JavaFX Menus

May 13, 2010

I knew those JavaFX menus looked familiar!

1Password is indispensable

December 14, 2009

1Password is an absolutely indispensable tool. My family is currently in the process of moving, so we had to pack up all our paper work. I needed a way to securely store my account numbers, logins and serial numbers so that I would have access to that info during the move — I went searching for a tool. 1Password was by far the front runner in my search. It is the most polished of the apps I came across, it is super secure and they’ve just released a fresh 3.0 version.

1Password wouldn’t be of much use if you couldn’t access your info from any computer with zero configuration. Fortunately, they integrate perfectly with Dropbox, so setting up 1Password on all your computers to point to the same data is a cinch.

In the Getting Things Done ethos, 1Password will help you get your info out of your head and into a secure tool. You’ll never have to click an “I forgot my password” link again!

Heading to Apple

December 4, 2009

Big news! I’ve accepted a job at Apple and will be starting there on Monday, December 7th, 2009. This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity and I am very much looking forward to contributing to the Mac platform. I don’t yet know what this will mean for Mac Widgets for Java or this blog, but I’ll keep you posted.

As promised, here is the code to create the iTunes navigation header button. It’s not a perfect replica, but it’s as close as is practical.

iTunes uses hand drawn artwork, which is not easy to replicate in code. The inner shadows, for example, are simulated in the my code and look decent, but are not a perfect facsimile of the original. These subtle details are almost invisible when you look at the component, but without these details, the component looks cheap and amateurish.

Some highlights of what’s going on in the code:

  • Inner shadow simulation on the left, top and bottom sides of the selected button.
  • Upward pointing shadow under the text.

See the comments in the code provide further explanation of these items. To actually create the iTunes navigation header component, you can adapt the code from my last post, with TriAreaComponent.

public class ITunesHeaderButtonUI extends BasicButtonUI {

    private static Color TEXT_COLOR = Color.WHITE;
    private static Color TEXT_SHADOW_COLOR = Color.BLACK;

    // the gradient colors for when the button is selected.
    private static Color SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_1 = new Color(0x141414);
    private static Color SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_2 = new Color(0x1e1e1e);
    private static Color SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_3 = new Color(0x191919);
    private static Color SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_4 = new Color(0x1e1e1e);

    // the border colors for the button.
    private static Color SELECTED_TOP_BORDER = new Color(0x030303);
    private static Color SELECTED_BOTTOM_BORDER = new Color(0x292929);

    // the border colors between buttons.
    private static Color LEFT_BORDER = new Color(255,255,255,21);
    private static Color RIGHT_BORDER = new Color(0,0,0,125);

    private static final Color SELECTED_INNER_SHADOW_COLOR_1 = new Color(0x161616);
    private static final Color SELECTED_INNER_SHADOW_COLOR_2 = new Color(0x171717);
    private static final Color SELECTED_INNER_SHADOW_COLOR_3 = new Color(0x191919);

    protected void installDefaults(AbstractButton button) {
        button.setBackground(new Color(0,0,0,0));

    public void paint(Graphics g, JComponent c) {
        // if the button is selected, paint the special background now.
        // if it is not selected paint the left and right highlight border.
        AbstractButton button = (AbstractButton) c;
        if (button.isSelected()) {
            paintButtonSelected(g, button);
        } else {
            // paint the border and border highlight if the button isn't
            // selected.
            g.drawLine(0, 1, 0, button.getHeight()-2);
            g.drawLine(button.getWidth()-1, 1,
                    button.getWidth()-1, button.getHeight()-2);

        super.paint(g, c);

    protected void paintText(Graphics g, AbstractButton button,
                             Rectangle textRect, String text) {
        // we need to override the paintText method so that we can paint
        // the text shadow. the paintText method in BasicButtonUI pulls
        // the color to use from the foreground property -- there is no
        // way to change this during the painting process without causing
        // an infinite sequence of events, so we must implement our own 
        // text painting.

