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Cross-IDE GUI building

Alejandro Pedraza
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 05, 2006
Posts: 10
Hi,

I'm leading an open source project and the issue has been brought, of how we're going to collaborate for the construction of the GUI. I don't want to enforce the utilization of a given IDE, but the default GUI builders/plugins are incompatible between themselves. Do you guys know of a free GUI builder plugin that I can use accross mayor IDEs?

I've also been looking for external (non-IDE bound) solutions like JFormDesigner, but I haven't found anything free or offering a special license for FOSS projects. I found FormLayoutMaker and others, but they haven't been updated in ages.

It's not that I'm a cheapskate by not wanting to buy something like JFormDesigner; it's just that I'd like to make things easier for anyone that wishes to contribute to the project...

Has anyone experience handling this issue? Or am I missing something?

Thanks,
Alejandro
Bobby Sharma
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 18, 2008
Posts: 574
    
    1

I don't think there is free one available.JFormdesigner is good commercial one but you don't want it.

I don't know about Visual Age, Visual Cafe and JBuilder. You can try Forte from Sun which is free.

I like this one very much : http://www.cloudgarden.com/jigloo/


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Alejandro Pedraza
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 05, 2006
Posts: 10
Jigloo looks OK. I'll give that a try. Thanks.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16012
    
  19

Originally what I did was use Visual Café's GUI designer and then run a Perl script that ripped out all the Symantec-specific code and replaced it with generic Swing code (and optimized out a lot of redundancies).

Of course, VC's been dead for years, but somewhere around IntelliJ 6 Jetbrains started featuring an interactive GUI designer that could generate vendor-agnostic code.

However, I don't know of anyone who has a GUI designer that can function outside of an IDE or plug into multiple IDEs.

JetBrains often does good things for Open-Source project designers, so you may be able to get them to donate a copy or so. If your GUI design group can live with the limitation that that part of the system has to be done with IntelliJ, it may be sufficient. I've done server multi-IDE projects where the designer was at liberty to use either Eclipse or IntelliJ (or Windows Notepad) as they preferred. Since the actual IDE support files don't conflict, the only real penalty is is making sure that any classpath mods are brought up to date in all the IDE confiurations.


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Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24183
    
  34

Another startling suggestion would be to code the GUI by hand. Create a few project-specific base classes for forms to enforce structure, if you like.


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Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16012
    
  19

Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:Another startling suggestion would be to code the GUI by hand. Create a few project-specific base classes for forms to enforce structure, if you like.

Which is what we're doing for the MTSDraw project (http://mtsdraw.mousetech.com). Which is also an open-source GUI-based app.

But you have to be a real glutton for punishment if you're doing a lot of stuff usingg the GridBagLayout. It's hard to template that kind of stuff.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

I'm all for coding by hand but I can't believe folks still even bring up GridBagLayout. Miglayout is all you really need. Also, I like JavaBuilders. It is still a young project but it just works. All your widget creation/layout is done in YAML files. You can even specify binding and validation if you need it. That leaves your Java code with just a bunch of logic. A really nice separation of concerns.


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Alejandro Pedraza
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 05, 2006
Posts: 10
Thanks for the great input guys. I'm gonna lean towards having to enforce Netbeans for the GUI part of the app. At least it generates code that can be interpreted (although not modified) by other IDEs. And it's free, so I don't have to go through the hassle of begging IntelliJ for an extra license every time a new dev comes in. If I understood correctly, Javabuilders doesn't have a visual builder yet, so it's a no-go.

Cheers,
Alejandro
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Alejandro Pedraza wrote:If I understood correctly, Javabuilders doesn't have a visual builder yet, so it's a no-go.

Cheers,
Alejandro


It doesn't need one. That's the point.
 
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