This is just a quick update to announce another update to my Drop-Down Controls project. By request (and because I always enjoy a challenge), i’ve added custom DataGridView column types for the ComboTreeBox and GroupedComboBox controls. This means that you can now use these controls from within a DataGridView, taking advantage of the automatic support for reading/writing to a data source that comes with it.

Drop-Down Column Types

Creating custom column types

The general process for implementing a custom DataGridView column type is as follows:

  • Create a class that derives from DataGridViewColumn that will represent the column and properties that apply to all of its cells. Be sure to override the Clone method.
  • Create a class that derives from DataGridViewCell that will represent the individual cells, including any properties that override those inherited from the column. As above, override the Clone method. You will also need to override the Paint method to draw the cell’s “normal” appearance (i.e. when the cell is not in edit mode). In the constructor for the column class, set the CellTemplate property to a new instance of the cell class.
  • Create a class that derives from Control and implements the IDataGridViewEditingControl interface, which will be responsible for editing a cell’s value. (Alternatively, the cell can implement the IDataGridViewEditingCell interface if it provides in-place editing… but this is only useful when the editing UI is very simple.) Override the EditType property of the cell class to return the type of the editing control. Also override the InitializeEditingControl method to set the initial value of the control and set up any other behaviours.

In all of the above, you can use a more derived base class than those mentioned (e.g. DataGridViewTextBoxColumn, DataGridViewComboBoxCell, DateTimePicker, etc). In this case, since I already have controls to use as editors, I will extend those. However, for the column and cell classes, it’s easier to start from scratch.


The first custom column type I added is based on my GroupedComboBox control. Itself extending the built-in ComboBox control, it behaves very much like the DataGridViewComboBoxColumn. However, because the control does some custom painting and manipulation of the data source, it was easier to implement separately from the built-in column type.

Unlike the built-in column, there is no Items property on this column type. Since the grouping functionality relies on being bound to a data source, it makes sense to do this exclusively via the DataSource property. As with the GroupedComboBox itself, you can set the DisplayMember, ValueMember and GroupMember properties to control how the list items behave. All of these properties are optional (although you will not get the grouping behaviour unless you set the latter one).

You can override all of these properties for individual cells; setting the cell’s properties to null (the default) will cause the values to be inherited from the owning column.


Secondly, the other column type is based on my ComboTreeBox control. There are various challenges associated with populating hierarchical views from flat lists/tables:

The nodes displayed in the drop-down for this column type must be set manually. As with the previous column type, however, you can override the Nodes property for cells on an individual basis (controlled by the UseColumnNodes property).

In terms of actually selecting nodes, the underlying value type for cells in the ComboTreeBoxColumn is simply String. You select a specific node by its path, the format of which is determined by both the PathSeparator and UseNodeNamesForPath properties. This is also used for the formatted value of the cells. The cell itself can display either the path or the node text, depending on the value of ShowPath. All of this means that the underlying cell values (and therefore the values in the data source for the grid) must be path strings.

e.g. The path string Fruit\Citrus\Orange selects the node with the text “Orange” whose immediate parent node is “Citrus” and whose grandparent node is “Fruit”.

Path strings can be translated to/from ComboTreeNode via the GetFullPath and GetNodeAt methods on the ComboTreeBox control.


The latest version of the drop-down controls can be downloaded from the project page.

4 thoughts on “DataGridView Column Types for Drop-Down Controls

    • vote

      Ideally, you should populate the nodes before adding any rows to the DataGridView; however, in cases where each cell has a different set of nodes, you can populate the nodes at any time before you set the cell’s value.

      Here’s a quick example: Assume that you have a DataGridView called ‘dgv’, a ComboTreeBoxColumn called ‘treeColumn’ and this code is located in the form’s constructor:

      // populate nodes
      ComboTreeNode gases = treeColumn.Nodes.Add("Gases");

      ComboTreeNode metals = treeColumn.Nodes.Add("Metals");

      // now add some rows to the grid

      Note that you can also bind the DataGridView to a data source (DataSet, List, etc) instead of adding rows manually; the values in the ComboTreeBoxColumn will still be set correctly.

  1. vote

    Thanks, I’ve managed to get it to work

    How do I get it to return the ID value of the selected node, rather than the path value?

  2. vote

    Hi Bradley.

    First of all a great job , congratulations.

    I want to ask if esposible activate the visual effects of GroupedComboBoxCell in DataGridView ?


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