.NET MessageBox with Checkbox

I have been working on a Windows application, TM1Compare. If you are a TM1 developer or administrator, I highly suggest you check it out. It can save you a lot of time and hassle. Click here to check it out and download the Lite version for free.

One of the features we have recently added is the ability to copy view data from one server to another. This can be done through TM1Compare without needing to export the view, copy-and-paste, or import the data through creating a complicated ETL process. TM1Compare handles all of this work in the background with a couple simple steps.

A challenge I came across while working on the view data feature was how to alert the user of important information without being annoying. TM1Compare allows the user to copy data on a single-view basis or in bulk. When copying a single view, if there is a warning we need to display to the user about that view, we display a message box and ask the user to make a choice whether to accept and continue or cancel. When the user is copying data in bulk, we didn’t want to repeatedly annoy the user with multiple message boxes, unless we could offer them the chance to make the same decision for all of the views at once. Several applications have similar functionality, such as a checkbox labeled “Don’t show this again” or “Apply to all…”. I was surprised to see that in the .NET Framework 4.5, not only is this not a standard option, but the MessageBox is a sealed class and cannot be extended to add it.

After reading several posts on StackOverflow.com, I found two options for creating the functionality I needed. Several people suggested creating a custom dialog window and displaying it as you would a normal window. I wanted my solution to have a look and feel just like the native Windows message box, which varies depending on the version of Windows the user is on, as well as the configurations they have set up in Windows, so I opted not to make my own window. The other option was a nifty trick posted by Code Project, building on Dino Esposito’s October 2002 and November 2002 MSDN articles to “hook into” to the native Windows message box and add the functionality directly into it. I decided this would work perfectly for my purposes, so I downloaded the sample code and modified it slightly to fit TM1Compare.

In Scanlon’s sample, the MessageBox wrote to the Windows registry. For my purposes, I didn’t want the user’s choice to be permanent, but to last just for the session they are in. I modified the MessageBox.Show() method to take an out parameter, which was then checked by the application and stored in a session variable.

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