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Swing is alive…and doing well January 3, 2006

Posted by Jerome Louvel in Java, User interface.
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Have you noticed all the recent pessimism around Java and the hype pushing concurrent platforms like Ruby on Rails? A domain which frequently receives critics is the Swing GUI framework, supposed to be old, slow and badly designed. I’ve worked with it since the beta releases and still follow its evolution closely.

The release of Tiger (Java 5.0) provided a much needed update of the look and feels, the default one and the Windows XP one ; speed was also significantly improved. Meanwhile the concurrent SWT framework was aggressively pushed via the Eclipse platform. This pressure was probably needed to provoke a strong reaction and it seems to me that Mustang (Java 6.0) will hold on its promises.

Take a look at the 160 slides long presentation by Romain Guy and Alexis Moussine-Pouchkine (in English except for the first two slides). It’s comprehensive and truly exciting: congratulations! Here are some interesting facts:

  • The size of the JRE 1.5 is 7.1 MB and the size of the .NET Framework 2.0 is 23 MB
  • Better desktop integration (icons, Windows system tray, Mac dock integration, slash screens)
  • Perfect native look and feels. Also see directory.
  • SwingLabs hosts several interesting projects like the standard SwingX components suite (date picker, login panel, table improvements like column selection, sorting, task panel similar to Windows explorer panels, etc.)
  • Great third-party components complete the features like JFreeChart, JGraph, JGoodies. Also see directory.

That’s great to see a strong and active community around GUI frameworks in Java (see Java Desktop and Client Java) and that Swing is alive…and doing well.

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