Writing Google Calendar in JavaFX

  • Post category:JavajavafxUI

After getting my feet wet writing the ListPicker and CalendarPicker control in JavaFX for the JFXtras project, I felt it was time to put my aim at something bigger; I always wanted to write a control that does a “Google Calendar”. Even though such a control on the surface seems simple, there are many things that make it a real challenge and fun for a software engineer to create. For example the beauty of how overlapping appointments are rendered. So after a few days where the spare time went into drawings and scribbles on paper, fleshing out how things should be set it up, the coding started. There were a few things I would like to do different from Google’s version.

  1. When I plan an appointment, I always forget to look at the whole day events, and often get conflicts because of that. So I wanted a whole day event to have a presence during the whole day.
  2. Google only allows for appointments that span a certain amount time. Tasks (which basically only have a single date & time) are not supported. Google has a task feature, but it is not mature enough IMHO in terms of reminders and visibility.

So before diving into how the control is set up, first a quick peek at the state of affairs when writing this blog (tasks are not implemented yet):

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JavaFX 2.0 bubblemark – part 2

  • Post category:JavajavafxUI

The first post on the JavaFX 2.0 bubblemark created some feedback, most notably an email from the JavaFX engineering team stating in so many words that JavaFX 2.0 has an issue and that is why it per default is not running on full speed. But the remedy should be the magical “-Djavafx.animation.fullspeed=true” option. So without further due the JavaFX bitmap test was run with that option.

So first here is the total view for all 4 tests (the ‘+’ is the fullspeed option):

And the zoomed-in version:

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JavaFX 2.0 bubblemark

  • Post category:JavajavafxUI

Oracle has released the revamped JavaFX 2.0 on JavaOne 2011. It’s an interesting step which immediately invokes many questions. What is the target audience for JavaFX? Which technology segment does it aim at? What are the chances it will actually claim a piece of that segment? Is it any good at the segment it is aiming at? Only the future will tell the answers to all the questions. But some can be attempted to be answered today.

First of all a short summary of what I believe JavaFX 2.0 is: JavaFX attempts to be a higher performance graphics framework, with a UI layer on top, able to display different types of media.

  • “Higher” means that it is not aiming at high end gaming (for example the recently released Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3), but more at the level of platform games like Mario Bros or the fancier and animated user interfaces that some applications have lately.
  • “Graphics framework” indicates that it is not a UI library in its core (like Swing or SWT), but its designed primarily for drawing, manipulating and animating shapes like circles, rectangles and lines.
  • “UI layer on top” to note that it does come with a good set of UI controls, that are drawn using the graphics framework and thus can easily be made “fancy”.
  • “able to display different types of media” means that there is support for playing audio or video streams.

This kind of framework is commonly known as a RIA, or rich internet application, framework.

Having established the technical intention of JavaFX, the first step would be to see if it is any good at what it’s trying to be. This means bringing out the tame racing driver, aka a common frame of reference. For benchmarking a RIA the unofficial first thing to do is throw the bubblemark test at it. (more…)

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KPCalendarPicker

In the previous posts about UIOverlayView and KPMiniPickerView I’ve already talked about my calendar picker test case that I use to “hello world” new UI platforms. So far there is a Java Swing version, a JavaFX 1.3 version, the JavaFX 2.0 version is in the works, and there is a iOS (iPhone / iPad version).

The main excuse I had to write one for iOS is, because I found the normal picker to have a few drawbacks:

  • It is inaccurate; if I want to go back, say, 10 days, I give the thing a swipe and have to hope it stops somewhere around 10 days.
  • It takes up a big chunk of screen, relatively, for the information being shown.
  • The styling of the UIPickerView in general is not easily fitted into another look and feel; the rolodex-in-a-box look is very distinctive.

It is totally clear what Apple tries to do with the UIPickerView, but I do not believe that UI controls modeled after real world things (like a rolodex) are a good idea. History has shown us that writing computer programs in languages styled after human languages (Cobol) is not working out well either; all though there is something in common, the two worlds are far more different than alike. And the more I see UI’s made up of thing resembling real world objects, the more I get the feeling that they are not working out very well (the occasional exception excluded naturally). (more…)

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JavaFX 2.0, Swing 2.0?

