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

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Understanding Layout Managers - AWT

All of the components that we have shown so far have been positioned by the default layout manager.

Understanding Layout Managers

All of the components that we have shown so far have been positioned by the default layout manager. As we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, a layout manager automatically arranges your controls within a window by using some type of algorithm. If you have programmed for other GUI environments, such as Windows, then you may have laid out your controls by hand. While it is possible to lay out Java controls by hand, too, you generally won’t want to, for two main reasons. First, it is very tedious to manually lay out a large number of components. Second, sometimes the width and height information is not yet available when you need to arrange some control, because the native toolkit components haven’t been realized. This is a chicken-and-egg situation; it is pretty confusing to figure out when it is okay to use the size of a given component to position it relative to another.

 

Each Container object has a layout manager associated with it. A layout manager is an instance of any class that implements the LayoutManager interface. The layout manager is set by the setLayout( ) method. If no call to setLayout( ) is made, then the default layout manager is used. Whenever a container is resized (or sized for the first time), the layout manager is used to position each of the components within it.

The setLayout( ) method has the following general form: void setLayout(LayoutManager layoutObj)

Here, layoutObj is a reference to the desired layout manager. If you wish to disable the layout manager and position components manually, pass null for layoutObj. If you do this, you will need to determine the shape and position of each component manually, using the setBounds( ) method defined by Component. Normally, you will want to use a layout manager.

Each layout manager keeps track of a list of components that are stored by their names. The layout manager is notified each time you add a component to a container. Whenever the container needs to be resized, the layout manager is consulted via its minimumLayoutSize( ) and preferredLayoutSize( ) methods. Each component that is being managed by a layout manager contains the getPreferredSize( ) and getMinimumSize( ) methods. These return the preferred and minimum size required to display each component. The layout manager will honor these requests if at all possible, while maintaining the integrity of the layout policy. You may override these methods for controls that you subclass. Default values are provided otherwise.

 

Java has several predefined LayoutManager classes, several of which are described next. You can use the layout manager that best fits your application.

 

FlowLayout

 

FlowLayout is the default layout manager. This is the layout manager that the preceding examples have used. FlowLayout implements a simple layout style, which is similar to how words flow in a text editor. The direction of the layout is governed by the container’s component orientation property, which, by default, is left to right, top to bottom. Therefore, by default, components are laid out line-by-line beginning at the upper-left corner. In all cases, when a line is filled, layout advances to the next line. A small space is left between each component, above and below, as well as left and right. Here are the constructors for FlowLayout:

 

FlowLayout( ) FlowLayout(int how)

FlowLayout(int how, int horz, int vert)

The first form creates the default layout, which centers components and leaves five pixels of space between each component. The second form lets you specify how each line is aligned. Valid values for how are as follows:

 

FlowLayout.LEFT

 

FlowLayout.CENTER

 

FlowLayout.RIGHT

 

FlowLayout.LEADING

 

FlowLayout.TRAILING

 

These values specify left, center, right, leading edge, and trailing edge alignment, respectively. The third constructor allows you to specify the horizontal and vertical space left between components in horz and vert, respectively.

 

Here is a version of the CheckboxDemo applet shown earlier in this chapter, modified so that it uses left-aligned flow layout:

 

// Use left-aligned flow layout.

import java.awt.*;

 

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

 

<applet code="FlowLayoutDemo" width=240 height=200> </applet>

 

*/

 

public class FlowLayoutDemo extends Applet implements ItemListener {

 

String msg = "";

 

Checkbox windows, android, solaris, mac;

 

public void init() {

 

// set left-aligned flow

layout setLayout(new FlowLayout(FlowLayout.LEFT));

 

windows = new Checkbox("Windows", null, true); android = new Checkbox("Android");

 

solaris = new Checkbox("Solaris"); mac = new Checkbox("Mac OS");

 

add(windows);

 

add(android);

 

add(solaris);

 

add(mac);

 

// register to receive item events

windows.addItemListener(this);

android.addItemListener(this); solaris.addItemListener(this);

 mac.addItemListener(this);

 

}

 

     //Repaint when status of a check box changes.

     public void itemStateChanged(ItemEvent ie) {

 

repaint();

 

}

 

     //Display current state of the check boxes.

     public void paint(Graphics g) {

 

msg = "Current state: "; g.drawString(msg, 6, 80);

 

msg = " Windows: " + windows.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 100);

 

msg = " Android: " + android.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 120);

 

msg = " Solaris: " + solaris.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 140);

 

msg = " Mac: " + mac.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 160);

 

}

 

}

Here is sample output generated by the FlowLayoutDemo applet. Compare this with the output from the CheckboxDemo applet, shown earlier in Figure 26-2.



