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Preference dialogs for business applications made easy. Creating preference dialogs in Java has never been this easy!

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screenshot of created preferences dialog

Table of Contents


To use this framework as part of your Maven build simply add the following dependency to your pom.xml file:

Java 8


Java 11



To use this framework as part of your gradle build simply add the following to your build.gradle file and use the following dependency definition:

Java 8

dependencies {
    compile group: 'com.dlsc.preferencesfx', name: 'preferencesfx-core', version: '8.6.0'

Java 11

dependencies {
    compile group: 'com.dlsc.preferencesfx', name: 'preferencesfx-core', version: '11.8.0'

What is PreferencesFX?

Creating preference dialogs in JavaFX is a tedious and very error-prone task. PreferencesFX is a framework which solves this problem. It enables the developer to create preference dialogs with ease and creates well-designed and user-friendly preference dialogs by default.


  • Less error-prone
  • Less code needed
  • Easy to learn
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to use, for developers and users alike

Main Features

  • Simple and understandable API
  • The most important features are noted in the picture and the corresponding table below:

screenshot of created preferences dialog with features

Nr. Feature Description
1 Search / Filter Filters all categories for a given String. Enables searching for a Setting, Group or Category by name.
2 TreeView Shows all categories in a hierarchical structure
3 Breadcrumb Bar Shows the user the previous categories in the hierarchy to the currently displayed category and allows the user to navigate back.
4 Undo / Redo Buttons Allows the user a stepwise undo and redo possibility of his last changes.
5 Various pre-defined setting types e.g. Integer, Double, Boolean, String, Lists, Objects
6 close/cancel buttons The close button just closes the window and leaves the preferences as they are. The cancel button discards all changes which are made during the time the dialog was last opened.
  • | Instant persistance | Any changes to the application are saved instantly.


This project uses the asciidoctor plugin to generate the necessary documentation. Run the following maven task:


Afterwards, you will find the documentation in the target/generated-docs/ subdirectory.


A preferences dialog can contain multiple Categories.
Each Category contains one to multiple Groups
Each Group contains one to multiple Settings

For better illustration, the basic concept of writing a preferences dialog is shown below:

PreferencesFx preferencesFx = 
        Category.of("Category Title",
            Group.of("Group Title",
                Setting.of("Setting Title", new Property())


  • It is also possible to omit the Group and declare all settings in a Category directly. However, in this case all settings will simply be displayed one after another without grouping. If you want more control, use Group.
  • A Group can also be defined without a title. In this case, the individual groups are displayed with more space in between them, to ensure they can be differentiated.
  • A Category can also take a graphic node to be used as an icon as the second argument, e.g. Category.of("Category Title", new ImageView(new Image("file:icon.png")),


We created several demos to visualize the capabilities of PreferencesFX.
Simply launch preferencesfx-demo/src/com/dlsc/preferencesfx/ and look into the different Tabs.

The following demos are available:

Import Description
Standard The standard demo with a few settings and fully working bindings.
Internationalized Shows how to define preference dialogs in multiple languages, using internationalization.
OneCategory Shows the behavior of the API when only one category is used: The Breadcrumb Bar and TreeView will be omitted from the GUI.
Extended A demo, populated with lots of categories, groups and settings without any bindings. Designed to show usage in a big project.

Defining a preferences dialog

Creating a preferences dialog is as simple as calling PreferencesFx.of().

StringProperty stringProperty = new SimpleStringProperty("String");
BooleanProperty booleanProperty = new SimpleBooleanProperty(true);
IntegerProperty integerProperty = new SimpleIntegerProperty(12);
DoubleProperty doubleProperty = new SimpleDoubleProperty(6.5);

PreferencesFx preferencesFx = 
    PreferencesFx.of(AppStarter.class, // Save class (will be used to reference saved values of Settings to)
        Category.of("Category title 1",
            Setting.of("Setting title 1", stringProperty), // creates a group automatically
            Setting.of("Setting title 2", booleanProperty) // which contains both settings
        Category.of("Category title 2")
            .expand()                                       // Expand the parent category in the tree-view
            .subCategories( // adds a subcategory to "Category title 2"
                Category.of("Category title 3",
                    Group.of("Group title 1",
                        Setting.of("Setting title 3", integerProperty)
                    Group.of( // group without title
                        Setting.of("Setting title 3", doubleProperty)

This code snippet results in the following preferences window, containing three categories:


To create a Setting, you only need to define a title and a Property. PreferencesFX does the rest.
You can then integrate this Property in your application. Changes of values in the preferences dialog will be persisted instantly, however it's up to you to decide whether you want to persist them instantly in your application as well.

