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WinForms

Introduction

As cTrader indicators/cBots are running .NET apps you can use all of the .NET technologies on them, that includes UI solutions like WinForms and WPF.

You can use all the power of WinForms on your indicators/cBots, things like dialogs, forms, Visual Studio WinForms designer, third party UI controls and components.

WinForms is part of Windows and it's only available and works on Windows.

To use WinForms you have to change your cTrader Automate Compiler from Embedded to SDK.

Let's start by using WinForms dialogs which are very useful in case you want to show an alert or ask for user input.

We will use Visual Studio with .NET SDK compiler not the Embedded comipler for the rest of this guide, if you don't have them please install both on your system.

Configuring Project

Before you be able to use WinForms on your cBot/Indicator you have to make some changes on your indicator/cBot project file.

cTrader indicators and cBots uses .NET cross platform class library like project configuration, as WinForms only works on Windows you have change the target of your indicator/cBot to Windows flavor of .NET.

To do that, open your indicator/cBot project file by double clicking on your project file in Visual Studio, then replace it's content with:

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<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk">
  <PropertyGroup>
    <TargetFramework>net6.0-windows</TargetFramework>
    <UseWindowsForms>true</UseWindowsForms>
  </PropertyGroup>

  <ItemGroup>
    <PackageReference Include="cTrader.Automate" Version="1.*" />
  </ItemGroup>
</Project>

We added UseWindowsForms and changed the TargetFramework from net6.0 to net6.0-windows.

After changing your project file you also have to change the access rights of your indicator/cBot to FullAccess, otherwise it will not be able show a window.

Rebuild your project and you can start using WinFroms now.

If rebuild fails change the cTrader Automate compiler from Embedded to SDK, to do that go to your cTrader settings -> Automate section and select the SDK compiler instead of Embedded.

Dialogs

There are several ready to use dialogs in WinForms that are very useful in lots of cases like showing an error message, getting user confirmation, or selecting a file/folder.

Let's give you an example of MessageBox and File open/save dialogs.

MessageBox

You can use message box on your Indicators/cBots the same way you use it on any other .NET app.

Let's create a confirmation dialog box by using MessageBox on an indicator:

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using cAlgo.API;
using System.Windows.Forms;

namespace WinFormsTest
{
    [Indicator(IsOverlay = true, AccessRights = AccessRights.FullAccess)]
    public class WinFormsTest : Indicator
    {
        protected override void Initialize()
        {
            var result = MessageBox.Show("Are you sure you want confirm?", "Confirmation", MessageBoxButtons.OKCancel, MessageBoxIcon.Information);

            if (result == DialogResult.OK)
            {
                Print("OK");
            }
            else
            {
                Print("Cancel");
            }
        }

        public override void Calculate(int index)
        {
        }
    }
}

Build and add the above indicator on a chart, it will show the confirmation dialog.

Open/Save File Dialogs

The file open/save dialog allows you to let your indicator/cBot user select some files on his system, you will use it when you have to open a file or save a file.

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using cAlgo.API;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System;
using System.Threading;

namespace WinFormsTest
{
    [Indicator(IsOverlay = true, AccessRights = AccessRights.FullAccess)]
    public class WinFormsTest : Indicator
    {
        protected override void Initialize()
        {
            var thread = new Thread(() =>
            {
                var dialog = new OpenFileDialog
                {
                    CheckFileExists = true,
                    CheckPathExists = true,
                    Filter = "Text Files (*.txt)|*.txt",
                    InitialDirectory = Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.Desktop),
                    Multiselect = true,
                    RestoreDirectory = true,
                };

                var result = dialog.ShowDialog();

                if (result == DialogResult.OK)
                {
                    foreach (var fileName in dialog.FileNames)
                    {
                        Print(fileName);
                    }
                }
                else
                {
                    Print("Dialog Canceled");
                }
            });

            thread.SetApartmentState(ApartmentState.STA);

            thread.Start();

            thread.Join();
        }

        public override void Calculate(int index)
        {
        }
    }
}
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using cAlgo.API;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System;
using System.Threading;

namespace WinFormsTest
{
    [Indicator(IsOverlay = true, AccessRights = AccessRights.FullAccess)]
    public class WinFormsTest : Indicator
    {
        protected override void Initialize()
        {
            var thread = new Thread(() =>
            {
                var dialog = new SaveFileDialog
                {
                    CheckFileExists = true,
                    CheckPathExists = true,
                    Filter = "Text Files (*.txt)|*.txt",
                    InitialDirectory = Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.Desktop),
                    RestoreDirectory = true,
                };

