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This article describes how to build user interfaces using Eclipse Forms.

1. Eclipse Forms

1.1. What is the Eclipse Forms API

Eclipse supports a predefined web-like user interface style, called Eclipse Forms. Eclipse Forms is provided by the org.eclipse.ui.forms plug-in and is based on SWT und JFace. Eclipse Forms can be used in Eclipse based application using the 3.x or the 4.x API. The class FormToolkit serves as a factory for the creation of the required user interface elements. This factory adjust the look and feel of the standard SWT and JFace elements to the Forms API. Existing UI elements can be enhanced to the form API via the method adapt(Composite).

1.2. Form / ScrolledForm

FormToolkit provides Form or ScrollForm which serve as the frame for the user interface elements. They provide a header, a toolbar and a body. The body can get accessed via the getBody() method and can contain other user interface elements.

2. Forms Example

2.1. First Example

Create a new Eclipse RCP project called de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms. Use the "RCP Application with a view" as a template. Add a dependency to "org.eclipse.ui.forms" in your manifest file via the Dependencies tab.

Change the generated View class to the following. This creates a re-sizable table in a form with a button on the right side of it.

package de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms;

import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ArrayContentProvider;
import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ColumnLabelProvider;
import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.TableViewer;
import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.TableViewerColumn;
import org.eclipse.swt.SWT;
import org.eclipse.swt.graphics.Image;
import org.eclipse.swt.layout.GridData;
import org.eclipse.swt.layout.GridLayout;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Button;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Composite;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Table;
import org.eclipse.ui.ISharedImages;
import org.eclipse.ui.PlatformUI;
import org.eclipse.ui.forms.widgets.FormToolkit;
import org.eclipse.ui.forms.widgets.ScrolledForm;
import org.eclipse.ui.forms.widgets.Section;
import org.eclipse.ui.part.ViewPart;

public class View extends ViewPart {
        public static final String ID = "de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.view";

        private TableViewer viewer;

        /**
         * This is a callback that will allow us to create the viewer and initialize
         * it.
         */
        public void createPartControl(Composite parent) {
                FormToolkit toolkit = new FormToolkit(parent.getDisplay());
                ScrolledForm form = toolkit.createScrolledForm(parent);
                form.setText("Eclipse Forms API Example");

                // Lets make a layout for the first section of the screen
                GridLayout layout = new GridLayout();
                layout.numColumns = 1;
                layout.marginWidth = 2;
                layout.marginHeight = 2;
                // Creating the Screen
                Section section = toolkit.createSection(parent, Section.DESCRIPTION
                                | Section.TITLE_BAR);
                section.setText("Section 1 for demonstration"); //$NON-NLS-1$
                section.setDescription("This demonstrates the usage of section");
                // Composite for storing the data
                Composite client = toolkit.createComposite(section, SWT.WRAP);
                layout = new GridLayout();
                layout.numColumns = 2;
                layout.marginWidth = 2;
                layout.marginHeight = 2;
                client.setLayout(layout);
                Table t = toolkit.createTable(client, SWT.NONE);
                GridData gd = new GridData(GridData.FILL_BOTH);
                gd.heightHint = 20;
                gd.widthHint = 100;
                t.setLayoutData(gd);
                toolkit.paintBordersFor(client);
                Button b = toolkit.createButton(client, "Do something", SWT.PUSH); //$NON-NLS-1$
                gd = new GridData(GridData.VERTICAL_ALIGN_BEGINNING);
                b.setLayoutData(gd);
                section.setClient(client);
                viewer = new TableViewer(t);

                viewer.setContentProvider(ArrayContentProvider().getInstance());

                TableViewerColumn viewerColumn = new TableViewerColumn(viewer, SWT.NONE);
                viewerColumn.getColumn().setWidth(100);
                viewerColumn.setLabelProvider(new ColumnLabelProvider() {
                        @Override
                        public String getText(Object element) {
                                return element.toString();
                        };

                        public Image getImage(Object element) {
                                return PlatformUI.getWorkbench().getSharedImages()
                                                .getImage(ISharedImages.IMG_OBJ_ELEMENT);
                        };
                }

                );
                viewer.setInput(getViewSite());
        }

        /**
         * Passing the focus request to the viewer's control.
         */
        public void setFocus() {
                viewer.getControl().setFocus();
        }
}

The resulting application should look like the following:

forms10

2.2. Adding a command to the menu

You can also add a command to the menu of the form. For this, define a command with a handler. Add this command to a popup menu contribution as for example in the following plugin.xml.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<?eclipse version="3.2"?>
<plugin>

