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Designing GUIs with cross-platform look and feel

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Hi -

I'm designing an app with cross-platform look and feel. Does anyone know how to design forms with the Netbeans GUI Builder so that the components such as buttons display on the form with cross-platform (i.e. Metal or Ocean) look and feel? I have a Windows XP machine with Netbeans 5.5.1 and the updated GUI Builder module installed. If I drag a button onto a frame, it looks like a flat grey Windows button. If I press the preview design button, I see the same. If I right click the Frame icon at the bottom left, I can click Design Preview / Metal and see a proper preview in Metal, which can have different spacing etc. than Windows. However, I don't want to have to preview the Metal look and feel - it would be much easier to have it WYSIWYG right as I build the GUI.

I even tried changing the NetBeans configuration file so that the look and feel of NetBeans became METAL. The look of NetBeans certainly changed, but components dragged onto forms still have the Windows feel. The problem is that there's a lot of trial and error getting the GUI to look good under the cross platform look and feel. Any suggestions?

Along the same lines: I just want my GUIs to look good and have proper spacing regardless of whether run on a Mac, PC, or UNIX machine. Do you think I'll get the best results with cross platform look and feel, or is it safer to request the native look and feel of each system? Maybe I'm missing something but so far it seems like a most imperfect tradeoff. Using cross-platform, for example, tables show gridlines on PCs but no gridlines on Macs. Any color button other than default looks defective on Macs and flat (as opposed to gradated) on my PC. I call for cross platform look and feel in the first line of main() so I think I've set this up correctly, but I don't have much experience with GUI building...


Jonathan Glass
[ August 20, 2007: Message edited by: Jonathan Glass ]
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