This tutorial gives an introduction into the CSS styling capabilities of Eclipse 4.

1. Eclipse and declarative styling

The visual appearance of your Eclipse application can be styled via external files similar to the CSS 2.1 standard. CSS selectors used in Eclipse are identifiers, which relate to widgets or other elements, for example predefined pseudo classes. Non-standard properties are prefixed with either swt- or eclipse-.

The following example shows a CSS file which defines a styling for an Eclipse application.

Label, Text {
    font: Verdana 8px;
    color: black;
Composite Label {
    color: black;

Composite Text {
    background-color: #D3D3D3;
/* just to demo how to style model elements,
   change to a different color to see the effect
.MTrimBar {
    background-color: white;
    color: black;
    font: Verdana 8px;

Shell {
    background-color: white;

SWT has certain limitations concerning component styling. These limitations are based on the restrictions of the underlying operating system or limitation in SWT itself. For example, it is not possible to style menus because this is not supported by SWT. In every Eclipse release these limitations are reduced, as full styling for SWT widgets is an important feature.

In most cases it is possible to overcome the styling restrictions of SWT in RCP applications. For example, you can use NatTable to display your tables. NatTable is a flexible table and tree implementation which allows full styling. For other components you can use custom widgets or use a PaintListener to draw on top of the widget.

2. Styling using themes

Styling can be defined via two means:

  • Using themes - allows dynamic theme switching

  • Using applicationCSS - allows to define fixed styling

You can define themes for styling your application. This can be done via extensions in the plugin.xml file. To create new themes you define extensions for the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt.theme extension point. Such an extension defines an ID for the style and a pointer to the CSS file.

You can define the default theme via the cssTheme property in your org.eclipse.core.runtime.products extension. This can also be used to define a fixed styling.

You need to set cssTheme otherwise the theming services is not available at runtime.

The Eclipse platform provides the theme service with an instance of the IThemeEngine interface. Via this instance you can change the active theme at runtime. The switching of themes is demonstrated in the following handler code.

package com.vogella.tasks.ui.handlers;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.di.annotations.Execute;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt.theme.IThemeEngine;

public class ThemeSwitchHandler {
    private static final String DEFAULT_THEME = "com.vogella.eclipse.css.default";
    private static final String RAINBOW_THEME = "com.vogella.eclipse.css.rainbow";

    public void switchTheme(IThemeEngine engine) {
        if (!engine.getActiveTheme().getId().equals(DEFAULT_THEME)){
            // second argument defines that change is
            // persisted and restored on restart
            engine.setTheme(DEFAULT_THEME, true);
        } else {
            engine.setTheme(RAINBOW_THEME, true);

You can also specify a fixed styling of your application. This is done via a property for the org.eclipse.core.runtime.products extension point in the plugin.xml file.

The value of the applicationCSS property point to your CSS file via an URI. The URI follows the platform:/plugin/BundleSymbolicName/path/file convention. The following example demonstrates such a URI:


The screenshot shows an example of the plugin.xml file with a defined applicationCSS property.

applicationCSS entered on the product extension

The corresponding file is shown below.

<?eclipse version="3.4"?>



3. CSS support for standard Eclipse elements

3.1. CSS attributes and selectors

The CSS attributes for SWT widgets which can be styled are listed under the following link:

Model elements of your Eclipse application, e.g., MPartStack or MPart can also be used a selectors for styling. The CSS selectors are based on the Java classes for the model elements. Some examples are given in the following table.

Table 1. Model elements and CSS selectors
Model Element CSS Selector







For example you could hide the minimize and maximize button of a MPartStack via the following CSS rule.

.MPartStack {
    swt-maximize-visible: false;
    swt-minimize-visible: false;

3.2. CSS pseudo classes in Eclipse

Eclipse also supports CSS pseudo classes but these are disabled by default. You can enable them via the Java property rg.eclipse.e4.ui.css.dynamic=true.

The following table lists several of the available pseudo classes.

Table 2. CSS pseudo classes in Eclipse
CSS pseudo classes Description


Selects checked buttons


For example shell:active selects the active shell


Allows to style a selected element, e.g., a part in a PartStack.

