October 11th, 2007

Getting ready for the Substance 4.1 feature freeze

Over the past releases of Substance look and feel I found that it helps to have a well-defined release lifecycle and schedule. The usual cycle for a minor release is 12 weeks long, with last two weeks being the release candidate stage and the two weeks before that (a month before the final release) being feature freeze. For the upcoming version 4.1 (code-named Lima) which is scheduled to be released on November 12th, the feature freeze is this Sunday. There are a few new features, most of them coming from the users. In this post, i’m going to talk about two of these.

The first is the reworked visual appearance of tabbed pane content border and a client property to control it in the application code. Here is how this border looked like in the previous release under Business Black Steel skin:

Here is how it looks like in the new release (the gaps between the checkboxes and radio buttons have been artificially tweaked to have the content fit on the frame):

The main difference is in the top portion of the content pane border. By default, it now follows the modern appearance of such applications as Firefox and Internet Explorer 7, and look-and-feels such as Nimbus and Quaqua (which follows Mac Aqua).

Here is another “old” screenshot of Creme skin:

And here is how it looks now:

The last couple of “before” and “after” come from the Autumn skin. The “before”:

and the “after”:

While this brings more modern look to the tabbed panes, some application may require additional control over the content pane border. This is what the new TABBED_PANE_CONTENT_BORDER_KIND client property is for. The default value is TabContentPaneBorderKind.DOUBLE_FULL which is what the next screenshot (and the screenshots above) show:

In order to use the old painting, use the TabContentPaneBorderKind.SINGLE_FULL value:

If you have nested tabbed panes, you can use either TabContentPaneBorderKind.DOUBLE_PLACEMENT value:

or the TabContentPaneBorderKind.SINGLE_PLACEMENT value:

Thanks to Luke Sleeman for opening an enhancement request that prompted this functionality.

The second feature is the reworked support for lock icons on non-editable text fields and editable comboboxes with model-only auto-completion. Up until now, Substance added a lock icon in the bottom left corner of such components unless you used the NO_EXTRA_ELEMENTS property, which is kind of an overkill for this. The latest 4.1dev drop of Substance (which bundles the latest 3.2dev drop of Laf-Widget) adds a new LafWidget.NO_LOCK_ICON client property that allows controlling the presence of lock icon for a specific component.

In addition, Kamil Paral has requested a very useful enhancement: when you wrap a non-editable text area in a scroll pane, the icon only appears when you scroll all the way down. And so, in this case, the latest drop paints the lock icon just above the horizontal scroll bar. You can read about the implementation limitations in the enhancement report, but i’ll sum up two shortcomings:

  • If you scroll horizontally, the icon will disappear – it is bound to the left border of the wrapped component.
  • The scroll mode is switched from BLIT to SIMPLE which might affect the scrolling performance.

If these shortcomings make this feature undesirable, use the NO_LOCK_ICON on that specific component and set it to Boolean.FALSE.