Summary of Chapter 14. Absolute layout

Download Sample Download the sample

Like StackLayout, AbsoluteLayout derives from Layout<View> and inherits a Children property. AbsoluteLayout implements a layout system that requires the programmer to specify the positions of its children and, optionally, their size. The position is specified by the upper-left corner of the child relative to the upper-left corner of the AbsoluteLayout in device-independent units. AbsoluteLayout also implements a proportional positioning and sizing feature.

AbsoluteLayout should be regarded as a special-purpose layout system to be used only when the programmer can impose a size on the children (for example, BoxView elements) or when the element's size doesn't affect the positioning of other children. The HorizontalOptions and VerticalOptions properties have no effect on children of an AbsoluteLayout.

This chapter also introduces the important feature of attached bindable properties that allow properties defined in one class (in this case AbsoluteLayout) to be attached to another class (a child of the AbsoluteLayout).

AbsoluteLayout in code

You can add a child to the Children collection of an AbsoluteLayout using the standard Add method, but AbsoluteLayout also provides an extended Add method that lets you specify a Rectangle. Another Add method requires only a Point, in which case the child is unconstrained and sizes itself.

You can create a Rectangle value with a constructor that requires four values — the first two indicating the position of the upper-left corner of the child relative to its parent, and the second two indicating the child's size. Or you can use a constructor that requires a Point and a Size value.

These Add methods are demonstrated in AbsoluteDemo, which positions BoxView elements using Rectangle values, and a Label element using just a Point value.

The ChessboardFixed sample uses 32 BoxView elements to create the chessboard pattern. The program gives the BoxView elements a hard-coded size of 35 units square. The AbsoluteLayout has its HorizontalOptions and VerticalOptions set to LayoutOptions.Center, which causes the AbsoluteLayout to have a total size of 280 units square.

Attached bindable properties

It is also possible to set the position and, optionally, the size of a child of an AbsoluteLayout after it has been added to the Children collection using the static method AbsoluteLayout.SetLayoutBounds. The first argument is the child; the second is a Rectangle object. You can specify that the child sizes itself horizontally and/or vertically by setting width and height values to the AbsoluteLayout.AutoSize constant.

The ChessboardDynamic sample puts the AbsoluteLayout in a ContentView with a SizeChanged handler to call AbsoluteLayout.SetLayoutBounds on all the children to make them as large as possible.

The attached bindable property that AbsoluteLayout defines is the static read-only field of type BindableProperty named AbsoluteLayout.LayoutBoundsProperty. The static AbsoluteLayout.SetLayoutBounds method is implemented by calling SetValue on the child with the AbsoluteLayout.LayoutBoundsProperty. The child contains a dictionary in which the attached bindable property and its value are stored. During layout, the AbsoluteLayout can obtain that value by calling AbsoluteLayout.GetLayoutBounds, which is implemented with a GetValue call.

Proportional sizing and positioning

AbsoluteLayout implements a proportional sizing and positioning feature. The class defines a second attached bindable property, LayoutFlagsProperty, with the related static methods AbsoluteLayout.SetLayoutFlags and AbsoluteLayout.GetLayoutFlags.

The argument to AbsoluteLayout.SetLayoutFlags and the return value of AbsoluteLayout.GetLayoutFlags is a value of type AbsoluteLayoutFlags, an enumeration with the following members:

You can combine these with the C# bitwise OR operator.

With these flags set, certain properties of the Rectangle layout bounds structure used to position and size the child are interpreted proportionally.

When the WidthProportional flag is set, a Width value of 1 means that the child is the same width as the AbsoluteLayout. A similar approach is used for the height.

The proportional positioning takes the size into account. When the XProportional flag is set, the X property of the Rectangle layout bounds is proportional. A value of 0 means that the child's left edge is positioned at the left edge of the AbsoluteLayout, but a position of 1 means that the child's right edge is positioned at the right edge of the AbsoluteLayout, not beyond the right edge of the AbsoluteLayout as you might expect. An X property of 0.5 centers the child horizontally in the AbsoluteLayout.

The ChessboardProportional sample demonstrates the use of proportional sizing and positioning.

Working with proportional coordinates

Sometimes, it's easier to think of proportional positioning differently than how it's implemented in the AbsoluteLayout. You might prefer to work with proportional coordinates where an X property of 1 positions the child's left edge (rather than the right edge) against the right edge of the AbsoluteLayout.

This alternative positioning scheme can be called "fractional child coordinates." You can convert from fractional child coordinates to the layout bounds required for AbsoluteLayout using the following formulas:

layoutBounds.X = (fractionalChildCoordinate.X / (1 - layoutBounds.Width))

layoutBounds.Y = (fractionalChildCoordinate.Y / (1 - layoutBounds.Height))

The ProportionalCoordinateCalc sample demonstrates this.

AbsoluteLayout and XAML

You can use an AbsoluteLayout in XAML and set the attached bindable properties on the children of an AbsoluteLayout using attribute values of AbsoluteLayout.LayoutBounds and AbsoluteLayout.LayoutFlags. This is demonstrated in the AbsoluteXamlDemo and the ChessboardXaml samples. The latter program contains 32 BoxView elements but uses an implicit Style that includes the AbsoluteLayout.LayoutFlags property to keep the markup down to a minimum.

An attribute in XAML that consists of a class name, a dot, and a property name is always an attached bindable property.


You can use AbsoluteLayout to construct an overlay, which covers the page with other controls, perhaps to protect the user from interacting with the normal controls on the page.

The SimpleOverlay sample demonstrates this technique, and also demonstrates the ProgressBar, which displays the extent to which a program has completed a task.

Some fun

The DotMatrixClock sample displays the current time with a simulated 5x7 dot matrix display. Each dot is a BoxView (there are 228 of them) sized and positioned on the AbsoluteLayout.

Triple screenshot of dot matrix clock

The BouncingText program animates two Label objects to bounce horizontally and vertically across the screen.