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Swing Shift

Volume Number: 20 (2004)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Programming

QuickTime ToolKit

by Tim Monroe

Swing Shift

Editing QuickTime Movies with Java


In the previous QuickTime Toolkit article ("Krakatoa, East of Java" in MacTech, January 2004), we saw how to use QuickTime for Java to open and display QuickTime movies in a Java-based application. We saw how to use AWT components to elicit movie files from the user (albeit indirectly, by a call to the QTFile method standardGetFilePreview) and to display and manage movies in a window (using the Frame and QTComponent components). We also saw how to display and handle the application's menus and menu items (using the Menu, MenuItem, and Action classes).

In this article, we're going to extend the application we built in the previous article -- called JaVeez -- to handle movie editing. We'll see how to do standard cut, copy, and paste editing, and we'll see how to save an edited movie into its original file or into a new file. We also need to implement the standard document behaviors, such as prompting the user to save or discard any changes when an edited movie window is about to be closed. In particular, we'll see how to display and manage the "Save Changes" dialog box shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The Save Changes dialog box of JaVeez

By sheer coincidence, the dialog boxes we'll use to perform these remaining tasks are best displayed using Swing, not AWT. The dialog box in Figure 1 can be displayed with a single line of code. We get the warning icon essentially for free, by passing the appropriate constant. We also get with the standard behavior where the Save button is highlighted as the default button and is activated by hitting the Return or Enter key on the keyboard. To my knowledge, it's not possible to designate a default button when constructing a dialog box using AWT.

We'll also take a look at handling several of the items in the Mac OS X Application menu. We'll see how to display an About box when the user chooses the "About JaVeez" menu item, and we'll see how to handle the Quit menu item correctly. We'll use a class introduced in J2SE 1.4.1 for Mac OS X, Application, to handle these operations. This class also makes it easy for us to handle basic Apple events, such as the OpenDocuments event that is sent to our application when the user drops some movie files onto the application icon in the Finder. By the end of this article, JaVeez will be virtually indistinguishable from the C-language Carbon-based application QTShell it's modeled upon.

Movie Editing

It's extremely easy to add support for movie editing to our application, because the MovieController class in QuickTime for Java provides pretty much all the methods we need. For instance, to cut the current movie selection, we can execute the cut method on the movie controller object associated with a movie window. As we'll see in a moment, we also need to place the cut segment onto the system scrap so that it's available for subsequent pasting (either by JaVeez itself or by any other QuickTime-savvy application).

In order for these editing methods to work properly, we need to explicitly enable editing. You may recall that in the previous article, we executed this code in the createNewMovieFromFile method:

if ((mc.getControllerInfo() & 
                  StdQTConstants.mcInfoMovieIsInteractive) == 0)

This code looks to see whether the movie is an interactive movie (such as a QuickTime VR movie or a Flash movie); if it's interactive, it is not editable and therefore we do not want to enable editing. (If we did try to enable editing on an interactive movie, an exception would be raised.)

Handling Editing Operations

In JaVeez, the user performs editing operations using either the menu items in the Edit menu or their standard keyboard shortcuts. In either case, one of our action listeners will be invoked. For instance, Listing 1 shows our declaration of the UndoActionClass, an instance of which is attached as a listener to the Undo menu item and its keyboard equivalent. As you can see, we simply call the movie controller's undo method and then call our own method updateEditedWindow.

Listing 1: Undoing the previous edit

public class UndoActionClass extends AbstractAction {
   public UndoActionClass (String text, KeyStroke shortcut) {
      putValue(ACCELERATOR_KEY, shortcut);
   public void actionPerformed (ActionEvent e) {
      try {
      } catch (QTException err) {

The updateEditedWindow method performs any operations that might be required when that the movie in the specified frame has been altered by an edit operation. For instance, the size of the movie may have changed, so we'll want to call our method sizeWindowToMovie to ensure that the movie window is sized to exactly contain the movie and the movie controller bar (if it's visible). Also, we'll want to adjust the items in the File and Edit menus appropriately. Listing 2 shows the updateEditedWindow method.

