Using Styles, Themes, and Painters with LWUIT Blog


    Lightweight User Interface Toolkit (LWUIT) version 1.3, released in December 2009, consolidates the modifications over version 1.1 initiated in version 1.2 and incorporates some new ones too. It also introduces three new components -- Tree, Table and Spinner. The use of the Tree widget is demonstrated through the LWUIT Demo that comes with the LWUITdownload bundle. In this article we examine the changes with respect to Style and go on to check out Table and Spinner.

    The demo applications have been developed on the Sprint Wireless Toolkit 3.3.2 (SWTK). Not only does this toolkit support LWUIT extremely well, it also has an interesting array of device emulators like those for HTC Touch and Samsung Instinct. If you intend to try out LWUIT, I would strongly suggest that you install the Sprint WTK on your computer.


    The idea behind Style is to centrally define the visual attributes for each widget (component). In addition to its physical design, such as its shape, the appearance of a widget can be defined in terms of a number of common features or attributes. In LWUIT 1.1 the settable attributes for a component were:

    • Background and foreground colors.
    • Fonts for writing text on it.
    • Background transparency.
    • Background image.
    • Margin and padding.
    • Background painters.
    • Border.

    The additional attributes defined under LWUIT 1.3 are:

    • Background type -- specifies whether the background has an image or a color gradient. An image can be tiled, scaled or aligned (unscaled with alignment). A gradient for background can be linear (vertical/horizontal) or radial.
    • Background alignment -- if an image (tiled or aligned) is used for the background, the alignment (top/bottom/left/right/center) is defined by this attribute.
    • Background gradient start and end colors.

    A Style object holds all these attributes for each state of each component that is used in an application, and has appropriate accessor methods. In addition this class also has the ability to inform a registered listener when a style object associated with a given component is altered.

    A Style for Each State

    In the early days of LWUIT, that is up to version 1.1, there used to be just one Style object for each widget to be displayed. This single Style object had separate attributes corresponding to the different widget states. For example, the background color for the unselected (unfocused) state would be defined as bgColor and that for the selected (focused) state as bgSelectionColor. The code for setting these colors would look like this.

    //when the widget does not have focus //the background will be red myComponent.getStyle().setBgColor(0xff0000); //when the widget has focus //the background will be blue myComponent.getStyle().setBgSelectionColor(0x0000ff); 

    However, as of version 1.2, this has changed. Components now have distinct styles for each of their permissible states. Most components would have a selectedStyle and anunselectedStyle. Components like buttons and those that extend the Button class will have an additional style corresponding to the pressed state -- thepressedStyle. So, the above code sample will now look as follows.

    //when the widget does not have focus //the background will be red myComponent.getUnselectedStyle().setBgColor(0xff0000); //when the widget has focus //the background will be blue myComponent.getSelectedStyle().setBgColor(0x0000ff); 

    Note that we have used two different versions of thegetter method -- one for each style. Actually, theComponent class has a getStyle method too, which returns the appropriate style depending upon the state of the component. This capability leads to simpler coding especially for methods that render components.

    When a component is created, a default Style object gets associated with it as its unselectedStyle. The other styles are created when accessed for the first time through the corresponding setter or getter methods.

    There are several ways for setting and modifying attributes as shown in the following list.

    • By using the get*Style().set* combination as above.
    • By creating a new style with the desired attributes and then invoking the set*Style method to set the new style.
    • Style for an entire set of widgets can be set through theUIManager instance. The relevant technique is
      //method for setting unselected style UIManager.getInstance().setComponentStyle (String id, Style style) //method for setting selected style UIManager.getInstance().setComponentSelectedStyle (String id, Style style) 
      However, currently this approach works for selected and unselected styles.
    • Through a Theme.

    In the following section we shall check out a simple demo application which shows how styling can be done under LWUIT 1.3.

    Using Style

    Our application will have a single form with three widgets and will look like the Figure 1:

    Figure 1. Style Update Demo.

