Tag Archives: animation

A Case Study: A JavaFX Widget Framework API

A prototype of a widget container

A prototype of a widget container

Building a better mousetrap

In short I want to revisit the idea of a cross platform widget framework using JavaFX. In this article I’d like to share some ideas, concepts and prototypes that might invigorate this old but ingenious idea for the desktop and embedded world. An old idea you say? Does anyone remember WidgetFX?

In the early days of JavaFX there were a few Java Champions and community members who decided to create a cross platform JavaFX 1.x widget framework for the desktop (year 2008). I was fortunate enough to know many of those contributors involved.  I grew to love the capabilities the framework and widgets were able to provide.  However, as we all know JavaFX is now redone as Java APIs as opposed to the JavaFX script language. This eventually became apparent regarding to the future of most frameworks back then. Before I begin I would like to give credit to the folks who contributed to the WidgetFX framework project.  I want to thank them for their enthusiasm and their tireless efforts on building the community to what it is today. To see some of their cool widgets please visit the site http://widgetfx.org (catch them before they’re gone). Two of the original founders of the project are Stephen Chin and Keith Combs. Even though I did not partake in the fun during the height of the project I was quite inspired.

Inception phase

To fast forward just last year at the JavaOne 2012 conference I was able to catch up with Keith Combs (Silicon Valley JavaFX User Group organizer) and Stephen Chin (Java Technology Evangelist at Oracle) after his keynote speaking to inquire about the WidgetFX project now that JavaFX 1.x is no more. Steve kindly asked if anyone would be interested in giving it a reboot on the JavaFX 2.x platform (As he peered over towards Keith and me). I believe I said, “I don’t think, so… “. I thought it might be too much to bite off than I could possibly chew. So I politely declined the offer. During the conference I was later enamored by all things Java embedded which later fueled to some of my home automation project ideas using JavaFX with (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Beagle Board).

After returning home I was not only excited about the things I’ve learned at the conference but, I also was in the middle of transitioning to a new job and company. Working as a UI and Visualization developer for cloud based monitoring software I often encountered stakeholders/SMEs mentioning the term “SPOG” or single pane of glass.

What does the term “SPOG” mean?

According to Floyd Strimling a cloud technical evangelist at Zenoss explains how so many organizations will create desperate (silos) systems and he goes on to say, “The Holy Grail is a single pane of glass that provides IT managers with a single access point to make sense of their entire underlying infrastructure in real time”. (Searching for the Mythical Single Pane of Glass)

Isn’t “SPOG” an interesting concept for large operation centers? So, I continued to rethink of the old idea of a flexible widget framework that would provide richer interfaces that would allow better desktop integration, decoupled services, higher performance, and capable of empowering users with many of the modern UI metaphors that they’d expect on their favorite OS platform. I believe such a framework should also work on embedded devices for home automation.  Actually I got the idea of a widget framework for embedded devices from my good friend Gerrit Grunwald (Java Champion and author of the popular Steel Series API) while exchanging ideas about graphics performance and launching JavaFX applications on embedded devices.

Wow, with so many different problem domains and so many perspectives could such a widget framework truly exist? Could such a widget framework be able to make everyone happy? Is it possible to create a simple widget framework to rule them all? I believe it is possible.

eWidgetFX is born

In the back of my mind I noticed similar use cases with many customers wanting widget frameworks having this concept of a “SPOG”, but also provide a framework that I could use myself on my own desktop or touch device. So, I kept going back and forth on the possibility of rebooting the old project WidgetFX. Instead I wanted to throw a monkey wrench into the whole business of widget frameworks. Since there are so many kinds of ways to launch, display, and manage widgets it would also be a good idea to build a single widget framework SPI (service provider interface API) which would enable developers to build their own widget containers thus allowing widget developers to run their widgets in any widget container. There would basically be two developer perspectives: Container Developers and Widget Developers. So, I’d like to propose a new API called eWidgetFX (core) that would allow the developers to create widget containers and widgets.

For now I will defer the work of designing the core APIs and make it a future post. So, in this article I’ve decided to generate some prototypes of widget containers that would basically depend on the future eWidgetFX framework API.

Prototyping Widget Containers

Prototyping is probably the most fun part during any software development activity. Shown below are videos I recently uploaded to Youtube.com to kick some ideas around for different kinds of widget containers (Icon App tray) on a desktop environment.


One of the main issue I found in UI development is that customers will often know what they want, but aren’t able to communicate what they ultimately want. It’s almost like playing a game of Charades or a game of Pictionary where guessing is a sought after skill in software design.  We are often faced with providing prototypes and end up settling on one particular view (one view, one way, one silo). The problem became pretty apparent where everyone had an opinion or philosophical stance on a particular GUI interface, usability aspect or UI metaphor. Sometimes it’s based on subjective personal preferences that can go into long discussions. No one person in the room was completely happy, but at the end of the day we compromised and we settled.

I believe that by creating a widget API it would allow organizations to build different single pane of glass instances (widget containers) and capable of sharing all widgets across other panes.

So, imagine seeing different types of widget containers in the wild. Some future widget containers could look like interfaces similar to the following movies: Avengers, Tron, or Minority Report

A final note: Many of of the ideas expressed and proposed are a collective effort from some of my friends (team members) of the JFXtras.org project (Mark Heckler, Hendrik Ebbers, and Gerrit Grunwald).

Would you like to see a talk regarding widget frameworks at JavaOne?

As always comments are welcome.

