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ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

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Creating and Accessing Pop-up Menus in AIR Applications with Flash CS4

The Essential Guide to Flash CS4 AIR Development book is oriented to Flash developers

The Essential Guide to Flash CS4 AIR Development book is oriented to Flash developers interested in building desktop applications via Adobe AIR. You can order The Essential Guide to Flash CS4 AIR Development  on Amazon or buy it on local bookstore.

Reading my previous AIR tutorials, you’ve worked with menus that are associated with tangible elements of your applications, such as the following:

  • Context menus that are activated on objects on the stage
  • Context menus associated with icons in the system tray or dock bar
  • Menus associated with windows and menus of the application itself

AIR applications also allow you to create pop- up menus . These are native menus like all the other ones you’ve seen so far—the only difference is that pop- up menus aren’t natively associated with any element on the interface of the application. It’s up to the developer to define and implement the logic and the way in which a pop- up menu can be activated. An
AIR application can have any number of pop- up menus.

You can show a pop- up menu anywhere on the stage. It can be activated in the following ways: if the user clicks a button, if the mouse rolls over any object, if the user presses
a combination of keys, and on any other condition you want for your application.

Activating pop- up menus
The NativeMenu class has the display() method to activate a pop- up menu. Every time this method is called, the pop- up menu appears at the specified coordinates. The display()
method requires the three following arguments:

Destination stage : Specifies which stage has to display the pop- up menu. If the AIR application is on only one NativeWindow- type window, the destination stage is automatically the window that displays the application. If you’re making a multiwindow application, you will have to specify the stage of the window you want to display the pop- up menu on.

Coordinate (X axis) : Specifies the position on the X axis of the pop- up menu. This coordinate specifies the position from the top left corner of the menu. The coordinate will apply to the stage you’ve specified as a first argument of the function. Coordinate (Y axis) : Specifies the position on the Y axis where you want to display the pop- up menu. This coordinate specifies the position from the top left corner of the menu. The coordinate will apply to the stage you’ve specified as a first argument of the function.

Creating pop- up menus
Open the ch06p05.fla project , which will allow you to create a pop- up menu. You can see the stage of the application and the elements it contains in Figure 6-17. The point is to obtain a native pop- up menu that will be displayed at specific coordinates in response to a click of the button with an instance name of button. The menu will be also displayed in response to the press of the M key on the keyboard.

To offer more flexibility to the user, two components of the NumericStepper class have been provided, with a posX and posY ID. These components allow you to dynamically change the coordinates where you want the pop- up menu to appear. Finally, there is a TextArea with an output ID. From the beginning of this chapter, you’ve seen this component being used as the destination of the messages that are generated during the execution of the application.

Access the document class of the project by clicking the Edit class definition icon on the Document Properties panel in Flash CS4. The class begins by defining its namespace and specifying the following external classes it depends on:

package com.comtaste.foed.essentialair.chapter6
{
import fl.controls.Button;
import fl.controls.NumericStepper;
import fl.controls.TextArea;
import flash.desktop.NativeApplication;
import flash.display.MovieClip;
import flash.display.NativeMenu;
import flash.display.NativeMenuItem;
import flash.events.Event;
import flash.events.KeyboardEvent;
import flash.events.MouseEvent;
import flash.filesystem.File;

public class Ch06p05 extends MovieClip
{

Before creating the constructor method, you define the class properties the application needs. Among the properties, you’ll find a reference to every element on the stage of the Flash project. You’ll also find the menuRoot property , which contains the instance of the NativeMenu class you’ll use as a pop- up menu. The following code accomplishes these tasks:

// onstage components
public var posX:NumericStepper;
public var posY:NumericStepper;
public var button:Button;
public var output:TextArea;
// class properties
private var menuRoot:NativeMenu;
The constructor method of the class instantiates and populates the native menu. Then it
registers the event listener functions that will activate the pop- up menu, as shown here:


public function Ch06p05()
{
super();


After calling the super constructor of the class, you call the createNativeMenu() method , which populates the pop- up menu. You also register the event listener function that will be called when the user selects one of the items on the menu. Here’s the code:

// generate native menu to use
createNativeMenu();

Next, you’ll register two event listener functions. One will be used when the user presses the keys on the keyboard, and the other is for the click event on the button on the stage. Here’s the code for these event listener functions:

// assign event listener to key press
NativeApplication.nativeApplication.addEventListener(KeyboardEvent.KEY_UP,
showPopupMenuFromKeyboard );

// assign event listener to click on button
this.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, showPopupMenu );

}


The createNativeMenu() method instantiates and populates the pop- up menu in the application. To populate the pop- up menu you use the same procedure as all the previous
examples. You assign an instance of the NativeMenu class to the menuRoot class property . Then you create and add three objects of the NativeMenuItem class to the native menu. Each element of the menu is registered on the menuItemSelected() method for when the user selects it on the menu. The following code accomplishes these tasks:

// create a complete native menu
private function createNativeMenu():void
{
// instantiate main menu object
menuRoot = new NativeMenu();

// append items to menu root
var item1:NativeMenuItem = new NativeMenuItem( "Item 1" );
item1.addEventListener( Event.SELECT, menuItemSelected );

menuRoot.addItem( item1 );
var item2:NativeMenuItem = new NativeMenuItem( "Item 2" );
item2.addEventListener( Event.SELECT, menuItemSelected );

menuRoot.addItem( item2 );
var item3:NativeMenuItem = new NativeMenuItem( "Item 3" );
item3.addEventListener( Event.SELECT, menuItemSelected );

menuRoot.addItem( item3 );

