6.12. CssLayout

CssLayout allows strong control over styling of the components contained inside the layout. The components are contained in a simple DOM structure consisting of <div> elements. By default, the contained components are laid out horizontally and wrap naturally when they reach the width of the layout, but you can control this and most other behaviour with CSS. You can also inject custom CSS for each contained component. As CssLayout has a very simple DOM structure and no dynamic rendering logic, relying purely on the built-in rendering logic of the browsers, it is the fastest of the layout components.

The basic use of CssLayout is just like with any other layout component:

CssLayout layout = new CssLayout();
// Component with a layout-managed caption and icon
TextField tf = new TextField("A TextField");
tf.setIcon(new ThemeResource("icons/user.png"));

// Labels are 100% wide by default so must unset width
Label label = new Label("A Label");
label.setWidth(Sizeable.SIZE_UNDEFINED, 0);
layout.addComponent(new Button("A Button"));

The result is shown in Figure 6.20, “Basic Use of CssLayout. Notice that the default spacing and alignment of the layout is quite crude and CSS styling is nearly always needed.

Figure 6.20. Basic Use of CssLayout

Basic Use of CssLayout

The display attribute of CssLayout is inline-block by default, so the components are laid out horizontally following another. CssLayout has 100% width by default. If the components reach the width of the layout, they are wrapped to the next "line" just as text would be. If you add a component with 100% width, it will take an entire line by wrapping before and after the component.

6.12.1. CSS Injection

Overriding the getCss() method allows injecting custom CSS for each component. The CSS returned by the method is inserted in the style attribute of the <div> element of the component, so it will override any style definitions made in CSS files.

CssLayout layout = new CssLayout() {
    protected String getCss(Component c) {
        if (c instanceof Label) {
            // Color the boxes with random colors
            int rgb = (int) (Math.random()*(1<<24));
            return "background: #" + Integer.toHexString(rgb);
        return null;
layout.setWidth("400px"); // Causes to wrap the contents

// Add boxes of various sizes
for (int i=0; i<40; i++) {
    Label box = new Label("&nbsp;", Label.CONTENT_XHTML);
    box.setWidth((float) Math.random()*50,
    box.setHeight((float) Math.random()*50,

The style name added to the components allows making common styling in a CSS file:

.v-label-flowbox {
border: thin black solid;

Figure 6.21, “Use of getCss() and line wrap” shows the rendered result.

Figure 6.21. Use of getCss() and line wrap

Use of getCss() and line wrap

6.12.2. Browser Compatibility

The stregth of the CssLayout is also its weakness. Much of the logic behind the other layout components is there to give nice default behaviour and to handle the differences in different browsers. Some browsers, no need to say which, are notoriously incompatible with the CSS standards, so they require a lot of custom CSS. You may need to make use of the browser-specific style classes in the root element of the application. Some features in the other layouts are not even solvable in pure CSS, at least in all browsers.

Styling with CSS

.v-csslayout {}
.v-csslayout-margin {}
.v-csslayout-container {}

The CssLayout component has v-csslayout root style. The margin element with v-csslayout-margin style is always enabled. The components are contained in an element with v-csslayout-container style.

For example, we could style the basic CssLayout example shown earlier as follows:

/* Have the caption right of the text box, bottom-aligned */
.csslayoutexample .mylayout .v-csslayout-container {
    direction: rtl;
    line-height: 24px;
    vertical-align: bottom;

/* Have some space before and after the caption */
.csslayoutexample .mylayout .v-csslayout-container .v-caption {
    padding-left:  3px;
    padding-right: 10px;

The example would now be rendered as shown in Figure 6.22, “Styling CssLayout.

Figure 6.22. Styling CssLayout

Styling CssLayout

Captions and icons that are managed by the layout are contained in an element with v-caption style. These caption elements are contained flat at the same level as the actual component elements. This may cause problems with wrapping in inline-block mode, as wrapping can occur between the caption and its corresponding component element just as well as between components. Such use case is therefore not feasible.