    The screenshot above shows a screen with two labels and one button. Labels, by default, cannot receive focus and the topmost widget is such a label. The second label has been explicitly made focusable as shown by the code snippet below.

    //create a label Label focusLabel = new Label("Focusable"); //and make it focusable focusLabel.setFocusable(true); 

    In Figure 1 we see the second label in the selected state. The applicable style is set as follows:

    //modify default style to set attributes //for selected state of focus label focusLabel.getSelectedStyle().setBgColor(0x555555); focusLabel.getSelectedStyle().setFont(font); focusLabel.getSelectedStyle().setBorder (Border.createBevelRaised()); 

    The first label and the button are unselected and their appearances are styled through the same Style object. This object has the following attributes:

    //create a common style for unselected state Style unselStyle = new Style(); unselStyle.setFont(font); unselStyle.setBgTransparency(64); unselStyle.setFgColor(0xffc605); unselStyle.setBorder(Border.createEtchedRaised()); 

    This style is set as the unselected one for all labels by calling the setComponentStyle(String id, Style style)method. This is shown below.

    //set unselected style for labels UIManager.getInstance().setComponentStyle ("Label", unselStyle); 

    The unselected style for the button is set in the following way using the same style object that is used for labels.

    //create button Button button = new Button("Button"); //set style for unselected state of button button.setStyle(unselStyle); 

    Figure 2 shows the same screen as above with the button in the selected state.

    Figure 2. The button is selected.

    We can see that both labels are unselected and their appearances are the same. The button, which has focus, looks just likefocusLabel in Figure 1. This is ensured by creating a style with attributes that have the same values that were used for the selected style of focusLabel. This new style --buttonSelStyle -- is then installed as the selected style for the button.

    //create selected style for button Style buttonSelStyle = new Style(); buttonSelStyle.setBgColor(0x555555); buttonSelStyle.setFont(font); buttonSelStyle.setBorder(Border.createBevelRaised()); ... //set style for selected state of button button.setSelectedStyle(buttonSelStyle); 

    In a similar manner we create and set a style for the pressed state of the button:

    //create pressed style for button Style buttonPrStyle = new Style(); buttonPrStyle.setBgColor(0xff0055); buttonPrStyle.setFont(font); buttonPrStyle.setBgTransparency(127); buttonPrStyle.setBorder(Border.createRoundBorder (12, 5, 0xff0000)); ... //set style for pressed state of button button.setPressedStyle(buttonPrStyle); 

    The result of pressing the button can be seen in Figure 3 below.

    Figure 3. The button is pressed.

    In the demo application above, style attributes have been set programatically to show some fundamental aspects of styling. In real life applications, though, it would be advisable to apply themes.

    The Theme Creator

    In the beginning there was the Resource Editor -- a very handy tool for creating and editing resource files. In Decemeber 2008 it was renamed LWUIT Designer, and in the latest release it has become the Theme Creator. While the essential functionality remains the same, both the LWUIT Designer 1.2and the Theme Creator allow the creation of three distinct styles, as we can see in Figure 4.

    Figure 4. Creating a theme with three styles.

    The Theme Creator now provides support for SVG images too. This is shown in Figure 5.

    Figure 5. SVG support.


    Every component can have its own unique id which is used for styling as we have seen. All components in the library have their ids. When creating a custom component, a new id should be alloted. Sometimes, components are built up using existing ones and these constituent parts can have ids different from their original ones. Consider the case of a component that uses a label to form a part. If we want to give this part a distinct id for styling, thegetUIID method of Component class would have had to be overridden in the days of LWUIT 1.1. A new method --setUIID -- was provided in LWUIT 1.2 to do the same thing in a simpler and more intuitive way. So now we can write:

    Label newMyPart = new Label(); newMyPart.setUIID("NewMyPart"); 


    A spinner is similar to a combo box in the sense that it shows a single value from a list of values. However, spinner does not show a drop down list for selection. Instead the up ordown key has to be used to scroll through the list. Also, a spinner can show only a date, time or numerical value. Figure 6 shows a form with two components: a button and a spinner. The button has been added to show how different styles take effect depending on whether the spinner has focus or not. Here the spinner is shown in the unselected state.

