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Browsers are certainly talented as multi-language processors. They have to understand html, css, javascript, svg and lately web-assembly as a fifth language. XML and Json are format specifiers, but could be borderline categorised as languages as well.

Smart elevates javascript to great heights, but sort of leaves the other ones at the periphery. Especially css.

Css can be used for a) component styling including colours, fonts etc, b) visual layout of pages/forms and reacting responsively to screen size and orientation and c) interactivity in various forms. Some of this overlaps with the js domain. Smart basically uses css for a) but not for b) or c).

Looking at various css frameworks out there, I would categorise these as

  • on one end of the scale there are many UI kit frameworks where the emphasis is on components - buttons, accordions, cards etc. Sometimes as css stand-alone files, sometimes in conjunction with js. Most of these also have functionality for layout purposes, usually based on flexbox or internal grid structures.
  • on the other end of the scale there are frameworks which forego the component focus, but instead provide a large number of elementary styling functions, which can be applied to any component.
  • and many which occupy a space in between

This post is about the open source Tailwind framework, belonging in the second category above, just to see how that would work in the Smart environment.

Tailwind comes in 2 flavours : a static framework which can be accessed locally or from a cdn, and a more dynamic version. The latter can be tailored dynamically for any specific project and basically needs to be part of the build toolchain. To keep it simple I used the static version.

Change the res/app.css reference to the tailwind css file (either just replace it or change the reference in the index.html file). Now any component can be made to use this styling. Because this is not more (or less) than a list of individual styling functions, the use boils down to defining what you want. Tell a story as in "give me a button with a green background, which turns to blue on hover, has rounded corners and white text and a shadow effect which makes it seem floating". In code :

  W3Button1.handle.className := "bg-green-500 hover:bg-blue-700 text-white rounded shadow-2xl";

The second button in the demo project (see below) has a different story (className sequence), which gives it a totally different look and feel.

I kind of like this approach, it works very well with any component, thus also with the built in Smart components.

It is a bit of a drag specifying these className sequences by hand, so it would be nice if this would be supported in the IDE. There are after all only a small number of categories of these elementary styling bits : backgrounds, typography, borders, spacing, sizing, svg, interactivity and effects. And a relatively limited list of functions per category (bg-green-500 means a green background, 500 is the fifth shade in the green colour scheme. So there will be a bg-green-600, a bg-blue-200 etc). Doable I think.

Apart from these styling functions, Tailwind also has a number of layout functions. Smart has its own layout mechanism, however the Tailwind functions can be used as well. See the 'card' component in the demo.

Demo and source

 

 

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Hi, I might be missing the point - I click on tailwind one and see "oh" in a dialog. I click on tailwind 2 and nothing happens, no visual change.

 

checked firefox and chrome

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The point is that using normal Smart components, they can be styled very differently and exactly as you want with just 1 line of code. Try hovering your mouse to see visual changes

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Wow, you guys are funny.

The question I had was : what is the easiest way to style Smart components.

Smart ships with a couple of standard stylesheets, or themes, so styling is a matter of selecting one of these. To change the styling of a specific component in a theme, just change the css specifications in the stylesheet, either manually or through code.

A different topic altogether is to develop new themes. It is not a simple task to f.i. develop a Metro theme stylesheet which covers all of the current Smart visual components.

That's why I had a look at externally available css frameworks, to see if any of those would help with developing themes, or even work within the Smart development environment and if they are useful to begin with. I focused on one particular framework : Tailwindcss 

One of the problems with themes is when it becomes necessary to deviate from it. Say a project has chosen the default theme (default.css), but for some legitimate reason somewhere in the project a standard component has to be styled differently. Example : colour a button green to amplify a positive choice and colour it red to amplify dangerous choices ("do you really want to download these files from an unknown source ?" and then display a green "No" button and a red "Yes" button).

It's not that simple to make this actually happen.

Lets say we change the styling of the green button (based on the standard button), and opt to do that in code :

  var Button2 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button2.SetBounds(20,120,150,40);
  Button2.Caption := 'No';
  //
  Button2.handle.style.background := '#48bb78';          //Button2.Color := clTeal;
  Button2.handle.style.border := '1px solid #48bb78';    //Button2.Border.Color := clTeal;
  Button2.handle.style.borderRadius := '0px';            //Button2.borderradius := 0;
  Button2.handle.style.color := 'white';
  //
  //simulate hover
  Button2.handle.onmouseover := procedure(event: variant)
  begin
    event.target.style.background := 'orange';
  end;
  Button2.handle.onmouseout := procedure(event: variant)
  begin
    event.target.style.background := '#48bb78';
  end;

works sort of ok, but requires a bit of effort

Alternatively we can change the stylesheet, so if we opt to do that for the red button then this requires

  var Button3 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button3.SetBounds(200,120,150,40);
  Button3.Caption := 'Yes';
  //
  Button3.TagStyle.Clear;
  Button3.TagStyle.Add('TW3Button TW3ButtonRed');
  var cssProperties := 'background-color: red;';
  browserapi.document.styleSheets[0].insertRule(".TW3ButtonRed { " + cssProperties + " }", 0);
  /*
  .TW3ButtonRed {
    background-color: red;
  }
  */
  cssProperties := 'background-color: orange;';
  browserapi.document.styleSheets[0].insertRule(".TW3ButtonRed:hover { " + cssProperties + " }", 0);

either in code or adding the .TW3ButtonRed and the .TW3ButtonRed:hover manually to the stylesheet

Again, works but requires some effort

Using the Tailwind css framework, the above would be simplified to

  //green
  var Button4 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button4.SetBounds(20,220,150,40);
  Button4.Caption := 'No';
  Button4.handle.className := "bg-green-500 hover:bg-blue-700 px-6 text-white rounded shadow-xl";

