Repeating appointments

Writing a calendar control is great fun; figuring out the algorithm of how to render multiple appointments on the same time, evolving the API, … The ‘I always wanted to do that’ is what makes a hobby project interesting. Of course the control is no where near as refined as the commercial alternative(s), and it most definitely could use a number of additional skins, but it looks pretty decent and -most importantly- works.🙂

From an architectural point of view the Agenda control has one clear goal: render appointments. Nothing more, nothing less. The API expects a list of appointments to be rendered, given the time frame that the Agenda control’s currently active skin is displaying. It does not care where the appointments came from, if they are unique, pink, blue, or repeating. It just wants to know the raw meta data, so it can draw the appropriate areas and assign CSS to them.

But that is a fairly primary functionality for an Agenda, suited for programmers who own the domain entities and the application Agenda is embedded in. End users may expect some additional functionality, like notifications, or repeating appointments. And the latter is what David Bal is trying to add. Continue reading “Repeating appointments”

Multiplatform JavaFX for real – polish

Things work, they look pretty good, so it is time to start polishing. First we focus on those hard coded values for host, user and password that are so convenient for testing. The thing that is needed here is a kind of cookie, something stored locally on the device, that holds the last typed host and user. But the file system on Android and iOS are very different, so that would be quite a challenge to set up. But again Gluon already solved this problem: from the PlatformFactory you can get an instance of Platform, which again provides an implementation of the SettingService, and that is a platform specific key-value store. Perfect! Just store the values after a successful login, and retrieve when starting. That was an easy score. And the Platform class holds many more gems, like the PositionService, which most likely will come handy in another app. Continue reading “Multiplatform JavaFX for real – polish”

Multiplatform JavaFX for real – material design

After having established the communication with the backend, and the functional part of the UI on both PC and Android, the next step is to make it look a bit better by attempting to apply Google’s Material Design. Basically that would mean that I needed to start doing a lot of CSS and emulate the different UI aspects. FlatterFX could be a good starting point… Maybe use JFoenix controls… But after reexamining Gluon, it turned out that they already have done exactly what I was about to create from scratch; menubars, actionbars, views, layers, popup views, and all styled in Material Design… Well. Ahm. Ok. That settles it then.

Refactoring to Gluon’s view based approach was not that difficult; a View extends BorderPane, so you can add your own controls as the center node. The first result was quite pleasing.

dh2fx_phone0.9_hours

Continue reading “Multiplatform JavaFX for real – material design”

Multiplatform JavaFX for real – basic layout

The development is progressing nicely. Because I do not like to reinvent the wheel, I decided to try as many of the available libraries as possible. The thing that struck me most was that a lot of the libraries aren’t using retrolambda, even though they can without any problems (because streams are not used that often), and that many are really suited for running on tablets and smartphones. And I blame myself as well, because MigPane (the port of MigLayout for JavaFX I started) was not using it either. But that I could easily fix: as of the 5.1-SNAPSHOT MigPane runs on Android, and quite well I may add. (I know people have been asking for this.)

One of the first libraries I tested was FlatterFX by GuiGarage.com. A styling intended for touch devices, but not compiled with retrolambda. Is that strange? But also easily fixed, and the local snapshot build quickly integrated into the application.

dh2ria_flatterFX

Continue reading “Multiplatform JavaFX for real – basic layout”

Multiplatform JavaFX for real – Hessian

I’ve already blogged about running JavaFX on Android and discovered that my first generation Nexus 7 is quite able to run such an application, including an animated gauge. So it is time to step up the ante and go for a fully working application.

As the (unwilling) candidate I chose my own time registration application. It is a 10+ year old application that I helped write and was sold commercially. As a rent-a-nerd I’m now using it myself to keep track of my hours, for billing at the end of the month. It’s main component is an applet that acts as the primary user interface, and it talks with the backend using Hessian. Remember, this was all before SOAP and REST became popular and Javascript on browsers was mostly disabled.

dh2_applet

Yes, applets / Swing applications can look pretty decent as well. And I think it hasn’t lost much of its looks in these 10 years, it even has some animation going on. The backend also had a web application for administrative functions, but I now just SQL the stuff straight into the database, I don’t need all the fancy logic that was in the web application.