   <extension
         id="application"
         point="org.eclipse.core.runtime.applications">
      <application>
         <run
               class="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.Application">
         </run>
      </application>
   </extension>
   <extension
         point="org.eclipse.ui.perspectives">
      <perspective
            name="Perspective"
            class="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.Perspective"
            id="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.perspective">
      </perspective>
   </extension>
   <extension
         point="org.eclipse.ui.views">
      <view
            name="View"
            class="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.View"
            id="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.view">
      </view>
   </extension>
   <extension
         point="org.eclipse.ui.commands">
      <command
            defaultHandler="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.handler.HelloHandler"
            id="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.hello"
            name="Hello">
      </command>
   </extension>
   <extension
         point="org.eclipse.ui.menus">
      <menuContribution
            allPopups="false"
            locationURI="popup:formsToolBar">
         <command
               commandId="de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.hello"
               icon="icons/alt_window_16.gif"
               label="Hello"
               style="push">
         </command>
      </menuContribution>
   </extension>

</plugin>

Change the view to display the command in the form and you should see the command in your form.

package de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms;

import org.eclipse.jface.action.ToolBarManager;
import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ArrayContentProvider;
import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ColumnLabelProvider;
import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.TableViewer;
import org.eclipse.jface.viewers.TableViewerColumn;
import org.eclipse.swt.SWT;
import org.eclipse.swt.graphics.Image;
import org.eclipse.swt.layout.GridData;
import org.eclipse.swt.layout.GridLayout;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Button;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Composite;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Table;
import org.eclipse.ui.ISharedImages;
import org.eclipse.ui.PlatformUI;
import org.eclipse.ui.forms.widgets.FormToolkit;
import org.eclipse.ui.forms.widgets.ScrolledForm;
import org.eclipse.ui.forms.widgets.Section;
import org.eclipse.ui.menus.IMenuService;
import org.eclipse.ui.part.ViewPart;

public class View extends ViewPart {
        public static final String ID = "de.vogella.rcp.intro.forms.view";

        private TableViewer viewer;

        /**
         * This is a callback that will allow us to create the viewer and initialize
         * it.
         */
        public void createPartControl(Composite parent) {
                FormToolkit toolkit = new FormToolkit(parent.getDisplay());
                ScrolledForm form = toolkit.createScrolledForm(parent);
                ToolBarManager manager = (ToolBarManager) form.getToolBarManager();
                toolkit.decorateFormHeading(form.getForm());
                IMenuService menuService = (IMenuService) getSite().getService(
                                IMenuService.class);
                menuService.populateContributionManager(manager, "popup:formsToolBar");
                manager.update(true);

                form.setText("Eclipse Forms API Example");

                // Lets make a layout for the first section of the screen
                GridLayout layout = new GridLayout();
                layout.numColumns = 1;
                layout.marginWidth = 2;
                layout.marginHeight = 2;
                // Creating the Screen
                Section section = toolkit.createSection(parent, Section.DESCRIPTION
                                | Section.TITLE_BAR);
                section.setText("Section 1 for demonstration"); //$NON-NLS-1$
                section.setDescription("This demonstrates the usage of section");
                // Composite for storing the data
                Composite client = toolkit.createComposite(section, SWT.WRAP);
                layout = new GridLayout();
                layout.numColumns = 2;
                layout.marginWidth = 2;
                layout.marginHeight = 2;
                client.setLayout(layout);
                Table t = toolkit.createTable(client, SWT.NONE);
                GridData gd = new GridData(GridData.FILL_BOTH);
                gd.heightHint = 20;
                gd.widthHint = 100;
                t.setLayoutData(gd);
                toolkit.paintBordersFor(client);
                Button b = toolkit.createButton(client, "Do something", SWT.PUSH); //$NON-NLS-1$
                gd = new GridData(GridData.VERTICAL_ALIGN_BEGINNING);
                b.setLayoutData(gd);
                section.setClient(client);
                viewer = new TableViewer(t);

                viewer.setContentProvider(new ArrayContentProvider());

                TableViewerColumn viewerColumn = new TableViewerColumn(viewer, SWT.NONE);
                viewerColumn.getColumn().setWidth(100);
                viewerColumn.setLabelProvider(new ColumnLabelProvider() {
                        @Override
                        public String getText(Object element) {
                                return element.toString();
                        };

                        public Image getImage(Object element) {
                                return PlatformUI.getWorkbench().getSharedImages()
                                                .getImage(ISharedImages.IMG_OBJ_ELEMENT);
                        };
                }

                );
                viewer.setInput(getViewSite());
        }

        /**
         * Passing the focus request to the viewer's control.
         */
        public void setFocus() {
                viewer.getControl().setFocus();
        }
}
formsWithCommandsInMenu

3. About this website

4.1. vogella GmbH training and consulting support

TRAINING SERVICE & SUPPORT

The vogella company provides comprehensive training and education services from experts in the areas of Eclipse RCP, Android, Git, Java, Gradle and Spring. We offer both public and inhouse training. Whichever course you decide to take, you are guaranteed to experience what many before you refer to as “The best IT class I have ever attended”.

The vogella company offers expert consulting services, development support and coaching. Our customers range from Fortune 100 corporations to individual developers.

Copyright © 2012-2016 vogella GmbH. Free use of the software examples is granted under the terms of the EPL License. This tutorial is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany license.

See Licence.