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I'm a web developer at day and thinking about building my first real desktop application. The idea is to build a tool that automates a very repetitive task in a web application where no API is available.

I know I want to use Java. I used it before for web stuff, know the syntax pretty well and want the application to be cross plattform as easy as possible.

Where I'm not so sure is if I should use SWT or Swing. As my main audience uses Windows, I want to look it as native as possible there. Linux and Mac should work, but the looks are not so important here.

So what are the arguments for and against each UI Framework, Swing or SWT?

Thanks.

PS: I develop on Windows using Eclipse. But was thinking about playing with Netbeans.

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Pros Swing:

  • part of java library, no need for additional native libraries
  • works the same way on all platforms
  • Integrated GUI Editor in Netbeans and Eclipse
  • good online tutorials by Sun/Oracle
  • Supported by official java extensions (like java OpenGL)

Cons Swing:

  • Native look and feel may behave different from the real native system.
  • heavy components (native/awt) hide swing components, not a problem most of the time as as use of heavy components is rather rare

Pros SWT:

  • uses native elements when possible, so always native behavior
  • supported by eclipse, gui editor VEP (VEP also supports Swing and AWT)
  • large number of examples online
  • has an integrated awt/swt bridge to allow use of awt and swing components

Cons SWT:

  • requires native libraries for each supported system
  • may not support every behavior on all systems because of native resources used (hint options)
  • managing native resources, while native components will often be disposed with their parent other resources such as Fonts have to be manually released or registered as dispose listener to a component for automatic release.

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