Flick list or kinetic scrolling

Kinetic scrolling is the popular term to denote the scrolling of a long list with a bit of physics so that user feels like moving a wheel. Such a list view is then often referred as a flick list, caused the scrolling involves some sort of flicking gestures. Made popular in iPhone, flick list quickly invades other mobile platforms with touch screen because it just feels so natural and more usable than using the conventional approach of scroll bars.

How about Qt-based GUI applications? Up to now we do not offer the flickable list in any standard widgets. A practical approach would be to subclass QAbstractScrollArea and then implement your own. This does not really solve the problem if you have already tons of widgets based on, say, QListView, as you might not want to change the class structure and inheritance. Is there another solution?

Enter Flick Charm, today's dojo example. This charm is only a proof of concept and will not have all the goodies found in iPhone (e.g. no overshoot or bouncing). However, making your list flickable is a matter of writing the code:

FlickCharm charm;

where widget is any class derived from QAbstractScrollArea and this of course includes very useful classes like QScrollArea, QAbstractItemView (and thus also QListView, QTableView, QTreeView, and friends) and even QGraphicsView. As a bonus, QWebView is also supported so your QtWebKit-based browser can be easily made flickable, too. The beauty of Flick Charm is it works on any of those widgets and that you do not even need to change your code!

For the code and the example, check out:

svn checkout svn://
cd flickcharm && qmake && make && ./flickcharm

The secret of Flick Charm is the use of QObject::eventFilter to intercept the mouse events. From this, a state machine tracks the changes and apply the scrolling to the target widget. It was fairly straightforward to implement, evidenced from the class implementation that weighs around 300 lines of code only.

No kinetic scrolling demo is complete with a screencast. You can also watch it on YouTube or

Note: this Flick Charm automagically hides the scroll bars in the scroll area or web view. This is done because it does not make sense to have flickable list with still showing the scroll bars. If you are unhappy with this, enable the scroll bars again or just change the code.

Update: for PyQt users, check out the Python version of this charm, ported by Akos Polster.

Blog Topics: