Easily Add a Ribbon into a WinForms Application (C#)

Style 2007 

Style 2010 

Style 2013 


Part 1: Background

The ribbon that is going to be used in this article is an open source project created by Jose Menendez Poo. However, the original author of the ribbon has stopped support of it. A group of fans of this ribbon re-host and continue to develop/enhance and support the ribbon.
The original ribbon creator has posted an article explaining what this ribbon is all about at here: [A Professional Ribbon You Will Use (Now with orb!)]. However, that article doesn’t describe how to use it in your project. Therefore, this article will show how to use it.
Old Site: http://ribbon.codeplex.com (By original author, but has stopped support)
New Site: http://officeribbon.codeplex.com (Re-host by fans of the ribbon)

Part 2: How to Use this Ribbon Control

Reminder: Please note that this ribbon does not work on .Net 3.5 Client Profile and .NET 4.0 Client Profile. You have to switch the target framework to .NET 3.5 or .NET 4.0. When you first create a project, Visual Studio might initially set the target framework to Client Profile.

If the project is using Client Profile, you might receive this error while you are trying to build the solution:

Error 3 The type or namespace name 'Ribbon' does not exist in the namespace 'System.Windows.Forms' (are you missing an assembly reference?)

1. Get System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.dll from download.
2. Create a blank WinForms project.

3. Add Ribbon into Visual Studio Toolbox.
Right Click on Toolbox > Add Tab.

Give the new tab a name “Ribbon”.

Right Click on the New Tab [Ribbon] > Choose Items…

[Browse…] Where are you? System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.dl?

There you are… Gotcha… Select it…

Only [Ribbon] can be dragged into Form. Others, as the picture below said, they are not needed to exist in toolbox. However, its not going to harm your computer or project if you select all the items belongs to ribbon (by default). Its up to you.

And finally, what you’re going to do is just…

Another Way
Manually code it behind.
You can add the ribbon into WinForm too with code behind.
Add a reference of  System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon35.dll into your project. Build the the solution.
Open the designer of Main Form. In this example, Form1.Designer.cs.

Add these three lines of code

private System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon ribbon1;
ribbon1 = new System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon();

into Form1.Designer.cs 

private void InitializeComponent()
    ribbon1 = new System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon();
    this.components = new System.ComponentModel.Container();
    this.AutoScaleMode = System.Windows.Forms.AutoScaleMode.Font;
    this.Text = "Form1";
private System.Windows.Forms.Ribbon ribbon1;

Save and Close Form1.Designer.cs.
Double click and open Form1.cs, and now the Ribbon control is added into the main form.

Lets continue…

4. Click on the Ribbon and click Add Tab.

5. Click on the newly added RibbonTab, then click Add Panel.

6. Click on the newly added RibbonPanel, go to Properties. You will see a set of available controls that can be added to the RibbonPanel.

You might not able to see the extra command links of “Add Button“, “Add ButtonList“, “Add ItemGroup“… etc at the Properties Explorer.

Right click at the Properties Explorer and Tick/Check the [Commands].

7. Try to add some buttons into the RibbonPanel.
8. Click on the RibbonButton, go to Properties.
9. Let’s try to change the image and the label text of the button.

10. This is how your ribbon looks like now.
11. Now, create the click event for the buttons. Click on RibbonButton, go to Properties, modify the Name of the button.

12. Click on the RibbonButton, go to properties > Click on Events > Double Click on event of Click

13. Events created.

public Form1()
void cmdNew_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    MessageBox.Show("Button \"New\" Clicked.");
void cmdSave_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    MessageBox.Show("Button \"Save\" Clicked.");

14. Press F5 to run the application. Done.

15. You might want to inherit your Main Form into a RibbonForm to have extra features. Such as:
Note: Inherit the Main Form to RibbonForm will have some compatibility problems with some of the System.Windows.Forms controls. (especially MDI Client Control)   This problem is solved in released version 10 May 2013.

16. In the code for Form1.cs, change inheritance of Form this line:

public partial class Form1 : Form

to RibbonForm 

public partial class Form1 : RibbonForm

Part 3: Caution While Using With Visual Studio 2010

… deleted ….

Part 4: Using this Ribbon with an MDI Enabled WinForm

The following guide will show how to apply this ribbon with an MDI (Multi Document Interface) enabled WinForm.
Note: In previous version of Ribbon, inheritance of RibbonForm is not supported well with MDI Enabled WinForm. This problem is solved in released version of 10 May 2013


1.  Lets design a ribbon winform something like this as example. In the properties window, set IsMdiContainerto True.

2. Create another simple another form that will be loaded into the MDI Container of MainForm.

3. At code behind of Form1, add in the below codes:

public partial class Form1 : Form
    public Form1()
    protected override void OnLoad(EventArgs e)
        this.ControlBox = false;
        this.WindowState = FormWindowState.Maximized;

4. At code behind of MainForm, create the click events for RibbonButton at MainForm:
Note: In previous version of Ribbon, inheritance of RibbonForm is not supported well with MDI Enabled WinForm. This problem is solved in released version of 10 May 2013.

public partial class MainForm : RibbonForm
    public MainForm()
    private void ribbonButton_Form1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        // Load Form1
    private void ribbonButton_Close_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
        // Close All Forms

5. Codes for loading Form1 into MDI:

private void ribbonButton_Form1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    foreach (Form f in this.MdiChildren)
        if (f.GetType() == typeof(Form1))
    Form form1 = new Form1();
    form1.MdiParent = this;

6. Codes for closing all opened form in MDI:

private void ribbonButton_Close_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    while (this.ActiveMdiChild != null)

7. That’s it. Enjoy.

Part 5: Alternative Ribbon

You may also want to have a look at:

Part 6: How to Make a New Theme, Skin for this Ribbon Programmatically

Default Theme

Example color theme of RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTableBlack.cs (ready made by ribbon author).

