Outlookbar-style menu interface_menu


This is a simple control that, much like the outlook side bar, docks on the left side of your main window. Basically consists in several folders, containing groups of items. Those items can be either child windows or labels connected to the standard menu command's ID.

Their appearance can be customized so to act like rows in a list box, check boxes, radio buttons, or simple links. All the actions and the status of those items is controlled by the standard MFC command handler and command update handler.


I have never seen the latest outlook beside for one, small, screenshot; so I don't really know if this control resembles its properly or not.

I tried to include support for all I saw in this screenshot, but I'm sure much will still be different or wrong. It has been written for use in one of our internal applications, but .. since I found it cute, I thought maybe someone else could've been interested into it. The control also works well along with the BCG library, if you are using it, without needing any change.

Using the code

The control itself consist in 2 files, outlook2ctrl.h and .cpp. To use it in your code, start by including those 2 files in the project. Also, if you wish it to make use of the gradient drawings on the buttons, change the ​​WINVER​​ define in the project stdafx.h file from 0x400 to 0x500.

If ​​WINVER​​ is below 0x500, the graphic won't look as good. (0x500 will mean compiled for Win 2K & XP).

Include in your main frame header file the new control in this way:

#include "Outlook2Ctrl.h"

class CMainFrame : public CFrameWnd
COutlook2Ctrl wndOutBar;

The outbar is derived from the standard MGC ​​CControlBar​​​ (or from the ​​CBCGToolBar​​) and docks normally on the left side of the main frame.

The ​​CMainFrame::OnCreate​​ is a good place to create and initialize it:

Outlookbar-style menu interface_command_02 Collapse

int CMainFrame::OnCreate(LPCREATESTRUCT lpCreateStruct)

// enable dockings only on the other 3 sides

// create the control
wndOutBar.Create(this, ID_MYOUTBAR);

// you can add images to the items in the control by using icons 16x16
// don't destroy them after inserting the items as the
// control won't duplicate the handles but use them straight

HICON hIco1 = (HICON) LoadImage(AfxGetInstanceHandle(),
HICON hIco2 = (HICON) LoadImage(AfxGetInstanceHandle(),
HICON hIco3 = (HICON) LoadImage(AfxGetInstanceHandle(),

wndOutBar.AddFolderRes("Contacts", IDI_ICON1);
wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Friends", hIco1,
wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Private", hIco2,
wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Work", hIco3,

wndOutBar.AddFolderItem("View Style");
wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Grid", NULL,
wndOutBar.AddSubItem("List", NULL,
wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Cards", NULL,


wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Create new contact ..",
wndOutBar.AddSubItem("Import contacts ..",

In this code, we do a simple window creating and we then insert a few items. The control stores the data in a tree-like way. The base of the tree is made by ​​Folders​​​ items (like the ​​Contact​​​, ​​Find​​​, etc buttons you can see in the image). The ​​Folders​​​ contain ​​Items​​​ - which are sort of groups; and they contain ​​Subitem​​​s that are what actually doing the job. So you insert a ​​Folder​​​, an ​​Item​​​, and assign ​​Subitem​​s to that.

The ​​Subitem​​​s are handled as if they were items of a menu. They are checked/unchecked by using the standard ​​CCmdUI​​​'s system. Selecting them will cause a menu command to be generated, if appropriate. So it's basically a permanent popup menu with a new graphical style, where ​​Folders​​​ are popups items, ​​Subitems​​​ are the menu items, and ​​Items​​ are description labels.

wndOutBar.AddFolderRes("Contacts", IDI_ICON1);

This part adds first a folder, named ​​Contact​​​, with icon ​​IDI_ICON1​​​ as graphic. It then adds a label named ​​Categories​​​ to the folder, and adds a menu command named ​​Friends​​​ that will trigger a menu command ​​ID_CATEGORIES_FRIEND​​​ when clicked. The ​​subitem​​​ will have a small item on the side (with handle ​​hIco1​​​) and will be of type ​​OCL_SELECT​​.

The "types" available are the following:


  • ​COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_SELECT​​​ : the ​​subitem​​​ will appear as a selected listbox item when the ​​OnCmdUI​​​ of the ​​commandID​​ returns Checked
  • ​COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_RADIO​​​ : the ​​subitem​​​ will appear as a radio button; status will be determined by the checked/unchecked of the associated ​​commandID​​; no command will be sent when user clicks on an already selected item
  • ​COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_COMMAND​​​ : the ​​subitem​​​ will appear as a normal hot-tracked link. The ​​commandID​​​ command will be sent whenever user clicks on it, unless the ​​OnCmdUI​​ returns not enabled
  • ​COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_CHECK​​​ : the ​​subitem​​​ will appear as a check box; status will be determined by the checked/unchecked of the associated ​​commandID​​; no command will be sent when user clicks on an already selected item
  • ​COutlook2Ctrl::OCL_HWND​​ : this value is settled automatically when using the following function:
int AddSubItem(HWND hChildWindow, 
bool bStretchTheChild, int FolderId, int ItemId)

Takes in the child window to insert, a stretch option value and the folder and item ID. The child window has to be already created when inserted. It has to have as parent, the outbar control, and the ​​WS_CHILD​​ flag. If the stretch variable isn't settled, the child will retain the value it had at creation; otherwise, the height of the child window will be enlarged to fit all the area from insertion to the bottom of control. The child window will anyway always be stretched to cover all the width of the outbar control. The ​​FolderID​​ and ​​ItemID​​ variables in all the insertion functions by default will be settled to -1, and thus referring to the "last" parent inserted.

The other functions for inserting items are the following:

int AddFolder(const char * FolderName, 
HICON ImageofFolder or int ResourceIdofFolderIcon);
int AddFolderItem(const char * ItemName, int FolderID = -1)
int AddSubItem(const char * SubItemLabel,
HICON ImageofFolder or int ResourceIdofFolderIcon,
DWORD style, DWORD commandID, int FolderId, int ItemId)

The const ​​char​​​ parameters are the labels of the ​​item​​​s/​​folder​​​s/​​subitem​​​. The HICON ​​handles​​​ or IDs are used for the images linked to the ​​folder​​​s/ ​​subitem​​​s. Note that some kind of ​​subitem​​s can't have an icon linked to them (checkbox and radio box style). Those functions all return the index of the inserted element. You can use it for inserting other elements into the same folder, or just leave them to the default -1 to add them to the last one.

When a ​​subitem​​ will be selected, you will receive a normal menu command.

Points of interest

The control has been tested just under Windows 2000 and XP. It should work even under earlier versions of Windows, but some resource memory leak may be possible. It has nothing really amazing in it, but is simple to use and cute to watch (I hope!). Enjoy it then!


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