Tuesday, July 3, 2012

JavaFX 2.0 Layout Panes - GridPane

The GridPane is without a doubt the most powerfull and flexible layout pane in JavaFX 2.0.
It lays out its children in a flexible grid of columns and rows and is very similar to Swing´s GridBagLayout or HTML´s table model. This approach makes this pane very well suited for any kind of form (like contact forms on a website).
You have the ability to...
  • apply any Node to a cell (specified by column and row) in the GridPane
  • to let the Node span multiple columns/rows
  • to align the Node in the cell it was applied to
  • to set horizontal or vertical grow for the Node
  • and to apply a margin to be kept around the Node in the cell.
The flexibility of the GridPane also extends to a very flexible API. You can use static class methods like setColumnIndex(node, index) or setRowSpan(node, value), or you can use convenience instance methods like gridpane.add(node, column, row, columnSpan, rowSpan).

  • You don´t have to set the maximum number of columns or rows in the GridPane as it will grow automatically.
  • The size of one column is automatically determined by the widest Node in this column, the height of each row is determined by the tallest Node in the row.
The last note is probably the most important fact about the GridPane as it has to be considered for the column/row and the column span/row span of every single Node in order to get the layout you want.
For more complex layouts it is a very good idea to draw the layout on a piece of paper and to draw all lines for the columns and rows. This will ease development because you can diretly see in which cell you have to put each Node and how many rows or columns they have to span.

Lets have a look at the first simple example:

Monday, June 25, 2012

JavaFX 2.0 Layout Panes - AnchorPane

An AnchorPane is similar to a BorderPane (see my previous post JavaFX 2.0 Layout Panes - BorderPane) as it also provides several areas or regions for your nodes.

In contrast to a BorderPane, an AnchorPane provides only four different regions: Left, Right, Bottom and Top (a BorderPane additionally provides a center region).

There are several more major differences between the two panes:

  • In an AnchorPane you can anchor multiple nodes to one area (in a BorderPane you can only set one node to each area).
  • In an AnchorPane you can anchor one single node to multiple areas, i.e. anchoring a Button to the left and the top of the AnchorPane, whereas in a BorderPane every node can only be applied to one area.
  • In an AnchorPane you can specify the offset to the anchor.
  • A BorderPane provides instance methods to populate each area (i.e. setCenter(Node node), setRight(Node node), ...). An AnchorPane offers static methods like AnchorPane.setTopAnchor(Node node, Double offset) that are applied directly to a Node.
  • In a BorderPane each child will grow and shrink with its parent depending on the area it is applied to. In an AnchorPane children will only be resized/stretched if they are anchored to opposite sides of the pane. For example if a Button is anchored to the left and the right anchor of an AnchorPane, the Button will be stretched horizontally.

Please take a look at this first simple example:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

JavaFX 2.0 Layout Panes - BorderPane

A BorderPane is very well suited to develop more complex layouts. In general the BorderPane provides five different regions: Top, Right, Bottom, Left and Center. You can set a Node to each of these areas by calling the setTop/setBottom/set… methods. This approach makes it very easy to develop “website-like” application windows where you have a menubar or toolbar at the top, a navigation on the left, some kind of footer at the bottom, your main content in the center area and possibly some additional information at the right.

It is important to know, that each of these areas resizes differently:

  • The top and bottom areas will resize to their children preferred height and take all space available for their width.
  • The left and right areas will resize to their children preferred width and take all space available for their height.
  • The center area takes all space available for its height and its width.

Following graphic demonstrates the behavior of a BorderPane when resizing your application window:

Source: own illustration

Take a look at this example:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

JavaFX 2.0 Layout Panes - FlowPane and TilePane

FlowPanes and TilePanes are nice layout panes, if you want to layout your children consecutively one after another, either horizontally or vertically. They are quite similiar to each other as both will layout their children either in columns (in case of a horizontal Flow/TilePane) and wrap at their width or in rows (in case of a vertical Flow/TilePane) and wrap at their height.

The only major difference is, that the TilePane places all children in tiles that are the same size! So the size of the greatest children is taken for the size of each individual tile in the TilePane. Therefore a TilePane is also a nice way to size and align buttons and other controls equally. (See my previous post Sizing Buttons equally inside a VBox or HBox)

FlowPane and TilePane – Example 1

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

JavaFX 2.0 Layout Panes - Sizing Buttons equally inside a VBox or HBox

When you have multiple buttons in a VBox or a HBox you often want to size and align them equally. The default preferred width of a button is computed based on its content (which includes the text as well as possible graphics) and the default preferred size of a VBox and a HBox is based on the biggest of their children.

