All View subclasses in xibless have x, y, width and height properties. Technically, you could place all your views by manually setting all those properties, but that would become a pain pretty fast. xibless has methods to help place your widgets.
The first thing to know about the current layout helpers is that they’re not set into stone and are likely going to change. I eventually want to support the layout feature introduced in OS X 10.7 and that is probably going to require big changes in the layout methods.
The second thing to keep in mind before doing layouts is that your widgets are expected to have their size set before you start the layout process. If you put a button next to a text field and then make the text field grow, there’s no mechanism (yet) that will correctly detect that and make the button follow (except if you use View.fill())
A third thing to know is that xibless tries to mimic margins in Interface Builder. So when we send a widget in a corner, we take the margin into account. You can override those margins by specifying a margin argument in the layout methods.
The way layouts work in xibless is by “packing”. You start with an empty superview, add some widgets to it and start doing the layout by sending one of your widgets in one of the corners, usually the upper left corner. Then, you take another widget and send it next or below the widget you’ve just placed, and so on, until you’ve packed all your widgets.
The first part of the process, sending a widget to a corner of its superview, is done with View.move(). You call it by giving it a corner as an argument. For example:
sends button to the upper left corner of its superview.
The second part, packing widgets relative to each other, is done through View.moveNextTo(). This method takes an other argument, which is the widget to place our target next to, side which is the side of other at which to place our target, and then align, which is the side to align to if your target widget is smaller than other. For example:
button.moveNextTo(textfield, side=Pack.Below, align=Pack.Right)
will place button below textfield. If the button’s width is smaller than the textfield’s, the button upper right corner of the button will be aligned with the textfield’s lower right corner. If align was set to Pack.Left, the button’s upper left corner would have been aligned with the textfield’s lower left corner.
Now, there’s also View.fill(). This tells a widget to adjust its width or height so that it takes all available space in a direction. For example:
increases textfield’s width until it reaches the superview’s bounds. The cool thing about fill is that if you used moveNextTo to put another widget next to it, it will consider that widget in the filling calculations. So, for example, if you put a button at the right of that textfield and then call fill, the amount by which the textfield grows will be reduced by the width (and margin) of the button. The button will even be moved to the right accordingly.
Finally, there’s View.setAnchor() that sets the “resizing mask” property (you know, the little red bars around and inside a square we toggle in Interface Builder to determine what side the widget will follow when its superview is resized). This property works like the one in Interface Builder because... it’s the same! For example, if you want your textfield to grow horizontally and be anchored to the upper left corner, you call:
Calling layout methods can be overly complex and cumbersome, especially for layouts that are supposed to be simple, such as a row of buttons aligned vertically. For this purpose, Layouts were created. They don’t offer any new layout functionality other than than the ones presented above, but they can save quite a few calls to them.
Let’s go with an example. Imagine that we want a window with a table using most of the space, except for a few action buttons at the bottom, some of the left side, some of the right side. We want, of course, all anchors to be correctly set so that the window can be resized and see its views follow accordingly. Here’s what we’d have to do without layout items:
window = Window(500, 300, "MyWindow") table = TableView(window) button1 = Button(window, "Button 1") button2 = Button(window, "Button 2") button3 = Button(window, "Button 3") button1.moveTo(Pack.LowerLeft) button2.moveNextTo(button1, Pack.Right) button3.moveTo(Pack.LowerRight) table.moveNextTo(button1, Pack.Above) table.fill(Pack.UpperRight) button1.setAnchor(Pack.LowerLeft) button2.setAnchor(Pack.LowerLeft) button3.setAnchor(Pack.LowerRight) table.setAnchor(Pack.UpperLeft, growX=True, growY=True)
With HLayout, we can create the same layout and save ourselves a bunch of calls:
window = Window(500, 300, "MyWindow") table = TableView(window) button1 = Button(window, "Button 1") button2 = Button(window, "Button 2") button3 = Button(window, "Button 3") buttonLayout = HLayout([button1, button2, None, button3]) buttonLayout.moveTo(Pack.LowerLeft) buttonLayout.fill(Pack.Right) buttonLayout.setAchor(Pack.Below) table.moveNextTo(buttonLayout, Pack.Above) table.fill(Pack.UpperRight) table.setAnchor(Pack.UpperLeft, growX=True, growY=True)