I. Introduction
1. Introduction
1.1. Overview
1.2. Example Application Walkthrough
1.3. Support for the Eclipse IDE
1.4. Goals and Philosophy
1.5. Background
2. Getting Started with Vaadin
2.1. Overview
2.2. Setting up the Development Environment
2.3. Overview of Vaadin Libraries
2.4. Installing Vaadin Plugin for Eclipse
2.5. Creating and Running a Project with Eclipse
2.6. Using Vaadin with Maven
2.7. Creating a Project with NetBeans IDE
2.8. Creating a Project with IntelliJ IDEA
2.9. Vaadin Installation Package
2.10. Using Vaadin with Scala
3. Architecture
3.1. Overview
3.2. Technological Background
3.3. Client-Side Engine
3.4. Events and Listeners
II. Server-Side Framework
4. Writing a Server-Side Web Application
4.1. Overview
4.2. Building the UI
4.3. Handling Events with Listeners
4.4. Images and Other Resources
4.5. Handling Errors
4.6. Notifications
4.7. Application Lifecycle
4.8. Deploying an Application
5. User Interface Components
5.1. Overview
5.2. Interfaces and Abstractions
5.3. Common Component Features
5.4. Field Components
5.5. Component Extensions
5.6. Label
5.7. Link
5.8. TextField
5.9. TextArea
5.10. PasswordField
5.11. RichTextArea
5.12. Date and Time Input with DateField
5.13. Button
5.14. CheckBox
5.15. Selecting Items
5.16. Table
5.17. Tree
5.18. MenuBar
5.19. Embedded Resources
5.20. Upload
5.21. ProgressBar
5.22. Slider
5.23. Calendar
5.24. Component Composition with CustomComponent
5.25. Composite Fields with CustomField
6. Managing Layout
6.1. Overview
6.2. UI, Window, and Panel Content
6.3. VerticalLayout and HorizontalLayout
6.4. GridLayout
6.5. FormLayout
6.6. Panel
6.7. Sub-Windows
6.8. HorizontalSplitPanel and VerticalSplitPanel
6.9. TabSheet
6.10. Accordion
6.11. AbsoluteLayout
6.12. CssLayout
6.13. Layout Formatting
6.14. Custom Layouts
7. Visual User Interface Design with Eclipse
7.1. Overview
7.2. Creating a New Composite
7.3. Using The Visual Editor
7.4. Structure of a Visually Editable Component
8. Themes
8.1. Overview
8.2. Introduction to Cascading Style Sheets
8.3. Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets (Sass)
8.4. Creating and Using Themes
8.5. Creating a Theme in Eclipse
8.6. Responsive Themes
9. Binding Components to Data
9.1. Overview
9.2. Properties
9.3. Holding properties in Items
9.4. Creating Forms by Binding Fields to Items
9.5. Collecting Items in Containers
10. Vaadin SQLContainer
10.1. Architecture
10.2. Getting Started with SQLContainer
10.3. Filtering and Sorting
10.4. Editing
10.5. Caching, Paging and Refreshing
10.6. Referencing Another SQLContainer
10.7. Using FreeformQuery and FreeformStatementDelegate
10.8. Non-implemented methods of Vaadin container interfaces
10.9. Known Issues and Limitations
11. Advanced Web Application Topics
11.1. Handling Browser Windows
11.2. Embedding UIs in Web Pages
11.3. Debug Mode and Window
11.4. Request Handlers
11.5. Shortcut Keys
11.6. Printing
11.7. Google App Engine Integration
11.8. Common Security Issues
11.9. Navigating in an Application
11.10. Advanced Application Architectures
11.11. Managing URI Fragments
11.12. Drag and Drop
11.13. Logging
11.14. JavaScript Interaction
11.15. Accessing Session-Global Data
11.16. Server Push
12. Portal Integration
12.1. Overview
12.2. Creating a Portlet Project in Eclipse
12.3. Portlet UI
12.4. Deploying to a Portal
12.5. Installing Vaadin in Liferay
12.6. Handling Portlet Requests
12.7. Handling Portlet Mode Changes
12.8. Non-Vaadin Portlet Modes
12.9. Vaadin IPC for Liferay
III. Client-Side Framework
13. Client-Side Vaadin Development
13.1. Overview
13.2. Installing the Client-Side Development Environment
13.3. Client-Side Module Descriptor
13.4. Compiling a Client-Side Module
13.5. Creating a Custom Widget
13.6. Debugging Client-Side Code
14. Client-Side Applications
14.1. Overview
14.2. Client-Side Module Entry-Point
14.3. Compiling and Running a Client-Side Application
14.4. Loading a Client-Side Application
15. Client-Side Widgets
15.1. Overview
15.2. GWT Widgets
15.3. Vaadin Widgets
16. Integrating with the Server-Side
16.1. Overview
16.2. Starting It Simple With Eclipse
16.3. Creating a Server-Side Component
16.4. Integrating the Two Sides with a Connector
16.5. Shared State
16.6. RPC Calls Between Client- and Server-Side
16.7. Component and UI Extensions
16.8. Styling a Widget
16.9. Component Containers
16.10. Creating Add-ons
16.11. Migrating from Vaadin 6
16.12. Integrating JavaScript Components and Extensions
IV. Vaadin Add-ons
17. Using Vaadin Add-ons
17.1. Overview
17.2. Downloading Add-ons from Vaadin Directory
17.3. Installing Add-ons in Eclipse with Ivy
17.4. Using Add-ons in a Maven Project
17.5. Troubleshooting
18. Vaadin Charts
18.1. Overview
18.2. Installing Vaadin Charts
18.3. Basic Use
18.4. Chart Types
18.5. Chart Configuration
18.6. Chart Data
18.7. Advanced Uses
18.8. Timeline
19. Vaadin JPAContainer
19.1. Overview
19.2. Installing
19.3. Defining a Domain Model
19.4. Basic Use of JPAContainer
19.5. Entity Providers
19.6. Filtering JPAContainer
19.7. Querying with the Criteria API
19.8. Automatic Form Generation
19.9. Using JPAContainer with Hibernate
20. Mobile Applications with TouchKit
20.1. Overview
20.2. Considerations Regarding Mobile Browsing
20.3. Installing Vaadin TouchKit
20.4. Importing the Vornitologist Demo
20.5. Creating a New TouchKit Project
20.6. Elements of a TouchKit Application
20.7. Mobile User Interface Components
20.8. Advanced Mobile Features
20.9. Offline Mode
20.10. Building an Optimized Widget Set
20.11. Testing and Debugging on Mobile Devices
21. Vaadin TestBench
21.1. Overview
21.2. Installing Vaadin TestBench
21.3. Preparing an Application for Testing
21.4. Using Vaadin TestBench Recorder
21.5. Developing JUnit Tests
21.6. Taking and Comparing Screenshots
21.7. Running Tests in a Distributed Environment
21.8. Headless Testing
21.9. Known Issues
A. Songs of Vaadin