Pure Java Code to Call JavaFX Class

In my previous post Interoperability between JavaFX and Java, I discussed three possible approaches to invoke JavaFX features from the Java side. These approaches were:

1. The ScriptEngineManager class. It is based on JSR-223, the java scripting API, which allows a java program to call a script(such as JavaFX Script, javascript).
2. The JavaFX reflection API. It can probably call any classes in JavaFX.
3. The JavaFX class implements a Java interface so that a Java program can invoke the JavaFX class via the interface. The interface acts as a bridge between the two sides.

The third one seems the most elegant to call JavaFX from Java. However, there is a drawback: the program should start from the JavaFX side. The reason is that it is simpler to use JavaFX code to instantiate the JavaFX classes which can be passed to Java code. Nevertheless, in some scenario, it would be better to start the program from the java side. For example, if you want to add in some JavaFX features to an existing large java application, it is better to have java code as the entry point. To solve this issue, I am combining the essence of Approach 2 and 3 to create the below example.

Let’s say we want to invoke the latest charting functions of JavaFX 1.2 from the java code. We will first use the JavaFX reflection API to instantiate the JavaFX class. We then use it via its java interface. So we define a Java interface first.

 * JavaInterface.java
 * @author Henry Zhang      http://www.javafxgame.com
package javatest;
public interface JavaInterface {
  public void addData(String name, float data);
  public void showChart();

The next step is to create a JavaFX class MyChart to implements this interface:

 * MyChart.fx
 * @author Henry Zhang     http://www.javafxgame.com
package javatest;

import javafx.scene.chart.PieChart;
import javafx.scene.Scene;
import javafx.scene.text.Font;
import javafx.scene.text.Text;
import javafx.stage.Stage;
import javafx.scene.chart.PieChart3D;

public class MyChart extends JavaInterface {
  var chartData :  PieChart.Data[] = [];
  public override function addData( l:String, v: Number):Void {
    var labelString = l;

    var data =  PieChart.Data {
      label : l
      value : v
      action: function() {
        println("{labelString} clicked!");
     } ;

    insert data into chartData;

  public override function showChart() : Void {
    var chart =
      PieChart3D {
        data : chartData
        pieThickness: 25
        pieLabelFont: Font{ size: 9 };
        pieToLabelLineOneLength: 10
        pieToLabelLineTwoLength : 20
        pieLabelVisible: true
        pieValueVisible: true
        translateY: -50

    Stage {
      title: "PieChart Window"
      width: 520
      height: 300
      scene: Scene {
        content: [
          Text {
            font : Font {
                    size : 16
            x: 200
            y: 20
            content: "Pie Chart"

The last thing is to write the java main class JavaTest.

 * JavaTest.java
 * @author Henry Zhang    http://www.javafxgame.com
package javatest;

import javafx.reflect.FXClassType;
import javafx.reflect.FXLocal;
import javafx.reflect.FXLocal.Context;
import javafx.reflect.FXLocal.ObjectValue;

public class JavaTest {
  public static void main(String args[]) {
    Context context = FXLocal.getContext();
    FXClassType instance = context.findClass("javatest.MyChart");
    ObjectValue obj = (ObjectValue)instance.newInstance();

    JavaInterface ji = (JavaInterface)obj.asObject();

    String [] labels = {"January", "Febuary", "March", "April"};
    int [] values = { 18, 20, 25, 37 };

    for ( int i=0; i < values.length; i++ ) {
      ji.addData(labels[i], values[i]);


In the above code, there are three lines for instantiating a JavaFX class via reflection:

    Context context = FXLocal.getContext();
    FXClassType instance = context.findClass("javatest.MyChart");
    ObjectValue obj = (ObjectValue)instance.newInstance();

The next line is to convert the JavaFX instance into a java interface so that it can be used by Java code:

    JavaInterface ji = (JavaInterface)obj.asObject();

If you are using NetBeans IDE, you can set javatest.JavaTest as the main class in your project properties(so that it can be the entry point of your program). Build this project you will get a javatest.jar. Running this program produces the below screenshot:

Java PieChart via JavaFX

To run it from the command line, use the below command:

   javafx -jar javatest.jar

Actually, you could do it in the purest java style by including all the JavaFX runtime stuffs, the command would look like this:

 java -Djava.library.path="<path to javafx sdk lib>" 
     -classpath "<all javafx sdk jars>" -jar javatest.jar

Since there are many jar files used by the JavaFX, this purest java approach turns out to be very troublesome. I would rather use the javafx command, which is a wrapper of the above java command.

Please leave comments if you have any questions.

This article is cross-posted at Calling JavaFX Classes from Pure Java Code. The Chinese translation can be found at http://www.javafxblogs.com.