Listing 2: Updating the state of an edited window

updateEditedWindow public void updateEditedWindow () { try { mc.movieChanged(); mc.movieEdited(); mc.controllerSizeChanged(); adjustMenuItems(); sizeWindowToMovie(); } catch (QTException err) { err.printStackTrace(); } }

The actions associated with pasting and clearing can be handled by code that's exactly analogous to that in Listing 1 (just change "undo" to "paste" or "clear" in the actionPerformed method). In the two remaining cases, cutting and copying, we also need to make sure to move the cut or copied segment to the scrap, by calling the putOnScrap method. Listing 3 gives our implementation of the cut operation. The movie controller's cut method returns a QuickTime movie that holds the segment cut from the movie in the window; we copy it to the scrap and then dispose of that movie segment by calling disposeQTObject.

Listing 3: Cutting the movie selection

public class CutActionClass extends AbstractAction {
      public CutActionClass (String text, KeyStroke shortcut) {
      putValue(ACCELERATOR_KEY, shortcut);
   public void actionPerformed (ActionEvent e) {
      try {
         Movie editMovie = mc.cut();
      } catch (QTException err) {

Our action handler for the copy operation is even simpler, since we don't need to call updateEditedWindow (because copying the current selection from a movie does not change the original movie).

Selecting All or None of a Movie

As usual, our Edit menu contains two further items, "Select All" and "Select None", which are quite easy to implement. In earlier articles, we've seen how to handle these items by calling MCDoAction with the mcActionSetSelectionDuration selector. Listing 4 shows how JaVeez handles the "Select All" command.

Listing 4: Selecting all of a movie

public class SelectAllActionClass extends AbstractAction {
   public SelectAllActionClass (String text, 
                                                   KeyStroke shortcut) {
      putValue(ACCELERATOR_KEY, shortcut);
   public void actionPerformed (ActionEvent e) {
      try {
         TimeRecord tr = new TimeRecord(m.getTimeScale(), 0);
      } catch (QTException err) {

The interesting thing here is that a TimeRecord is an object (which must be explicitly constructed by a call to new), not a structure as in our C code. In general, Java does not support either struct or union; instead, we need to build these sorts of composite types using classes or interfaces. The package quicktime.std.clocks provides access to TimeRecord objects and the methods to get and set their properties.

Listing 5 shows how JaVeez handles the "Select None" command.

Listing 5: Selecting none of a movie

public class SelectNoneActionClass extends AbstractAction {
   public SelectNoneActionClass (String text, 
                                                   KeyStroke shortcut) {
      putValue(ACCELERATOR_KEY, shortcut);
   public void actionPerformed (ActionEvent e) {
      try {
         TimeRecord tr = new TimeRecord(m.getTimeScale(), 0);
      } catch (QTException err) {

Enabling and Disabling Menu Items

Editing a movie usually entails that some of the items in the Edit and File menus need to be adjusted. For instance, cutting a segment out of a movie should be undoable, so we want to make sure that the Undo menu item is enabled. Similarly, once we've made any edit operation whatsoever to a movie, we want to make sure that the Save menu item is enabled. Listing 6 shows our implementation of the adjustMenuItems method. Notice that we disable the entire Edit menu if editing is not enabled for the movie. Also, we can use a movie's hasChanged method to determine whether to enable or disable the Save and Undo menu items. (As you would guess, we clear the movie's changed state -- by calling the clearChanged method -- when the user saves a movie.)

Listing 6: Adjusting the menu items

public void adjustMenuItems () {
   try {
      if ((mc.getControllerInfo() & 
                  StdQTConstants.mcInfoEditingEnabled) == 0)
      if (m.hasChanged()) {
      } else {
      if (mc.getVisible())
   } catch (QTException err) {

It's worth remarking that this menu-enabling logic is quite a bit simpler than that contained in our C-language applications, primarily because in JaVeez, a menu is always associated with a movie window. This means that the Close and "Save As..." items should always be enabled.

File Manipulation

Now let's consider how to handle the Close and "Save As..." menu items, along with the Save and Quit menu items. When handling the Close and Quit items, we need to check to see whether the user has made any changes to the frontmost movie window or to any of the open movie windows. If so, we need to give the user an opportunity to save or discard those changes. We also need to allow the user to cancel the close or quit operation altogether.

Closing a Movie Window

We can do all this by adding a window adapter to our application. A window adapter is an object that listens for specific events involving a window and executes a method when it receives a notification that one of those events has occurred. Currently, we can listen for window activation or deactivation, iconification or deiconification, and opening or closing. There are two flavors of window closing events; we can be notified that a window is in the process of being closed, or we can be notified that a window actually has closed. Clearly, we want to listen for the first kind of window closing event so that we can cancel it if necessary.

