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Chapter: Java The Complete Reference : The Java Library : Using AWT Controls, Layout Managers, and Menus

Menu Bars and Menus - AWT

A top-level window can have a menu bar associated with it. A menu bar displays a list of top-level menu choices. Each choice is associated with a drop-down menu

Menu Bars and Menus


A top-level window can have a menu bar associated with it. A menu bar displays a list of top-level menu choices. Each choice is associated with a drop-down menu. This concept is implemented in the AWT by the following classes: MenuBar, Menu, and MenuItem. In general, a menu bar contains one or more Menu objects. Each Menu object contains a list of MenuItem objects. Each MenuItem object represents something that can be selected by the user. Since Menu is a subclass of MenuItem, a hierarchy of nested submenus can be created. It is also possible to include checkable menu items. These are menu options of type CheckboxMenuItem and will have a check mark next to them when they are selected.

To create a menu bar, first create an instance of MenuBar. This class defines only the default constructor. Next, create instances of Menu that will define the selections displayed on the bar. Following are the constructors for Menu:


Menu( ) throws HeadlessException


Menu(String optionName) throws HeadlessException


Menu(String optionName, boolean removable) throws HeadlessException


Here, optionName specifies the name of the menu selection. If removable is true, the menu can be removed and allowed to float free. Otherwise, it will remain attached to the menu bar. (Removable menus are implementation-dependent.) The first form creates an empty menu.

Individual menu items are of type MenuItem. It defines these constructors:


MenuItem( ) throws HeadlessException MenuItem(String itemName) throws HeadlessException

MenuItem(String itemName, MenuShortcut keyAccel) throws HeadlessException

Here, itemName is the name shown in the menu, and keyAccel is the menu shortcut for this item.


You can disable or enable a menu item by using the setEnabled( ) method. Its form is shown here:


void setEnabled(boolean enabledFlag)


If the argument enabledFlag is true, the menu item is enabled. If false, the menu item is disabled.

You can determine an item’s status by calling isEnabled( ). This method is shown here: boolean isEnabled( )


isEnabled( ) returns true if the menu item on which it is called is enabled. Otherwise, it returns false.

You can change the name of a menu item by calling setLabel( ). You can retrieve the current name by using getLabel( ). These methods are as follows:


void setLabel(String newName) String getLabel( )


Here, newName becomes the new name of the invoking menu item. getLabel( ) returns the current name.

You can create a checkable menu item by using a subclass of MenuItem called CheckboxMenuItem. It has these constructors:


CheckboxMenuItem( ) throws HeadlessException CheckboxMenuItem(String itemName) throws HeadlessException CheckboxMenuItem(String itemName, boolean on) throws HeadlessException


Here, itemName is the name shown in the menu. Checkable items operate as toggles. Each time one is selected, its state changes. In the first two forms, the checkable entry is unchecked. In the third form, if on is true, the checkable entry is initially checked. Otherwise, it is cleared.


You can obtain the status of a checkable item by calling getState( ). You can set it to a known state by using setState( ). These methods are shown here:


boolean getState( )


void setState(boolean checked)


If the item is checked, getState( ) returns true. Otherwise, it returns false. To check an item, pass true to setState( ). To clear an item, pass false.

Once you have created a menu item, you must add the item to a Menu object by using add( ), which has the following general form:


MenuItem add(MenuItem item)


Here, item is the item being added. Items are added to a menu in the order in which the calls to add( ) take place. The item is returned.


Once you have added all items to a Menu object, you can add that object to the menu bar by using this version of add( ) defined by MenuBar:


Menu add(Menu menu)


Here, menu is the menu being added. The menu is returned.


Menus generate events only when an item of type MenuItem or CheckboxMenuItem is selected. They do not generate events when a menu bar is accessed to display a drop-down menu, for example. Each time a menu item is selected, an ActionEvent object is generated. By default, the action command string is the name of the menu item. However, you can specify a different action command string by calling setActionCommand( ) on the menu item. Each time a check box menu item is checked or unchecked, an ItemEvent object is generated. Thus, you must implement the ActionListener and/or ItemListener interfaces in order to handle these menu events.


The getItem( ) method of ItemEvent returns a reference to the item that generated this event. The general form of this method is shown here:


Object getItem( )


Following is an example that adds a series of nested menus to a pop-up window. The item selected is displayed in the window. The state of the two check box menu items is also displayed.



