Quick replacement for the VB6 OLE Container Control in .NET

23. January 2012 13:09 by Mrojas in COM Interop  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

I have developed a very quick replacement for the OLE Container Control that you had in VB6.
I just did it in rush so it just supports basic properties as DisplayType Icon or Content
The content functionality is performed using the Vista feature for content preview. I would have tried using a 
WebBrowser control but in new versions of Office, the default is not showing the document on the Browser and
it might be difficult to change the registry in some vista or Win7 environments.

 The following picture show the OLEContainer inside a Windows Form.

This is the container with the Display set to content:


And the container with display set to icon:


You can call the CreateLink and you can also use the DoVerb Open.

I have attached the example source code in this post.

ReplaceOLEContainer.zip (100.69 kb)


 NOTE: I friend also sent me a link to this article in CodeProject which is very similar: http://www.codeproject.com/Tips/487566/OLE-container-surrogate-for-NET


NOTE: This solution only applies for read-only. If you wan to edit your files, then you need a real ActiveX container. MS used to have a sample OCX called DSOFramer that allows you to do that. Warning: this sample is no longer supported by MS becuase it said to have issues However I have used it in the past and it worked fine in some simple scenarios. I have added the control and its source to this post. There is a commercial product from Edraw http://www.edrawsoft.com/edword.php that is supported by them and has samples for C# and VB.NET


 NOTE: Another approach, embed the application in your windows form.

In general what you should do is use the SetParent, SetWindowLong and MoveWindow APIs to embed the application. Something like this:

var filename = openFileDialog1.FileName;
                var officeApplicationProgID = "Excel.Application";
                var officeApplicationType = Type.GetTypeFromProgID(officeApplicationProgID, false);
                dynamic officeApplication = Activator.CreateInstance(officeApplicationType);
                int pid = 0;
                GetWindowThreadProcessId(officeApplication.HWnd, out pid);
                officeApplication.Visible = true;
                //officeApplication.Visible = false;
                var process = Process.GetProcessById(pid);
                var panel = new Panel();
                panel.Location = new Point(0, 0);
                panel.Size = new Size(this.Size.Width, this.Size.Height);
                var processHandle = process.MainWindowHandle;
                SetParent(processHandle, panel.Handle);
                SetWindowLong(processHandle, GWL_STYLE, WS_VISIBLE + WS_MAXIMIZE + WS_CHILD);
                MoveWindow(processHandle, 0, 0, panel.Width, panel.Height, true);
Figure: Example of technique of hosting Excel inside a Windows Form Application

I have attached a sample project. (Remember to free your resources, and close the excel App before closing your application, I skipped that from this sample)

DsoFramer.zip (463.42 kb)

ExampleOfEmbeddingExcelInWindowsForm.zip (53.76 kb)