tepam_argument_dialogbox man page

tepam::argument_dialogbox — TEPAM argument_dialogbox, reference manual

Synopsis

package require Tcl 8.3

package require Tk 8.3

package require tepam ?0.5?

tepam::argument_dialogbox item_name item_attributes ?item_name item_attributes? ?...?

tepam::argument_dialogbox {item_name item_attributes ?item_name item_attributes? ?...?}

Argument Dialogbox Call

TEPAM's argument_dialogbox is a flexible and easily usable data entry form generator. Each data entry element of a form is defined via a data entry item that can be provided to argument_dialogbox in two formats:

tepam::argument_dialogbox item_name item_attributes ?item_name item_attributes? ?...?

Using this first format, each data entry item is defined via a pair of two arguments. The first one is the item name that defines the entry widget that has to be used in the form. The second argument, called item attributes, specifies the variable which is attributed to the data entry element as well as eventual formatting and context information.

The argument_dialogbox returns ok if the entered data have been acknowledged (via the OK button) and validated by a data checker. If the entered data have been rejected (via the Cancel button) the argument_dialogbox returns cancel.

A small example illustrates how the argument_dialogbox can be employed:

set DialogResult [tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -title "Itinerary selection" \
   -file {-label "Itinerary report" -variable report_file} \
   -frame {-label "Itinerary start"} \
      -comment {-text "Specify your itinerary start location"} \
      -entry {-label "City" -variable start_city -type string} \
      -entry {-label "Street" -variable start_street -type string -optional 1} \
      -entry {-label "Street number" -variable start_street_nbr -type integer -optional 1} \
   -frame {-label "Itinerary destination"} \
      -comment {-text "Specify your itinerary destination"} \
      -entry {-label "City" -variable dest_city -type string} \
      -entry {-label "Street" -variable dest_street -type string -optional 1} \
      -entry {-label "Street number" -variable dest_street_nbr -type integer -optional 1} \
   -frame {} \
   -checkbutton {-label "Don't use highways" -variable no_highway}]

This example opens a dialog box that has the title Itinerary selection. A first entry widget in this box allows selecting a report file. It follows two frames to define respectively an itinerary start and end location. Each of these locations that are described with a comment has three entry widgets to specify respectively the city, street and the street number. Bellow the second frame there is a check button that allows specifying if eventual highways should be ignored.

tepam::argument_dialogbox {item_name item_attributes ?item_name item_attributes? ?...?}

Sometimes it is simpler to provide all the data entry item definitions in form of a single list to argument_dialogbox, and not as individual arguments. The second format that is supported by argument_dialogbox corresponds exactly to the first one, except that all item definitions are packed into a single list that is provided to argument_dialogbox. The previous example can therefore also be written in the following way:

set DialogResult [tepam::argument_dialogbox {
   -title "Itinerary selection"
   -file {-label "Itinerary report" -variable report_file}
   ...
   -checkbutton {-label "Don't use highways" -variable no_highway} }]

The commands argument_dialogbox as well as procedure are exported from the namespace tepam. To use these commands without the tepam:: namespace prefix, it is sufficient to import them into the main namespace:

namespace import tepam::*

set DialogResult [argument_dialogbox \
   -title "Itinerary selection"
   ...

The following subsections explain the different argument item types that are accepted by the argument_dialogbox, classified into three groups. The first data entry item definition format will be used in the remaining document, knowing that this format can always be transformed into the second format by putting all arguments into a single list that is then provided to argument_dialogbox.

Context Definition Items

The first item group allows specifying some context aspects of an argument dialog box. These items are taking a simple character string as item attribute:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -<argument_name> string \
   ...

