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By: Josh Fletcher
Abstract: A brief comparison of Swing and the AWT when used for GUI developement.
When developing a Java program it is important to select the appropriate Java Graphical User Interface (GUI) components. There are two basic sets of components that you will most likely build your Java programs with. These two groups of components are called the Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) and Swing. Both of these groups of components are part of the Java Foundation Classes (JFC).
AWT stands for Abstract Window ToolKit. The Abstract Window Toolkit supports GUI Java programming. It is a portable GUI library for stand-alone applications and/or applets. The Abstract Window Toolkit provides the connection between your application and the native GUI. The AWT provides a high level of abstraction for your Java program since it hides you from the underlying details of the GUI your program will be running on.
AWT features include:
The AWT components depend on native code counterparts (called peers) to handle their functionality. Thus, these components are often called "heavyweight" components.
Swing implements a set of GUI components that build on AWT technology and provide a pluggable look and feel. Swing is implemented entirely in the Java programming language, and is based on the JDK 1.1 Lightweight UI Framework.
Swing features include:
Swing components do not depend on peers to handle their functionality. Thus, these components are often called "lightweight" components.
There are, of course, both pros and cons to using either set of components from the JFC in your Java applications. Here is a summary:
In general, AWT components are appropriate for simple applet development or development that targets a specific platform (i.e. the Java program will run on only one platform).
For most any other Java GUI development you will want to use Swing components. Also note that the Borland value-added components included with JBuilder, like dbSwing and JBCL, are based on Swing components so if you wish to use these components you will want to base your development on Swing.
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