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Cell Layout

Language Namespace : de.itemis.mps.editor.celllayout

In the MPS layout algorithms, the children decide about their width and height, and the parent cell can only arrange the already layouted children. The algorithms from the celllayout language are similar to the ones from the swing layouters where the child is asked for its min/max/preferred size, but the parent decides about the size of the child and the child then has to fit itself into these bounds. The table and diagram language uses this language, but there are also some useful styles defined in the de.itemis.mps.celllayout language. The language is partially inspired by the Java MigLayout and uses a box model: there’s a content box (the cell itself), a padding box (space between content and border), a border box and a margin box (the space around the border).

The layouter is only replaced for cells that use one of the properties mentioned below because the performance is not as good as with the normal layouter.

The language also adds some new cells and style properties.



A horizontal line cell that has a specific thickness (width) and the parent cell’s width.

Supported style properties:

  • horizontal-line-color (default: black, type: hex color, predefined color or custom query)
  • horizontal-line-width (default: 1, unit: pixel)


A vertical line cell that has a specific thickness (width) and the parent cell’s height.

Supported style properties:

  • vertical-line-color default: black, type: hex color, predefined color or custom query
  • vertical-line-width default: 1, unit: pixel



The additional properties are only applied if draw-border is true.

Supported style properties:

  • border-color default: light gray, hex color, predefined color or custom query
  • border-size default: 0, unit: pixel

GridLayout properties

When a vertical grid layout is used as the cell layout, some additional properties are supported:

  • grid-layout-column-span is the number of columns that the cell spans
  • grid-layout-column-row is the number of rows that the cell spans
  • grid-layout-flatten is a boolean flag that tells the layouter that the grid should be flattened. Normally, the MPS grid layout doesn’t support aligning nested collections in vertical grids. When this property is set, the collections are first flattened before the alignment takes place.
  • vertical grid (with flatten support) a top-down cell layout with uses a grid layout
  • topDownLayout this layout replaces the MPS layouter. Sometimes problems with the integration into the MPS layouter occur where you can use the TopDownLayoutCell as a workaround. Normally, the interceptor of the celllayout language is automatically installed recursively when any style property of the language is used.

Grow and Push

  • grow-x is a flag that tells the layouter to grow the cell to the with of the parent.
  • push-x is a property that has the same effect as setting grow-x on the cell and all ancestor cells.
  • grow-y is a flag that tells the layouter to grow the cell to the height of the parent.
  • push-y is a property that has the same effect as setting grow-y on the cell and all ancestor cells.
  • overflow-x/overflow-y the position of the line break in the Indent layout is determined by the width of the entire editor. This width is determined by the “Text width” setting (vertical gray line at the right margin) and the min/max size values of the cells. If, for example, a large image or a table with many columns is inserted, the entire editor becomes very wide and difficult to read. With overflow-x the width of a cell is ignored when determining the editor width. So the text breaks normally at the vertical line and does not become as wide as the image.


It’s possible to specify the space around the cell by specifying one of the margin properties.

Supported style properties:

  • margin-left is the space to the left of the cell (unit: pixel)
  • margin-top is the space above the cell (unit: pixel)
  • margin-right is the space to the right of the cell (unit: pixel)
  • margin-bottom is the space below the cell (unit: pixel)


For more control there are style properties in this language that support queries and allow, for example, to set the border size and color not only for the full border but also for a single side such as the left side. Import LayoutStyleAttributes as a dependency. All style attributes start with an underline.

Debugging (for developers)

If you suspect that a bug is caused by this language, try to open the MPS-extensions project first and disable the layout interceptor. Then open your project and check if it makes a difference. A common issue is also to only use the grow or push property alone instead of using both properties simultaneously. If an editor cell is rendered in the wrong location or doesn’t update correctly, it is very likely that