If you want your buttons to grow with their parent you either have to raise their max size manually or to set it to the constant Double.MAX_VALUE which forces controls to grow as big as permitted by their parent.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

JavaFX 2.0 Layout Panes - HBox and VBox

If you want an overview on all different layout panes in JavaFX 2.0 or if you want to know yome basic facts about them, please see my previous post Layout Panes in JavaFX 2.0.

The layout panes HBox and VBox are definitely the most basic layout containers in JavaFX 2.0. As you can already tell by their name, their purpose is to layout all their children in one horizontal row (HBox) or in one vertical column (VBox). Because they´re very easy to use and very useful regarding minor layout issues, you´ll probably use them a lot. I´ll give two examples on how you can use them. As in the other examples, first of all the code and afterwards the explanations.

HBox and VBox – Example 1

import javafx.application.Application;
import javafx.geometry.Pos;
import javafx.scene.Scene;
import javafx.scene.control.Button;
import javafx.scene.layout.HBox;
import javafx.scene.layout.VBox;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

 * Created on: 20.03.2012
 * @author Sebastian Damm
public class HBoxandVBoxExample extends Application
    public void start(Stage primaryStage) throws Exception
        HBox hbox = new HBox(50);
        hbox.setAlignment(Pos.CENTER); // default TOP_LEFT
        VBox vbox1 = new VBox();
        vbox1.setStyle("-fx-border-style: solid;"
                + "-fx-border-width: 1;"
                + "-fx-border-color: black");
        VBox vbox2 = new VBox(10);
        vbox2.setStyle("-fx-border-style: solid;"
                + "-fx-border-width: 1;"
                + "-fx-border-color: black");
        VBox vbox3 = new VBox(20);
        vbox3.setStyle("-fx-border-style: solid;"
                + "-fx-border-width: 1;"
                + "-fx-border-color: black");
        for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
            Button bt = new Button("Button " + (i+1));
            Button bt2 = new Button("Button " + (i+1)); // unfortunately there´s no "clone" or "copy" method
            Button bt3 = new Button("Button " + (i+1));

        hbox.getChildren().addAll(vbox1, vbox2, vbox3);
        Scene scene = new Scene(hbox, 350, 250); // the hbox is the root node
        primaryStage.setTitle("HBox and VBox Example");

    public static void main(String[] args)

Basically we create three different VBoxes and put them into one HBox. In both classes you can define a spacing value either directly in the constructor or via the setSpacing method. This value will be used as the gap between the individual children in the pane. The line HBox hbox = new HBox(50); therefore creates a HBox to hold three VBoxes with a gap of 50 pixel between each of them.

We use the setAlignment method to specify, how the individual VBoxes should arrange and layout all their childen.

With setStyle you can apply custom CSS styles to any Node. I don´t want to go into much detail yet, because I´ll cover CSS styles in JavaFX 2.0 in one of my next posts, but if you´re already familiar with CSS you´ll probably already have noticed that the JavaFX 2.0 team fortunately decided to follow the CSS standards defined by W3C ( very closely. If you´re not familiar with CSS you just need to know that theses lines of CSS create a 1px wide black border around the component. I use them here to show you the size of the individual VBoxes.

The next few lines should be pretty ordinary for you by now: We create five buttons for each VBox, put the different VBoxes into our HBox, declare a Scene object (with the HBox as root) and show our application.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Layout Panes in JavaFX 2.0

Creating a graphical user interface that looks nice and that provides a good usability is a very common task in software development. Fortunately JavaFX 2.0 offers great support in that area.

What is a layout manager and why do we need them?

Layout managers are regions or areas that follow individual rules to (re)arrange and to (re)size all their children in relation to their own size. Generally, it is also possible to specify a fixed position of your components in an application window. But how should the window know what to do when you resize your application window? Should it leave the new available space blank? Should some components “vanish” if you make the window smaller? Should it resize some components? If yes, which one and how?

These questions show, why layout managers are necessary in software development.