  //red
  var Button5 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button5.SetBounds(200,220,150,40);
  Button5.Caption := 'Yes';
  Button5.TagStyle.Clear;
  Button5.TagStyle.Add("bg-red-500 hover:bg-blue-700 px-6 text-white rounded shadow-xl");

 

Button1 : standard styling
Button2 : changing standard styling in code
Button3 : changing standard styling using css
Button4/5 : using Tailwind

image.png

 

I've probably confused everyone even more now

Anyway, these are my thoughts : Tailwind has the advantage that it can style any of the standard Smart components. As such it could be used to make up a f.i. Metro theme. Still a significant task, but doable. Apart from that, I actually quite like Tailwind to style components on a need-to-do basis, their styling functions make the standard SMS buttons, panels, editboxes, memos etc look really good and modern.

(A card btw is just a panel with a certain layout, where usually multiple of these panels appear on a form or page.)

 

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Easy to use...

Suppose we want to develop a Metro theme
To take buttons as an example, the official metro style has a number of predefined buttons :

image.png

 

To replicate the above, and do it in such a way that :

  • the component code (TW3Button) does not need any change
  • the standard theming classes still apply (TW3Button TW3ButtonBorder TW3ButtonBackground), but with different content of course
  • while allowing for these different predefined component versions

is to do something like this

procedure TForm1.InitializeForm;
begin
  inherited;
  // this is a good place to initialize components

  var Button1 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button1.SetBounds(20,20,83,40);
  Button1.Caption := 'Default';

  var Button2 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button2.SetBounds(110,20,83,40);
  Button2.Caption := 'Primary';
  Button2.TagStyle.Add('primary');

  var Button3 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button3.SetBounds(200,20,83,40);
  Button3.Caption := 'Secondary';
  Button3.TagStyle.Add('secondary');

  var Button4 : TW3Button := TW3Button.Create(self);
  Button4.SetBounds(290,20,83,40);
  Button4.Caption := 'Success';
  Button4.TagStyle.Add('success');
end;

 

result :

image.png

 

with the metro css file for the above looking like this

/*
//////////////////////////////////////////
// TW3Button (default)
//////////////////////////////////////////
*/

.TW3Button {
    font-weight: 400;
    text-align: center;
    white-space: nowrap;
    vertical-align: middle;
    -webkit-user-select: none;
    -moz-user-select: none;
    -ms-user-select: none;
    user-select: none;
    border: 1px solid transparent;
    padding: 0 0.75rem;
    -webkit-transition: all 0.15s ease-in-out;
    transition: all 0.15s ease-in-out;
    background-color: #ebebeb;
    color: #1d1d1d;
    cursor: pointer;
    outline: none;
    -ms-touch-action: manipulation;
    touch-action: manipulation;
    -webkit-appearance: button;
    /*
    font-size: 0.875rem;
    line-height: 34px;
    height: 36px;
    */
}

.TW3Button:focus, .TW3Button:active {
    text-decoration: none;
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(228, 228, 228, 0.45);
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(228, 228, 228, 0.45);
}

.TW3Button:hover {
    background-color: rgba(29, 29, 29, 0.1);
}

.TW3ButtonBackground {
}

.TW3ButtonBorder {
}

/*
//////////////////////////////////////////
// TW3Button Primary
//////////////////////////////////////////
*/

.TW3Button.primary {
    outline-color: #75b5fd;
    background-color: #0366d6;
    color: #ffffff;
}

.TW3Button.primary:hover {
    color: #ffffff;
    background-color: #024ea4;
    border-color: #023671;
}

.TW3Button.primary:focus, .TW3Button.primary:active {
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(3, 102, 214, 0.45);
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(3, 102, 214, 0.45);
}

/*
//////////////////////////////////////////
// TW3Button Secondary
//////////////////////////////////////////
*/

.TW3Button.secondary {
    outline-color: #b7c6cd;
    background-color: #607d8b;
    color: #ffffff;
}

.TW3Button.secondary:hover {
    color: #ffffff;
    background-color: #4b626d;
    border-color: #36474f;
}

.TW3Button.secondary:focus, .TW3Button.secondary:active {
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(96, 125, 139, 0.45);
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(96, 125, 139, 0.45);
}

/*
//////////////////////////////////////////
// TW3Button Success
//////////////////////////////////////////
*/

.TW3Button.success {
    outline-color: #adeb6e;
    background-color: #60a917;
    color: #ffffff;
}

.TW3Button.success:hover {
    color: #ffffff;
    background-color: #477c11;
    border-color: #2d4f0b;
}

.TW3Button.success:focus, .TW3Button.success:active {
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(96, 169, 23, 0.45);
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 3px rgba(96, 169, 23, 0.45);
}

see demo (check click and hover states)

What do you think ?

 

By the way, this css file is made up by screenscraping, which is actually not too bad / timeconsuming. 
Alternatively it could also be composed out of relevant Tailwind functions, results would be very similar.

 

 

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Thanks

There are however a couple of minor / major (?) caveats doing it like this :

  • I made up some more metro components, and it becomes apparent that it is unavoidable to use more modifier classes: TagStyle.Add('primary image-button outline icon-left rounded etc).
  • this type of styling is not supported by the visual designer in the ide, so styling can be done in code only. Even though only one-liners (TagStayle.Add( )
  • (most rtl components (but not all) have a component, a border and a background theme class baked in. Not all of these can be reused, so sometimes the border and/or background classes may end up being empty)

probably the second bullet (visual designer) is the most important one for future enhancements

 

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