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Learning Java, 4th Edition by Patrick Niemeyer, Daniel Leuck

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Menus

A JMenu is a standard pull-down menu with a fixed name. Menus can hold other menus as submenu items, enabling you to implement complex menu structures. In Swing, menus are first-class components, just like everything else. You can place them any place a component would go. Another class, JMenuBar, holds menus in the conventional horizontal bar. Menu bars are real components, too, so you can place them any place you want in a container: top, bottom, or middle. But in the middle of a container, it usually makes more sense to use a JComboBox rather than some kind of menu.

Menu items may have associated images and shortcut keys; there are even menu items that look like checkboxes and radio buttons. Menu items are really a kind of button. Like buttons, menu items fire action events when they are selected. You can respond to menu items by registering action listeners with them.

There are two ways to use the keyboard with menus. The first is called mnemonics. A mnemonic is one character in the menu name. If you hold down the Alt key and type a menu’s mnemonic, the menu drops down, just as if you had clicked on it with the mouse. Menu items may also have mnemonics. Once a menu is dropped down, you can select individual items in the same way.

Menu items may also have accelerators. An accelerator is a key combination that selects the menu item, whether or not the menu that contains it is showing. A common example is the accelerator Ctrl-C, which is frequently used as a shortcut for the Copy item in the Edit menu.

The next example demonstrates several different features of menus. It creates a menu bar with three different menus. The first, Utensils, contains several menu items, a submenu, a separator, and a Quit item that includes both a mnemonic and an accelerator. The second menu, Spices, contains menu items that look and act like checkboxes. Finally, the Cheese menu demonstrates radio button menu items.

The application is shown in Figure 17-7 with one of its menus dropped down. Choosing Quit from the Utensils menu (or pressing Ctrl-Q) removes the window.

    //file: DinnerMenu.java
    import java.awt.*;
    import java.awt.event.*;
    import javax.swing.*;

    public class DinnerMenu
    {
      public static void main(String[] args) {
        JFrame frame = new JFrame("Dinner Menu");

        // create the Utensils menu
        JMenu utensils = new JMenu("Utensils");
        utensils.setMnemonic(KeyEvent.VK_U);
        utensils.add(new JMenuItem("Fork"));
        utensils.add(new JMenuItem("Knife"));
        utensils.add(new JMenuItem("Spoon"));
        JMenu hybrid = new JMenu("Hybrid");
        hybrid.add(new JMenuItem("Spork"));
        hybrid.add(new JMenuItem("Spife"));
        hybrid.add(new JMenuItem("Knork"));
        utensils.add(hybrid);
        utensils.addSeparator();

        // do some fancy stuff with the Quit item
        JMenuItem quitItem = new JMenuItem("Quit");
        quitItem.setMnemonic(KeyEvent.VK_Q);
        quitItem.setAccelerator(
            KeyStroke.getKeyStroke(KeyEvent.VK_Q, Event.CTRL_MASK));
        quitItem.addActionListener(new ActionListener() {
          public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) { System.exit(0); }
        });
        utensils.add(quitItem);

        // create the Spices menu
        JMenu spices = new JMenu("Spices");
        spices.setMnemonic(KeyEvent.VK_S);
        spices.add(new JCheckBoxMenuItem("Thyme"));
        spices.add(new JCheckBoxMenuItem("Rosemary"));
        spices.add(new JCheckBoxMenuItem("Oregano", true));
        spices.add(new JCheckBoxMenuItem("Fennel"));

        // create the Cheese menu
        JMenu cheese = new JMenu("Cheese");
        cheese.setMnemonic(KeyEvent.VK_C);
        ButtonGroup group = new ButtonGroup();
        JRadioButtonMenuItem rbmi;
        rbmi = new JRadioButtonMenuItem("Regular", true);
        group.add(rbmi);
        cheese.add(rbmi);
        rbmi = new JRadioButtonMenuItem("Extra");
        group.add(rbmi);
        cheese.add(rbmi);
        rbmi = new JRadioButtonMenuItem("Blue");
        group.add(rbmi);
        cheese.add(rbmi);

        // create a menu bar and use it in this JFrame
        JMenuBar menuBar = new JMenuBar();
        menuBar.add(utensils);
        menuBar.add(spices);
        menuBar.add(cheese);
        frame.setJMenuBar(menuBar);

        frame.setDefaultCloseOperation( JFrame.EXIT_ON_CLOSE );
        frame.setSize(200,200);
        frame.setVisible(true);
      }
    }

Yes, we know. Quit doesn’t belong in the Utensils menu. If it’s driving you crazy, you can go back and add a File menu as an exercise when we’re through.

Creating menus is pretty simple work. You create a JMenu object, specifying the menu’s title. Like the text of JButtons and JLabels, menu labels can contain simple HTML. Then you just add JMenuItems to the JMenu. You can also add JMenus to a JMenu; they show up as submenus. This is shown in the creation of the Utensils menu:

    JMenu utensils = new JMenu("Utensils");
    utensils.setMnemonic(KeyEvent.VK_U);
    utensils.add(new JMenuItem("Fork"));
    utensils.add(new JMenuItem("Knife"));
    utensils.add(new JMenuItem("Spoon"));
    JMenu hybrid = new JMenu("Hybrid");
    hybrid.add(new JMenuItem("Spork"));
    hybrid.add(new JMenuItem("Spife"));
    hybrid.add(new JMenuItem("Knork"));
    utensils.add(hybrid);
The DinnerMenu application

Figure 17-7. The DinnerMenu application

In the second line, we set the mnemonic for this menu using a constant defined in the KeyEvent class, which has static identifiers for all keys on the keyboard.

You can add those pretty separator lines with a single call:

    utensils.addSeparator();

The Quit menu item has some bells and whistles we should explain. First, we create the menu item and set its mnemonic, just as we did before for the Utensils menu:

    JMenuItem quitItem = new JMenuItem("Quit");
    quitItem.setMnemonic(KeyEvent.VK_Q);

Now we want to create an accelerator for the menu item. We do this with the help of a class called KeyStroke :

    quitItem.setAccelerator(
        KeyStroke.getKeyStroke(KeyEvent.VK_Q, Event.CTRL_MASK));

Finally, to actually do something in response to the menu item, we register an action listener:

    quitItem.addActionListener(new ActionListener() {
        public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) { System.exit(0); }
    });

Our action listener exits the application when the Quit item is selected.

Creating the Spices menu is just as easy, except that we use JCheckBoxMenuItems instead of regular JMenuItems. The result is a menu full of items that behave like checkboxes.

The next menu, Cheese, is a little more tricky. We want the items to be radio buttons, but we need to place them in a ButtonGroup to ensure they are mutually exclusive. Each item, then, is created, added to the button group, and added to the menu itself.

The final step is to place the menus we’ve just created in a JMenuBar. This is simply a component that lays out menus in a horizontal bar. We have two options for adding it to our JFrame. Because the JMenuBar is a real component, we could add it to the content pane of the JFrame. Instead, we use a convenience method called setJMenuBar(), which automatically places the JMenuBar at the top of the frame’s content pane. This saves us the trouble of altering the layout or size of the content pane; it is adjusted to coexist peacefully with the menu bar.

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