Facts about layout managers in JavaFX 2.0

  • In JavaFX 2.0 layout managers are called “panes”
  • Every layout pane extends the Region class
  • To create your own layout pane, it is highly recommended to extend Region yourself
  • Types of layout panes in JavaFX 2.0
    • HBox (lays out its children in a horizontal row)
    • VBox (lays out its children in a single vertical column)
    • Border Pane (lays out its children in five different regions: Top, Right, Bottom, Left and Center)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hello World in JavaFX 2.0

Before talking about the example itself, I want to show you how to create a JavaFX application in NetBeans. (If you haven´t installed JavaFX and NetBeans yet, please see my previous post Installing JavaFX 2.0 and NetBeans 7.7.1) Click on “New Project” in the “File” menu to open the project wizard. Then choose “JavaFX->JavaFX Application” and press “Next”.

In the next dialog you can specify the name of your application and a destination folder, where it should be stored. If you have installed JavaFX correctly the “JavaFX Platform” should be specified already. Otherwise you can add the platform yourself by clicking on “Manage Platforms->Add Platform” and specifying the paths to your JavaFX installation.

Note: By default the “Create Application Class” checkbox is checked. Please uncheck it because we´ll create our own application class.
Click on “finish” to create your first JavaFX application.

Hello World in JavaFX 2.0 – Example 1

Probably every single software developer knows the famous „HelloWorld“ example as it is often used to show the syntax of a (unknown) programming language and to give a first clue, of what the language looks like. I don´t want to break this tradition, so here are 2 different versions of a HelloWorld program in JavaFX 2.0. I´ll show the complete code first and then explain the individual parts.

import javafx.application.Application;
import javafx.event.ActionEvent;
import javafx.event.EventHandler;
import javafx.scene.Scene;
import javafx.scene.control.Button;
import javafx.scene.layout.StackPane;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

 * Created on: 17.03.2012
 * @author Sebastian Damm
public class HelloJavaFX extends Application
    public void start(Stage stage) throws Exception
        Button bt = new Button("Print HelloWorld");
        bt.setOnAction(new EventHandler<ActionEvent>() 
            public void handle(ActionEvent arg0)
                System.out.println("HelloWorld! :)");
        StackPane root = new StackPane();
        Scene scene = new Scene(root, 300, 150);

        stage.setTitle("HelloWorld in JavaFX 2.0");

    public static void main(String[] args)

The first thing worth mentioning is that you have to extend from the Application class in order to create a working JavaFX application. This class provides several live-cycle methods and is the starting point for your application. It is an abstract class (which means, that you cannot instantiate it) with a single abstract method start, that you have to override. You are provided a stage object by the JavaFX runtime, which you can use to display your UI.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Starting a series of JavaFX 2.0 beginner tutorials

As mentioned in my 2 introduction posts, I´ll start a series of beginner tutorials for JavaFX 2.0.
I will start with the obligatory “HelloWorld” example and try to cover as many as possible beginner topics in the next few weeks. Feel free to tell me in the comments, what you want to see.

Who are the tutorials targeted at?

  • People with average to good Java knowledge
  • People that what to learn JavaFX 2.0 but have little to no knowledge yet

I won´t cover any Java basics, but we will start at the very beginning of JavaFX 2.0

Friday, March 16, 2012

Installing JavaFX 2.0 and NetBeans 7.7.1

My first blog post will cover the most essential part => Installing JavaFX 2.0 and setting up your development environment.
As of Java SE 7 Update 2, Java SE includes JavaFX 2.0, so if you don´t have a version of Java installed, go for this package. If you already have installed a different Java SE/EE version you can also download JavaFX 2.0 stand-alone.

Here is the download of the latest Java SE version, which is 7 Update 3:

If you want to install Java EE as well, you can download the package with JavaSE and JavaEE.
Note: It is "only" JavaSE 7 Update1, which means, that JavaFX 2.0 isn´t included. If you download this package, you´ll have to download the JavaFX 2.0 SDK separately.

The standalone version of JavaFX 2.0 can be found here:

Either way, simply download the appropriate file for your operating system and follow the installation instructions.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Welcome to my blog

So, welcome to my blog. First of all I would like to introduce myself quickly: My name is Sebastian Damm, I am 23 years old, I live in Germany and I am about to finish my apprenticeship as a software developer. As English isn´t my native language, please excuse any spelling or grammar mistakes. Nevertheless I want to write my blog in English to make it appeal to a broader audience.

What is this blog all about?

As I am a big Java fan, the majority of posts will be about different Java technologies and news. Because I learned JavaFX 2.0 in the last few weeks, I decided, that it´ll be a good idea to post some beginner tutorials and introductions about JavaFX 2.0, because many people want to learn it at the moment. So expect the first several posts to cover some JavaFX 2.0 basics and beginner examples.