3.3. Styling based on identifiers and classes

You can specify an identifier or a class on widgets in your source code and use these as selectors for styling. An identifier is supposed to be unique while a class can be assigned to several elements.

The following example demonstrates how to set the identifier and the class on SWT widgets.

// IStylingEngine is injected
@Inject IStylingEngine engine;

// more code....

Label label = new Label(parent, SWT.NONE);
Text text = new Text(parent, SWT.BORDER);

// set the ID, must be unique in the same window
engine.setID(label, "MyCSSTagForLabel");

// set the class, can be used several times
engine.setClassname(text, "error");

Sometimes the IStylingEngine cannot be accessed easily. For example, if your want to style existing dialog which are not created via dependency injection. In this case you can set a tag on SWT widget directly.

// more code....

Label label = new Label(parent, SWT.NONE);
Text text = new Text(parent, SWT.BORDER);

// set the ID, must be unique in the same window
text.setData("", "MyCSSTagForLabel");

// set the class, can be used several times
label.setData("org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.CssClassName", "MyCSSTagForLabel")

These ids or classes can be addressed in the CSS file via the # or the . selector.

    color: blue;

.error {
    border: 1px red;

3.4. Colors and gradients

Colors can be defined in different ways. For example, the color white can be described as white, rgb(255,255,255) or #ffffff.

Since Eclipse 4.3 also color constants from SWT can be used, e.g., SWT.COLOR_BLACK or SWT.COLOR_WIDGET_BACKGROUND.

Text {
    color: COLOR-CYAN;
    background-color: COLOR-WIDGET-BACKGROUND;

.MPart .InfoPane {
    background-color: COLOR-INFO-BACKGROUND;
Note that the CSS value uses an "-" in between unlike the SWT constants, which use an "_".

Styling supports gradients for the background color of user interface widgets. Linear and radial gradients are supported. The definition of gradients is demonstrated in the following listing.

/* linear gradient */
/* background-color: gradient linear color_1 [color_2]* [percentage]* */

/* for example */
background-color: gradient linear white black
background-color: gradient linear white black blue
background-color: gradient linear white black 50%
background-color: gradient linear white black 50% 20%

/* radial gradient */
/* background-color: gradient radial color_1 [color_2]* [percentage]* */

/* for example */
background-color: gradient radial white black
background-color: gradient radial white black 50%

If you use the optional percentage in the definition, then the color change will be done after the defined percentage. The following picture shows the result of different settings.

Different Gradient settings
Please note that the current gradient specification is not compliant with the CSS specification and that it might change in the future.

3.5. CSS imports

Eclipse supports also the import of existing stylesheets via the @import directive using the platform URI notation. If you import CSS files from another plug-in, it requires that the plug-in which contains the imported CSS file is included in your product configuration file.

For example the following stylesheet would import the existing dark theme of the org.eclipse.ui.themes plug-in from the Eclipse IDE.

@import url("platform:/plugin/org.eclipse.ui.themes/css/e4-dark.css");

/* add new CSS rules here. You can also override setting defined in the imported CSS
by using the same selector-property combination */

Using this import results in an application styling similar to the following screenshot.

Dark theming

3.6. Extending an existing theme

It is possible to provide additional styling for an existing theme. For example, if you defined additional settings for the default dark theme of the Eclipse IDE in a file called css\additional.css, you can register to the following extension.


3.7. Examples

3.7.1. Hide the close button

CTabItem {
    swt-show-close: false !important;

4. CSS support for custom widgets

The CSS support offers two extension points for adding CSS capabilities to custom widgets:

  • org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.elementProvider

  • org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler

Those extension points are defined in the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core plug-in. You find some predefined implementations for SWT in the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt plug-in.

4.1. The org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.elementProvider extension point

Under this extension you can specific for which entries in the CSS style sheet the IElementProvider is responsible. The org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.elementProvider extension defines an IElementProvider, which returns the widgets adapter(ElementAdapter). IElementProvider returns an org.w3c.dom.Element.

