How To Add an Outline Control to a Form and Populate It

Article translations Article translations
Article ID: 140025 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q140025
This article has been archived. It is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.
Expand all | Collapse all

On This Page


The Professional Edition of Visual FoxPro includes the Microsoft Outline control (Msoutl32.ocx). The outline control can be used to display information in a graphical hierarchical format, such as in file open dialog boxes. This article describes how to use the outline control in the Forms Designer to perform some common tasks.


Adding an Outline to your Form

  1. Create a new form.
  2. Add an OLE Container control to your form. In the OLE Container control dialog box, click the Insert Control option, and select the Outline control from the list of available controls. Click OK.
  3. Change the Name property of the control to oleOutline.

Populating the Outline

To add items to the outline, use the outline's AddItem method. The AddItem method takes two parameters -- the text you want to show in the outline and the list index of the item. The second parameter is optional.

For example, the following line of code adds an item named Apples to the bottom of the outline:
The following line of code adds an item named Bananas to the second position in the list:

How the ListIndex Property Affects the Items in Your Outline

As each individual item is added to the outline, it is assigned a list index. The list index may be assigned manually by you when the item is added, or it may be automatically assigned by the Msoutl.ocx.

The list index property affects the relative positioning of items within the outline. If you add an item and specify a listindex property, any items below the inserted item are moved down, and their respective listindex properties are changed. The following table shows initial list index properties, and how they are affected by inserting an item prior to the current list index:
                Original      Insert List    Insert List
Item Name       List Index    Index of 2     Index of 6
Fruit           1                 1             1
Vegetables      5                 6             7
Meats           10                11            12
The table indicates that the ListIndex property will change as items are added to the outline. This means that if you insert items, you may be inserting them at a different place than intended. This causes problems if you want to build a list of headings, and then insert items at the appropriate location under each heading.

Because this property is volatile, you may want to build your outline in sequential order, and allow the Msoutl32.ocx to assign a list index automatically to each item as you add it to the outline. With this technique, as you add topics, you need to add all the subitems for that outline item before adding an item at the same hierarchical level.

Indenting Items Appropriately in the Outline

Each outline item has an associated Indent property. The Indent property can be set to a minimum value of 0. The maximum value will depend on the number of hierarchical levels in the current branch of the outline.

  • A value of zero (0) indicates that the item should be invisible. This is the default value assigned by the AddItem method. You must set this to a value of 1 or higher to see the outline item. The first item in the outline is considered the "root item" of the outline, and it must have an indentation level of 0.
  • A value of 1 indicates that the item is displayed at the highest level of the outline.
  • A value of 2 or higher indicates that the item is a subitem of the next higher indentation level. You can use an indent level higher than 2, however, the indent can only be set to a maximum of one higher than the indentation of the item directly preceding it in the outline. If you try to set an indent level greater than one more of the prior item, you will receive an error.
The following line of code illustrates setting the Indent property of the second item in the outline to an indent level of 3:
   thisform.oleOutline.indent(2) = 3
NOTE: The indent level of an item can be at most 1 greater than the indent level of the item preceeding it.

The HASSUBITEMS() function allows you to determine programmatically if a particular item has subitems associated with it.

Changing the Display of the Pictures in the Outline

You can change the picture associated with the outline by setting one of the following properties. These properties determine the picture displayed when an outline item is expanded, closed, or is a subitem:
You can also specify a picture to be substituted for a particular item that has subordinate items by setting the following properties:
PictureMinus PicturePlus
The picture can be any small bitmap (.bmp file). You must set the picture for the entire outline. You can also use the Style property to determine which items are displayed with a particular item in the outline. Each outline item has an individual style property. You may decide to change the style property, for example, depending on whether an individual outline item has subitems associated with it:
Setting   Description
   0      Text only.
   1      Picture and text.
   2      (Default) Plus/minus and text.
   3      Plus/minus, picture, and text.
   4      Tree lines and text.
   5      Tree lines, picture, and text.

Gaining Access to a Particular Outline Item

Because the outline is a container object, it contains a control array property to allow you to gain access to particular items within the outline.

The ListCount property of the outline returns the number of items in the outline.

The List property allows you to gain access to an item in the outline by display order, regardless of the list index property setting for that item. The following line of code sets the text of the third outline item to Oranges:
   ThisForm.oleOutline.list(3) = "Oranges"
You may also want to use the ItemData property of the outline control. This property contains an array of all items currently in the outline.

Obtaining the Text Associated with a Particular Outline Item

Occasionally, you may want to determine the text associated with the item currently selected from the outline. You can do this by using the Text property as follows:
This property is read-only. You must use the LIST() function to change the text programmatically.

Expanding and Collapsing Outline Sections

The code to expand and collapse the outline is built into the functionality of the control. You do not need to write code to handle expansion and collapsing. However, you can affect a single item by setting its Expand property to true (.T.) or false (.F.) appropriately.

Obtaining More Information on the Outline Control

This article is not a comprehensive list of all the methods and properties associated with the Msoutl32.ocx. To obtain more information, query using "outline control" in the Visual FoxPro Help file.

To view a sample form containing an outline control, open the Vfp\Samples\Ole\Outline1.scx file supplied with Visual FoxPro.


Article ID: 140025 - Last Review: February 28, 2014 - Revision: 2.2
  • Microsoft Visual FoxPro 3.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Visual FoxPro 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Visual FoxPro 6.0 Professional Edition
kbnosurvey kbarchive kbdesigner kbhowto KB140025

Contact us for more help

Contact us for more help
Connect with Answer Desk for expert help.
Get more support from