When it comes to developing graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for Java applications, there are two main options: Swing and AWT. But what is the difference between them? In this article, we will explore the key differences between Swing and AWT, and help you decide which one is right for you.

Quick answer:

  • AWT is an interface to native system GUI code present in your OS, while Swing is a more-or-less pure Java GUI.
  • Swing widgets are meaningless pixels within a window from your OS’s point of view, while AWT widgets are native widgets that the OS knows about.
  • Because Swing tries to do everything possible in Java, it used to incur a performance penalty compared to AWT. However, this has shrunk dramatically over the last several years.
  • Some people may prefer SWT, which is somewhat of a return to the AWT idea of accessing native widgets through Java. However, most people will say that Swing is well worth it.

Difference between AWT and Swing in Java

What are the features of Swing?

The Swing library provides a rich set of components that are lighter-weight and more customizable than the components provided by the AWT library. Additionally, Swing components can be rendered using pure Java code, which makes them independent of the underlying operating system. This makes Swing a popular choice for creating cross-platform applications.

Some of the key features of Swing include:

  • A rich set of advanced controls, including trees, tabbed panes, sliders, color pickers, and tables
  • The ability to customize components in a very easy way
  • A pluggable look-and-feel that allows you to change the appearance of your application at runtime
  • Support for a wide range of graphics devices and display types, including high-resolution displays.

Advantages of Swing

  • Swing provides both additional components and added functionality to AWT-replacement components
  • Swing components can change their appearance based on the current “look and feel” library that’s being used.
  • Swing components follow the Model-View-Controller (MVC) paradigm and thus can provide a much more flexible UI.
  • Swing provides “extras” for components, such as: Icons on many components and Decorative borders for components
  • Tool tips for components
  • Swing components are lightweight (less resource-intensive than AWT)
  • Swing provides built-in double buffering
  • Swing provides paint debugging support for when you build your own components

Disadvantages of Swing

  • It can be slower than AWT (all components are drawn) as if we’re not careful in programming.
  • It requires Java 1.2 or a separate JAR file.
  • Swing components that look like native components might not act exactly like native components.

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