        FontMetrics fontMetrics = g.getFontMetrics(button.getFont());
        int mnemonicIndex = button.getDisplayedMnemonicIndex();

        // paint the shadow text.
        BasicGraphicsUtils.drawStringUnderlineCharAt(g, text, mnemonicIndex,
                textRect.x + getTextShiftOffset(),
                textRect.y + fontMetrics.getAscent() + getTextShiftOffset() - 1);

        // paint the actual text.
        BasicGraphicsUtils.drawStringUnderlineCharAt(g, text, mnemonicIndex,
                textRect.x + getTextShiftOffset(),
                textRect.y + fontMetrics.getAscent() + getTextShiftOffset());

     * Paints the selected buttons state, also used as the pressed state.
    private void paintButtonSelected(Graphics graphics, AbstractButton button) {
        // calculate the middle of the area to paint.
        int midY = button.getHeight()/2;

        Paint topPaint = new GradientPaint(0, 0, SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_1,
                0, midY, SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_2);
        ((Graphics2D) graphics).setPaint(topPaint);
        graphics.fillRect(0, 0, button.getWidth(), midY);

        // paint the top half of the background with the corresponding
        // gradient.
        Paint bottomPaint =
                new GradientPaint(0, midY + 1, SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_3,
                        0, button.getHeight(), SELECTED_BACKGROUND_COLOR_4);
        ((Graphics2D) graphics).setPaint(bottomPaint);
        graphics.fillRect(0, midY, button.getWidth(), button.getHeight());

        // draw the top and bottom border.
        graphics.drawLine(0, 0, button.getWidth(), 0);
        graphics.drawLine(0, button.getHeight() - 1,
                button.getWidth(), button.getHeight() - 1);

        // paint the outter part of the inner shadow.
        graphics.drawLine(0, 1, 0, button.getHeight()-2);
        graphics.drawLine(0, 1, button.getWidth(), 1);
        graphics.drawLine(button.getWidth()-1, 1,
                button.getWidth()-1, button.getHeight()-2);

        // paint the middle part of the inner shadow.
        graphics.drawLine(1, 1, 1, button.getHeight()-2);
        graphics.drawLine(0, 2, button.getWidth(), 2);
        graphics.drawLine(button.getWidth()-2, 1,
                button.getWidth()-2, button.getHeight()-2);

        // paint the inner part of the inner shadow.
        graphics.drawLine(2, 1, 2, button.getHeight()-2);
        graphics.drawLine(0, 3, button.getWidth(), 3);
        graphics.drawLine(button.getWidth()-3, 1,
                button.getWidth()-3, button.getHeight()-2);

    protected void paintButtonPressed(Graphics graphics, AbstractButton button) {
        paintButtonSelected(graphics, button);

MacGraPhoto app bundle

November 19, 2009

I’m not usually into those Mac application bundles (like MacHeist) because they tend to include a bunch of unrelated stuff I don’t want along with one app that I do want.

The MacGraPhoto app bundle is a little different though. It includes 7 applications related to image editing, a couple of which received Apple Design Awards. Below are the two apps that make this bundle absolutely worth it to me:


Can anyone say “gorgeous”? Not only is this app beautiful, but it’s also snappy and simple to use. DrawIt will let you create vector art and then export it to a format of your choosing. This app is an absolute must for anyone drawing icons.


Picturesque is a simple app, with very targeted functionality. It will let you transform images in various ways, like adding perspective, reflections and drop shadows. For me, this app stream lines my image editing workflow when I want to adjust images for blog posts or presentations.

A bundle worth buying!

itunes_navigation_barRecently, someone asked me what the best way to create the iTunes navigation header (seen in the iTunes music store — the black shiny bar at the top) would be. Here was my response:

The navigation header’s most prominent feature is it’s multi-stop gradient. There are four colors used in the gradient as illustrated below:


But to really capture the subtleties of the navigation header we need to look closer at the top and bottom of the component, where you’ll notice an inner shadow, and an inner glow. The inner shadow and inner glow are what make the component visually interesting.