Carl 😉


JavaFX: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javafx/overview/index.html
Java Champions: https://java.net/website/java-champions/bios.html
WidgetFX: http://widgetfx.org
Keith Combs from the Silicon Valley JavaFX user group: http://www.svjugfx.org/member/10394895/?op=&memberId=10394895
Steve on Java by Stephen Chin: http://steveonjava.com
Arduino : http://www.arduino.cc
Raspberry Pi: http://www.raspberrypi.org
Beagle Board: http://beagleboard.org
Guest Post: Searching for the Mythical Single Pane of Glass: http://siliconangle.com/blog/2012/02/29/guest-post-searching-for-the-mythical-single-pane-of-glass
Anti-patterns: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Software_Engineering/Architecture/Anti-Patterns
Google Images of Operation centers: http://bit.ly/106p3h0
Avengers UI design: http://cargocollective.com/jayse/Avengers
Tron UI design: http://dlew.me/Tron-Legacy-Boardroom
Minority Report UI designer demos his tech at TED (video): http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/03/minority-report-ui-designer-demos-his-tech-at-ted
The Java Jungle by Mark Heckler: https://blogs.oracle.com/javajungle/entry/welcome_to_the_jungle
Gui Garage by Hendrik Ebbers: http://www.guigarage.com
Harmonic Code by Gerrit Grunwald: http://harmoniccode.blogspot.de
JFXtras.org : http://jfxtras.orgLeap Motion: https://www.leapmotion.comLeap Motion: https://www.leapmotion.com

JavaFX 2 GameTutorial Part 3

The Expanse

figure 1 The Expanse – Input (Keyboard & Mouse) Demo


This is part 3 of a six part series related to a JavaFX 2 Game Tutorial. If you’ve missed Part 1 and Part 2, I encourage you to go through them before beginning this tutorial. To recap Part 2 I discussed the inner workings of a gaming loop where we used an animation (JavaFX Timeline) to update sprites, check collisions, and clean up game world elements. I then felt compelled to create a simple game engine to enable the ease of developing 2D games. This tutorial is about using the game engine and demonstrating input using your mouse and keyboard. In this tutorial I will give you some background history, event handling fundamentals, a demo game, and finally the implementation. The demo will showcase a spaceship capable of shooting at floating spheres similar to the video game Asteroids. If you want to run the demo, scroll down and click on the WebStart button below. Please read the requirements before launching the game.


Back in the day (during the 80s) as a kid growing up there were arcade centers, bowling alleys, pizza parlors, and 7 Eleven stores where I spent huge amounts of time putting quarters on the glass display areas to be next in line to the guy who was currently playing an intense video game. As everyone was crowded around him watching him beat the all time high score we all cheered as we witnessed greatness. One of those incredibly awesome arcade games was ‘Asteroids‘ created by Atari Inc.(to play visit play.vg)

Speaking of high scores, not too many folks know, but Scott Safran (February 3, 1967 – March 27, 1989) had the highest record of all time playing Asteroids. He achieved this at his local 7-Eleven conveniece store by playing for approximately twenty hours non stop. Later in life (while still young), he passed away from a tragic accident on March 27, 1989. In honor of Scott, I created this tutorial. I hope people will remember him as one of the greatest video gamers of all time (I’m sure a good brother and son also).

Regarding the game, Asteroids, vector based hardware was used to render shapes as opposed to raster graphics (bitmap). On an added note, Space Invaders by Midway Inc. was created using raster graphics. It’s exciting to point out that there are discussions about JavaFX 2.x having the ability to use bitmaps called the JavaFX Canvas Node which can provide raster graphics to enable developers to take advantage of pixel level manipulations. I am still amazed at the construction of these arcade style cabinets which house the CRT, motherboard, and the controllers (input devices) such as buttons, joystick, track balls, and turning knobs.

Classic Arcade Games

Below are some classic arcade games with many types of input devices:

  • Buttons only: Asteroids, Space Invaders, Rip Off, Phoenix
  • Joystick only: Q*bert, PacMan
  • Turn knob only: Pong
  • Track ball only: Marble Madness
  • Steering column and buttonsStar Wars, Pole position, Spy Hunter
  • Bike handle bars: Stunt Cycle, Paper Boy
  • Buttons and Throttle bar: Lunar Lander
  • Periscope and Buttons: Sea Wolf
  • Buttons and Yoke: Tron, Battle Zone
  • Buttons, Turn knob, and Yoke:  Star Trek, Tempest
  • Buttons and track ball: Missile Command, Centipede
  • Buttons and Joystick: Defender, Gauntlet, Frogger, Joust, Berzerk, Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Xevious, Galaga, Kung Fu, Contra, Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Ninja magic (or spirit), DigDug, Dragon’s Lair.

Input / (Mouse, Keyboard)

Leaving the past behind, we currently encounter new kinds of input devices such as touch screens, accelerometers, infrared receivers, cameras, etc. The most common input on the desktop today is the mouse and keyboard. Of course, touch screen is all the rage with mobile devices and tablets, however in this tutorial we will only be focusing on the ‘Mouse‘ and ‘Keyboard‘ as inputs to control your game. Based on the JavaFX Roadmapmulti-touch input is in the works (by the time you read this it’s already implemented).

When intercepting keyboard and mouse events, JavaFX 2.x has many types of events which provide an opportunity for the developer to implement event handlers that intercept the events triggered. The JavaFX 2.x API for the Node or Scene contains many methods having the prefix ‘on’ such as the onMousePressProperty() or onKeyPressProperty() method. Whenever you implement these methods you will simply implement the handle() method using Java’s generic type to specify the event object to be passed in for interrogation. So, when you instantiate an EventHandler<MouseEvent> class you will implement a handle() method that takes a MouseEvent as a parameter to be passed in.

The code snippets shown below add two event handlers to the JavaFX Scene. The first handler will respond to mouse events. In our simple game when a mouse press occurs, this handler will respond by firing the weapon or navigating the ship. The second handler shown below will respond to key event. When a key is pressed, this handler will process KeyEvent objects. In our game, the keystroke ‘2‘ will change your secondary weapon into a bigger blaster (slower). Any other keystroke will default back to the smaller blaster (faster).

Move ship and Fire weapon

        EventHandler fireOrMove = new EventHandler() {
            public void handle(MouseEvent event) {
                if (event.getButton() == MouseButton.PRIMARY) {
                   // Fire weapon systems. On Windows left mouse button
                } else if (event.getButton() == MouseButton.SECONDARY) {
                   // Navigate ship thrust. On Windows right mouse button

Changing the weapon

        EventHandler changeWeapons = new EventHandler() {
           public void handle(KeyEvent event) {

JavaFX 2 Input Demo – ‘The Expanse’

The simple demo game will be a mix between StarCraft and Asteroids. When using the mouse to navigate the ship it will resemble StarCraft’s Battle Cruiser. If you remember from Part 2 of this series, I created spheres bouncing around. I reused the code from Part 2 ‘Atom Smasher’ to act as asteroids like in the famous arcade game. Except in this game you cannot get harmed at all. The objective is to fire your weapon at the spheres before they hit other spheres which implode upon impact. Because this is a simple tutorial, or even a game in its early stages of development, the game doesn’t keep track of the score. I encourage you to go to GitHub to download the code and enhance the game. Later, you will see a high level UML class diagram describing the classes that make up the game. For the sake of brevity, I will not be going through each class in great detail, but I trust you will visit GitHub here: https://github.com/carldea/JFXGen for all the demos and source code.


