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Chapter: Java The Complete Reference : Introducing GUI Programming with JavaFX : Exploring JavaFX Controls

ListView - JavaFX

Another commonly used control is the list view, which in JavaFX is encapsulated by ListView.



Another commonly used control is the list view, which in JavaFX is encapsulated by ListView. List views are controls that display a list of entries from which you can select one or more. Because of their ability to make efficient use of limited screen space, list views are popular alternatives to other types of selection controls.

ListView is a generic class that is declared like this: class ListView<T>


Here, T specifies the type of entries stored in the list view. Often, these are entries of type String, but other types are also allowed.

ListView defines two constructors. The first is the default constructor, which creates an empty ListView. The second lets you specify the list of entries in the list. It is shown here:


ListView(ObservableList<T> list)


Here, list specifies a list of the items that will be displayed. It is an object of type ObservableList, which defines a list of observable objects. It inherits java.util.List. Thus, it supports the standard collection methods. ObservableList is packaged in javafx.collections.


Probably the easiest way to create an ObservableList for use in a ListView is to use the factory method observableArrayList( ), which is a static method defined by the FXCollections class (which is also packaged in javafx.collections). The version we will use is shown here:


static <E> ObservableList<E> observableArrayList( E ... elements)


In this case, E specifies the type of elements, which are passed via elements.

By default, a ListView allows only one item in the list to be selected at any one time. However, you can allow multiple selections by changing the selection mode. For now, we will use the default, single-selection model.

Although ListView provides a default size, sometimes you will want to set the preferred height and/or width to best match your needs. One way to do this is to call the setPrefHeight( ) and setPrefWidth( ) methods, shown here:


final void setPrefHeight(double height) final void setPrefWidth(double width)


Alternatively, you can use a single call to set both dimensions at the same time by use of setPrefSize( ), shown here:


void setPrefSize(double width, double height)


There are two basic ways in which you can use a ListView. First, you can ignore events generated by the list and simply obtain the selection in the list when your program needs it. Second, you can monitor the list for changes by registering a change listener. This lets you respond each time the user changes a selection in the list. This is the approach used here.


To listen for change events, you must first obtain the selection model used by the ListView. This is done by calling getSelectionModel( ) on the list. It is shown here:


final MultipleSelectionModel<T> getSelectionModel( )


It returns a reference to the model. MultipleSelectionModel is a class that defines the model used for multiple selections, and it inherits SelectionModel. However, multiple selections are allowed in a ListView only if multiple-selection mode is turned on.

Using the model returned by getSelectionModel( ), you will obtain a reference to the selected item property that defines what takes place when an element in the list is selected. This is done by calling selectedItemProperty( ), shown next:


final ReadOnlyObjectProperty<T> selectedItemProperty( )


You will add the change listener to this property.


The following example puts the preceding discussion into action. It creates a list view that displays various types of transportation, allowing the user to select one. When one is chosen, the selection is displayed.


// Demonstrate a list view.


import javafx.application.*; import javafx.scene.*; import javafx.stage.*; import javafx.scene.layout.*; import javafx.scene.control.*; import javafx.geometry.*; import javafx.beans.value.*; import javafx.collections.*;


public class ListViewDemo extends Application {


Label response;

public static void main(String[] args) {


// Start the JavaFX application by calling launch().





// Override the start() method.

public void start(Stage myStage) {


     //Give the stage a title.

     myStage.setTitle("ListView Demo");


     //Use a FlowPane for the root node. In this case,


     //vertical and horizontal gaps of 10.


FlowPane rootNode = new FlowPane(10, 10);


     //Center the controls in the scene.



     Create a scene.


Scene myScene = new Scene(rootNode, 200, 120);


     //Set the scene on the stage.



     //Create a label.


response = new Label("Select Transport Type");


     //Create an ObservableList of entries for the list view.

     ObservableList<String> transportTypes =


FXCollections.observableArrayList( "Train", "Car", "Airplane" );


     //Create the list view.


ListView<String> lvTransport = new ListView<String>(transportTypes);


     //Set the preferred height and width.

     lvTransport.setPrefSize(80, 80);


     //Get the list view selection model.


     MultipleSelectionModel<String> lvSelModel =




     //Use a change listener to respond to a change of selection within


     //a list view.




new ChangeListener<String>() { public void changed(ObservableValue<? extends String> changed,

String oldVal, String newVal) {


// Display the selection.

response.setText("Transport selected is " + newVal);




     //Add the label and list view to the scene graph.

      rootNode.getChildren().addAll(lvTransport, response);


     //Show the stage and its scene.








Sample output is shown here:

In the program, pay special attention to how the ListView is constructed. First, an ObservableList is created by this line:


ObservableList<String> transportTypes = FXCollections.observableArrayList( "Train", "Car", "Airplane" );


It uses the observableArrayList( ) method to create a list of strings. Then, the ObservableList is used to initialize a ListView, as shown here:


ListView<String> lvTransport = new ListView<String>(transportTypes);


The program then sets the preferred width and height of the control. Now, notice how the selection model is obtained for lvTransport:


MultipleSelectionModel<String> lvSelModel = lvTransport.getSelectionModel();


As explained, ListView uses MultipleSelectionModel, even when only a single selection is allowed. The selectedItemProperty( ) method is then called on the model and a change listener is registered to the returned item.

ListView Scrollbars

One very useful feature of ListView is that when the number of items in the list exceeds the number that can be displayed within its dimensions, scrollbars are automatically added. For example, if you change the declaration of transportTypes so that it includes "Bicycle" and "Walking", as shown here:

ObservableList<String> transportTypes = FXCollections.observableArrayList( "Train", "Car", "Airplane",

"Bicycle", "Walking" );

the lvTransport control now looks like the one shown here:

Enabling Multiple Selections


If you want to allow more than one item to be selected, you must explicitly request it. To do so, you must set the selection mode to SelectionMode.MULTIPLE by calling setSelectionMode( ) on the ListView model. It is shown here:


final void setSelectionMode(SelectionMode mode)


In this case, mode must be either SelectionMode.MULTIPLE or SelectionMode.SINGLE. When multiple-selection mode is enabled, you can obtain the list of the selections two

ways: as a list of selected indices or as a list of selected items. We will use a list of selected items, but the procedure is similar when using a list of the indices of the selected items. (Note, indexing of items in a ListView begins at zero.)


To get a list of the selected items, call getSelectedItems( ) on the selection model. It is shown here:


ObservableList<T> getSelectedItems( )


It returns an ObservableList of the items. Because ObservableList extends java.util.List, you can access the items in the list just as you would any other List collection.

To experiment with multiple selections, you can modify the preceding program as follows. First, make lvTransport final so it can be accessed within the change event handler. Next, add this line:





It enables multiple-selection mode for lvTransport. Finally, replace the change event handler with the one shown here:




new ChangeListener<String>() { public void changed(ObservableValue<? extends String> changed,

String oldVal, String newVal) {


String selItems = ""; ObservableList<String> selected =



// Display    the selections.   

for(int i=0; i < selected.size(); i++)

selItems  += "\n    " +  selected.get(i);


response.setText("All transports selected: " + selItems);





After making these changes, the program will display all selected forms of transports, as the following output shows:

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