I chose to hard code the inner shadow and inner glow sizes to 3 pixels (top) and 2 pixels (bottom) rather than produce the real effects. Real inner shadows and glows aren’t straight forward to create (I talked about them here), and are computationally expensive to recompute because they aren’t currently computed on the graphics card. So I decided to hard code the inner shadow and inner glow colors to the exact colors seen in iTunes. You could figure out their grayscale and alpha values to make them reusable — I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Here’s the code:

public class ITunesNavigationHeader extends JComponent {

    // the hard-coded preferred height. ideally this would be derived
    // from the font size.
    private static int HEADER_HEIGHT = 25;

    // the background colors used in the multi-stop gradient.
    private static Color BACKGROUND_COLOR_1 = new Color(0x393939);
    private static Color BACKGROUND_COLOR_2 = new Color(0x2e2e2e);
    private static Color BACKGROUND_COLOR_3 = new Color(0x232323);
    private static Color BACKGROUND_COLOR_4 = new Color(0x282828);

    // the color to use for the top and bottom border.
    private static Color BORDER_COLOR = new Color(0x171717);

    // the inner shadow colors on the top of the header.
    private static Color TOP_SHADOW_COLOR_1 = new Color(0x292929);
    private static Color TOP_SHADOW_COLOR_2 = new Color(0x353535);
    private static Color TOP_SHADOW_COLOR_3 = new Color(0x383838);

    // the inner shadow colors on the bottom of the header.
    private static Color BOTTOM_SHADOW_COLOR_1 = new Color(0x2c2c2c);
    private static Color BOTTOM_SHADOW_COLOR_2 = new Color(0x363636);

    public Dimension getPreferredSize() {
        return new Dimension(-1, HEADER_HEIGHT);

    protected void paintComponent(Graphics g) {
        Graphics2D graphics = (Graphics2D) g.create();

        // calculate the middle of the area to paint.
        int midY = getHeight()/2;

        // paint the top half of the background with the corresponding
        // gradient. note that if we were using Java 6, we could use a
        // LinearGradientPaint with multiple stops.
        Paint topPaint = new GradientPaint(0, 0, BACKGROUND_COLOR_1,
                0, midY, BACKGROUND_COLOR_2);
        graphics.fillRect(0, 0, getWidth(), midY);

        // paint the top half of the background with the corresponding
        // gradient.
        Paint bottomPaint = new GradientPaint(0, midY + 1, BACKGROUND_COLOR_3,
                0, getHeight(), BACKGROUND_COLOR_4);
        graphics.fillRect(0, midY, getWidth(), getHeight());

        // draw the top inner shadow.
        graphics.drawLine(0, 1, getWidth(), 1);
        graphics.drawLine(0, 2, getWidth(), 2);
        graphics.drawLine(0, 3, getWidth(), 3);

        // draw the bottom inner shadow.
        graphics.drawLine(0, getHeight() - 3, getWidth(), getHeight() - 3);
        graphics.drawLine(0, getHeight() - 2, getWidth(), getHeight() - 2);

        // draw the top and bottom border.
        graphics.drawLine(0, 0, getWidth(), 0);
        graphics.drawLine(0, getHeight() - 1, getWidth(), getHeight() - 1);


A common misconception is that Mac apps must look like Apple’s own apps. A lot of developers misinterpret Mac users’ high visual standards as a call for plain Cocoa apps only, with no visual innovation or interpretation. What Mac users are really saying, is:

Give me an app that looks at least as good as what Apple produces

In fact, Apple is the first to break from using standard Cocoa (think iTunes). Do users let this slide only because it’s Apple? I don’t think so. Here are a number of applications (including iTunes) that don’t look like standard apps, and are well received by the Mac community.

Lightroom 3 (beta)
Lightroom 3 has a completely non-standard UI and interaction model, and I love it! The UI is dark and stays out of your way. The “links” in the top right of the window (e.g. Library, Develop etc.) let you quickly adjust your workflow to the task at hand. Overall, the UI is polished, snappy and a pleasure to use.

Panic’s Coda may look like a Mac app at first, but it was one of the first apps to successfully embrace the one-window paradigm, which was very non-standard for Mac apps when it was released (more recently, Adobe has adopted this concept). Coda also helps you switch workflows by changing the active “tab” (the buttons above the document area). This concept was, and still is, something very unique to Coda. Coda won an Apple Design Award, and is lauded as a truly fantastic Mac app.

