Responsive Design in ZK Part 2

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DocumentationSmall Talks2017OctoberResponsive Design in ZK Part 2
Responsive Design in ZK Part 2

Matthieu Duchemin, Engineer, Potix Corporation
October 3, 2017
ZK 8.0.2


In Responsive Design in ZK Part1, we have provided definitions, illustrations and simple examples for fluid design and responsive design. In continuation of Part1, we will look at responsiveness and integration between fluid and responsive design approaches in this session.

Responsive Design

While a fluid layout make a UI usable in any screen resolution, some user experiences may require widely different layout and designs depending on the type or size of the devices used to browse the application. In this case, responsive design is recommended as it can be used to switch between layouts based on browser width.

This is different from fluid design as in responsive design the page structure is altered. A fluid page will simply change the display properties of its content without changing the content organization or nature. Responsiveness requires more design work to generate a full page states, resulting in providing a much wider range of possibilities to adapt the page design to be relevant on any device type and/or size. In the following subsections I will introduce several useful features for doing responsive design in ZK.

zk responsive schema

2.1 MVC Client Info event and composer

The onClientInfo event is used to relay client information such as device dimensions, orientation to the server, and update them if they changed while browsing. This event will fire during page initialization and whenever the client properties change, for example, change of tablet orientation or when desktop browser resized. More information of this event can be found here:

This event can be leveraged in the MVC pattern, using a controller to alter the page structure based on the information returned from the client. For example, we may want to create a design where a dropdown component to select one of 3 options will displayed on “large” devices (width >= 1200px), but will be replaced by 3 radio buttons on smaller devices. The underlying data model is reused between these two UI states. When transitioning to a different state we can use this technique to initialize the new UI objects based on the previous UI state data.

In the MVC pattern, the component tree is modified directly by the composer. When the onClientInfo listener is triggered, the composer will test if the responsive state has changed. If necessary, it will remove children from the anchor component and add the relevant new structure to the page.

Registering the ClientInfo event listener on the page's root component to define actions upon changes on client properties:

//ClientInfoEvent is used to perform actions when client size (or orientation) is changed
comp.addEventListener(Events.ON_CLIENT_INFO, new EventListener<ClientInfoEvent>() {
	public void onEvent(ClientInfoEvent event) throws Exception {

Full example available on Github

2.2 MVVM media queries and Shadow components

The same structure can be created following the MVVM pattern using the @MatchMedia annotation introduced in ZK 8.0.2 and Shadow Elements introduced in ZK 8.0.0

More information on ZK MatchMedia

More information on ZK Shadow Elements

The MVVM is a natural fit for this task, since it already provides a clear separation between data and view. On the ViewModel side, the @MatchMedia annotation will trigger whenever the associated media query condition is fulfilled.

More information on Media Queries

The UI state is represented by a single ViewModel field and control the view. On the view side, Shadow Elements are used to instantiate and cleanup the relevant UI elements for each state.

The MVVM design pattern provides a clear separation between the View (the different UI templates to be used) and the ViewModel (the state of the page). As the ViewModel is not replaced when switching between templates, this greatly simplifies the effort on maintaining the client state. Any bound value stored in the ViewModel is available to every possible template.

Using @MatchMedia to perform actions when media query conditions are fulfilled:

	@MatchMedia("all and (min-width: 1200px)")
	public void handleBigLayout(){
		//Action to perform when media query is fullfiled

Full example available on Github

Integrating Fluid with Responsive Design

Fluid and responsive design can be integrated to create a more granular UI experience. A template generated using responsive design can incorporate fluid design elements to subdivide this template’s display options.

For example, based on the previous case in Part 1 we can add bootstrap grid entries for extra-small, small and medium states to the small layout generated in ZK.

zk responsive integration schema

In this case, we add fluid transitions to the MVVM responsive example to build three fluid state on top of two responsive states. The same responsive code is implemented to switch between a large template using dropdown and a small template using radio buttons.

In turn, the small template is subdivided into 3 fluid states based on Bootstrap Grid. These three states are extra small, small and medium and use the notation xs, sm and md.

Bootstrap example in Part1

This effectively creates four adaptive states: Big template, Small template - bootstrap medium, Small template - bootstrap small, Small template - bootstrap extra small. The transition between these states is handled either by requesting page information from the server (responsive) or by rearranging view elements at client side (fluid). The responsive transition is more powerful, as the page structure and components can be completely recreated to match the device needs. However, doing so requires a round-trip to the server. On the other hand, fluid transition have localized effects but is performed entirely at client side.

Integrating both fluid and responsive design to build a fully adaptive document:

<div id="content" height="80px" sclass="panel">
	<!-- 	Replacing templates: responsive design -->
	<apply template="@load(vm.layoutState)">
		<template name="bigLayout">
			<listbox model="@init(vm.selectionModel)" mold="select"/>
		<template name="smallLayout">
			<radiogroup sclass="panel" height="60px" model="@init(vm.selectionModel)">
					<template name="model">
						<!-- 	Integrating Bootsrtrap grid system: fluid design -->
						<radio sclass="col-xs-12 col-sm-6 col-md-4" label="@load(each)" value="@load(each)"></radio>

Full example available on Github


In this article we explained the differences between responsive and fluid design, and demonstrated useful features in ZK that helps to achieve the required responsiveness. In the next article Part 3 we will look at a real-world example, from analyzing the requirements to building the pages. Stay tuned!


Copyright © Potix Corporation. This article is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.