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Java Cookbook, 2nd Edition by Ian F Darwin

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Chapter 14. Graphical User Interfaces

Introduction

Java has had windowing capabilities since its earliest days. The first version made public was the Abstract Windowing Toolkit, or AWT. AWT used the native toolkit components, so it was relatively small and simple. AWT suffered somewhat from being a "least common denominator"; a feature could not be added unless it could be implemented on all major platforms that Java supported. The second major implementation was the Swing classes, released in 1998 as part of the Java Foundation Classes. Swing is a full-function, professional-quality GUI toolkit designed to enable almost any kind of client-side GUI-based interaction. AWT lives inside, or rather underneath, Swing, and, for this reason, many programs begin by importing both java.awt and javax.swing. An alternate approach is exemplified by IBM's SWT (Standard Windowing Toolkit), which is a thin wrapper for direct access to the underlying toolkit. SWT is used in building the Eclipse IDE discussed in Recipe 1.3. It's possible to build new applications using SWT, but Swing is more portable and more widely used.

This chapter presents a few elements of Java windowing for the developer whose main exposure to Java has been on the server side. Most of the examples are shown using Swing, rather than the obsolescent AWT components; SWT is not covered at all. I assume that you have at least a basic understanding of what GUI components are, which ones should be used where, and so on. I will ...

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