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Pac-Man Widget for JavaFX 1.2

To fully take advantage of the power of JavaFX 1.2, Stephen Chin had just released the WidgetFX 1.2 API beta version. There is even a widget contest running until the end of July.

Just before the JavaOne 2009, Jim Weaver asked me to write a widget for my JavaFX Pac-man game. The WidgetFX API was quite simple to use, so I finished it pretty soon. The game widget later got demo-ed on Jim and Steve’s JavaOne sessions. There was a small problem of the pac-man widget: it run relatively slow due to the performance issue of JavaFX 1.1. Since JavaFX 1.2 and WidgetFX 1.2 are ready now, I am modifying the code to see the improvement on performance.

First, the code of the Pac-Man game needs to be modified a little bit for JavaFX 1.2 . Since multi-inheritance is gone, we need to use mixin classes now. You can refer to my articles on insideRIA.com for details of the code. Changes for JavaFX 1.2 were given on comments of Article 4 by Patrick Webster. I also added in a pausing key(“P” button) handling for the game. I compiled the game into a pacman.jar file.

The next step is to write the widget. Actually, the code is quite simple if you do not have stuffs like configuartion etc. Let’s take a look at the code below:

 * PacManWidget.fx
 * http://www.javafxgame.com

package pacmanwidget;

import org.widgetfx.Widget;

 * @author Henry Zhang

def defaultWidth = 528.0;
def defaultHeight = 576.0;

def maze =  pacman.Maze {};

var widget:Widget = Widget {
    width: defaultWidth
    height: defaultHeight
    aspectRatio: defaultWidth / defaultHeight
    resizable: false
    content: maze          

    onDock: function():Void {

return widget;

In the standalone game, an instance of the Maze class was put into the content variable of a Stage. Now, instead of putting it into a Stage, we add it into a Widget. To do this, we can just set the content variable of a Widget instance. Other attributes of the Widget class are quite straightforward, mostly for resizing purposes. The next thing is to write a onDock() function to pause the game when the widget gets docked. The game can be resumed after pressing the “p” button when it is undocked.

The last thing is to deploy it on a web server. We need a JNLP file. Be sure to write the jnlp file of the JavaFX 1.2 style. Netbeans can generate the JNLP file which we can modify for deployment. I listed below part of my jnlp file. Besides the widget code PacManWidget.jar, there are supporting jar files( pacman.jar and WidgetFX-API.jar) under the /lib folder as well. Notice that there is a bug in the generated JNLP file by NetBeans 6.5.1: the <update> tag is missing a slash(/) at the end of the tag.

 . . . . . .
     <j2se version="1.5+" />
     <extension name="JavaFX Runtime"
     <jar href="PacManWidget.jar" main="true"/>
     <jar href="lib/pacman.jar"/>
     <jar href="lib/WidgetFX-API.jar"/>
 <application-desc main-class="com.sun.javafx.runtime.main.Main">
 <update check="background" />
 . . . . . .

Now, you can click on the below button to start the Pac-man widget for JavaFX 1.2. Enjoy!

Pac-Man Widget 1.2

Pac-Man Game Widget for WidgetFX 1.2

JavaFX Pac-Man Game Article 5

On java.net, there was a post by kfarnham about my articles on writing Pac-man game in JavaFX. He wondered whether there would be a fifth article. The answer is positive. Yesterday, my last article of a series, “Writing the Pac-Man Game in JavaFX Part 5“, had been published on insiderRIA.com. This final article detailed the chasing algorithms of the ghosts. I think it is probably one of the most interesting things in the code.

When writing the game, there are a few points we need to consider before designing an algorithm of the ghosts, such as effectiveness, randomness, simplicity. You can refer to the article about considerations on these aspects. An excerpt from the article is listed below in blue text. It discussed the choice of a proper algorithm. This algorithm not only serves as the chasing logic, it can also control the escaping behavior of the ghosts.

. . . . . .
After some thinking, I found that the distance between a ghost and the Pac-Man is a good ranking metric. The shorter the distance is, the higher the score is given to a particular choice. The advantages of using the distance as a metric are obvious. It is very simple and can be caculated easily. Besides, this algorithm makes a ghost move in the direction that has the shortest distance to thePac-Man. To illustrate this algorithm, let’s look at the below figure.

In the figure, the ghost Blinky is moving into an intersection from the right to the left. When it reaches the intersection, it has three possible choices of its next movement: to go up, to go down and to continue heading left. Going down is not a valid move because it hits the border of the maze. So we need to compare the other two options. The below table shows the computation of the distance of the two possible moves:

Choice X distance Y distance Total
Intersection 3 10 13
Up 3 9 12
Left 4 10 14

As shown in the table, the distance from the intersection to the Pac-Man character is 13 (The distance between two adjacent dots is 1). If Blinky goes up, the distance is reduced to 12. If it heads left, the distance becomes 14. Therefore, going up seems a better choice for Blinky. In this way, Blinky should be able to get closer and closer to the Pac-Man and eventually catches him.