ElementAdapter type hierarchy

In general the returned org.w3c.dom.Element is an instance of an ElementAdapter. By the widget properties under the provider, you point to the class of the actual widget, like org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Control, for which the provider is responsible.

The SWTElementProvider for instance contains those ElementAdapter implementations, which are shown in the type hierarchy screenshot and looks like this:

 * Returns the CSS class which is responsible for styling a SWT widget
 * Registered via the "org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.elementProvider" extension
 * point for the SWT widgets
 * {@link IElementProvider} SWT implementation to retrieve w3c Element
 * {@link SWTElement} linked to SWT widget.
public class SWTElementProvider implements IElementProvider {

    public static final IElementProvider INSTANCE = new SWTElementProvider();

    public Element getElement(Object element, CSSEngine engine) {
        if (element instanceof Text) {
            return new TextElement((Text) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof Button) {
            return new ButtonElement((Button) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof Scale) {
            return new ScaleElement((Scale) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof Shell) {
            return new ShellElement((Shell) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof CTabFolder) {
            return new CTabFolderElement((CTabFolder) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof ToolBar) {
            return new ToolBarElement((ToolBar) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof Composite) {
            return new CompositeElement((Composite) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof Control) {
            return new ControlElement((Control) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof CTabItem) {
            return new CTabItemElement((CTabItem) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof TableItem) {
            return new TableItemElement((TableItem) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof ToolItem) {
            return new ToolItemElement((ToolItem) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof Item) {
            return new ItemElement((Item) element, engine);
        if (element instanceof Widget) {
            return new WidgetElement((Widget) element, engine);
        return null;

See the following URL for more information.

4.2. The org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler extension point

In the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler extension point you define an adapter of type ElementAdapter for your widget which is used by the CSS engine. Here you specify an implementation of an ICSSPropertyHandler, where different property-names for the widget can be defined. This implementation is responsible for applying the CSS properties to the underlying widget.

There are three properties, which have to be defined for a org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler.

Table 3. Properties of the propertyHandler
Property Description


The ElementAdapter implementation adapts/wraps your custom widget for the CSS framework


A boolean, which specifies whether the widget is a composite or not


ICSSPropertyHandler implementation, which is responsible for setting a custom CSS property.

Here you can see a sample of the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt projects propertyHandler extension point:

PropertyHandler extension point for org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt

These are the default ElementAdapter implementations for the adapter property in the screenshot above:

ElementAdapter type hierarchy

In the ICSSPropertyHandler implementation those property-names are read and applied to the actual widget.

The CSSPropertyBackgroundSWTHandler and it’s parent AbstractCSSPropertyBackgroundHandler are examples of such an implementation of the ICSSPropertyHandler. Here the background property is applied for certain widgets.

The AbstractCSSPropertyBackgroundHandler class delegates to the methods for the property-names. These are applied in the propertyHandler extension point, to its subclasses like the CSSPropertyBackgroundSWTHandler.

    public boolean applyCSSProperty(Object element, String property,
            CSSValue value, String pseudo, CSSEngine engine) throws Exception {
        if ("background".equals(property)) {
            applyCSSPropertyBackground(element, value, pseudo, engine);
        if ("background-attachment".equals(property)) {
            applyCSSPropertyBackgroundAttachment(element, value, pseudo, engine);
        if ("background-color".equals(property)) {
            applyCSSPropertyBackgroundColor(element, value, pseudo, engine);
        if ("background-image".equals(property)) {
            applyCSSPropertyBackgroundImage(element, value, pseudo, engine);
        if ("background-position".equals(property)) {
            applyCSSPropertyBackgroundPosition(element, value, pseudo, engine);
        if ("background-repeat".equals(property)) {
            applyCSSPropertyBackgroundRepeat(element, value, pseudo, engine);
        return false;

