Create Custom Drag Arrow

This article demonstrates how to create a custom drag cue that connects the drag origin point with the current mouse position.

Defining the Arrow Visual

The arrow visual used in this example is a custom Shape element that creates its geometry based on start and end points.

Example 1: Creating custom arrow visual

public sealed class ArrowShape : Shape 
    public double X1 { get; set; } 
    public double Y1 { get; set; } 
    public double X2 { get; set; } 
    public double Y2 { get; set; } 
    public double HeadWidth { get; set; } 
    public double HeadHeight { get; set; } 
    private static Tuple<Point, Point> GetArrowPoints(Point startPoint, Point endPoint, double arrowWidth, double arrowHeight) 
        arrowHeight = arrowHeight / 2; 
        double theta = Math.Atan2(startPoint.Y - endPoint.Y, startPoint.X - endPoint.X); 
        double sint = Math.Round(Math.Sin(theta), 2); 
        double cost = Math.Round(Math.Cos(theta), 2); 
        Point leftPoint = new Point(endPoint.X + ((arrowWidth * cost) - (arrowHeight * sint)), endPoint.Y + ((arrowWidth * sint) + (arrowHeight * cost))); 
        Point rightPoint = new Point(endPoint.X + ((arrowWidth * cost) + (arrowHeight * sint)), endPoint.Y - ((arrowHeight * cost) - (arrowWidth * sint))); 
        return new Tuple<Point, Point>(leftPoint, rightPoint); 
    public void UpdateGeometry() 
    protected override Geometry DefiningGeometry 
        get { return this.CreateArrowGeometry(); } 
    private StreamGeometry CreateArrowGeometry() 
        StreamGeometry geometry = new StreamGeometry() { FillRule = FillRule.EvenOdd }; 
        using (StreamGeometryContext context = geometry.Open()) 
            Point startPoint = new Point(X1, this.Y1); 
            Point endPoint = new Point(X2, this.Y2); 
            Tuple<Point, Point> arrowPoints = GetArrowPoints(startPoint, endPoint, this.HeadWidth, this.HeadHeight); 
            Point leftPoint = arrowPoints.Item1; 
            Point rightPoint = arrowPoints.Item2; 
            context.BeginFigure(startPoint, true, false); 
            context.LineTo(endPoint, true, true); 
            context.LineTo(leftPoint, true, true); 
            context.LineTo(endPoint, true, true); 
            context.LineTo(rightPoint, true, true); 
        return geometry; 
In order to update the geometry of the ArrowShape control when changing its X and Y values, call the UpdateGeometry() method.

Defining the Drag Arrow Behavior

The logic that shows the arrow visual can be implemented in a static class using an attached property. This way it can be re-used across multiple controls.

The custom class uses a native Popup container that hosts the ArrowShape control while the drag operation is performing.

The behavior uses the DragDropManager and its DragInitialized, DragOver and DragDropCompleted events to update the arrow visual.

The attached behavior also handles several additional cases - it allows to define a drag start threshold and also an offset between the mouse and the arrow's end point.

