MicroStation's entire graphical user interface, including over 120 dialog boxes and 2000 dialog box items, was implemented using the MicroStation dialog box manager.

Dialog boxes and dialog box items are usually defined in resource compiler ASCII source files. Changes in dialog box details can then be incorporated into an application with only a resource compile and link. In these cases, a full recompile and relink of an application's MDL source files is not necessary. In addition, items can be dynamically added, removed, set and hidden at run-time by calling dialog box manager library functions.

The MicroStation dialog box manager is "application aware." It can directly modify application state variables, using only information specified in a resource file. As a result, a large part of the interaction between the dialog box manager and client application is specified by defining data, not by writing program code. Other window systems force the programmer to write a support function for every type of user action.

Sometimes a dialog box item is too complex to be specified in a resource file. In such cases, the default behavior of an item can be changed or enhanced by attaching a hook function to that item. Using techniques described in this manual, the MicroStation dialog box programmer can write dialog and item hook functions that customize the behavior of the dialog box manager.

The next section in this chapter discusses those features of the MicroStation dialog box manager that set it apart from other graphical user interface programming systems. The remainder of the chapter explains concepts that need to be clearly understood when creating MDL applications that use the dialog box manager.

The Standard dialog items discusses all of the dialog box items supported by the dialog box manager.

The DialogBoxManagerHookFunctions discusses the structure of dialog and item hook functions and the messages that can be sent to each.

The ACompleteExample steps you through a complete example of an MDL application that opens a dialog box.

The DialogBoxStyleGuidelines contains dialog box style guidelines, hints on debugging dialog boxes, and general techniques useful when creating dialog boxes.

"Dialog Box Manager Functions" in the MicroStation MDL Function Reference Manual describes all of the MDL library functions relating to the dialog box manager.

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