July 12, 2011, 8:16 p.m.
posted by vanadium
Swing is a powerful toolkit, filled to the brim with complicated components, extension APIs, and large Model-View-Controller (MVC) systems. It can be quite daunting. The current edition of O'Reilly's Java Swing book now stretches over 1,200 pages! Swing now extends from the simplest JButton to the full Look and Feel API. I am still amazed at the power and flexibility of Swing, and quite aware of its complexity. Some of the more esoteric parts can take years to master. However, you don't need to go straight into the JTRee or Look and Feel APIs just to do something cool. There are still a lot of fun things waiting in the standard components we don't always think about.
This chapter covers some of the basic components that every Swing developer uses: buttons, labels, menus, and the occasional scroll pane. From this base you will learn how to create image buttons, put watermarks into your text areas, and even build a new component or two. These are the components that seem boring, but with a little imagination, they can do a whole lot, and the techniques here lay the foundation for even more exciting hacks later in the book.