6.13. Layout Formatting

While the formatting of layouts is mainly done with style sheets, just as with other components, style sheets are not ideal or even possible to use in some situations. For example, CSS does not allow defining the spacing of table cells, which is done with the cellspacing attribute in HTML.

Moreover, as many layout sizes are calculated dynamically in the Client-Side Engine of Vaadin, some CSS settings can fail altogether.

6.13.1. Layout Size

The size of a layout component can be specified with the setWidth() and setHeight() methods defined in the Sizeable interface, just like for any component. It can also be undefined, in which case the layout shrinks to fit the component(s) inside it. Section 5.3.9, “Sizing Components” gives details on the interface.

Figure 6.23. HorizontalLayout with Undefined vs Defined size

HorizontalLayout with Undefined vs Defined size

Many layout components take 100% width by default, while they have the height undefined.

The sizes of components inside a layout can also be defined as a percentage of the space available in the layout, for example with setWidth("100%"); or with the (most commonly used method) setFullSize() that sets 100% size in both directions. If you use a percentage in a HorizontalLayout, VerticalLayout, or GridLayout, you will also have to set the component as expanding, as noted below.


A layout that contains components with percentual size must have a defined size!

If a layout has undefined size and a contained component has, say, 100% size, the component will try to fill the space given by the layout, while the layout will shrink to fit the space taken by the component, which is a paradox. This requirement holds for height and width separately. The debug mode allows detecting such invalid cases; see Section 11.3.5, “Inspecting Component Hierarchy”.

For example:

// This takes 100% width but has undefined height.
VerticalLayout layout = new VerticalLayout();

// A button that takes all the space available in the layout.
Button button = new Button("100%x100% button");

// We must set the layout to a defined height vertically, in
// this case 100% of its parent layout, which also must
// not have undefined size.

If you have a layout with undefined height, such as VerticalLayout, in a UI, Window, or Panel, and put enough content in it so that it extends outside the bottom of the view area, scrollbars will appear. If you want your application to use all the browser view, nothing more or less, you should use setFullSize() for the root layout.

// Create the UI content
VerticalLayout content = new VerticalLayout();

// Use entire view area


6.13.2. Expanding Components

If you set a HorizontalLayout to a defined size horizontally or a VerticalLayout vertically, and there is space left over from the contained components, the extra space is distributed equally between the component cells. The components are aligned within these cells, according to their alignment setting, top left by default, as in the example below.

Often, you don't want such empty space, but want one or more components to take all the leftover space. You need to set such a component to 100% size and use setExpandRatio(). If there is just one such expanding component in the layout, the ratio parameter is irrelevant.

If you set multiple components as expanding, the expand ratio dictates how large proportion of the available space (overall or excess depending on whether the components are sized as a percentage or not) each component takes. In the example below, the buttons have 1:2:3 ratio for the expansion.

GridLayout has corresponding method for both of its directions, setRowExpandRatio() and setColumnExpandRatio().

Expansion is dealt in detail in the documentation of the layout components that support it. See Section 6.3, “VerticalLayout and HorizontalLayout and Section 6.4, “GridLayout for details on components with relative sizes.

6.13.3. Layout Cell Alignment

You can set the alignment of the component inside a specific layout cell with the setComponentAlignment() method. The method takes as its parameters the component contained in the cell to be formatted, and the horizontal and vertical alignment.

Figure 6.24, “Cell Alignments” illustrates the alignment of components within a GridLayout.

Figure 6.24. Cell Alignments

Cell Alignments

The easiest way to set alignments is to use the constants defined in the Alignment class. Let us look how the buttons in the top row of the above GridLayout are aligned with constants:

// Create a grid layout
final GridLayout grid = new GridLayout(3, 3);

grid.setWidth(400, Sizeable.UNITS_PIXELS);
grid.setHeight(200, Sizeable.UNITS_PIXELS);

Button topleft = new Button("Top Left");
grid.addComponent(topleft, 0, 0);
grid.setComponentAlignment(topleft, Alignment.TOP_LEFT);

Button topcenter = new Button("Top Center");
grid.addComponent(topcenter, 1, 0);
grid.setComponentAlignment(topcenter, Alignment.TOP_CENTER);

Button topright = new Button("Top Right");
grid.addComponent(topright, 2, 0);
grid.setComponentAlignment(topright, Alignment.TOP_RIGHT);

The following table lists all the Alignment constants by their respective locations:

Table 6.1. Alignment Constants


Another way to specify the alignments is to create an Alignment object and specify the horizontal and vertical alignment with separate constants. You can specify either of the directions, in which case the other alignment direction is not modified, or both with a bitmask operation between the two directions.