At the beginning of my previous post I mentioned that I was stuck in the implementation of the calendar picker, because I was using one listener for 42 ToggleButtons, and I could not find out which of the 42 ToggleButtons was actually clicked. The code I have looks like this:

class Skin
{
	/**
	 * create the skin by using other controls
	 */
	private void createNodes()
	{
		for (int i = 0; i < 6 * 7; i++)
		{
			ToggleButton lToggleButton = new ToggleButton();
			lToggleButton.selectedProperty().addListener( iSelectedListener );
			...
		}
	}

	// one listener for all 42 buttons
	final private InvalidationListener<Boolean> iSelectedListener = new InvalidationListener<Boolean>()
	{
		@Override public void invalidated(ObservableValue<? extends Boolean> observableValue)
		{
			// selected or deselected
			boolean lSelected = observableValue.getValue();

			// TODO: which ToggleButton was pressed?
		}
	}
}

After having dropped this at the JavaFX people I went into pause, assuming the InvalidationListener API would be extended to include the origin of the event (like Swing events do). After some time Richard Bair came back to me and explained that extending the API with a reference to the bean would mean additional bytes for each property. My initial reaction was; so??? It’s just a few bytes? But then I realized that JavaFX is not about controls, but about graphics; controls are just a subset in which I’m very interested, but the real focus of JavaFX is much more basic and raw. There will be applications with thousands of nodes, and then a few bytes per property quickly become megabytes and the rise of the mobile devices suddenly make memory important again. So it became clear that extending the InvalidationListener API is not wise indeed. (more…)

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JavaFX 2.0 EA binding

After Swing, JavaFX 1.x and the iPad, now JavaFX 2.0 is candidate for the calendar picker shake down. Using MigLayout I’ve setup the basic day picking logic, but currently am stuck in build b21, because the events on the selected property in ToggleButton do not tell me which togglebutton was actually pressed, which is quite handy if you have 42 of them on screen. So I decided to focus a bit on binding instead.

My binding experience comes from JGoodies used in connecting Swing components to business model bean properties, usually using JGoodies’ BeanAdapter (which takes away the need to rebind every single property when the business model bean is changed underneath a Swing screen). Since I’m primary focussed on JavaFX’s controls at the moment, I wanted to see if I could bind my calendar picker to a business model. I’m also going to assume future 2.0 in which the properties on the business model also are using JavaFX properties. So I constructed a dummy business model with one property:

	class BusinessModelBean
	{
		final public ObjectProperty iCalendarObjectProperty= new ObjectProperty();
	}

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KPMiniPickerView

In the continuing story of iPad development one of the issues that became obvious was that the UIDatePicker looked really lousy in the overall design of the hour entry application. The UIPickerView component that is used by UIDatePicker has a fixed skin that is hard to fit into another layout. This was mostly caused by the appearence it generates that it is a scroll wheel inside some kind of casing, but the casing has no outside border. So It really did not fit-in well.

Secondly the UIDatePicker takes up quite a bit of space on the screen but you cannot quickly pick another date in the same month; you have to scroll to it, possibly 30 days. I like the “normal” date pickers better. So I found the required excuse to write one.

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JavaFX 2.0 EA and MigLayout

  • Post category:JavajavafxUI

Oracle rebooted JavaFX and finally positioned it as what I for a long time have been longing for; Swing 2.0. Let’s not kid ourselves; JavaFX is a new UI library for Java, using the API lessons learned from Swing and taking it to the next level with animations and effects. The concept is powerful enough to even go into the 3rd dimension soon. And more importantly; JavaFX2 finally has a good integration (and therefor migration path) with Swing, so it actually has an existing user base which can easily be persuaded to take a peek. Not to mention the fact that it now uses Java instead of JavaFX script, so the EDI support is great right from the start. (Well done Oracle!) But if this doesn’t sound like Swing 2.0, I don’t know what will.

So what is JavaFX2 like? Well… I like it. The API is clean and intuitive. Since it uses a different approach, making everything from simple lines to complete tables just a node in a tree, it means that I still have to really get my head around that. Fact remains that this approach allows to easily add effects and animation on anything, being it on a square or complete screen (they’re all just nodes after all). But I know I will initially use JavaFX in existing Swing applications, so my primary interest is in the controls. In order to make my life easier, I decided that porting MigLayout could be a good idea.

I must say that the initial results in my opinion are not bad at all. Below is an example of a simple test involving a TextBox and Rectangle:

public class MigPaneTest1 extends Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Launcher.launch(MigPane.class, args);
    }

	@Override
	public void start(Stage stage) {

        // root
        MigPane lRoot = new MigPane(new LC(), new AC(), new AC());

        // add nodes
        lRoot.add(new TextBox(10), new CC());
        lRoot.add(new Rectangle(30,30, Color.YELLOW), new CC());

        // create scene
        Scene scene = new Scene(lRoot, 600, 300);

        // create stage
        stage.setTitle("Test");
        stage.setScene(scene);
        stage.setVisible(true);
    }
}

This results in the following layout:

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