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This section provides information about creating property sheets for the Microsoft DirectInput game controller control panel.

About the DirectInput Control Panel

DirectInput provides support for game controllers such as game pads, joysticks, and force-feedback devices. In Microsoft DirectX 5.0 and later versions, DirectInput provides a new game controller control panel called Joy.cpl. This version of Control Panel is the first to allow extensibility in that the property sheets that are displayed for each controller can be replaced with property pages that are specific to that controller. This is done through the creation of a DLL that contains information about these property sheets. This DLL exposes a COM interface that is called into by the DirectInput control panel.

Game controller hardware vendors are encouraged to use this extensibility feature to provide customized property sheets for their game controllers instead of creating a separate control panel. This allows the user to open a single control panel to configure and test their game controllers.

DirectInput Control Panel Architecture

This section describes the basic structure of the DirectInput control panel extensible property sheets. This structure is explained in the following topics:

Game Controller Control Panel

The basic architecture of the DirectInput control panel consists of the DirectInput game controller control panel, the abstraction-layer library that supports the IDIGameCntrlPropSheet COM interface, and a COM object for each game controller property sheet.


The word 'object' describes an entity created by CreateInstance to support the methods of a COM interface, even when these methods are not being called through an object-oriented programming language such as C++. The word 'sheet' describes the dialog into which the pages insert. The word 'page' describes the content dialogs of the 'property sheet' dialog.

In the interest of portability between Microsoft Windows 95/98/Me and Windows NT 4.0 and later, the DirectInput control panel works directly with DirectInput, which in turn works directly with device drivers. As a by-product of this, the DirectInput control panel has access to input devices even when the application is in the background.

Gcdef.dll, the Default Analog Device Property Sheet

Hardware vendors who do not create their own control panel use the services of the default analog device property sheet supplied by Gcdef.dll. Any controller that does not have a ConfigCLSID key in the registry under its HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetControlMediaPropertiesPrivatePropertiesJoystickOEMCONTROLLER_NAME entry uses this default property sheet. This property sheet contains the following two pages:

  • Test: This page demonstrates that the device is responding properly. It returns a graphical representation of the registry settings that are associated with the device attributes and allows the user to view them.

  • Settings: This page allows the user to write specific information about the device to the system. Services are provided for calibration and for a rudder or pedals.

Integration with Windows

Because the property sheet page is a COM object, it needs to be registered. This can be done by an INF file or through DirectInput's IDirectInputJoyConfig8 interface. A sample INF file is part of the sample property sheet in the DirectX Driver Development Kit (DDK).

To register the property sheet page:

  1. Use the GuidGen tool (which is included in the Microsoft Windows SDK) to create a CLSID for your property sheet (this is the same as the one entered in the ConfigCLSID entry mentioned earlier). Remember, this is your device-specific property sheet GUID and it should be the same as the one in your code.

  2. Create a new key in the registry under My ComputerHKEY_CLASSES_ROOTCLSID using this new GUID (it should look something like {B9EA2BE1-E8E9-11D0-9880-00AA0044480F}).

  3. Inside that key, create subkeys named InProcHandler32 and InProcServer32.

  4. Inside the InProcServer32 key, edit the (default) entry to reflect the location and name of your property sheet DLL.

Your device must also be properly registered as a gaming device. This may be done through DirectInput, or through an INF file.

To register the device:

  1. In the registry key My ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetcontrolMediaPropertiesPrivatePropertiesJoystickOEM, enter a key for your device. It is advisable to make this key name the same as your device OEM Name.

  2. Create the following entries:

    Key ValueKey value typeKey value type contents


    String Value

    '{your property sheet CLSID}'


    String Value

    'Product name of your device'

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These two entries are the minimum you need to get started. Refer to the DirectX DDK for additional information about all of the available entries and their associated services.

