mikejsavage.co.uk / blog

14 Jul 2017 / Fixing the Visual Studio forms designer

More to file under "things that are excruciatingly stupid so nobody smart writes about them".

One thing that causes the designer to shit the bed is if your form isn't at the top of the non-designer file. So a specific example:

namespace Things {
        class FuckingEverythingUp { }
        class MyForm : Form {
                // ...

will not work (and will give you a useless error message about dragging and dropping from the components window). You need to move MyForm above FuckingEverythingUp. Btw Microsoft made $85 billion revenue last year and has over 100k employees.

The other thing that's not so obvious to work around (but still pretty obvious) is custom form components. In our case we have a few hacked components to enable text anti-aliasing (lol), but the designer can't handle them. I got sick of going into the designer file and replacing them all with normal labels whenever I wanted to change the UI, so I added methods like ConvertLabelToHackLabel and call them in the form constructor. All they do is make a new thing and copy all the properties over.

The only things that are non-trivial are copying events, which is copied and pasted from StackOverflow thusly:

using System.Reflection;

// ...

var eventsField = typeof(Component).GetField("events", BindingFlags.NonPublic | BindingFlags.Instance);
var eventHandlerList = eventsField.GetValue(originalButton);
eventsField.SetValue(hackedButton, eventHandlerList);

and making sure you update the form's AcceptButton to point at the hacked button as needed.