Danson Wachira is a certified Trainer in Computer Science, Information Technology and related studies.
Lesson 36: How to create GUI Java forms
Welcome to Lesson 36 on programming in Java NetBeans, I must congratulate you for having made it up to this stage all the way from Lesson 1. I believe by now you have gained valuable programming skills and that you are more knowledgeable than when we started this tutorial.
For the subsequent lessons beginning with this particular lesson, we shall spend some time looking at Java capability on Graphical User Interface (GUI), Java forms and controls on Java NetBeans IDE. Soon you shall appreciate how working with forms and controls is simplified in Java NetBeans.
Creating user interfaces in any GUI enabled programming environment can be an art in itself. All what an aspiring programmer needs to do is to get skills on how to manipulate different controls and use of working areas such as Properties, Containers, Palette, Layout Managers and other components that can be found on a typical GUI environment.
In some versions of Java programming language, the programmer is actually required to write lengthy codes that define the layout and function of various controls to be used in the program. Thankfully, in Java NetBeans programming becomes a bit easier with the capability of dragging and dropping these controls. It's however very useful to learn the loops of controls in coding.
We’ll begin this part of Java and GUI by creating a Java form and various controls that can be used on a Java form. Create a new project, call it FormControls. Uncheck the “Create Main Class” checkbox, this is because Java NetBeans will automatically create a main class when we create a new form.
Exit from the above window by clicking the “Finish” button and Java NetBeans will create a new project. It should be visible on the left side of the coding window under projects.
You’ll notice that this time we don’t have any file under the default package since we unchecked the “Create Main Class” checkbox.
To create a Java form, right click on the project name in the Projects window and select New >> JFrame Form from the menu.
Enter the form name i.e. the Class Name and also the Package name. I have named the form JavaControls and the package JControls. Click the Finish button and Java NetBeans will create a new blank form on the code window.
The image above shows a blank Java NetBeans form. The form works in dual modes; Source mode and Design mode. Currently the form is on Design mode. Click on the Source mode and Java reveals some code about the form.
In the Source mode, the plus symbols can be used to expand and reveal more codes. Notice that a main class has been created among the codes. When the form is run, the main class will be executed. Consequently the main class will create a new object of the form and make the form visible. See the part of the code that does that:
Java NetBeans generates all these code for you otherwise you would have code them yourself. Looking on the Project window now, you will notice that a new class, JavaControls.java or whichever name you gave the class, has been added. Click back to the Design mode and look for the Properties and Palette windows shown below:
If you are unable to locate the above windows, click on Window >> Palette and Window >> Properties on the Java NetBeans menu.
The Properties window lists various properties that you can associate with the form such as fonts, title, font size etc. The Palette window lists various controls that can be added onto the form.
Just to have a feel of the form properties, let us assign a title to the form. Click on the blank for so that it is selected. When the form is selected, it has an orange border and the Properties window is preceded by the name [JFrame]. Locate for the "title" property and type “FormControls” and then press the Enter key.
Now, run the form by clicking the run button on the menu bar. Since it is the first time you are running the form, Java NetBeans will display a dialogue box asking you to select the main method to be used. Since we only have one main method i.e JavaControls, click “OK” and the form should be displayed with the title that we have assigned to it.
As you can see, changing a form title is as simple as assigning the title. The form has three buttons; minimize, maximize and close buttons. The form look and feel may be slightly different depending on varying environments such as the version of Windows used or different operating systems. You have now made the first step of creating a GUI application in Java NetBeans. In the next lesson, we shall learn how we can work with various Java NetBeans controls on Java forms.
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Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on March 05, 2013:
Thanks Alvin for the visit and positive comment.
Alvin on March 05, 2013:
Must read online tutorial for beginners Java programmers!