Saturday Nov 10, 2012

Polishing the MonologFX API

Earlier this week, I released "into the wild" a new JavaFX 2.x dialog library, MonologFX, that incorporated some elements of DialogFX and new features I'd been working on over time. While I did try to get the API to a point of reasonable completion (nothing is ever truly "finished", of course!), there was one bit of functionality that I'd included without providing any real "polish": that of the button icons.

Good friend and fellow JFXtras teammate José Pereda Llamas suggested I fix that oversight and provide an update (thanks much, José!), thus this post. If you'd like to take a peek at the new streamlined syntax, I've updated the earlier post; please click here if you'd like to review it. If you want to give MonologFX a try, just point your browser to GitHub to download the updated code and/or .jar.

All the best,
Mark

Wednesday Nov 07, 2012

MonologFX: FLOSS JavaFX Dialogs for the Taking

(UPDATED Nov 10 with simpler button icon API) 

Some time back, I was searching for basic dialog functionality within JavaFX and came up empty. After finding a decent open-source offering on GitHub that almost fit the bill, I began using it...and immediately began thinking of ways to "do it differently."  :-)  Having a weekend to kill, I ended up creating DialogFX and releasing it on GitHub (hecklerm/DialogFX) for anyone who might find it useful. Shortly thereafter, it was incorporated into JFXtras (jfxtras.org) as well.

Today I'm sharing a different, more flexible and capable JavaFX dialog called MonologFX that I've been developing and refining over the past few months. The summary of its progression thus far is pretty well captured in the README.md file I posted with the project on GitHub:

After creating the DialogFX library for JavaFX, I received several suggestions and requests for additional or different functionality, some of which ran counter to the interfaces and/or intent of the DialogFX "way of doing things". Great ideas, but not completely compatible with the existing functionality. Wanting to incorporate these capabilities, I started over...incorporating some parts of DialogFX into the new MonologFX, as I called it, but taking it in a different direction when it seemed sensible to do so.

In the meantime, the OpenJFX team has released dialog code that will be refined and eventually incorporated into JavaFX and OpenJFX. Rather than just scrap the MonologFX code or hoard it, I'm releasing it here on GitHub with the hope that someone may find it useful, interesting, or entertaining. You may never need it, but regardless, MonologFX is there for the taking.

Things of Note

So, what are some features of MonologFX?

  • Four kinds of dialog boxes: ACCEPT (check mark icon), ERROR (red 'x'), INFO (blue "i"), and QUESTION (blue question mark)
  • Button alignment configurable by developer: LEFT, RIGHT, or CENTER
  • Skins/stylesheets support
  • Shortcut key/mnemonics support (Alt-<key>)
  • Ability to designate default (RETURN-key) and cancel (ESCAPE-key) buttons
  • Built-in button types and labels for OK, CANCEL, ABORT, RETRY, IGNORE, YES, and NO
  • Custom button types: CUSTOM1, CUSTOM2, CUSTOM3
  • Internationalization (i18n) built in. Currently, files are provided for English/US and Spanish/Spain locales; please share others and I'll add them!
  • Icon support for your buttons, with or without text labels
  • Fully Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS), with latest source code & .jar always available at GitHub

Quick Usage Overview

Having an intense distaste for rough edges and gears flying when things break (!), I've tried to provide defaults for everything and "fail-safes" to avoid messy outcomes if some property isn't specified, etc. This also feeds the goal of making MonologFX as easy to use as possible, while retaining the library's full flexibility. Or at least that's the plan.  :-)

You can hand-assemble your buttons and dialogs, but I've also included Builder classes to help move that along as well. Here are a couple examples:

        MonologFXButton mlb = MonologFXButtonBuilder.create()
                .defaultButton(true)
                .icon("/testmonologfx/dialog_apply.png")
                .type(MonologFXButton.Type.OK)
                .build();

        MonologFXButton mlb2 = MonologFXButtonBuilder.create()
                .cancelButton(true)
                .icon("/testmonologfx/dialog_cancel.png")
                .type(MonologFXButton.Type.CANCEL)
                .build();

