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UISplitPane - Split a container (figure/frame/uipanel) into two resizable sub-containers

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UISplitPane - Split a container (figure/frame/uipanel) into two resizable sub-containers


Yair Altman


22 Feb 2009 (Updated )

Split a container (figure/frame/uipanel) into two resizable sub-containers, like Java's JSplitPane

Editor's Notes:

This file was selected as MATLAB Central Pick of the Week

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[h1,h2,hDivider] = uisplitpane(hParent,'propName',propVal,...)
UISPLITPANE splits the specified container(s) (figure, panel or frame, referenced by handle(s) hParent) into two distinct panes (panels) separated by a movable divider. If no hParent container is specified, then the current figure (gcf) is assumed. Matlab components may freely be added to each of the panes. Pane sizes may be modified by dragging or programmatically repositioning the movable divider.
UISPLITPANE returns the handles to the left/bottom sub-container h1, right/top sub-container h2, and the split-pane divider hDivider. If a vector of several hParents was specified, then h1,h2 & hDivider will be corresponding vectors in the containing hParents. If the hParents are found to be non-unique, then the returned handles will correspond to the unique sorted vector of hParents, so that no hParent will be split more than once.
The UISPLITPANE divider can be dragged to either side, up to the specified DividerMinLocation to DividerMaxLocation property values (defaults: 0.1 and 0.9 respectively, meaning between 10-90% of range). In Matlab 7+, additional one-click buttons are added to the divider, which enable easy flushing of the divider to either side, regardless of DividerMinLocation & DividerMaxLocation property values.
Several case-insensitive properties may be specified as P-V pairs:
 - 'Orientation': 'horizontal' (default) or 'vertical'
 - 'Parent': Handle(s) of containing figure/panel/frame
 - 'DividerWidth': Divider width (1-25 [pixels], default=5)
 - 'DividerColor': Divider color (default=figure background color)
 - 'DividerLocation': Divider normalized initial location (.001-.999, default=0.5)
 - 'DividerMinLocation': Normalized minimal left/bottom pane size (0-1, default=0.1)
 - 'DividerMaxLocation': Normalized maximal left/bottom pane size (0-1, default=0.9)
hDivider is a standard Matlab object handle possessing all these additional properties. All these properties are gettable/settable via the hDivider handle, except for the 'Orientation' & 'Parent' properties which become read-only after the UISPLITPANE is constructed. hDivider also exposes the following read-only properties:
 - 'LeftOrBottomPaneHandle': h1 value returned by this function
 - 'RightOrTopPaneHandle': h2 value returned by this function
 - 'DividerHandle': the HG container handle (a numeric value)
 - 'JavaComponent': handle to the underlying java divider obj
 - 'ContainerParentHandle': handle to hParent container
                    Note: this is important in Matlab 6 which does
                    ^^^^ not allow hierarchical UI containers
 - 'ContainerParentVarName': hParent variable name if available
hax1=axes('Parent',hUp); plot(t,sin(t));
hax2=axes('parent',hLeft); plot(t,cos(t));
hax3=axes('parent',hRight); plot(t,tan(t));
hDiv1.DividerLocation = 0.75; % one way to modify divider...
set(hDiv2,'DividerColor','red'); % ...and this is another way...
Technical description:

Bugs and suggestions:
Please send to Yair Altman (altmany at gmail dot com)
This code heavily relies on undocumented and unsupported Matlab functionality. It works on Matlab 6+, but use at your own risk!


Uicomponent Expands Uicontrol To All Java Classes, Scroll Plot Scrollable X/Y Axes, and Prop Listener Add A Callback To Property Value Get/Set Event inspired this file.

This file inspired Realtime Trading With Matlab Presentation Files and Uisplitter.

MATLAB release MATLAB 6.0 (R12)
MATLAB Search Path
Other requirements Should work on all versions starting with 6.0 (R12) through R2008b, including on non-Java-enabled systems. Please report any problems that you may see.
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Comments and Ratings (20)
14 Jan 2015 Yair Altman

Yair Altman

@Karl/Thierry - the latest version supports R2014b. Note that numerous modifications were required for R2014b and all this while keeping backward-compatibility with earlier Matlab releases. So it is quite possible that there are still a few problems. But as far as I can see it works well now.

Comment only
10 Jan 2015 Karl


Very nice submission. I would give it 6 stars if it worked in R2014b.

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10 Jan 2015 Karl


06 Nov 2014 Thierry Dalon

Thierry Dalon

Does not work currently with R2014b / HG2.

Comment only
28 Feb 2012 SSOI SS


I can also reproduce the error described by Martin in 2011b release. Right click on splitter produces heavy red java errors in workspace

Comment only
29 Nov 2010 Pirmin Borer

Pirmin Borer

A cool feature would be a dock, undock button....
However, Nice job!!

20 Jul 2010 Joseph Burgel

Joseph Burgel

Very cool Yair. Once again, job well done. You should be getting a check from MW.

