Updated: 10 September 2008 – I added some information about using transparent background images.
I have several applications that take a little while to start up, usually because they are establishing database connections. As we all know, if an application takes longer than 2 seconds for a screen to appear, the user will assume nothing has happened and double click the icon again. I’ve watched users practically clicking with fury because they didn’t get immediate results. Hey, maybe that could be a new movie… Clicks of Fury!
Anyway, the way around this is to provide the user a Splash Screen. That is the little icon or graphic that pops up while an application is loading. This gives the user immediate feedback that something is happening, and can provide something interesting or entertaining to fill the void while they wait. OK, the last may be a stretch, but a Splash Screen is important. For users using your software for the first time, it is also their first impression of you and your product.
Today I’m going to show you a really easy way to incorporate a Splash Screen for your application. Just follow these steps…
Create the Splash Image
This step is actually optional, which will make sense in a minute, but you can get much more impressive results using a Graphic for your Splash. You can use just about any standard image type. You can also use irregularly shaped images (with transparent background) to achieve some pretty cool effects.
Create the Splash Form
I usually call mine FormSplash, so that I can always cut and paste the rest of the code from this article into my Main Form. Follow these steps:
- Set the FormBorderStyle property to None.
- If you created an image in #1 above, set the BackgroundImage property to the image you created. Usually you will also want to set the BackgroundImageLayout property to None. If you chose not to create an image, you can simply set the background color of your form to a color of your choosing and place labels and such on your FormSplash to represent text.
- Adjust the FormSplash size to the same size as the Image or to an appropriate size for your Splash.
- Set the ShowInTaskbar property to False. This is optional but will prevent an extra item from showing up temporarily and unnecessarily in the task bar.
Your Splash Form is now ready to be used.
Using Transparent Background Images
If you are using a Background Image with an irregular shape expecting the transparent parts to actually be transparent, then at this point you may be a little frustrated. For instance, I just created a Splash graphic with rounded borders and saved it as an RGB/A PNG file. When I used it as the background of the Splash Form, you could see the corners as solid Control colored sections. In other words, the transparency only went from the Background Image to the Form BackColor. Naturally, I want the transparency to show all the way through to the Desktop.
The way around this was actually pretty simple: there is a property on the Form called TransparencyKey. Set it to the same color as BackColor. Now, that color is treated as transparent and the corners no longer show. It may be a good idea to pick an uncommon color, like Tomato or Bisque (ummm… lunch!) instead of the default Control.
Show the Splash from your Main Form.
Now that you have FormSplash, you need to instantiate and show it from your Main Form. This is almost like any other Form.Show(), but with a little kick:
FormSplash splash = new FormSplash(); splash.Show(); splash.Update();
The only difference here is the splash.Update() line. This will force the FormSplash to redraw itself immediately, not waiting for the method to finish. I place this code as the first in my Main Form Constructor, immediately preceding the InitializeComponent() call.
Now to finish it all off, just hide the form at the end of the Constructor:
And there you have it: a quick and easy Splash Screen. Now whenever the application is starting, it should show your users a lovely Splash Screen while they wait. And hopefully we can hold off the Clicks of Fury!