        MonologFX mono = MonologFXBuilder.create()
                .modal(true)
                .message("Welcome to MonologFX! Please feel free to try it out and share your thoughts.")
                .titleText("Important Announcement")
                .button(mlb)
                .button(mlb2)
                .buttonAlignment(MonologFX.ButtonAlignment.CENTER)
                .build();

        MonologFXButton.Type retval = mono.showDialog();


MonologFXButton mlb = MonologFXButtonBuilder.create()
        .defaultButton(true)
        .icon("/testmonologfx/dialog_apply.png")
        .type(MonologFXButton.Type.YES)
        .build();

 

MonologFXButton mlb2 = MonologFXButtonBuilder.create()
        .cancelButton(true)
        .icon("/testmonologfx/dialog_cancel.png")
        .type(MonologFXButton.Type.NO)
        .build();

 

MonologFX mono = MonologFXBuilder.create()
        .modal(true)
        .type(MonologFX.Type.QUESTION)
        .message("Welcome to MonologFX! Does this look like it might be useful?")
        .titleText("Important Announcement")
        .button(mlb)
        .button(mlb2)
        .buttonAlignment(MonologFX.ButtonAlignment.RIGHT)
        .build();

 

MonologFXButton.Type retval = mono.showDialog();

 


Extra Credit

Thanks to everyone who offered ideas for improvement and/or extension to the functionality contained within DialogFX. The JFXtras team welcomed it into the fold, and while I doubt there will be a need to include MonologFX in JFXtras, team members Gerrit Grunwald & Jose Pereda Llamas volunteered templates and i18n expertise to make MonologFX what it is. Thanks for the push, guys!

Where to Get (Git!) It

If you'd like to check it out, point your browser to the MonologFX repository on GitHub. Full source code is there, along with the current .jar file. Please give it a try and share your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you.

All the best,
Mark

Tuesday Oct 09, 2012

Seven Random Thoughts on JavaOne

As most people reading this blog may know, last week was JavaOne. There are a lot of summary/recap articles popping up now, and while I didn't want to just "add to the pile", I did want to share a few observations. Disclaimer: I am an Oracle employee, but most of these observations are either externally verifiable or based upon a collection of opinions from Oracle and non-Oracle attendees alike. Anyway, here are a few take-aways:

  1. The Java ecosystem is alive and well, with a breadth and depth that is impossible to adequately describe in a short post...or a long post, for that matter. If there is any one area within the Java language or JVM that you would like to - or need to - know more about, it's well-represented at J1.
  2. While there are several IDEs that are used to great effect by the developer community, NetBeans is on a roll. I lost count how many sessions mentioned or used NetBeans, but it was by far the dominant IDE in use at J1. As a recent re-convert to NetBeans, I wasn't surprised others liked it so well, only how many.
  3. OpenJDK, OpenJFX, etc. Many developers were understandably concerned with the change of sponsorship/leadership when Java creator and longtime steward Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle. The read I got from attendees regarding Oracle's stewardship was almost universally positive, and the push for "openness" is deep and wide within the current Java environs. Few would probably have imagined it to be this good, this soon. Someone observed that "Larry (Ellison) is competitive, and he wants to be the best...so if he wants to have a community, it will be the best community on the planet." Like any company, Oracle is bound to make missteps, but leadership seems to be striking an excellent balance between embracing open efforts and innovating in competitive paid offerings.
  4. JavaFX (2.x) isn't perfect or comprehensive, but a great many people (myself included) see great potential, are developing for it, and are really excited about where it is and where it may be headed. This is another part of the Java ecosystem that has impressive depth for being so new (JavaFX 1.x aside). If you haven't kicked the tires yet, give it a try! You'll be surprised at how capable and versatile it is, and you'll probably catch yourself smiling while coding again.  :-)
  5. JavaEE is everywhere. Not exactly a newsflash, but there is a lot of buzz around EE still/again/anew. Sessions ranged from updated component specs/technologies to Websockets/HTML5, from frameworks to profiles and application servers. Programming "server-side" Java isn't confined to the server (as you no doubt realize), and if you still consider JavaEE a cumbersome beast, you clearly haven't been using the last couple of versions. Download GlassFish or the WebLogic Zip distro (or another JavaEE 6 implementation) and treat yourself.
  6. JavaOne is not inexpensive, but to paraphrase an old saying, "If you think that's expensive, you should try ignorance." :-) I suppose it's possible to attend J1 and learn nothing, but you'd have to really work at it! Attending even a single session is bound to expand your horizons and make you approach your code, your problem domain, differently...even if it's a session about something you already know quite well. The various presenters offer vastly different perspectives and challenge you to re-think your own approach(es).
  7. And finally, if you think the scheduled sessions are great - and make no mistake, most are clearly outstanding - wait until you see what you pick up from what I like to call the "hallway sessions". Between the presentations, people freely mingle in the hallways, go to lunch and dinner together, and talk. And talk. And talk. Ideas flow freely, sparking other ideas and the "crowdsourcing" of knowledge in a way that is hard to imagine outside of a conference of this magnitude. Consider this the "GO" part of a "BOGO" (Buy One, Get One) offer: you buy the ticket to the "structured" part of JavaOne and get the hallway sessions at no additional charge. They're really that good.

