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I've invested years of my life in Swing development, so its a little scary to even pose the question, "Is Swing Dead?" Our largest customer, a major US bank, used to do a significant amount of Swing programming. These days all new projects are using WinForms, WPF, or Flex. All of these technologies are very good, and have big marketing bucks behind them (Microsoft and Adobe respectively.) With Sun gasping for air and IBM backing a competing toolkit, what will happen to Swing?

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As far as Sun's plans, they are really pushing their Java FX gui as their solution to a rich interface. Personally, I don't think java fx will make it.
I have to agree, even though I really like JavaFX. JavaFX script is _much_ terser and easier to read than MXML or XAML, but in the end Sun just doesn't have the money, domain experience or marketing savvy to compete with Adobe in this area.

I'd really like to see a terser expression of Flex screens. Something like an SDL or JSON binding.

The SDL declarative framework I wrote for Swing expresses widgets like so:

panel {
    textbox constraint="west"
    button "Go" opaque=false foreground="dark red"
}
I would love to see Flex considered more by my clients. Flash is such a powerful and smart tool, it would be great to start seeing it extend beyond sitelets and to be considered more often for large scale site dev and commerce projects.
We have been using Flex for years now in multi million dollar e-commerce applications. It is definitely mature enough to be considered an enterprise solution.
I agree. I know Bank of America and UBS are currently evaluating Flex for their future applications.
Hey Daniel,

I believe Swing is not dead just yet, but it is showing its age. It will probably have continued life for a few years more, as long as companies continue to use the Java platform. I suspect that Flex (Flex 2/3) is Adobe’s attempt to salvage their Flash-based product line as it is about to be squashed by Microsoft’s Silverlight (a WPF subset, supporting only 2D graphics on Windows and Macintosh, but not Linux). JavaFX is Sun’s kneejerk reaction to having been caught with their pants down. Their recent purchase of a mobile phone, software development company, led to their adoption of JavaFX, since the JavaFX scripting engine was included in their purchase; I guess someone had to justify the purchase price. And the new JavaFX libraries are designed to be used with Swing, so maybe this will add some more life to Swing. I don’t dislike JavaFX, but it isn’t as easy to learn as Groovy is. (The release of JavaFX, however, was a kick in the groin for Groovy advocates.) Neither is it in production yet. Having said that, Microsoft’s Silverlight and WPF are not ready for primetime either, but in keeping with their typical “if it’s crappy ship it” attitude, they’ve released it along with a number of developer tools. However, big corporate, early adopters are going to get what they deserve if they try to use it in a production system.

Anyway, I wounldn’t throw out your Swing books yet. However, I would suggest adding to your reference library, all the latest developer books surrounding recent, Microsoft technologies (i.e., all their “foundation” series).
Hi Larry,

Thank you for the detailed posting. I agree with your comments about JavaFX. I like the language, but I don't think Sun can compete with Microsoft or Adobe in this space.

I wrote a posting about Silverlight vs. Flex a few days ago:
http://www.techhui.com/forum/topic/show?id=1702911%3ATopic%3A243

> suspect that Flex (Flex 2/3) is Adobe’s attempt to salvage their Flash-based
> product line as it is about to be squashed by Microsoft’s Silverlight

Adobe certainly has a healthy lead. Flex is in such high demand that good developers are getting $1,500 day rates in NY. I've seen some very impressive Flex applications. Have you seen SpashUp or ScrapBlog? Rich Tretola (one of the previous posters) has written some impressive Flex apps and a good book on the technology.

Another advantage Adobe has is the undying devotion of designers. The Expression suite has an uphill battle against established Adobe applications like Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign.

In terms of IDEs, the Flex Builder application (built on Eclipse) is no Visual Studio, but its an impressive first release.

> Anyway, I wounldn’t throw out your Swing books yet. However, I would
> suggest adding to your reference library, all the latest developer books
> surrounding recent, Microsoft technologies (i.e., all their “foundation”
> series).

I agree with this advice. I stay up on the Microsoft side as much as Java. I do 50% of my coding in C# these days, and I've given a couple WPF presentations over the past few months. I like WPF and I think the Expression suite is impressive, especially the way it integrates with VisualStudio. As I mentioned in the Silverlight vs. Flex thread, I certainly prefer to code in C# rather than ActionScript.

The SilverLight vs. Flex battle will be fun to watch :-)
Ouch, while I can understand your feelings that Microsoft will make a huge play in the RIA space. The fact of the matter is that the SilverLight plugin will never achieve the unprecedented penetration that the Flash player has accomplished and continues to accomplish on each Flash Player release. Although Microsoft certainly has the funding to make a huge play in this space, I don't think they will ever be able to overcome the Flash Player for Rich Internet Applications run within the web browser.

Now, whether Adobe can make a play in the desktop space with the AIR runtime will be interesting to see. I have been working with AIR for almost a year now and am really excited about this product as in my work so far, it has been very easy to build a Flex or HTML based AIR application that perform identically when installed on Windows or Mac.
The Nimbus L&F has renewed my interest in Swing. This L&F looks amazing and is resolution independent.
I like the Nimbus L&F as well. It's one of the more positive developments for Swing.
You know, any expertise and knowledge of Swing will transfer in large if you try using the Google Web Toolkit. Granted, this is a tangent on which I am going off, but there are some pretty good 3rd party libraries such as GWT-Ext that really do amazing things. Hard to believe that this is all Javascript (compiled from Java).
Very true. Pat Niemeyer is a big fan of GWT, and I know Larry Melia has worked with it.

I played around with it a bit last year, but never used it on a project. GWT is certainly more enjoyable than using traditional web frameworks. The widget library seemed a bit limited, but perhaps GWT-Ext addresses this issue.

It seems to me that GWT would be very good for AJAX web apps that are like desktop apps on the web (mail clients, contact managers, etc.), but that it might not be ideal for building other types of webapps. Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Does anyone know which of Google's applications are actually built using GWT?

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