     Illustrate menus.

     import java.awt.*; import java.awt.event.*; import java.applet.*; /*


<applet code="MenuDemo" width=250 height=250> </applet>




     //Create a subclass of Frame.


class MenuFrame extends Frame { String msg = ""; CheckboxMenuItem debug, test;


MenuFrame(String title) { super(title);


     //create menu bar and add it to frame

     MenuBar mbar = new MenuBar(); setMenuBar(mbar);


     //create the menu items


Menu file = new Menu("File");


MenuItem item1, item2, item3, item4, item5; file.add(item1 = new MenuItem("New..."));

file.add(item2 = new MenuItem("Open...")); file.add(item3 = new MenuItem("Close"));

file.add(item4 = new MenuItem("-")); file.add(item5 = new MenuItem("Quit...")); mbar.add(file);


Menu edit = new Menu("Edit"); MenuItem item6, item7, item8, item9;

edit.add(item6 = new MenuItem("Cut"));

edit.add(item7 = new MenuItem("Copy"));


edit.add(item8 = new MenuItem("Paste"));

edit.add(item9 = new MenuItem("-"));


Menu sub = new Menu("Special"); MenuItem item10, item11, item12; sub.add(item10 = new MenuItem("First")); sub.add(item11 = new MenuItem("Second")); sub.add(item12 = new MenuItem("Third")); edit.add(sub);



// these are checkable menu items

debug = new CheckboxMenuItem("Debug"); edit.add(debug);


test = new CheckboxMenuItem("Testing"); edit.add(test);




     create an object to handle action and item events MyMenuHandler handler = new MyMenuHandler(this);


     register it to receive those events item1.addActionListener(handler); item2.addActionListener(handler); item3.addActionListener(handler); item4.addActionListener(handler); item5.addActionListener(handler); item6.addActionListener(handler); item7.addActionListener(handler); item8.addActionListener(handler); item9.addActionListener(handler); item10.addActionListener(handler); item11.addActionListener(handler); item12.addActionListener(handler); debug.addItemListener(handler); test.addItemListener(handler);


     //create an object to handle window events


     MyWindowAdapter adapter = new MyWindowAdapter(this);


     //register it to receive those events






public void paint(Graphics g) { g.drawString(msg, 10, 200);




g.drawString("Debug is on.", 10, 220); else


g.drawString("Debug is off.", 10, 220);




g.drawString("Testing is on.", 10, 240); else


g.drawString("Testing is off.", 10, 240);






class MyWindowAdapter extends WindowAdapter { MenuFrame menuFrame;


public MyWindowAdapter(MenuFrame menuFrame) { this.menuFrame = menuFrame;




public void windowClosing(WindowEvent we) { menuFrame.setVisible(false);






class MyMenuHandler implements ActionListener, ItemListener { MenuFrame menuFrame;


public MyMenuHandler(MenuFrame menuFrame) { this.menuFrame = menuFrame;




// Handle action events.


public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent ae) { String msg = "You selected ";


String arg = ae.getActionCommand(); if(arg.equals("New..."))


msg += "New.";


else if(arg.equals("Open...")) msg += "Open.";


else if(arg.equals("Close")) msg += "Close.";


else if(arg.equals("Quit...")) msg += "Quit.";


else if(arg.equals("Edit")) msg += "Edit.";


else if(arg.equals("Cut")) msg += "Cut.";


else if(arg.equals("Copy")) msg += "Copy.";


else if(arg.equals("Paste")) msg += "Paste.";


else if(arg.equals("First")) msg += "First.";


else if(arg.equals("Second")) msg += "Second.";


else if(arg.equals("Third")) msg += "Third.";


else if(arg.equals("Debug")) msg += "Debug.";


else if(arg.equals("Testing")) msg += "Testing.";


menuFrame.msg = msg; menuFrame.repaint();



// Handle item events.


public void itemStateChanged(ItemEvent ie) { menuFrame.repaint();






// Create frame window.


public class MenuDemo extends Applet { Frame f;


public void init() {


f = new MenuFrame("Menu Demo");


int width = Integer.parseInt(getParameter("width")); int height = Integer.parseInt(getParameter("height"));


setSize(new Dimension(width, height));


f.setSize(width, height); f.setVisible(true);




public void start() { f.setVisible(true);




public void stop() { f.setVisible(false);






Sample output from the MenuDemo applet is shown in Figure 26-8.

There is one other menu-related class that you might find interesting: PopupMenu. It works just like Menu, but produces a menu that can be displayed at a specific location. PopupMenu provides a flexible, useful alternative for some types of menuing situations.


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