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Build ImageJ2 Plugin With JavaFX

JavaFX is Java’s new graphical toolkit that will in the long term probably replace Swing (Java).

Some things to know

  • JavaFX is only available since Java 8.
  • JavaFX 8 is shipped with Oracle JDK 8, but not with OpenJDK 8 so
  • JavaFX is not currently included with some ImageJ and Fiji distributions but the Azul distribution can be used. For further details see this forum thread.
  • Starting with Java 11, JavaFX was open sourced as OpenJFX, and was split out from OpenJDK as separate components, which can be depended upon like any other library.
  • SceneBuilder is a graphical interface that help creating JavaFX FXML files. Oracle stopped distributing SceneBuilder binaries. You can find new binaries from the Gluon project.

Under the hood

Usually a JavaFX program needs to declare a javafx.application.Application and only one Application instance can exist at runtime. Therefore, the javafx.embed.swing.JFXPanel class which makes the link/bridge between a JFrame and JavaFX is the preferred way to build a JavaFX project within the IJ1/IJ2 interface (using Swing).

  • An example of how to use the javafx.embed.swing.JFXPanel in a Fiji project can be found here

The ImageJ UI is written in Swing and JavaFX will run in a different thread. This adds some additional considerations when building JavaFX projects that will run in ImageJ. Extra care must be taken to ensure changes in the swing UI are done on the Swing thread and changes to the JavaFX UI are done using the JavaFX thread. For example, the JXPanel is created on the JavaFX thread using the following Platform.runLater approach:

Platform.runLater(new Runnable() {
    public void run() {
        //launch the JFXPanel placed inside a JFrame running in ImageJ.

To update Swing UI elements from the JavaFX thread the following approach is used:

SwingUtilities.invokeLater(new Runnable() {
    public void run() {
    	//Update something on the swing thread.

Further explanation can be found here.

Building ImageJ plugins with JavaFX

This section aims to give some guidelines to be able to build ImageJ plugins with JavaFX.

Please don’t hesitate to edit this page and add your tricks and/or experience about JavaFX and ImageJ.

Examples of ImageJ2 JavaFX plugins

Here are some projects that use JavaFX in ImageJ:

Another example of a large JavaFX image processing application that uses several related libraries is qupath

And finally, there is a minimal, incomplete ImageJ plugin that shows how to use JavaFX for the UI of a plugin: