Hello World GUI

In this module, we will iteratively create a very simple application, introducing JavaFX basics one at a time.

Note that in this unit I will paste code containing a large number comments. Generally, this is bad style, and I am not encouraging students to duplicate it. However, because JavaFX is likely a first experience for my studnets with GUI development, I want to ensure each step of the way that students understand why a particular line of code was written.

Getting started

First, let’s simply get a Window that displays Hello World. To do that, we’ll use the following code:

import javafx.application.Application;
import javafx.scene.Scene;
import javafx.scene.control.Label;
import javafx.scene.layout.FlowPane;
import javafx.scene.layout.Pane;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

public class HelloWorld extends Application {
    public void start(Stage primaryStage) throws Exception {
        //create a Label to say Hello World
        Label helloLabel = new Label("Hello World!");

        //create a pane to act as the root Pane
        Pane root = new FlowPane();

        //add the Label to the root Pane

        //Create a Scene containing our root Pane
        Scene scene = new Scene(root);

        //Put our scene on stage

        //display the stage

If we run this code, you will get the following window.


Not exactly the most exciting thing, but this is just a first step.

Let’s walk through what we did do here. First, we created a Label to display the text HelloWorld. That label is created in the line:

    Label helloLabel = new Label("Hello World!");

The Label control has a constructor that takes in a String you wish to display. In this case, we are displaying the String "Hello World!"

We add this Label to our application by first creating the root pane:

    Pane root = new FlowPane();

And then adding the label to that Pane’s child Nodes.


Next, we create our Scene using a constructor that lets us define that scene’s root pane (in this case, root, the FlowPane we just created and populated):

    Scene scene = new Scene(root);

Set the primaryStage to show the scene:


And the finally show the Stage (application window)


But Wait… Where is main?

You might notice there is no main function in this app. That’s because the main is inherited from the imported Application class. In JavaFX, the Application class will automatically call the function start when the app is initialized. The Application class actually creates the Stage object (that is, the Window) and passes it to the start function. This is an example of the framework doing a lot of the lower-level stuff for you, so you can focus simply on building your application.

In short, you don’t define main, you can simply start with…well…start. However, you should never directly call the start method yourself! You should always allow the framework to handle it.

Next Module - Buttons and Events

In the next module, we will build on this application by adding a button that causes our text to change.

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