                var result = dialog.ShowDialog();

                if (result == DialogResult.OK)
                {
                    Print(dialog.FileName);
                }
                else
                {
                    Print("Dialog Canceled");
                }
            });

            thread.SetApartmentState(ApartmentState.STA);

            thread.Start();

            thread.Join();
        }

        public override void Calculate(int index)
        {
        }
    }
}

We used separate thread to run the code related to our dialogs in previous examples, because the main cBot/Indicator thread is not an STA thread.

Let's now explain why we used a separate thread?

Using a Dedicated Thread for UI

When running your WinFroms UI related code you have to use an STA marked thread because Windows Forms and WPF windows must run inside a STA marked thread otherwise they will not work.

For more detail regarding STA thread apartment check STAThreadAttribute and CA2232.

You can't change a running thread ApartmentState, because the main cBot/Indicator thread is not a STA marked you have to create a new thread and use it only for your UI related stuff.

Also we called the thread join method, the join method blocks the execution of our thread which is the main cBot/Indicator thread until the thread we created for the dialog is released.

Whenever you want to show a Windows Form you have to run it inside a separate STA marked thread.

Creating a New Form

So far we used the Windows Forms dialogs, now let's create our own form and show it.

The form we are going to create will show the trading account info like balance, margin, etc...

To create a new form, right click on your indicator/cBot project in Visual Studio and select Add -> Windows Forms... option:

Image title

It will open a dialog where you can select the type of new item you want to add on your project and it will selct the "Form (Windows Forms)" from the list:

Image title

Change the form name from Form1.cs to AccountInfoForm.cs and click "Add" button.

It will create the form inside your project and it will show the Visual Studio WinForms designer.

You can use all of the designer features, like the toolbox to add controls:

Image title

For this example we already created the form for you, so you don't have to design it by yourself.

Open the form "AccountInfoForm.Designer.cs" file and paste below code on it:

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namespace WinForms_Test
{
    partial class AccountInfoForm
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Required designer variable.
        /// </summary>
        private System.ComponentModel.IContainer components = null;

        /// <summary>
        /// Clean up any resources being used.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="disposing">true if managed resources should be disposed; otherwise, false.</param>
        protected override void Dispose(bool disposing)
        {
            if (disposing && (components != null))
            {
                components.Dispose();
            }
            base.Dispose(disposing);
        }