Another custom theme

Note: A Theme Builder is included in the Demo App, you can obtain it at Download. You can Build new Theme easily with Theme Builder. In new released, Ribbon (13 Jan 2013), Ribbon can write and read a theme file. Read more: How to Create and Load Theme File. 

  1. To make your own color theme, create another class and inherit RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTable.
  2. Change all the color objects into your desired colors.
  3. Example: (the first five colors have been filled for your reference).In this example, we’ll name the new theme MyCoolThemeSkin.
    using System;
    using System.Collections.Generic;
    using System.Text;
    using System.Drawing;
    namespace System.Windows.Forms
        public class MyCoolThemeSkin
            : RibbonProfesionalRendererColorTable
            public MyCoolThemeSkin()
                #region Fields
                OrbDropDownDarkBorder = Color.Yellow;
                OrbDropDownLightBorder = Color.FromKnownColor(KnownColor.WindowFrame);
                OrbDropDownBack = Color.FromName("Red");
                OrbDropDownNorthA = FromHex("#C2FF3D");
                OrbDropDownNorthB = Color.FromArgb(201, 100, 150);
                OrbDropDownNorthC =
                OrbDropDownNorthD =
                OrbDropDownSouthC =
                OrbDropDownSouthD =
                OrbDropDownContentbg =
                OrbDropDownContentbglight =
                OrbDropDownSeparatorlight =
                OrbDropDownSeparatordark =
                Caption1 =
                Caption2 =
                Caption3 =
                Caption4 =
                Caption5 =
                Caption6 =
                Caption7 =
                QuickAccessBorderDark =
                QuickAccessBorderLight =
                QuickAccessUpper =
                QuickAccessLower =
                OrbOptionBorder =
                OrbOptionBackground =
                OrbOptionShine =
                Arrow =
                ArrowLight =
                ArrowDisabled =
                Text =
                RibbonBackground =
                TabBorder =
                TabNorth =
                TabSouth =
                TabGlow =
                TabText =
                TabActiveText =
                TabContentNorth =
                TabContentSouth =
                TabSelectedGlow =
                PanelDarkBorder =
                PanelLightBorder =
                PanelTextBackground =
                PanelTextBackgroundSelected =
                PanelText =
                PanelBackgroundSelected =
                PanelOverflowBackground =
                PanelOverflowBackgroundPressed =
                PanelOverflowBackgroundSelectedNorth =
                PanelOverflowBackgroundSelectedSouth =
                ButtonBgOut =
                ButtonBgCenter =
                ButtonBorderOut =
                ButtonBorderIn =
                ButtonGlossyNorth =
                ButtonGlossySouth =
                ButtonDisabledBgOut =
                ButtonDisabledBgCenter =
                ButtonDisabledBorderOut =
                ButtonDisabledBorderIn =
                ButtonDisabledGlossyNorth =
                ButtonDisabledGlossySouth =
                ButtonSelectedBgOut =
                ButtonSelectedBgCenter =
                ButtonSelectedBorderOut =
                ButtonSelectedBorderIn =
                ButtonSelectedGlossyNorth =
                ButtonSelectedGlossySouth =
                ButtonPressedBgOut =
                ButtonPressedBgCenter =
                ButtonPressedBorderOut =
                ButtonPressedBorderIn =
                ButtonPressedGlossyNorth =
                ButtonPressedGlossySouth =
                ButtonCheckedBgOut =
                ButtonCheckedBgCenter =
                ButtonCheckedBorderOut =
                ButtonCheckedBorderIn =
                ButtonCheckedGlossyNorth =
                ButtonCheckedGlossySouth =
                ItemGroupOuterBorder =
                ItemGroupInnerBorder =
                ItemGroupSeparatorLight =
                ItemGroupSeparatorDark =
                ItemGroupBgNorth =
                ItemGroupBgSouth =
                ItemGroupBgGlossy =
                ButtonListBorder =
                ButtonListBg =
                ButtonListBgSelected =
                DropDownBg =
                DropDownImageBg =
                DropDownImageSeparator =
                DropDownBorder =
                DropDownGripNorth =
                DropDownGripSouth =
                DropDownGripBorder =
                DropDownGripDark =
                DropDownGripLight =
                SeparatorLight =
                SeparatorDark =
                SeparatorBg =
                SeparatorLine =
                TextBoxUnselectedBg =
                TextBoxBorder =
            public Color FromHex(string hex)
                if (hex.StartsWith("#"))
                    hex = hex.Substring(1);
                if (hex.Length != 6) throw new Exception("Color not valid");
                return Color.FromArgb(
                    int.Parse(hex.Substring(0, 2), system.Globalization.NumberStyles.HexNumber),
                    int.Parse(hex.Substring(2, 2), System.Globalization.NumberStyles.HexNumber),
                    int.Parse(hex.Substring(4, 2), System.Globalization.NumberStyles.HexNumber));
  4. Then, in the Load event of MainForm.cs, add this line:
    namespace RibbonDemo
        public partial class MainForm : RibbonForm
            public MainForm()
            private void ChangeTheme()
                Theme.ColorTable = new MyCoolThemeSkin();

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