The following items are classified into this group:

-title string

The dialog box window's title which is by default Dialog can be changed with the -title item:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -title "System configuration" \
   ...
-window string

The argument dialog box uses by default .dialog as dialog top level window. This path can be changed with the -window item:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -window .dialog \
   ...
-parent string

By defining a parent window, the argument dialog box will be displayed beside this one. Without explicit parent window definition, the top-level window will be considered as parent window.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -parent .my_appl \
   ...
-context string

If a context is defined the dialog box's state, e.g. the entered data as well as the window size and position, is restored the next time the argument dialog box is called. The assignment of a context allows saving the dialog box' state in its context to distinguish between different usages of the argument dialog box.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -context destination_definitions \
   ...

Formatting and Display Options

Especially for big, complex forms it becomes important that the different data entry widgets are graphically well organized and commented to provide an immediate and clear overview to the user. A couple of items allow structuring and commenting the dialog boxes.

The items of this classification group require as item attributes a definition list, which contains itself attribute name and value pairs:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   ...
   -<argument_name> { 
      ?-<attribute_name> <attribute_value>?
      ?-<attribute_name> <attribute_value>?
      ?...?
   }
   ...

The following items are classified into this group:

-frame list

The -frame item allows packing all following entry widgets into a labeled frame, until a next frame item is defined or until the last entry widget has been defined. It recognizes the following attributes inside the item attribute list:

-label string
An optional frame label can be specified with the -label statement.

Example:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   ...
   -frame {-label "Destination address"}
   ...

To close an open frame without opening a new one, an empty list has to be provided to the -frame statement.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   ...
   -frame {}
   ...
-sep [const {{}}]

Entry widgets can be separated with the -sep statement which doesn't require additional definitions. The related definition list has to exist, but its content is ignored.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   ...
   -sep {}
   ...
-comment string

Comments and descriptions can be added with the -text attribute of the -comment item. Please note that each entry widget itself can also contain a -text attribute for comments and descriptions. But the -comment item allows for example adding a description between two frames.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   ...
   -comment {-text "Specify bellow the destination address"}
   ...
-yscroll 0|1|auto

This attribute allows controlling an eventual vertical scrollbar. Setting it to 0 will permanently disable the scrollbar, setting it to 1 will enable it. By default it is set to auto. The scrollbar is enabled in this mode only if the vertical data entry form size exceeds 66% of the screen height.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   ...
   -yscroll auto
   ...

Global Custom Data Validation

This item group allows specifying global custom checks to validate the entered data.

-validatecommand script

Custom data checks can be performed via validation commands that are defined with the -validatecommand item. Example:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-label "Your comment" -variable YourCom} \
   -validatecommand {IllegalWordDetector $YourCom}

The validation command is executed in the context of the calling procedure, once all the basic data checks have been performed and data variables are assigned. All data is accessed via the data variables. Note that there is also an entry widget specific attribute -validatecommand that allows declaring custom checks for specific data entries.

The attribute -validatecommand can be repeated to declare multiple custom checks.

-validatecommand_error_text string
This item allows overriding the default error message for a global custom argument validation (defined by -validatecommand). Also this attribute can be repeated in case multiple checks are declared.
-validatecommand2 script
-validatecommand2_error_text string
These items are mainly for TEPAM internal usage.

These items corrspond respectively to -validatecommand and -validatecommand_error_text. However, the data validation is not performed in the next upper stack level, but two stack levels higher.

Data Entry Widget Items

Data entry widgets are created with the widget items. These items require as item attributes a definition list, which contains itself attribute name and value pairs:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   ...
   -<argument_name> { 
      ?-<attribute_name> <attribute_value>?
      ?-<attribute_name> <attribute_value>?
      ?...?
   }
   ...

The attribute list can contain various attributes to describe and comment an entry widget and to constrain its entered value. All entry widgets are accepting a common set of attributes that are described in the section Entry Widget Item Attributes.