Of course, this simple algorithm does not take into consideration for the walls in the maze. For this reason, sometimes the calculated score does not in fact represent the shortest path. However, this inaccuracy makes the ghosts appear “stupid” in the game, which is the randomness we want to achieve in the behavior. So we are going to implement it in our code. We rewrite the class MoveDecision. When the function evaluate() calculates a score, it takes in two arguments: the reference to Pac-Man instance and whether the ghost is in a hollow state. The variable distance is used to compute the score. If the ghost is going after the Pac-Man character, the score is 500-distance, which means a shorter distance yields a higher score. If the Pac-Man is hunting the ghosts(when they are hollow), the score is caculated as 500+distance. This makes the ghosts running away from the Pac-Man.
. . . . . .

Now that all the articles had been published and I hope you enjoyed reading them. The game was originally written in JavaFX 1.0, and was compatible with JavaFX 1.1. Because multi-inheritance has been removed in JavaFX 1.2, I made some minor changes to the code. The abstract class MovingObject had been changed to mixin class. The code for JavaFX 1.2 can be download from JavaFX Game Download Page.

You can now click on the below image to play the completed Pac-Man game, it is based on the newly released JavaFX 1.2 . With the improved performance, the game run very smoothly.

click to run

click to run

Related Articles:

JavaFX Pac Man Part 5
Develop Games in JavaFX
JavaFX MineSweeper Demo Game
JavaFX Demo Game: LinkUP
WidgetFX Game Widgets: Pac-Man
My First JavaFX Game Demo
JavaFX Discussion Blogs

The Featured Articles on insideRIA.com:

May 14, 2009: Writing the Pac-Man Game in JavaFX – Part 1

May 21, 2009: Writing the Pac-Man Game in JavaFX – Part 2

May 28, 2009: Writing the Pac-Man Game in JavaFX – Part 3

June 4, 2009: Writing the Pac-Man Game in JavaFX – Part 4

June 11, 2009:Writing the Pac-Man Game in JavaFX – Part 5

Writing the Pac-Man Game Part 4

My latest article of a series, “Writing the Pac-Man Game in JavaFX Part 4“, was out on June 4. As we continue on bulding the game, the articles are getting more and more interesting now.

In this fourth article, the interaction between Pac-Man character and the four ghosts was implemented. The article showed how to determine whether the Pac-man character and a ghost touched each other. A simplified equation was applied to achieve better performance. When Pac-man touches a ghost, he can eat it if the ghost is hollow. The ghost then is thrown back to the cage again. Otherwise, the ghost eats the Pac-man, at this moment, an animation of showing a dying Pac-Man appears. This is in fact a shrinking circle which disappears at the end of the animation. The animation is accomplished by the DyingPacMan class.

The below figure depicts the animation process of the dying Pac-man character.

shriking pac-man

The code of DyingPacMan.fx is listed below:

public class DyingPacMan extends Arc {
  var timeline = Timeline {
     repeatCount: 1
     keyFrames: [
        KeyFrame {
           time: 600ms
           action: function() {
           // hide the pacMan character & ghosts before the animation
              maze.pacMan.visible = false;
              for ( g in maze.ghosts ) {
              visible = true;
           values: [ startAngle => 90, length=>360 ];  
        KeyFrame {
           time: 1800ms
           action: function() {
              visible = false;
           values: [ startAngle => 270 tween Interpolator.LINEAR,
                     length => 0 tween Interpolator.LINEAR ]
 ... code omitted ...

As you can see it in the code, there are two keyframes of the animation. Interpolations of two instance variables, startAngle and length, are involved during the animation. To better illustrate this process, the below figure shows the change of the shape against a timeline. The animation started with a pause of 600ms and then the first key frame appears, which is a full circle. After that, the full circle will gradually turns into nothing(empty circle). This effect is done by the interpolation provided by JavaFX API.

timeline pac-man

Hope you enjoy reading the articles. You can use arrow keys to play the current version of the game. The ghosts are moving randomly which makes the game less challenging. In the next article, I will introduced a better algorithm. Try it by clicking the below screenshot:

click to run
click to run

Related Articles:

More articles on JavaFX Games: Developing Games in JavaFX
Source of the Pac-Man Game
JavaFX Demo Game: MineSweeper
JavaFX Demo Game: LinkUP
Game Widgets for WidgetFX: Pac-Man
My JavaFX Demo Game: Pac-Man