We'll define a class that extends the WindowAdapter class; this means that our class needs to implement some but not necessarily all of the methods in the WindowAdapter class. As just mentioned, we want to implement only the windowClosing method. Listing 7 shows our definition of the WindowAdpt class.

Listing 7: Handling a request to close a window

class WindowAdpt extends java.awt.event.WindowAdapter {
   public void windowClosing (java.awt.event.WindowEvent event) {
      try {
         if (m.hasChanged())
      } catch (QTException err) {

This is simple enough: if the movie in the window has changed since it was opened or last saved, ask the user to save or discard those changes; otherwise, call dispose to close the window. (The dispose method is implemented by AWT's Window class.)

In the JaVeez constructor, we create an instance of this class and set it as the window listener like this:

WindowAdpt WAdapter = new WindowAdpt();

All that remains is to write the askSaveChanges method. This method needs to display the Save Changes dialog box (see Figure 1 again) and respond to the user's selecting one of the three buttons in that box. Happily, Swing provides the JOptionPane class that is tailor-made for this purpose. Listing 8 shows our implementation of askSaveChanges. We pass in a string object that indicates whether the user is closing a particular window or quitting the application.

Listing 8: Prompting the user to save a changed movie

public boolean askSaveChanges (String actionString) {
   Object[] options = {"Save", "Cancel", "Don\u00A9t Save"};
   boolean windowClosed = false;
   int result = JOptionPane.showOptionDialog(this,
                        "Do you want to save the changes you made "
                        + " to the document"
                        + "\n\u201C" + baseName + "\u201D?",
                        "Save changes before " + actionString,

   if (result == SAVE_RESULT) {
      // save the changes and close the window
      windowClosed = true;
   } else if (result == CANCEL_RESULT) {
      // don't save changes and don't close the window
      windowClosed = false;
   } else if (result == DONTSAVE_RESULT) {
      // don't save changes but do close the window
      windowClosed = true;
   if (windowClosed)

The showOptionDialog method returns the index in the options array of the selected button. JaVeez defines these constants to make our code easier to read:

private static final int SAVE_RESULT       = 0;
private static final int CANCEL_RESULT     = 1;
private static final int DONTSAVE_RESULT   = 2;

When it exits, the askSaveChanges method returns a boolean value that indicates whether it actually closed the window it was asked to close. Our windowClosing override method ignores that value, but we'll need to use it when we call askSaveChanges during the process of quitting the application. More on that later.

One final point: what's with the gibberish in a couple of the strings in askSaveChanges? Strings in Java are Unicode strings, and using the standard keyboard entries for the apostrophe and the left and right double quotation marks would yield a less satisfactory dialog box. Compare Figure 1 to Figure 2:

Figure 2: The Save Changes dialog box of JaVeez (bad characters)

The Unicode value "\u00A9" gives us the nicer-looking apostrophe in the word "Don't", and the values "\u201C" and "\u201D" give us the nicer-looking quotation marks around the filename (though it's hard to tell that in the font used in this dialog box).

Saving a Changed Movie

The askSaveChanges method (Listing 8) calls JaVeez' save method if the user elects to save the changes to the window. It's easy to implement that method, using the movie's updateResource method. Listing 9 shows our save method.

Listing 9: Saving a movie

public void save () {
   try {
      if (omf == null) {
      } else {
                        StdQTConstants.movieInDataForkResID, null);
   } catch (QTException err) {

If no movie file is yet associated with the movie window, we call the saveAs method instead of updateResource. This has the effect of displaying the file-saving dialog box, which allows the user to specify a filename for the movie.

Saving a Movie into a New File

When the user selects the "Save As..." menu item in the File menu (or, as we just saw, elects to save a movie that has not yet been associated with a movie file), we need to elicit a location for the new movie file and then save the movie into that file. In JaVeez, we'll execute this line of code:

fd = new FileDialog(this, "Save: JaVeez", FileDialog.SAVE);

The AWT FileDialog class, when passed the FileDialog.SAVE parameter, displays a dialog box like the one shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: The file-saving dialog box displayed by AWT

This is one of the few cases where the AWT dialog box is preferable to the corresponding Swing dialog box, which is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: The file-saving dialog box displayed by Swing

As you can see, the AWT box more closely resembles the native file-saving dialog box displayed by Carbon or Cocoa applications running on Mac OS X.

