Columns To Pixel Conversion Help Needed

Does anyone know how the column field from a TextArea is converted to a pixel width when given row and column parameters (i.e. TextArea(rows,cols))?
 
I want to extend the List class and include a column parameter.  Everything is working except the width and height of Dimension are in pixels.  Rows are
already converted (List(rows, multipleSelections)).
dbarstis060697Asked:
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jpk041897Commented:
The colimn to pixel ratio is variable and depends on the font you are using.

The problem is further complicated by the fact that not all fonts are fixed width. Unfortunatley, Java has no way to determine what type of font is being used.

What you have to do then is to set up an Instance of FontMetrics and get the width of the string thatt is currently selected.

FontMetrics fm_arial = new FontMetrics("arial");
w_arial = fm.sstringWidth(yourList.getSelectedItem());
w_arial /= yourList.getSelectedItem().length();

With this, w_arial will contain the average width of a an arial character (which happens to be fixed length). This algorithm will work fine for short strings, but will fail for long strings that are not fixed width due to cumulative offset errors.

For non fixed width fonts you would have to add the width of each character in the sting. This would still produce a small offset error, but the error would be at the character level, rather than the string level and would be non cumulative. I.e: you might encounter characters that do not exactly begin or end where you expected them to after the calculation.

This last aspect reaps havoc for DTP applications, so companies like Correl had to manage all their work in graphics rather than taking advantage of many of AWT's features.

Regarding height, use FontMetrics.getHeight().

Once you have values for width and height in pixels, you can do any convertions you desire.

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dbarstis060697Author Commented:
The problem is that I don't have a string to select yet.
By setting the font, I can guarantee a fixed length.  Then
what about using charWidth?  i.e.

public Dimension preferredSize () {
       FontMetrics fm=getFontMetrics(getFont());
//     the character W used as reference
       return new Dimension
              (fm.charWidth('W')*width, fm.getHeight()*height);
}

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jpk041897Commented:
That will work for fixed width fonts, for variable width though I would sugest you use the string "isGW"(or the sum of the character widths in the string) and obtain the average width. This string will provide a fairly close to true average length.

On a variable width font, you can fit 4 or 5 i's in the space ocupied by 1 W.

Another way you can go about this is to predetermine the maximum size of a textField (I can provide code for a subclassed textfield in which you can specify the max. input length). You could then provide a sample string for width measurment of the exact length you wish to operate with.

One final option, albeit ugly, is tu use a native method to call your windows (or XWindow's) environment and call its getFontMetrics.getAverageWidth() method. Or you could write a small C program and run it to produce a table of these values for  the fonts available under Java.
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dbarstis060697Author Commented:
Thanks for the info.  All I wanted was the convenience of specifying a column width similar to a textArea.  I have a list
and textarea on the same frame and wanted them to act the same.
If it's done to a textarea, one should be able to do it to a list
the same way.
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