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Chapter: Java The Complete Reference - Introducing GUI Programming with Swing - Introducing Swing Menus

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Add Mnemonics and Accelerators to Menu Items - Swing

The menu created in the preceding example is functional, but it is possible to make it better. In real applications, a menu usually includes support for keyboard shortcuts because they give an experienced user the ability to select menu items rapidly.

Add Mnemonics and Accelerators to Menu Items

The menu created in the preceding example is functional, but it is possible to make it better. In real applications, a menu usually includes support for keyboard shortcuts because they give an experienced user the ability to select menu items rapidly. Keyboard shortcuts come in two forms: mnemonics and accelerators. As it applies to menus, a mnemonic defines a key that lets you select an item from an active menu by typing the key. Thus, a mnemonic allows you to use the keyboard to select an item from a menu that is already being displayed. An accelerator is a key that lets you select a menu item without having to first activate the menu.

 

A mnemonic can be specified for both JMenuItem and JMenu objects. There are two ways to set the mnemonic for JMenuItem. First, it can be specified when an object is constructed using this constructor:

 

JMenuItem(String name, int mnem)

 

In this case, the name is passed in name and the mnemonic is passed in mnen. Second, you can set the mnemonic by calling setMnemonic( ). To specify a mnemonic for JMenu, you must call setMnemonic( ). This method is inherited by both classes from AbstractButton and is shown next:

 

void setMnemonic(int mnem)

 

Here, mnem specifies the mnemonic. It should be one of the constants defined in java.awt.event.KeyEvent, such as KeyEvent.VK_F or KeyEvent.VK_Z. (There is another version of setMnemonic( ) that takes a char argument, but it is considered obsolete.) Mnemonics are not case sensitive, so in the case of VK_A, typing either a or A will work.

By default, the first matching letter in the menu item will be underscored. In cases in which you want to underscore a letter other than the first match, specify the index of the letter as an argument to setDisplayedMnemonicIndex( ), which is inherited by both JMenu and JMenuItem from AbstractButton. It is shown here:

 

void setDisplayedMnemonicIndex(int idx)

 

The index of the letter to underscore is specified by idx.

An accelerator can be associated with a JMenuItem object. It is specified by calling setAccelerator( ), shown next:

 

void setAccelerator(KeyStroke ks)

 

Here, ks is the key combination that is pressed to select the menu item. KeyStroke is a class that contains several factory methods that construct various types of keystroke accelerators. The following are three examples:

 

static KeyStroke getKeyStroke(char ch)

 

static KeyStroke getKeyStroke(Character ch, int modifier) static KeyStroke getKeyStroke(int ch, int modifier)

 

Here, ch specifies the accelerator character. In the first version, the character is specified as a char value. In the second, it is specified as an object of type Character. In the third, it is a value of type KeyEvent, previously described. The value of modifier must be one or more of the following constants, defined in the java.awt.event.InputEvent class:

InputEvent.ALT_DOWN_MASK

InputEvent.CTRL_DOWN_MASK

InputEvent.SHIFT_DOWN_MASK

InputEvent.ALT_GRAPH_DOWN_MASK

InputEvent.META_DOWN_MASK

Therefore, if you pass VK_A for the key character and InputEvent.CTRL_DOWN_MASK for the modifier, the accelerator key combination is ctrl-a.

The following sequence adds both mnemonics and accelerators to the File menu created by the MenuDemo program in the previous section. After making this change, you can select the File menu by typing alt-f. Then, you can use the mnemonics o, c, s, or e to select an option. Alternatively, you can directly select a File menu option by pressing ctrl-o, ctrl-c, ctrl-s, or ctrl-e. Figure 33-2 shows how this menu looks when activated.

// Create the File menu with mnemonics and accelerators. JMenu jmFile = new JMenu("File"); jmFile.setMnemonic(KeyEvent.VK_F);

 

JMenuItem jmiOpen = new JMenuItem("Open", KeyEvent.VK_O);

 

jmiOpen.setAccelerator(


KeyStroke.getKeyStroke(KeyEvent.VK_O,

 

InputEvent.CTRL_DOWN_MASK));

 

JMenuItem jmiClose = new JMenuItem("Close", KeyEvent.VK_C);

 

jmiClose.setAccelerator( KeyStroke.getKeyStroke(KeyEvent.VK_C,

 

InputEvent.CTRL_DOWN_MASK));

 

JMenuItem jmiSave = new JMenuItem("Save", KeyEvent.VK_S);

 

jmiSave.setAccelerator( KeyStroke.getKeyStroke(KeyEvent.VK_S,

 

InputEvent.CTRL_DOWN_MASK));

 

JMenuItem jmiExit = new JMenuItem("Exit", KeyEvent.VK_E);

 

jmiExit.setAccelerator( KeyStroke.getKeyStroke(KeyEvent.VK_E,

 

InputEvent.CTRL_DOWN_MASK));


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