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Mixing Heavy and Liight components

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


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Although the Swing component set provides alternatives to using pre-Swing AWT components (such as Button, List, and the like), one of the primary design goals for Swing was that it be based on AWT architecture.

A significant benefit of such layering is that it greatly facilitates porting AWT-component programs to Swing. In fact, because both the AWT and Swing component sets use the same AWT infrastructure, it's possible to mix both kinds of components in the same program -- a technique that allows for phased migration of applications.

This article will lay out the rules for mixing components, and will provide some information and guidelines that we hope will make the mixing of AWT and Swing components as painless as possible.

Heavy and light components

Most of the issues related to mixing AWT and Swing components are related to the mixing of so-called heavyweight and lightweight components. A heavyweight component is one that is associated with its own native screen resource (commonly known as a peer). A lightweight component is one that "borrows" the screen resource of an ancestor (which means it has no native resource of its own -- so it's "lighter").

(Lightweight component support was introduced in JDK1.1, and you can read more about it in the JDK1.1 Lightweight UI Framework design document.)

We generally don't recommend mixing Swing and AWT components because there are significant benefits in sticking with programs that are written entirely in Swing (and thus use only lightweight components).

Some of the benefits of using Swing components are:

  • More efficient use of resources: Lightweight components are really "lighter" than heavyweight components.
  • More consistency across platforms because Swing is written entirely in Java.
  • Cleaner look-and-feel integration: You can give a set of components a matching look-and-feel by implementing them using Swing.

Despite the benefits of using Swing components exclusively, a developer may sometimes have to mix AWT components and Swing components in the same program (even when migration is not to blame). For example, such mixing may be required when a Swing version of a particular AWT component is not yet available.

Because there's sometimes no alternative to mixing heavyweight and lightweight components, we have provided a few options in Swing to make a certain level of component-mixing possible. However, as anyone who has tried this approach knows, there are some practical limitations to this approach.

Full article is here

P.S. (after the article was written info) It will be possible soon to mix AWT and Swing... How? Read it next Monday Smile


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