Button middleleft = new Button("Middle Left");
grid.addComponent(middleleft, 0, 1);
          new Alignment(Bits.ALIGNMENT_VERTICAL_CENTER | 

Button middlecenter = new Button("Middle Center");
grid.addComponent(middlecenter, 1, 1);
          new Alignment(Bits.ALIGNMENT_VERTICAL_CENTER |

Button middleright = new Button("Middle Right");
grid.addComponent(middleright, 2, 1);
          new Alignment(Bits.ALIGNMENT_VERTICAL_CENTER |

Obviously, you may combine only one vertical bitmask with one horizontal bitmask, though you may leave either one out. The following table lists the available alignment bitmask constants:

Table 6.2. Alignment Bitmasks


You can determine the current alignment of a component with getComponentAlignment(), which returns an Alignment object. The class provides a number of getter methods for decoding the alignment, which you can also get as a bitmask value.

Size of Aligned Components

You can only align a component that is smaller than its containing cell in the direction of alignment. If a component has 100% width, as many components have by default, horizontal alignment does not have any effect. For example, Label is 100% wide by default and can not therefore be horizontally aligned as such. The problem can be hard to notice, as the text inside a Label is left-aligned.

You usually need to set either a fixed size, undefined size, or less than a 100% relative size for the component to be aligned - a size that is smaller than the containing layout has.

For example, assuming that a Label has short content that is less wide than the containing VerticalLayout, you could center it as follows:

VerticalLayout layout = new VerticalLayout(); // 100% default width
Label label = new Label("Hello"); // 100% default width
layout.setComponentAlignment(label, Alignment.MIDDLE_CENTER);

If you set the size as undefined and the component itself contains components, make sure that the contained components also have either undefined or fixed size. For example, if you set the size of a Form as undefined, its containing layout FormLayout has 100% default width, which you also need to set as undefined. But then, any components inside the FormLayout must have either undefined or fixed size.

6.13.4. Layout Cell Spacing

The VerticalLayout, HorizontalLayout, and GridLayout layouts offer a setSpacing() method to enable spacing between the cells of the layout.

For example:

VerticalLayout layout = new VerticalLayout();
layout.addComponent(new Button("Component 1"));
layout.addComponent(new Button("Component 2"));
layout.addComponent(new Button("Component 3"));

The effect of spacing in VerticalLayout and HorizontalLayout is illustrated in Figure 6.25, “Layout Spacings”.

Figure 6.25. Layout Spacings

Layout Spacings

The exact amount of spacing is defined in CSS. If the default is not suitable, you can customize it in a custom theme. Spacing is implemented in a bit different ways in different layouts. In the ordered layouts, it is done with spacer elements, while in the GridLayout it has special handling. Please see the sections on the individual components for more details.

6.13.5. Layout Margins

Most layout components do not have any margin around them by default. The ordered layouts, as well as GridLayout, support enabling a margin with setMargin(). This enables CSS classes for each margin in the HTML element of the layout component. To customize the default margins, you can define each margin with the padding property in CSS.

You may want to have a custom CSS class for the layout component to enable specific customization of the margins, as is done in the following with the mymargins class:

.mymargins.v-margin-left {padding-left: 10px;}
.mymargins.v-margin-right {padding-right: 20px;}
.mymargins.v-margin-top    {padding-top:    40px;}
.mymargins.v-margin-bottom {padding-bottom: 80px;}

You can enable only specific margins by passing a MarginInfo to the setMargin(). The margins are specified in clockwise order for top, right, bottom, and left margin. The following would enable the left and right margins:

layout.setMargin(new MarginInfo(false, true, false, true));

The resulting margins are shown in Figure 6.26, “Layout Margins” below. The two ways produce identical margins.

Figure 6.26. Layout Margins

Layout Margins

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