The following listing is the applyCSSPropertyBackgroundColor method of the CSSPropertyBackgroundSWTHandler. It shows how the background-color property-name is applied for several widgets:

    public void applyCSSPropertyBackgroundColor(Object element, CSSValue value,
            String pseudo, CSSEngine engine) throws Exception {
        Widget widget = (Widget) ((WidgetElement) element).getNativeWidget();
        if (value.getCssValueType() == CSSValue.CSS_PRIMITIVE_VALUE) {
            Color newColor = (Color) engine.convert(value, Color.class, widget
            if (widget instanceof CTabItem) {
                CTabFolder folder = ((CTabItem) widget).getParent();
                if ("selected".equals(pseudo)) {
                    // tab folder selection manages gradients
                    CSSSWTColorHelper.setSelectionBackground(folder, newColor);
                } else {
                    CSSSWTColorHelper.setBackground(folder, newColor);
            } else if (widget instanceof Control) {
                GradientBackgroundListener.remove((Control) widget);
                CSSSWTColorHelper.setBackground((Control) widget, newColor);
        } else if (value.getCssValueType() == CSSValue.CSS_VALUE_LIST) {
            Gradient grad = (Gradient) engine.convert(value, Gradient.class,
            if (grad == null) {
                return; // warn?
            if (widget instanceof CTabItem) {
                CTabFolder folder = ((CTabItem) widget).getParent();
                Color[] colors = CSSSWTColorHelper.getSWTColors(grad,
                        folder.getDisplay(), engine);
                int[] percents = CSSSWTColorHelper.getPercents(grad);

                if ("selected".equals(pseudo)) {
                    folder.setSelectionBackground(colors, percents, true);
                } else {
                    folder.setBackground(colors, percents, true);

            } else if (widget instanceof Control) {
                GradientBackgroundListener.handle((Control) widget, grad);

5. CSS Tools

5.1. CSS Spy

The CSS spy tool helps to see the possible styling options for selected elements. CSS spy is part of the e4 tooling project and can be installed from its update site.

You can open the CSS spy via the Shift+Alt+F5 shortcut.

CSS spy allows you to see the available properties and the current style settings.

The CSS Spy in action

5.2. CSS Scratchpad

The CSS Scratchpad allows to change CSS rules interactively. It is also part of the e4 tooling project.

You open it via the Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F6 shortcut.

If you click the Apply button, the entered CSS is applied at runtime to your application.

6. Exercise: Using CSS styling

In this exercise you style your application. The user can switch the styling at runtime.

6.1. Create a new plug-in and add dependencies

Create a new simple plug-in called com.vogella.eclipse.css.

Add the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt.theme plug-in as a manifest dependency to your new plug-in.

6.2. Create your CSS files

Create a folder called css in the root of your com.vogella.eclipse.css plug-in. Create the following css/default.css file.

Label, Text {
    font: Verdana 8px;
    color: black;
Composite Label {
    color: black;

Composite Text {
    background-color: #D3D3D3;
/* just to demo how to style model elements,
   change to a different color to see the effect
.MTrimBar {
    background-color: white;
    color: black;
    font: Verdana 8px;

Shell {
    background-color: white;

In addition, create the following css/rainbow.css file.

Shell {
    swt-background-mode: default;
    background-color: red orange yellow green orange 30% 60% 75% 95%

.MPartStack {
    font-size: 22px;
    color: orange;

6.3. Create the theme extensions

Select the Extensions tab in the MANIFEST.MF editor.

If the Extensions tab does not exist, click on Extensions link in the Overview tab.

Create two extensions for the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt.theme extension point. For this, press the Add…​ button in the Extensions tab.

Select the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt.theme extension point and press the Finish button.


Right-click on the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt.theme extension and select theme to create a new theme.

The following screenshots show the extensions which you should create.


If you open the plugin.xml tab in the MANIFEST.MF editor or if you open the plugin.xml file in a text editor, it should look similar to the following listing.

6.4. Adjust the file

Ensure that all CSS files are included in your build via the file of your plug-in. This makes them available in the exported application.

The file should look similar to the following listing:

source.. = src/
output.. = bin/
bin.includes = META-INF/,\

6.5. Setting the default theme in your RCP application

Now you need to configure the default theme via a property on your product extension.

For this, open the plugin.xml in your com.vogella.tasks.ui plug-in and select the Extensions tab. Add the cssTheme property to your product and point to the com.vogella.eclipse.css.default theme.