If you weren't able to make it to JavaOne this year, you can still watch/listen to the sessions online by visiting the JavaOne course catalog and clicking the media link(s) in the right column - another demonstration of Oracle's commitment to the Java community. But make plans to be there next year to get the full benefit! You'll be glad you did.

 

All the best,
Mark

P.S. - I didn't mention several other exciting developments in areas like the embedded space and the "internet of things" (M2M), robotics, optimization, and the cloud (among others), but I think you get the idea. JavaOne == brainExpansion;  Hope to see you there next year!

Monday Sep 24, 2012

Join Me at JavaOne!

JavaOne 2012 is less than a week away! If you've already made plans to be there, you're probably getting pretty excited about it already...and if not, what are you waiting for?!?

Before I get to the session information, I want to point out that qualified students get free admission to JavaOne, so if you are (or know) a CS or IT (or other tech-leaning) student who might like to attend, follow the link and start making plans. There is so much there to learn and experience.

I'm happy to say I'll be a small part of the festivities. I'll be leading the following session:

CON3519 - Building Hybrid Cloud Apps: Local Databases + The Cloud = Extreme Versatility

In this session, learn how to design and develop applications that leverage both local storage and the cloud, maximizing the strengths of each. Using NetBeans, JavaServer Faces 2.0, GlassFish Server technology, JavaFX 2, Oracle Database, and Evernote, rapidly create prototypical applications that can be deployed in various environments and scaled up/out with enterprise cloud solutions. 

As a contributor to the JFXtras project, I also hope to attend the following "Birds Of a Feather" (BOF) session led by Gerrit Grunwald and Stephen Chin:

BOF5503 - JFXtras Super Happy Dev BOF

JFXtras, the open source JavaFX control and extensions project, is back for JavaFX 2.0. In this session, you will learn about the latest changes in JFXtras 2.0, including new components, controls, and features that integrate with the JavaFX 2.0 libraries. Expect to meet the JFXtras core team members as well as other interesting client RIA implementers and developers. Now that JavaFX is coded in Java, a few server-side hackers may even be let in the door.

If you're there, please stop by and introduce yourself! And to follow along with my J1 travels or keep in contact afterward, please follow me on Twitter or connect via G+ or Facebook (links in panel to right). Hope to see you there, but either way, keep the Java flowing!

All the best,
Mark 

Monday Sep 03, 2012

DialogFX: A New Approach to JavaFX Dialogs

How would you like a quick and easy drop-in dialog box capability for JavaFX? That's what I was thinking when a weekend presented itself. And never being one to waste a good weekend...  :-)

After doing some "roll-your-own" basic dialog building for a JavaFX app, I recently stumbled across Anton Smirnov's work on GitHub. It was a good start, but it wasn't exactly what I was after, and ideas just kept popping up of things I'd do differently. I wanted something a bit more streamlined, a bit easier to just "drop in and use". And so DialogFX was born.