BorderLayout

The BorderLayout class implements a common layout style for top-level windows. It has four narrow, fixed-width components at the edges and one large area in the center. The four sides are referred to as north, south, east, and west. The middle area is called the center. Here are the constructors defined by BorderLayout:

 

BorderLayout( ) BorderLayout(int horz, int vert)

 

The first form creates a default border layout. The second allows you to specify the horizontal and vertical space left between components in horz and vert, respectively.

 

BorderLayout defines the following constants that specify the regions:

BorderLayout.CENTER

BorderLayout.EAST

BorderLayout.NORTH

BorderLayout.SOUTH

BorderLayout.WEST

 

When adding components, you will use these constants with the following form of add( ), which is defined by Container:

 

void add(Component compRef, Object region)

 

Here, compRef is a reference to the component to be added, and region specifies where the component will be added.

Here is an example of a BorderLayout with a component in each layout area:

 

// Demonstrate BorderLayout.

import java.awt.*;

import java.applet.*;

import java.util.*; /*

 

<applet code="BorderLayoutDemo" width=400 height=200> </applet>

 

*/

 

public class BorderLayoutDemo extends Applet { public void init() {

 

setLayout(new BorderLayout());

 

add(new Button("This is across the top."), BorderLayout.NORTH);

 

add(new Label("The footer message might go here."), BorderLayout.SOUTH);

 

add(new Button("Right"), BorderLayout.EAST); add(new Button("Left"), BorderLayout.WEST);

 

String msg = "The reasonable man adapts " + "himself to the world;\n" +

 

"the unreasonable one persists in " + "trying to adapt the world to himself.\n" + "Therefore all progress depends " +

 

"on the unreasonable man.\n\n" +

 

"               - George Bernard Shaw\n\n";

 

add(new TextArea(msg), BorderLayout.CENTER);

 

}

 

}

 

Sample output from the BorderLayoutDemo applet is shown here:



Using Insets

 

Sometimes you will want to leave a small amount of space between the container that holds your components and the window that contains it. To do this, override the getInsets( ) method that is defined by Container. This method returns an Insets object that contains the top, bottom, left, and right inset to be used when the container is displayed. These values are used by the layout manager to inset the components when it lays out the window. The constructor for Insets is shown here:

 

Insets(int top, int left, int bottom, int right)

 

The values passed in top, left, bottom, and right specify the amount of space between the container and its enclosing window.

 

The getInsets( ) method has this general form: Insets getInsets( )

 

When overriding this method, you must return a new Insets object that contains the inset spacing you desire.

Here is the preceding BorderLayout example modified so that it insets its components ten pixels from each border. The background color has been set to cyan to help make the insets more visible.

 

// Demonstrate BorderLayout with insets.

import java.awt.*;

 

import java.applet.*; import java.util.*; /*

 

<applet code="InsetsDemo" width=400 height=200> </applet>

 

*/

 

public class InsetsDemo extends Applet { public void init() {

 

// set background color so insets can be easily seen

setBackground(Color.cyan);

 

setLayout(new BorderLayout());

 

add(new Button("This is across the top."), BorderLayout.NORTH);

 

add(new Label("The footer message might go here."), BorderLayout.SOUTH);

 

add(new Button("Right"), BorderLayout.EAST); add(new Button("Left"), BorderLayout.WEST);

 

String msg = "The reasonable man adapts " + "himself to the world;\n" + "the unreasonable one persists in " + "trying to adapt the world to himself.\n" + "Therefore all progress depends " + "on the unreasonable man.\n\n" +

 

"                                                                                                     - George Bernard Shaw\n\n";

add(new TextArea(msg), BorderLayout.CENTER);

 

}

 

// add insets

 

public Insets getInsets() {

 

return new Insets(10, 10, 10, 10);

 

}

 

}

 

Sample output from the InsetsDemo applet is shown here:



GridLayout

 

GridLayout lays out components in a two-dimensional grid. When you instantiate a GridLayout, you define the number of rows and columns. The constructors supported by GridLayout are shown here:

 

GridLayout( )

 

GridLayout(int numRows, int numColumns) GridLayout(int numRows, int numColumns, int horz, int vert)

 

The first form creates a single-column grid layout. The second form creates a grid layout with the specified number of rows and columns. The third form allows you to specify the horizontal and vertical space left between components in horz and vert, respectively. Either numRows or numColumns can be zero. Specifying numRows as zero allows for unlimited-length columns. Specifying numColumns as zero allows for unlimited-length rows.