TEPAM defines a rich set of entry widgets. If necessary, this set can be extended with additional application specific entry widgets (see Application Specific Entry Widgets):

-entry list

The -entry item generates the simplest but most universal data entry widget. It allows entering any kind of data in form of single line strings.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-label Name -variable Entry}
-text list

The -text item generates a multi line text entry widget. The widget's height can be selected with the -height attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -text {-label Name -variable Text -height 5}
-checkbox list

A group of check boxes is created with the -checkbox item. The number of check boxes and their option values are specified with a list assigned to the -choices attribute or via a variable declared with the -choicevariable attribute:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -checkbox {-label "Font sytle" -variable FontStyle \
               -choices {bold italic underline} -default italic}

If the check boxes' labels should differ from the option values, their labels can be defined with the -choicelabels attribute:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -checkbox {-label "Font sytle" -variable FontStyle \
              -choices {bold italic underline} \
              -choicelabels {Bold Italic Underline} \
              -default italic}

In contrast to a radio box group, a check box group allows selecting simultaneously several choice options. The selection is stored for this reason inside the defined variable in form of a list, even if only one choice option has been selected.

-radiobox list

A group of radio boxes is created with the -radiobox item. The number of radio boxes and their option values are specified with a list assigned to the -choices attribute or via a variable declared with the -choicevariable attribute.

In contrast to a check box group, a radio box group allows selecting simultaneously only one choice option. The selected option value is stored directly, and not in form of a list, inside the defined variable.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -radiobox {-label "Text adjustment" -variable Adjustment \
              -choices {left center right} -default left}

If the radio boxes' labels should differ from the option values, their labels can be defined with the -choicelabels attribute:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -radiobox {-label "Text adjustment" -variable Adjustment \
              -choices {left center right} \
              -choicelabels {Left Center Right} -default left}
-checkbutton list

The -checkbutton entry widget allows activating or deactivating a single choice option. The result written into the variable will either be 0 if the check button was not activated or 1 if it was activated. An eventually provided default value has also to be either 0 or 1.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -checkbutton {-label Capitalize -variable Capitalize -default 1}

Several types of list and combo boxes are available to handle selection lists.

-combobox list

The combobox is a combination of a normal entry widget together with a drop-down list box. The combobox allows selecting from this drop-down list box a single element. The list of the available elements can be provided either as a list to the -choices attribute, or via a variable that is specified with the -choicevariable attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -combobox {-label "Text size" -variable Size -choices {8 9 10 12 15 18} -default 12}

And here is an example of using a variable to define the selection list:

set TextSizes {8 9 10 12 15 18}
tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -combobox {-label "Text size" -variable Size -choicevariable TextSizes -default 12}
-listbox list

In contrast to the combo box, the list box is always displayed by the listbox entry widget. Only one element is selectable unless the -multiple_selection attribute is set. The list box height can be selected with the -height attribute. If the height is not explicitly defined, the list box height is automatically adapted to the argument dialog box' size. The first example uses a variable to define the available choices:

set set AvailableSizes
for {set k 0} {$k<16} {incr k} {lappend AvailableSizes [expr 1<<$k]}

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -listbox {-label "Distance" -variable Distance \
             -choicevariable AvailableSizes -default 6 -height 5}

Here is a multi-element selection example. Please note that also the default selection can contain multiple elements:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -listbox {-label "Text styles" -variable Styles \
             -choices {bold italic underline overstrike} \
             -choicelabels {Bold Italic Underline Overstrike} \
             -default {bold underline} -multiple_selection 1 \
             -height 3}
-disjointlistbox list

A disjoint list box has to be used instead of a normal list box if the selection order is important. The disjoint list box entry widget has in fact two list boxes, one to select elements and one to display the selected elements in the chosen order.

Disjoint listboxes allow always selecting multiple elements. With the exception of the -multiple_selection attribute, disjointed list boxes are accepting the same attributes as the normal listbox, e.g. -height, -choices, -choicevariable, -default.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -disjointlistbox {-label "Preferred scripting languages" -variable Languages \
             -comment "Please select your preferred languages in the order" \
             -choices {JavaScript Lisp Lua Octave PHP Perl Python Ruby Scheme Tcl} \
             -default {Tcl Perl Python}}

The file and directory selectors are building a next group of data entry widgets. A paragraph of section Entry Widget Item Attributes explains the widget specific attributes that allow specifying the targeted file types, active directory etc.

