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The Future of Java-Based GUI Interfaces

David Bailey
Organization: David Bailey Consultancy
URL: http://www.dbaileyconsultancy.co.uk

2006 Wolfram Technology Conference
Conference location

Champaign IL

The Mathematica front end is acquiring many exciting GUI facilities. It will be possible to create notebooks on the fly that look like dialog boxes, and which can be used to input and display data. In combination with the advanced plotting capabilities, this will undoubtedly result in a host of new applications.

However, it has been possible to create Java-based GUI applications with Mathematica for some timeófirst with J/Link, and more recently with GUIKit and the authorís Super Widget Package (SWP). This paper will compare these two approaches to GUI construction, and argue that while interactive notebooks will be of enormous value for applications aimed at Mathematica users, the alternative Java-based GUIKit/SWP approach is preferable for applications that need to appear as industry-standard as possible.

Java has a huge GUI APIóall of which is accessible from Mathematica. This talk will illustrate a number of SWP techniques that access Java GUI features with no simple front end equivalent. For example, Java (and hence GUIKIt/SWP) permits HTML to be used in many circumstances where a simple string is more usually employed. This is key to many attractive GUI features. The SWP also makes it easy to set up wizards to guide users through a complicated input task.

The Java-based approach can also be beneficial for some applications aimed at Mathematica users. This will be illustrated by an enhanced edit panel that improves the notebook editing experience in several ways. Because this panel is not a notebook, typing into its data fields does not change the currently selected notebook, or its selection position, which is important for applications such as this.

*Wolfram Technology > Linking Technology > J/Link

Java, GUI, interfaces
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conference_paper.nb (5.4 MB) - Mathematica Notebook [for Mathematica 5.2]