        #region Windows Form Designer generated code

        /// <summary>
        /// Required method for Designer support - do not modify
        /// the contents of this method with the code editor.
        /// </summary>
        private void InitializeComponent()
        {
            this.label1 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.NumberLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.BrokerLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.label3 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.CurrencyLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.label5 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.BalanceLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.label7 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.EquityLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.label9 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.PositionsNumberLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.label11 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.OrdersNumberLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.label13 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.NetProfitLabel = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.label15 = new System.Windows.Forms.Label();
            this.UpdateButton = new System.Windows.Forms.Button();
            this.SuspendLayout();
            // 
            // label1
            // 
            this.label1.AutoSize = true;
            this.label1.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label1.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 33);
            this.label1.Name = "label1";
            this.label1.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(72, 20);
            this.label1.TabIndex = 0;
            this.label1.Text = "Number:";
            // 
            // NumberLabel
            // 
            this.NumberLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.NumberLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.NumberLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 33);
            this.NumberLabel.Name = "NumberLabel";
            this.NumberLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.NumberLabel.TabIndex = 1;
            // 
            // BrokerLabel
            // 
            this.BrokerLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.BrokerLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.BrokerLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 67);
            this.BrokerLabel.Name = "BrokerLabel";
            this.BrokerLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.BrokerLabel.TabIndex = 3;
            // 
            // label3
            // 
            this.label3.AutoSize = true;
            this.label3.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label3.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 67);
            this.label3.Name = "label3";
            this.label3.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(56, 20);
            this.label3.TabIndex = 2;
            this.label3.Text = "Broker";
            // 
            // CurrencyLabel
            // 
            this.CurrencyLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.CurrencyLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.CurrencyLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 101);
            this.CurrencyLabel.Name = "CurrencyLabel";
            this.CurrencyLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.CurrencyLabel.TabIndex = 5;
            // 
            // label5
            // 
            this.label5.AutoSize = true;
            this.label5.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label5.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 101);
            this.label5.Name = "label5";
            this.label5.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(75, 20);
            this.label5.TabIndex = 4;
            this.label5.Text = "Currency";
            // 
            // BalanceLabel
            // 
            this.BalanceLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.BalanceLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.BalanceLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 135);
            this.BalanceLabel.Name = "BalanceLabel";
            this.BalanceLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.BalanceLabel.TabIndex = 7;
            // 
            // label7
            // 
            this.label7.AutoSize = true;
            this.label7.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label7.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 135);
            this.label7.Name = "label7";
            this.label7.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(63, 20);
            this.label7.TabIndex = 6;
            this.label7.Text = "Balance";
            // 
            // EquityLabel
            // 
            this.EquityLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.EquityLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.EquityLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 173);
            this.EquityLabel.Name = "EquityLabel";
            this.EquityLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.EquityLabel.TabIndex = 9;
            // 
            // label9
            // 
            this.label9.AutoSize = true;
            this.label9.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label9.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 173);
            this.label9.Name = "label9";
            this.label9.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(54, 20);
            this.label9.TabIndex = 8;
            this.label9.Text = "Equity";
            // 
            // PositionsNumberLabel
            // 
            this.PositionsNumberLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.PositionsNumberLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.PositionsNumberLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 210);
            this.PositionsNumberLabel.Name = "PositionsNumberLabel";
            this.PositionsNumberLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.PositionsNumberLabel.TabIndex = 11;
            // 
            // label11
            // 
            this.label11.AutoSize = true;
            this.label11.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label11.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 210);
            this.label11.Name = "label11";
            this.label11.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(85, 20);
            this.label11.TabIndex = 10;
            this.label11.Text = "Positions #";
            // 
            // OrdersNumberLabel
            // 
            this.OrdersNumberLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.OrdersNumberLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.OrdersNumberLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 250);
            this.OrdersNumberLabel.Name = "OrdersNumberLabel";
            this.OrdersNumberLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.OrdersNumberLabel.TabIndex = 13;
            // 
            // label13
            // 
            this.label13.AutoSize = true;
            this.label13.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label13.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 250);
            this.label13.Name = "label13";
            this.label13.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(69, 20);
            this.label13.TabIndex = 12;
            this.label13.Text = "Orders #";
            // 
            // NetProfitLabel
            // 
            this.NetProfitLabel.AutoSize = true;
            this.NetProfitLabel.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.NetProfitLabel.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(188, 285);
            this.NetProfitLabel.Name = "NetProfitLabel";
            this.NetProfitLabel.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 20);
            this.NetProfitLabel.TabIndex = 15;
            // 
            // label15
            // 
            this.label15.AutoSize = true;
            this.label15.Font = new System.Drawing.Font("Segoe UI Variable Display", 11.25F, System.Drawing.FontStyle.Bold, System.Drawing.GraphicsUnit.Point);
            this.label15.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(12, 285);
            this.label15.Name = "label15";
            this.label15.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(79, 20);
            this.label15.TabIndex = 14;
            this.label15.Text = "Net Profit";
            // 
            // UpdateButton
            // 
            this.UpdateButton.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(273, 340);
            this.UpdateButton.Name = "UpdateButton";
            this.UpdateButton.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(75, 23);
            this.UpdateButton.TabIndex = 16;
            this.UpdateButton.Text = "Update";
            this.UpdateButton.UseVisualStyleBackColor = true;
            this.UpdateButton.Click += new System.EventHandler(this.UpdateButton_Click);
            // 
            // AccountInfoForm
            // 
            this.AutoScaleDimensions = new System.Drawing.SizeF(7F, 15F);
            this.AutoScaleMode = System.Windows.Forms.AutoScaleMode.Font;
            this.ClientSize = new System.Drawing.Size(360, 375);
            this.Controls.Add(this.UpdateButton);
            this.Controls.Add(this.NetProfitLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label15);
            this.Controls.Add(this.OrdersNumberLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label13);
            this.Controls.Add(this.PositionsNumberLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label11);
            this.Controls.Add(this.EquityLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label9);
            this.Controls.Add(this.BalanceLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label7);
            this.Controls.Add(this.CurrencyLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label5);
            this.Controls.Add(this.BrokerLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label3);
            this.Controls.Add(this.NumberLabel);
            this.Controls.Add(this.label1);
            this.Name = "AccountInfoForm";
            this.Text = "Account Info";
            this.Load += new System.EventHandler(this.AccountInfoForm_Load);
            this.ResumeLayout(false);
            this.PerformLayout();

