Advanced styling of Components

last modified: 2018-01-23

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Clément Levallois

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this is a pretty intense lesson. You need to be execute the steps precisely for things to work correctly.

1. Limitations to styling Components in the GUI Builder.

So far, we have learned how to create a Form, how to place Components (text, pictures, buttons) on it and how to get these Components organized on screen.

Using a Span Label, a Scaled Label for the picture and a Button, all in a Box Y Layout, we get this result:

preview before advanced styling

(note: the arrow next to "Go for a tour!" was added thanks to the "Icon" property of the Button, where I selected the pic "arrow" "from Material Icon")

The color of the text of the Button can be changed by accessing the property "Fg Color" available here:

Figure 1. Styling the Components from the GUI Builder

But there are two limitations:

  • some parameters, even when you choose them in the properties, don’t apply. For the Button, try to select a bold and italic "font name" in the properties: it will not work (the Button will remain as it is).

  • some parameters are simply not available in the GUI Builder. I’d like to put the phrase "Discover the beautiful landscapes…​ " at the center of the screen but the properties of the Label in the GUI Builder don’t offer this possibility.

The GUI Builder is constantly improving. When you will download an updated version of the plugin, things might be fixed!

When these situations arise, the solution is to work from a different location to apply your styles. Let’s see how:

2. Using theme.res to create a custom style

In the files of your project in NetBeans, spot the file named "theme.res". We have already used it to import pictures, in a previous lesson.

Double click on it:

Figure 2. Clicking on the file theme.res

→ It launches a new window. Be patient, it takes a bit of time to open!

Then, click on "Themes":

Figure 3. Opening the Themes in theme res

Now double click on "Theme" (not on "Add a Theme") to access the list of all the styles applied by default to your Components:

Figure 4. Opening the Theme in theme res

What you see now is the default style of your theme. Select it, and click on "Add" because we want to add a new style for our Buttons

Figure 5. Selecting the default style to modify it

The window which opens now deserves a bit of explanation. In the drop down menu on top, you can see the list of all possible Components:

Figure 6. Scrolling through the list of Components

Once you have selected "Button" in the list, you will be able to modify the style of all the Buttons in your app.

But what you want is slightly different: you want to keep all your Buttons with the default style, but you also want to have just one Button (the one that says "Go for a tour!" - see above) in italic and in a blue color.

How to style this one Button without changing the style of all other Buttons in the rest of your app?

What you need is to:

  • keep regular Buttons styled without italic or blue color - just the default settings.

  • add a style named "ButtonItalicBlue" which, when selected in the GUI Builder, will italicize the text of your Buttons and color its text in blue. (random example)

To achieve this, rename "Button" as "ButtonItalicBlue" (careful! no spaces! Don’t forget the capitalized letters!) on top of the window, and start defining this specific style you want:

Figure 7. Defining the color of the text as blue

The logic is simple:

  • the style of "ButtonItalicBlue" will be the one of a Button, since we selected "Button" in the drop down menu. It is our "starting point".

  • but "ButtonItalicBlue" will differ at every place where we unselect "Derive" and replace the default value by the one we choose.

  • when we will click on "OK" at the bottom of the window, we’ll have created a new style "ButtonItalicBlue", derived from "Button".

So we have defined a blue color for the text, now let’s make this text italicized:

Figure 8. Adding italics to the ButtonItalicBlue style

We closed the window for styling, and we see our new style appearing in the list of available styles:

Figure 9. The new style in the list of available styles.

You can leave the window theme.res opened, but make sure you save the changes you just made (File → Save).

(if you don’t save, the GUI Builder will not be able to find and use the new style you created).

We are now ready to come back in the GUI Builder of our Form, and use this style to change the appearance of our button.

3. Using our custom style in the GUI Builder

Let’s open our Form in the GUI Builder.

To change the style of our Button to "ButtonItalicBlue" that we just created, we simply need to modify the property "UIID":

Figure 10. Opening the GUI Builder and changing the property UIID
Figure 11. The text of the Button is now in italics and blue

You noticed that a problem occurred: yes, the Button is styled as we want except that the text is now aligned to the left, not centered!

How to fix this?

The basic principle is the same: what you can’t fix in the GUI Builder, you fix it in theme.res

It can be annoying to open theme.res, change styles, close theme.res, open the GUI Builder, then open theme.res again to fix things…​

Luckily there is an easy way to work between the GUI Builder and theme.res.

4. Editing styles easily between the GUI Builder and theme.res

The workflow is simple:

  • Open theme.res and keep it open

  • Open the GUI Builder and keep it open

  • modify the style in theme.res. Of course this time we don’t add a new style, we edit ButtonItalic Blue:

Figure 12. Editing the style ButtonItalicBlue we created

A new window opens: the place we have already seen, where you can change many aspects of style.

Figure 13. Changing the align property to center text

Again, make sure theme.res is saved. You can keep the window open.

  • Go back to the GUI Builder and click on an icon near the top right: it will "reload" and apply the modifications you made to theme.res:

Figure 14. Refreshing the theme to see the changes in the GUI Builder

5. The case of designing Span Labels and Span Buttons

a. The case of Span Labels

Span Labels or Span buttons are convenient alternatives to Labels and Buttons, because when the text is too long on them it overflows on several lines instead of being cut:

Figure 15. Difference between Label and SpanLabel

When you want to apply a style that you have created to a Span Label or a Span Button, you should be careful to shift to advanced properties to find the correct UIID property to change:

Figure 16. Switching to the advanced properties of the Span Label
Figure 17. The text of the Span Label but also its icon can be styled

b. The case of Span Buttons

The same logic as Span Labels apply (see just above): access the "Advanced Properties" of the Span Button to change its "text UIID" property.

The end

Questions? Want to open a discussion on this lesson? Visit the forum here (need a free Github account).

Find references for this lesson, and other lessons, here.

Licence: Creative Commons, Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). You are free to:

  • copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format

  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

⇒ for any purpose, even commercially.

round portrait mini 150 This course is designed by Clement Levallois.

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