  • Java 7 or later
  • JavaFX 2.1 or later
  • Windows XP or later (Should be available soon for Linux/MacOS)
A simple Asteroid type game called ‘The Expanse’.


  • Right mouse click (on Windows) to fly ship.
  • Left mouse click (left click on Windows mouse) to fire weapon.
  • Key press ‘2’ to change to large missiles. (blue circular projectiles)
  • Other key press defaults to smaller missiles. (red circular projectiles)
Part 3 Demo
Part 3 ‘The Expanse’

Shown below is figure 2 of a high level class diagram depicting all the classes created for this demo. The GameWorld and Sprite classes are part of the game engine from the previous post. The rest of the classes are new which make up this demo for this tutorial.


The InputPart3 is the driver or main JavaFX application that runs the game. This creates a GameWorld object to be initialized and starts the game loop.
Shown below is the source code of the main JavaFX application InputPart3 . Click to expand.

package carlfx.demos.navigateship;

import carlfx.gameengine.GameWorld;
import javafx.application.Application;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

 * The main driver of the game.
 * @author cdea
public class InputPart3 extends Application {

    GameWorld gameWorld = new TheExpanse(59, "JavaFX 2 GameTutorial Part 3 - Input");
     * @param args the command line arguments
    public static void main(String[] args) {

    public void start(Stage primaryStage) {
        // setup title, scene, stats, controls, and actors.

        // kick off the game loop

        // display window



The TheExpanse class inherits from the GameWorld class.  This is practically identical to Part 2’s ‘AtomSmasher’ where the driver application will invoke the GameWorld instance’s initialize() method to set up all the game elements such as the input, spaceship, and those pesky floating spheres. The job of this class is to make sure asteroids or spheres bounce off walls and remove any missiles which reach the edge of the screen. It’s main responsibly is to manage the assets and create new levels. When there are no moving objects and the player moves the ship on the screen new spheres will be generated for the next level. The key take away from this class is the setupInput() method. The setupInput() method which I created is responsible for establishing your event handlers to be able to listen to key events and mouse event.

package carlfx.demos.navigateship;

import carlfx.gameengine.GameWorld;
import carlfx.gameengine.Sprite;
import javafx.event.ActionEvent;
import javafx.event.EventHandler;
import javafx.scene.CacheHint;
import javafx.scene.Group;
import javafx.scene.Node;
import javafx.scene.Scene;
import javafx.scene.control.Button;
import javafx.scene.control.Label;
import javafx.scene.control.TextField;
import javafx.scene.input.KeyEvent;
import javafx.scene.input.MouseButton;
import javafx.scene.input.MouseEvent;
import javafx.scene.layout.HBox;
import javafx.scene.layout.VBox;
import javafx.scene.paint.Color;
import javafx.scene.shape.Circle;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

import java.util.Random;

 * This is a simple game world simulating a bunch of spheres looking
 * like atomic particles colliding with each other. When the game loop begins
 * the user will notice random spheres (atomic particles) floating and
 * colliding. The user will navigate his/her ship by right clicking the mouse to
 * trust forward and left click to fire weapon to atoms.
 * @author cdea
public class TheExpanse extends GameWorld {

    // mouse pt label
    Label mousePtLabel = new Label();

    // mouse press pt label
    Label mousePressPtLabel = new Label();

    TextField xCoordinate = new TextField("234");
    TextField yCoordinate = new TextField("200");
    Button moveShipButton = new Button("Rotate ship");

    Ship myShip = new Ship();

    public TheExpanse(int fps, String title) {
        super(fps, title);

     * Initialize the game world by adding sprite objects.
     * @param primaryStage The game window or primary stage.
    public void initialize(final Stage primaryStage) {
        // Sets the window title

        // Create the scene
        setSceneNodes(new Group());
        setGameSurface(new Scene(getSceneNodes(), 800, 600));
        // Setup Game input

        // Create many spheres

        // Display the number of spheres visible.
        // Create a button to add more spheres.
        // Create a button to freeze the game loop.
        //final Timeline gameLoop = getGameLoop();

        // mouse point
        VBox stats = new VBox();

        HBox row1 = new HBox();
        HBox row2 = new HBox();


        // mouse point
        HBox enterCoord1 = new HBox();
        moveShipButton.setOnAction(new EventHandler() {
            public void handle(ActionEvent actionEvent) {
                double x = Double.parseDouble(xCoordinate.getText());
                double y = Double.parseDouble(yCoordinate.getText());
                myShip.plotCourse(x, y, false);

        // ===================================================
        // Debugging purposes
        // uncomment to test mouse press and rotation angles.

     * Sets up the mouse input.
     * @param primaryStage The primary stage (app window).
    private void setupInput(Stage primaryStage) {
        System.out.println("Ship's center is (" + myShip.getCenterX() + ", " + myShip.getCenterY() + ")");

        EventHandler fireOrMove = new EventHandler() {
            public void handle(MouseEvent event) {
                mousePressPtLabel.setText("Mouse Press PT = (" + event.getX() + ", " + event.getY() + ")");
                if (event.getButton() == MouseButton.PRIMARY) {
                    // Aim
                    myShip.plotCourse(event.getX(), event.getY(), false);
                    // fire
                    Missile m1 = myShip.fire();
                    getSceneNodes().getChildren().add(0, m1.node);
                } else if (event.getButton() == MouseButton.SECONDARY) {
                    // determine when all atoms are not on the game surface. Ship should be one sprite left.
                    if (getSpriteManager().getAllSprites().size()                         generateManySpheres(30);

                    // stop ship from moving forward
                    myShip.applyTheBrakes(event.getX(), event.getY());
                    // move forward and rotate ship
                    myShip.plotCourse(event.getX(), event.getY(), true);


        // Initialize input
        //addEventHandler(MouseEvent.MOUSE_PRESSED, me);

