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WindowBuilder Pro: Advanced Java GUI Creation in Eclipse : Page 3

Want to build Java user interfaces without drowning in the minutia of the Java GUI libraries? WindowBuilder Pro may be the tool for you. Learn all about this Eclipse plug-in as Jason Morris puts it to the test.


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The Future of Java GUIs
I asked Eric Clayberg if new GUI tools are helping Java compete with Microsoft's .NET platform. He replied, "SWT provides a clear alternative to .NET for building client applications. It finally allows Java developers to create fast, native Windows apps that are every bit as good as those created with .NET. GUI builders targeting SWT make building SWT-based UIs practical."

Clayberg also cited the significant increase in developers interested in creating fat client Swing and SWT apps, the steady increase in the number of eval downloads of the product over the last year, and the popularity of SWT in various trade magazines and newsgroups as key factors driving Instantiations to continue innovating its GUI tools.

"Development on the product has accelerated over the last year, and Instantiations is actively working on many new features," he added. "We are continuing to evolve the product's abilities to create Eclipse RCP apps. Support for the new Eclipse Forms API is due out soon. We are also enhancing the product's Swing capabilities with plans to add support for JGoodies FormLayout and other popular layout managers."



Clayberg was also especially proud of the fact that WindowBuilder Pro has an extremely flexible code generation and parsing engine. "WB can read and write just about any Java GUI format. That makes it ideal for editing (or reverse engineering) Java code created by other GUI builders such as JBuilder, NetBeans, VA Java, etc. In many ways, it is the 'Rosetta Stone' of Java GUI builders," he boasted.

GUI Programming Takes a Leap Forward
Java has historically languished and struggled in the area of GUI development: AWT was not robust enough, and Swing—improvement that it is—is just too bulky and slow for many fat client applications. With the advent of the lightweight and fast SWT library, Java GUI programming has taken a huge leap forward, but developers still are faced with the headaches of reverse-engineering old AWT and Swing applications, maintaining existing code, and creating new apps. WindowBuilder Pro is specifically designed to address these issues (See Table 4: WindowBuilder Pro: Pros and Cons). It excels at translating legacy Java GUI code and supporting rapid application development reminiscent of the old Visual Basic 5-6.0. All of this is implemented in an intuitive and easy-to-use Eclipse interface. Java developers who have been avoiding GUI programming because of the learning curve and its impact to their respective productivity should seriously investigate this powerful tool.


Mark JohnsonMark Johnson is the vice president of marketing at Instantiations. He is also the chair for the Eclipse Public Relations Committee. You can reach Mark at mark@instantiations.com.

Mark JohnsonEric Clayberg is the senior vice president for product development at Instantiations. He co-authored "Eclipse: Building Commercial Quality Plug-ins" (Addison-Wesley, June 2004). You can contact Eric at clayberg@instantiations.com.



Jason Morris has been involved in software development since 1993. He runs Morris Technical Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in engineering information technology.
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