Example 2: Creating the dragdrop attached behavior that updates the arrow visual

public static class DragDropManagerUtilities 
    private const double dragStartThreshold = 5; 
    private static readonly Point EndPointOffset = new Point(3, 3); 
    private static bool allowDropCache; 
    private static Popup arrowContainer; 
    private static ArrowShape arrowVisual; 
    private static FrameworkElement rootVisual;         
    static DragDropManagerUtilities() 
        rootVisual = App.Current.MainWindow;             
        arrowVisual = new ArrowShape(); 
        arrowVisual.HeadHeight = 10; 
        arrowVisual.HeadWidth = 10; 
        arrowVisual.Stroke = Brushes.RoyalBlue; 
        arrowVisual.StrokeThickness = 3; 
        arrowContainer = new Popup(); 
        arrowContainer.AllowsTransparency = true; 
        arrowContainer.Placement = PlacementMode.Relative; 
        arrowContainer.PlacementTarget = rootVisual; 
        arrowContainer.Child = arrowVisual; 
        DragDropManager.AddDragOverHandler(rootVisual, OnWindowDragOver, true); 
    public static readonly DependencyProperty ShowArrowDragCueProperty = 
            new PropertyMetadata(false, OnShowArrowDragCueChanged)); 
    public static bool GetShowArrowDragCue(DependencyObject obj) 
        return (bool)obj.GetValue(ShowArrowDragCueProperty); 
    public static void SetShowArrowDragCue(DependencyObject obj, bool value) 
        obj.SetValue(ShowArrowDragCueProperty, value); 
    private static void OnShowArrowDragCueChanged(DependencyObject target, DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs args) 
        var element = (FrameworkElement)target; 
        if ((bool)args.NewValue) 
            DragDropManager.AddDragInitializeHandler(element, OnElementDragInitialize, true);                 
            DragDropManager.AddDragDropCompletedHandler(element, OnElementDragDropCompleted, true); 
            element.Unloaded += OnElementUnloaded; 
    private static void OnElementDragInitialize(object sender, DragInitializeEventArgs e) 
        arrowContainer.Width = rootVisual.ActualWidth; 
        arrowContainer.Height = rootVisual.ActualHeight; 
        var position = Mouse.GetPosition(rootVisual); 
        arrowVisual.X1 = arrowVisual.X2 = position.X; 
        arrowVisual.Y1 = arrowVisual.Y2 = position.Y; 
        allowDropCache = rootVisual.AllowDrop; 
        rootVisual.AllowDrop = true; 
    private static void OnElementDragDropCompleted(object sender, DragDropCompletedEventArgs e) 
        arrowContainer.IsOpen = false; 
        rootVisual.AllowDrop = allowDropCache; 
    private static void OnWindowDragOver(object sender, Telerik.Windows.DragDrop.DragEventArgs e) 
        if (e.AllowedEffects != DragDropEffects.None) 
            var position = e.GetPosition(rootVisual) - EndPointOffset; 
            arrowVisual.X2 = position.X; 
            arrowVisual.Y2 = position.Y; 
            if (!arrowContainer.IsOpen &&  
                GetDistance(arrowVisual.X1, arrowVisual.Y1, arrowVisual.X2, arrowVisual.Y2) >= dragStartThreshold) 
                arrowContainer.IsOpen = true; 
    private static void UnsubscribeFromEvents(FrameworkElement element) 
        DragDropManager.RemoveDragInitializeHandler(element, OnElementDragInitialize); 
        DragDropManager.RemoveDragDropCompletedHandler(element, OnElementDragDropCompleted); 
        element.Unloaded -= OnElementUnloaded; 
    private static void OnElementUnloaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e) 
    private static double GetDistance(double x1, double y1, double x2, double y2) 
        return Point.Subtract(new Point(x2, y2), new Point(x1, y1)).Length; 

Using the Custom Drag Arrow

To demonstrate the custom drag arrow we will use two Border elements. A drag/drop opreation can be performed from one to the other.

Example 3: Defining the view in XAML and setting the DragDropManagerUtilities.ShowArrowDragCue attached property

        <ColumnDefinition /> 
        <ColumnDefinition /> 
    <Border x:Name="border1" Background="YellowGreen"  
            BorderThickness="2" BorderBrush="Crimson" 
            Width="100" Height="100"  
        <TextBlock Text="Drag Source" VerticalAlignment="Center"  
                   TextAlignment="Center" Foreground="White"/> 
    <Border x:Name="border2" Background="YellowGreen"  
            BorderThickness="2" BorderBrush="Crimson" 
            Width="100" Height="100" Grid.Column="1" 
        <TextBlock Text="Drop Target" VerticalAlignment="Center" 
                   TextAlignment="Center" Foreground="White"/> 
In order to use the DragDropManagerUtilities class logic you will need to set the AllowedEffects of the drag operation to a value different than None. You can do this in the DragInitialize event handler.

Example 4: Implementing a basic drag/drop logic between the Border elements

public partial class MyUserControl : UserControl 
    public MyUserControl() 
        DragDropManager.AddDragInitializeHandler(this.border1, OnBorderDragInitialize); 
        DragDropManager.AddDropHandler(this.border2, OnBorderDrop); 
    private void OnBorderDragInitialize(object sender, DragInitializeEventArgs e) 
        e.AllowedEffects = DragDropEffects.All; 
        e.DragVisual = new TextBlock() { Text = "Dragging.." }; 
    private void OnBorderDrop(object sender, Telerik.Windows.DragDrop.DragEventArgs e) 

Figure 1: Custom drag arrow


The DragDropManagerUtilities class can be used with most controls.

The drag arrow is a native WPF visual element which means that it will be shown only in the boundaries of the application's window.

This example is based on the Custom Arrow Cue SDK project.

See Also

In this article
Not finding the help you need? Improve this article