-file list

The item -file creates a group composed by an entry widget together with a button that allows opening a file browser. The data type file is automatically selected for this entry if no data type has been explicitly defined with the -type attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -file {-label "Image file" -variable ImageF \
          -filetypes {{"GIF" {*.gif}} {"JPG" {*.jpg}}} \
          -initialfile "picture.gif"}
-existingfile list

The item -existingfile creates a group composed by an entry widget together with a button that allows opening a browser to select an existing file. The data type existingfile is automatically selected for this entry if no data type has been explicitly defined with the -type attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -existingfile {-label "Image file" -variable ImageF \
                  -filetypes {{"GIF" {*.gif}} {"JPG" {*.jpg}}} \
                  -initialfile "picture.gif"}
-directory list

The item -directory creates a group composed by an entry widget together with a button that allows opening a directory browser. The data type directory is automatically selected for this entry if no data type has been explicitly defined with the -type attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -directory {-label "Report directory" -variable ReportDir}
-existingdirectory list

The item -existingdirectory creates a group composed by an entry widget together with a button that allows opening a browser to select an existing directory. The data type existingdirectory is automatically selected for this entry if no data type has been explicitly defined with the -type attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -existingdirectory {-label "Report directory" -variable ReportDir}

Finally, there is a last group of some other special data entry widgets.

-color list

The color selector is composed by an entry widget together with a button that allows opening a color browser. The data type color is automatically selected for this entry widget type if no data type has been explicitly defined with the -type attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -color {-label "Background color" -variable Color -default red}
-font list

The font selector is composed by an entry widget together with a button that allows opening a font browser. The data type font is automatically selected for this entry widget type if no data type has been explicitly defined with the -type attribute. The entry widget displays an example text in the format of the selected font.

The font browser allows selecting by default the font families provided by the font families Tk command as well as a reasonable set of different font sizes between 6 points and 40 points. Different sets of font families and font sizes can be specified respectively via the -font_families or -font_sizes attributes.

If no default font is provided via the -default attribute, the default font of the label widget to display the selected font will be used as default selected font. If the font family of this label widget is not part of the available families the first available family is used as default. If the font size of this label widget is not part of the available sizes the next close available size is selected as default size.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -font {-label "Font" -variable Font \
          -font_sizes {8 10 12 16} \
          -default {Arial 20 italic}}

Entry Widget Item Attributes

All the entry widget items are accepting the following attributes:

-text string

Eventual descriptions and comments specified with the -text attribute are displayed above the entry widget.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-text "Please enter your name bellow" -variable Name}
-label string

The label attribute creates left to the entry widget a label using the provided string as label text:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-label Name -variable Name}
-variable string

All entry widgets require a specified variable. After accepting the entered information with the OK button, the entry widget's data are stored inside the defined variables.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -existingdirectory {-label "Report directory" -variable ReportDir}
-default string

Eventual default data for the entry widgets can be provided via the -default attribute. The default value is overridden if an argument dialog box with a defined context is called another time. The value acknowledged in a previous call will be used in this case as default value.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -checkbox {-label "Font sytle" -variable FontStyle \
               -choices {bold italic underline} -default italic}
-optional 0|1

Data can be specified as optional or mandatory with the -optional attribute that requires either 0 (mandatory) or 1 (optional) as attribute data.

In case an entry is optional and no data has been entered, e.g. the entry contains an empty character string, the entry will be considered as undefined and the assigned variable will not be defined.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-label "City" -variable start_city -type string} \
   -entry {-label "Street" -variable start_street -type string -optional 0} \
   -entry {-label "Street number" -variable start_street_nbr -type integer -optional 1} \
-type string

If the data type is defined with the -type attribute the argument dialog box will automatically perform a data type check after acknowledging the entered values and before the dialog box is closed. If a type incompatible value is found an error message box appears and the user can correct the value.