Recent developments in browsers means that I can only start the applet in IE at the moment, and Oracle will discontinue the plugin completely. So that means I either convert the applet into webstart application, or write a JavaFX version, that just happens to also run on Android and other mobile hardware.

There isn’t much challenge in the first option, is there? So the choice was easy. Continue reading “Multiplatform JavaFX for real – Hessian”

JFXtras: lessons learned developing in JavaFX

JFXtras is my pet open source project. I like visual things, and HTML and CSS are way too frustrating, so I’m running with JavaFX. Since 2012 I’ve been submitting controls to it, simple ones at first; the ListSpinner, then the CalendarPicker (date picker), and eventually Agenda (Google Calendar) and gauges. Doing this has resulted in many satisfying moments when a control worked, but the road to that point was littered with many chunks of frustration and sometimes even scrapping whole controls and restarting on them (Agenda has three iterations).

Writing these controls in JavaFX 2 and later has teached a lot of lessons; things that work, things that didn’t work, or worked better than others, and in the end resulted in a few best practices. It’s not like I have all the wisdom on JavaFX or anything, but being on this for so long, well, at least some commonalities were found. So during Christmas holiday 2014 some of this knowledge was wrapped up in a small 1 – 1.5 hour presentation / talk, touching on some of JavaFX’s strong points, slip ups and other topics like code structure and testing JavaFX applications. It’s titled: “Lessons learned developing in JavaFX”, or “Let us make your mistakes for you”. Continue reading “JFXtras: lessons learned developing in JavaFX”

JFXMobile – first attempt

Who would not like to be able to write a single code base for desktop and mobile? I know I want to, and the applet I’m using for time registration is getting into a pinch with all the browsers dropping support for applets, so why not give JavaFX a try? And see if things go as smoothly as Gluon’s tweets make it sound?

HelloWorld
So, first things first and setup a nice virtual machine for this project with Java and Eclipse, hookup the old 1st gen Nexus 7, then download the HelloWorld demo project from Gluon. Finally a “gradlew androidInstall” should do the trick… Continue reading “JFXMobile – first attempt”

circle popup menu

And once you are able to layout things in a circle…

Besides the CornerMenu described in the previous post, another incarnation of CircularPane is the CirclePopupMenu. It, as the name suggests, pops up a circle shaped menu on a mouse press.

circlePopupMenu

And since it is based again on CircularPane, several animation options are available and others can be created manually. A few examples are:

circlePopupMenu-appear circlePopupMenu-fromOrigin circlePopupMenu-overTheArc

CirclePopupMenu is available in JFXtras-8.0-SNAPSHOT-r2. And like CornerMenu; let me know how it works in real world applications.

corner menu

A few months back I had the pleasure of attending the multidevice presentation by Gerrit Grunwald (@hansolo_). In this presentation he demonstrated how easy it was to port a single JavaFX code base to several devices, including Android, iOS, RasberryPi, and a few more. One of the UI elements he showed on each device was a corner menu; circular icons appearing from the corner of a window. This was visually a great UI component, and Gerrit told me it was part of his Enzo library. The Enzo library is full of such visually appealing JavaFX controls and components, and freely available to everyone who wants to use them, but it is also the case that Enzo mainly exists to support Gerrit in his presentations and demonstrations. And there is a difference between a control intended for public use and one that is a result of a demonstration. So when I asked Gerrit if I could take his control and move it over to JFXtras, he agreed immediately.

The first order of business was to layout stuff in a 90 degree arc. And I could have just copied Gerrit’s code, but as things go in a hobby project I decided that this should be something reusable, so CircularPane was born.

CircularPaneRectanglesAndCircles

It took some time to get it working correctly; creating a general purpose pane for laying out stuff in a circle dynamically is not as trivial as it seems. But after a few weeks it got to the point where CircularPane was mature enough, a demo was available, and it was unit tested. After that, work could finally start on one of the primary things it was created for: CornerMenu. (Although the fact that a round shaped Android watch will come out soon, may turn out to be a nice coincidence.)

So CornerMenu is exactly what it says: a menu that is located in any of the four corners of a window. The menu can be static, but usually it will show the items when the mouse comes close to the corner, like so:

cornerMenu-fromOrigin Continue reading “corner menu”