How To: Create a Component Conscious UITypeEditor

Many a time do I find Design-Time support in Visual Studio.NET to be a no-man’s land, be it because no one in my surroundings knows how to do something I have to do and I have to resort to an hour or more of internet research, at times in vain, or be it because I have to look into and touch Microsoft’s internal/private classes.

This time I encountered a problem which required me to create a UITypeEditor that is on an Extender Provider’s provided property. Easy enough, but it doesn’t stop at that. I had to use reflection to scan the component this provided property was applied to, to find all public boolean properties with get/set accessors. Now we’re in that no-man’s land I was talking about earlier.

Point of Interest: If you want to apply Design-Time support attributes to properties supplied by an Extender Provider, you must apply them to both the Get and Set methods you create.

The following is the solution to this problem. I tried documenting it as best I can:

using System;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Globalization;
using System.Collections;
using System.Drawing.Design;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.Windows.Forms.Design;
using System.Reflection;
/// <summary>
/// Written by Omer van Kloeten. All rights reserved.
/// </summary>
namespace HowTo
/// <summary>
/// Provides a user interface for selecting a state property.
/// </summary>
public class ConsciousTypeEditor : UITypeEditor
// This class is the list that will pop up when we click
// on the down arrow of the mock-combo box in the designer.
private class PropertiesList : ListBox
public PropertiesList(Component component)
// Go over all properties, filtering out the ones we need (public/get/set/boolean).
// None is a reserved type for a case where no property is selected.
foreach (PropertyInfo info in component.GetType().GetProperties())
if (info.GetGetMethod(false) != null &&
info.GetSetMethod(false) != null &&
info.PropertyType == typeof(bool) &&
info.Name != "None")
this.Sorted = true;
 // Not setting the border to none just doesn't look good.
this.BorderStyle = BorderStyle.None;
/// <summary>
/// Displays a list of available values for the specified component than sets the value.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="context">An ITypeDescriptorContext that can be used to gain additional context information.</param>
/// <param name="provider">A service provider object through which editing services may be obtained.</param>
/// <param name="value">An instance of the value being edited.</param>
/// <returns>The new value of the object. If the value of the object hasn't changed, this method should return the same object it was passed.</returns>
public override object EditValue(ITypeDescriptorContext context, IServiceProvider provider, object value)
if (provider != null)
// This service is in charge of popping our ListBox.
IWindowsFormsEditorService service1 = ((IWindowsFormsEditorService) provider.GetService(typeof(IWindowsFormsEditorService)));
if (service1 != null)
// This is an internal Microsoft class representing the PropertyGrid entry for our component.
if (provider.GetType().FullName == "System.Windows.Forms.PropertyGridInternal.PropertyDescriptorGridEntry")
// Get the component we're working on via reflection.
Component comp = ((Component)(provider.GetType().GetProperty("Component").GetGetMethod().Invoke(provider, new object[0])));
PropertiesList list = new PropertiesList(comp);
// Drop the list control.
if (list.SelectedIndices.Count == 1)
value = list.SelectedItem.ToString();
// Close the list control after selection.
return value;
/// <summary>
/// Gets the editing style of the <see cref="EditValue"/> method.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="context">An ITypeDescriptorContext that can be used to gain additional context information.</param>
/// <returns>Returns the DropDown style, since this editor uses a drop down list.</returns>
public override UITypeEditorEditStyle GetEditStyle(ITypeDescriptorContext context)
// We're using a drop down style UITypeEditor.
return UITypeEditorEditStyle.DropDown;
Hack Value: [ X X X X X ]
Cool Value: [ X X X X ]
Usable Value: [ X X X X ]

8 thoughts on “How To: Create a Component Conscious UITypeEditor

  1. Are you using Visual Studio.NET 2003?
    I’m sorry, I should have pointed out that this is quite fragile and enviroment specific.
    You could try to debug the code (Debug Process for an instance of Visual Studio.NET) and see what type of class you get. I would be interested in knowing the result as well.

  2. Omer,

    For me this piece of code worked:

    Object instance = pProvider.GetType().GetProperty("Instance").GetValue(pProvider, null);

    (assuming the provider is of the type PropertyDescriptorGridEntry, the standard when using the UITypeEditor in the propertygrid)



  3. Thank you very much. This just was what I was looking for. Why MS is so distrustful to make that classes public?
    Anyway your code help me to get me unblocked. I needed the value of “PropertyName” and also I started to search for that -PropertyDescriptorGridEntry-. Thanks we have Reflection.

  4. Hey!
    Great post =)
    The list with Properties are retrieved from the actual Control where the UIEditor is used, so I get a long list of Properties from the same control where I used this UITypeEditor.
    How can I instead specify the type to use in design-time?
    What I mean is this:
    The first property (Prop1) defines the Type, so it is a drop-down list with different Types.
    The second property (Prop2) is the property where I use the UITypeEditor (as you posted); that is we have here a list of PropertyInfo.
    When I select one Type from Prop1 I want the PropertyInfo-list in Prop2 to be based on the Type just chosen in Prop1.
    How can I do that? =)

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