Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Java SWING Survival Guide: Where are we a year later?

In this article, Matt Stephens gives his opinion about the missed opportunities with SWING and Java applets, and makes some suggestions about what could be done to improve the situation in his Java Swing Survival Guide

Is this a pipe-dream or a road map to success. Are his comments visionary, timely, or too little too late?

I think that SWING should be streets ahead of where it currently is by now. I mean, it's nearly 10 years old and it still feels like it's only just starting to walk!

I agree with a lot of what he has to say, and interestingly there are now some initiatives underway to bring SWING up to date. Forthcoming feature enhancements in Java 6 and both SWINGX and the Spring Rich Client project are just two things that may resolve some of the issues mentioned. But they're both a little way off from being truely usable.

I have had the same thoughts about the missed opportunity of Java Applets to really, really shine in the way that Flash have so successfully done. I think Flash caught the attention of the web designers and developers, and application programmers pretty much took a back seat while the whole web revolution happened.

I think it's a true irony, even a subconscious statement of defeat, that when you go to (the consumer face of Java) the first thing that gets your attention is a Flash animation!!

But the demand for richer applications may revitalize Web Start and maybe even Applets if enough concentration on great looking applets and applications is made. However, I fear that the talent to make things look great doesn't exist in Sun's corner. I think the applet may be pretty much down and out for the count in the browser arena.

Acceptance of Java needs to be on a more serious level. I think that may more applications that are currently being done as web apps and being retrofitted with AJAX are suited better to being deployed by Web Start. Perhaps this is where the niche can be filled with better, more usable applications?

Comments welcome >

SWING Links from the CJUG presentation

Here are some links discussed in the "SWING Goodies Not Found in the JDK" presentation:

FlexDock Open source docking framework

TableLayout - alternative to GridBag layout

Official SWING links on
JFC/Swing Home Page
The SWING connection
SWING Sightings - Lots of real SWING apps to peruse

SwingX - SWING Extensions project (sub-project of SwingLabs)

SwingLabs Open Source project

Spring Rich Client Project - First stable release v0.1.0 just released!


JIDE Commercial Docking framework - Repository of SWING enhancements, such as look & feels

Napkin Look & Feel

Vector based (Flash-like) SWING Look & Feel:

IconCraft - Programmer's Icon Editor (Limited Shareware)

Romain Guy's Weblogs - Developer on Sun's SWING team:


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Check for Palm nearly done

One of my pet projects over the last few months has been to program an electronic version of my card game, Check - The Chess Card Game onto the Palm (and other devices).
I have been using Waba, an excellent micro-VM to do it.
I'm just about there with a Beta which needs testing. If you have a Palm device and want to try it out, bring it along to CJUG on Weds 12th April and I'll beam you a copy to play with.
(You need a colour device with 320x320 or greater resolution.)

Once I'm done on the Palm, I plan to port it to J2ME and run it on my phone.