I have a general question : to use or not to use a gui designer ? That is the question !
On one side you are preaty quick and you can deliver your soulution faster (ok not always) but on the other side a gui means more than what you see on the screen and this under all aspects(design patterns, threading, ...) so you lose on all the other Software Life Cycle aspects.
If you use a good one you can write code in such a way that coupling is limited. Good ones will also produce code that can be maintained outside the GUI designer and can load code created or modified outside it without mangling it.
I'd say use a designer for the initial screen layout, then modify it by hand to hook up with your data and data processing routines.
Ok you are right a gui designer is good when you "draw" the frist layout. Unfortunately after this you must brush the code and make it human readable, customize it and add some small extra fatures. This only the frist look, a deeply analyze(base on my experince with JBuilder ) lead me to more unpleasant stuff, for a simple panel where a FloatLayout will solve the problem is use some sort of GridBagLayout(this with a lot of code). If you try later to maintain your code with other tool than the designer you'll need a lot nights (and coffe).
So afterm me "the initial screen layout" must be done in the "old fashion" way with a pen and a paper(and some user case diagrams) see Katty & Bert (chapter Designing the Graphical User Interface).
I got some horrid code somebody probably built in Visual Age, maybe WSAD. I deleted hundreds of lines of cruft and put my own event handling framework in place and felt a lot better. I tried Jigloo (spelling?) and was happy enough with what it produced for a first cut at a new window, then took over by hand.
A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of the idea. John Ciardi