Thursday, September 23, 2010

WindowBuilder Pro brief sample – Part 1 of 3

Last week, Eclipse users received good news: Google relaunched Instantiations tools for free. Not just for GWT, but for all the technologies supported by the suite.

When I read the notice, my mind went back to 2005, when I tried to use Eclipse Visual Editor in a project. It was a little frustrating since the plugin didn't worked very well. Back in that moment, I didn't find any good free SWT/Swing editor for Eclipse.

Currently at Oxen, we have a customer that uses NetBeans. Since I´m an Eclipse fan, we always make fun kidding about which one is the best. But when the discussion turned about visual editor, it was clear that NetBeans surpassed Eclipse. Now, it's time for revenge :)

So, let's make a brief review of WindowBuilder Pro. The first step is to install the tool through an update site, as explained here.

There is another update site just for GWT Designer, but it seems that WindowBuilder Pro site includes all the tools (for GWT, Swing, SWT and so on).

The first thing that causes a good impression is the number of things that can be created using the plugin.

(wow, Mac OSX screenshots... today you can't make a post showing Linux/Windows images... it wouldn't be cool enough!!!)

Talking seriously... Too many options! We are going to try just some of them. Let's begin with a GWT project:

The second screen will ask us for GWT installation directory. If you don't have it installed, download it from here.

On the following screen, select “Create GWT module” and enter names for module and package:

The support for Ext GWT, GWT-Ext and Smart GWT is pretty cool. I would found it useful two years ago, when I developed an application using GWT-Ext (currently superseded by Smart GWT). Now I'm working in a project that uses Vaadin. But Vaadin support would be too much happiness for a single tool.

On the next screen, select a name for your project... and that's it! Your'e ready to edit the module with the two-way editor:

As a negative point, the first access to the editor is really slow. It seems that it uses something from GWT hosted mode. After the editor is started, it's use is relatively fast (well, I didn't tried creating very complex layout).

In order to test the application, select Run As → GWT Application over the project. This will start GWT in hosted mode.

The hosted mode requires installing a plugin on the browser. Too bad that such plugin is not available for Google Chrome on Mac OSX. I needed to use Safari.

So, that's all folks! (for today). It's late and I'm pretty tired. On next posts I'll make some examples with Swing and SWT. See you, good night!

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