I came across the MultiBinding markup extension and IMultiValueConveter today when looking for a solution to a problem. Not sure how I missed it previously. If you didn’t I probably don’t have a lot to add, but if you have not heard of them then read on.
The problem basically went like this, I have a TabControl that is hosting content with a Title property and an IsChanged property. I was binding the Header of the TabControl item to the Title of the content, but I wanted to add an ‘*’ to the end of the text if IsChanged was True.
I initially moved the binding to the class itself (instead of the Title property) and added an IValueConverter that could convert convert an instance of the class into the string I wanted (Title + (IsChanged ? “ *” : “”)) and while this worked when the binding was evaluated the first time, it obviously (if you understand WPF) broke when Title or IsChanged were updated.
Enter a MultiBinding and its partner in crime IMultiValueConverter. Now anyone who learnt WPF from a book or tutorial probably had a section all about this pair and how useful they are. Those of us who learn as we go however might have missed this one like I did.
A MultiBinding works just a regular Binding except it must have a Converter specified and can have multiple pieces of data bound to it, so when any of these change it fires a re-evaluation of the lot. There are two cases where this is helpful, and I will explain both.
The first is probably the intended use, which is where you want to combine two data elements into a single value and update that value when either changes.
For our example we are using a basic dataclass with two properties, a WPF form with a textbox to enter both of these values and a textblock to display the combination, and an implementation of IMultiValueConverter that does the combining. I have cut a few lines of code out for readability, but the whole lot is in the download linked at the bottom of this post.
The XAML looks basically like this, again I have cut out non-essential code so grab the download if you need it.
Fire it up and enter some data and you get this
Nice and simple, does just what you would expect. But what I found more useful was to include the object itself as the first Binding, and then use the extra bindings simply for their triggers.
What this lets you do is call methods on the object to aid in the production of your new value. This could save some duplicating of code if you already have a method that does the transformation (for example builds a name or address string from its components) while still having the update triggered when any component changes.
So our IMultiValueConverter becomes (I have it doing a pointless task simply to show the difference)
And the XAML becomes
And the result of this useless conversion
So there you have it. If you missed the MultiBinding / IMultiValueConverter and need to convert/combine data for display purposes while maintaining the regular Binding trigger mechanism, make sure you take a look.