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Java GUI Programming Help | Introduction About Java Swing


  • Until now, we have only used dialog boxes and command window for input and output.

e.g. System.out.println – to display results JOptionPane.showInputDialog

– to get user input

  • These approaches have their limitations (e.g. if you want to get 10 inputs from the user).

  • Today we will learn about Java GUI programming

  • First, the GUI components were bundled in a library called Abstract Windows Toolkit (AWT) (platform specific)

Swing components

  • Platform independent user-interface components (Button, Textfield, TextArea, etc.)

  • The AWT helper classes (Graphics, colour, Font, etc.) are used to give the “look and feel” specific to the operating system used.



  • Creating frames, centering frames, adding components to frames

  • Event-Driven Programming

* Event Source, Listener, Listener Interface

  • GUI (Graphical User Interface) Class Hierarchy

* JComponent

* Jbutton, JLabel

* JTextField, JTextLabel

* JRadioButton, JCheckBox, Borders and Menus

The Swing Class Hierarchy


  • A Frame is a window that is not contained inside another window.

  • A Frame is the base that contains other user interface components in Java graphical applications.

  • The Frame class can be used to create windows.

  • The ‘Swing’ GUI frame component is the JFrame class

  • Java GUI classes inherit many methods from their superclasses, including the ability to draw themselves – the paintComponent() method

Creating Frames

import javax.swing.*; 
public class MyFrame { 
	public static void main(String[] args) { 
		JFrame frame = new JFrame("Test Frame"); 
		frame.setSize(400, 300); 
		frame.setDefaultCloseOperation( JFrame.EXIT_ON_CLOSE); 

Centering Frames

By default, a frame is displayed in the upper-left corner of the screen. It is also displayed as small as possible – hence in example we call :

frame.setSize(400, 300);

To display a frame at a specified location, you can use the setLocation(x, y) method in the JFrame class.

This method places the upper-left corner of a frame at location (x, y).

Example shows how to get screen size (Toolkit)

Adding Components into a Frame

A Frame alone is not much use. We want to add GUI components such as Buttons, text boxes and labels

Components are always added to Containers. A Container is a Java class (object) that can contain other components.

A JFrame class (and all Swing components) has a Container associated with it. To get it, use the getContentPane () method

// Get the content pane of the frame 
Container myContainer = frame.getContentPane(); 
myContainer.add (new JButton (“OK”)) /

/ Alternative declaration and invocation : 
frame.getContentPane().add(new JButton("OK"));

UI Components

Java GUI Structure

Standard JFrame does not give us all required facilities

  • Recommended method is to derive our own class by extending existing JFrame object, & adding custom data and methods :

public class myFrame extends JFrame {

  • myFrame constructor – useful place to write code to add other components to frame

  • Add additional methods – e.g JButton actionPerformed () handling code

  • Entry point : main() method can be included within our new class or placed in a separate class, – netbeans prefers separate class & file

Java Gui Structure – Single Class

import javax.swing.JFrame; 
public class myFrame extends JFrame { 
	public myFrame () { 		/** Default constructor */ 
		setTitle("My frame Demo"); }


public static void main(String[] args) {      /** Main method */ 
	myFrame mf = new myFrame (); 
	mf.setDefaultCloseOperation (JFrame.EXIT_ON_CLOSE); 
	mf.setSize (250, 300); 
	mf.setVisible (true); 

Java GUI Structure – Two Classes

import javax.swing.JFrame; 
	public class myFrame extends JFrame { 
		public myFrame () {        /** Default constructor */ 
			setTitle("My frame Demo"); 
	…. other myFrame specific code 

public class testFrame { 
	public static void main(String[] args) {     /** Main method */ 
		myFrame mf = new myFrame (); 
		mf.setDefaultCloseOperation (JFrame.EXIT_ON_CLOSE); 
		mf.setSize (250, 300); 
		mf.setVisible (true); 

Using Panels as Containers

  • Panels act as smaller containers for grouping user interface components.

  • It is recommended that you place the user interface components in panels and place the panels in a frame.

  • You can place panels inside a ‘holding‘ panel.

  • Components can be directly added to a panel :

JPanel p1 = new JPanel();  
p1.add (new JButton("Start"));


An event is a type of signal to our program that something has happened.

  • An event is generated by external actions such as mouse movements, mouse button clicks, keystrokes or by the operating system, such as a timer or a window closing

  • Java implements a set of classes that encapsulates the behaviour of events - all derived from EventObject

  • We must supply the code for the JVM to call when an event occurs. (Default – nothing happens !)

  • Uses ‘Interface’ – Template code that specifies the Methods we must supply, but doesn’t give us the Base class to derive from.

  • Java Classes can only extend (inherit) from one parent, but can implement a number of interfaces

Selected User Actions

There are numerous types of Events defined in Java. These are some of the more commonly used :

Handling Events – HowTo

Create a component that can generate an event E.g. JButton creates an ActionEvent when clicked.

private JButton btn1 = new JButton (“Click Here”);

Create a class that implements the listener interface for the event of interest

public class Click extends JFrame implements  ActionListene

Provide the Method for the JVM to call when the event occurs. The ActionListener interface requires an actionPerformed Method

public void actionPerformed (ActionEvent e) { 
	if (e.getSource() == btn1) 
		System.out.println (“Button Cliked”); 

Register the listener with the source

btn1.addActionListener (this);

The Color Class

Color c = new Color(r, g, b); 

r, g, and b specify a color by its red, green, and blue components. r, g, b are ints in range 0 .. 255

The Color class defines some standard colour constants as public final static variables (constants) such as,,


Color c = new Color(128, 100, 100); 
Color c1 = new Color (;

Setting Colors

You can use the following methods to set the component’s background and foreground colors

These methods are defined in the basic Component object, and inherited by all its child classes

setBackground(Color c)  
setForeground(Color c)



You can also use the g.setColor(Color c) method of the graphics class to set the ‘pen’ colour for all subsequent drawing operations

Drawing Geometric Figures

These methods are all part of the Graphics class.

  • You must have a Graphics object (provide by paintComponent() method) to use these.

  • Drawing Lines

  • Drawing Rectangles

  • Drawing Ovals

  • Drawing Arcs

  • Drawing Polygons

  • Most methods have two versions – one to draw an outline object – drawXXXX() , and one to draw a filled object - fillXXXX()

  • Most methods are part of the java.awt.Graphics package.

* Swing components still relie on the awt package

Drawing Lines

drawLine(x1, y1, x2, y2)

Drawing Rectangles

drawRect(x, y, w, h);  
fillRect(x, y, w, h);

Drawing Rounded Rectangles

drawRoundRect(x, y, w, h, aw, ah); 
fillRoundRect(x, y, w, h, aw, ah);

Drawing Ovals

drawOval(x, y, w, h); 
fillOval(x, y, w, h);

Drawing Arcs

drawArc(x, y, w, h, angle1, angle2); 
fillArc(x, y, w, h, angle1, angle2);


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