Can Java do fancy GUIs?

Discussion in 'Java' started by Ramon F Herrera, Apr 16, 2005.

  1. So far, I have been programming my interfaces by picking the available
    Swing components in my IDE. Sometimes, however, a programmer needs a
    richer visual interface. I have always noticed that the standard
    (compiled, non-Java) Windows programs tend to have a more professional
    look than their Java counterparts.

    Let me give an example: I have a program that displays and manipulates
    images and I am really jalous of the way the "Zoom Toolbar" looks in
    Adobe Acrobat. That's the kind of visual quality that I am trying to
    achieve. Is it possible to write an exact (or close) replica of that
    zoom toolbar in Java? With the "floating" toolbars that somehow deck
    next to each other?

    I have read a little about JavaBeans. Is this what JavaBeans is for?
    To achieve very nice and professional looking widgets? How hard (and
    expensive) is it to have a high quality JavaBean custom written for
    you?

    TIA,

    -Ramon F Herrera
    Ramon F Herrera, Apr 16, 2005
    #1
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  2. Ramon F Herrera

    IchBin Guest

    Ramon F Herrera wrote:
    > So far, I have been programming my interfaces by picking the available
    > Swing components in my IDE. Sometimes, however, a programmer needs a
    > richer visual interface. I have always noticed that the standard
    > (compiled, non-Java) Windows programs tend to have a more professional
    > look than their Java counterparts.
    >
    > Let me give an example: I have a program that displays and manipulates
    > images and I am really jalous of the way the "Zoom Toolbar" looks in
    > Adobe Acrobat. That's the kind of visual quality that I am trying to
    > achieve. Is it possible to write an exact (or close) replica of that
    > zoom toolbar in Java? With the "floating" toolbars that somehow deck
    > next to each other?
    >
    > I have read a little about JavaBeans. Is this what JavaBeans is for?
    > To achieve very nice and professional looking widgets? How hard (and
    > expensive) is it to have a high quality JavaBean custom written for
    > you?
    >
    > TIA,
    >
    > -Ramon F Herrera
    >


    I really enjoy *JGoodies Forms*. They are free. http://www.jgoodies.com/

    Their layout manager walks rings around say Gridbag or any of Sun's
    layout managers. They are simple to implement also. JGoodies also have
    their own set of "Looks & Feel"s. These integrate very nicely with other
    LAF's. They also have an animation library. Have not used that yet but
    may integrate into my website.

    To see them, from my use in action, you can go to my website. Sorry I am
    still building the website. Anyway, go to the screenshots under the "Pro
    Versions" tab for JHackerAppManager.

    Website address: http://24.115.55.47:8080/JHackerAppManager/

    I was going to add some screenshots of the possible "Looks & Feel"s
    combined with Goodies forms but have not added those yet.

    Enjoy...
    --

    Thanks in Advance...
    IchBin
    __________________________________________________________________________

    'The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical
    substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.'
    - Carl Gustav Jung, (1875-1961), psychiatrist and psychologist
    IchBin, Apr 16, 2005
    #2
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  3. Ramon F Herrera

    kjc Guest

    Ramon F Herrera wrote:
    > So far, I have been programming my interfaces by picking the available
    > Swing components in my IDE. Sometimes, however, a programmer needs a
    > richer visual interface. I have always noticed that the standard
    > (compiled, non-Java) Windows programs tend to have a more professional
    > look than their Java counterparts.
    >
    > Let me give an example: I have a program that displays and manipulates
    > images and I am really jalous of the way the "Zoom Toolbar" looks in
    > Adobe Acrobat. That's the kind of visual quality that I am trying to
    > achieve. Is it possible to write an exact (or close) replica of that
    > zoom toolbar in Java? With the "floating" toolbars that somehow deck
    > next to each other?
    >
    > I have read a little about JavaBeans. Is this what JavaBeans is for?
    > To achieve very nice and professional looking widgets? How hard (and
    > expensive) is it to have a high quality JavaBean custom written for
    > you?
    >
    > TIA,
    >
    > -Ramon F Herrera
    >

    I don't undestand what you're talking about.
    I developed a "point of sale" system with Swing.
    That's about as complex a GUI as you can get. Image buttons etc...Using
    standard Swing components.
    kjc, Apr 16, 2005
    #3
  4. It's quite simple, really.
    My standards are higher than yours.
    I aspire to have the same quality as the very best graphical designers
    on the planet (Adobe, the creators of the electronic font, press,
    logos, etc.) while you are satisfied with whatever Swing provides.