Here is a sample program that creates a 4×4 grid and fills it in with 15 buttons, each labeled with its index:

 

// Demonstrate GridLayout

import java.awt.*; import java.applet.*;

 

/*

 

<applet code="GridLayoutDemo" width=300 height=200> </applet>

 

*/

public class GridLayoutDemo extends Applet { static final int n = 4;

 

public void init() {

 

setLayout(new GridLayout(n, n));

 

setFont(new Font("SansSerif", Font.BOLD, 24));

 

for(int i = 0; i < n; i++) { for(int j = 0; j < n; j++) {

 

int k = i * n + j; if(k > 0)

 

add(new Button("" + k));

 

}

 

}

 

}

 

}

 

Following is sample output generated by the GridLayoutDemo applet:



CardLayout

 

The CardLayout class is unique among the other layout managers in that it stores several different layouts. Each layout can be thought of as being on a separate index card in a deck that can be shuffled so that any card is on top at a given time. This can be useful for user interfaces with optional components that can be dynamically enabled and disabled upon user input. You can prepare the other layouts and have them hidden, ready to be activated when needed.

 

CardLayout provides these two constructors:

 

CardLayout( ) CardLayout(int horz, int vert)

The first form creates a default card layout. The second form allows you to specify the horizontal and vertical space left between components in horz and vert, respectively.

Use of a card layout requires a bit more work than the other layouts. The cards are typically held in an object of type Panel. This panel must have CardLayout selected as its layout manager. The cards that form the deck are also typically objects of type Panel. Thus, you must create a panel that contains the deck and a panel for each card in the deck. Next, you add to the appropriate panel the components that form each card. You then add these panels to the panel for which CardLayout is the layout manager. Finally, you add this panel to the window. Once these steps are complete, you must provide some way for the user to select between cards. One common approach is to include one push button for each card in the deck.

 

When card panels are added to a panel, they are usually given a name. Thus, most of the time, you will use this form of add( ) when adding cards to a panel:

 

void add(Component panelRef, Object name)

 

Here, name is a string that specifies the name of the card whose panel is specified by panelRef.

After you have created a deck, your program activates a card by calling one of the following methods defined by CardLayout:

 

void first(Container deck) void last(Container deck) void next(Container deck) void previous(Container deck)

void show(Container deck, String cardName)

 

Here, deck is a reference to the container (usually a panel) that holds the cards, and cardName is the name of a card. Calling first( ) causes the first card in the deck to be shown. To show the last card, call last( ). To show the next card, call next( ). To show the previous card, call previous( ). Both next( ) and previous( ) automatically cycle back to the top or bottom of the deck, respectively. The show( ) method displays the card whose name is passed in cardName.

 

The following example creates a two-level card deck that allows the user to select an operating system. Windows-based operating systems are displayed in one card. Mac OS and Solaris are displayed in the other card.

 

// Demonstrate CardLayout.

import java.awt.*;

 

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

 

<applet code="CardLayoutDemo" width=300 height=100> </applet>

 

*/

public class CardLayoutDemo extends Applet implements ActionListener, MouseListener {

Checkbox windowsXP, windows7, windows8, android, solaris, mac; Panel osCards;

 

CardLayout cardLO; Button Win, Other;

 

public void init() {

 

Win = new Button("Windows"); Other = new Button("Other"); add(Win);

 

add(Other);

 

cardLO = new CardLayout(); osCards = new Panel();

 

osCards.setLayout(cardLO); // set panel layout to card layout

 

windowsXP = new Checkbox("Windows XP", null, true); windows7 = new Checkbox("Windows 7", null, false); windows8 = new Checkbox("Windows 8", null, false); android = new Checkbox("Android");

 

solaris = new Checkbox("Solaris"); mac = new Checkbox("Mac OS");

 

     //add Windows check boxes to a panel

     Panel winPan = new Panel(); winPan.add(windowsXP); winPan.add(windows7); winPan.add(windows8);

 

     //Add other OS check boxes to a panel

 

     Panel otherPan = new Panel(); otherPan.add(android); otherPan.add(solaris); otherPan.add(mac);

 

     //add panels to card deck

 

     panel osCards.add(winPan, "Windows"); osCards.add(otherPan, "Other");

 

     //add cards to main applet

 

     panel add(osCards);

 

     //register to receive action events

 

     Win.addActionListener(this); Other.addActionListener(this);

 

     register mouse events addMouseListener(this);

 

}

 

// Cycle through panels.

