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UI Design with Java and XML Toolkits

XML has revolutionized application UI design in recent years. With a cunning blend of XML and script languages such as JavaScript, rich, aesthetically pleasing applications can be quickly constructed with ease. We've looked at Widgets and XUL as two examples of this in the past and now, I'm going to take a look at some of the innovative Java UI toolkits that implement XML as an integral mechanism for application II design. Please note, this is the first part of a two-part article.

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By: Dan Wellman
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 10
September 13, 2006
  1. · UI Design with Java and XML Toolkits
  2. · Luxor
  3. · JXUL and SwiXml
  4. · JAXX and Thinlet

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UI Design with Java and XML Toolkits - JXUL and SwiXml
(Page 3 of 4 )

Because XUL is such an easy to use subset of XML, there have been a lot of projects to incorporate XUL into the Java platform.  One of these projects is: JXUL, designed to create a cross-platform execution engine for XUL, so that it can be used without the need for Mozilla to run, or even be present, on a user's system.  Nothing seems to have happened with this project for some years now, and it seems to have been superseded by Xulux, although very little information exists for this, so what has happened to it now I couldn't say.

SwiXml is a small GUI generating engine, released under the Apache Software License that uses plain XML files to specify UI components.  It's just 40KB in size, is fast and focuses on just generating GUIs. The XML files are parsed by the generator at runtime and the UI elements described are rendered into javax.swing objects.  You still need to have knowledge of swing (which means you have less to learn if you already know it), but you are able to completely separate the GUI construction from the program logic (which as we all know is a good thing for programmers of any discipline to do). 

SwiXml was created by Wolf Paulus in 2003, and I'm guessing that no development has been done for a little while as the copyright statement on the SwiXml site reads 2003 - 2005.  Nevertheless, you can download version 1.5 and install it relatively easily.  I found that before it would install correctly, however, I had to add a new environment variable to set the JAVA_HOME variable. 

To do this on a Windows XP platform, open the control panel, open the System applet, go to the Advanced tab and open Environment Variables. Click the new button and in the Variable field type JAVA_HOME and in the Value field enter C:Program FilesJavajdk1.5.0_08 provided that is where Java is installed (this is separate from the addition to the existing Path variable that you may also have set at some point prior to using SwiXml).  Once this is done, you can unpack the SwiXml zip file and double click the build.bat file to install it, which will create the SwiXml jar file library and you can begin.

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