Introduction to using JavaFX with afterburner.fx

I wanted to try out afterburner.fx, a JavaFX framework which describes itself as:

a minimalistic (3 classes) JavaFX MVP framework based on Convention over Configuration and Dependency Injection.

For this purpose I created a simple note taking application which looks like this when finished:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 19.38.24

First off, the domain class that represents a Note:

public class Note
	private long id;
	private String title;
	private String content;

// Getter and setters ommitted

I also made a NoteService to retrieve the current notes and update an existing note:

public interface NoteService
	SortedSet<Note> getNotes();

	void updateNode( Note note );

I have made an in memory implementation for testing purpose:

public class InMemoryNoteService implements NoteService
	private Map<Long,Note> notes = new HashMap<>();

	public InMemoryNoteService()
		notes.put( 1L, new Note( 1, "note title 1", "some more info on the note" ) );
		notes.put( 2L, new Note( 2, "note title 2", "some more info on the other note" ) );

	public SortedSet<Note> getNotes()
		TreeSet<Note> treeSet = new TreeSet<>( new NoteComparator() );
		treeSet.addAll( notes.values() );
		return treeSet;

	public void updateNode( Note note )
		notes.put( note.getId(), note );


Now, off to the actual JavaFX stuff. We start with creating our FXML code that defines the components in our application:

<SplitPane dividerPositions="0.3" maxHeight="-Infinity" maxWidth="-Infinity" minHeight="-Infinity"
           minWidth="-Infinity" prefHeight="400.0" prefWidth="600.0" xmlns:fx=""
           xmlns="" fx:controller="org.deblauwe.afterburnernote.view.MainPresenter">
        <BorderPane minHeight="0.0" minWidth="100.0" prefHeight="398.0" prefWidth="176.0"
                <ListView fx:id="listView"/>
        <GridPane minHeight="0.0" minWidth="0.0" prefHeight="160.0" prefWidth="100.0" styleClass="defaultBorderSpacing">
                <RowConstraints vgrow="NEVER" valignment="TOP"/>
                <RowConstraints vgrow="ALWAYS" valignment="TOP"/>
                <RowConstraints vgrow="NEVER"/>
                <ColumnConstraints hgrow="NEVER"/>
                <ColumnConstraints hgrow="ALWAYS"/>
            <Label text="Title" GridPane.rowIndex="0" GridPane.columnIndex="0"/>
            <TextField fx:id="titleField" prefWidth="308.0" GridPane.rowIndex="0" GridPane.columnIndex="1"/>
            <Label layoutX="14.0" text="Todo" GridPane.rowIndex="1" GridPane.columnIndex="0"/>
            <TextArea fx:id="contentField" prefWidth="308.0" GridPane.rowIndex="1" GridPane.columnIndex="1"/>
            <Button fx:id="saveButton" text="Save" GridPane.rowIndex="2" GridPane.columnIndex="0" GridPane.columnSpan="2" GridPane.halignment="RIGHT"/>

What is important is the use of the fx:controller attribute which needs to point a controller that defines the behaviour. I named my FXML main.fxml and I followed the convention to name the controller nameofviewPresenter.
Before I show the presenter, you also need a View, which I called MainView. It does not contain any actual code, it just extends from FXMLView (which is a class from the afterburner.fx framework):

public class MainView extends FXMLView

The MainPresenter contains the bulk of the code:

public class MainPresenter implements Initializable
// ------------------------------ FIELDS ------------------------------

	public TextArea contentField;
	public Button saveButton;
	private ListView<Note> listView;

	private TextField titleField;

	private NoteService noteService;

// ------------------------ INTERFACE METHODS ------------------------

// --------------------- Interface Initializable ---------------------

	public void initialize( URL location, ResourceBundle resources )
		listView.setCellFactory( param -> new NoteListCell() );
		listView.setItems( FXCollections.observableArrayList( noteService.getNotes() ) );
		listView.getSelectionModel().selectedItemProperty().addListener( new NoteListViewSelectionChangeListener() );


		saveButton.setOnAction( event -> {
			// Save the updated note with the service
			Note selectedItem = listView.getSelectionModel().getSelectedItem();
			selectedItem.setTitle( titleField.getText() );
			selectedItem.setContent( contentField.getText() );
			noteService.updateNode( selectedItem );

			listView.getItems().set( listView.getSelectionModel().getSelectedIndex(), selectedItem );
			listView.getItems().sort( new NoteComparator() );
		} );

// -------------------------- PRIVATE METHODS --------------------------

	private void selectFirstItemIfPossible()
		if (listView.getItems().size() > 0)
			listView.getSelectionModel().select( 0 );

// -------------------------- INNER CLASSES --------------------------

	private static class NoteListCell extends ListCell<Note>
		protected void updateItem( Note item, boolean empty )
			super.updateItem( item, empty );
			if (item != null)
				setText( item.getTitle() );

	private class NoteListViewSelectionChangeListener implements ChangeListener<Note>
		public void changed( ObservableValue<? extends Note> observable, Note oldValue, Note newValue )
			if( newValue != null )
				titleField.setText( newValue.getTitle() );
				contentField.setText( newValue.getContent() );

Let us break this down a bit. First we can reference any component that is declared in the FXML file by using the @FXML annotation on a private field.

For example:

public Button saveButton;

Note that the name of the field should match with the fx:id in the FXML file for this to work:

<Button fx:id="saveButton" text="Save" GridPane.rowIndex="2" GridPane.columnIndex="0" GridPane.columnSpan="2" GridPane.halignment="RIGHT"/>

@Inject allows to inject arbitrary values or services. Here, I used it to get a reference to the NoteService:

private NoteService noteService;

To have this working, you need to setup the injection in your main class. This is what I have:

public class Main extends Application

	public void start( Stage primaryStage ) throws Exception
		Map<Object, Object> context = new HashMap<>();
		context.put( "noteService", new InMemoryNoteService() );

		Injector.setConfigurationSource( context::get );

		MainView mainView = new MainView();
		Scene scene = new Scene( mainView.getView() );
		primaryStage.setTitle( "AfterburnerNoteFX" );
		primaryStage.setScene( scene );;

The Injector has a static method which needs a Function. So anything that returns an Object, given another Object is ok. A Java 8 method reference to the get method of a Map is probably the easiest.
Notice that the key in the Map has to match with the field name of the @Inject annotation in the controller.

To make it good looking, we add a CSS file which has the same name as the FXML file (So main.css in my example):

.defaultBorderSpacing {
    -fx-border-width: 10;
    -fx-border-color: transparent;

GridPane {
    -fx-hgap: 10;
    -fx-vgap: 10;

This the full file tree for the application:

File Tree AfterburnerNote

This concludes my introduction. Please take a look at the website for some more info and links to other example projects. I really like what afterburner.fx provides. It would be even better if this could be combined with the Spring Framework to have a more feature rich dependency injection, but I can understand that this would totally clash with the minimalistic goal of the framework.


4 thoughts on “Introduction to using JavaFX with afterburner.fx

  1. Pingback: Introduction to using JavaFX with afterburner.fx | Dinesh Ram Kali.

  2. Hey. This is great stuff. Very clear. Except for the fact that NoteComparator is missing. Could you include it please? Secondly, I need some advice on how I could integrate Spring (with SpringBoot), Spring DATA, in this project so that the data is fetched right from a MySQL or Derby.

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