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Creating a dynamic SharePoint settings DropDown using a ToolPart
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
In order to create a dropdown in the settings view of SharePoint it is required that you use an enum with the out-of-box behavior. Each enum item will be presented as an item in the dropdown.
What happens if you want to have a dropdown that is generated dynamically each time the settings window is opened? Enter the world of custom ToolParts.
A toolpart is a sub-section of the settings window when you go to edit the settings of a webpart. Unfortunately they are not easily customizable to flow in with your other settings, so I actually ended up moving all of my settings to the custom toolpart, just for consistency.
Using a custom toolpart requires that you do two things:
1. Create a class that overrides Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.ToolPart
2. Override the GetToolParts section of your WebPart
I will step through each of these.
In order to create your custom toolpart, you must create a class that overrides Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.ToolPart. My example code is posted below with comments inline:
public class MyToolPart : Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.ToolPart
// This is the actual dropdown control
System.Web.UI.WebControls.DropDownList m_Dropdown = new System.Web.UI.WebControls.DropDownList();
// Reference to the parent web part
MyWebPart m_Parent = null;
// Set the title of our toolpart
this.Title = "Settings";
protected override void CreateChildControls()
// Get the instance of the web part
m_Parent = (MyWebPart)ParentToolPane.SelectedWebPart;
// Add some items to the dropdown, this is also where you would dynamically populate any items to add
// Add the dropdown to the actual toolpart controls
public override void ApplyChanges()
// Set the value on apply. This is using a public property on the webpart
m_Parent.MyValue = m_Dropdown.SelectedValue;
Now we need to manipulate the web part class so that it works with the toolpart:
public class MyWebPart : Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.WebPart
private string m_MyValue = string.Empty;
// This is what we use to set the value from the toolpart's ApplyChanges() method
public string MyValue
m_MyValue = value;
protected override void Render(HtmlTextWriter writer)
// Normal web part code would be here. You could then use the set value from the toolpart in your code as you normally would with a property from a web part
// This is the overwritten method to get the custom toolpart
public override ToolPart GetToolParts()
// Create an array of toolparts to return
ToolPart toReturn = new ToolPart;
// Normal webpart properties like size, width, title, etc
WebPartToolPart wptp = new WebPartToolPart();
// Any properties that would come from your webpart
CustomPropertyToolPart cptp = new CustomPropertyToolPart();
// Add your custom toolpart
MyToolPart mtp = new MyToolPart();
toReturn = wptp;
toReturn = cptp;
toReturn = mtp;
Compile this as you normally would for a web part, deploy, and you're good to go.
A note about the sequence of layout in these toolparts: They appear in the direction in which they were added. So in the case of my array above, the custom toolpart would appear last in the settings zone.
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Tom said on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 @ 6:29 AM
Thanks for the catches, these are issues I came across while copying the code. Thanks for the feedback!
Gordon Hickley said on Monday, September 14th, 2009 @ 8:49 PM
Thanks for this example. A see a couple of issues with the code:
MyWebPart view m_Parent = null; - this doesn't look quite right
DynamicGroupDropdown() - this never gets called
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