    -Ramon
    Ramon F Herrera, Apr 16, 2005
    #4
  5. "Ramon F Herrera" <> writes:

    > I aspire to have the same quality as the very best graphical designers
    > on the planet (Adobe, the creators of the electronic font, press,
    > logos, etc.) while you are satisfied with whatever Swing provides.


    In other words you intend to go through life dissatisfied.

    You give the impression of having the same disease as many in the
    games industry, where the looks are more important than the function.
    You will find that users prefer simple software that WORKS instead of
    over-designed bells and whistles GUIs which confuse.
    Tor Iver Wilhelmsen, Apr 16, 2005
    #5
  6. Ramon F Herrera

    Tomislav Guest

    Tor Iver Wilhelmsen wrote:

    > You give the impression of having the same disease as many in the
    > games industry, where the looks are more important than the function.
    > You will find that users prefer simple software that WORKS instead of
    > over-designed bells and whistles GUIs which confuse.


    It's so sad to hear someone so out of touch with reallity, but at the same
    time, out of touch in a nobel-programmer sort of way. ;)
    I'd say that practically every application has two very distinguishable parts:
    the part that challenges the programmers abilities, that a programmer derives
    the most satisfaction and the part the users criticize most - how the data and
    the data manipulation interface looks like. The second is all about "a little
    bit to the left", "group this with thees, rather than those" and "oh, and I
    need 5 more ways to see the same data" - not very stimulating for a systems
    designer and it shows.
    Tomislav, Apr 16, 2005
    #6
  7. Ramon F Herrera schrub am Samstag, 16. April 2005 05:07
    folgendes:

    > It's quite simple, really.
    > My standards are higher than yours.
    > I aspire to have the same quality as the very best
    > graphical designers on the planet (Adobe, the
    > creators of the electronic font, press, logos, etc.)
    > while you are satisfied with whatever Swing provides.


    Swing provides areas of your screen
    (buttons,labels,panels...), which have a kind of
    graphics context. You can paint freely in this context
    to get your "personal" look.
    So what you're saying is that you really aren't able to
    draw what you want to see ??

    --
    greetz Karlheinz Klingbeil (lunqual)
    http://www.lunqual.de oder http:www.lunqual.net
    karlheinz klingbeil, Apr 16, 2005
    #7
  8. Ramon F Herrera

    David Segall Guest

    Tor Iver Wilhelmsen <> wrote:

    >"Ramon F Herrera" <> writes:
    >
    >> I aspire to have the same quality as the very best graphical designers
    >> on the planet (Adobe, the creators of the electronic font, press,
    >> logos, etc.) while you are satisfied with whatever Swing provides.

    >


    >You will find that users prefer simple software that WORKS instead of
    >over-designed bells and whistles GUIs which confuse.

    There are two problems with that sentence. First, you contrast two
    objects that are not comparable. Second, the OP wanted to model his
    software on a program that must be installed on more computers than
    _any_ other piece of software.
    David Segall, Apr 16, 2005
    #8
  9. > In other words you intend to go through life dissatisfied.

    That's my curse. :)

    If people were satisfied with what is out there, we wouldn't have Java
    or the Macintosh.

    I just want software which is designed to satisfy both sides of the
    brain. Have you heard of "form follows function"?

    Do you know what percentage of the brain is exclusively dedicated to
    visual processing? I don't remember the figure, but it is a huge
    percentage.

