Skip to main content Link Search Menu Expand Document (external link)

Chapter 1 - Setup and state variables


Thanks from diving deeper! Now let’s get started. In this part we’ll set up the app and get the structure in place. In Chapter 2 we´ll deal with user input, while Chapter 3 lays the application out on screen.

Source code

Here’s how we´ll walk through the code:

  1. Introduce new imports to handle user input
  2. Read the .txt file into a []string slice
  3. Start the application
  4. Define state variables to control behaviour
  5. Listen for events from the user.

Of these, the first four are relatively straight forward. If you completed the egg timer you will feel well at home. However, the final item deserves some extra attention. That’s where the we actually will deal with the various inputs from the user, and visualise the application.

Section 1 - New imports

Many imports are well known, but these two are new:

import (
  // Many imports we discussed earlier ...
  // ... plus two new interesting Gio imports

What can be going on here? Something with key´s and pointer´s maybe? From the docs:

  • Package io/key implements key and text events and operations.
  • Package io/pointer implements pointer events and operations. A pointer is either a mouse controlled cursor or a touch object such as a finger.

Notice how pointer supports both mouse gestures on a desktop, trackpad on a laptop and fingers on a screen. Nice, again an example of how learning a cross-platform framework gives skills on multiple devices.

Section 2 - Read a speech into a slice

We default to reading a speech from speech.txt. But, as we know, users are crazy and might want other filenames. Or even multiple different speches spread across multiple different files. So we oblige and prepare a command line flag.

// Command line input variables
var filename *string

To work with the speech, it´s helpful to store it not as one massive text-variable, but rather as a list of paragraphs. We´ll get into those details later, for now let´s define a placeholder.

// A []string to hold the speech as a list of paragraphs
var paragraphList []string

With these to in place we know where to look for a speech and where to place it. Now let´s fire up main() en get cracking:

func main() {
	// Part 1 - Read input from command line
	filename = flag.String("file", "speech.txt", "Which .txt file shall I present?")

	// Part 2 - Read from file
	paragraphList = readText(filename)

The readText() func does what it says, but let’s have a look to be sure:

func readText(filename string) []string {
	f, err := ioutil.ReadFile(filename)
	text := []string{}
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatal("Error when reading file:\n  ", err)
	if err == nil {
		// Convert text to a slice of strings.
		text = strings.Split(string(f), "\n")
		// Add extra empty lines a the end. Simple trick to ensure
		// the last line of the speech scrolls out of the screen
		for i := 1; i <= 10; i++ {
			text = append(text, "")

	return text

The first line of readText reads the file. If all goes well, i.e. err == nil, we continue to split it by \n, newline.

We also do a little trick at the end. It felt clunky that a speech didn’t full scroll of screen after it was finished. An easy fix was to add more empty paragraphs at the end of the list. Easy peasy.

Note: In the sourcecode there’s an alternative implementation that generates a very long speech. That proved useful when debugging, so I left it in. Please feel free to play around with it.

Section 3 - Start the application

The last part of main starts the GUI in a normal manner:

  // ... continuing inside main()
  // Part 3 - Start the GUI
  go func() {
    // create new window
    w := app.NewWindow(
      app.Size(unit.Dp(650), unit.Dp(600)),
    // draw on screen
    if err := draw(w); err != nil {

Section 4 - Variables to control behaviour

func draw(w *app.Window) error {
  // y-position for text
  var scrollY int = 0

  // y-position for red focusBar
  var focusBarY int = 78

  // width of text area
  var textWidth int = 300

  // fontSize
  var fontSize int = 35

  // Are we auto scrolling?
  var autoscroll bool = false
  var autospeed int = 1

Now we’re getting into the meat of things. In order to control the behaviour of the program we need multiple state variables. The user will adjust all of these while using the program, so we can’t have them hard coded into the various portions of the visualisation. Instead we collect them here to keep the program tidy.

The state variables in play here are:

Variable Description Changed with
scrollY Scroll the text Mouse/Trackpad scroll, Arrow Up/Down, J/K
focusBarY How high up is the red focus bar U (up) and D (down)
textWidth How wide is the area in which we display text W (wider) and N (narrower)
fontSize How large is the text + (larger) and - (smaller)
autoscroll Start/stop automatic scrolling Space
autospeed How fast / slow the text should scroll F (faster) or S (slower)

For keypresses, Shift increases the rate of change when making adjustments

Next chapter