How do I bind a WPF DataGrid to a variable number of columns?


Question

My WPF application generates sets of data which may have a different number of columns each time. Included in the output is a description of each column that will be used to apply formatting. A simplified version of the output might be something like:

class Data
{
    IList<ColumnDescription> ColumnDescriptions { get; set; }
    string[][] Rows { get; set; }
}

This class is set as the DataContext on a WPF DataGrid but I actually create the columns programmatically:

for (int i = 0; i < data.ColumnDescriptions.Count; i++)
{
    dataGrid.Columns.Add(new DataGridTextColumn
    {
        Header = data.ColumnDescriptions[i].Name,
        Binding = new Binding(string.Format("[{0}]", i))
    });
}

Is there any way to replace this code with data bindings in the XAML file instead?

1
119
10/1/2014 3:04:24 PM

Accepted Answer

Here's a workaround for Binding Columns in the DataGrid. Since the Columns property is ReadOnly, like everyone noticed, I made an Attached Property called BindableColumns which updates the Columns in the DataGrid everytime the collection changes through the CollectionChanged event.

If we have this Collection of DataGridColumn's

public ObservableCollection<DataGridColumn> ColumnCollection
{
    get;
    private set;
}

Then we can bind BindableColumns to the ColumnCollection like this

<DataGrid Name="dataGrid"
          local:DataGridColumnsBehavior.BindableColumns="{Binding ColumnCollection}"
          AutoGenerateColumns="False"
          ...>

The Attached Property BindableColumns

public class DataGridColumnsBehavior
{
    public static readonly DependencyProperty BindableColumnsProperty =
        DependencyProperty.RegisterAttached("BindableColumns",
                                            typeof(ObservableCollection<DataGridColumn>),
                                            typeof(DataGridColumnsBehavior),
                                            new UIPropertyMetadata(null, BindableColumnsPropertyChanged));
    private static void BindableColumnsPropertyChanged(DependencyObject source, DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs e)
    {
        DataGrid dataGrid = source as DataGrid;
        ObservableCollection<DataGridColumn> columns = e.NewValue as ObservableCollection<DataGridColumn>;
        dataGrid.Columns.Clear();
        if (columns == null)
        {
            return;
        }
        foreach (DataGridColumn column in columns)
        {
            dataGrid.Columns.Add(column);
        }
        columns.CollectionChanged += (sender, e2) =>
        {
            NotifyCollectionChangedEventArgs ne = e2 as NotifyCollectionChangedEventArgs;
            if (ne.Action == NotifyCollectionChangedAction.Reset)
            {
                dataGrid.Columns.Clear();
                foreach (DataGridColumn column in ne.NewItems)
                {
                    dataGrid.Columns.Add(column);
                }
            }
            else if (ne.Action == NotifyCollectionChangedAction.Add)
            {
                foreach (DataGridColumn column in ne.NewItems)
                {
                    dataGrid.Columns.Add(column);
                }
            }
            else if (ne.Action == NotifyCollectionChangedAction.Move)
            {
                dataGrid.Columns.Move(ne.OldStartingIndex, ne.NewStartingIndex);
            }
            else if (ne.Action == NotifyCollectionChangedAction.Remove)
            {
                foreach (DataGridColumn column in ne.OldItems)
                {
                    dataGrid.Columns.Remove(column);
                }
            }
            else if (ne.Action == NotifyCollectionChangedAction.Replace)
            {
                dataGrid.Columns[ne.NewStartingIndex] = ne.NewItems[0] as DataGridColumn;
            }
        };
    }
    public static void SetBindableColumns(DependencyObject element, ObservableCollection<DataGridColumn> value)
    {
        element.SetValue(BindableColumnsProperty, value);
    }
    public static ObservableCollection<DataGridColumn> GetBindableColumns(DependencyObject element)
    {
        return (ObservableCollection<DataGridColumn>)element.GetValue(BindableColumnsProperty);
    }
}
123
12/7/2010 6:01:44 PM

I've continued my research and have not found any reasonable way to do this. The Columns property on the DataGrid isn't something I can bind against, in fact it's read only.

Bryan suggested something might be done with AutoGenerateColumns so I had a look. It uses simple .Net reflection to look at the properties of the objects in ItemsSource and generates a column for each one. Perhaps I could generate a type on the fly with a property for each column but this is getting way off track.

Since this problem is so easily sovled in code I will stick with a simple extension method I call whenever the data context is updated with new columns:

public static void GenerateColumns(this DataGrid dataGrid, IEnumerable<ColumnSchema> columns)
{
    dataGrid.Columns.Clear();

    int index = 0;
    foreach (var column in columns)
    {
        dataGrid.Columns.Add(new DataGridTextColumn
        {
            Header = column.Name,
            Binding = new Binding(string.Format("[{0}]", index++))
        });
    }
}

// E.g. myGrid.GenerateColumns(schema);

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