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DirectInput Control Panel Essentials

This section introduces the concepts and components of the DirectInput control panel, and provides information to help you begin implementing your own device-specific property sheet. This information is described below:

Files and Your Build Environment

At a minimum, you will need the Direct X Direct Development Kit (DDK) header file Dicpl.h. This file provides you with the necessary interface, structures, class definitions, and errors. It is recommended that you use DirectInput's IDirectInputJoyConfig8 interface for all registry access to assure that your property sheet also works on Windows NT 4.0 and later. If you plan to use DirectInput in your property page, you must also used the associated DirectX SDK files. All structures in the DirectInput control panel are packed on 8-byte boundaries. Verify that your property sheet packs structures on 8-byte boundaries.

Note When testing your control panel, make sure to test it on a system whose primary display is set to a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. Make sure that all the controls are still visible at this reduced resolution.

Creating your property sheet

This example demonstrates many aspects of DirectInput and provides a good starting point for your own custom property sheet.

Create your own property sheet

Creating a custom property sheet from scratch is a relatively simple process.

  1. Create a GUID to identify your property page:

    • Using the GuidGen tool (which is included in the Microsoft Windows SDK), create a GUID for your property page (only one, no matter how many pages). Define this in your application-specific include file.
    • Create the required DllGetClassObject and DllCanUnloadNow.
    • Create an implementation for the COM ClassFactory defined in Dicpl.h.
    • Create the implementation for the IDIGamgeCntrlPropSheet interface.
    • Using Regedit, add your defined GUID to the My ComputerHKEY_CLASSES_ROOTCLSID key. Then add the keys InProcHandler32 and InProcServer32 to your key.
    • Modify the (default) entry of the InProcServer32 entry to point to the location of your property sheet DLL. An example would be: 'C:my_devicemy_propertysheet.dll'. This example shows a ProgID entry. This is not necessary, but is often used to store information about the module residing at that GUID.
  2. Create dialog templates and dialog procedures as you would for any Windows application.


    You may want to write a test container for your property sheets as a window that launches your pages as independent dialog boxes. At this point, you could also convert any existing control panel you might have to the DirectInput control panel.

  3. Populate the DIGCPAGEINFO and DIGCSHEETINFO structures and return that information in your implementations of IDIGameCntrlPropSheet::GetPageInfo and IDIGameCntrlPropSheet::GetSheetInfo respectively.

The generation of the property sheet pages is done through the PropertySheet function. All behaviors of this function are inherent in the property sheet pages. For example, the property sheet page reflects the largest dialog template that it receives. If the user creates one page and its associated template is very small, this reflects directly on the size of the resulting dialog.

Dialog templates are also important to remember when considering visual alignment and the centering of controls on a page. For example, consider a case in which the user creates two pages that contain items specified to be centered on the page. One item to be centered is 200 dialog units (DLUs) in width; the other is 100 units. In such a case, the latter item is not centered on the page. Instead, the control is centered to its template and additional white space (or gray, as it may be) is added to the width of the more narrow page. You should create dialog templates of the same size, even if you are not using it all. (For more information about the PropertySheet function, see the Microsoft Win32 SDK.)

Testing Your Property Sheet

It is highly recommended that you run the debug version of both DirectInput and the DirectInput control panel during the testing of your property sheet page. DirectX components are designed to issue useful errors and warning messages to the debug window/terminal.

Debugging a control panel application can be tricky. Use the following steps to debug a custom property sheet page in Microsoft Developer Studio 5.0 and newer (other compilers have similar behavior).

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1.From the Project menu, select Settings.

2.Select the Debug tab.

3.For the Executable for debug session, enter C:WINDOWSRUNDLL32.EXE (assuming C:WINDOWS is the Windows 95/98/Me directory) if you are running Windows 95/98/Me, or C:WINNTSYSTEM32RUNDLL32.EXE (assuming C:WINNT is the operating system directory) if you are running Windows NT 4.0 or later.

4.For the Program arguments, enter shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL c:windowssystemjoy.cpl. Once again, this assumes that C:WINDOWS is your Windows directory. It is case sensitive, and must be entered exactly as shown.

Once that is done, set your breakpoints and, from the build menu, select Start Debug, then Go. You are now ready to debug a custom property sheet page.