James Selvakumar’s Blog

December 1, 2007

Third party swing components

Filed under: java — James @ 7:55 am

I’ve been blogging about Java IDEs for quite some time, and i thought of taking a different route this time and hence this topic.

I’ve been working with java swing for a long time. I remember the days, where i use to struggle a lot to design a decent swing application. Then i managed to learn some techinques to come up with some decent, if not great design. Those were the days when NetBeans GUI builder was not there.
Then NetBeans came and made swing development a breeze.

Though NetBeans made it very easy to design swing apps, the swing component suite remains the same and hasn’t evolved much. You are left with the basic components like label, textfield, scrollpane, table, tree etc. Though these components are sufficient for most of the applications and swing itself is very much extensible, creating components that meets your need is not impossible.

But who want to invest and develop things like date chooser or tree table, which is needed by even the smallest of the applications?. Thank God, there are legions of third party components available and many are open source (that’s the beauty of java). There is swingx (tons of components), l2fprod, jcalendar, jfreechart, jide etc. And if one takes “look and feel” providers as well then there is jgoodies, substance (improving day by day), liquidlnf (we use it in some of our projects), synthetica and so on…

But wait!!! which one should i choose? Which integrates better with my application, with other components? Are they consistent across different look and feels?

I’ve been using components like jcalendar, jfreechart for a while and i can say that, they have worked very well so far.
I’ve been exploring swingx for quite some time and i’m really impressed with the component suite it boasts now. (But i wonder, whether swingx has a stable release yet or not. Whenever i go to swinglabs.org/downloads, i find only milestones and weekly builds. So i’m afraid that i may end up using unstable components. But i really like their components, especially the sortable table/treetable. We spend so much of time in providing sortable functionality to our JTables ):

I’ve used look and feels provided by jgoodies, substance and liquidlnf. Among the three, i prefer jgoodies for their clean and professional look. But we are using liquidlnf in quite a number of projects. Substance is really amazing, but i couldn’t use it because our applications are mostly for business users, so we don’t want all those cool effects and themes. But i’m really looking forward to use substance in our upcoming projects because substance now provides some cool themse like “SubstanceBusinessBlueSteel” etc.

Of late, i’ve been exploring JIDE swing suite and i was amazed at their vast component suite and quality.
You can even design an application as complex as an IDE, using JIDE components. Amazing!!!
You should see their demo applications which mocks visual studio and msword. It was very realistic. Great work!!
They even have a code editor component, which looks exactly like Intellij IDEA’s code editor.
(Does IDEA use jide components?)

Even more shocking was the fact that some of the JIDE components are open sourced. I explored their open source component suite and though they are basic, they provide great functionality (like searchable table, searchable bar)
I’m really looking forward to use some of their open source components (their commericial components are bit expensive, but i think they are worth of it)

Do you use any third party swing components? If yes, can you share your experience?

1 Comment »

  1. Para mi proyecto de titulo he estado buscando diversos componentes. Estoy ocupando swingx… y me ahorro algo de código validando fechas con el JXDAtePicker. Además de darle frescura a la aplicación que desarrollo.
    Revisare JIDE y trataré de colocar algo en mi blog.

    Comment by Roberto — August 13, 2008 @ 6:37 am | Reply

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