Input controls and grid column sizes

This topic describes how to create a consistent look and feel for forms by controlling the size of controls and grids.


Many frameworks offer complete freedom over the width of input controls. However, that level of freedom can lead to inconsistent presentation of data and a non-uniform layout for similar forms. For example, the customer name in one form might show 10 characters of information, whereas the customer name in another form might show 20 characters of information. To provide streamlined, easy-to-read interfaces, discrete sizing helps guarantee consistent presentation of data. The introduction of discrete sizing is a significant change to the basic input controls. The control framework attempts to provide a fresh, clean user experience that provides simplicity and consistency. As part of an attempt to provide consistent and uniform layout of forms, each input control is sized to one of four sizes: extra-small (XS), small (S), medium (M), or large (L). These sizes are determined by inspecting the explicitly specified width in the DisplayLength property of the control or the corresponding extended data type (EDT).

Sizing grid columns

Column sizing in a grid control differs slightly from the legacy algorithm, which tried to provide an initial appealing presentation for each grid, based partly on the contents of the first page of data. The new approach disregards the contents of the first page of data. Instead, the end user decides which columns are most important to view and the ideal viewing width for each of those columns. By using personalization, each user can change the width of grid columns, and the client keeps track of that user's preference. In the new, simplified approach, the default column sizing is based on 75 percent of the base input control sizing. In most cases, we recommended that developers not override the default sizing. However, if you must resize the column width programmatically or in the model, see the next two sections of this article for guidance.

Discrete sizing

Size Character range Size in pixels (px)
XS 0–5 60
S 6–15 120
M 16–30 180
L >30 240

Note: The explicit number of pixels will likely vary over time as the user interface evolves. Developers should not rely on explicit pixel sizing.

Forcing a desired discrete size

As the previous table shows, if you change the width of a grid-hosted control from 6 characters to 15 characters, you don't affect the width of the column. The layout engine gives the same width to all control widths that are in the 6-to-15-character range, because controls in this range are considered small (S). If you want to extend the control to medium (M) size, the width value must be set to a value that is more than 16 characters and less than 31 characters. For guidance about how to size input controls, see the following table. In some cases, the use of a form pattern will override or hide developer-defined sizing.

Property Value Description
DisplayLengthMode Auto Use the kernel’s default value.
DisplayLengthMode Fixed Use the developer-defined DisplayLength value.
WidthMode Auto Use the kernel’s default sizing behavior.
WidthMode Fixed Use the developer-defined Width value.
WidthMode Column Width Use size-to-parent behavior.
DisplayLength N The developer-defined control width, which is specified in characters. (Values are mapped to the sizing groups that are listed in the previous table.)
Width N The developer-defined control width, which is specified in pixels.