Flamingo ribbon component: application menu button and taskbar

October 3rd, 2008

I’ve been relatively quiet on this blog for the last couple of weeks, but i have some good news to share about the Flamingo ribbon component – it now provides the cross-LAF support for application menu button and application taskbar. The ribbon is a fairly complicated container, and while release 3.1 has made great strides towards providing basic functionality, there are significant gaps when compared to the original Office 2007 command bar. The plans for release 4.0 (code-named Fainnear) are to close these gaps, and the latest development drops allow interested applications to test the application menu button and application taskbar.

These concepts are best illustrated by screenshots. Here is a screenshot of the ribbon test application under Metal look-and-feel:

Note that the taskbar panel has been moved to a separate row on top of the ribbon task toggle buttons. The big round button is the application menu button, and it takes its icon from the images passed to Window.setIconImage and Window.setIconImages APIs. The largest image not exceeding 32*32 pixels is taken. If you only pass the usual 16*16 image, it will be used (but not scaled up). I would recommend using 22*22 images, but this is really up to your design to decide.

And here is the same application under Windows look-and-feel under Vista:

Note how the entire ribbon (selected task toggle button, task band title strips and the application menu button) are skinned with the visuals of the current look-and-feel. Since Windows look-and-feel on Vista is still using Tahoma 11 font, ribbon inherits these settings.

How about third-party look-and-feels? Here is the same application under A03:

and under Synthetica White Vision:

Once again, note how the visuals of ribbon and its components match the visuals of core Swing components under the relevant look-and-feels. Finally, here is the same application under Substance Business Blue Steel skin:

and under Substance Nebula Brick Wall skin:

And important thing to note for Substance – if you are running your decorated JRibbonFrame application under Substance Flamingo plugin, the taskbar and the top half of the application menu button are placed directly on the title pane.

And now let’s see a few screenshots that illustrate the functionality available on the application menu button. The screenshots are taken under different core and third-party look-and-feels and use the APIs from the org.jvnet.flamingo.ribbon package. These APIs are not set in stone and might change during the development cycle of version 4.0 based on the growing understanding of the requirements and user feedback. If you want to make your voice and requirements heard, now is the time.

The first screenshot shows the application menu shown when the application menu button is clicked. It has three main parts – the primary menu selection, the secondary menu selection and the footer buttons:

Note how the visuals of the application menu (top and bottom gradients, colors and button fills) match the current look-and-feel. Also note that some of the controls (the primary Save menu entry and the footer Exit button) are disabled. This is configured via the relevant APIs, and implicitly affects the icons used on those buttons.

The second screenshot shows the contents of the application menu under Windows look-and-feel when the mouse is moved over the primary Open entry:

Here, the application has registered a callback that is called on mouse rollover. This callback gets the secondary target panel and populates it with a command button panel that has one button group with five sample buttons. The main primary menu entry can also be configured with an action listener that will be called when the entry is activated (clicked). In this particular case, the main action listener can open a JFileChooser, while the rollover callback can populate the list of last opened documents, associating an action listener with each one of them.

The third screenshot is taken under Synthetica Blue Ice look-and-feel and shows a split Save As menu entry in action. This menu entry has an action area (with configurable action listener), as well as a rich secondary level menu. One of the secondary menu entries is marked as disabled:

Once again, note how the visuals of the current look-and-feel are applied throughout the ribbon component, including the different alphas on the action and popup area of the primary armed split menu entry to indicate the visual boundaries between these two areas.

The next screenshot is taken under Nimbus and shows the split Print primary menu entry with two groups in the secondary menu:

And finally, the last screenshot is taken under Substance Business Blue Steel skin and shows the popup-only Send primary menu entry with one group in secondary menu. One of the secondary menu entries is a popup button itself and has the associated PopupMenuListener. This listener populates two items in the third-level popup menu – click to see full-size:

If you want to see the application menu button and application taskbar in action, run the following WebStart demo:

The demo above works for the core look-and-feels. If you want to see this functionality under Substance (including the content on decorated title pane), run the following WebStart demo:

If you want to test the new APIs in your applications, you would need the following (the last two only for applications running under Substance look-and-feel):

The relevant APIs are in the org.jvnet.flamingo.ribbon package and until the documentation is ready, see the configureApplicationMenu method in the test.ribbon.BasicCheckRibbon class. This is still work in progress so the APIs may change during the development cycle. Your feedback is, as always, greatly appreciated.