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JavaFX Combo Boxes

Code Description:

How a Combo Box works

The code provided below shows how to create a Combo Box in JavaFX. Combo Boxes allow for a drop down of multiple options that you can select from. Combo Boxes are unique because they can be configured in a way where you can specify a custom value if none of the preset choices are applicable. Combo Boxes also allow for a scrollable drop down. Do note that Combo Boxes are meant for a larger number of items (typically more than 10 items). If you require less items, consider using a Choice Box.

Creating a Combo Box

The runnable example code shows how the selected value can be retrieved with the press of a Button. After retrieved in the example, we display the value in a Label. To make a new Combo Box, we need to first create an Array or List like data structure. We can then create a new Combo Box object where we specify the data type it will use. In this case we are using String. We can use the setItems() method to add the choices to the drop down. The setItems() method requires an ObservableList parameter so we can convert our Array or List to one. As it is an observable list, any items we add to that list will reflect in our Combo Box.

Combo Box Syntax:

String[] choices = {"Option 1", "Option 2", "Option 3", "Option 4"};
ComboBox<String> comboBox = new ComboBox<String>();

Runnable JavaFX Combo Box Example Code:

import javafx.application.Application;
import javafx.collections.FXCollections;
import javafx.event.ActionEvent;
import javafx.event.EventHandler;
import javafx.scene.Scene;
import javafx.scene.control.Button;
import javafx.scene.control.ComboBox;
import javafx.scene.control.Label;
import javafx.scene.layout.VBox;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

public class Demo extends Application {

    public static void main(String[] args) {

    public void start(Stage primaryStage) throws Exception {
	VBox root = new VBox();
	Label label = new Label("Selected Value: ");
	String[] choices = {"Option 1", "Option 2", "Option 3", "Option 4"};
	ComboBox<String> comboBox = new ComboBox<String>();
	Button button = new Button("Get Value");
	button.setOnAction(new EventHandler<ActionEvent>() {

	    public void handle(ActionEvent event) {
		label.setText("Selected Value: " + comboBox.getValue());
	root.getChildren().addAll(comboBox, button, label);
	primaryStage.setTitle("Combo Box Demo");
	primaryStage.setScene(new Scene(root, 200, 100));;


How to Run This Code:

Make sure that your Class name is the same as ours. In this case, we are using the Class name of "Demo". Alternatively, you can change the Class name in the provided code to match yours.

Note: You will NOT be able to copy and paste this code into your IDE unless you first set up JavaFX for your project. Check out this link if you need help setting up JavaFX:

JavaFX Comprehensive Setup Guide


JavaFX Combo Box Output Image

Important Methods:

  • setValue() - Used to set the current choice value. You can use this to set the initial value since it will display as empty if not set.
  • getValue() - Used to get the currently selected value.
  • setItems() - Sets all of the possible choices that can be selected from the combo box.
  • getItems() - Returns a list of all items in the combo box.
  • setVisibleRowCount() - The amount of visible rows before you need to scroll to see more.
  • setEditable() - The option to allow for custom values to be entered into the combo box.
  • isShowing() - Returns if the drop down box is being currently shown.
  • setDisable() - Used to make the combo box grayed out and unclickable. EX: "comboBox.setDisable(true);"
  • setPrefSize() - Set the preferred width and height for the combo box.
  • setOnAction() - Set the code and event handler for when the combo box is clicked or pressed.
  • setStyle() - Set an inline CSS-like style on the combo box. EX: "comboBox.setStyle("-fx-background-color: green;");"
  • setTooltip() - Set a message that displays when a user hovers over the combo box control for a certain amount of time. EX: "comboBox.setTooltip(new Tooltip("Press Me"));"
  • setVisible() - Show or hide a choice box from the scene. EX: "comboBox.setVisible(false);"

Related Links:

JavaFX Choice Boxes Array Data Structures Array List Data Structures Linked List Data Structures