DialogFX wasn't intended to be overly fancy, overly clever - just useful and robust. Here were my goals:

  • Easy to use. A dialog "system" should be so simple to use a new developer can drop it in quickly with nearly no learning curve. A seasoned developer shouldn't even have to think, just tap in a few lines and go. Why should dialogs slow "actual development"?  :-)
  • Defaults. If you don't specify something (dialog type, buttons, etc.), a good dialog system should still work. It may not be pretty, but it shouldn't throw gears.
  • Sharable. It's all open source. Even the icons are in the commons, so they can be reused at will.

Let's take a look at some screen captures and the code used to produce them.

 

DialogFX INFO dialog

Screen captures

Windows


Mac 

Sample code

        DialogFX dialog = new DialogFX();
        dialog.setTitleText("Info Dialog Box Example");
        dialog.setMessage("This is an example of an INFO dialog box, created using DialogFX.");
        dialog.showDialog();

DialogFX ERROR dialog

Screen captures

Windows


Mac 

Sample code

        DialogFX dialog = new DialogFX(Type.ERROR);
        dialog.setTitleText("Error Dialog Box Example");
        dialog.setMessage("This is an example of an ERROR dialog box, created using DialogFX.");
        dialog.showDialog();

DialogFX ACCEPT dialog

Screen captures

Windows


Mac 

Sample code

        DialogFX dialog = new DialogFX(Type.ACCEPT);
        dialog.setTitleText("Accept Dialog Box Example");
        dialog.setMessage("This is an example of an ACCEPT dialog box, created using DialogFX.");
        dialog.showDialog();

DialogFX Question dialog (Yes/No)

Screen captures

Windows


Mac 

Sample code

        DialogFX dialog = new DialogFX(Type.QUESTION);
        dialog.setTitleText("Question Dialog Box Example");
        dialog.setMessage("This is an example of an QUESTION dialog box, created using DialogFX. Would you like to continue?");
        dialog.showDialog();

DialogFX Question dialog (custom buttons)

Screen captures

Windows


Mac 

Sample code

        List<String> buttonLabels = new ArrayList<>(2);
        buttonLabels.add("Affirmative");
        buttonLabels.add("Negative");

        DialogFX dialog = new DialogFX(Type.QUESTION);
        dialog.setTitleText("Question Dialog Box Example");
        dialog.setMessage("This is an example of an QUESTION dialog box, created using DialogFX. This also demonstrates the automatic wrapping of text in DialogFX. Would you like to continue?");
        dialog.addButtons(buttonLabels, 0, 1);
        dialog.showDialog();

A couple of things to note

You may have noticed in that last example the addButtons(buttonLabels, 0, 1) call. You can pass custom button labels in and designate the index of the default button (responding to the ENTER key) and the cancel button (for ESCAPE). Optional parameters, of course, but nice when you may want them.

Also, the showDialog() method actually returns the index of the button pressed. Rather than create EventHandlers in the dialog that really have little to do with the dialog itself, you can respond to the user's choice within the calling object. Or not. Again, it's your choice.  :-)

And finally, I've Javadoc'ed the code in the main places. Hopefully, this will make it easy to get up and running quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

How Do I Get (Git?) It?

To try out DialogFX, just point your browser here to the DialogFX GitHub repository and download away! Please take a look, try it out, and let me know what you think. All feedback welcome!

All the best,

Mark 

About

The Java Jungle addresses topics from mobile to enterprise Java, tech news to techniques, and anything even remotely related. The goal is to help us all do our work better with Java, however we use it.

Your Java Jungle guide is Mark Heckler, an Oracle Java/Middleware/Core Engineer with development experience in numerous environments. Mark's current work pursuits and passions all revolve around Java and leave little time to blog or tweet - but somehow, he finds time to do both anyway.

Mark lives with his very understanding wife, three kids, and dog in the St. Louis, MO area.



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