        // set up stats
        EventHandler changeWeapons = new EventHandler() {
            public void handle(KeyEvent event) {

        // set up stats
        EventHandler showMouseMove = new EventHandler() {
            public void handle(MouseEvent event) {
                mousePtLabel.setText("Mouse PT = (" + event.getX() + ", " + event.getY() + ")");


     * Make some more space spheres (Atomic particles)
     * @param numSpheres The number of random sized, color, and velocity atoms to generate.
    private void generateManySpheres(int numSpheres) {
        Random rnd = new Random();
        Scene gameSurface = getGameSurface();
        for (int i = 0; i < numSpheres; i++) {             Color c = Color.rgb(rnd.nextInt(255), rnd.nextInt(255), rnd.nextInt(255));             Atom b = new Atom(rnd.nextInt(15) + 5, c, true);             Circle circle = b.getAsCircle();             // random 0 to 2 + (.0 to 1) * random (1 or -1)             b.vX = (rnd.nextInt(2) + rnd.nextDouble()) * (rnd.nextBoolean() ? 1 : -1);             b.vY = (rnd.nextInt(2) + rnd.nextDouble()) * (rnd.nextBoolean() ? 1 : -1);             // random x between 0 to width of scene             double newX = rnd.nextInt((int) gameSurface.getWidth());             // check for the right of the width newX is greater than width              // minus radius times 2(width of sprite)             if (newX > (gameSurface.getWidth() - (circle.getRadius() * 2))) {
                newX = gameSurface.getWidth() - (circle.getRadius() * 2);

            // check for the bottom of screen the height newY is greater than height
            // minus radius times 2(height of sprite)
            double newY = rnd.nextInt((int) gameSurface.getHeight());
            if (newY > (gameSurface.getHeight() - (circle.getRadius() * 2))) {
                newY = gameSurface.getHeight() - (circle.getRadius() * 2);

            // add to actors in play (sprite objects)

            // add sprite's
            getSceneNodes().getChildren().add(0, b.node);


     * Each sprite will update it's velocity and bounce off wall borders.
     * @param sprite - An atomic particle (a sphere).
    protected void handleUpdate(Sprite sprite) {
        // advance object
        if (sprite instanceof Missile) {
            removeMissiles((Missile) sprite);
        } else {

     * Change the direction of the moving object when it encounters the walls.
     * @param sprite The sprite to update based on the wall boundaries.
     *               TODO The ship has got issues.
    private void bounceOffWalls(Sprite sprite) {
        // bounce off the walls when outside of boundaries

        Node displayNode;
        if (sprite instanceof Ship) {
            displayNode = sprite.node;//((Ship)sprite).getCurrentShipImage();
        } else {
            displayNode = sprite.node;
        // Get the group node's X and Y but use the ImageView to obtain the width.
        if (sprite.node.getTranslateX() > (getGameSurface().getWidth() - displayNode.getBoundsInParent().getWidth()) ||
                displayNode.getTranslateX() < 0) {             // bounce the opposite direction             sprite.vX = sprite.vX * -1;         }         // Get the group node's X and Y but use the ImageView to obtain the height.         if (sprite.node.getTranslateY() > getGameSurface().getHeight() - displayNode.getBoundsInParent().getHeight() ||
                sprite.node.getTranslateY() < 0) {             sprite.vY = sprite.vY * -1;         }     }     /**      * Remove missiles when they reach the wall boundaries.      *      * @param missile The missile to remove based on the wall boundaries.      */     private void removeMissiles(Missile missile) {         // bounce off the walls when outside of boundaries         if (missile.node.getTranslateX() > (getGameSurface().getWidth() -
                missile.node.getBoundsInParent().getWidth()) ||
                missile.node.getTranslateX() < 0) {             getSpriteManager().addSpritesToBeRemoved(missile);             getSceneNodes().getChildren().remove(missile.node);         }         if (missile.node.getTranslateY() > getGameSurface().getHeight() -
                missile.node.getBoundsInParent().getHeight() ||
                missile.node.getTranslateY() < 0) {


     * How to handle the collision of two sprite objects. Stops the particle
     * by zeroing out the velocity if a collision occurred.
     * @param spriteA Sprite from the first list.
     * @param spriteB Sprite from the second list.
     * @return boolean returns a true if the two sprites have collided otherwise false.
    protected boolean handleCollision(Sprite spriteA, Sprite spriteB) {
        if (spriteA != spriteB) {
            if (spriteA.collide(spriteB)) {
                if (spriteA instanceof Atom && spriteB instanceof Atom) {

                    ((Atom) spriteA).implode(this); // will remove from the Scene onFinish()
                    ((Atom) spriteB).implode(this);
                    getSpriteManager().addSpritesToBeRemoved(spriteA, spriteB);

                    return true;

        return false;



The Ship class represents our cool looking spaceship. The Ship class inherits from the Sprite class to help us contain velocity information (vector). This class will also contain a doubly linked list containing 32 ImageView (RotatedShipImage) instances which represent each direction to simulate the ship rotating about its center (centroid). At some point I want to change this by making a single SVGPath object to be rotated (I know there are trade offs). For this tutorial I implemented the ship by taking ImageViews objects to be rotated 32 direction evenly from 0 to 360 degrees. Shown below in Figure 3 are all 32 directions using 32 ImageView instances and a single Image object of the image of a spaceship to simulate the rotation about its center (pivot point).

Figure 3: 32 Directions to simulate a rotation

When animating the ship rotating I simply set all but the current image visible using the setVisible(true) method on the ImageView node.

Disclaimer: In gaming you will inevitably encounter math (Trigonometry). If you are interested and want to dig deeper please look at the source code of the TheExpanse class’ initialize() method. At the end of the method uncomment the statement: getSceneNodes().getChildren().add(stats);  . This will display controls which will allow you to use to debug and inspect mouse press coordinates. Also, you can see output in your console (stdout) relating to angles, vectors, etc.