Pixelmator offers a clean, crisp UI for editing photos. They’ve played off Apple’s Heads Up Display (HUD) concept, but pushed it throughout the app to everything including the document window’s chrome. I think their UI is gorgeous and unobtrusive — it makes me want to use it just so I can look at it.

iTunes, though one of Apple’s own products, is consistently different from the core platform. Even though it’s not consistent with other apps, I’m happy with it because it looks good. I enjoy being able to see what UI changes are in the pipeline, as iTunes has been a proving ground for more general user interface changes across the platform.

I could keep going, but I think the point is clear. User interface innovation is widely accepted by Mac users so long as it is an innovation and not sloppiness.

I was playing around with the Mac version of Google Chrome the other day (I found it here) and I stumbled across the “Incognito” mode. When you go incognito, you’re going into private-browsing mode, i.e. you won’t leave traces of where you’ve been.

What I really liked about the user interface for this was the use of different window title bar for the incognito window. In general, modes are not great for users because it’s difficult to convey what mode your in. Google’s custom window chrome is the perfect indication to the user that they are in a special browsing mode.


Someone recently requested I add a HUD style slider to the widget set, which I quickly added and is now available in the latest Mac Widgets for Java developer build. Creating a custom SliderUI delegate is pretty easy, as BasicSliderUI has all the right hooks. You can specify the thumb size, tick size, track bounds, thumb location and much more by overriding corresponding methods. This is a refreshing change from the complicated process of creating a custom scroll bar UI delegate (which I talked about in detail in part 1, part 2, and part 3 of the “Skinning a scroll bar” series).

As I’ve noted in previous HUD style component posts (here and here), you may notice a bit of redundant code between the posts. I’ve done this to keep the blog entries independent, but the actual Mac Widgets for Java code uses a utility class to do most of the HUD painting.

Finally, for this widget to look “correct”, it must be added to a HUD style window, which I talked about here.

public class HudSliderUI extends BasicSliderUI {

    private static final int SLIDER_KNOB_WIDTH = 11;
    private static final int SLIDER_KNOB_HEIGHT_NO_TICKS = 11;
    private static final int SLIDER_KNOB_HEIGHT_WITH_TICKS = 13;
    private static final int TRACK_HEIGHT = 4;

    private static final Color TRACK_BACKGROUND_COLOR = new Color(143, 147, 144, 100);
    private static final Color TRACK_BORDER_COLOR = new Color(255, 255, 255, 200);

    private static final Color TOP_SLIDER_KNOB_COLOR = new Color(0x555555);
    private static final Color BOTTOM_SLIDER_KNOB_COLOR = new Color(0x393939);
    private static final Color TOP_SLIDER_KNOB_PRESSED_COLOR = new Color(0xb0b2b6);
    private static final Color BOTTOM_SLIDER_KNOB_PRESSED_COLOR = new Color(0x86888b);

    public static final Color BORDER_COLOR = new Color(0xc5c8cf);

    private static final Color LIGHT_SHADOW_COLOR = new Color(0, 0, 0, 145);
    private static final Color DARK_SHADOW_COLOR = new Color(0, 0, 0, 50);

    private static final ShapeProvider NO_TICKS_SHAPE_PROVIDER =

    private static final ShapeProvider TICKS_SHAPE_PROVIDER =

    public HudSliderUI(JSlider b) {

    protected void installDefaults(JSlider slider) {

    protected Dimension getThumbSize() {
        int sliderKnobHeight = slider.getPaintTicks()
        return new Dimension(SLIDER_KNOB_WIDTH, sliderKnobHeight);

    public void paintThumb(Graphics graphics) {
        Paint paint = createSliderKnobButtonPaint(isDragging(), thumbRect.height);
        ShapeProvider shapeProvider = slider.getPaintTicks()
        paintHudControlBackground((Graphics2D) graphics, thumbRect, shapeProvider,

    public void paintTrack(Graphics graphics) {
        Graphics2D graphics2d = (Graphics2D) graphics;
                RenderingHints.KEY_ANTIALIASING, RenderingHints.VALUE_ANTIALIAS_ON);

