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Author image Dmitry Karasik


Prima::Window - top-level window management


   use Prima;
   use Prima::Application;

   # this window, when closed, terminated the application
   my $main = Prima::MainWindow-> new( text => 'Hello world' );

   # this is a modal window
   my $dialog = Prima::Dialog->create( size => [ 100, 100 ]);
   my $result = $dialog-> execute;
   $dialog-> destroy;

   run Prima;


Prima::Window is a descendant of Prima::Widget class. It deals with top-level windows, the windows that are specially treated by the system. Its major difference from Prima::Widget is that instances of Prima::Window can only be inferior by the screen, not the other windows, and that the system or window manager add decorations to these - usually menus, buttons and title bars. Prima::Window provides methods that communicate with the system and hint these decorations.


A typical program communicates with the user with aid of widgets, collected upon one or more top-level windows. Prima::Widget already has all functionality required for these child-parent operations, so Prima::Window is not special in respect of widget grouping and relationship. Its usage therefore is straightforward:

   my $w = Prima::Window-> create(
       size => [300,300],
       text => 'Startup window',

There are more about Prima::Window in areas, that it is specifically designed to - the system window management and the dialog execution.

System window management

As noted before, top-level windows are special for the system, not only in their 'look', but also in 'feel': the system adds specific functions to the windows, aiding the user to navigate through the desktop. The system ofter dictates the size and position for windows, and some times these rules are hard or even impossible to circumvent. This document will be long if it would venture to describe the features of different window management systems, and the task would be never accomplished - brand new window managers emerge every month, and the old change their behavior in an unpredictable way. The only golden rule is to never rely on the behavior of one window manager, and test programs with at least two.

The Prima toolkit provides simple access to buttons, title bar and borders of a window. Buttons and title bar are managed by the ::borderIcons property, and borders by the ::borderStyle property. These operate with set of predefined constants, bi::XXX and bs::XXX, correspondingly. The button constants can be combined with each other, but not all combinations may be granted by the system. The same is valid also for the border constant, except that they can not be combined - the value of ::borderStyle is one of the integer constants.

There are other hints that the toolkit can set for a window manager. The system can be supplied with an icon that a window is bound to; the icon dimensions are much different, and although can be requested via sv::XIcon and sv::YIcon system values, the ::icon property scales the image automatically to the closest system-recognizable dimension. The window icon is not shown by the toolkit, it is usually resides in the window decorations and sometimes on a task bar, along with the window's name. The system can be hinted to not reflect the window on the task bar, by setting the ::taskListed property to 0.

Another issue is the window positioning. Usually, if no explicit position was given, the window is positioned automatically by the system. The same is valid for the size. But some window managers bend it to the extreme - for example, default CDE setup force the user to set newly created windows' positions explicitly. However, there is at least one point of certainty. Typically, when the initial size and/or position of a top-level window are expected to be set by the system, the ::originDontCare and ::sizeDontCare properties can be set to 1 during window creation. If these set, the system is asked to size/position a window regarding its own windowing policy. The reverse is not always true, unfortunately. Either if these properties set to 0, or explicit size or positions are given, the system is hinted to use these values instead, but this does not always happen. Actually, this behavior is expected by the user and often does not get even noticed as something special. Therefore it is a good practice to test a top-level windowing code with several window managers.

There are different policies about window positioning and sizing; some window managers behave best when the position is given to the window with the system-dependent decorations. It is hardly can be called a good policy, since it is not possible to calculate the derived window coordinates with certainty. This problem results in that it is impossible to be sure about window position and size before these are set explicitly. The only, not much efficient help the toolkit can provide is the property pair ::frameOrigin and ::frameSize, which along with ::origin and ::size reflect the position and size of a window, but taking into account the system-dependent decorations.

Dialog execution

Method of Prima::Window, execute() brings a window in a modal state on top of other toolkit windows, and returns after the window is dismissed in one or another way. This method is special as it is an implicit event loop, similar to

  run Prima;

code. The event flow is not disrupted, but the windows and widgets that do not belong to the currently executed, the 'modal' window group can not be activated. There can be many modal windows on top of each other, but only one is accessible. As an example a message box can be depicted, a window that prevents the user to work with the application windows until dismissed. There can be other message boxes on top of each other, preventing the windows below from operation as well. This scheme is called the 'exclusive' modality.

