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GUI Files Explained

Each GUI comprises several files on disk, such as the GUI scripts, material definition files, and texture images.

GUI files can be created with the GUI Editor, written by hand, or a combination of those:

  • The GUI Editor allows users to define and design the contents and layout of the windows that compose a GUI. However, the work in the GUI Editor is focused mainly on static aspects like window position and size, texts, colors, borders, etc.
  • Everything “dynamic” and all sorts of effects can, by their nature, not be added by means of the GUI Editor, but must be written as custom, hand-crafted script code that augments the script that is auto-generated by the GUI Editor each time the “static” part of the GUI is saved.

One key question addressed in this section is how we can combine hand-crafted script code and editor-edited script code, while keeping both separated so that they don't overwrite each other.

In general, when you save a GUI in the GUI Editor, the editor creates or re-creates some of the files it is composed of, updates others, and leaves alone the rest. The result is normally exactly what you want and expect, but sometimes you may wish to or must hand-tune the details (such as the GUI scripts or material definitions) without and independently of the GUI Editor. In such cases, it is very helpful to understand the files that belong to a GUI.

This section explains the files that together form a GUI, how they relate to each other, and how hand-crafted and editor-created scripts can peacefully coexist.

One directory per GUI

Although not a technical requirement and not enforced by the Cafu GUI code (and in fact, at the time of this writing, not yet implemented by the example GUIs that ship with Cafu), it is highly recommended to save each GUI in a directory of its own. This

  • explicitly groups all files that logically form and belong to the GUI, and
  • makes packaging a complete GUI in a my_GUI.zip archive possible, so that the GUI can easily and safely be distributed, shipped and handled.

The name of the directory should match the file name of the GUI. That is, if your GUI's file names are CallLift_init.cgui and CallLift_main.cgui, it should be stored in a directory with the same name CallLift/ (or in a zip archive with the same base name CallLift.zip).

Note that when you are saving a new GUI that does not yet have a separate directory, you can use the “New Folder” button (or right-click context menu) of the “Save” dialog to create such new directories as required.

cgui GUI definition files

The cgui files are the core files of the GUI: They contain the definitions for the positions, sizes, colors, texts, effects, animations, hierarchy and other properties of the windows that form the GUI.

cgui files are Lua scripts

The Cafu Engine and the GUI Editor load cgui files as Lua scripts, and as such they can be inspected or edited in a text editor.

The GUI Editor is usually used to create and edit the static aspects of GUI windows, automatically generating the related script code when saving the file. Dynamic aspects like animations or other kinds of effects typically require adding custom script code, so editing cgui files (usually the _main.cgui file) is something that you'll likely want to do often.

See the Lua Scripting Overview and the GUI Scripting Reference Documentation for more details.

Augmenting GUI Editor scripts with custom script code

For one GUI there is usually a pair of cgui files, one suffixed _init.cgui and one suffixed _main.cgui. For example:

d:\Dev\Cafu\Games\DeathMatch\GUIs> dir Teleporter\*.cgui
Teleporter_init.cgui
Teleporter_main.cgui

The _main.cgui file is for your hand-written GUI script code, if any, and is never touched or overwritten by the GUI Editor (with one exception, see below).

The GUI Editor also writes a secondary cgui file whose name ends with _init.cgui. This file is written anew each time the GUI is saved, and contains GUI window definitions whose script code was not hand-crafted, but who were created or edited in the GUI Editor.

The two cgui files are linked as follows: When the Cafu code loads a GUI, it opens the _main.cgui file (Teleporter_main.cgui). This file contains a statement like

-- Include the GUI Editor generated file.
dofile("Games/DeathMatch/GUIs/Teleporter/Teleporter_init.cgui");
 
-- Add your hand-written custom code below this line.
-- ...

in order to include and process the secondary _init.cgui along with the main file.

The only exception when the GUI Editor touches the main Teleporter_main.cmat file is when the file does not yet exist, or doesn't contain the dofile() reference to the init file. In this case, the _main.cgui would not be loaded at all, and thus the GUI Editor inserts the dofile() line into the _main.cgui file.

In summary, the goal of keeping two separate cgui files that are linked as described above is to keep your hand-crafted GUI script code and the GUI Editor edited window definitions cleanly separated, without any danger of one overwriting the other:

  • When you edit your GUI in the GUI Editor, you only load and save file Teleporter_init.cgui.
  • All hand-written code enters file Teleporter_main.cgui instead.
  • The connection between the two files is made by the dofile() statement.

cmat material definition files

The cmat files contain the material definitions for the graphical elements of this GUI.

At the time of this writing, the materials for GUIs are still defined in the “global” material scripts for the MOD, but for the future we intend to have separate material scripts for each GUI that work analogous to cmat material definition files for models.

Texture images

The texture images are referenced from the material definition scripts. See the documentation about the Cafu Material System for more details.

guisys/guifiles.txt · Last modified: 2017-02-21 11:42 by Carsten