Introduction to TouchableViews

A GUI system can be divided into two parts. The first defines the looks of the system. Here one finds the "graphics part" of the GUI consisting of input components such as buttons and other controls as well as output components such as labels and text- or numerical output fields. The second part is related to the "mechanism part" of the GUI, namely what happens when a button is pressed or a slider is pushed. The "mechanism part" includes both the possible change of appearance of a component such as a pressed button, as well as how to call the appropriate subroutine of the application program.

Some GUI systems offer very sophisticated ways to build these two parts. Using e.g.  Interface Builder, found in the Xcode development environment for IOS, components are chosen from a library and the placement on the screen as well as the connections to the application program are specified graphically. Other systems require the application programmer to specify the explicit screen coordinates of all components, and pointers to appropriate interrupt routines need to be given explicitly. TouchableViews, being developed primarily for small screens and applications with low number of GUI components uses specific declaration of the components in the application programmers own code, including the size and position in screen coordinates. I have not found it necessary to automate this part of the code as the time needed to specify a layout (typically one or two lines per GUI component) is negligible compared to developing the rest of the application. This does not rule out that in the future, someone will make a graphic tool to build this part of the code. A possible route might be to simply post-process the output of the Interface Builder or the XML-file produced by Android tools.

The "mechanism part" in TouchableViews is even simpler as there are only a few predefined "landing sites" for touch events. As we will see, it is not necessary to define the event routine in the GUI specification. Again, the code to dispatch the event amounts to a few lines in the user program for each component and does not add particularly to the development effort. What is gained is a low-complexity view definition where all components, independent of their type can share the same data structure.



Touchable views - basic principles

Our GUI is based on the concept of "touchable views" :

1) A GUI component is a specified rectangular part (view) of the screen with an unique identifier.

2) When a view is touched, or clicked upon, an event routine is called with the identifier as argument.

Together with a toolbox of supporting routines, this is all that is needed!

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