Is the Swing Application Framework necessary now?

Java JavaFX

Although resurrecting the Swing Application Framework (SAF) is a noble and respectable goal, is that even necessary now with JavaFX? If Sun does finalize and fix any remaining rough spots in SAF, is any significant number of developers going to benefit?

Even though I mean no harm or disrespect, someone is bound to view my question as an attack. It’s not. I thought the Swing Application Framework was a great idea. I even spent time writing about and promoting it. But I’m thinking differently these days. I think JavaFX confuses the issue for me.

SAF really is all about making it easier to write Swing application GUIs. The newbie benefits tremendously. Even a veteran benefits because some of the basic boilerplate setup and application structure is already defined. That doesn’t change at all. SAF still fills the void there if you’re going to write Swing applications. For newbies, it’ll get you started in the right direction. For veterans, it might save you some time.

However, most existing applications won’t need SAF. Any of the basic problems that the simple SAF resolves have already been fixed in any existing, big application. The effort to retrofit an existing application to SAF is…well, maybe it isn’t worth it.

More importantly, don’t you really get the feeling that the near and mid-term future of GUIs is JavaFX? Don’t you think the vast majority of Sun resources has been going to JavaFX? I really do. So…any newbie in the world of Java GUIs would probably do best to learn JavaFX, not Swing. Considering Sun’s efforts to push and promote JavaFX for rich GUI apps, JavaFX is really the right place to put your energy right now — especially on new development.

Maybe you don’t buy into JavaFX just yet because of its short history. In that case, go ahead with Swing and the SAF. But…I think any effort put into SAF is for a short-term benefit at this point.

Enough already. I’ve said it. The Swing Application Framework was a good thing, but it didn’t really get the support it needed in the time frame that would have helped its adoption. Resurrecting it now may be a noble goal, but I personally think the people and projects that need SAF the most are now looking at JavaFX.

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