The toolkit also provides the shared modality scheme, where there can be several stacks of modal windows, not interfering with each other. Each window stack is distinct and contains its own windows. An example analogy is when several independent applications run with modal message boxes being activated. This scheme, however, can not be achieved with single execute()-like call without creating interlocking conditions. The shared model call, execute_shared(), inserts the window into the shared modal stack, activates the window and returns immediately.

The both kinds of modal windows can coexist, but the exclusive windows prevents the shared from operation; while there are exclusive windows, the shared have same rights as the usual windows.

The stacking order for these two models is slightly different. A window after execute() call is set on top of the last exclusive modal window, or, in other words, is added to the exclusive window stack. There can be only one exclusive window stack, but many shared window stacks; a window after execute_shared() call is added to a shared window stack, to the one the window's owner belongs to. The shared window stacks are rooted in so-called modal horizons, windows with boolean property ::modalHorizon set to true. The default horizon is ::application.

A window in modal state can return to the normal (non-modal) state by calling end_modal() method. The window is then hidden and disabled, and the windows below are accessible to the user. If the window was in the exclusive modal state, the execute() call is finished and returns the exit code, the value of ::modalResult property. There two shortuct methods that end modal state, setting ::modalResult to the basic 'ok' and 'not ok' code, correspondingly ok() and cancel() methods. Behavior of cancel() is identical to when the user closes the modal window by clicking the system close button, pressing Escape key, or otherwise cancelling the dialog execution. ok() sets ::modalResult to mb::OK, cancel() to mb::Cancel, correspondingly. There are more mb::XXX constants, but these have no special meaning, any integer value can be passed. For example, Prima::MsgBox::message method uses these constants so the message window can return up to four different mb codes.

A top-level window can be equipped with a menu bar. Its outlook is system-dependent, but can be controlled by the toolkit up to a certain level. The ::menuItems property, that manages the menu items of a ::menu object of Prima::Menu class, arrange the layout of the menu. The syntax of the items-derived properties is described in Prima::Menu, but it must be reiterated that menu items contain only hints, not requests for their exact representation. The same is valid for the color and font properties, ::menuColorIndex and ::menuFont.

Only one menu at a time can be displayed in a top-level window, although a window can be an owner for many menu objects. The key property is Prima::Menu::selected - if a menu object is selected on a widget or a window object, it refers to the default menu actions, which, in case of Prima::Window is being displayed as menu bar.

NB: A window can be an owner for several menu objects and still do not have a menu bar displayed, if no menu objects are marked as selected.


Prima::Dialog, a descendant from Prima::Window, introduces no new functionality. It has its default values adjusted so the colors use more appropriate system colors, and hints the system that the outlook of a window is to be different, to resemble the system dialogs on systems where such are provided.


The class is a simple descendant of Prima::Window, which overloads on_destroy notification and calls $application->close inside it. The purpose of declaration of a separate class for such a trifle difference is that many programs are designed under a paradigm where these is a main window, which is most 'important' to the user. As such the construct is used more often than any other, it is considered an optimization to write

   Prima::MainWindow-> create( ... )

rather than

   Prima::Window-> create( ...,
      mainWindow => 1,
      onDestroy  => sub { $::application-> close }

, although these lines are equivalent.

Also, the $::main_window is pointed to a newly created main window.

See also mainWindow.



borderIcons INTEGER

Hints the system about window's decorations, by selecting the combination of bi::XXX constants. The constants are:

   bi::SystemMenu  - system menu button and/or close button
                     ( usually with icon ) is shown
   bi::Minimize    - minimize button
   bi::Maximize    - maximize ( and eventual restore )
   bi::TitleBar    - window title
   bi::All         - all of the above

Not all systems respect these hints, and many systems provide more navigating decoration controls than these.

borderStyle STYLE

Hints the system about window's border style, by selecting one of bs::XXX constants. The constants are:

   bs::None      - no border
   bs::Single    - thin border
   bs::Dialog    - thick border
   bs::Sizeable  - thick border with interactive resize capabilities

bs::Sizeable is an unique window mode. If selected, the user can resize the window, not only by dragging the window borders with the mouse but by other system-dependent means. The other border styles disallow interactive resizing.

