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Programming in Java Netbeans - A Step by Step Tutorial for Beginners: Lesson 37

Danson Wachira is a certified Trainer in Computer Science, Information Technology and related studies.

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Lesson 37: Working with GUI controls: Label and Text Field

In the previous lesson, we learnt how to create a blank Java NetBeans form. In this lesson, we shall learn how we can work with various controls on the form and how we can manipulate these controls. A control is a visual object you add onto a form that can be manipulate through codes to perform an action or event, incidentally, a form is also an object.

In Java NetBeans there are several controls that can be added onto a form through drag and drop action. These include Command button, Combo box, Check box, Radio button, Text area, List box, Menus etc. Each of these controls has its own use and way of manipulation including events that can be associated with each control.


For example, for a button to perform an action when it is clicked, it must have defined codes that perform the intended action. While some of the controls many not necessarily need codes to perform an action, many will do and it is important to understand how to code and manipulate specific controls.

From the previous lessons of this tutorial you have gained valuable programming knowledge and skills of how to code and especially on use of methods and classes. This knowledge will be useful when dealing with the various visual controls on a form.

Label GUI control in Java NetBeans

We’ll start with one of the simplest GUI control to add onto a form, the Label control. This control enables the user to add a text strip on the form that can contain text at design time or at run time. To add a Label onto the form, locate the Label control on the Palette window under the Swing controls, drag and drop to the form.


The Label control can be manipulated by changing its properties such as vertical and horizontal sizes, font, foreground color, text, name etc.

Check these Label properties on the Properties window. To fast change Label’s vertical and horizontal sizes, you can use the re-size hurdles found on it borders.

We are going to change the default “jLabel1” text of the Label control to “Java NetBeans Controls.” We’ll also change the font to Calibri, size 16, bold and foreground color to blue.

To quickly change the Label text, right-click on the Label and choose “Edit Text”, you’ll need to re-size the Label for the text to fit. Apply the other mentioned properties.


Text Field GUI control in Java NetBeans

Another commonly used GUI control is the Text field. This control presents the user with a text box where the user can type or enter inputs. To add a Text field onto a form, locate the Text field control on the Palette window under the Swing controls, drag and drop onto the form.


The default text in a Text field is “jTextField1” we can delete this since it is meaningless. Controls are referenced by their specific names when you want to reference them in the code so it is very important that we give them meaningful names. Let us call the Text field “txtshow” for now. To rename the Text field or any other control, right-click on it and choose “Change Variable Name”, enter the name in the dialog box.


Up to this point, we have not used any code to manipulate the controls although we could have used in one way or the other. For simplicity, we’ll leave the Label and Text Field GUI controls at that until later lessons. You have made the first step in working with Java NetBeans GUI controls. The best way to get used into working with GUI controls is to get hands-on skills on different methods and tricks of manipulating them. In the next lesson, we shall cover Command buttons as a GUI control.

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Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on April 16, 2013:

Hi ahmad,

We'll look into that, please drop your email here and i will send a working sample to you. Thanks for the visit and comment.

ahmad on April 15, 2013:

hey there.. just want to ask.. how to pass value jtextfield on another jframe form?

Danson Wachira (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on April 06, 2013:

Hi EverProgrammer,

Thanks for your positive comment, i do appreciate.

EverProgrammer on April 06, 2013:

Nice tutorial, i like the way you explain and you have arranged it very well, easy for any beginner.

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