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GUI - Swing vs. AWT

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Java: GUI - Swing vs. AWT

The original graphical user interface (GUI) for Java was called the Abstract Windowing Toolkit (AWT). Performance and extendability problems with AWT were resolved by introducing a new GUI interface, known as Swing. Swing provides replacements for most of the AWT components, altho many AWT non-component classes remain in use. Upward compatibility is assured in almost all cases; an AWT continues to work in Java.

Must choose between Swing and AWT

Mixing both Swing and AWT components in the same interface can produce errors, so one has to make a decision about which to use. Despite the advantages of Swing, there actually are arguments for using AWT.

Swing advantages

  • Swing is faster.
  • Swing is more complete.
  • Swing is being actively improved.

AWT advantages

  • AWT is supported on older, as well as newer, browsers so Applets written in AWT will run on more browsers.
  • The Java Micro-Edition, which is used for phones, TV settop boxes, PDAs, etc, uses AWT, not Swing.

These notes use Swing

These notes use Swing for all GUI components. Because the AWT is very similar to Swing, changing code is not difficult.
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