Java Look-and-Feel Design Guidelines - University of Georgia

eyelashesnectarineSoftware and s/w Development

Nov 3, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)


Java Look
Design Guidelines

Part IV

Eileen Kraemer

University of Georgia

CSCI 4800/600

Previously, we talked about …

Applet v. Application

Placement of applets

Designing for accessibility

Checking for accessibility

Usability testing

Internationalization / localization

Creating/using resource bundles

Designing for accessibility

Provide accessible names, accessible descriptions

Use mnemonics and keyboard shortcuts

All interface components must be keyboard traversable

Assign initial keyboard focus

Specify tab traversal order

Don’t customize fonts or colors unnecessarily

If necessary, use properties to specify colors, fonts

Use dynamic GUI layout

Custom components must implement accessible

Now, …

… let’s look at the “nuts and bolts” of
accomplishing these goals

The Java Accessibility API (JAAPI)

standard extension in all releases of the Java 2 platform

component can utilize this extension by implementing the
Accessible interface

only one method call:

returns an instance of AccessibleContext

specific to the component

provides the info and functionality to enable accessibility


info about the component's role (button, checkbox, etc.)

accessible name (more on this soon)

Number of children, & more

Can generate accessibility events when a noteworthy event has

All of the standard JFC/Swing components implement the
Accessible interface

Accessible name, description: how

accessible name

succinct explanation of component’s purpose

assistive technology will often present (speak) the
name of each component encountered by a user

accessible description

more verbose explanation

provide in cases where additional info needed

assistive tech retrieves when user requests it

Accessible name: how to set

JFC/Swing components with non
editable text (menu items, buttons,
etc.) have accessible name set automatically

Other components need to have accessible name set by developer

If the component has a label:

JTextField text = new JTextField(20);

JLabel label = new Label("Address Line 1");


// ... Add the text and label to a Container

For ImageIcons , create using:

ImageIcon(URL url, String name);

Accessible description: how to set

Accessible descriptions set automatically by setting tooltiptext:

JComponent.setTooltipText( )

If component has no label or tooltip, directly set name & description:

permanently overrides values pulled from label or tooltip

AccessibleContext context = component.getAccessibleContext();
context.setAccessibleDescription("Recipient's Zip Code");

Don’t Customize Fonts or Colors

JFC/Swing components/ applications
automatically inherit font and color
properties from desktop and user prefs.

In most cases, get good results by
accepting user's preferences.

But, if you have to specify colors
and fonts ….

Use a properties file


want flight simulator to have a red "stop" button in
Western countries

define a property,

store it in a file,


Then, use the properties:

The program can load properties file as a

ResourceBundle resources = null;

Color stopColor =; // the default

try {


String colorString =

stopColor = Color.decode(colorString); // the specified


catch (MissingResourceException missingException)


// Report the error, according to severity

} // stopColor has now been customized

Use Dynamic GUI Layout

Don’t call setSize() with constant values.

defeats dynamic layout

resulting application won’t adapt properly to users' settings.

Instead, adjust the size of each JFrame, JDialog, and
JWindow at creation and each time its contents change


allows all nested layout managers to affect the size
and position of each object at runtime.

If component’s preferred size is not acceptable(rare),
call setSize() with a value between
getMinimumSize() and getMaximumSize

Dynamic LayoutManagers

position graphical objects relative to each other

changes in size are handled automatically

components never obscure one another.

All JFC/Swing layout managers are dynamic (BorderLayout,
FlowLayout, GridBagLayout, etc.)

setLayout(null); // Don’t do this!!

Requires manually setting (x,y) of every component.

interface won’t work right with many accessibility options,
internationalization , user
defined preferences

Custom Layout Managers

Implement LayoutManager


(old LayoutManager interface is obsolete).

Components should be positioned relative to
each other when the toolkit invokes
layoutContainer() on the custom layout

All Interface Components Must Be
Keyboard Traversable

… because many people can’t use a
pointing device effectively

Pressing tab key should move input focus
from component to component

tab should move focus in opposite

How to implement?

default FocusManager sets focus order : left
right and

If component shouldn’t receive input focus, create a
subclass and override

return false.


on each
JComponent to "hard
wire" the focus traversal order.

