Monthly Archives: October 2004

Swing layout managers

Use a GriddedPanel to simplify Swing programming

Anyone who has ever done any Swing programming has had to manipulate layout managers.  Sure, you can use the FlowLayout, but then your controls get placed wherever they seem to fit.   That’s not really what most people want.  GridLayout is pretty easy, but it can lead to unexpected results, because each element of the grid is precisely the same size.  Sooner or later, you’re stuck dealing with GridBagLayout. It’s complicated and the GridBagConstraints are non-intuitive.

In “Swing Second Edition” (see below), the authors present GriddedPanel, which uses a GridBayLayout, but with constraints that are easier to manage and understand.   The idea is that you often want a label and a control to be “glued” together, and placed at the same height as each other. You also often want the corresponding controls to line up vertically, with one another.  However, sometimes, you want a control to be able to expand a bit, if it’s larger than the other controls.

When using GriddedPanel, you use more intuitive methods than what you would use in GridBagLayout:

·        addComponent

·        addAnchoredComponent

·        addFilledComponent


Go and look at the source code online.  It’s at (Chapter 4).  And the book is a great reference for Swing in Java 1.4. Yeah, yeah, 5.0 is out, but you may take a while to transition to it anyhow.


Swing Second Edition, Matthew Robinson and Pavel Vorobiev, Manning  Publications Company, 2003.  ISBN 1930110-88-X


Online source
Source code for Swing Second Edition

Java IDE’s

Development Environments for Java

In the Java tradition, development environments for the language have been "bring your own".  Unfortunately, that leads to a great deal of confusion in the community about what the best tool to use is, or even where to start.

Eclipse is quickly becoming the de facto standard tool for Java development. While Sun and Borland and others are still providing IDE's, the open source Eclipse product is nicely integrated with JUnit and provides a fairly clean, easy to use interface, supporting ant and other plugins such as XML editors and more.

My personal opinion is that until the Java community settles on a tool, it will be difficult to compete with the .NET community, whose tool selection, while not mandated, is pretty universal.  Removing the confusion about where to start is a good first step in keeping Java in the running.