    Figure 6. Spinner is unselected

    The Spinner class does not have an accessible constructor. One of the factory methods has to be used to get an instance of spinner. In this case we create a spinner to display time in twenty-four hour format showing hours, minutes and seconds. The method used is: createTime(int min, int max, int currentValue, int step, boolean twentyFourHours, boolean showSeconds). The first two parameters specify the minimum and maximum values for the list. The third parameter defines the value to be shown initially. The unit for all the three is seconds since midnight. The fourth is the difference between two successive values in seconds. The fifth and sixth parameters define the display format.

    The image on the right of the time display is called thespinnerHandle and is meant to indicate that the display can spin. The following code snippet shows how the spinner is created and the spinnerHandle is set. A word about the value initially shown in Figure 6 above: while creating the spinner instance, the value specified for initial display is 180, which corresponds to three minutes or, in the given format, 00:03:00. However, note that the step size has been specified as 40 which means 180 is not in the list. The time displayed corresponds to 160 which is the highest value not exceeding 180.

    //create spinner with seconds display spinner = Spinner.createTime(0, 7200, 180, 40, true, true); //set image to visually indicate it is spinnable try { spinner.setSpinnerHandle(Image.createImage("/handle.png")); } catch( ioe) { } 

    In Figure 6 we see the spinner in the unselected state. There is a dark olive green background on which the numerical display is rendered in blue. The background represents the spinner container and its unselected appearance is set as follows:

    //affects look when spinner does not have focus spinner.getUnselectedStyle().setBgColor(0x556b3f); spinner.getUnselectedStyle().setBorder(Border.createBevelRaised()); 

    The first step in setting style for the time display is to get the DefaultListCellRenderer instance for the spinner. The style attributes can then be set as shown below.

    //create a font Font font = Font.createSystemFont(Font.FACE_PROPORTIONAL, Font.STYLE_BOLD,Font.SIZE_LARGE); ... //affects look when spinner does not have focus spinner.getUnselectedStyle().setBgColor(0x556b3f); spinner.getUnselectedStyle().setBorder(Border.createBevelRaised()); ... //renderer for the cell containing display DefaultListCellRenderer dlcr = (DefaultListCellRenderer)spinner.getRenderer(); //affects steady state look dlcr.getSelectedStyle().setBgColor(0x0000ff); dlcr.getSelectedStyle().setFgColor(0); dlcr.getSelectedStyle().setFont(font); dlcr.getSelectedStyle().setPadding(Component.RIGHT, 7); //affects look during scrolling dlcr.getUnselectedStyle().setBgTransparency(0); dlcr.getUnselectedStyle().setFgColor(0); dlcr.getUnselectedStyle().setFont(font); 

    The code above also sets the renderer style for the unselected state. This style becomes effective when the spinner value scrolls. To see how that works, press the down key. Now, the spinner gets focus and its appearance changes as specified by the code below.

    //affects look when spinner has focus spinner.getSelectedStyle().setBgColor(0x0000ff); spinner.getSelectedStyle().setBorder (Border.createRoundBorder(12, 5, 0xff0000)); 

    The spinner now looks like what's shown in Figure 7.

    Figure 7. Spinner is selected.

    Although the spinner now has focus, it will not respond to theup or the down key. At this stage the scrolling keys will toggle focus between the spinner and the button. To direct the scrolling key events to control the spinner display, theselect key has to be pressed while the spinner has focus. Generally speaking, the select key can be used to toggle the applicability of scrolling keys between a form itself and a component with focus contained in the form. The scrolling keys can now be used to sequentially change the time displayed.

    What remains now is to see how we can retrieve the value selected on the spinner. The demo does this in different ways. One way is through a command. We add the Show command to the form and, in the actionPerformed method, call into thegetValue method of Spinner class.

