Section 8.15. Teaching History

8.15. Teaching History

The GWT uses an iframe tag on the application's HTML page, along with the class and interface, to provide back-button functionality. This shortcut provides the basics for setting this up in your Ajax application. Here are the steps.

First, make sure the iframe tag is uncommented in your HTML file. As initially generated by the applicationCreator script, as we used in this shortcut, the tag looks like this:

 <!-- OPTIONAL: include this if you want history support -->             <iframe  style="width:0;height:0;border:0"></iframe> 


For a brief explanation of how the iframe tag is linked with new history items, see Mark Pruett's Hack #68 in O'Reilly's Ajax Hacks.

Then, create a class that implements the interface, or just have your entry-point class implement the interface. This means that any class implementing the interface, such as my class, must define the onHistoryChanged(String string) method.

For example, the code in the demo application can initialize the history or back-button mechanism in the class' onModuleLoad() method, as GWT's documentation suggests. Here is the code.

 //Set up History or back button functionality //History.getToken() returns any token appended to the //page's URL following a hash mark, as in /GwtAjax.html#mytoken String initialState = History.getToken(); if (initialState.length() == 0)   initialState = "initialState"; // Call onHistoryChanged() to reflect the initial state, //Since the GWT does not automatically call this method //when the browser first loads the Ajax application. onHistoryChanged(initialState); // Make this class a history listener History.addHistoryListener(this); 

Our application includes code that adds new items to the browser's list of visited URLs or "history stack." The History.newItem(String item) method adds a URL to the history stack, thus causing the browser to enable the back button.

 History.newItem(new Date(timeBox.getText()).getTime()+""); 

The newItem() method appends a hash mark, or fragment identifier, and a token to the end of the current URL. So the method call History.newItem("nextState") would generate a URL such as:

 http://bwpmacmini.local/~bruceperry/ajax/com.parkerriver.gwt.intro.GwtAjax/GwtAjax.htm l#nextState 

The newItem() method also causes the application to call onHistoryChanged().

The code distinguishes between the different URLs stored in the history stack by examining the associated token (the hash mark and string at the end of the URL). The string passed into the onHistoryChanged() method represents the current token. Therefore, when the user clicks the back button, your implementation of onHistoryChanged() can examine the token and then, for instance, recreate the state associated with that segment of the history list. All the demo application does is display the current token in a purple label on the page. (See Figure 12.)

 public void onHistoryChanged(String string) {  RpcStatus stat = new RpcStatus();  stat.setStatusDivId("err_message");  stat.showStatus(true, "token: "+string, "purple"); } 

The application generates a unique token by taking the value of a text field that displays a date and time, and converting that date to a number by calling the java.util.Date.getTime() function. Figure 12 shows what the screen looks like in Firefox, including the frame showing a new list of history items, after the user has created a few new items.

 History.newItem(new Date(timeBox.getText()).getTime()+""); 

Figure 8-7. Navigating with a back button through a GWT application

Each time the user clicks the "Request Info" button, the code displays the fetched server data in the text fields, creates a new token by using the second field's content, calls History.newItem() with the new token as an argument, and finally, displays the new value in the purple label. The result is that a new URL with the token appended at the end of it (i.e., #1163441320000) is added to the top of the history stack.

The nice thing is that GWT pays attention to when the user clicks the back or forward button, calling your onHistoryChanged() method accordingly.

The demo application's history-related code is, well, a demonstration. A real-world application probably wants to recreate at least a part of the application's state if the user chooses a new item on the history list. For example, your application could use the token as a key in a HashMap. Each HashMap value represents the cached state linked to the key, such as TextBox or TextArea content. Whenever the user clicks the back or forward button to reproduce a saved state, the application could check the token, get the associated value in the Map, then restore the TextBox's or TextArea's content.

Google Web Toolkit for Ajax
Google Web Toolkit GWT Java AJAX Programming: A step-by-step to Google Web Toolkit for creating Ajax applications fast
ISBN: 1847191002
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 29

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