 

public void mousePressed(MouseEvent me) { cardLO.next(osCards);

 

}

// Provide empty implementations for the other MouseListener methods.

public void mouseClicked(MouseEvent me) {

 

}

 

public void mouseEntered(MouseEvent me) {

 

}

 

public void mouseExited(MouseEvent me) {

 

}

 

public void mouseReleased(MouseEvent me) {

 

}

 

public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent ae) { if(ae.getSource() == Win) {

 

cardLO.show(osCards, "Windows");

 

}

 

else {

 

cardLO.show(osCards, "Other");

 

}

 

}

 

}

 

Here is sample output generated by the CardLayoutDemo applet. Each card is activated by pushing its button. You can also cycle through the cards by clicking the mouse.



GridBagLayout

 

Although the preceding layouts are perfectly acceptable for many uses, some situations will require that you take a bit more control over how the components are arranged. A good way to do this is to use a grid bag layout, which is specified by the GridBagLayout class. What makes the grid bag useful is that you can specify the relative placement of components by specifying their positions within cells inside a grid. The key to the grid bag is that each component can be a different size, and each row in the grid can have a different number of columns. This is why the layout is called a grid bag. It’s a collection of small grids joined together.

The location and size of each component in a grid bag are determined by a set of constraints linked to it. The constraints are contained in an object of type GridBagConstraints. Constraints include the height and width of a cell, and the placement of a component, its alignment, and its anchor point within the cell.

 

The general procedure for using a grid bag is to first create a new GridBagLayout object and to make it the current layout manager. Then, set the constraints that apply to each component that will be added to the grid bag. Finally, add the components to the layout manager. Although GridBagLayout is a bit more complicated than the other layout managers, it is still quite easy to use once you understand how it works.

GridBagLayout defines only one constructor, which is shown here:

 

GridBagLayout( )

 

GridBagLayout defines several methods, of which many are protected and not for general use. There is one method, however, that you must use: setConstraints( ). It is shown here:

 

void setConstraints(Component comp, GridBagConstraints cons)

 

Here, comp is the component for which the constraints specified by cons apply. This method sets the constraints that apply to each component in the grid bag.

 

The key to successfully using GridBagLayout is the proper setting of the constraints, which are stored in a GridBagConstraints object. GridBagConstraints defines several fields that you can set to govern the size, placement, and spacing of a component. These are shown in Table 26-1. Several are described in greater detail in the following discussion.



GridBagConstraints also defines several static fields that contain standard constraint values, such as GridBagConstraints.CENTER and GridBagConstraints.VERTICAL.

When a component is smaller than its cell, you can use the anchor field to specify where within the cell the component’s top-left corner will be located. There are three types of values that you can give to anchor. The first are absolute:

GridBagConstraints.CENTER

GridBagConstraints.EAST

GridBagConstraints.NORTH

GridBagConstraints.NORTHEAST

GridBagConstraints.NORTHWEST

GridBagConstraints.SOUTH

GridBagConstraints.SOUTHEAST

GridBagConstraints.SOUTHWEST

GridBagConstraints.WEST

As their names imply, these values cause the component to be placed at the specific locations. The second type of values that can be given to anchor is relative, which means the

values are relative to the container’s orientation, which might differ for non-Western languages. The relative values are shown here:

 

GridBagConstraints.FIRST_LINE_END

GridBagConstraints.FIRST_LINE_START

GridBagConstraints.LAST_LINE_END

GridBagConstraints.LAST_LINE_START

GridBagConstraints.LINE_END

GridBagConstraints.LINE_START

GridBagConstraints.PAGE_END

GridBagConstraints.PAGE_START

Their names describe the placement.