Messy to do this on some components and have others use the
default ordering. If used, invoke on all JComponents in a

Implement a subclass of

and install it with the static method

Use Mnemonics


underlined characters that appear in menu items and on the buttons in
some dialog boxes.

can only be activated when the item is visible and does not require a
modifier key (e.g., the user does not need to press the Alt key).

If keyboard use is to be practical, then

All menu items must have

menu = new JMenu();



item = new JMenuItem();


Use Accelerators

displayed on menu items or buttons in parentheses after
the item's text [e.g., "Save (Ctrl+S)"].

requires the use of a modifier key

can be activated any time the application's window has
the input focus.

item = new JMenuItem();

Custom Components Must
Implement Accessible

All standard JComponent subclasses implement this interface and
do everything necessary to be accessible

All custom components should extend a standard class as far down
the JFC/Swing inheritance hierarchy as possible.

For example, you want round buttons

First try to extend JButton, override all paint methods, add support
for any new properties.

If JButton is too restrictive, then try to extend JButton's superclass,

Only if AbstractButton is too restrictive should you extend directly
from JComponent.

JComponent doesn’t implement Accessible, so subclass must do
more work to work w/ assistive technologies.

Some methods do exist in JComponent to help: getAccessibleParent()
and getAccessibleName() will work properly for most JComponent
subclasses, with no additional code (other than 'implements

Custom components, continued

must express its accessible role as specifically as


Each JFC/Swing class contains a protected inner class
that actually does the accessibility work, and the root
class is JComponent.AccessibleJComponent

To extend accessibility behavior of subclass, create a protected
inner class that extends the inner class of the superclass

override getAccessibleContext() to create an instance of this
new accessibility class.


public class WarningLight extends JComponent

implements Accessible {

public AccessibleContext getAccessibleContext() {

// variable accessibleContext is protected in superclass

if (accessibleContext == null) {

accessibleContext = new AccessibleWarningLight();


return accessibleContext;


protected class AccessibleWarningLight extends
AccessibleJComponent {

public AccessibleRole getAccessibleRole() {

return AccessibleRole.ALERT;


// Implementation of WarningLight omitted...


Test Cases

1. Don't touch your mouse

Bring up each window and popup in your application
and attempt to visit

component using only the
Tab key on the keyboard.

Use the application without touching the mouse

Verify that:

Application’s features are all available

used functionality is directly accessible via an

All menu items have mnemonics

Test Cases

2. Change the default font and color

Choose a font of 24 points or larger, and
colors other than the default.

Bring up each window of the application and
verify that screen objects do not overlap and
that the colors are correct.

If overlapping occurs, check the code that
interacts with the LayoutManager in that

Test Cases

Try using a low
vision look

Here’s a sample

Compile the file

Add this code to your application:

import LowVisionMetalLookAndFeel; // ... code omitted

try {


catch (Exception ex) {

System.out.println("Failed loading Low Vision Metal

Look and Feel");



Test Cases

3. Use a screen reader

Download and install a trial version of a screen reader that works
with Java applications, (more/better links coming soon)

Bring up each window in your application and tab to

component, verifying that you hear a reasonable
description of each component as it receives the input

Turn your display off.

Try to use your application in this mode, accessing both core
functionality and more lightly
used features.


Identify Culturally Dependent Data

Isolate Translatable Text in Resource

Deal with Compound Messages

Format Dates and Times

Use Unicode Character Properties

Compare Strings Properly

Convert Non
Unicode Text

Nuts and Bolts …

Creating and accessing resource bundles

ResourceBundle objects contain locale
specific objects.

When you need a locale
specific object,
you fetch it from a ResourceBundle, which
returns the object that matches the end
user's Locale.

The ResourceBundle Class

each ResourceBundle is a set of related
subclasses that share the same base name.



// base_name


// with language code


// with language and country codes


// with lang, country, and variant codes

To select a ResourceBundle

invoke the ResourceBundle.getBundle


Locale currentLocale = new Locale("fr", "CA", "UNIX");
ResourceBundle introLabels =
ResourceBundle.getBundle(“ButtonLabel”, currentLocale);