Workspace orbtk_widgets

As a UI developer consuming OrbTk, you most probably will get in touch with the widget sub-crate. If you get comfortable with the terminology of views and their states, it’s quite easy to implement even complex structures. The GUI components are declarative and you will code them inside the view blocks. All callbacks that will handle the functional processing are coded inside the state blocks. User input (e.g. mouse events, keyboard input) as well as event handler generated feedback is handled and processed from methods of the associated state blocks.

The behavior modules are separated to handle specialized cases. If an event is emitted that belongs to a behavior class, the associated action is handled by a behavior method. In particular you will recognize modules for the following behaviors:

  • focus
  • mouse
  • selection
  • text


When you create a view block inside an OrbTk application, it is required to insert definitions that declare what elements are going to be present inside the user interface.

What is a View

If you take the Rust code that makes a view in a structural way, it will answer to the following questions:

  • Which entities are used?
  • What is the entities tree formed?
  • What attributes are coupled with the given entity?
  • What handlers should take care when a given event is emitted?

What is the code structure of a View

First, the inside the source code that takes your view needs to call the widget! macro. This macro automatically implements the Widget trait. When instantiated, it will inherit all default properties from a base widget, which gets you started with consistent preset values.

The syntax of this macro call will require you to select

  • the desired view-name (e.g: “NavigationView”)
  • optional: the name of the associated state-structure (e.g: ““)

If you like to assign property names inside the view, go ahead and introduce an extensible list of the property-variables. Each variable will take a name and define its associated type.

In a next step you enhance the Template trait with an implementation of your new widget. You are required to code a function called template. The syntax of this function will take the following arguments

  • self, the implementation of your view-name
  • the Id of the entity
  • the Context, as a mutual reference to the BuildContext

All the widget structures you are going to use inside of template will be coded as child’s of self.


When you create a state block inside an OrbTk application, it is required to define the structures you want to work on in the State implementation.

What is a State

The Rust code that makes a state is associated to the view block of your widget. Go and ask yourself:

  • What actions should be processed on a given event?
  • How should we handle user input?
  • What happens if an entity attribute is changed and gets dirty?

From a procedural point of view, states will provide methods that are processed depending of the event status inside the a widget.

graph TD;

Workflow 1-1: State handling methods

What is the structure of a State

First, inside the source code that takes your state, you will go and declare its structure name. This name corresponds to the parameter value you chose inside the widget! macro call of your widgets view (e.g “NavigationState”).

In a next step you enhance the State trait with an implementation of your state structure. Most probable, you create and adapt the following functions:

The cleanup function

This function is called as a destructor, when a widget is removed or your application terminates.

The init function

This function is called to initialize the widget state. You can preset attributes before the view is activated and presented to the user.

The message function

The message subsystem is offering methods to chain events, that can be interchanged and accessed from any defined state. You will code a message function to take advantage of this functionality.

The syntax of this function will take the following arguments

  • self, the implementation of your message function
  • the mutable messages variable, referencing the MessageReader
  • the Context, as a mutual reference to the BuildContext

As already explained, you should define an action enumeration, (e.g “NavigationAction”), that will code the values that are possible or desired (e.g “SaveSettings”, “LoadSettings”). Inside the message function you will loop through the messages and match the action values you are interested in.

The update function

Whenever the attribute of an entity is changed, OrbTk will render it dirty. The update function is taking care to react on any triggered dirty state. You will probably define an Action enumeration that will name and list all action states you are interested in. Now, if you match an action in the update function, you can react on this with all the Rust syntax flexibility.

The update_post_layout function

OrbTk will run this function after the rendering crate has processed the new layout for your view.