Understanding the Difference Between AWT And Swing In Java

Learn The Difference Between AWT And Swing In Java
Learn The Difference Between AWT And Swing In Java


Often AWT is mistaken for Swing by Java developers and backend-science aspirants and vice-versa, the two terms are distinct and have an extensively broad meaning.

Although the field of AWT is analogous to that of Swing, yet there is a wide chain of differences between the two.

First, let’s understand the meaning of the two terms and their implications individually, then we shall discuss their differences on various bases to get more clarity on AWT and Swing.

What is AWT?

AWT is the standard abbreviation for Abstract Window Toolkit. It is a platform-dependent API for developing GUI (Graphical User Interface) or window-based applications using Java. It was devised by Sun Microsystems in 1995.

It is a heavy-weight API as it is usually generated by the system’s host operating system. It comes with a significantly high number of classes and methods, primarily created for designing and managing GUI. 

Components of AWT

A component is an object with a graphical representation that can be displayed on the screen and is allowed to interact with the user. The Component class is the abstract parent of the non-menu-related AWT components. The prime AWT Components are:

1. Button (java.awt.Button)

To create a Button object, merely create an instance of the Button class by calling any of the constructors. The most commonly used constructor of the Button class takes a String argument that gives the Button object a text title.

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2. Checkboxes (java. awt.Checkbox)

Checkboxes have two states, namely on and off. The state of the button is returned as the Object argument when a Checkbox event occurs. To find out the state of a checkbox object we can use getState() that returns a true or false value. We can also get the label of the checkbox using getLabel() that returns a String object.

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3. Radio Buttons (java. awt.CheckboxGroup)

It is a group of checkboxes, where only one of the items in the group can be selected at a time.

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4. Choice Buttons (java.awt.Choice)

Similar to a radio button, where we are allowed to make a selection, however, it requires less space and allows us to add items to the menu dynamically using the addItem() method.

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5. Labels (java.awt.Label)

Used for adding a text description to a point on the applet or application.

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6. TextFields (java.awt.TextField)

These are areas where the user can enter text. They are used for displaying and receiving text messages. We can make this text field read-only or editable. We can use the setEditable(false) to set a text field read-only.

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What is Swing?

Swing is another Java toolkit which is a lightweight graphical user interface (GUI), used for creating various Java applications. The Swing components are platform-independent. It allows designers to create buttons and scroll bars.

Swing comes with packages for devising desktop applications using Java. Swing components are programmed using the robust Java programming language. It is an important subset of the Java Foundation Classes (JFC).

Components of Swing

The prime 13 AWT Components are:

1. ImageIcon: The ImageIcon component is used for creating an icon sized-image from an image residing at the source URL.

2. JButton: JButton class is used for creating a push-button on the UI. The button can contain some display text or images. It generates an event when clicked or double-clicked. 

3. JLabel: JLabel class is used for rendering a read-only text label or images on the UI. It does not generate any events.

4. JTextField: JTextField renders an editable single-line text box. A user is allowed to input non-formatted text in the box.

6. JPasswordField: JPasswordField is a subclass of JTextField class. It renders a text box that masks the user input text with bullet points. This is used for inserting passwords into the application.

7. JCheckBox: JCheckBox renders a check-box with a label. The check-box has two states – on/off. When selected, the state is on and a small tick is displayed in the box.

8. JRadioButton: JRadioButton is used to render a group of radio buttons in the UI. A designer can select one choice from the group.

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9. JList: JList component Renders a scrollable list of elements. A designer can select a value or multiple values from the list. This select behaviour is defined in the code by the developer.

10. JComboBox: JComboBox class is used to render a dropdown of the list of options.

11. JFileChooser: JFileChooser class renders a file selection utility. This component allows a designer to select a file from the local system.

12. JTabbedPane: JTabbedPane is another essential component that allows the designer to switch between tabs in an application. This is a highly useful UI component as it allows the designer to browse more content without navigating to different pages.

13. JSlider: The JSlider component displays a slider which the designer can drag to change its value. The constructor takes three arguments – minimum value, maximum value, an initial value.

A head-to-head difference between AWT and Swing

Being a Java aspirant, you must distinctly understand the difference between the two widely used developmental terms: “AWT” and “Swing”. After reading the above-mentioned introduction, you must now go through the head-to-head comparison between the two through the difference table given below.

Difference Between AWT and Swing

MeaningJava AWT is an Application programming interface for developing GUI applications using Java.Swing comes from the set of Java Foundation Classes and is used for creating various applications.
WeightThe Java AWT components are usually heavy weighted.The Java Swing components are usually light weighted.
FunctionalityJava AWT has lesser functionalities in comparison to Swing.Java Swing has wider functionality in comparison to AWT.
Execution TimeThe execution time of AWT is quite higher than Swing.The execution time of Swing is quite lower than that of AWT.
Platform SupportThe components of Java AWT are typically platform-dependent.The components of Java Swing are typically platform-independent.
MVC patternAWT doesn’t support the MVC pattern.Swing supports the MVC pattern.
PowerAWT components are comparatively less powerful.Swing components are comparatively more powerful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Swing and AWT the same?

AWT and Swing are both parts of a group of Java class libraries called the Java Foundation Classes (JFC). But, they are not the same. They have different functionalities and execution times.

What is the difference between Java and Java Swing?

AWT and Swing are the two toolkits for building interactive Graphical User Interfaces (GUI). The key difference between AWT and Swing in Java is that AWT is Java’s conventional platform-dependent, graphics and user interface widget toolkit whereas Swing is a GUI widget toolkit for Java which is an extension of AWT.

Is Java Swing dead?

No, it is not dead. But you may consider Java Swing to be a zombie, as it is still available and in use in its contemporary development state, but doesn’t make any progress with respect to innovations.

Is Java Swing still used in 2020?

Yes, Java Swing is still being used in 2020. Most of the experienced Java programmers have undoubtedly used Swing to create user interfaces. Oracle hasn’t totally dropped Swing, even now Swing applications work efficiently.

Is Java swing better than JavaFX?

Swing has a better collection of GUI components, while JavaFX has a simple number of UI components available which is quite low than what Swing provides.

Which is easier: JavaFX or swing?

JavaFX UI is usually quite a lot easier than the Swing UI, as it requires lesser lines of code. (LOC)

Is Java Swing good for games?

The Java Swing is quite feasible for elementary games, but if you intend to develop a high-performance redrawing game, you must go for any of the frameworks based on OpenGL.

Key Takeaways

Finally, after understanding both these terms we can conclude that both AWT and Swing go hand in hand. AWT and Swing are both in use, but their implementation is decided on the basis of the platform dependency criteria, MVC pattern, execution time, and other functionalities. However, both of them are unique and separate entities, each comes with its own components and cons and specific business use cases.

If you are thinking of building a career in Java Development or Programming with AWT or Swing you can learn about a few software technologies including Spring, Hibernate, and so on, this will help you in dealing with servers better and devising the algorithms efficiently.

Before getting enrolled in any course understand the technical terms distinctly, so that you get to learn exactly what you have been looking for.

You can check out our courses on Java Development if you wish to build a few Java projects on your own under the guidance of our Mentors.

By Vanshika Singolia