The argument dialog box accepts all types that have been specified by the TEPAM package and that are also used by tepam::procedure (see the tepam::procedure reference manual).

Some entry widgets like the file and directory widgets, as well as the color and font widgets are specifying automatically the default data type if no type has been specified explicitly with the -type attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-label "Street number" -variable start_street_nbr -type integer} \
-range string

Values can be constrained with the -range attribute. The valid range is defined with a list containing the minimum valid value and a maximum valid value.

The -range attribute has to be used only for numerical arguments, like integers and doubles.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-label Month -variable Month -type integer -range {1 12}}
-validatecommand string

Custom argument value validations can be performed via specific validation commands that are defined with the -validatecommand attribute. The provided validation command can be a complete script in which the pattern %P is placeholder for the argument value that has to be validated.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -entry {-label "Your comment" -variable YourCom \
           -validatecommand "IllegalWordDetector %P"}

While the purpose of this custom argument validation attribute is the validation of a specific argument, there is also a global data validation attribute -validatecommand that allows performing validation that involves multiple arguments.

-validatecommand_error_text string
This attribute allows overriding the default error message for a custom argument validation (defined by -validatecommand).

Some other attributes are supported by the list and combo boxes as well as by the radio and check buttons.

-choices string

Choice lists can directly be defined with the -choices attribute. This way to define choice lists is especially adapted for smaller, fixed selection lists.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -listbox {-label "Text styles" -variable Styles \
             -choices {bold italic underline} -default underline
-choicelabels string (only check and radio buttons)

If the check and radio boxes' labels should differ from the option values, they can be defined with the -choicelabels attribute:

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -checkbox {-label "Font sytle" -variable FontStyle \
              -choices {bold italic underline} \
              -choicelabels {Bold Italic Underline}
-choicevariable string

Another way to define the choice lists is using the -choicevariable attribute. This way to define choice lists is especially adapted for huge and eventually variable selection lists.

set TextSizes {8 9 10 12 15 18}
tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -combobox {-label "Text size" -variable Size -choicevariable TextSizes}
-multiple_selection 0|1

The list box item (-listbox) allows by default selecting only one list element. By setting the -multiple_selection attribute to 1, multiple elements can be selected.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -listbox {-label "Text styles" -variable Styles \
             -choices {bold italic underline} -default underline \
             -multiple_selection 1 -height 3}

Some additional attributes are supported by the file and directory selection widgets.

-filetypes string

The file type attribute is used by the -file and -existingfile items to define the file endings that are searched by the file browser.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -file {-label "Image file" -variable ImageF \
          -filetypes {{"GIF" {*.gif}} {"JPG" {*.jpg}}}}
-initialfile string

The initial file used by the file browsers of the -file and -existingfile widgets are by default the file defined with the -default attribute, unless a file is specified with the -initialfile attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -file {-variable ImageF -initialfile "picture.gif"}
-activedir string

The -activedir attribute will override the default active search directory used by the file browsers of all file and directory entry widgets. The default active search directory is defined by the directory of a specified initial file (-initialfile) if defined, and otherwise by the directory of the default file/directory, specified with the -default attribute.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -file "-variable ImageF -activedir $pwd"

Finally, there is a last attribute supported by some widgets:

-height string

All widgets containing a selection list (-listbox, -disjointlistbox, -font) as well as the multi line -text widget are accepting the -height attribute that defines the number of displayed rows of the selection lists.

tepam::argument_dialogbox \
   -listbox {-label "Text size" -variable Size \
             -choices {8 9 10 12 15 18} -default 12 -height 3}

If the no height has been explicitly specified the height of the widget will be dynamically adapted to the argument dialog box' size.