    -Ramon
    Ramon F Herrera, Apr 16, 2005
    #9
  10. Tor Iver Wilhelmsen coughed up:
    > "Ramon F Herrera" <> writes:
    >
    >> I aspire to have the same quality as the very best graphical
    >> designers on the planet (Adobe, the creators of the electronic font,
    >> press, logos, etc.) while you are satisfied with whatever Swing
    >> provides.

    >
    > In other words you intend to go through life dissatisfied.
    >
    > You give the impression of having the same disease as many in the
    > games industry, where the looks are more important than the function.
    > You will find that users prefer simple software that WORKS instead of
    > over-designed bells and whistles GUIs which confuse.



    I'm with you in your argument right up until this post. Your heart is very
    much in the right place, but It is not a black a white subject (no pun re:
    color graphics) and as such I'll try to simply list out what I've determined
    to be the facts over the years. Come to think of it, I think you and I had
    this discussion before. (?)

    1. Functionality is obviously extremely important,
    but you can actually (believe it or not) lose a part
    of your functionality and replace it with glitz and
    you will sell more product. I've discovered that
    Engineers as customers /sometimes/ see this
    differently, but engineers are often not where the
    real money is.

    2. Much of what frustrates an engineer with the
    swing out-of-the-box design is that until you really
    know what you are doing it is very hard to tweak
    the gui into what you might view as perfection.
    Such tweaking isn't always simple "useless" glitz:
    sometimes the seemingly cosmetic improvements
    to a gui result in an improvement to its usability.

    3. And even if you are not after the high-end glitz I
    am referring to, swing (even with the windows
    LaF) somehow just never looks /quite/ like the
    other windows applications running. I personally
    find that irritating.

    I've come to these conclusions as a result of being in the computer graphics
    and GUI design and philosophy business for the 20+ years I've been creating
    software, as from being in java since the beta.

    Now, IMO where Ramon has gone entirely wrong is in making the assumption
    that you cannot fully tailor swing to do whatever you like. You can, and I
    done so repeatedly in both the AWT and Swing venues. I haven't ventured
    into IBM's SWT yet, thought I suppose it's inevitable. It's just that peer
    based component design give me the willies :)


    --
    "It's easier to be terrified by an enemy you admire."
    -Thufir Hawat, Mentat and Master of Assassins to House Atreides
    Thomas G. Marshall, Apr 16, 2005
    #10
  11. > You give the impression of having the same disease as many in the
    > games industry, where the looks are more important than the function.
    > You will find that users prefer simple software that WORKS instead of
    > over-designed bells and whistles GUIs which confuse.


    The only Java utility that I have seen out there that "rocks" is
    JDiskReport by a company:

    http://www.jgoodies.com

    whose motto is: "We make Java look good and work well".

    Why do you figure JDiskReport is their most popular product?

    It seems to me that if one wants to impress a potential customer with a
    prototype, the very first thing you have to do is to disguise the
    visual part, so they don't know that it is written in Java.

    Oh, speaking of the game industry. Did you know that they are bigger
    than Hollywood (not that I care much for games)?

    -Ramon
    Ramon F Herrera, Apr 16, 2005
    #11
  12. Ramon F Herrera

    kjc Guest

    Ramon F Herrera wrote:
    > It's quite simple, really.
    > My standards are higher than yours.
    > I aspire to have the same quality as the very best graphical designers
    > on the planet (Adobe, the creators of the electronic font, press,
    > logos, etc.) while you are satisfied with whatever Swing provides.
    >
    > -Ramon
    >

    Wow, i'm impressed. NOT.

    How many business types give a damn about flashing widgets, and mini
    movies playing on their desktops while they are manipulating
    equities,commodities and deniro.
    let me answer that question for ya. NONE.

    And, yes, I am satisfied with what Swing and its architecture provides,
    as I'M creative enough to use the myriad of graphic design knowledge I
    have at my disposal.


    If you're too lazy to do the work required, then step off and use VB or
    something.
    kjc, Apr 16, 2005
    #12
  13. Ramon F Herrera

    kjc Guest

    Ramon F Herrera wrote:
    >>In other words you intend to go through life dissatisfied.

