Controller

The general idea of controllers is connecting a view component to a set of data stored in a model. The kind of controller you need depends on the view component. Currently there are four types of controller available:

  • Object Controller
  • List Controller
  • Tree Controller
  • Form Controller

You may miss the table controller. The currently available table will not be changed and therefore will not implement data binding features. The new virtual table, which is currently under development, will be considered for data binding.

In the following section, the selection will be discussed because it's a common feature of the list and tree controller. The delegation mechanism is another common feature of those two controllers and will also be described. After that, each of the available controllers will be discussed in detail.

Selection

Usually the selection of view components like the tree or the list handle their selection with tree folder or list items. As a user of data binding, you don't want to convert the view widgets to the model widgets. Therefore, the controller does that mapping for you. There is a selection array available on the controller containing the currently selected model items. When using the selection of the controller, there is no need to deal with view widgets like list items. It is possible to change the array in place and add / remove something from the selection. As it is a data array, you can use all methods defined by that array to manipulate the selection of the corresponding controller.

Here are some samples showing how to manipulate the selection:

// select 'modelItem'
controller.getSelection().setItem(0, modelItem);
// empty the selection
controller.getSelection().removeAll();
// add 'modelItem' to the selected items
controller.getSelection().push(modelItem);

If you want to be notified on selection changes, you can again benefit from the data array, which offers a change event as soon as the content changes.

controller.getSelection().addListener("change", function(e) {});

This adds a listener to the change event of the selection array. The controller also offer a changeSelection event which is not, like you might expect, an event fired as soon as any selected item changes. It is the change event for the selection property which holds the selection array.

For more details about the data array, check out the models page.

Delegate

The list and tree controller are responsible for creating and binding the child widgets of the views. But what if you want to use something different in the list or bind not just the label and the icon. For that purpose, the delegation offers the possibility to enhance the controller code without having to subclass it.

In total, there are three methods which relate to the topic of creating and binding the child view widgets.

configureItem

The configureItem function is the function which you can use if you just want to modify the created default widgets. This gives you the opportunity to set the labels to rich for example or modify anything else in the child widget. But this is not the place where you want to change / add the binding behavior.

bindItem

That place is the bindItem method. But you don't want to use the single value binding all on your own and bind the stuff. Therefore, the controller offers you a method called bindProperty, which takes the source path to the data, the target property name and the options for the single value binding. The other two parameters will just mapped through. But keep in mind that if you use this function, the default binding of the label and the icon is gone and the properties used for those bindings do not work anymore. If you still want to have the default binding, use the bindDefaultProperties method and pass the two given parameters through. But keep in mind that the bindings set up with these two methods are unidirectional, from the model to the view. If you want to have b binding from the view to the model, use the bindPropertyReverse which takes the same arguments as the bindProperty method.

createItem

The last method named createItem gives the user the chance to add something different as child widgets to the view. In that method you just create the widget you want to see in the view and return the new item. But keep in mind that the default bindings may not work on those widgets and the code will fail. So it is always a good idea to also define its own bindings with the bindItem method.

The following code shows how such a delegate could look like.

var delegate = {
  configureItem : function(item) {
    item.setPadding(3);
  },
  createItem : function() {
    return new qx.ui.form.CheckBox();
  },
  bindItem : function(controller, item, id) {
    controller.bindProperty("name", "label", null, item, id);
    controller.bindProperty("online", "checked", null, item, id);
  }
};

The delegate defines that CheckBox'es should be used as child view items. As the CheckBox'es don't have an icon, the bindItem function needs to re-specify the bindings. It binds the name and the online property of the model to the label and checked property of the CheckBox.

Object Controller

The most simple and lightweight controller is the object controller. It connects a model object with one or more views. The data in the model can be anything a property can hold, i.e. a primitive data type like String or Number, or a reference type like a map. With that you can for instance bind views like textfields, sliders and other widgets visualizing primitive JavaScript types. But you can not only use views as targets. A target can be anything that has a property with the proper type. Take a look at the following code example to see the object controller in action:

// create two sliders
var slider1 = new qx.ui.form.Slider();
var slider2 = new qx.ui.form.Slider();
// create a controller and use the first slider as a model
var controller = new qx.data.controller.Object(slider1);
// add the second slider as a target
controller.addTarget(slider2, "value", "value");

This code snippet ensures that every value set by slider1 will automatically be set as value of slider two. As you can see, the object controller only wraps the fundamental single-value binding, trying to make its usage a little bit easier.

List Controller

A list controller could - as the name suggests - be used for list-like widgets. The supported list-like widgets in qooxdoo are List, SelectBox and ComboBox, all in the qx.ui.form package. The controller expects a data array as a data model, that contains the model objects. These objects are displayed in the list and can either have some primitive type or be real qooxdoo objects. The following code snippet shows how to bind an array of strings to a list widget:

// create the model
var model = new qx.data.Array(["a", "b", "c", "d", "e"]);
// create a list widget
var list = new qx.ui.form.List();
// create the controller
var listController = new qx.data.controller.List(model, list);

Now every change in the model array will invoke a change in the list widget.

As a unique feature of the list controller a filtering method is included. You can assign a filter function to the controller and the results will be filtered using your given function.

Tree Controller

Of course, also the tree does have its own controller. With that controller the Tree widget can automatically be filled with data from qooxdoo objects containing the data. As model nodes for the tree, only qooxdoo objects are allowed containing at least two properties, one for holding its own children in a data array and a second one holding the name of the node which should be showed as the label of the tree folder widgets. Imagine that a model class called Node (inheriting from qx.core.Object) is available containing the two already mentioned properties called ch for the children and n for the name. The following code will bind a data model containing Node objects to a tree widget:

// create the model
var rootNode = new Node();
rootNode.setN("root");
var childNode = new Node();
childNode.setN("child");
rootNode.getCh().push(childNode);
// create the tree view
var tree = new qx.ui.tree.Tree();
// create the controller
var treeController = new qx.data.controller.Tree(rootNode, tree, "ch", "n");

After that code snippet, every change in the name or of the children will be automatically mapped into the tree view. Selecting one of the tree folders will put the corresponding Node object into the selection array of the controller.

Form Controller

Also forms do have a special controller. The form controller uses a qx.ui.form.Form as target and a Object controller for the bidirectional bindings. The usage equals to the usage of all other controllers. The main properties of it are the model and target property. Given both, the controller connects the model and the target. An additional feature of the form controller is the possibility to create the model for a given form. See the following code to get an idea of using it.

// a form is available as 'form'
// create the controller
var formController = new qx.data.controller.Form(null, form);
// create the model
var model = formController.createModel();

If you nee additional information on forms, see form handling documentation. After executing this code, the controller and the model variable do have the model available and therefore, the controller can set up the bindings.

Combining Controller

As a more advanced example we connect the selection of a tree to a list. Therefore we extend the code sample of the tree controller section.

// create a list widget
var list = new qx.ui.form.List();
// create the controller
var listController = new qx.data.controller.List(null, list, "n");
// bind the selection of the tree to the list
treeController.bind("selection", listController, "model");

The example shows how the controller can work pretty well together with the single value binding. The trick is not to set the model of the list controller at creation time. The model will be set by the single value binding from the tree controllers selection. This works because the selection will be provided as data array.