Once the user has selected a new location and file name, we can save the movie into that file by executing the flatten method on the movie, as shown in Listing 10.

Listing 10: Saving a movie into a new file

public void saveAs () {
   try {
      if (fd == null)
         fd = new FileDialog(this, "Save: JaVeez", 
         fd.setFile(null);     // clear out the file name;
         String dirName = fd.getDirectory();
         String fileName = fd.getFile();
         if ((dirName != null) && (fileName != null)) {
            QTFile qtf = new QTFile(dirName + fileName);
            // close the connection to the current movie file
            if (omf != null) {
               omf = null;
            // now open the new file in the current window
            createNewMovieFromFile(qtf.getPath(), true);
      } catch (QTException err) {
         if (err.errorCode() != Errors.userCanceledErr)

The standard behavior of a "Save As..." operation is that the new movie will replace the existing movie in the existing movie window. Accordingly, saveAs closes the connection to the existing movie file (by calling its close method) and calls createNewMovieFromFile with the full pathname of the new movie file. By passing true as the second parameter, we instruct createNewMovieFromFile not to reposition the window.

Quitting the Application

When the user decides to quit JaVeez (typically by selecting the Quit item in the Application menu or -- on Windows -- the Exit item in the File menu), we want to loop through all open movie windows and call the askSaveChanges method on each window that's been edited since it was opened or last saved. To my knowledge, AWT does not provide a way to find just the open movie windows. It does provide the getFrames method in the Frame class, but my experience is that the array returned by getFrames includes an entry for all frames ever created by the application (not just the ones that are currently open and visible). Nonetheless, we can use the getFrames method to good effect by simply ignoring any frames that are not visible or do not belong to the JaVeez class. Listing 11 shows our implementation of attemptQuit.

Listing 11: Handling a request to quit the application

public boolean attemptQuit () {
   // try to close all open document windows; if none is kept open, quit
   Frame[] frames = Frame.getFrames();
   boolean didClose = true;
   String quitString = resBundle.getString("quitText");
   // try all open movie windows other than the current one
   for (int i = 0; i < frames.length; i++) {
      if ((frames[i] != this) && (frames[i] != null) && 
            (frames[i].getClass().getName() == "JaVeez") && 
            (frames[i].isVisible())) {
         try {
            JaVeez jvz = (JaVeez)(frames[i]);
            if (jvz == null)

         if (jvz.isDirty())
               didClose = jvz.askSaveChanges(quitString);
            if (!didClose)
         } catch (Exception err) {
   if (this.isDirty())
      didClose = this.askSaveChanges(quitString);
   if (didClose)

You'll notice that we postpone handling the frontmost window until all other movie windows have been handled. I suspect it's not a good thing to dispose of an object while it's still executing one of its methods.

If none of the open movie windows has been edited or the user does not cancel the closing of any of them, then attemptQuit executes the goAway method. This method simply closes the application's connection to QuickTime and then exits (Listing 12).

Listing 12: Quitting the application

public void goAway () {
   try {
      if (qtc != null)
   } catch (QTException err) {

Application Objects

Let's finish up by considering how to integrate our application with the native Mac OS X operating environment so that it acts as much as possible like a well-written Carbon or Cocoa application. Java 1.4.1 for Mac OS X includes the new package, which contains the Application class. This class provides methods that allow us to fine-tune the appearance and behavior of the Application menu, respond to items in that menu, and handle the basic application-related Apple events. By creating an application object and attaching to it an application listener, we can (for instance) respond appropriately when the user drags some movie files onto our application's icon in the Finder.

To take advantage of these enhancements, we need to import the appropriate packages:


Creating an Application Object

You'll recall from the previous article that JaVeez declares the static variable fApplication:

private static Application fApplication = null;

In its constructor method, JaVeez calls the createApplicationObject method, which is defined in Listing 13. After ensuring that fApplication hasn't already been set to a non-null value and that the application is running on Mac OS X, createApplicationObject retrieves the application object, disables the Preference menu item, and installs an application listener. The listener implements methods that handle some of the items in the Application menu (About, Preferences, and Quit); these methods are also called when certain Apple events are targeted at the application.