 

The third type of values that can be given to anchor allows you to position components relative to the baseline of the row. These values are shown here:

GridBagConstraints.BASELINE

GridBagConstraints.BASELINE_TRAILING

GridBagConstraints.ABOVE_BASELINE_LEADING

GridBagConstraints.BELOW_BASELINE

GridBagConstraints. BELOW_BASELINE_TRAILING

GridBagConstraints.BASELINE_LEADING

GridBagConstraints.ABOVE_BASELINE

GridBagConstraints.ABOVE_BASELINE_TRAILING

GridBagConstraints.BELOW_BASELINE_LEADING

The horizontal position can be either centered, against the leading edge (LEADING), or against the trailing edge (TRAILING).

 

The weightx and weighty fields are both quite important and quite confusing at first glance. In general, their values determine how much of the extra space within a container is allocated to each row and column. By default, both these values are zero. When all values within a row or a column are zero, extra space is distributed evenly between the edges of the window. By increasing the weight, you increase that row or column’s allocation of space proportional to the other rows or columns. The best way to understand how these values work is to experiment with them a bit.

 

The gridwidth variable lets you specify the width of a cell in terms of cell units. The default is 1. To specify that a component use the remaining space in a row, use GridBagConstraints.REMAINDER. To specify that a component use the next-to-last cell in a row, use GridBagConstraints.RELATIVE. The gridheight constraint works the same way, but in the vertical direction.

 

You can specify a padding value that will be used to increase the minimum size of a cell. To pad horizontally, assign a value to ipadx. To pad vertically, assign a value to ipady.

 

Here is an example that uses GridBagLayout to demonstrate several of the points just discussed:

 

// Use GridBagLayout.

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

 

<applet code="GridBagDemo" width=250 height=200> </applet>

 

*/

 

public class GridBagDemo extends Applet implements ItemListener {

 

String msg = "";

 

Checkbox windows, android, solaris, mac;

 

public void init() {

 

GridBagLayout gbag = new GridBagLayout(); GridBagConstraints gbc = new GridBagConstraints(); setLayout(gbag);

 

// Define check boxes.

 

windows = new Checkbox("Windows ", null, true); android = new Checkbox("Android");

 

solaris = new Checkbox("Solaris"); mac = new Checkbox("Mac OS");

 

     //Define the grid bag.

 

Use default row weight of 0 for first row. gbc.weightx = 1.0;

// use a column weight of 1

gbc.ipadx = 200; // pad by 200 units

 

gbc.insets = new Insets(4, 4, 0, 0); // inset slightly from top left

 

gbc.anchor = GridBagConstraints.NORTHEAST;

 

gbc.gridwidth = GridBagConstraints.RELATIVE; gbag.setConstraints(windows, gbc);

 

gbc.gridwidth = GridBagConstraints.REMAINDER; gbag.setConstraints(android, gbc);

 

// Give second row a weight of 1.

gbc.weighty = 1.0;

 

gbc.gridwidth = GridBagConstraints.RELATIVE; gbag.setConstraints(solaris, gbc);

 

gbc.gridwidth = GridBagConstraints.REMAINDER; gbag.setConstraints(mac, gbc);

 

     Add the components. add(windows); add(android); add(solaris); add(mac);

 

     Register to receive item events. windows.addItemListener(this); android.addItemListener(this); solaris.addItemListener(this); mac.addItemListener(this);

 

}

 

     Repaint when status of a check box changes. public void itemStateChanged(ItemEvent ie) {

 

repaint();

 

}

 

     Display current state of the check boxes. public void paint(Graphics g) {

 

msg = "Current state: "; g.drawString(msg, 6, 80);

 

msg = " Windows: " + windows.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 100);

 

msg = " Android: " + android.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 120);

 

msg = " Solaris: " + solaris.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 140);

 

msg = " Mac: " + mac.getState(); g.drawString(msg, 6, 160);

 

}

 

}

Sample output produced by the program is shown here.


In this layout, the operating system check boxes are positioned in a 2×2 grid. Each cell has a horizontal padding of 200. Each component is inset slightly (by 4 units) from the top left. The column weight is set to 1, which causes any extra horizontal space to be distributed evenly between the columns. The first row uses a default weight of 0; the second has a weight of 1. This means that any extra vertical space is added to the second row.

 

GridBagLayout is a powerful layout manager. It is worth taking some time to experiment with and explore. Once you understand what the various settings do, you can use GridBagLayout to position components with a high degree of precision.


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