Not all systems recognize all these hints, although many recognize interactive resizing flag.

effects HASH or undef

This generic property implements system-specific window effects, not necessarily portable. The format of the hash is also system-specific. The only portable behavior here is that setting the value to undef cancels all effects.


       effect1 => {
          key1 => $value1,

Previously this was the mechanism for setting the DWM blur on Windows 7 and 8, but as Windows 10 removed it, this capability was also removed, so as for now this is basically an empty call.

frameHeight HEIGHT

Maintains the height of a window, including the window decorations.

frameOrigin X_OFFSET, Y_OFFSET

Maintains the left X and bottom Y boundaries of a window's decorations relative to the screen.


Maintains the width and height of a window, including the window decorations.

frameWidth WIDTH

Maintains the width of a window, including the window decorations.


Hints the system about an icon, associated with a window. If OBJECT is undef, the system-default icon is assumed.

See also: ownerIcon

mainWindow BOOLEAN

Tells the system that the window is the main window for the application. When dialogs and modal windows are not anchored to any specific window, the main window is used. In this context, anchoring means that if, for example, a window spawns a dialog, and then is minimized or obscured, and then the user clicks on either window, both can be brought forward (also in correct Z-order) by the system window manager.

Manages a Prima::Menu object associated with a window. Prima::Window can host many Prima::Menu objects, but only the one that is set in ::menu property will be seen as a menu bar.

See also: Prima::Menu, menuItems

Maintains eight color properties of a menu, associated with a window. INDEX must be one of ci::XXX constants ( see Prima::Widget, colorIndex section ).

See also: menuItems, menuFont, menu

Basic foreground menu color.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

Basic background menu color.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

Color for drawing dark shadings in menus.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

Foreground color for disabled items in menus.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

Background color for disabled items in menus.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

Maintains the font of a menu, associated with a window.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menu

Foreground color for selected items in menus.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

Background color for selected items in menus.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

Manages items of a Prima::Menu object associated with a window. The ITEM_LIST format is same as Prima::AbstractMenu::items and is described in Prima::Menu.

See also: menu, menuColorIndex, menuFont

Color for drawing light shadings in menus.

See also: menuItems, menuColorIndex, menuFont, menu

modalHorizon BOOLEAN

Reflects if a window serves as root to the shared modal window stack. A window with ::modalHorizon set to 1 in shared modal state groups its children windows in a window stack, separate from other shared modal stacks. The ::modalHorizon is therefore useful only when several shared modal window stacks are needed.

The property also serves as an additional grouping factor for widgets and windows. For example, default keyboard navigation by tab and arrow keys is limited to the windows and widgets of a single window stack.

modalResult INTEGER

Maintains a custom integer value, returned by execute(). Historically it is one of mb::XXX constants, but any integer value can be used. The most useful mb:: constants are:

   mb::OK, mb::Ok

NB: These constants are defined so they can be bitwise-or'ed, and Prima::MsgBox package uses this feature, where one of its functions parameters is a combination of mb:: constants.


If set, the window is hinted to stay on top of all other windows.

Default value: 0

ownerIcon BOOLEAN

If 1, the icon is synchronized with the owner's. Automatically set to 0 if ::icon property is explicitly set. Default value is 1, so assigning an icon to $::application spawns the icon to all windows.

taskListed BOOLEAN

If set to 0, hints the system against reflecting existence of a window into a system task bar, or a top-level window list, or otherwise lower the window's value before the other windows. If 1, does not hint anything.

Default value: 1

windowState STATE

A three-state property, that governs the state of a window. STATE can be one of three ws::XXX constants:


There can be more or less, or other window states provided by the system, but these three were chosen as a 'least common denominator'. The property can be changed either by explicit set-mode call or by the user. In either case, a WindowState notification is triggered.