The Ship’s member variables:

  • turnDirection – enum DIRECTION with Clockwise, CounterClockwise, and Neither
  • u – Vec object which contains a vector in relation to the center of the ship coordinates denoting the starting direction the ship begins to rotate
  • directionalShips – list of RotatedShipImage objects each having a previous and next reference to other RotatedShipImage objects. Zero degrees (uIndex=0) is when the spaceship facing east. When rotating a JavaFX nodes going in a counter clockwise direction is positive numbers in degrees
  • uIndex – index of the current RotatedShipImage in the directionalShips list that is to be displayed
  • vIndex – index of the RotatedShipImage in the directionalShips list that is to be displayed at the end of the rotation animation
  • stopArea – a JavaFX Circle with a radius for the ship to know when to stop the ship from moving
  • flipBook – A JavaFX Group containing all RotatedShipImage objects (32). The group is rendered on the Scene. Like a flip book in animation each RotatedShipImage will be determined to be displayed based on uIndex and vIndex
  • keyCode – a JavaFX KeyCode will help determine if a key press to help change your weapon (character ‘2’)

The Ship’s member functions:

  • update() – Updates the ships velocity and direction. Also will determine when to stop moving.
  • getCurrentShipImage() – Based on the uIndex it returns the ImageView that is the current ship direction image that is being displayed
  • getCenterX() – returns the screen’s X coordinate of the center of the ship
  • getCenterY() – returns the screen’s X coordinate of the center of the ship
  • plotCourse(double screenX, double screenY, boolean thrust) – After the user clicks their mouse on the screen this method will calculate the angle to rotate the ship and change the velocity to thrust toward the coordinates onto the destination point. When using the Vec object the screen coordinates will be converted to Cartesian coordinates for determining the angle between two vectors (U and V).
  • turnShip() – The plotCourse() method calls turnShip() method to perform the actual animation of the rotation of the ship
  • applyTheBrakes(double screenX, double screenY) – After the user has chosen (right mouse click) where the ship will navigate to applyTheBrakes() method simply sets up the stopArea (Circle) object to let the ship know when to stop
  • fire() – Returns a Missile (Sprite) object for the game engine to put into the scene. Each missile contains the same direction of the ship with a scaled up velocity (increase speed). Should be faster than the ship can fly.
  •  changeWeapon(KeyCode keyCode) – After the user (player) hit the key stroke of a ‘2’ the weapon will change to create a larger missile projectile but slightly slower. Any other key press will be the default weapon that creates small missile projectiles which are faster moving.
Shown below is figure 4 of a class diagram displaying the members of the class Ship.

Ship Class Diagram

Figure 4: Ship class diagram

Shown below is the source code of the Ship class. Click to expand.

package carlfx.demos.navigateship;

import carlfx.gameengine.Sprite;
import javafx.animation.KeyFrame;
import javafx.animation.Timeline;
import javafx.animation.TimelineBuilder;
import javafx.event.ActionEvent;
import javafx.event.EventHandler;
import javafx.scene.CacheHint;
import javafx.scene.Group;
import javafx.scene.Node;
import javafx.scene.image.Image;
import javafx.scene.input.KeyCode;
import javafx.scene.paint.Color;
import javafx.scene.shape.Circle;
import javafx.util.Duration;
import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.List;

 * A space ship with 32 directions
 * When two atoms collide each will fade and become removed from the scene. The
 * method called implode() implements a fade transition effect.
 * @author cdea
public class Ship extends Sprite {

     * 360 degree turn
    private final static int TWO_PI_DEGREES = 360;

     * Number of ship frames and directions the ship is pointing nose
    private final static int NUM_DIRECTIONS = 32;

     * The angle of one direction (adjacent directions) (11.25 degrees)
    private final static float UNIT_ANGLE_PER_FRAME = ((float) TWO_PI_DEGREES / NUM_DIRECTIONS);

     * Amount of time it takes the ship to move 180 degrees in milliseconds.
    private final static int MILLIS_TURN_SHIP_180_DEGREES = 300;

     * When the ship turns on each direction one amount of time for one frame or turn of the ship. (18.75 milliseconds)
    private final static float MILLIS_PER_FRAME = (float) MILLIS_TURN_SHIP_180_DEGREES / (NUM_DIRECTIONS / 2);

     * All possible turn directions Clockwise, Counter Clockwise, or Neither when the user clicks mouse around ship
    private enum DIRECTION {

     * Velocity amount used vector when ship moves forward. scale vector of ship. See flipBook translateX and Y.
    private final static float THRUST_AMOUNT = 3.3f;

    private final static float MISSILE_THRUST_AMOUNT = 6.3F;

     * Angle in degrees to rotate ship.

     * Current turning direction. default is NEITHER. Clockwise and Counter Clockwise.
    private DIRECTION turnDirection = DIRECTION.NEITHER;

     * The current starting position of the vector or coordinate where the nose of the ship is pointing towards.
    private Vec u; // current or start vector

     * All ImageViews of all the possible image frames for each direction the ship is pointing. ie: 32 directions.
    private final List directionalShips = new ArrayList<>();

     * The Timeline instance to animate the ship rotating using images. This is an optical illusion similar to page
     * flipping as each frame is displayed the previous visible attribute is set to false. No rotation is happening.
    private Timeline rotateShipTimeline;

     * The current index into the list of ImageViews representing each direction of the ship. Zero is the ship
     * pointing to the right or zero degrees.
    private int uIndex = 0;

     * The end index into the list of ImageViews representing each direction of the ship. Zero is the ship
     * pointing to the right or zero degrees.
    private int vIndex = 0;

     * The spot where the user has right clicked letting the engine check the ship's center is in this area.
    private final Circle stopArea = new Circle();

     * A group contain all of the ship image view nodes.
    private final Group flipBook = new Group();

     * A key code will be used for weapon selection.
    private KeyCode keyCode;

    public Ship() {

        // Load one image.
        Image shipImage = new Image(getClass().getClassLoader().getResource("ship.png").toExternalForm(), true);
        RotatedShipImage prev = null;

        // create all the number of directions based on a unit angle. 360 divided by NUM_DIRECTIONS
        for (int i = 0; i < NUM_DIRECTIONS; i++) {
            RotatedShipImage imageView = new RotatedShipImage();
            imageView.setRotate(-1 * i * UNIT_ANGLE_PER_FRAME);
            imageView.prev = prev;
            if (prev != null) {
                prev.next = imageView;
            prev = imageView;
        RotatedShipImage firstShip = directionalShips.get(0);
        firstShip.prev = prev;
        prev.next = firstShip;
        // set javafx node to an image
        node = flipBook;


