The SWT vs. Swing Controversy

26 04 2005

I haven’t been doing “rich client” applications for a long time and did just a little Swing development at the times of Java 1.2, preferring to concentrate myself on web applications instead. With all the new developments around the concept of “Rich Internet Applications”, Ajax and the like, I don’t think I’ll be doing GUI development in Java at least for the foreseeable future.

However, I read with the utmost interest the comparison between Swing and SWT that was published today on Hacknot. You never know when you you might find yourself in the kind of situation described in the article: being forced by the management to adopt a technically inferior solution for no apparent reason.

The article is, as usual for Hacknot pieces, quite long and well documented. I suggest you read it all by yourself, but if you’re lazy, I’ll quote the main conclusions:

My prediction is that SWT will continue to limp along in support of Eclipse; neophytes will continue to discover it and sing its praises until such times as they’ve used it enough to realize its limitations; the uninformed will continue to attach a significance to platform fidelity that their user base does not; and marketers will continue to talk of SWT ‘taking over’ from Swing – as they have for the last three years – despite the lack of evidence that such a takeover is actually occurring. I expect the enormous maintenance burden incurred by SWT’s multiple code bases to become the limiting factor in its ongoing development, and cross-platform stability and consistency to remain ever elusive as SWT rushes to keep apace of the progress and initiatives amongst the native widget sets of different platforms. Any claims to better performance will finally be abandoned in the face of increasing capabilities of the average PC, leaving SWT an anachronism without a raison d’etre.




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