A declarative wrapper for JavaFX / OpenJFX

clojure, dom, gui, gui-programming, javafx, openjfx



This library provides a functional, declarative wrapper around JavaFX. The goals are to provide a "Virtual DOM" interface over the OOP mutability JavaFX embrances.


While the web has taken over many aspects of GUI programming that normally would have been implemented in JavaFX, it's still important to recognize that a certain amount of complexity is involved in adopting a web based GUI. Programmers must now write in several other languages, setup web servers, and handle network data transfers, when all that was required was a GUI to some backend process. Sometimes a desktop UI really is the simplest option.

However, clojure developers have traditionally shied away from adopting technologies such as Swing and JavaFX for fear of delving into the mess of mutability that is GUI programming.

This is the niche that fn(fx) attempts to fill: providing a functional interface over JavaFX

Basic Overview

fn(fx) requires that users express their ui via data, and calls to a function known as "ui". This function constructs a quasi-immutable datastructure that can easily be diffed against other components. We say "quasi-immutable", since some of the fields on the structure are mutated, but only once, from nil to a known value, never from a value to another value. This tree of components can then be handedled by several functions:

  • (fn-fx.fx-dom/render component event-callback) - This function takes a virtual dom (component tree) and renders it, returning an opaque structure that can be used to later up date the UI with a new virtual dom. event-callback is a function that will be handed events from the UI, more on that later.
  • (fn-fn.fx-dom/update-dom prev-state new-dom) - Given a value returned from a previous call to render or update-dom this function will diff new-dom against the dom used to create prev-state the resulting diff will be used to make minimal changes to the UI where required.

Event handling

Events are data, and are attached to components where EventHandler instances would normally be used. Thus creating a button with the property :on-action {:event :clicked!} would result in a button that sent {:event :clicked!} to the event-callback handed to the initial call to render

User components

The defui macro generates a "user component" that is not a UI component, but a rendering function, and an optional differ function. The render method on this component is only invoked when the properties to the component change. defui is most often used to optimzie re-rendering as whole sections of the UI can be ignored during rendering and diffing if the properties of the component haven't changed since the last render cycle.


(ns getting-started.02-form
  (:require [fn-fx.fx-dom :as dom]
            [fn-fx.diff :refer [component defui render should-update?]]
            [fn-fx.render :refer [ui]]))

(defn firebrick []
  (ui :color :red 0.69 :green 0.13 :blue 0.13))

;; The main login window component, notice the authed? parameter, this defines a function
;; we can use to construct these ui components, named "login-form"
(defui LoginWindow
  (render [this {:keys [authed?]}]
    (ui :grid-pane
      :alignment :center
      :hgap 10
      :vgap 10
      :columns 2
      :rows 6
      :padding (ui :insets
                 :bottom 25
                 :left 25
                 :right 25
                 :top 25)
      :children [(ui :text
                   :text "Welcome"
                   :font (ui :font
                           :family "Tahoma"
                           :weight :normal
                           :size 20)
                   :grid-pane/column-index 0
                   :grid-pane/row-index 0
                   :grid-pane/column-span 2
                   :grid-pane/row-span 1)

                 (ui :label
                   :text "User:"
                   :grid-pane/column-index 0
                   :grid-pane/row-index 1)

                 (ui :text-field
                   :grid-pane/column-index 1
                   :grid-pane/row-index 1)

                 (ui :label :text "Password:"
                   :grid-pane/column-index 0
                   :grid-pane/row-index 2)

                 (ui :password-field
                   :grid-pane/column-index 1
                   :grid-pane/row-index 2)

                 (ui :h-box
                   :spacing 10
                   :alignment :bottom-right
                   :children [(ui :button :text "Sign in"
                                :on-action {:event :auth})]
                   :grid-pane/column-index 1
                   :grid-pane/row-index 4)

                 (ui :text
                   :text (if authed? "Sign in was pressed" "")
                   :fill (firebrick)
                   :grid-pane/column-index 1
                   :grid-pane/row-index 6)])))

;; Wrap our login form in a stage/scene, and create a "stage" function
(defui Stage
  (render [this args]
    (ui :stage
      :title "JavaFX Welcome"
      :shown true
      :scene (ui :scene
               :root (login-window args)))))

(defn -main []
  (let [;; Data State holds the business logic of our app
        data-state (atom {:authed? false})

        ;; handler-fn handles events from the ui and updates the data state
        handler-fn (fn [{:keys [event]}]
                     (println "UI Event" event)
                     (case event
                       :auth (swap! data-state assoc :authed? true)
                       (println "Unknown UI event" event)))

        ;; ui-state holds the most recent state of the ui
        ui-state (agent (dom/app (stage @data-state) handler-fn))]

    ;; Every time the data-state changes, queue up an update of the UI
    (add-watch data-state :ui (fn [_ _ _ _]
                                (send ui-state
                                  (fn [old-ui]
                                    (dom/update-app old-ui (stage @data-state))))))))


Copyright (c) 2016 Timothy Baldridge. All rights reserved. The use and distribution terms for this software are covered by the Eclipse Public License 1.0 (http://opensource.org/licenses/eclipse-1.0.php) which can be found in the file epl-v10.html at the root of this distribution. By using this software in any fashion, you are agreeing to be bound by the terms of this license. You must not remove this notice, or any other, from this software.