18 Feb 2010 Zach


One question I have though, I'm not able to get a uitree to resize when placed in one of the panes this creates:

fig_handle = figure;
[tree_pane,split_pane,hDiv] = uisplitpane(fig_handle,'Orientation','horizontal','DividerLocation',0.3,'DividerColor',[0.6 0.6 0.6]);
[top_pane,bottom_pane,vDiv] = uisplitpane(split_pane,'Orientation','vertical','DividerLocation',0.5,'DividerColor',[0.6 0.6 0.6]);

root_node = uitreenode('Test','Test', [], 0);
Tree = uitree('v0','Parent',tree_pane,'Root',root_node);
size_pane = get(tree_pane,'Position');
set(Tree,'Position',[0 0 size_pane(3) size_pane(4)]);

The uitree is sized correctly initially, and seems to resize in the vertical direction when the figure is resized, but when the sliders are moved, the uitree doesn't change. Anything that can be done about this?

Comment only
18 Feb 2010 Zach


22 Apr 2009 Yair Altman

Yair Altman

@Martin - thanks for pointing this out. It is only a problem when right-clicking the divider, so as long you left-click/drag you're safe.

The right-clicking problem also occurs on earlier Matlab versions, and is due to some very internal Matlab-Java integration reason. (If you must know, because the divider's javacomponent-created HGPanel is a heavyweight AWT Component instead of a lightweight Swing JComponent). I am unable to bypass this problem at the moment. If I find a way I'll post an updated function here.

Comment only
22 Apr 2009 Martin


Hello, I found the following JAVA exception if the divider is dregged using the right mouse button after button release:

Exception in thread "AWT-EventQueue-0" java.lang.ClassCastException: com.mathworks.hg.peer.HGPanel cannot be cast to javax.swing.JComponent
at javax.swing.plaf.basic.BasicLookAndFeel$AWTEventHelper.eventDispatched(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Toolkit$SelectiveAWTEventListener.eventDispatched(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Toolkit$ToolkitEventMulticaster.eventDispatched(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Toolkit$ToolkitEventMulticaster.eventDispatched(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Toolkit.notifyAWTEventListeners(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Component.dispatchEventImpl(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Container.dispatchEventImpl(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Component.dispatchEvent(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.LightweightDispatcher.retargetMouseEvent(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.LightweightDispatcher.processMouseEvent(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.LightweightDispatcher.dispatchEvent(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Container.dispatchEventImpl(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Component.dispatchEvent(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventQueue.dispatchEvent(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpOneEventForFilters(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpEventsForFilter(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpEventsForHierarchy(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpEvents(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpEvents(Unknown Source)
at Source)

I use R2008b.

Comment only
22 Apr 2009 Martin


Sorry, it is in R2008b ...

03 Apr 2009 Hans


Very useful. Thanks, Yair.

01 Apr 2009 Co Melissant

Co Melissant

A brilliant piece of work, very useful. Especially since the user do not need any java skills if she/he does not like to.

31 Mar 2009 S B


Thank You. Works perfect

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30 Mar 2009 Jveer


yes yes i apologise i missed it.

well i found a bug or maybe i'm just using it wrong. emailing to you now.

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30 Mar 2009 Yair Altman

Yair Altman

@Jveer - you can customize the divider using the 'DividerWidth' and 'DividerColor' properties. By default, a standard width of 5 pixels and the figure's background color are used. I used fat and colored dividers in the screenshot for demonstration purposes only, but you can set them to whatever you need. Read the help section for other settable properties.

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29 Mar 2009 Jveer


wow! that i just brilliant!! thank you!

a very minor recommendation - any chance of changing those fat and ugly colored lines into something more discrete and professional looking?

28 Mar 2009 Yair Altman

Yair Altman

Hi Sivakumar,

uisplitpane returns 3 handles: 2 handles of the uipanels on either side of the divider, and the divider handle. You can add both JTabbedPane and uitabgroup to either of the uipanels, as follows (at least on R2007b):

[hPanel1,hPanel2,hDivider] = uisplitpane(...);

hTabs = uitabgroup('parent',hPanel1);
t1 = uitab(hTabs, 'title', 'Panel 1');
a = axes('parent', t1); surf(peaks);
t2 = uitab(hTabs, 'title', 'Panel 2');
closeb = uicontrol(t2, 'String', 'Close Me', ...
'Position', [180 200 200 60], 'Call', 'close(gcbf)');



Comment only
27 Mar 2009 S B


Do you know how do I embed either a jtabbedpane or uitab in the sub-container so that I can move the dividers and the tab group also moves accordingly. I tried with uitabgroup but it was not accepting the "parent" as one of your sub-component.

27 Mar 2009

Fix for R2008b JavaFrame warning

30 Mar 2009

Fixed DividerColor parent's color based on Co Melissant's suggestion; re-fixed JavaFrame warning

16 May 2013

Fixed some HG-Java warnings; fixed the panels' default bgcolor to be the same as their parent's bgcolor; fixed divider's arrow buttons bgcolor; fixed divider size upon dragging (panel resize); fixed minor Java issues with the divider sub-component

14 Jan 2015

Fixes for HG2 (R2014b); improved mouse-movement performance (responsivity)

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