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Custom Items

By default, RadDropDownList displays text and image in its drop-down items. However, the default layout might not be suitable for you, and in this case you can use the flexible mechanism it features for creating visual items with custom content elements, functionality and properties.

This article demonstrates how to display detailed information for each employee from the Northwind.Employees table which is used as data source.

Figure 1: Custom visual items

WinForms RadDropDownList Custom Visual Items

1. Create a class that inherits from RadListVisualItem. Override its CreateChildElements method where you can add the desired content elements. The custom item will have no styles, because there are no defined styles for its type in the themes. You can apply the RadListVisualItem’s styles to it by defining its ThemeEffectiveType.

2. Override the Synchronize method in order to match the displayed data in the content elements with the respective DataBoundItem. As the “Photo” column in the Northwind.Employees table contains a byte array, we should convert it to Image:

Custom RadListVisualItem

public class CustomVisualItem : RadListVisualItem
    Font boldFont = new Font("Arial",10f, FontStyle.Bold);
    Font italicFont = new Font("Arial",10f, FontStyle.Italic);
    DockLayoutPanel mainContainer;
    StackLayoutElement leftColumn;
    StackLayoutElement rightColumn;
    LightVisualElement titleElement;
    LightVisualElement photoElement;
    LightVisualElement nameElement;
    LightVisualElement addressElement;
    LightVisualElement phoneElement;

    protected override Type ThemeEffectiveType     
            return typeof(RadListVisualItem);     

    protected override void CreateChildElements()

        mainContainer = new DockLayoutPanel();
        leftColumn = new StackLayoutElement();
        rightColumn = new StackLayoutElement();
        titleElement = new LightVisualElement();
        photoElement = new LightVisualElement();
        nameElement = new LightVisualElement();
        addressElement = new LightVisualElement();
        phoneElement = new LightVisualElement();

        mainContainer.LastChildFill = true;

        leftColumn.Orientation = Orientation.Vertical;
        photoElement.DrawBorder = true;

        rightColumn.Orientation = Orientation.Vertical;
        nameElement.Font = boldFont;
        titleElement.DrawBorder = true;
        titleElement.Font = italicFont;
        titleElement.BorderBoxStyle = Telerik.WinControls.BorderBoxStyle.FourBorders;
        titleElement.BorderLeftWidth = 0;
        titleElement.BorderTopWidth = 1;
        titleElement.BorderRightWidth = 0;
        titleElement.BorderBottomWidth = 0;

        DockLayoutPanel.SetDock(leftColumn, Telerik.WinControls.Layouts.Dock.Left);
        DockLayoutPanel.SetDock(rightColumn, Telerik.WinControls.Layouts.Dock.Right);
        leftColumn.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = true;
        rightColumn.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = true;
        titleElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = true;
        photoElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = true;
        nameElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = true;
        addressElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = true;
        phoneElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = true;

    public override void Synchronize()
        this.Text = string.Empty;
        DataRowView rowView = this.Data.DataBoundItem as DataRowView;
        if (rowView != null)
            this.photoElement.Image = GetImageFromData(rowView.Row["Photo"] as byte[]);
            this.titleElement.Text = rowView.Row["Title"].ToString();
            this.nameElement.Text = rowView.Row["FirstName"].ToString() + " " + rowView.Row["LastName"].ToString();
            this.addressElement.Text = "Address: " + rowView.Row["Address"].ToString().Replace(System.Environment.NewLine, " ");
            this.phoneElement.Text = "Phone: " + rowView.Row["HomePhone"].ToString();

    private Image GetImageFromData(byte[] imageData)
        const int OleHeaderLength = 78;
        MemoryStream memoryStream = new MemoryStream();
        if (HasOleContainerHeader(imageData))
            memoryStream.Write(imageData, OleHeaderLength, imageData.Length - OleHeaderLength);
            memoryStream.Write(imageData, 0, imageData.Length);
        Bitmap bitmap = new Bitmap(memoryStream);
        return bitmap.GetThumbnailImage(55, 65, null, new IntPtr());

    private bool HasOleContainerHeader(byte[] imageByteArray)
        const byte OleByte0 = 21;
        const byte OleByte1 = 28;
        return (imageByteArray[0] == OleByte0) && (imageByteArray[1] == OleByte1);

