SWT, JGoodies and Synth: My preferred desktop sessions at JavaOne 2004

I attended as many desktop-related sessions at JavaOne as I could. All of them quite interesting. The sessions I liked most are (no special order here):

Steve's session on SWT clearly stated what all SWT is about: performance and native look. Maintainability was not an issue for them (well, they are supporting different code for each OS, that's a huge task I think). In fact SWT achieves both goals. So no doubt: SWT has been successful in its goals. I'll blog on Swing and SWT one of these days.

Karsten's session was impressive. He presented examples of JGoodies Looks and JGoodies Forms and even the validation stuff (you can find these at javadesktop.org). I once built my own Look and Feel with antialiasing rendering of fonts on Linux, but listening to Karsten I understood that building a good Look and Feel is much more complex than one may think initially. The Looks L&F takes care of screen resolution, for instance, and that's something I've never thought of while Swing-ing.

I pursued some of the Netbeans people around too. Netbeans 4.0 just rocks. You can drag and drop windows around. It starts-up quite fast as well (they had a session on startup performance). I would like to start developing on top of Netbeans but documentation is still an issue. I will try to go fetch some good tutorials as soon as I have some spare time. If you know about any good starting points just let me know.

Scott Violet's session on Ocean and Synth was quite clarifying too. Ocean is just an improvement of Metal, to make it look a little more modern while keeping pixel-size backwards compatibility with Metal (and performance too). So it's not that spectacular to me. Synth is much more promising: you can build L&Fs quickly by just choosing the images you use for rendering widgets or by providing a single class (SynthPainter) to centralize the painting of all widgets. That's much more flexible than Ocean and Metal, and I see that as a step forward in improving Swing. It seems there're still performance issues for Synth (such as advanced image caching), but these will be on time for the final JDK 5.0. Cool.

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