    >
    >
    > That's my curse. :)
    >
    > If people were satisfied with what is out there, we wouldn't have Java
    > or the Macintosh.
    >
    > I just want software which is designed to satisfy both sides of the
    > brain. Have you heard of "form follows function"?
    >
    > Do you know what percentage of the brain is exclusively dedicated to
    > visual processing? I don't remember the figure, but it is a huge
    > percentage.
    >
    > -Ramon
    >

    You're stuck in your head dude.
    Get out and do some work.

    Sounds like you just don't know what you're doing in the Java Swing world.
    kjc, Apr 16, 2005
    #13
  14. Ramon F Herrera wrote:

    > [...] I have always noticed that the standard
    > (compiled, non-Java) Windows programs tend to have a more professional
    > look than their Java counterparts.


    That's true for many Java apps. But as you've seen with JDiskReport,
    Java applications can compete with or even outperform native apps.

    > [...] Is it possible to write an exact (or close) replica of that
    > zoom toolbar in Java? [...]


    Yes. Java, Java2D and Swing make up a very powerful toolkit
    for many kinds of well designed UIs, visual appealing stuff,
    and even advanced presentations that most native apps can't
    offer easily.

    However, the quality comes at a price. If you master Swing,
    or more generally the Java Foundation Classes, and have learned
    about the many Don't and Do's, then you can build elegant apps.
    If you want to go further and want to impress your users with
    fancy visuals and cool stuff, the price gets even higher.

    Anyway, I provide a set of free libraries and articles
    that are intended to help Java developers design better
    applications faster and at reasonable development costs.
    See the JGoodies download section and my article page at:
    http://www.jgoodies.com/articles/

    Best regards,
    Karsten Lentzsch
    Karsten Lentzsch, Apr 16, 2005
    #14
  15. Ramon F Herrera

    Paul Tomblin Guest

    In a previous article, "Ramon F Herrera" <> said:
    >So far, I have been programming my interfaces by picking the available
    >Swing components in my IDE. Sometimes, however, a programmer needs a
    >richer visual interface. I have always noticed that the standard
    >(compiled, non-Java) Windows programs tend to have a more professional
    >look than their Java counterparts.


    If you want an example of what can be done with a few custom widgets and
    some gratuitous hacking on a custom Look and Feel, have a look at
    http://xcski.com/gallery/screenshots/sched_collapse and
    http://xcski.com/gallery/screenshots/playlist_main which are screen shots
    of an application I helped write. It wasn't quite complete there, so
    there are a few things that are square boring standard Swing components,
    but the tabs, the rounded corners, the "rivets" in the corners, and the
    time line are all my attempts to implement something that looked like what
    the graphics designer wanted. Originally we used a textured brushed metal
    look, but it made the display too slow when running on an LTSP X terminal.
    Now that we're not LTSPs any more, I might put the brushed metal back in.

    --
    Paul Tomblin <> http://xcski.com/blogs/pt/
    I trust the cut & paste under Win2k's telnet about as far as I can
    comfortably spit a rat.
    -- John Burnham
    Paul Tomblin, Apr 16, 2005
    #15
  16. Ramon F Herrera

    Edwin Martin Guest

    Ramon F Herrera wrote:

    > Do you know what percentage of the brain is exclusively dedicated to
    > visual processing? I don't remember the figure, but it is a huge
    > percentage.


    This is an excuse for bad GUI's.

    A good GUI keeps the brain processing of users to a minimum.

    This means presenting a user interface the user already knows.

    This also means keeping the self-made widgets to a minimum (only use
    them when the OS-provided widgets can't give the usability you need).

    Personally, I always have the most trouble with self-made GUI's like
    Winamp, Windows Media Player, Software DVD-players etc. They're a disease.