}

Each time the user selects an element from the pop- up menu, the menuItemSelected() method is launched. This accesses the text label of the object of the selected NativeMenuItem class . The name of the selected element on the menu will appear in the TextArea on the stage. Here’s the code:

// called on click on menu item selection
private function menuItemSelected( evt : Event ):void
{
var item:NativeMenuItem = evt.target as NativeMenuItem;

output.appendText( "CLICKED ON: " + item.label + File.lineEnding );
}

In the constructor method of the class, the showPopupMenuFromKeyboard() method is linked to pressing the keys on the keyboard. This method will be launched each time the application is active and the user presses any key. Here’s the code:

// called when user presses a key on his keyboard
private function showPopupMenuFromKeyboard( evt : KeyboardEvent ):void
{

Next, you assign the key the user presses to a local variable. To obtain the pressed key, you use the static fromCharCode() method of the String class . You pass the value of the charCode property , which is transported by the object of the KeyboardEvent class received as an argument of the function to the method:

// access pressed key
var keyString:String =
String.fromCharCode( evt.charCode ).toLowerCase();

You check if the value associated with the key on the keyboard is the letter M. If it is, you show the pop- up menu in the window of the application using the values of NumericStepper components on the stage, with posX and posY as coordinates. Here’s the code:

// if key pressed is valid show pop- up menu
if( keyString == "m" )
{
menuRoot.display( this.Stage, posX.value, posY.value );
}
}

Finally, the showPopupMenu() method is registered on the click event of the button with the instance name button in the class constructor method. When the user clicks the button, it shows the pop- up menu at the coordinates that have been specified by the two NumericStepper components on the stage of the application.

// called when button is clicked
private function showPopupMenu( evt : MouseEvent ):void
{

// show pop- up menu
menuRoot.display( this.Stage, posX.value, posY.value );

}

Now, go back to the Flash ch06p05.fla project to see the results of your work. Select the Test Movie item from the Control menu to execute the application. Try clicking the button
or pressing the m key on your keyboard. You can see an example of the activated pop- up menu in Figure 6-18.

This is the complete ActionScript class that you just created:

package com.comtaste.foed.essentialair.chapter6
{
import fl.controls.Button;
import fl.controls.NumericStepper;
import fl.controls.TextArea;
import flash.desktop.NativeApplication;
import flash.display.MovieClip;
import flash.display.NativeMenu;
import flash.display.NativeMenuItem;
import flash.events.Event;
import flash.events.KeyboardEvent;
import flash.events.MouseEvent;
import flash.filesystem.File;

public class Ch06p05 extends MovieClip
{
// onstage components
public var posX:NumericStepper;
public var posY:NumericStepper;
public var button:Button;
public var output:TextArea;

// class properties
private var menuRoot:NativeMenu;

public function Ch06p05()
{
super();
// generate native menu to use
createNativeMenu();
// assign menu to click on button
NativeApplication.nativeApplication.addEventListener(
KeyboardEvent.KEY_UP, showPopupMenuFromKeyboard );
this.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, showPopupMenu );
}

// create a complete native menu
private function createNativeMenu():void
{
// instantiate main menu object
menuRoot = new NativeMenu();
// append items to menu root
var item1:NativeMenuItem = new NativeMenuItem( "Item 1" );
item1.addEventListener( Event.SELECT, menuItemSelected );
menuRoot.addItem( item1 );
var item2:NativeMenuItem = new NativeMenuItem( "Item 2" );
item2.addEventListener( Event.SELECT, menuItemSelected );
menuRoot.addItem( item2 );
var item3:NativeMenuItem = new NativeMenuItem( "Item 3" );
item3.addEventListener( Event.SELECT, menuItemSelected );
menuRoot.addItem( item3 );
}

// called when user presses a key on his keyboard
private function showPopupMenuFromKeyboard(
evt : KeyboardEvent ):void
{
var keyString:String =
String.fromCharCode( evt.charCode ).toLowerCase();
if( keyString == "m" )
{
menuRoot.display( this.stage, posX.value, posY.value );
}
}

// called when button is clicked
private function showPopupMenu( evt : MouseEvent ):void
{
menuRoot.display( this.stage, posX.value, posY.value );
}

// called on click on menu item selection
private function menuItemSelected( evt : Event ):void
{
var item:NativeMenuItem = evt.target as NativeMenuItem;
output.appendText( "CLICKED ON: " +
item.label + File.lineEnding );
}
} // close class
} // close package

The display() method of the NativeMenu class only works properly on Microsoft Windows systems. Flash Player doesn’t work properly on Mac OS X systems, and displays the pop- up
menu on the cursor of the mouse instead of at the specified coordinates. This occurs if the call to the display() function happens as a consequence of an event of the MouseEvent class . If the call happens in response to other events, the application doesn’t display the pop- up menu at all. In the next section, you’ll see how to create flexible native menus defined via external configuration documents.

More Stories By Marco Casario

Marco Casario is CEO of Comtaste, a company devoted to develop Rich Internet Applications on the Web and for mobile devices.

He collaborates intensively with Adobe Italy as a speaker at conferences and as a consultant for Flash, Flex, and Flash Lite.

Learn more about Marco Casario at his blog http://casario.blogs.com. In 2005, Marco has founded Comtaste, a company dedicated to exploring new frontiers in Rich Internet Applications and the convergence between the web and the world of mobile devices — MobyMobile and YouThru are representative of their recent work. He is founder of the biggest worldwide Flash Lite User Group and of www.augitaly.com, a reference point for the Italian community of Adobe users, in which he carries out the role of Channel Manager for the section dedicated to Flex.

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