To add a new property, do not press the Add…​ button, but right click on the product and click on property to add a new property.


This must be done in the com.vogella.tasks.ui plug-in and NOT the com.vogella.eclipse.css plug-in.

If present, remove an existing entry applicationCSS. applicationCSS is an alternative approach to define fixed styling for the application which is not used in this exercise.

Ensure that the cssTheme property is correctly set. Without it, the IThemeEngine does not work.

6.6. Add new plug-in to your product (via your feature)

Add your com.vogella.eclipse.css plug-in to your feature. Ensure you start the application via the product configuration file.

7. Dynamic theme switching

It is possible to switch the theme in your code via the IThemeEngine service.

8. Exercise: Enable dynamic styling

Add the -Dorg.eclipse.e4.ui.css.dynamic=true property to your product a vm argument.

This enables the evaluation of dynamic attributes, e.g. if a button is selected.

Button {
    background: yellow;

Button:checked {
    background: blue;

Button:disabled {
    background: green;

Add a few buttons to your for example via the following coding.

Button pushButton = ButtonFactory.newButton(SWT.PUSH).text("Press me").create(parent);
Button checkButton= ButtonFactory.newButton(SWT.CHECK).onSelect(t -> pushButton.setEnabled(!pushButton.getEnabled())).text("Press me").create(parent);
Currently only the selected property of the button (checked) is evaluated dynamically. This could be enhanced in the framework, but would require a code contribution.

9. Optional exercise: Styling the widgets created by the life cycle class

In this exercise you will ensure that the widget created by the life cycle handler of your application are also styled.

9.1. Implement styling

Change your Manager class to the following to one of your CSS files for the widgets created in this class.

package com.vogella.tasks.ui.lifecycle;

import javax.inject.Inject;

import org.eclipse.e4.core.contexts.IEclipseContext;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.internal.workbench.E4Workbench;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.internal.workbench.swt.PartRenderingEngine;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.workbench.IWorkbench;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.workbench.lifecycle.PostContextCreate;
import org.eclipse.jface.window.Window;
import org.eclipse.swt.SWT;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Display;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Monitor;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Shell;
import org.osgi.service.prefs.BackingStoreException;

import com.vogella.tasks.ui.dialogs.PasswordDialog;

public class Manager {

    private String user;

    public void postContextCreate(IApplicationContext appContext, Display display, IEclipseContext context) {

        final Shell shell = new Shell(SWT.SHELL_TRIM);
        PasswordDialog dialog = new PasswordDialog(shell);
        if (user != null) {

        // close the static splash screen

        // position the shell
         setLocation(display, shell);

         String cssURI = "platform:/plugin/com.vogella.eclipse.css/css/rainbow.css";
         context.set(E4Workbench.CSS_URI_ARG, cssURI);
         PartRenderingEngine.initializeStyling(shell.getDisplay(), context);
        // open the dialog
        if ( != Window.OK) {
            // close the application
        } else {
            // get the user from the dialog
            String userValue = dialog.getUser();


    private void setLocation(Display display, Shell shell) {
        Monitor monitor = display.getPrimaryMonitor();
        Rectangle monitorRect = monitor.getBounds();
        Rectangle shellRect = shell.getBounds();
        int x = monitorRect.x + (monitorRect.width - shellRect.width) / 2;
        int y = monitorRect.y + (monitorRect.height - shellRect.height) / 2;
        shell.setLocation(x, y);

9.2. Validate

Start your application and ensure the splash screen is styled according to your settings.

Styled splash screen

10. Exercise: Define a custom CSS selector and CSS property

In this exercise you will implement your custom CSS selector and property for styling the header of a user profile widget. The aim is to apply custom styling to the custom widget, called UserProfileWidget.

You will define a new UserProfileWidget CSS selector and a new header-background-color CSS property. The result may look like that, where the user profile widget is embedded in a Tooltip:

UserProfileWidget sample

10.1. Add dependencies

Add the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core and the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt plug-ins as dependency to your application.

