I just commited an implementation of GUI layout management, ported
over from my game project last year*.  What this means is that you no
longer need to position your widgets manually in dialogs, and can
instead lay them out in tables and boxes like the pros do. :) I've
redone a few of the dialogs using the new scheme (I'm especially proud
of the autopilot dialog: http://plausible.org/andy/autopilot-new.png),
so you can see what the possibilities look like.

* FWIW, this is almost the last of my useful code from last spring.
  Nasal and the Plib vertex splitting code are two other bits that
  were useful in isolation.  I also had a terrain engine and stencil
  shadow implementation, but those weren't really production quality.

Basically, the implementation is a preprocessor on top of the existing
dialog properties, which sets x/y/width/height values based on
constraints.  The <group> objects, including the top-level one which
represents the whole dialog, can now have a <layout> property, which
can be "hbox", "vbox", or "table".

The boxes simply lay out their children in order, either top-to-bottom
or left-to-right.  The box name comes from Qt and Gtk, but this is
also the same thing that Java calls a "flow layout", or what the Tk
"packer" does.  You can set "constraint" properties on the children,
to give the layout manager hints as to how to place the children.  For
the boxes, these are:

  equal:   The box manager makes sure that all the widgets with this
           constraint set to true get equal sizes big enough to fit the
           largest one.  This is very useful for button boxes to make
           the "OK" and "Cancel" buttons match, for example.
  stretch: Cells with "stretch" set to true get all the extra space,
           if any, the box has to allocate.  These are useful for
           alignment purposes, especially when combined with <empty>
           "widgets" (which are ignored by the dialog creation code,
           but honored by the layout engine).

The table layout will be a little more familiar to anyone with HTML
experience.  Children of tables get the following constraints:

  row:     The row number containing the upper left corner of the widget.
           Table rows are zero-indexed.
  col:     The column number containing the upper left corner of the widget.
           Table columns are zero-indexed.
  rowspan: The number of rows spanned by the widget. Defaults to one.
  colspan: The number of columns spanned by the widget.  Defaults to
           one.

Inside of each "cell", regardless of parent layout, there are some
constraints that are used to position the widget within the space
available:

  halign:      The horizontal alignment.  Can be "left", "right",
               "center", or "fill" (i.e. stretch to available space).
  valign:      The vertical alignment.  Can be "top", "bottom",
               "center", or "fill".
  padding:     The number of pixels to leave between the edge of the
               cell and the widget.
  pref-height:
  pref-width:  Overrides the default preferred size of the widget.
               Note that this is the size of the widget only, not the
               cell (which includes padding).

Also, the padding values for cells in a group can be set to a default
value with a <default-padding> property on the group widget.

Some will ask why didn't I implement this as part of Pui.  The problem
is the pui just isn't set up for it.  Not only is there no notion of
"preferred" size for a widget, there isn't anything remote like a
"constraint" system for attaching arbitrary values to widgets.  With
the property system, I have that for free (the original code was
written to work with Nasal objects, btw).  I can do the layout with
the properties and on the properties, and our existing dialog code
hardly needs to change at all.

Anyway, give it a try and see if I've broken anything.  Also, note
that some of these changes *do* modify the visual appearance of the
GUI.  I think it looks better, but opinions will no doubt vary.  Shout
if you hate it.

And finally, the text alignment doesn't quite look right with current
plib due to some minor rendering bugs.  Bug Steve to apply the patch I
submitted a week or so ago. :)

Andy


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