Public Class CustomVisualItem
Inherits RadListVisualItem
    Private boldFont As Font
    Private italicFont As Font
    Private mainContainer As DockLayoutPanel
    Private leftColumn As StackLayoutElement
    Private rightColumn As StackLayoutElement
    Private titleElement As LightVisualElement
    Private photoElement As LightVisualElement
    Private nameElement As LightVisualElement
    Private addressElement As LightVisualElement
    Private phoneElement As LightVisualElement
    Protected Overrides ReadOnly Property ThemeEffectiveType() As Type
            Return GetType(RadListVisualItem)
        End Get
    End Property
    Protected Overrides Sub CreateChildElements()
        boldFont = New Font("Arial", 10.0F, FontStyle.Bold)
        italicFont = New Font("Arial", 10.0F, FontStyle.Italic)
        mainContainer = New DockLayoutPanel()
        leftColumn = New StackLayoutElement()
        rightColumn = New StackLayoutElement()
        titleElement = New LightVisualElement()
        photoElement = New LightVisualElement()
        nameElement = New LightVisualElement()
        addressElement = New LightVisualElement()
        phoneElement = New LightVisualElement()
        mainContainer.LastChildFill = True
        leftColumn.Orientation = Orientation.Vertical
        photoElement.DrawBorder = True
        rightColumn.Orientation = Orientation.Vertical
        nameElement.Font = boldFont
        titleElement.DrawBorder = True
        titleElement.Font = italicFont
        titleElement.BorderBoxStyle = Telerik.WinControls.BorderBoxStyle.FourBorders
        titleElement.BorderLeftWidth = 0
        titleElement.BorderTopWidth = 1
        titleElement.BorderRightWidth = 0
        titleElement.BorderBottomWidth = 0
        DockLayoutPanel.SetDock(leftColumn, Telerik.WinControls.Layouts.Dock.Left)
        DockLayoutPanel.SetDock(rightColumn, Telerik.WinControls.Layouts.Dock.Right)
        leftColumn.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = True
        rightColumn.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = True
        titleElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = True
        photoElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = True
        nameElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = True
        addressElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = True
        phoneElement.NotifyParentOnMouseInput = True
    End Sub
    Public Overrides Sub Synchronize()
        Me.Text = String.Empty
        Dim rowView As DataRowView = TryCast(Me.Data.DataBoundItem, DataRowView)
        If rowView IsNot Nothing Then
            Me.photoElement.Image = GetImageFromData(TryCast(rowView.Row("Photo"), Byte()))
            Me.titleElement.Text = rowView.Row("Title").ToString()
            Me.nameElement.Text = rowView.Row("FirstName").ToString() & " " & rowView.Row("LastName").ToString()
            Me.addressElement.Text = "Address: " & rowView.Row("Address").ToString().Replace(System.Environment.NewLine, " ")
            Me.phoneElement.Text = "Phone: " & rowView.Row("HomePhone").ToString()
        End If
    End Sub
    Private Function GetImageFromData(imageData As Byte()) As Image
        Const OleHeaderLength As Integer = 78
        Dim memoryStream As New MemoryStream()
        If HasOleContainerHeader(imageData) Then
            memoryStream.Write(imageData, OleHeaderLength, imageData.Length - OleHeaderLength)
            memoryStream.Write(imageData, 0, imageData.Length)
        End If
        Dim bitmap As New Bitmap(memoryStream)
        Return bitmap.GetThumbnailImage(55, 65, Nothing, New IntPtr())
    End Function
    Private Function HasOleContainerHeader(imageByteArray As Byte()) As Boolean
        Const OleByte0 As Byte = 21
        Const OleByte1 As Byte = 28
        Return (imageByteArray(0) = OleByte0) AndAlso (imageByteArray(1) = OleByte1)
    End Function
End Class

3. Subscribe to the CreatingVisualListItem event before populating the RadDropDownList with data and replace the default item with your custom one:

Custom RadListVisualItem

private void radDropDownList1_CreatingVisualListItem(object sender, Telerik.WinControls.UI.CreatingVisualListItemEventArgs args)
    args.VisualItem = new CustomVisualItem();

Private Sub radDropDownList1_CreatingVisualListItem(sender As Object, args As Telerik.WinControls.UI.CreatingVisualListItemEventArgs)
    args.VisualItem = New CustomVisualItem()
End Sub

4. The last thing we need to do is to set the RadDropDownList.AutoSizeItems property to false and specify the ItemHeight:

Custom RadListVisualItem

this.radDropDownList1.AutoSizeItems = false;
this.radDropDownList1.DropDownListElement.ListElement.ItemHeight = 90;

Me.RadDropDownList1.AutoSizeItems = False
Me.RadDropDownList1.DropDownListElement.ListElement.ItemHeight = 90

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