AWT : Java Glossary


AWT (Advanced Windowing Toolkit) or AWT (Abstract Windowing Toolkit). Unix people will tell you it means AWT (Another Windowing Toolkit). It is a set of classes that let you write platform independent Java code that will hook into the native GUI (Graphic User Interface) systems on many different platforms.

AWT vs Swing

Which should you use, AWT or Swing?

Roughly Equivalent Components in AWT and Swing
AWT Swing Purpose
Applet JApplet Run inside a browser.
none Border decorate with a fancy edge.
Button JButton User clicks button to make something happen.
Canvas JPanel or JLayeredPane Place to roll your own low-level drawing
Checkbox JCheckBox (checked) or JRadioButton (round) or JToggleButton (full button) Checkbox is a small box, the user can tick or not to indicate a desired option. A RadioButton displays as a round button. JToggleButton displays as a rectangular button, usually with a custom icon. By default, the background changes colour slightly when selected. You can use these in isolation, or in clusters controlled by a CheckboxGroup or ButtonGroup.
CheckboxGroup ButtonGroup Used in conjunction with Checkbox, JCheckBox, JRadioButton and JToggleButton to allow only on of group of options to be selected.
Choice JComboBox Allows user to pick one from a drop-down menu of choices. JComboBox has a write-in feature. Ironically, JComboxBox does not support combinations of choices. For that you need a java.awt.List or JList.
Color Color Describes a colour with 8 bits each of red, green, blue and transparency.
none JColorChooser Let’s user choose a colour from a palette, or numerically, but not using hex.
Component JComponent Used to roll your own widgets.
Container Container Used to manage the Chinese boxes of panels within panels.
Dialog JDialog or JOptionPane Pop up a box to ask the user a question. JOptionPane is a simplified JDialog to handle common cases.
FileDialog JFileChooser Let the user select a directory or file from a tree.
none JFormattedTextField Let the user key in a field where certain characters must be alphabetic or numeric.
Frame JFrame or JInternalFrame Normal top level moveable window with widgets on it for minimize and close.
Label JLabel Used to label fields. Displays text. User cannot type into it. It tends to blend into the background.
List JList + JScrollPane JList lets the user make a selection, or many selections from a presented list which is always expanded. For long lists, you scroll. See also JComboBox
LayoutManager LayoutManager Lets you design your layouts so they automatically reflow with different amounts of screen real estate, different text, difference translations, different available fonts etc.
Menu with MenuBar and MenuItem JMenu with JMenuBar, JMenuItem, JRadioButtonMenuItem and JPopupMenu Drop down menus to select functions to perform. JRadioButtonMenuItem allows toggling option selections in the menus. JPopupMenu lets the user pop up a menu when she right clicks a component.
Panel JPanel or JToolBar or JSplitPane or JTabbedPane, or JLayeredPane. Panels collect components together into rectangles to simplify layout and enable encapsulation. A panel can be treated like an atomic component for most purposes. JToolBar is just a panel specialised for holding a row of buttons. JSplitPane is a split panel where the user can move the divide. JTabbedPane lets you cram many panels in small space. The user selects a tab, much as on a file folder, to bring one of them into full view. JLayeredPane is an advanced feature for composing transparent overlays, e.g. sprites.
none JPasswordField For entering passwords.
ScrollPane JScrollPane For scrolling a panel where there is not enough room to see it all at once.
none JSeparator A decorative horizontal or vertical line. Note the spelling: JSeparat or.
none JSlider The user uses the mouse to move an analog slider to select a value.
none JSpinner The user uses arrow keys or a mouse to select a value by making it go higher or lower.
TextArea JTextArea or JEditorPane or JTextPane TextArea and JTextArea allow multi-line text display, and data entry. JEditorPane allows display of formatted HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) or RTF (Rich Text Format) with colours and fonts whereas JTextPane is like JEditorPane with the additional ability to edit styles and character attributes.
TextField JTextField Allow display or entering of one line of unformatted text. They always have a box around the text unlike labels which blend into the background. For more than one line see TextArea and JTextArea.
none JTable
none JTree Displaying and editing tree-structured data.
Window JWindow Like a frame without the top bar widgets.

Learning More

Oracle’s Technote Guide on AWT : available:

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