    //create and add 'Exit' command to the form //the command id is 1 demoForm.addCommand(new Command("Exit", 1)); //create and add command to show spinner value //the command id is 2 demoForm.addCommand(new Command("Show", 2)); //this MIDlet is the listener for the form's command demoForm.setCommandListener(this); ... //act on the commands and the click public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent ae) { Command cmd = ae.getCommand(); if(cmd != null) { switch (cmd.getId()) { //'Exit' command case 1: notifyDestroyed(); break; //'Show' command case 2: System.out.println("Value shown through command : " + spinner.getValue()); } return; } ... } 
    A second method is to register the MIDlet as theActionListener for the spinner. If we now click on the spinner, the actionPerformed method of the MIDlet will be invoked. The necessary action can then be taken.
    //this MIDlet is the action listener for spinner spinner.addActionListener(this); ... //act on the commands and the click public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent ae) { Command cmd = ae.getCommand(); if(cmd != null) { ... return; } if(ae.getSource() == spinner) { System.out.println("Value shown on click : " + spinner.getValue()); } } 

    The third approach used in the demo is to add the MIDlet to the spinner as the SelectionListener. For this technique to work, the MIDlet has to implement theSelectionListener interface so that itsselectionChanged method is called whenever the spinner selection is changed.

    //this MIDlet is the selection listener for spinner spinner.addSelectionListener(this); ... public void selectionChanged(int oldSelected, int newSelected) { if(oldSelected != newSelected) { ListModel model = spinner.getModel(); System.out.println("Selection changed from " + model.getItemAt(oldSelected) + " to " + model.getItemAt(newSelected)); } } 

    When we click on a list, its selection changes, and this causes the selectionChanged method of the registeredSelectionListener to be called in addition to theactionPerformed method of itsActionListener. As Spinner is a subclass of List, it behaves in a similar fashion and clicking on it results in the printing of the selection change message for the demo. For a spinner, however, we do not consider this to be a valid selection change since the value remains the same. Theif clause in the above code listing takes care of this issue. The resultant console printouts for all three approaches are shown in Figure 8.

    Figure 8. Message printouts.


    A table displays information in the form of a grid. The topmost row describes the name of the data in each column. These are theHeaders. The rest of the table displays data and is comprised of Cells. The headers are instances ofLabel and are meant to be uneditable. The cells can be either editable or uneditable. Editable cells are instances ofTextField while uneditable cells are instances ofLabel. However, uneditable does not meanunmodifiable as we shall see when we discuss the demo application.

    Figure 9 shows a table with 5 rows and 3 columns. The topmost row holds the headers. The rest of the rows hold cells that display data. Here we have two kinds of data: text in the leftmost column (column 0) and numbers in the other columns (columns 1 and 2).

    Figure 9. A table.

    The contents of a table are determined by an underlying model -- the table model. LWUIT defines the TableModelinterface that must be implemented by a table model; the default implementation included in the library is theDefaultTableModel class. So the first step in creating a table is to set up the model. This model is then passed as a parameter to the table constructor. The relevant code for our application is:

    //define headers String[] columns = new String[] {"Items", "Good", "Scrap"}; //define data Object[][] data = new Object[][] {{"Plate-01", new Integer(1605), new Integer(57)}, {"Plate-02", new Integer(5001), new Integer(326)}, {"Coil-01", new Integer(417), new Integer(124)}, {"Coil-02", new Integer(451), new Integer(22)}}; //create model with uneditable cells //as specified by last parameter //for editable cells last parameter must be 'true' DefaultTableModel model = new DefaultTableModel(columns, data, false); //create table table = new Table(model); 

    The cells of our table are labels and the default alignment isLabel.LEFT. There is a method in theTable class to set cell alignment --setCellAlignment. However, this is not a staticmethod and works only for new cells created for an existing table. The default alignment for headers is Label.CENTER To change the alignment of cells, we need to access each label that forms a cell and set its alignment. Another point to be noted is that, for some form layouts, the sizing of the last column may not work properly. We have used a kind of rendering prototype to ensure proper sizing. All this is shown in the code snippet below.