Application Specific Entry Widgets

An application specific entry widget can be made available to the argument dialog box by adding a dedicated procedure to the tepam namespace. This procedure has three arguments; the first one is the widget path, the second one a subcommand and the third argument has various purposes:

proc tepam::ad_form(<WidgetName>) {W Command {Par ""}} {
   upvar Option Option; # if required
   variable argument_dialogbox; # if required
   switch $Command {
      "create" <CreateCommandSequence>
      "set_choice" <SetChoiceCommandSequence>
      "set" <SetCommandv>
      "get" <GetCommandSequence>
   }
}

Argument_dialogbox takes care about the -label and -text attributes for all entry widgets. For any data entry widget it creates a frame into which the data entry widget components can be placed. The path to this frame is provided via the W argument.

The entry widget procedure has to support 3 mandatory and an optional command that are selected via the argument Command:

create
The entry widget is called a first time with the command create to build the data entry widget.

The frames that are made available by argument_dialogbox for the entry widgets are by default only extendable in the X direction. To make them also extendable in the Y direction, for example for extendable list boxes, the command ad_form(make_expandable) $W has to be executed when an entry widget is built.
set_choice
The entry widget procedure is only called with the set_choice command if the -choices or -choicevariable has been specified. The command is therefore only relevant for list and combo boxes.

The available selection list that is either specified with the -choices or -choicevariable attribute is provided via the Par argument to the entry widget procedure. This list can be used to initialize an available choice list.
set
If a default value is either defined via the -default attribute or via a preceding call the entry widget procedure is called with the set command. The argument Par contains in this case the value to which the entry widget has to be initialized.
get
The entry widget procedure's command get has to return the current value of the entry widget.

Eventually specified entry widget item attributes are available via the Option array variable of the calling procedure. This variable becomes accessible inside the entry widget procedure via the upvar command.

There may be a need to store some information in a variable. The array variable argument_dialogbox has to be used for this purpose together with array indexes starting with "$W,", e.g. argument_dialogbox($W,values).

Examples of entry widget procedures are directly provided by the TEPAM package source file that specifies the standard entry widget procedures. The simplest procedure is the one for the basic entry widget:

proc tepam::ad_form(entry) {W Command {Par ""}} {
   switch $Command {
      "create" {pack [entry \$W.entry] -fill x \
                        -expand yes -pady 4 -side left}
      "set" {\$W.entry insert 0 $Par}
      "get" {return [\$W.entry get]}
   }
}

It is also possible to relay on an existing entry widget procedure to derive a new, more specific one. The radiobox widget is used for example, to create a new entry widget that allows selecting either left, center or right. The original radiobox widget is called with the set_choice command immediately after the create command, to define the fixed list of selection options.

proc tepam::ad_form(rcl) {W Command {Par ""}} {
   set Res [ad_form(radiobox) $W $Command $Par]
   if {$Command=="create"} {
      ad_form(radiobox) $W set_choice {left center right}
   }
   return $Res
}

Please consult the TEPAM package source file to find additional and more complex examples of entry widget procedures.

Variables

The argument_dialogbox is using two variables inside the namespace ::tepam:

argument_dialogbox
Application specific entry widget procedures can use this array variable to store their own data, using as index the widget path provided to the procedure, e.g. argument_dialogbox($W,<sub_index>).
last_parameters
This array variable is only used by an argument dialog box if its context has been specified via the -context attribute. The argument dialog box' position and size as well as its entered data are stored inside this variable if the data are acknowledged and the form is closed. This allows the form to restore its previous state once it is called another time.

To reuse the saved parameters not just in the actual application session but also in another one, it is sufficient to store the last_parameter array variable contents in a configuration file which is loaded the next time an application is launched.

See Also

tepam(n), tepam::procedure(n)

Keywords

data entry form, parameter entry form

Category

Argument entry form, mega widget

Info

0.5.0 tcllib Tcl's Enhanced Procedure and Argument Manager