Java Swing is an application program interface or API, associated with Java Programming Language. Swing is a set of rich libraries used to create GUIs or Graphical User Interfaces. In this article, you will get a clear idea about what Java Swing is, the properties of Java Swing, the advantages of Java Swing over other APIs, the relationship between Java Swing, AWT, and SWT. Before going into the details of Java Swing, let’s first gather some necessary information regarding Java and Graphical User Interface.
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What is Java?
Java is an object-oriented programming language that is widely used for various purposes. The world of technology today is so advanced that we can conquer any information from mobile phones. Even gaming, multitasking, and other applications have been usable in mobile phones. This has only been possible for the underlying high-level language Java. This language was primarily developed with only one concept, ‘Write once, run everywhere,’ which means that the code should be written only once and will be able to use in any device.
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Precisely Java seemed to meet that requirement by incorporating the concept of ‘Virtual Machine.’ The machine is named Java Virtual Machine or JVM. JVM provides an environment to run the codes and applications.
Once the code has been written in Java, it is converted into Java Bytecode. Pertinent to Say, Java Bytecode is an understandable language of Java Virtual Machine. Being a part of Java RUN ENVIRONMENT (JRE), Java Virtual machine compiles the code and runs it.
Apart from Android development and applications, Java is used in User Interface formations, i.e., GUIs, Game Development, Software Development, etc. It is one of the most significant High-level languages that the world of Computer Science knows.
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What is the GUI?
GUI is the abbreviated form of Graphical User Interface. It works as an intermediate between user and software. When a software runs, often a widget is seen with interactive elements. This is known as User Interface. A typical example of a user interface is the login credential widget.
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In Java programming language, the formation of a user interface is being done by Java SWING.
Demystifying Java Swing
Java Swing is an API or Application Program Interface which is used to form Java GUI or Graphical User Interfaces. It is an integral part of Java Foundation Classes (JFC). JFC is used to create window-based applications. Java Swing is entirely written in Java, and it is an extended version of AWT or Abstract Windowing Toolkit.
Properties of Java Swing
- Swing belongs to the Java Foundation Classes (JFC). However, they are not entirely the same. JFC contains a bundle of other items along with Swing.
- Swing has introduced mainly three significant revolutionary advances. It used fewer resources, adds more sophisticated components, and lets the programmer control it’s look-and-feel.
- Pluggable look-and-feel enabled the programmers to make software look the same in any platform as designed for that same system.
- The Java Swing API GUI is composed of three segments, Components, Containers, and layout managers.
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What is Java AWT?
AWT (Abstract Windowing Toolkit) is also a Java GUI forming API. It was default GUI forming API from the beginning. It was brought into the market along with Java itself from 1995. SWING is only an extended version of AWT. The components of AWT are heavy-weight. In the case of AWT, the parts are specific to the underlying windowing system.
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Why was Java Swing developed?
Being an extended version of AWT, Swing provides a more sophisticated interface. It also supports a pluggable look. The components of Java Swing are more powerful and useful than AWT. Swing has also advantaged over its running assembly, as it is found to be more prudent to use. Also, there are more elements included in Java Swing than AWT.
Swing provides the kind of look in a user interface, which is often seen in modern-day applications. Swing also allows the programmer to choose between the look-and-feel of the application, between the local device or the global look.
Advantages of Swing over AWT
- Java AWT was platform-dependent and also used the resources from the operating system to run the program. The program would have had different appearances and looks in other operating systems, such as Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Whereas, Java Swing uses platform-independent resources, so in every operating system, such as Windows, Mac, Linus, the software will have the same look.
- Components of Java AWT were heavy-weight, whereas elements of Java Swing are light-weight.
- Java AWT doesn’t support the pluggable look and feels while Java Swing endorses the same.
- Java Swing provides more components than Java AWT. The newly incorporated elements include tabbed panels, trees, lists, tables, scroll panes, colour-chooser.
- Java AWT doesn’t follow MVC, while Java Swing follows.
MVC is Model View Controller, in which model refers to data, View refers to the presentation, and Controller acts as an interface between model and view.
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The framework of Java Swing
- Java is a platform-independent programming language; therefore, Swing being written in Java is independent of platforms and can run in all operating systems.
- Being a modular architecture, Swing allows many custom implementations of particular interfaces to be plugged together. With the assistance of Java’s inheritance mechanism, users can provide their customisations of these elements to override the default rules.
- Swing relies on run-time operations and indirect configurations, which in turn makes it respond at run-time to variable changes in its settings. Users can interpret their own choice of look-and-feel, which helps to form a uniform distribution of composition throughout the application. An application with a Swing framework can hot-swap its GUI during run-time.
