January 27th, 2007,
Java, Swing, UI Design.
Here is a quote from Scott Violet, Swing architect, taken from a comment he left in his latest blog entries on look and feels.
Synth: Yes, yes YES! Thankfully I can finally say we have someone working on a synth look, and it’s turning out be quite good. Look for an announcement soon (fingers crossed!).
Isn’t this exciting? :-)
Yes, it is exciting. I had been under the impression that you would be doing this when you started at Sun, and I was very disappointed it was not part of mustang.
Very exciting, and hopefully there will be some more documentation.
The thing that Sun doesn’t understand is interface elegance. The problem is not that the Synth look-and-feel is different to the native look – it’s more that it’s not elegant in any way. When it’s not elegant, it’s not pleasant to use.
Simple things like drop shadows on menus ( http://bugs.sun.com/bugdatabase/view_bug.do?bug_id=4865605 ) and easier menu navigation ( http://bugs.sun.com/bugdatabase/view_bug.do?bug_id=4644020 ) are not implemented in Swing, and the bug reports are completely ignored for years and years. This makes parts of Swing look very out of date, especially when compared to Windows Vista and Mac OS X.
Even little details like the JMenu highlighting are different to the native platform (especially on Windows XP) and don’t look very good in Swing. This is why some developers use the AWT MenuBar instead of the Swing JMenu’s. Another example: Look at the little icons at the top of the Swing JFileChooser on Windows XP – they are horrible and pixelated, and the tooltips don’t even have shadows on them nor do they fade out elegantly. That’s why people use the AWT FileDialog instead of the Swing JFileChooser. Even Apple recommends using the FileDialog over the JFileChooser – see http://developer.apple.com/documentation/Java/Conceptual/Java14Development/07-NativePlatformIntegration/NativePlatformIntegration.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40001909
All Sun needs to do is make Swing look more elegant by fixing these little problems. I also think they should make the native look and feel the default (instead of Synth) – like how it is on Mac OS X Java.
Do you know what Synth is? How could Synth be not elegant when Synth is not even a full look and feel by itself. It’s just a theme engine. Besides, Synth is not the default look and feel.
Sorry I meant the “Ocean” look and feel ( http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-tiger10194/index.html ), rather than “Synth”. Ocean is the default on Windows.
Ah well… Ocean… :)
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