Swing links of the week: March 23, 2008

March 23rd, 2008

Here are some Swing links that you might have missed during this week:

  • Thierry Lefort shows how to include table cell styling (foregroud / background colors) in the copy / paste operation. He also shows how to use a single view with highlighting and filtering on multiple SwingX components.
  • The OpenJDK community innovators’ challenge has two Swing-related proposals. Clemens Eisserer proposes an XRender pipeline for Java2D, bringing hardware acceleration to the backbone of Swing painting. Roman Kennke and Mario Torre propose restructuring of AWT and Java2D to enable easier porting of AWT to new platforms.
  • Alex Ruiz announced release 0.9 of the FEST-Swing library for functional Swing testing. One of the major internal changes to the library is first support for testing Groovy-based UIs.
  • Hans Muller confirms what many have already guessed. His e-mail on the users mailing list of AppFramework (reference implementation of JSR 296) confirms that the development of this project has been dead since last November and will continue to be so through this summer. The subsequent discussion on the mailing list indicates that it is quite unlikely that somebody will step up and be able to provide leadership that is much needed for JSR-level projects. The inclusion in JDK 7 looks like it’s in jeopardy as well.
  • John O’Connor has an article on Beans Binding (reference implementation of JSR 295). Unfortunately, these two projects are twin victims of JavaFX for the better part of this year, and one could only hope that JavaFX will live up to its promise and to the investment in engineering resources that have been subverted to it.
  • Collin Fagan has an article on the intricacies of JTree and TreeModel APIs. The main reason for these is the fact that Swing has too many ways to accomplish the same thing (instead of one “true” way that may not sit well with “gurus”, but makes sure that the learning curve is much less steeper and the code is much more homogenic). I have addressed this issue last June.

Looks like this year brings a renewed interest in the Synth-based look-and-feels. Synth was introduced back in JDK 5.0, and it was marketed as one of the major upgrade reasons. The marketing would have you believe that every respectable designer will jump in and start cranking out sleek and polished Swing look-and-feels. Unfortunately, Synth was not tested to be well suited for this task, and there is only one production-ready family of look-and-feels that is based on it. Even then, its developers acknowledge that the base Synth implementation is ridden with multiple bugs.

However, things are changing for the better with Nimbus, the new Synth-based look-and-feel that will be part of JavaSE 6 update 10. While originally it was said to be image-based, its developers have settled for mostly Java2D-based rendering, fixing scores of core Synth bugs along the way. Jasper Potts (one of Nimbus developers) had a very interesting announcement a few months back, saying that they are working on a designer tool for Nimbus. While the full details will most probably be revealed at this year’s JavaOne, the tool allows designing the visuals in a Photoshop-like tool (with support for layering, gradients and effects). Then, the tool generates the Java2D code that produces the matching visuals at runtime.

This tool was not the first attempt at Synth designer. Romain Guy had a prototype of such a builder back in 2005. Fred Lavigne worked on such a builder from 2005 to 2006. After that, Patrick Forhan has taken Fred’s code with the intent of continuing the development, but it appears that the initial check in in September 2006 was also the last one. Finally, Luan O’Carroll has a Synth builder in his XUI framework (this branch has not seen any activity in the last six months).

Now, we have another attempt at writing a Synth designer. This time it comes from EaSynth that has announced the availability of version 1.00. While the tool itself is not free, the base EaSynth look-and-feel is available under the Apache license. While any new look-and-feel is welcome, at least for now it looks quite rough around the edges, especially compared with the existing Synthetica themes.