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The Java Look-and-Feel Debate

JavaFAQ Home » Swing, AWT Go to all tips in Swing, AWT

Bookmark and Share Java Swing comes with "pluggable look-and-feel technology", which essentially boils down to the fact that interfaces can be "skinned" (although this is simplifying a tad) and is therefore, extremely flexible. By default, Java ships with a cross-platform look-and-feel (LAF), which means your apps can look consistent across all platforms, or LAFs that mimic the look of a specific platform, say Windows, for example. However, one of the chief complaints of Java desktop applications is its "look". It basically stems from two issues:
  1. The default cross-platform LAF is "ugly".
  2. The platform specific LAFs lack fidelity, i.e., they're not convincingly native.

To be honest, they have a point! That's not to say that there aren't many devs (and users) out there who are happy with the LAFs Java ships, but there is work to be done. However, this isn't the end of the story. Java GUIs can be made to look great. Also, is the issue of platform fidelity really as big an issue as many developers think?

Native look and feels

There are many Java developers who program with only the Windows platform in mind. They often feel disappointed that the Windows LAF bundled with Java doesn't do an adequate job of looking like a Windows application. However, does this really matter? Let's look at Microsoft software for example. Take Microsoft Office, Microsoft Media Player and Microsoft Messenger. Three extremely popular pieces of software for Windows, written by Microsoft. Yet, the irony here is that MS themselves have taken great effort to deviate away from the normal Windows look (and from a intra-MS perspective, their own products also deviate from each other, where Office looks different to Media Player, which looks different to Messenger, and so on). And they aren't the only ones.

The full story at OSNews here...

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