    //create a font Font font = Font.createSystemFont(Font.FACE_PROPORTIONAL, Font.STYLE_BOLD,Font.SIZE_LARGE); //width of 'rendering prototype' int w = font.stringWidth("WWWW"); ... //does not affect alignment of cells already created as //table is constructed with cells with default alignment //works only for cells created later //this happens, for example, if new data is set table.setCellAlignment(Label.CENTER); TableLayout layout = (TableLayout)table.getLayout(); Component c = null; //'getRowCount' does not take into account the header row //so add 1 to get total number of rows int rows = ((DefaultTableModel)table.getModel()). getRowCount() + 1; int cols = ((DefaultTableModel)table.getModel()). getColumnCount(); for(int i = 0; i < rows; i++) { for(int j = 0; j < cols; j++) { //get the component for cell at //specified row and column c = layout.getComponentAt(i,j); if(i == 0) { //set border for headers c.getUnselectedStyle().setBorder (Border.createLineBorder (1, 0xff0000)); if(j == cols - 1) { //use prototype //to size the last column c.setPreferredSize(new Dimension(w, c.getPreferredH())); } } else { //necessary because cells were originally //created with default (left) alignment ((Label)c).setAlignment(Label.CENTER); } } } 

    The header strings and the cell data are held within the table model. The TableModel interface defines methods to access these variables. Note that there is only a gettermethod for the column names while there is a getter as well as a setter method for the cell values. The Showcommand on our demo form uses the getValueAt method to print out a cell value on the console.

    //act on the commands public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent ae) { Command cmd = ae.getCommand(); switch (cmd.getId()) { ... //'Show' command case 2: //get the table model instance DefaultTableModel dtm = (DefaultTableModel) table.getModel(); //get the value at the specified cell //use actual row number - 1 //since actual first row is not for data Object val = dtm.getValueAt(0, 2); //print value System.out.println ("Plate-01 Scrap : " + val); ... } } 

    The printout is shown in Figure 10.

    Figure 10. Accessing cell data.

    The setValueAt method can be used to programatically change data in a cell -- even for uneditable cells. In our demo application the Show command is replaced with aModify command which changes the data in the cell forPlate-02 Scrap from 326 to 750. ThesetValueAt method leads to the creation of a new label to replace the existing one. As we have already set cell alignment to Label.CENTER, the new value remains properly aligned.

    //create and add command to show value //the command id is 2 //demoForm.addCommand(new Command("Show", 2)); //create and add command to change value //the command id is 2 demoForm.addCommand(new Command("Modify", 2)); ... } ... //act on the commands public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent ae) { Command cmd = ae.getCommand(); switch (cmd.getId()) { //'Exit' command case 1: notifyDestroyed(); break; //'Show' command /*case 2: //get the table model instance DefaultTableModel dtm = (DefaultTableModel) table.getModel(); //get the value at the specified cell //use actual row number - 1 //since actual first row is not for data Object val = dtm.getValueAt(0, 2); //print value System.out.println ("Plate-01 Scrap : " + val);*/ //'Modify' command case 2: //get the table model instance DefaultTableModel dtm = (DefaultTableModel) table.getModel(); //set the value at the specified cell //use actual row number - 1 //since actual first row is not for data dtm.setValueAt(1, 2, new Integer(750)); } } 

    In Figure 11 we can see the new value for Plate-02 Scrap.

    Figure 11. Cell data modified.

    In the demo application for table, the only styling done programmatically is for the set of borders for the headers. The rest of the styling has been defined in a theme. The theme file is shown below in Figure 12. A word of caution here. This theme file has been created by the Theme Creator that comes with LWUIT 1.3. The Resource Editor that comes with the SWTK is of an earlier vintage and will not be able to open this file.

    Figure 12. Theme file for the demo app.


    We have seen how the approach to styling has been modified since LWUIT 1.1. We have also checked out the new Theme Creatorand two new components that have been introduced in LWUIT 1.3. However, there are a number of interesting new features that have not been discussed here. These are listed in What's new in This Release in the LWUIT 1.3 download bundle.