Required arguments

You have a lot of options to influence the behavior and layout of the preferences dialog.
The following parameters are the absolute minimum, needed for the proper functioning of PreferencesFX:

Parameter Description
AppStarter.class In the constructor of PreferencesFx a saveClass is required. This class is saved as a key for the saved setting values. Further information is available in the javadoc.
Category description Each Category must have a description. This is required to display its description in the TreeView.
Setting description Each Setting must have a description. It will be displayed on the left of the control, which is used to manipulate the respective Setting.

Note: The value of the each Setting is stored using the Java Preferences API by default.
For testing purposes, to clear the saved preferences of the demo, run the method in the class:


Optional arguments

The following parameters are optionally available to further configure the dialog created by PreferencesFX:

Method Class Description
.subCategories Category Subcategories allow a Category to have additional subcategories as children. Those are also displayed in the tree.
.expand Category Allows to specify if the Category should be expanded in the Tree-View by default.
.description Group If you decide not to add the description of a group in the constructor, you can still add it after the creation of the group.
.validate Setting Allows to add a Validator to a setting, to set constraints to the values that can be entered.
.persistApplicationState PreferencesFx Defines if the Preferences API should save the application states. This includes the state persistence of the dialog window, as well as the values of each Setting.
.persistWindowState PreferencesFx Defines whether the state of the dialog window (position, size, last selected Category) should be persisted or not. Defaults to false.
.saveSettings PreferencesFx Defines whether the changed settings in the Preferences window should be saved or not. Defaults to true.
.debugHistoryMode PreferencesFx Makes it possible to enable or disable the keycombination to open a debug view of the list of all actions in the history (undo / redo). Pressing Ctrl + Shift + H (Windows) or CMD + Shift + H (Mac) opens a dialog with the undo / redo history, shown in a table. Defaults to false.
.buttonsVisibility PreferencesFx Sets the visibility of the cancel and close buttons in the PreferencesFxDialog. Defaults to true.
.instantPersistent PreferencesFx If set to true, it will instantly apply any changes that are being made in the PreferencesFxDialog. If set to false, it will only apply changes when the Save / Apply / OK button is pressed. Due to a limitation in FormsFX, undo / redo cannot be used with instant persistence switched off! Defaults to true.
.i18n PreferencesFx Sets the translation service of the preferences dialog for internationalization.
.dialogTitle PreferencesFx Allows to specify a custom dialog title.
.dialogIcon PreferencesFx Allows to specify a custom dialog icon.

Setting types

The following table shows how to create Settings using the predefined controls and how they look like:

Syntax Outcome
// Integer
IntegerProperty brightness = new SimpleIntegerProperty(50);
Setting.of("Brightness", brightness);
// Integer Range
IntegerProperty fontSize = new SimpleIntegerProperty(12);
Setting.of("Font Size", fontSize, 6, 36);
// Double
DoubleProperty scaling = new SimpleDoubleProperty(1);
Setting.of("Scaling", scaling);
// Double Range
DoubleProperty lineSpacing = new SimpleDoubleProperty(1.5);
Setting.of("Line Spacing", lineSpacing, 0, 3, 1);
// Boolean
BooleanProperty nightMode = new SimpleBooleanProperty(true);
Setting.of("Night Mode", nightMode);
// String
StringProperty welcomeText = new SimpleStringProperty("Hello World");
Setting.of("Welcome Text", welcomeText);
// Combobox, Single Selection, with ObservableList
ObservableList resolutionItems = FXCollections.observableArrayList(Arrays.asList(
  "1024x768", "1280x1024", "1440x900", "1920x1080")
ObjectProperty resolutionSelection = new SimpleObjectProperty<>("1024x768");
Setting.of("Resolution", resolutionItems, resolutionSelection);
// Combobox, Single Selection, with ListProperty
ListProperty orientationItems = new SimpleListProperty<>(
  FXCollections.observableArrayList(Arrays.asList("Vertical", "Horizontal"))
ObjectProperty orientationSelection = new SimpleObjectProperty<>("Vertical");
Setting.of("Orientation", orientationItems, orientationSelection);
// Combobox, Multi Selection
ListProperty favoritesItems = new SimpleListProperty<>(
      "eMovie", "Eboda Phot-O-Shop", "Mikesoft Text",
      "Mikesoft Numbers", "Mikesoft Present", "IntelliG"
ListProperty favoritesSelection = new SimpleListProperty<>(
      "Eboda Phot-O-Shop", "Mikesoft Text"))
Setting.of("Favorites", favoritesItems, favoritesSelection);
// Color
ObjectProperty colorProperty = new SimpleObjectProperty<>(Color.PAPAYAWHIP);
Setting.of("Font Color", colorProperty);
// FileChooser / DirectoryChooser
ObjectProperty fileProperty = new SimpleObjectProperty<>();
Setting.of("File", fileProperty, false);     // FileChooser
Setting.of("Directory", fileProperty, true); // DirectoryChooser
// Custom Control
IntegerProperty customControlProperty = new SimpleIntegerProperty(42);
IntegerField customControl = Field.ofIntegerType(customControlProperty).render(
  new IntegerSliderControl(0, 42));
Setting.of("Favorite Number", customControl, customControlProperty);
// Static node
Node staticNode = new Label("This can be your very own placeholder!");

Note: By default, PreferencesFX saves the settings under a key which consists of the breadcrumb to the setting, delimited by # signs. If you want to define your own key to be used for saving, use the method setting.customKey("key")


All displayed strings can be internationalized. You can use resource bundles to define different locales and use the key instead of the descriptions. Adding i18n support is simply done by calling the method .i18n() at the end when creating the preferences:

private ResourceBundle rbDE = ResourceBundle.getBundle("demo.demo-locale", new Locale("de", "CH"));
private ResourceBundle rbEN = ResourceBundle.getBundle("demo.demo-locale", new Locale("en", "UK"));

private ResourceBundleService rbs = new ResourceBundleService(rbEN);



It is possible to optionally add a Validator to settings. PreferencesFX uses the implementation of FormsFX for the validation. FormsFX offers a wide range of pre-defined validators, but also includes support for custom validators using the CustomValidator.forPredicate() method. The following table lists the supported validators:

Validator Description
CustomValidator Defines a predicate that returns whether the field is valid or not.
DoubleRangeValidator Defines a number range which is considered valid. This range can be limited in either one direction or in both directions.
IntegerRangeValidator Defines a number range which is considered valid. This range can be limited in either one direction or in both directions.
RegexValidator Valiates text against a regular expression. This validator offers pre-defined expressions for common use cases, such as email addresses.
SelectionLengthValidator Defines a length interval which is considered valid. This range can be limited in either one direction or in both directions.
StringLengthValidator Defines a length interval which is considered valid. This range can be limited in either one direction or in both directions.


PreferencesFX supports setting an optional visibility condition for Categories, Groups and Settings

  • condition could be defined as a lambda-expression
  • condition will be re-evaluated whenever any Setting changes
    Setting.of("Brightness", brightness),
    Setting.of("Night mode", nightMode, VisibilityProperty.of(brightness, (newValue) -> newValue.intValue() > 50)),
    Setting.of("Scale", scale, VisibilityProperty.of(nightMode),
    Setting.of("Is production category visible", productionVisibility)
Category.of("Production", VisibilityProperty.of(productionVisibility),
      Setting.of("Port", salary, VisibilityProperty.of(nightMode)
    Setting.of("Salary", salary, VisibilityProperty.of(nightMode)
  Group.of("Bonuses", VisibilityProperty.of(salary, (newValue) -> newValue.intValue() > 10),
    Setting.of("Bonus", bonus)



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