There are at least two ways to approach building an application that combines Java and XML. One involves using a toolkit; that was covered in last week's article. In this second of two parts, you'll learn what is available for the second approach: using an integrated development environment.
Java UI Design with an IDE - Abielle Forms Designer (Page 3 of 5 )
Anyone that's used an application like Visual Studio Pro is going to be used to the term forms in application development or web forms in web application design. The next UI builder I looked at now brings this term to the Java application development platform. Abielle Forms Designer is a very good open source WYSIWYG editor that makes use of several toolkits to produce very well polished application interfaces.
It doesn't make use of or output XML files itself. Once you've visually created your Java form by dragging and dropping elements into the layout grid, it kindly outputs a Java class file for you in your specified source directory. It does however make use of the Apache Batik toolkit, which is used to include SVG images in your Java applications. SVG, as I'm sure you're aware, is described using XML. This is one reason I decided to look at and include it in this article.
Additionally, one of the main reasons for using XML to describe the UI of your Java applications is to separate the presentation of the application from the program logic, making updates to either segment of structure of your application much easier to maintain and improve. While Abielle doesn't make use of XML for this purpose, it does make updating your interface very straightforward. The application saves your forms in separate .jfrm files from the outputted class file. If you want to make any changes to your interface, you can just update the .jfrm file, then generate a new class file.
Looking through the manual, it also appears that you can use these files by your application at run time also. Overall the application is easy to use and has an extensive help file. It meets a very high standard for a free application. You can find it at http://abielle.dev.java.net.