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Christopher Richardson
Christopher Richardson


Microsoft provides programming examples for illustration only, without warranty either expressed or implied. This includes, but is not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. This article assumes that you are familiar with the programming language that is being demonstrated and with the tools that are used to create and to debug procedures. Microsoft support engineers can help explain the functionality of a particular procedure, but they will not modify these examples to provide added functionality or construct procedures to meet your specific requirements. To update text boxes with selections made in a multi-column combo box, use the following steps:

Download ACCESS COMBO txt

A JComboBox, which lets the user choose one of several choices, can have two very different forms. The default form is the uneditable combo box, which features a button and a drop-down list of values. The second form, called the editable combo box, features a text field with a small button abutting it. The user can type a value in the text field or click the button to display a drop-down list. Here's what the two forms of combo boxes look like in the Java look and feel:

Combo boxes require little screen space, and their editable (text field) form is useful for letting the user quickly choose a value without limiting the user to the displayed values. Other components that can display one-of-many choices are groups of radio buttons and lists. Groups of radio buttons are generally the easiest for users to understand, but combo boxes can be more appropriate when space is limited or more than a few choices are available. Lists are not terribly attractive, but they're more appropriate than combo boxes when the number of items is large (say, over 20) or when selecting multiple items might be valid.

This combo box contains an array of strings, but you could just as easily use icons instead. To put anything else into a combo box or to customize how the items in a combo box look, you need to write a custom renderer. An editable combo box would also need a custom editor. Refer to Providing a Custom Renderer for information and an example.

The preceding code registers an action listener on the combo box. To see the action listener implementation and learn about other types of listeners supported by combo box, refer to Handling Events on a Combo Box.

No matter which constructor you use, a combo box uses a combo box model to contain and manage the items in its menu. When you initialize a combo box with an array or a vector, the combo box creates a default model object for you. As with other Swing components, you can customize a combo box in part by implementing a custom model — an object that implements the ComboBoxModel interface.

Be careful when implementing a custom model for a combo box. The JComboBox methods that change the items in the combo box's menu, such as insertItemAt, work only if the data model implements the MutableComboBoxModel interface (a subinterface of ComboBoxModel). Refer to the API tables to see which methods are affected.

Something else to watch out for — even for uneditable combo boxes — is ensuring that your custom model fires list data events when the combo box's data or state changes. Even immutable combo box models, whose data never changes, must fire a list data event (a CONTENTS_CHANGED event) when the selection changes. One way to get the list data event firing code for free is to make your combo box model a subclass of AbstractListModel.

This action listener gets the newly selected item from the combo box, uses it to compute the name of an image file, and updates a label to display the image. The combo box fires an action event when the user selects an item from the combo box's menu. See How to Write an Action Listener, for general information about implementing action listeners.

Combo boxes also generate item events, which are fired when any of the items' selection state changes. Only one item at a time can be selected in a combo box, so when the user makes a new selection the previously selected item becomes unselected. Thus two item events are fired each time the user selects a different item from the menu. If the user chooses the same item, no item events are fired. Use addItemListener to register an item listener on a combo box. How to Write an Item Listener gives general information about implementing item listeners.

Although JComboBox inherits methods to register listeners for low-level events — focus, key, and mouse events, for example — we recommend that you don't listen for low-level events on a combo box. Here's why: A combo box is a compound component — it is comprised of two or more other components. The combo box itself fires high-level events such as action events. Its subcomponents fire low-level events such as mouse, key, and focus events. The low-level events and the subcomponent that fires them are look-and-feel-dependent. To avoid writing look-and-feel-dependent code, you should listen only for high-level events on a compound component such as a combo box. For information about events, including a discussion about high- and low-level events, refer to Writing Event Listeners.

This code is very similar to the previous example, but warrants a few words of explanation. The bold line of code explicitly turns on editing to allow the user to type values in. This is necessary because, by default, a combo box is not editable. This particular example allows editing on the combo box because its menu does not provide all possible date formatting patterns, just shortcuts to frequently used patterns.

An editable combo box fires an action event when the user chooses an item from the menu and when the user types Enter. Note that the menu remains unchanged when the user enters a value into the combo box. If you want, you can easily write an action listener that adds a new item to the combo box's menu each time the user types in a unique value.

A combo box uses a renderer to display each item in its menu. If the combo box is uneditable, it also uses the renderer to display the currently selected item. An editable combo box, on the other hand, uses an editor to display the selected item. A renderer for a combo box must implement the ListCellRenderer interface. A combo box's editor must implement ComboBoxEditor. This section shows how to provide a custom renderer for an uneditable combo box.

The default renderer knows how to render strings and icons. If you put other objects in a combo box, the default renderer calls the toString method to provide a string to display. You can customize the way a combo box renders itself and its items by implementing your own ListCellRenderer.

The last line sets the combo box's maximum row count, which determines the number of items visible when the menu is displayed. If the number of items in the combo box is larger than its maximum row count, the menu has a scroll bar. The icons are pretty big for a menu, so our code limits the number of rows to 3. Here's the implementation of ComboBoxRenderer, a renderer that puts an icon and text side-by-side:

As a ListCellRenderer, ComboBoxRenderer implements a method called getListCellRendererComponent, which returns a component whose paintComponent method is used to display the combo box and each of its items. The easiest way to display an image and an icon is to use a label. So ComboBoxRenderer is a subclass of label and returns itself. The implementation of getListCellRendererComponent configures the renderer to display the currently selected icon and its description.

Note that combo boxes and lists use the same type of renderer — ListCellRenderer. You can save yourself some time by sharing renderers between combo boxes and lists, if it makes sense for your program.

By default, list box and combo box controls display two types of lists: value lists and lookup lists. A value list is a hard-coded list of items that resides in the Row Source property of a list box or combo box control. In contrast, a lookup list takes its data from a lookup field (a field that uses a query to retrieve data from another table), and then loads that data into a combo box control.

In this case, control_name is the name of the list box or combo box control, and n is the number of the list item that you want to make the default. If you don't know the name of the control, look at the value in the Name property, located at the top of the property sheet.

You can add a Form Control or an ActiveX Control combo box. If you want to create a combo box that enables the user to edit the text in the text box, consider using the ActiveX Combo Box. The ActiveX Control combo box is more versatile because, you can change font properties to make the text easier to read on a zoomed worksheet and use programming to make it appear in cells that contain a data validation list.

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Note that after reading the information that opens when you first open the updater, you have to close that information window in order to update your old copy of GravMag. You will need to have a copy of GravMag on your hard drive (you cannot update a copy on the CD itself). The combo updater will update version 1.0 (from CD) or versions 1.0.14 or 1.0.18 of GravMag. If updating from v 1.0 (CD) to current version, the smaller middle updater is more direct. 041b061a72


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