Listing 13: Creating an Application object

pubic void createApplicationObject () {       
   if ((fApplication == null) && 
                     QTSession.isCurrentOS(QTSession.kMacOSX))) {
      fApplication = Application.getApplication();

         public void handleAbout (ApplicationEvent e) {
         public void handleOpenApplication (ApplicationEvent e) {
         public void handleOpenFile (ApplicationEvent e) {
          launchedFromDrop = true;
          JaVeez jvz = new JaVeez(e.getFilename());   
          jvz.createNewMovieFromFile(e.getFilename(), false);
         public void handlePreferences (ApplicationEvent e) {
         public void handlePrintFile (ApplicationEvent e) {
         public void handleQuit (ApplicationEvent e) {
          boolean allWindowsClosed;
          allWindowsClosed = attemptQuit();

These handlers can call the setHandled method to indicate whether the event was handled. The most interesting case is the handleQuit method, which (as you can see) returns the value it gets from the attemptQuit method. This allows our application to prevent itself from quitting if the user cancels the save-or-discard-changes query.

Handling Dragged Files

In order for the user to be able to drop QuickTime movie files onto our application's icon, we need to set the document types supported by JaVeez. We do this by selecting the JaVeez target in the project window and then choosing the "Get Info" item in the Project menu. Click the "+" button at the lower-left corner of the Info window to add the desired file types. As you can see in Figure 5, JaVeez supports QuickTime movie files and Flash files.

Figure 5: The supported document types

Showing the About Box

We have to tackle one final task, namely displaying our application's About box. We want this to look as much as possible like the About box of QTShell, shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: The About box of QTShell

Once again, Swing provides a ridiculously easy way to do this, using the JOptionPane class (which we used earlier to display the "Save Changes" dialog box). Here, we want to use the showMessageDialog method, as shown in Listing 14.

Listing 14: Displaying the application About box

public void about () {
   ImageIcon penguinIcon = new ImageIcon
                     "A QuickTime movie player application"
                     + "\nbuilt with QuickTime for Java. \n \n" 
                     + "\u00A92003 by Tim Monroe",
                     "About JaVeez",

When we call the about method, showMessageDialog displays the dialog box shown in Figure 7. This is remarkably close to the target About box shown in Figure 6.

Figure 7: The About box of JaVeez

The parameters passed to showMessageDialog should be fairly obvious. The first parameter is the parent frame; in this case we pass null so that the message pane is embedded in a default frame that is centered on the main screen. The second parameter is the message string; notice that we can embed the newline escape character "\n" into the message string, as well as the escape sequence "\u00A9" (which is the Unicode value of the copyright symbol "(c)"). The third parameter is the title of the enclosing frame. The fourth parameter is ignored since we are passing an icon as the fifth parameter. Here we are using the standard penguin image, which we added to our project. We need to call the getResource method to load that image from the application bundle.


In this article, we've seen how to extend the basic Java application we built last time to handle movie editing and document-related operations. The Movie and MovieController classes in QuickTime for Java provide nearly all the methods we need to handle these tasks. And the Application class added in J2SE 1.4.1 for Mac OS X makes it particularly easy to open files dropped onto the application icon, display an About box, and handle application quitting.

JaVeez is now pretty much feature-complete. You may be puzzled, however, that we've focused almost entirely on building an application tailored for Mac OS X. After all, a large part of the allure of using Java to build applications and applets is their ability to run unchanged on multiple platforms. (The Java programmer's mantra is of course "write once, run anywhere".) So what about Windows? Will JaVeez run unchanged on Windows computers that have QuickTime installed? In a word: no. But the changes required to get JaVeez to run on Windows are indeed quite minimal. We'll take a look at those changes, and perhaps also at a few simple enhancements to JaVeez, in the next article.


Thanks are due once again to Anant Sonone, Tom Maremaa, Chris Adamson, and Daniel H. Steinberg for reviewing this article and providing some helpful comments.

Tim Monroe is a member of the QuickTime engineering team at Apple. You can contact him at The views expressed here are not necessarily shared by his employer.


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Amazon has 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros (MJLQ2LL/A) available for $1799.99 including free shipping. Apple charges $1999 for this model, so Amazon’s price is represents a $200 savings. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Los Angeles, CA Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (Multi-L...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Stamford, CT We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most well-known Read more
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