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Java Cookbook by Ian F. Darwin

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Chapter 13. 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 on inside, or rather underneath, Swing, and for this reason many programs begin by importing both java.awt and javax.swing.

This chapter presents a few elements of Java windowing for the developer whose main exposure to Java has been on the server side. The examples are shown using Swing, rather than the obsolescent AWT components. For a slightly more detailed presentation, the reader is referred to Learning Java. For a very thorough presentation on all aspects of Swing, I recommend the O’Reilly book Java Swing, by Robert Eckstein, Marc Loy, and Dave Wood. At 1252 pages it’s not an overnight read. But it is comprehensive.

Java’s event model has evolved over time, too. In JDK 1.0, the writer of a windowed application had to write a single large event-handling method to deal with button presses from all the ...

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