Supporting the Mac OS menubar in JavaFX

Daniel Zwolenski zonski at
Thu Jan 12 12:33:54 PST 2012

This one's not sitting too well with me.

I don't like the idea of menu's jumping out and around magically. I'd
personally rather see a more explicit API on handling 'system menu bars'
and if it requires a little extra coding to get your Mac system bar working
well on a Mac and your Windows one working on windows then that's not
unreasonable in my opinion. I don't feel like there is actually a common
system between the platforms so trying to make a system that just magically
works for all feels dangerous (echoes of the well intentioned but
ultimately disastrous AWT attempts to define a lowest common denominator
native UI toolkit - emphasis on the word 'lowest').

Also, what happens when Mac OS Himalayan Meercat, Windows 9 or Linux
Backroom Coder Edition comes out and they have decided that their system
menu is now a rotating wheel with 3d shapes, sounds, and shooting lazers on

It's not a feature I have used (or probably ever will use) enough to want
to push the issue though, so just some sideline comments.

On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 6:16 AM, Richard Bair <richard.bair at>wrote:

> Hi Steve,
> I know what you mean about wanting to have an API without error modes. In
> this case though I think it is a little restricting. I might for example
> want to provide different stylesheets for different platforms. On one
> platform I have the menu bar at the top in its "usual" place, but on
> another platform I might have the  menu bar on the left or bottom. I might
> want to use CSS to toggle "use native please" vs. on another platform I
> would use CSS to just use emulated. Because setting stage.setMenuBar(node)
> would be a hard-coded call, I wouldn't have this flexibility to style it
> from CSS.
> I think it should be called "useSystemMenuBar" or "useNativeMenuBar" over
> "useGlobalMenuBar" -- just because we might want to allow you to use native
> menus on windows instead of emulated and they would be per-stage rather
> than "global" or application wide.
> Thanks
> Richard
> On Jan 9, 2012, at 12:11 PM, steve.x.northover at wrote:
> > Having the property on MenuBar rather than the API on stage means that
> you can set the property on two menu bars at the same time and FX must
> choose one.  There can't be two native menu bars at the same time on the
> same stage so why have API that allows it?  Having an API in stage means
> that an application can easily query what the current menu bar is or
> whether there is a menu bar rather than performing the same search that FX
> does.
> >
> > I suppose that you could add API in stage later but that would mean two
> sets of API to do the same thing and the question about which one would win
> when they are mixed and matched.
> >
> > Steve
> >
> > On 09/01/2012 2:50 PM, Paru Somashekar wrote:
> >> On 1/9/12 10:45 AM, steve.x.northover at wrote:
> >>> Hello!
> >>>
> >>> I believe there are problems with 1) and 2).  First off, there is no
> way to mix and match.  For example, suppose I want some shells to use the
> global menu bar and others to use a local menu bar.  Further, application
> code may put trimmings around a menu bar and when the menu bar is "hoisted
> up", the window might look strange.
> >> The useGlobalMenuBar property on Menubar would not be a static
> property. So we could mix and match as the property is per MenuBar.
> >>>
> >>> If we are doing 3), I think a better approach would be for the
> application to decide whether it is using native menu bars or not by
> explicitly setting a menu bar on a stage.  It makes sense because on
> platforms like Windows and GTK, there is a one-to-one mapping between stage
> and menu bar so why not make this explicit in the API?  One of the problems
> with having API in Stage is that we don't want a reference to MenuBar.  Why
> don't we define something like Stage.setMenyBarArea() or something like
> that to take a Node or another type instead?
> >> We were thinking that for this release, having a property on MenuBar
> which is set to false by default will ensure backwards and forwards
> compatibility (with minimal code changes for the application developer). If
> we want to change that to an API on Stage for a future release - it could
> be easily done without breaking compatibility.
> >>
> >> thanks,
> >> Paru.
> >>
> >>>
> >>> Steve
> >>>
> >>> On 09/01/2012 1:30 PM, Paru Somashekar wrote:
> >>>> Hello All,
> >>>>
> >>>> The following is the proposal (follow up from previous email by
> Jonathan) from UI Controls team towards an API to support native Mac OS
> menubar.
> >>>>
> >>>> 1) A new property useGlobalMenuBar would be added to MenuBar class
> whose initial value will be set to a default dictated by a property
> settable via CSS ( and set to false by default). Once again, for the first
> cut of this support in this release, this will be the only public API for
> native menubar support.
> >>>>
> >>>> 2) In the case when we have multiple Menubars specified on a stage,
> the first one wins and will be made global, i.e. provided the platform
> supports native integration and useGlobalMenuBar is set to true.
> >>>>
> >>>> 3) As mentioned in a previous email by Jonathan, we will have hooks
> to switch between stages when they become active and swap menu bars. In the
> case when we don’t find a Menubar, it will be nulled out. This is the path
> we are choosing for now and we realize that we can change this later with
> no backward compatibility issues.
> >>>> We are extending the same concept to the scenario where, when the
> last window closes; it will be nulled out as well and hence there is no
> concept of a default menubar.
> >>>>
> >>>> thanks,
> >>>> Paru.
> >>>>
> >>>> On 12/14/11 5:20 PM, Kevin Rushforth wrote:
> >>>>> An API on Stage to set a menu bar has a certain elegance, plus it
> gets around the backward compatibility and inconsistency problems that
> having "native" on by default would create. Unfortunately, as Rich pointed
> out earlier, it creates an unwanted dependency from a modularity point of
> view since Stage will be in the base module and should not depend on
> anything in controls.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> -- Kevin
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>> steve.x.northover at wrote:
> >>>>>> Hello all,
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> How about an API in Stage where you set the menu bar for the stage?
> This is the menu that you wish to be native and the application very is
> clear about this. There can only be one real menu bar on Windows.