     * Change the velocity of the atom particle.
    public void update() {
        flipBook.setTranslateX(flipBook.getTranslateX() + vX);
        flipBook.setTranslateY(flipBook.getTranslateY() + vY);

        if (stopArea.contains(getCenterX(), getCenterY())) {
            vX = 0;
            vY = 0;


    private RotatedShipImage getCurrentShipImage() {
        return directionalShips.get(uIndex);

     * The center X coordinate of the current visible image. See <code>getCurrentShipImage()</code> method.
     * @return The scene or screen X coordinate.
    public double getCenterX() {
        RotatedShipImage shipImage = getCurrentShipImage();
        return node.getTranslateX() + (shipImage.getBoundsInLocal().getWidth() / 2);

     * The center Y coordinate of the current visible image. See <code>getCurrentShipImage()</code> method.
     * @return The scene or screen Y coordinate.
    public double getCenterY() {
        RotatedShipImage shipImage = getCurrentShipImage();
        return node.getTranslateY() + (shipImage.getBoundsInLocal().getHeight() / 2);

     * Determines the angle between it's starting position and ending position (Similar to a clock's second hand).
     * When the user is shooting the ship nose will point in the direction of the mouse press using the primary button.
     * When the user is thrusting to a location on the screen the right click mouse will pass true to the thrust
     * parameter.
     * @param screenX The mouse press' screen x coordinate.
     * @param screenY The mouse press' screen ycoordinate.
     * @param thrust  Thrust ship forward or not. True move forward otherwise false.
    public void plotCourse(double screenX, double screenY, boolean thrust) {
        // get center of ship
        double sx = getCenterX();
        double sy = getCenterY();

        // get user's new turn position based on mouse click
        Vec v = new Vec(screenX, screenY, sx, sy);
        if (u == null) {
            u = new Vec(1, 0);

        double atan2RadiansU = Math.atan2(u.y, u.x);
        double atan2DegreesU = Math.toDegrees(atan2RadiansU);

        double atan2RadiansV = Math.atan2(v.y, v.x);
        double atan2DegreesV = Math.toDegrees(atan2RadiansV);

        double angleBetweenUAndV = atan2DegreesV - atan2DegreesU;

        // if abs value is greater than 180 move counter clockwise
        //(or opposite of what is determined)
        double absAngleBetweenUAndV = Math.abs(angleBetweenUAndV);
        boolean goOtherWay = false;
        if (absAngleBetweenUAndV > 180) {
            if (angleBetweenUAndV < 0) {                 turnDirection = DIRECTION.COUNTER_CLOCKWISE;                 goOtherWay = true;             } else if (angleBetweenUAndV > 0) {
                turnDirection = DIRECTION.CLOCKWISE;
                goOtherWay = true;
            } else {
                turnDirection = Ship.DIRECTION.NEITHER;
        } else {
            if (angleBetweenUAndV < 0) {                 turnDirection = Ship.DIRECTION.CLOCKWISE;             } else if (angleBetweenUAndV > 0) {
                turnDirection = Ship.DIRECTION.COUNTER_CLOCKWISE;
            } else {
                turnDirection = Ship.DIRECTION.NEITHER;

        double degreesToMove = absAngleBetweenUAndV;
        if (goOtherWay) {
            degreesToMove = TWO_PI_DEGREES - absAngleBetweenUAndV;

        //int q = v.quadrant();

        uIndex = Math.round((float) (atan2DegreesU / UNIT_ANGLE_PER_FRAME));
        if (uIndex < 0) {
            uIndex = NUM_DIRECTIONS + uIndex;
        vIndex = Math.round((float) (atan2DegreesV / UNIT_ANGLE_PER_FRAME));
        if (vIndex < 0) {             vIndex = NUM_DIRECTIONS + vIndex;         }         String debugMsg = turnDirection +                 " U [m(" + u.mx + ", " + u.my + ")  => c(" + u.x + ", " + u.y + ")] " +
                " V [m(" + v.mx + ", " + v.my + ")  => c(" + v.x + ", " + v.y + ")] " +
                " start angle: " + atan2DegreesU +
                " end angle:" + atan2DegreesV +
                " Angle between: " + degreesToMove +
                " Start index: " + uIndex +
                " End index: " + vIndex;


        if (thrust) {
            vX = Math.cos(atan2RadiansV) * THRUST_AMOUNT;
            vY = -Math.sin(atan2RadiansV) * THRUST_AMOUNT;

        u = v;

    private void turnShip() {

        final Duration oneFrameAmt = Duration.millis(MILLIS_PER_FRAME);
        RotatedShipImage startImage = directionalShips.get(uIndex);
        RotatedShipImage endImage = directionalShips.get(vIndex);
        List frames = new ArrayList<>();

        RotatedShipImage currImage = startImage;

        int i = 1;
        while (true) {

            final Node displayNode = currImage;

            KeyFrame oneFrame = new KeyFrame(oneFrameAmt.multiply(i),
                    new EventHandler() {

                        public void handle(javafx.event.ActionEvent event) {
                            // make all ship images invisible
                            for (RotatedShipImage shipImg : directionalShips) {
                            // make current ship image visible

                            // update the current index
                            //uIndex = directionalShips.indexOf(displayNode);
                    }); // oneFrame


            if (currImage == endImage) {
            if (turnDirection == DIRECTION.CLOCKWISE) {
                currImage = currImage.prev;
            if (turnDirection == DIRECTION.COUNTER_CLOCKWISE) {
                currImage = currImage.next;

        if (rotateShipTimeline != null) {
        } else {
            // sets the game world's game loop (Timeline)
            rotateShipTimeline = TimelineBuilder.create()




     * Stops the ship from thrusting forward.
     * @param screenX the screen's X coordinate to stop the ship.
     * @param screenY the screen's Y coordinate to stop the ship.
    public void applyTheBrakes(double screenX, double screenY) {

    public Missile fire() {
        Missile m1;

        float slowDownAmt = 0;
        if (KeyCode.DIGIT2 == keyCode) {
            m1 = new Missile(10, Color.BLUE);
            slowDownAmt = 2.3f;
        } else {
            m1 = new Missile(Color.RED);
        // velocity vector of the missile
        m1.vX = Math.cos(Math.toRadians(uIndex * UNIT_ANGLE_PER_FRAME)) * (MISSILE_THRUST_AMOUNT - slowDownAmt);
        m1.vY = -Math.sin(Math.toRadians(uIndex * UNIT_ANGLE_PER_FRAME)) * (MISSILE_THRUST_AMOUNT - slowDownAmt);