10.2. Adjust custom CSS to your CSS file

Add the following CSS to your CSS file, which is used in your application plug-in.

UserProfileWidget { (1)
   header-background-color: red; (2)
1 Custom CSS selector
2 Custom CSS property

10.3. Create the user profile widget

In order to learn how to implement customizations for CSS we also need a custom widget, which should be styled. So we implement a really simple custom widget, which is a Composite that consists of three other Composites for the header, image and description area. For the following widget you should create a widget package in your plug-in and place the UserProfileWidget class into it.

package com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.widget;

import org.eclipse.jface.layout.GridDataFactory;
import org.eclipse.jface.layout.GridLayoutFactory;
import org.eclipse.jface.resource.ImageDescriptor;
import org.eclipse.jface.resource.JFaceResources;
import org.eclipse.jface.resource.LocalResourceManager;
import org.eclipse.jface.resource.ResourceManager;
import org.eclipse.swt.SWT;
import org.eclipse.swt.layout.GridData;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Composite;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Label;

public class UserProfileWidget extends Composite {
    private ResourceManager resourceManager;

    private String text = "";
    private String headerText = "";
    private ImageDescriptor imageDescriptor;

    private Label imageLabel;
    private Label headerLabel;
    private Label labelText;

    private Composite head;

    public UserProfileWidget(Composite parent, int style) {
        super(parent, style);

        head = new Composite(this, SWT.NONE);
        GridDataFactory.fillDefaults().span(2, 1).grab(true, false).applyTo(head);
        headerLabel = new Label(head, SWT.NONE);
        headerLabel.setLayoutData(new GridData(SWT.BEGINNING, SWT.CENTER, false, false));

        Composite imageComposite = new Composite(this, SWT.NONE);
        imageLabel = new Label(imageComposite, SWT.NONE);
        ImageDescriptor imgDescriptor = getImage();
        if (imgDescriptor != null) {

        Composite textComposite = new Composite(this, SWT.NONE);
        GridDataFactory.fillDefaults().grab(true, true).applyTo(textComposite);
        labelText = new Label(textComposite, SWT.NONE);

    protected ResourceManager getResourceManager() {
        if (null == resourceManager) {
            resourceManager = new LocalResourceManager(JFaceResources.getResources(), this);
        return resourceManager;

    protected String getText() {
        return text;

    public void setText(String text) {
        this.text = text;
        if(labelText != null) {

    protected String getHeaderText() {
        return headerText;

    public void setHeaderText(String headerText) {
        this.headerText = headerText;
        if (headerLabel != null) {

    protected ImageDescriptor getImage() {
        return imageDescriptor;

    public void setImage(ImageDescriptor imageDescriptor) {
        this.imageDescriptor = imageDescriptor;
        if (imageLabel != null) {

    public Color getHeaderColor() {
        return head.getBackground();

    public void setHeaderColor(Color color) {

The most important method for our custom CSS here is the last setHeaderColor() method, which we will use for our header-background-color CSS property. In order to test this widget you can place it on a new part in your application or in a tooltip as it is depicted in the screenshot above. Afterwards you should set a certain header-text, an image and a description-text to the UserProfileWidget.

10.4. Adding the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler extension point

Select the Extensions tab in the editor for the plugin.xml file and add the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler extension point. You create an extension in the Extensions tab by pressing the Add…​ button.

Add button in extension points

Select the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler extension point and press the Finish button.

propertyHandler handler definition

By clicking on the adapter hyperlink of the handler in the plugin.xml a "New Java Class" dialog appears, where you define the CompositeElement as superclass. Call the class itself UserProfileElementAdapter and place it into a css package.

new class dialog user profile element adapter

The UserProfileElementAdapter class should look like this:

package com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.css;

import org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.engine.CSSEngine;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.swt.dom.CompositeElement;

import com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.widget.UserProfileWidget;

public class UserProfileElementAdapter extends CompositeElement {

    public UserProfileElementAdapter(UserProfileWidget composite, CSSEngine engine) {
        super(composite, engine);