> Application code can ask for the menu bar and add items to it. If you have
> a property, application code needs to do the same search that FX does to
> determine if there is an active menu bar.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Here is what I think about focus: On the Mac, when a stage gets
> focus, it sets the native menu bar. When it loses focus, it clears the
> native menu bar. Retaining the menu from the previous stage is unlikely to
> be the right thing to do as an application can have many different stages
> around and only the application can know whether the current menu bar
> applies to a stage.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Steve
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> On 14/12/2011 6:31 PM, Jonathan Giles wrote:
> >>>>>>> Hi All,
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> Here's an update from the UI controls team as to how we see the
> native Mac OS menubar support working. Your thoughts are appreciated.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> After discussing it again today, we think that the approach
> suggested by Richard in an earlier email in this thread makes the best
> sense, in terms of modularity and code cleanliness. I'll explain this
> further shortly...
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> The thinking is to add a new property to
> javafx.scene.control.MenuBar. We haven't settled on a name, but it's
> something along the lines of 'native', 'global', 'globalMenuBar',
> 'screenMenuBar', or 'applicationMenuBar'. Whatever property name we use,
> we'll expand it out to have the usual set*/get*/*property methods. This
> would be the only public API we end up adding for native menubar support.
> For the remainder of this email I refer to this property as 'native'.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> This property will by default be true, indicating that on
> platforms where we support native integration, it'll happen by default.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> On a platform that supports native integration, we'll find the
> 'first' MenuBar in the scene that has the 'native' property set to true. We
> can't guarantee that we'll find necessarily the physically top-most MenuBar
> as that is really a matter of how the scenegraph is laid out. Of course,
> this is only a problem in situations where the scene contains multiple
> MenuBars where 'native' is true in more than one of them, which we hope
> won't often be the case. If a Scene does have multiple MenuBars with
> 'native' set to true, the behaviour is undefined. If the wrong MenuBar is
> made native, you can help provide a hint by setting 'native' to false in
> the relevant place(s).
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> We'll also hook into the Stage and listen to the relevant events,
> such that when a Stage gains focus, we'll switch in any native menubars
> found in the scene of that stage. If no relevant MenuBar is found, then we
> can either retain the MenuBar from the previous stage, or null it out. I'm
> going to assume the former is by far going to win this vote, but feel free
> to surprise me.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> Using this approach, developer code should be cleaner. Your user
> interface should position a MenuBar where it makes sense for your
> application, regardless of the operating system (normally at the very top
> of your scene). On platforms where native integration is supported, the
> JavaFX-rendered MenuBar will not be rendered (although it'll likely remain
> in the scenegraph as a no-op control). If the 'native' property changes,
> we'll flick between the native and JavaFX-rendered MenuBar as expected.
> This approach means there is no operating system dependent code in your
> user interface.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> As I mentioned - we're totally open to discussion on any of these
> points. Any thoughts?
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> -- Jonathan
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> On 10/12/2011 8:56 a.m., Jonathan Giles wrote:
> >>>>>>>> Hi all,
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> One of the things we're planning to support in JavaFX 2.1 is the
> native Mac OS menubar. This email is intended primarily to discuss the API
> one expects to see to set a MenuBar in the native Mac OS menubar area. Your
> feedback is sought and will be very much appreciated.
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> The current thinking is that Application feels like the right
> place to specify a global, application-wide javafx.scene.control.MenuBar
> on. It could be assumed that if a developer were to set this property, and
> the operating system upon which the end-user was running the JavaFX
> application was Mac OS, that the menubar will be displayed using the native
> Mac OS menubar. Of course, if a developer wants a cross-platform look and
> feel, they could just place the MenuBar in the stage as per usual and it
> would display as it currently does. This approach opens up a number of
> questions and issues:
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> 1) What happens in the case of the end-user being on Windows? Is
> the Application.MenuBar ignored, or is it automagically added to the main
> Stage? (I would argue for totally ignoring it....but that leads to the next
> point).
> >>>>>>>> 2) This approach means there needs to be operating specific code
> in the UI to test whether a non-native MenuBar should be added (in the case
> of Windows, for example). This starts to clutter the UI code, and without
> careful consideration by the developer may result in needing to duplicate
> their MenuBar code. Is there a better approach?
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> Another place to specify a MenuBar would be on Stage, rather than
> (or in addition to), Application. Having a MenuBar property on Stage would
> allow for the MenuBar to change based on the currently focused Stage - but
> I'm not certain this is desirable or even the expected behaviour of Mac OS.
> Therefore, I'm thinking that this is not likely to happen unless we hear
> otherwise.
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> Like I said, we're at a very early exploration point in this
> process. The controls team is very keen to hear feedback from the
> community, as well as from the owners of the Application API, and the Mac
> OS experts on this list.
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> Thanks,
> >>>>>>>> -- Jonathan
> >>>>
> >>

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