- javax.swing.J component provides all the components needed by Swing. The MVC pattern of Swing is loosely coupled. The event listeners are attached to the data model object programmatically.
For creating a GUI, we need at least one container class object. Container classes can have various components in it. There are mainly three types of containers:
Panel: It is a pure container and not a window in itself. The primary purpose of a panel is to organise the components on to a window.
Frame: It is an entirely functioning window with its title and icons.
Dialogue: It can be described as a pop-up window that pops out when a message has to be displayed. It is not a completely functioning window like the Frame.
Relationship with AWT
Abstract Window Toolkit is abbreviated as AWT. In ancient versions of Java, AWT has given platform-independent APIs for user interface units. There is a speciality in Abstract Window Toolkit; all the components are regulated and performed by Swing components and do not require the allocation of indigenous resources in the operating system’s windowing toolkit. As a result, these components are termed as lightweight. On the other hand, the AWT components are considered as heavy-weight units.
Swing API is a harmonising expansion of AWT. All the top-level units of Java Swing such as JApplet, JDialogue, JFrame and JWindow help in extending AWT. This happens due to the co-existence of Java Swing (light-weight) and AWT (heavy-weight) components. Due to Z-order issues, people could not use Swing and AWT components together in the same window.
This problem occurred when Java 6 update 10 took place. Nevertheless, these issues were sorted out in the newer versions of Java. From now onwards, the light-weight and the heavy-weight components can be used alongside one another in one Graphical User Interface.
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Relationship with SWT
SWT is the abbreviated form of Standard Widget Toolkit. It is currently under the authorisation of Eclipse, although IBM created it. The implementation of Standard Widget Toolkit symbolises the heavy-weight units of Abstract Widget Toolkit. This synchronises with a greater deal of loyalty with an underlying ancient windowing toolkit. However, exposure to the platform has been more expensive with this model.
SWT vs Java Swing
Comparing the performance of Standard Widget Toolkit with Java Swing raises no less than a good deal of arguments. SWT being dependent on Java Interface slows down when there has to be communication between Java and Graphical User Interface. Although, it behaves as a faster model when GUI alone deals with the data source. So, with given arguments, no conclusive remarks can be drawn about the comparison of both.
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With the growing market of android and user-friendly software, Java is becoming more and more prudent with each passing day. Thus pursuing a career in Java may ensure stability. Android app development is one of the most growing markets. Java Developers include one of the highest paying jobs in the industry.
Developing an application requires providing interactive interfaces for users, which helps attract users. These interfaces are made using Java Swing Projects. Besides, Java is essential for backend development. In a nutshell, if you are willing to have a career in software development, it is recommended to have a command over Java to thrive.
With time the development in technology leads to a surge in learning new knowledge. Improvement of Swing over AWT has been significant for this reason. upGrad thus provides a series of learning methods to help millions over the internet.
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What is an API?
The Application Programming Interface or the API is a software interface that enables two apps to communicate with one another without the need for human involvement. API refers to a set of software functions and methods. A software code that could be read or run is an API. It will enable goods or services to talk with one another without knowing how they are deployed. It makes it easier to integrate material from any website or application, and it lets users or businesses tailor the information and applications they use the most. APIs assist in anticipating changes in the software that must be made over time.
What are containers in AWT?
In AWT, the Container is a component that may collect other components like buttons, text fields, labels, and so on. Containers are classes that extend the Container class, such as Window, Frame, Dialog, and Panel. It's essentially a screen on which the components are positioned in their proper placements. As a result, it contains and regulates component layout. Top-level containers and low-level containers are the two varieties of Swing Containers. Heavyweight containers like JFrame, JApplet, JWindow, and JDialog are examples of top-level containers. Low-Level containers, such as JPanel, are lightweight containers. JFrame, JPanel, and JWindow are the most widely used containers. add(), invalidate(), and validate() are three fundamental methods of the Container class.
What are the real-life use cases of Java?
Java is mostly utilized in the creation of scientific applications. Because it provides the facilities to develop large-scale scientific processing and modeling platforms, it has been an influential language in this area. The finance industry is home to a few of Java's most popular real-world applications. The language is used to construct server applications as it provides excellent data processing performance and can be synced with a variety of servers. A lot of trading apps are also written in Java. These applications are designed to give traders both a platform that can be used anywhere and the features they need to trade stocks, currencies, and other financial instruments. Java is also the programming language that is used to create embedded devices and Android applications.