In this case we only have a custom composite, which needs to be adapted. The propertyHandler needs a handler, which has to be an implementation of the ICSSPropertyHandler interface. Therefore we need to click on the handler hyperlink in the plugin.xml and the following "New Java Class" dialog appears:

new class dialog user profile css handler

The AbstractCSSPropertySWTHandler is an abstraction of the ICSSPropertyHandler interface for SWT widgets. It handles the cast to a SWT Control, which is then passed to the applyCSSProperty and retrieveCSSProperty methods. In the UserProfileCSSHandler implementation we apply the header-background-color to our UserProfileWidget.

package com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.css;

import org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.engine.CSSEngine;
import org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Control;
import org.w3c.dom.css.CSSValue;

import com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.widget.UserProfileWidget;

public class UserProfileCSSHandler extends AbstractCSSPropertySWTHandler implements ICSSPropertyHandler {

    private static final String HEADER_COLOR = "header-background-color";

    protected void applyCSSProperty(Control control, String property, CSSValue value, String pseudo, CSSEngine engine)
            throws Exception {
        if (control instanceof UserProfileWidget) {
            UserProfileWidget userProfileWidget = (UserProfileWidget) control;
            if (HEADER_COLOR.equalsIgnoreCase(property) && (value.getCssValueType() == CSSValue.CSS_PRIMITIVE_VALUE)) {
                Color newColor = (Color) engine.convert(value, Color.class, control.getDisplay());

    protected String retrieveCSSProperty(Control control, String property, String pseudo, CSSEngine engine)
            throws Exception {
        if (control instanceof UserProfileWidget) {
            UserProfileWidget userProfileWidget = (UserProfileWidget) control;
            if (HEADER_COLOR.equalsIgnoreCase(property)) {
                ICSSValueConverter cssValueConverter = engine.getCSSValueConverter(String.class);
                return cssValueConverter.convert(userProfileWidget.getHeaderColor(), engine, null);
        return null;


At first we check, if the given Control is a UserProfileWidget and cast it. Then we check, if the property, which should be applied, is our header-background-color. In case these checks are valid the CSSEngine can be used to convert the given CSSValue in our case to a Color. Finally we set this color for the header of our custom widget.

If you are using a different UI toolkit than SWT you must only implement the ICSSPropertyHandler interface, rather than the AbstractCSSPropertySWTHandler. This interface passes an java.lang.Object and does not check for a SWT Control .

The last thing we need to do for the propertyHandler extension is to define for which property-name this handler is responsible:

property handler property name

10.5. Adding the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.elementProvider extension point

Now the second and last extension point has to be added:

element provider extension

After adding the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.elementProvider extension point we can add an IElementProvider to it. For this, click on the class hyperlink and give the class the name UserProfileWidgetElementProvider.

element provider provider definition

The widget property you can see in the screenshot above points to the full qualified name of the UserProfileWidget (com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.widget.UserProfileWidget). The widget property may be used several times, so that one IElementProvider implementation can be in charge of several widgets. The UserProfileWidgetElementProvider class we just created by clicking the class hyperlink in the plugin.xml implements the IElementProvider interface and should look like this:

package com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.css;

import org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.dom.IElementProvider;
import org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.engine.CSSEngine;
import org.w3c.dom.Element;

import com.vogella.rcp.css.custom.widget.UserProfileWidget;

public class UserProfileWidgetElementProvider implements IElementProvider {

    public Element getElement(Object element, CSSEngine engine) {
        if(element instanceof UserProfileWidget) {
            return new UserProfileElementAdapter((UserProfileWidget) element, engine);

        return null;


In this IElementProvider implementation we return the UserProfileElementAdapter, which we previously defined, when we attached this adapter to the propertyHandler.

10.6. Validate

Now we can check, if our custom CSS definitions are applied to the UserProfileWidget. Make sure that you have done all the steps and then start your application.

  • The UserProfileWidget has been applied to a Part and a sample header-text, image and description-text has been set for the widget.

  • The CSS snippet has been added to the active CSS file

  • You have configured the org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.propertyHandler and org.eclipse.e4.ui.css.core.elementProvider extension points correctly

11. CSS styling resources