The property has three convenience wrappers: maximize(), minimize() and restore().

See also: WindowState



A standard method to dismiss a modal window with mb::Cancel result. The effect of calling this method is equal to when the user selects a 'close window' action with system-provided menu, button or other tool.

See also: ok, modalResult, execute, execute_shared


If a window is in modal state, the EndModal notification is activated. Then the window is returned from the modal state, gets hidden and disabled. If the window was on top in the exclusive modal state, the last called execute() function finishes. If the window was not on top in the exclusive modal state, the corresponding execute() function finishes after all subsequent execute() calls are finished.

execute INSERT_BEFORE = undef

A window is turned to the exclusive modal state and is put on top of non-modal and shared-modal windows. By default, if INSERT_BEFORE object is undef, the window is also put on top of other exclusive-modal windows; if INSERT_BEFORE is one of the exclusive-modal windows the window is placed in queue before the INSERT_BEFORE window. The window is showed and enabled, if necessary, and Execute notification is triggered.

The function is returned when a window is dismissed, or if the system-dependent 'exit'-event is triggered by the user ( the latter case falls through all execute() calls and terminates run Prima; call, exiting gracefully).

execute_shared INSERT_BEFORE = undef

A window is turned to the shared modal state and is put on top of non-modal windows in the stack of its ::modalHorizon. A window with ::modalHorizon set to 1 starts its own stack, independent of all other window stacks.

By default, if INSERT_BEFORE object is undef, the window is also put on top of other shared-modal windows in its stack. If INSERT_BEFORE is one of the shared-modal windows in its stack, the window is placed in queue before the INSERT_BEFORE window.

The window is showed and enabled, if necessary, and Execute notification is triggered.

The function is returned immediately.


Returns a system handle for a system window that is inserted in top-level windows and covers all of its area. Is different from Window::get_handle in that it returns the system handle of the top-level window itself. In other terms, window returned by this function is a child of the window returned by Window::get_handle.

See also: get_handle


Returns the default font for a Prima::Menu class.


Returns one of three constants, reflecting the modal state of a window:


Value of mt::None is 0, so result of get_modal() can be also treated as a boolean value, if only the fact of modality is needed to check.

get_modal_window MODALITY_TYPE = mt::Exclusive, NEXT = 1

Returns a modal window, that is next to the given window in the modality chain. MODALITY_TYPE selects the chain, and can be either mt::Exclusive or mt::Shared. NEXT is a boolean flag, selecting the lookup direction; if it is 1, the 'upper' window is returned, if 0, the 'lower' one ( in a simple case when window A is made modal (executed) after modal window B, the A window is the 'upper' one ).

If a window has no immediate modal relations, undef is returned.


Maximizes window. A shortcut for windowState(ws::Maximized).


Minimizes window. A shortcut for windowState(ws::Minimized).


A standard method to dismiss a modal window with mb::OK result. Typically the effect of calling this method is equal to when the user presses the enter key of a modal window, signaling that the default action is to be taken.

See also: cancel, modalResult, execute, execute_shared


Restores window to normal state from minimized or maximized state. A shortcut for windowState(ws::Normal).



Triggered when a window is activated by the user. Activation mark is usually resides on a window that contains keyboard focus, and is usually reflected by highlighted system decorations.

The toolkit does not provide standalone activation functions; select() call is used instead.


Triggered when a window is deactivated by the user. Window is usually marked inactive, when it contains no keyboard focus.

The toolkit does not provide standalone de-activation functions; deselect() call is used instead.


Called before a window leaves modal state.


Called after a window enters modal state.


Same as in Widget, but it addition to the Widget properties that may trigger the event, the following Window properties can trigger it as well: taskListed, borderIcons, borderStyle, onTop

WindowState STATE

Triggered when window state is changed, either by an explicit windowState() call, or by the user. STATE is the new window state, one of three ws::XXX constants.


Dmitry Karasik, <dmitry@karasik.eu.org>.


Prima, Prima::Object, Prima::Drawable, Prima::Widget.