        }

        #endregion

        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label1;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label NumberLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label BrokerLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label3;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label CurrencyLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label5;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label BalanceLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label7;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label EquityLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label9;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label PositionsNumberLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label11;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label OrdersNumberLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label13;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label NetProfitLabel;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Label label15;
        private System.Windows.Forms.Button UpdateButton;
    }
}

The above code is generated by WinForms designer, now let's write the backend code of form, to do that right click on the Form and select "View Code":

Image title

Then copy this code on it:

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using System;
using System.Linq;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using cAlgo.API;

namespace WinForms_Test
{
    public partial class AccountInfoForm : Form
    {
        private int _accountNumber;
        private string _brokerName;
        private string _currency;
        private double _balance;
        private double _equity;
        private int _positionsCount;
        private int _ordersCount;
        private double _netProfit;
        private readonly Indicator _indicator;

        public AccountInfoForm(Indicator indicator)
        {
            _indicator = indicator;

            InitializeComponent();
        }

        private void GetDataFromIndicator()
        {
            _indicator.BeginInvokeOnMainThread(() =>
            {
                _accountNumber = _indicator.Account.Number;
                _brokerName = _indicator.Account.BrokerName;
                _currency = _indicator.Account.Asset.Name;
                _balance = _indicator.Account.Balance;
                _equity = _indicator.Account.Equity;
                _positionsCount = _indicator.Positions.Count;
                _ordersCount = _indicator.PendingOrders.Count;
                _netProfit = _indicator.History.Sum(trade => trade.NetProfit);

                UpdateData();
            });
        }

        private void UpdateData()
        {
            _ = BeginInvoke(() =>
            {
                NumberLabel.Text = _accountNumber.ToString();
                BrokerLabel.Text = _brokerName;
                CurrencyLabel.Text = _currency;
                BalanceLabel.Text = Math.Round(_balance, 2).ToString();
                EquityLabel.Text = Math.Round(_equity, 2).ToString();
                PositionsNumberLabel.Text = _positionsCount.ToString();
                OrdersNumberLabel.Text = _ordersCount.ToString();
                NetProfitLabel.Text = Math.Round(_netProfit, 2).ToString();
            });
        }

        private void UpdateButton_Click(object sender, EventArgs e) => GetDataFromIndicator();

        private void AccountInfoForm_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) => GetDataFromIndicator();
    }
}

You might be thinking about those BeginInvoke calls, why we are using _indicator.BeginInvokeOnMainThread method or Form BeginInvoke method?

We will explain the reason behind using them in next section.

For Now let's use our Form by calling it's ShowDialog method from our indicator, for that copy the code below and paste it on your indicator main source code file:

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using cAlgo.API;
using System.Threading;
using WinForms_Test;

namespace WinFormsTest
{
    [Indicator(IsOverlay = true, AccessRights = AccessRights.FullAccess)]
    public class WinFormsTest : Indicator
    {
        protected override void Initialize()
        {
            var thread = new Thread(() =>
            {
                var form = new AccountInfoForm(this);

                _ = form.ShowDialog();
            });

            thread.SetApartmentState(ApartmentState.STA);

            thread.Start();
        }

        public override void Calculate(int index)
        {
        }
    }
}

When you add a new Form it will use your Indicator/cBot namespace, check the namespace of added form and then add it's using to your indicator/cBot source code file, in our case it was "WinForms_Test".

Build the indicator, and attach it on a chart, you should see this form:

Image title

Accessing API Members From UI Thread

As we explained before you have to use a separate dedicated thread to run the form, and only code executing by this thread will be able to access the form controls and properties.

The same is through for cTrader Automate API members, as API is not thread safe you can't access the API members from the Form thread, you have to dispatch the work by using your indicator/cBot BeginInvokeOnMainThread method.

It will add a bit of complexity when you want to exchange data between your indicator/cBot and the form.

You can create a proxy class that will manage the interactions between your cBot/Indicator and Form threads.


Last update: June 26, 2022

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