        // make the missile launch in the direction of the current direction of the ship nose. based on the
        // current frame (uIndex) into the list of image view nodes.
        RotatedShipImage shipImage = directionalShips.get(uIndex);

        // start to appear in the center of the ship to come out the direction of the nose of the ship.
        double offsetX = (shipImage.getBoundsInLocal().getWidth() - m1.node.getBoundsInLocal().getWidth()) / 2;
        double offsetY = (shipImage.getBoundsInLocal().getHeight() - m1.node.getBoundsInLocal().getHeight()) / 2;

        // initial launch of the missile
        m1.node.setTranslateX(node.getTranslateX() + offsetX + m1.vX);
        m1.node.setTranslateY(node.getTranslateY() + offsetY + m1.vY);
        return m1;

    public void changeWeapon(KeyCode keyCode) {
        this.keyCode = keyCode;



The Vec class is a simple helper container class to assist in holding a mouse click’s screen coordinates and converting them to Cartesian coordinates based on the center of a sprite, image, or shape. This class is used to help determine the angle between two vectors [Math.atan2(y,x)]. By determining the angle the ship is able to perform the rotation animation of the sprite image.

Shown below is the source code of the Vec class. Click to expand.

package carlfx.demos.navigateship;

 * This class represents a container class to hold a Vector in space and direction
 * the ship will move. Assuming the center of the ship is the origin the angles can
 * be determined by a unit circle via Cartesian coordinates.
 * When the user clicks on the screen the mouse coordinates or screen coordinates
 * will be stored into the mx and my instance variables.
 * The x and y data members are converted to cartesian coordinates before storing.
 * I purposefully left out getters and setters. In gaming just keep things minimalistic.
 * @author cdea
public class Vec {
    public double mx;
    public double my;

    public double x;
    public double y;

     * This is a default constructor which will take a Cartesian coordinate.
     * @param x  X coordinate of a point on a Cartesian system.
     * @param y  Y coordinate of a point on a Cartesian system.
    public Vec(float x, float y) {
        this.x = x;
        this.y = y;

     * Constructor will convert mouse click points into Cartesian coordinates based on the sprite's center point as
     * the origin.
     * @param mx  Mouse press' screen X coordinate.
     * @param my  Mouse press' screen Y coordinate.
     * @param centerX Screen X coordinate of the center of the ship sprite.
     * @param centerY Screen Y coordinate of the center of the ship sprite.
    public Vec(double mx, double my, double centerX, double centerY) {
        this.x = convertX(mx, centerX);
        this.y = convertY(my, centerY);
        this.mx = mx;
        this.my = my;

     * Returns a Cartesian coordinate system's quadrant from 1 to 4.
     *     first quadrant - 1 upper right
     *     second quadrant - 2 upper left
     *     third quadrant - 3 lower left
     *     fourth quadrant - 4 lower right
     * @return int quadrant number 1 through 4
    public int quadrant() {
        int q = 0;
        if (x > 0 && y > 0) {
            q =1;
        } else if (x < 0 && y > 0) {
            q = 2;
        } else if (x < 0 && y < 0) {             q = 3;         } else if (x > 0 && y < 0) {
            q = 4;
        return q;
    public String toString(){
        return "(" + x + "," + y + ") quadrant=" + quadrant();
     * Converts point's X screen coordinate into a Cartesian system.
     * @param mouseX Converts the mouse X coordinate into Cartesian system based on the ship center X (originX).
     * @param originX The ship center point's X coordinate.
     * @return  double value of a Cartesian system X coordinate based on the origin X.
    static double convertX(double mouseX, double originX) {
        return mouseX - originX;

     * Converts point's Y screen coordinate into a Cartesian system.
     * @param mouseY  Converts the mouse Y coordinate into Cartesian system based on the ship center Y (originY).
     * @param originY The ship center point's Y coordinate.
     * @return  double value of a Cartesian system Y coordinate based on the origin Y.
    static double convertY(double mouseY, double originY) {
        return originY - mouseY;



A RotatedShipImage class inherits from a JavaFX’s ImageView class, but also contains references to a previous and a next RotatedShipImage instances making up a doubly linked list. Figure 3 depicts 32 images of the of the “ship.png” rendered in each RotatedShipImage which are all placed in a JavaFX Group node. When the ship appears to rotate, one image is displayed at a time.

Shown below is the source code of the RotatedShipImage class. Click to expand.

package carlfx.demos.navigateship;

import javafx.scene.image.ImageView;

 * Represents a double link list to assist in the rotation of the ship.
 * This helps to move clockwise and counter clockwise.
public class RotatedShipImage extends ImageView {
    public RotatedShipImage next;
    public RotatedShipImage prev;


The Missile class inherits from the Atom class. The Missile acts as a marker class to differentiate between spheres (asteroids) and missiles. When missiles are created, they will contain the same direction of the ship (where the ship’s nose is pointing) with a larger velocity.

Shown below is the source code of the Missile class. Click to expand.

package carlfx.demos.navigateship;

import javafx.scene.paint.Color;

 * A missile projectile without the radial gradient.
public class Missile extends Atom {
    public Missile(Color fill) {
        super(5, fill, false);

    public Missile(int radius, Color fill) {
        super(radius, fill, true);


Input is so vital to any game play that it is often hard to get right. Older game engines will poll during a game loop. When using JavaFX 2.x’s event handling, you  implement the type of event to be added to the scene graph or to an individual Node object. Hopefully in the future, we will see more ingenious input devices used in gaming (see Oracle’s Java Technology Evangelist Simon Ritter).  Keep your eyes open for Part 4 which deals with collision detection. So, stay tuned and feel free to comment.


