Tips for adjusting TableLayoutPanel

UI adjustments feel clumsy until you struggle through several, but there are some techniques that can help. It’s obviously better to see these in use, but a list is at least something to start with.

  • TableLayoutPanel displays a flyout menu that can be used to adjust dimensions by hand. This opens a dialog with a table of Columns, or Rows if you select that from the droplist. Each row/col has an Absolute or Percentage value. ALWAYS give one of the entries a percentage value- that’s the one that will expand when the user stretches the screen. The exception is when nothing should ever change size. You can make every row exactly the same size, match precise margin/border measurements, etc.
  • After you establish which rows/columns are absolute and which are percentage, you are able to manually adjust the absolute rows/cols by dragging on the UI. This is almost always faster than entering numbers, and usually alleviates the need to know those precise margin/border measurements…
  • Form fonts will auto-scale in the tables. This works well for normal values, but extreme values can look stupid. So be it. Users might deny it, but they know better than to use font size 48 on data entry forms. Users who try to break things get no pity from me.
  • Anchor and Dock properties are similar in practice. I normally use Dock (Fill), but I think Anchor (L R T B) would work equally well. Docked objects cannot be auto-moved; Anchored can. There are pros and cons to each.
  • In really complicated UIs that have several nested TableLayoutPanels or Splitters, always give those nested objects a name so you know what you have selected as you rearrange the UI. This can be far more important than it sounds, especially for redesign.
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