The JComponent Class

JComponent is an abstract class that almost all Swing components extend; it provides much of the underlying functionality common throughout the Swing component library. Just as the java.awt.Component class serves as the guiding framework for most of the AWT components, the javax.swing.JComponent class serves an identical role for the Swing components. We should note that the JComponent class extends java.awt.Container (which in turn extends java.awt.Component), so it is accurate to say that Swing components carry with them a great deal of AWT functionality as well.

Because JComponent extends Container, many Swing components can serve as containers for other AWT and Swing components. These components may be added using the traditional add() method of Container. In addition, they can be positioned with any Java layout manager while inside the container. The terminology remains the same as well: components that are added to a container are said to be its children; the container is the parent of those components. Following the analogy, any component that is higher in the tree is said to be its ancestor, while any component that is lower is said to be its descendant.

Recall that Swing components are considered “lightweight.” In other words, they do not rely on corresponding peer objects within the operating system to render themselves. As we mentioned in Chapter 1, lightweight components draw themselves using the standard features of the abstract Graphics object, ...

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