How to Host a WPF Control in a WinForms Application

As people start making the jump from Windows Forms to WPF, many will hit an intermediate phase where it'll be useful to use WPF components in WinForms and vice-versa. Unfortunately, the two frameworks are not directly compatible because WPF uses Control under System.Windows.Controls while WinForms uses Control under System.Windows.Forms — and in terms of class hierarchies, the two Control classes are completely unrelated.

Luckily, Microsoft has had the good sense to give us a workaround. A WinForms application can contain a WPF control by putting the WPF control into an instance of ElementHost, a class deriving WinForms' Control, and then adding the host to a control collection normally:

/* our WPF control */
MapAnimationLayer animationLayer = new MapAnimationLayer();

/* container that will host our WPF control, we set it using 
 * the Child property */
ElementHost host = new ElementHost()
{
    BackColor = Color.Transparent, 
    Child     = animationLayer, 
    Dock      = DockStyle.Fill, 
};

/* now add the ElementHost to our controls collection 
 * normally */
Controls.Add(host);

The ElementHost class is part of a special namespace called System.Windows.Forms.Integration. Adding this namespace to your solution is slightly tricky because its DLL is not named as you'd expect; it's actually called WindowsFormsIntegration. From the Add Reference dialog window, scroll to the bottom of list in the .NET tab and you should see it.

WinForms in WPF

Similarly, another class called WindowsFormsHost allows you to insert WinForms controls into a WPF application. Here it is in XAML:

<Window x:Class="WinFormsHostWindow"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
    xmlns:wf="clr-namespace:System.Windows.Forms;assembly=System.Windows.Forms"
    >
    <Grid>
        <WindowsFormsHost>
            
            <wf:TextBox x:Name="password" />
        </WindowsFormsHost>
    </Grid>
</Window>

Posted on August 13, 2009 from Calgary

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My name is Brandur. I'm a polyglot software engineer and part-time designer working at Heroku in San Francisco, California. I'm a Canadian expat. My name is Icelandic. Drop me a line at brandur@mutelight.org.

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