        double trackY = slider.getHeight()/2.0 - TRACK_HEIGHT/2.0;
        RoundRectangle2D track = new RoundRectangle2D.Double(
                0, trackY, slider.getWidth()-1, TRACK_HEIGHT - 1, 4, 2);


    protected int getTickLength() {
        return 5;

    protected void calculateThumbLocation() {

        // if this is a horizontal style slider and we're drawing a pointy style thumb
        // then shift the thumb down three pixels.
        if ( slider.getOrientation() == JSlider.HORIZONTAL
                && slider.getPaintTicks()) {
            thumbRect.y += 3;
        } else  {
            // TODO handle vertical slider.

    protected void calculateTickRect() {

        // if this is a horizontal style slider, shift the ticks down one pixel so that
        // they aren't right up against the track.
        if ( slider.getOrientation() == JSlider.HORIZONTAL ) {
            tickRect.y += 1;
        } else  {
            // TODO handle vertical slider.

    protected void paintMajorTickForHorizSlider(Graphics g, Rectangle tickBounds, int x) {
        super.paintMajorTickForHorizSlider(g, tickBounds, x);

    public void setThumbLocation(int x, int y) {
        super.setThumbLocation(x, y);
        // repaint the whole slider -- it's easier than trying to figure out
        // whats dirty, especially since the thumb will be drawn outside of the
        // thumbRect (the shadow part).

    public void paintFocus(Graphics g) {
        // don't paint focus.

    private static Paint createSliderKnobButtonPaint(boolean isPressed, int height) {
        // grab the top and bottom gradient colors based on the pressed state.
        Color topColor = isPressed
        Color bottomColor = isPressed
        // compenstate for the two pixel shadow drawn below the slider thumb.
        int bottomY = height - 2;
        return new GradientPaint(0, 0, topColor, 0, bottomY, bottomColor);

     * Creates a simple circle.
    private static ShapeProvider createCircularSliderKnobShapeProvider() {
        return new ShapeProvider() {
            public Shape createShape(double x, double y, double width, double height) {
                return new Ellipse2D.Double(x, y, width, height);

     * Cerates a pointy slider thumb shape that looks roughly like this:
     *     +----+
     *    /      \
     *    +      +
     *    |      |
     *    +      +
     *      \  /
     *       \/
    private static ShapeProvider createPointedSliderKnobShapeProvider() {
        return new ShapeProvider() {
            public Shape createShape(double x, double y, double width, double height) {
                float xFloat = (float) x;
                float yFloat = (float) y;
                float widthFloat = (float) width;
                float heightFloat = (float) height;

                // draw the thumb shape based on the given height and width.
                GeneralPath path = new GeneralPath();
                // move in two pixels so that we can curve down to the next point.
                path.moveTo(xFloat + 2.0f, yFloat);
                // curve down to the second point.
                path.curveTo(xFloat + 0.25f, yFloat + 0.25f, xFloat - 0.25f,
                        yFloat + 2.0f, xFloat, yFloat + 2.0f);
                // move straight down to the next point.
                path.lineTo(xFloat, yFloat + heightFloat/1.60f);
                // move down and right to form the left half of the pointy section.
                path.lineTo(xFloat + widthFloat/2, yFloat + heightFloat);
                // move up and right to form the right half of the pointy section.
                path.lineTo(xFloat + widthFloat, yFloat + heightFloat/1.60f);
                // move straight up to the point to curve from.
                path.lineTo(xFloat + widthFloat, yFloat + 2.0f);
                // curve up and right to the top of the thumb.
                path.curveTo(xFloat + widthFloat - 0.25f, yFloat + 2.0f,
                        xFloat + widthFloat - 0.25f, yFloat + 0.25f,
                        xFloat + widthFloat - 2.0f, yFloat);

                return path;

