Drop-Down Arrows in Combo Boxes in Java

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In tables with cells that contain combo boxes, you can sometime enhance table appearance by controlling when drop-down arrows are displayed By default, the drop-down arrow of each combo box is always displayed, as shown in Figure 49 Although this default behavior is preferred in most tables, displaying all the drop-down arrows continuously can create clutter in tables with many combo boxes To avoid clutter, display the drop-down arrow of each combo box only while that box is selected For information about where to place table commands, see the next section For more information on defining the appearance of tables, see 12 of Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines, 2d ed If most of a table's cells contain combo boxes, display the drop-down arrow of each combo box only while that box is selected
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Table Command Placement
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A table can have associated commands--such as New Row and Move Row Up--that enable users to manipulate the table Typically, the correct way to represent such commands is as a command button row located either:
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Directly below the table Directly to the right of the table
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Figure 50 shows a table with command buttons directly below it
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Figure 50 Table With Command Buttons Below
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Figure 51 shows a table with command buttons directly on the right
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Figure 51 Table With Command Buttons on the Right
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Sometimes, representing table commands as buttons is not practical because either:
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The available screen space is too small The table is one of several in the same window (the commands' standard mnemonics would be ambiguous)
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Under such conditions, you can represent a table's commands as menu items in the window's Edit menu, if there is one Figure 52 shows table commands in an Edit menu
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Figure 52 Table Commands in a Window's Edit Menu
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If the Edit menu is too long to include the table commands, you can place them instead in a Table menu in the window
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Figure 53 Table Commands in a Window's Table Menu
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When providing commands for manipulating a table, place them in a command button row directly below the table or directly to the right of it If you cannot, place the commands in the window's Edit menu or Table menu If you place table commands in a menu, also place appropriate table commands in the contextual menus for the table's rows and cells In addition, you can place table commands in a toolbar
Column Reordering and Column Resizing
Users sometimes need to reorder a table's columns (by moving them left or right) or resize a table's columns (by changing their width) The following guidelines on column reordering and column resizing supplement those in 12 of Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines, 2d ed Enable users to reorder table columns
If a user reorders a table's columns, use the new column order the next time the user opens that table If users can reorder a table's columns, make each column's title unique within the table Enable users to change the width of table columns
If a user changes the widths of a table's columns, use the new widths the next time the user opens that table
Row Sorting
When viewing a sorted table, users need to know by which columns the table is sorted These columns are called sort keys To indicate each of a table's sort keys, your application can display a sort indicator--a small triangular graphic in the column header Figure 54 shows sort indicators in the columns of an email application
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Sort Indicators in the Columns of a Table
A sort indicator shows that a column is sorted and in which direction--ascending (for example, from A to Z) or descending (for example, from Z to A) An upward-pointing sort indicator indicates an ascending sort A downward-pointing sort indicator indicates a descending sort A bold column header indicates the table's primary key, the main column by which the table is sorted You can make each column header a control with the following behavior:
Clicking a column header makes that column the primary key and sorts the column in the direction that is more useful to users (Typically, users find an ascending sort more useful) If the column is already the primary key, clicking the column header inverts the current sort, toggling between an ascending sort and a descending sort
For more information about row sorting, see 12 of Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines, 2d ed Enable users to sort tables that typically contain more items than can be displayed at one time If a column currently determines a table's sort order, use bold highlighting to display that column's header text If anything invalidates the sort order, omit the bold highlighting from the column header text (The column that currently determines a table's sort order is a user's most recently sorted column or, if rows are sorted automatically, the primary-key column)