Structuring CSS Stylesheets

David Grieve david.grieve at
Mon Aug 15 15:54:00 UTC 2016

On 8/15/16 10:52 AM, Daniel Glöckner wrote:
>>> We found the culprits by patching the JRE, adding some statistics to
>>> SimpleSelector and CompoundSelector. I was wondering whether there are
>>> easier ways but anyway, it works ;)
>> This sounds like some code that would be good to share with the community. :)
> [DG] Sure thing. It's not too complicated and doesn't use external libs. Any hint where I could post it / paste it?
See for how to 
> need them, for example our UI component factory would add table.css to a
> TableView's list of stylesheets (tv. getStylesheets().add("/path/to/table.css").
> The global theme.css would be minimal and only define colors and fonts.
>>> What do you think about this approach? Will this work nicely with caching of
>> CSS styles in JavaFX?
>> I think if you are going to go this route, you might want to use
>> Region#getUserAgentStylesheets() which adds the styles as user-agent styles.
>> But I don't think it will buy you much in terms of CSS performance.
> [DG] We also want to control / override the CSS of standard JavaFX controls like TreeTableView. Ideally we don't need to sub class them so we would need to use parent. getStylesheets().add(), right?
I doubt that getUserAgentStylesheets() or getStylesheets() is going to 
have much impact. My guess is that having the stylesheets added to the 
scene is going to be your best bet. I say this because the code that 
does the style matching has to combine styles together from 
Region#getUserAgentStylesheets() and Parent#getStylesheets(), whereas 
the styles from scene stylesheets are already combined. You have to 
think of these different sources of styles as sets of styles. When you 
have Region or Parent stylesheets, you have to create a union of those 
styles with the default user-agent stylesheets (e.g., caspian.css). With 
just scene stylesheets, you have just one set (this isn't 100% accurate, 
but close enough for this discussion).

>> If you the biggest bang for your buck relative to JavaFX CSS performance, avoid
>> style lookup and relative font sizes.
> [DG] Could you explain what you mean by "avoid style lookups"?
You know about styles like '-fx-base' used in caspian.css. You change 
the color for -fx-base and the basic colors of the UI change. This magic 
happens at runtime. So if I have a label in a cell in a table, and it 
has a style "-fx-border-color: -fx-base", JavaFX will - at runtime - try 
to resolve -fx-base into an actual color. It starts at the leaf and 
looks tries to resolve -fx-base. If it can't resolve it, it looks for a 
style in the parent node, and so on up the parent-chain all the way to 
the root node. The worst case scenario, then, is that there are no 
styles that resolve the value until you get to .root.

This is what I mean by 'style lookups'.

Its great stuff (the brainchild of Jasper Potts) because I can change 
the look of my UI just by setting '-fx-base'. But if I were developing a 
UI and I didn't care to let the users of my UI make such changes, I'd go 
through and remove all the lookups in caspian.css (not trivial because 
there are many many lookups - not just -fx-base). Or use a pre-processor 
such as SASS or LESS.

The same sort of lookup happens when you have an em (or other relative 
size) because you need a font or a font-size to complete the 
calculation. In most cases, the lookup for a font or font-size goes all 
the way to .root, where it fails and falls back on Font.getDefault(). 
But its a trade off since em sizes let your UI more easily scale to 
different displays.

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