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Working With Multiple Document Interfaces
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Working With Multiple Document Interfaces

A multiple document interface ( MDI) application provides a way to manage multiple windows that are confined inside a main window called a backing window (previously called a "desktop pane"). To support MDI designers, the JFC provides the internal window and internal utility window.

Backing Windows

In an MDI application, a large window, called the backing window, contains other windows. The menus and toolbars for the application are usually displayed in the backing window rather than in each internal (primary) window. For more on menus and toolbars, see Chapter 9.

  The JDesktopPane component is used to implement backing windows.

Internal Windows

Primary windows in MDI applications must stay inside the main backing window and so are called "internal windows." The main backing window is a native platform window with the native look and feel. However, in an MDI that uses the Java look and feel, internal windows have window borders, title bars, and standard window controls with the Java look and feel.

The following figure shows examples of internal windows for an MDI application.

Figure 102   Internal Windows in an MDI Application


Internal Windows

Users can use the mouse to:

  • Activate a window (and deactivate the previously activated window) by clicking anywhere in the window
  • Adjust the size of a resizable internal window by dragging from any side or corner
  • Drag the internal window (by the title bar) within the backing window
  • Minimize, maximize, restore, and close the internal window by clicking the appropriate window controls

For keyboard operations appropriate to internal windows, see Table 14.

A minimized internal window is a horizontally oriented component (shown in the following figure) that represents an internal window that has been minimized. The width of these minimized internal windows is sized to accommodate the window title. Minimized internal windows consist of a drag area followed by an area containing an application-specific icon and the text of the window title.

Figure 103   Minimized Internal Window


Minimized Internal Window

Users can rearrange minimized internal windows by dragging the textured area. Users can click the icon and text area in a minimized internal window to restore the window to its previous location and size.

For details on the keyboard operations appropriate for minimized internal windows, see Table 14.

Secondary Windows

In MDI applications, secondary windows have the same appearance and behavior as they do in non-MDI applications. Unlike internal windows, secondary windows can move outside the backing window.

  If you are working with an MDI application using the Java look and feel, the JDialog component can be used to create secondary windows.

Internal Utility Windows

An internal utility window (previously called a "palette window") is a type of internal window that floats above other internal windows within the backing window for an MDI application.

The following figure shows an internal utility window from a hypothetical graphical interface builder. A set of buttons enables users to construct menus.

Figure 104   Internal Utility Window


Internal Utility Window

Internal utility windows can contain any component. Users can close internal windows, but they cannot resize, minimize, or maximize them. The title bars of internal utility windows cannot contain text.

For keyboard operations for internal utility windows, see Table 14.

  Provide a close control on all internal utility windows.

  An internal utility window is a specific style of JInternalFrame and, therefore, can be used only within a backing window. Use the client properties mechanism to set the JInternalFrame.isPalette to true.

Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines, second edition.
Copyright 2001. Sun Microsystems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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