program flow easier to follow.


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