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Java GUI

Programming a graphical user interface (GUI) with Java has the huge advantage of having a built-in standardized GUI code library. The most basic Java GUI class library is called the Abstract Windowing Toolkit (AWT). The AWT has all the basic UI components for building applets and applications on a modern window-based platform. Buttons, checkboxes, scrollbars, textfields, listboxes, comboboxes, and more are included in this class package. It will also run on the subsets of Java intended for hand-held devices (Personal Java), which in general is not the case for the more extensive Swing API.

Since JDK 1.1, AWT relies on the JavaBeans event model, and the days are gone when developing applets on the web meant ensuring backwards compability towards the (buggy) JDK 1.0 event handling in some browsers. Today the problem is instead ensuring that the internet user's browsers have Java support at all.

Java Foundation Classes, and more specifically the most known and used subset of it: Swing, is a class library that is written in 100% Java and is included as a standard package since JDK 1.2. Swing has all the higher-level UI components, e.g. treeview, toolbar, tab-folder, tables, progressbar, imagebutton, and more..., as well as a practical MVC design of the API, making it possible to write reasonably manangeable applications.

Another important matter concerning user intefaces, is that it is possible, even easy, for a company to design and implement an corporate-unique custom intuitive GUI for their Swing-based interfaces.

Custom GUI is also an Omnisoft specialty - our spinpanel navigation components, and text-tv frameworks are examples of this. All the UI components in the TextTV Framework are specially designed and built, have a unique "look", but have still the same "feel" as a standard windowing UI.

Java AWT

The Java AWT classes are generalized and thus platform independent - the same Java source code will be automatically "ported" to Win32s , Unix, Mac and other platforms. Since JDK 1.1 the components are lightweight, avoiding the problem of having to debug GUI issues that actually belong to the underlying OS, which was one of the main problems with the original peer based approach. For a while (during JDK 1.1) this also meant losing the inter-application clipboard capabilities that the original (peer based) GUI approach had acces to. But since JDK 1.2 and forward this is no longer an issue.

An often forgotten advantage over e.g. C++ is that all the basic necessary UI components are part of the core Java standard and hence are included in all the JVMs and browsers that support the appropriate JDK version. The AWT classes are low-level UI components, the building blocks of the high-level JFC components.

The developer needs only to write once, and the tester may run anywhere. The multi-platform support is constantly being enhanced and optimized, but though this being done in the JVM, the "same old" Java AWT source, on the "same old" PC, will run better and better, with improved JVM (and browser) upgrades.

Java JFC/Swing

Java Foundation Classes, including Swing, is the second generation Java GUI and has been around since JDK 1.1 (as an extension package, and as core since JDK 1.2) and include standard high-level components that a GUI developer is used to, from e.g. one of the many C++ GUI libraries. Swing, being built on top of AWT, is platform independent.

All Swing Components are Java Beans. We seem to take this for granted today, and tend to forget how revolutionary this concept once was, making it easy to create your own RAD components to be included in and used with any Java RAD IDE.

More information about JFC/Swing can be found at Sun's site: Java Foundation Classes.

Java Custom UI Components

Support for advanced graphics programming is included in the JFC Java 2D API and in the Java 3D API. But even with only the standard AWT almost anything is feasible, which is nicely demonstrated by Omnisofts TextTv Framework.

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