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Data Binding

  • 9 minutes to read

DevExpress data-aware controls are compatible with any data access technology (ADO.NET, Entity Framework, XPO, etc.) and can display data from any data source that implements the IList, IBindingList, or ITypedList interface. Refer to these help topics for more details: Traditional Data Binding Methods and Data Binding Common Concepts. Note that Server and Instant Feedback Modes impose certain restrictions on data binding.

Data Grid (or any other DevExpress data-aware control) shows data from its source as is. If you need to display initially filtered or sorted records, or merge multiple data sources into one, do so at the data source level before you bind a data-aware control to this source.

Create a New Data Source

The quickest way to set up a new data source is to utilize the Data Source Configuration Wizard.

Data Source Wizard First Page

Click the Data Grid’s smart tag or click the icon in the Grid’s bottom left corner (see the image below).

Grid Control - SQL Data Source - Wizard 1

The Wizard allows you to bind a control to the following supported sources:

The UnboundSource component allows you to mix different data source types or add virtual rows to a bound Data Grid.

For code-first data sources, it is possible to mark data class properties with Data Annotation Attributes to pre-customize a Grid (for example, prevent a column from being generated for a specific data field or change the type of its in-place editor).

Choose an Existing Data Source

If you already have a data source ready, use the Data Grid smart tag to select this source in the “Choose Data Source” editor.

Data Grid - Binding - Choose Data Source

In code, assign a valid source to the GridControl.DataSource property.

using System.Data.OleDb;
// ... 
// Create a connection object. 
OleDbConnection connection = new OleDbConnection(
  "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source=E:\\DBs\\NWIND.MDB");

// Create a data adapter. 
OleDbDataAdapter adapter = new OleDbDataAdapter("SELECT * FROM Products", connection);

// Create and fill a dataset. 
DataSet sourceDataSet = new DataSet();

// Specify the data source for the grid control. 
gridControl1.DataSource = sourceDataSet.Tables[0];

Bind to BindingList Source

The following example demonstrates how to bind the Grid control to a BindingList source with Record objects. The Record class implements the INotifyPropertyChanged interface to notify the Grid control that a property value has changed.

Bind to BindingList Source - WinForms Data Grid, DevExpress

using System;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.ComponentModel;
using DevExpress.XtraEditors;
using System.Runtime.CompilerServices;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;

namespace DXApplication1 {
    public partial class Form1 : XtraForm {
        BindingList<Record> records;
        public Form1() {
            records = new BindingList<Record>() {
                new Record(){ CompanyName = "Hanari Carnes", Price = 19.99 },
                new Record(){ CompanyName = "Romero y tomillo", Price = 28.99 },
                new Record(){ CompanyName = "Reggiani Caseifici", Price = 14.99 },
                new Record(){ CompanyName = "Maison Dewey", Price = 32.99 }
            gridControl1.DataSource = records;
            textEdit1.DataBindings.Add(new Binding("EditValue", records, "CompanyName"));
            textEdit1.Properties.ValidateOnEnterKey = true;

    public class Record : INotifyPropertyChanged {
        private Guid idValue = Guid.NewGuid();
        [Display(Order = -1)]
        public Guid ID {
            get { return this.idValue; }

        string text;
        public string CompanyName {
            get { return text; }
            set {
                if (text != value) {
                    if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(value))
                        throw new Exception();
                    text = value;
        double? val;
        public double? Price {
            get { return val; }
            set {
                if (val != value) {
                    val = value;
        public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;
        protected void OnPropertyChanged([CallerMemberName] string propertyName = "") {
            if (PropertyChanged != null)
                PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(propertyName));

Switch to Another Data Source

Once you have chosen a data source for the first time, the Data Grid automatically generates all required columns. Should you choose another data source later, previously created columns remain. These columns should be updated manually. To do so, launch the Data Grid Designer, switch to the “Columns” tab, and click the “Retrieve Fields” button.

Data Grid - Binding - Retrieve Fields

If you need to change a data source in code, reset the GridControl.DataSource property to null (Nothing in Visual Basic), and assign a new data source object to this property. It is recommended that you enclose this code within the BeginUpdate() and EndUpdate() method calls.

try {
    gridControl1.DataSource = null;
    gridControl1.DataSource = < newDataSource >;
finally {

Post Changes to a Source

For most data source types, the Data Grid allows users to edit data at runtime, but these changes are not automatically saved to an underlying data source. Refer to the following topic to learn how to post changes to a data source: Post Data to an Underlying Data Source.

Clear the Grid

Set the GridControl.DataSource property to null (Nothing in VB.NET) and call the View’s Columns.Clear() method.

gridControl1.DataSource = null;  

If you need to clear the Data Grid temporarily and restore its data later, switch the control to an empty View.

using DevExpress.XtraGrid.Views.Grid;  

object ds;  // Data source

// Clear  
ds = gridControl1.DataSource;  
gridControl1.DataSource = null;  
GridView view = new GridView(gridControl1);  
view.OptionsView.ShowGroupPanel = false;  
view.OptionsView.ShowColumnHeaders = false;  
gridControl1.MainView = view;  

// Restore  
gridControl1.MainView = gridView1;  
gridControl1.DataSource = ds; 

Fluent API Support

The traditional way to customize grid columns or bind them to data assumes that you access columns by their string field names. If it is not possible to populate grid columns at runtime or you need custom logic to obtain column settings, you can use a fluent API instead. In Visual Studio, IntelliSense allows you to observe all data source properties and bind the required fields to grid columns.

This technique creates fail-safe code when you modify the data source structure (for example, remove a data source field) or when there is a typo in a field name (for instance, an attempt to access a field that does not exist). These actions immediately cause an exception that cannot be missed. The traditional technique can ignore such errors in certain cases, creating ‘dead’ code that is hard to detect.

To use this functionality, refer to the XtraGrid.Extension namespace from your code.

using DevExpress.XtraGrid.Extensions;

You can now call the ColumnView.With method to add and configure columns. The following code snippet illustrates an example:

gridView1.With<Customer>(settings => {
                    .Add(f => f.ContactName, col => {
                        col.Caption = "Contact";
                        col.SortOrder = DevExpress.Data.ColumnSortOrder.Descending;
                        col.SortIndex = 0;
                    .Add((f => f.Phone), c => { c.Caption = "Phone Number"; })
                    .Add(p => p.CompanyName)
                        .WithCaption("Company Name")
                        .With(col => { });

With a fluent API, you can use the ColumnView.GetColumnViewSettings method to obtain existing columns and modify their settings. For instance, the following code is the GridView.RowCellStyle event handler that identifies the column related to the row cell and fills it in red if the column is ‘Phone’:

void gridView1_RowCellStyle(object sender, DevExpress.XtraGrid.Views.Grid.RowCellStyleEventArgs e) {
    GridColumn col = (sender as ColumnView).GetColumnViewSettings<Customer>().Columns[c => c.Phone].AsColumn();
        if((col!=null) && (e.Column == col)) {
        e.Appearance.BackColor = Color.Red;

Cheat Sheets and Best Practices

DevExpress WinForms UI controls share the same data binding techniques. Read the following quick-reference guides for detailed information and examples:


Data binding issues are not usually related to DevExpress UI components directly. Read the following article for information on how to fix known issues:

Data Binding - DevExpress WinForms Troubleshooting

See Also