When the Java programming language first became publicised, it was heralded as
the dawn of a new age of writing cross-platform programs. “Write once, run
everywhere” they said. Now, 16 years after 1996, which was roughly when the
Java hype started, I’d like to check if it delivered on this promise, by
seeing if one can easily write a cross-platform GUI (= Graphical User-Interace)
application using it. What I’m looking for is a Java GUI library that:
1. Compiles. 2. Is cross-platform. 3. Does not suck.
Teaser: I was not able to find one.
The standard Java
SWING toolkitis out-of-the-question due to its weird look and feel and crappy behaviour
everywhere. Joel on Software has this to say about SWING:
If you still think that something as small as how long you hold down the Alt
key when you activate a menu command doesn't matter, well, your software is
going to make people unhappy. These tiny inconsistencies are what makes Swing
applications so unbearably annoying to use, and in my opinion it's why there
are virtually no commercially successful Java GUI applications.
book reviews, there's more criticism of it
Palmerston on Programming”.)
I too have been frustrated by the unusable Java SWING GUIs, and in
one of the
latest projects I am contributing to, which has already been written in
Java, I ran into a particularly buggy SWING UI.
The Eclipse people implemented something called
according to the wikipedia, it has several limitations, and require writing
a lot of platform-dependent code.
Next are the Qt bindings to Java -
Qt Jambi. These require
customising the build.properties (whereas the error and documentation
says one should edit the buildpath.properties file), and after
that fails compiling with this error:
qtjambishell_QFutureIterator.cpp:21:15: error: no matching
function for call to ‘QFutureIterator::QFutureIterator()’
Next I looked into java-gnome, but apparently it does not work on Windows, so
it's not cross-platform.
And the Java bindings for wxWidgets offer
is Windows-only and unmaintained, and
and jwx!, which are unmaintained
and no longer build.
So I think that leaves us with nothing. How sad. Compare that to
the comprehensive coverage
of Mono’s GUI toolkits, many of which are cross-platform, and to the
situation in other languages such as Perl or Python, and you'll see that
Java sucks the most in this respect.