C# – Multi-threaded splash screen in C#


I want a splash screen to show while the application is loading. I have a form with a system tray control tied to it. I want the splash screen to display while this form loads, which takes a bit of time since it's accessing a web service API to populate some drop-downs. I also want to do some basic testing for dependencies before loading (that is, the web service is available, the configuration file is readable). As each phase of the startup goes, I want to update the splash screen with progress.

I have been reading a lot on threading, but I am getting lost on where this should be controlled from (the main() method?). I am also missing how Application.Run() works, is this where the threads for this should be created from? Now, if the form with the system tray control is the "living" form, should the splash come from there? Wouldn't it not load until the form is completed anyway?

I'm not looking for a code handout, more of an algorithm/approach so I can figure this out once and for all 🙂

Best Answer

Well, for a ClickOnce app that I deployed in the past, we used the Microsoft.VisualBasic namespace to handle the splash screen threading. You can reference and use the Microsoft.VisualBasic assembly from C# in .NET 2.0 and it provides a lot of nice services.

  1. Have the main form inherit from Microsoft.VisualBasic.WindowsFormsApplicationBase
  2. Override the "OnCreateSplashScreen" method like so:

    protected override void OnCreateSplashScreen()
        this.SplashScreen = new SplashForm();
        this.SplashScreen.TopMost = true;

Very straightforward, it shows your SplashForm (which you need to create) while loading is going on, then closes it automatically once the main form has completed loading.

This really makes things simple, and the VisualBasic.WindowsFormsApplicationBase is of course well tested by Microsoft and has a lot of functionality that can make your life a lot easier in Winforms, even in an application that is 100% C#.

At the end of the day, it's all IL and bytecode anyway, so why not use it?