7-Eleven: http://www.7-eleven.com

Playing Asteroids: http://www.play.vg/games/4-Asteroids.html

Asteroids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroids_(video_game)

Scott Safran: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Safran

Arcade in Backyard: http://www.themysteryworld.com/2011/02/guy-builds-video-arcade-in-his-back.html

StarWars downsized: http://techland.time.com/2012/04/26/man-builds-16-scale-star-wars-arcade-game/

Trigonometry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigonometry

JavaFX Node API: http://docs.oracle.com/javafx/2/api/javafx/scene/Node.html

JavaFX Scene API: http://docs.oracle.com/javafx/2/api/javafx/scene/Scene.html

JavaFX SVGPath API: http://docs.oracle.com/javafx/2/api/javafx/scene/shape/SVGPath.html

Multi-Touch and Gestures Support: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javafx/overview/roadmap-1446331.html

Pro JavaFX 2 Apress publishing – pg. 62 chapter 2 section on “Handling Input Events” . http://www.apress.com/9781430268727

Java 7 Recipes Apress publishing- pg. 602 chapter 16 Recipe 16-3 “Animating Shapes Along a Path”. http://www.apress.com/9781430240563

Video Game arcade cabinet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_arcade_cabinet

Raster Graphics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raster_graphics

Part 3 source code at the GitHub: https://github.com/carldea/JFXGen/tree/master/demos/navigateship

JavaFX Canvas Node: http://mail.openjdk.java.net/pipermail/openjfx-dev/2012-April/001210.html

JavaFX- Optimizing Performance for JavaFX Applications: http://www.parleys.com/#st=5&id=2738&sl=0

Oracle’s Java Technology Evangelist Simon Ritter: https://blogs.oracle.com/javaone/entry/interfacing_with_the_interface_javafx

Video Game High School episode 1: http://www.rocketjump.com/?video=vghs-episode-1

Video Game High School episode 2: http://www.rocketjump.com/?video=vghs-episode-2-5

JavaFX 2 GameTutorial Part 1


figure 1 SVG of a spaceship


I believe most software developers at one point in their lives as a youngster (young person) may become compelled to create games to help them learn a programming languages (I know I did). Back in the day my first computer was actually a Franklin Ace 1000 and later an Apple ][. While developing games on those systems it was pretty challenging. For starters you had to learn assembly language (6502) and there were virtually little to no tools to create sprites (graphics assets). One of my favorite games that I believe was probably the first real time strategy (RTS) game was Rescue Raiders (1984).

Let’s fast forward to 2012 where computers, graphics tool kits, libraries, and game engines have come a long way since then. Many APIs will provide much of the plumbing that will shield the user of the API so that they may focus on making their games fun and exciting. Speaking of APIs JavaFX 2.x is not only a great UI toolkit to create nice looking applications, but you can make fun games. With JavaFX 2.x you will be able to create games that can kill time with hours of fun!

Growing up I was always fascinated with science fiction movies such as Star wars and Star trek. I’ve always wanted to create a simple top view display game (2D) where I could control my spaceship similar to the classic game Asteroids. However as time went by a friend shared with me the game Star Craft 1 and Brood wars I was just astonished. I really like the game play still to this very day, so I wanted to adopt some of the elements of the game such as navigating units and troops using the mouse pointer and buttons (ie: The Terran Battle Cruiser).

In this blog entry (Part 1) I will briefly explain the game play and how to navigate a spaceship using simple shapes (circles and lines). There isn’t any code to show you in part 1 (this blog entry), but a simple application to demonstrate how the ship will behave in the final game. As we progress through the series you will notice incremental changes such as cool sprites, sounds, etc. Remember the final game will just be a spaceship avoiding enemy ships and firing back with sound effects. The ship will appear like the one depicted at the beginning of this blog entry (figure 1).

I would like to create a series of blog entries (six parts) detailing tutorials to create a JavaFX 2.x game. Below is a brief summary of the series:

Part 1 – Introduction (Click here to run demo)
Part 2 – Game loop
Part 3 – Input / (Mouse, Keyboard)
Part 4 – Sprites / Collision
Part 5 – Sound
Part 6 – Concluding thoughts

Requirements & Design

  • Create a prototype of a spaceship using basic shapes.
  • Rotate the spaceship clockwise or counter clockwise depending on the screen location of a right mouse click.
  • Fire a projectile when the primary mouse button is pressed.
  • Display the mouse press (x, y) screen coordinates
  • Display angle of rotation when the ship’s nose (front of the ship) from zero degrees (0,0) to (1,0) [Cartesian system].
  • Display the direction (clockwise or counter clockwise) of the rotation of the spaceship

Shown in figure 2 is a simple prototype using simple shapes to help us focus on the math. A good principle is to create a functional prototype before investing a lot of time in drawing your graphics assets.

spaceship protype

figure 2 Spaceship Prototype

  • (MX, MY) – Mouse press (x, y) coordinate space on the JavaFX Scene.
  • (vx, vy) – End angle or mouse press(x, y) coordinate converted to Cartesian coordinates relative to the center of the ship.
  • (ux, uy) – Start angle or previous mouse press(x, y) coordinate converted to Cartesian coordinates relative to the center of the ship.
  • U’s angle: The angle of the start of the ships nose rotation. In a Cartesian coordinate system (1,0) the nose is pointing west or zero degrees. As the ship rotates counter clockwise the angle increases. When moving in a clockwise direction the rotation angle will be negative numbers.
  • V’s angle: The angle of the ships nose rotation where it should stop. In a Cartesian coordinate system (1,0) the nose is pointing east or zero degrees. As the ship rotates counter clockwise the angle increases. When moving in a clockwise direction the rotation angle will be negative numbers.
  • Direction: The rotation of the ship nose to turn the ship clockwise or counter clockwise. When clicking the mouse to turn the ship when less than 180 degrees the ship will turn towards the mouse click instead of turning the other way which is greater than 180 degrees (the long way).



  • Java 7 or later
  • JavaFX 2.0 or later
  • Windows XP or later (Should be available soon for Linux/MacOS)

A simple prototype of the navigation and weapon systems for the spaceship.


  • Right click (on Windows) mouse to fly ship.
  • Primary (left click on Windows mouse) to fire weapon.

Click here to run demo


Franklin Ace – Vintage Computer : http://www.vintage-computer.com/franklin.shtml

Apple ][ – Vintage Computer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_II

Rescue Raiders – Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue_Raiders

Star wars – Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/

Star trek – Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0796366/

Star craft – Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Craft

Star craft Brood wars – Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarCraft:_Brood_War

Rescue Raidershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue_Raiders