     * Paints a HUD style background in the given shape. This includes a drop shadow
     * which will be drawn under the shape to be painted. The shadow will be draw
     * outside the given bounds.
     * @param graphics the {@code Graphics2D} context to draw in.
     * @param bounds the bounds to paint in.
     * @param shapeProvider the delegate to request the {@link Shape} from.
     * @param paint the {@link Paint} to use to fill the {@code Shape}.
    public static void paintHudControlBackground(
            Graphics2D graphics, Rectangle bounds, ShapeProvider shapeProvider,
            Paint paint) {


        int x = bounds.x;
        int y = bounds.y;
        int width = bounds.width;
        int height = bounds.height;

        // paint the first (further away) part of the drop shadow.
        graphics.draw(shapeProvider.createShape(x, y, width - 1, height));
        // paint the second (closer) part of the drop shadow.
        graphics.draw(shapeProvider.createShape(x, y, width - 1, height + 1));

        // fill the HUD shape.
        graphics.fill(shapeProvider.createShape(x, y + 1, width, height - 1));
        // stroke the HUD shape.
        graphics.draw(shapeProvider.createShape(x, y, width - 1, height - 1));

     * An interface for specifying a shape to paint and draw a drop shadown under.
    public interface ShapeProvider {
        Shape createShape(double x, double y, double width, double height);

There are a few new client properties on the Mac, that haven’t yet been documented (though I’ve been assured that they’re safe to use). The great thing about the way Apple has been using client properties on the Mac, is that they make it easy for you to get closer to being a great Mac app, while not breaking your fidelity on other platforms. They’re really great if you want to fit in on your target platform, whereas in Mac Widgets for Java, I’m aiming for always looking like a Mac app.

The screenshots above show the new client properties that give you access to SourceList style selection painters (demo’d in the source code below). Note that these painters accurately pick up whether the user is using Aqua or Graphite — that’s a big bonus.

Here’s a listing of the new client properties:


Here’s a little bit of code that puts a few of the new SourceList client properties to work (seen above):

public class NewClientProperties {

     * Create a SourceList style JList.
    private static JList createMacSourceList() {
        JList list = new SourceList();
        // install a custom renderer that wraps the already installed renderer.
        list.setCellRenderer(new CustomListCellRenderer(list.getCellRenderer()));
        return list;

     * A custom JList that renders like a Mac SourceList.
    public static class SourceList extends JList {

        public SourceList() {
            // make the component non-opaque so that we can paint the background in
            // paintComponent.

        protected void paintComponent(Graphics g) {
            // paint the background of the component using the special Mac border
            // painter.
            Border backgroundPainter =
            backgroundPainter.paintBorder(this, g, 0, 0, getWidth(), getHeight());

     * A custom ListCellRenderrer that wraps a delegate renderer.
    public static class CustomListCellRenderer extends JPanel
            implements ListCellRenderer {

        private ListCellRenderer fDelegate;
        private boolean fIsSelected;
        private boolean fIsFocused;

        public CustomListCellRenderer(ListCellRenderer delegate) {
            this.setLayout(new BorderLayout());
            fDelegate = delegate;

        public Component getListCellRendererComponent(
                JList list, Object value, int index,boolean isSelected,
                boolean cellHasFocus) {

            // remember the isSelected and cellHasFocus state so that we can use those
            // values in the paintComponent method.
            fIsSelected = isSelected;
            fIsFocused = cellHasFocus;
            // call the delegate renderer
            JComponent component = (JComponent) fDelegate.getListCellRendererComponent(
                    list, value, index, isSelected, false);
            // make the delegate rendere non-opqaue so that the background shows through.
            this.add(component, BorderLayout.CENTER);

            return this;

        protected void paintComponent(Graphics g) {
            // if the item was selected, then paint the custom Mac selection background.
            if (fIsSelected) {
                Border backgroundPainter = fIsFocused
                        ? UIManager.getBorder("List.sourceListFocusedSelectionBackgroundPainter")
                        : UIManager.getBorder("List.sourceListSelectionBackgroundPainter");
                backgroundPainter.paintBorder(this, g, 0, 0, getWidth(), getHeight());

    public static void main(String[] args) {

        JList list = createMacSourceList();
        list.setListData(new String[]{
                "BMW", "Chevy", "Dodge", "Infiniti", "Nissan", "Porsche"});

        JScrollPane scrollPane = new JScrollPane(list);

        JFrame frame = new JFrame();