    Edwin Martin

    --
    http://www.bitstorm.org/edwin/en/
    Edwin Martin, Apr 17, 2005
    #16
  17. Ramon F Herrera

    Guest

    , Apr 17, 2005
    #17
  18. Ramon F Herrera

    Dag Sunde Guest

    <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Ramon,
    >
    > Take a look at Photomesa, a 100% pure java, swing-based desktop
    > application that will simply blow you away.
    >
    > http://www.windsorinterfaces.com/photomesa.shtml
    >
    > While it's currently a shareware application, at some point it was a
    > work-in-progress, with source code avaialble...
    >
    > http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/photomesa/download/layout-algorithms.shtml
    > http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/jazz/
    >
    > I don't know if this helps, hope so...


    While that is probably a very powerful application that fullfill
    your needs, it was a very bad argument in a discussion concerning
    swing vs. elegant and "sexy" GUI...

    That is propably the most horrible UI I've seen in a long time.
    It breaks almost every rule from the "divine proportion" and
    balance, to simple common sense...

    just my 2 cents worth...

    --
    Dag.
    Dag Sunde, Apr 17, 2005
    #18
  19. Edwin Martin coughed up:
    > Ramon F Herrera wrote:
    >
    >> Do you know what percentage of the brain is exclusively dedicated to
    >> visual processing? I don't remember the figure, but it is a huge
    >> percentage.

    >
    > This is an excuse for bad GUI's.
    >
    > A good GUI keeps the brain processing of users to a minimum.
    >
    > This means presenting a user interface the user already knows.
    >
    > This also means keeping the self-made widgets to a minimum (only use
    > them when the OS-provided widgets can't give the usability you need).


    The goal of a good GUI is to facilitate use and also to limit the questions
    that form in the user's head during the interaction session. This often
    means graying out buttons, instead of removing them, and not having certain
    interfaces visible at all (not even grayed) when they might form the
    question: "do I need to do to un-gray these?". Dependent, of course, on the
    context and details of the issue at hand.

    This is potentially a very long topic.

    The problem is that often self-made widgets do the best job at limiting the
    questions and facilitating use.


    > Personally, I always have the most trouble with self-made GUI's like
    > Winamp, Windows Media Player, Software DVD-players etc. They're a
    > disease.


    Those are usually examples of skinning gone awry. For example, Nero does a
    great job at confusing the crap out of me. They make the hideous mistake,
    which is a very common one, of providing an interface that looks fully
    raytraced without thought as to which button gives me options, which part
    can I drag the GUI with, etc., etc.


    --
    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"
    Thomas G. Marshall, Apr 17, 2005
    #19
  20. Ramon F Herrera

    David Segall Guest

    "Ramon F Herrera" <> wrote:

    >So far, I have been programming my interfaces by picking the available
    >Swing components in my IDE. Sometimes, however, a programmer needs a
    >richer visual interface. I have always noticed that the standard
    >(compiled, non-Java) Windows programs tend to have a more professional
    >look than their Java counterparts.
    >
    >Let me give an example: I have a program that displays and manipulates
    >images and I am really jalous of the way the "Zoom Toolbar" looks in
    >Adobe Acrobat. That's the kind of visual quality that I am trying to
    >achieve. Is it possible to write an exact (or close) replica of that
    >zoom toolbar in Java? With the "floating" toolbars that somehow deck
    >next to each other?
    >
    >I have read a little about JavaBeans. Is this what JavaBeans is for?
    >To achieve very nice and professional looking widgets? How hard (and
    >expensive) is it to have a high quality JavaBean custom written for
    >you?
    >
    >TIA,
    >
    >-Ramon F Herrera

    I don't have access to Acrobat but if you are only talking about the
    zoom toolbar in the Acrobat Reader I am sure that you can reproduce
    this using Swing. Netbeans, which is written in Java, has similar
    tools. Unfortunately my Swing talents are not up to the task and you
    seem to have upset the contributors in these groups who could have
    given you the answer. I can only suggest you post again describing
    exactly what you want to do and omitting the "more professional" and
    "richer visual interface" bits.

    To be truthful, I am impressed with the Acrobat Reader splash screen.
    How do they do those swirly bits in Java or any other language?
    David Segall, Apr 17, 2005
    #20
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