Friday, February 09, 2007

Jigloo Eclipse Windows Builder?

Building GUIs for rich client apps in Eclipse is not the easiest thing in the world. I'm looking for windows builders comparable to the Net Beans Matisse GUI builder.

I've downloaded the Jigloo GUI builder which sounds pretty good but that is coming from company who made it.

What about WindowsBuilderPro? Both Jigloo and WindowsBuilder are commercial products that offer free trial editions. I've generally heard that WindowsBuilderPro is the better product.

I'll try both and see for myself...

On the install, Jigloo is very simple and is just like any other Eclipse plugins. Just copy to the features and plugins directories and your done. WindowBuilder on the other hand has you walk through a install wizard which took only a couple minutes to run through. (Make sure you don't have Eclipse running during the install).

WindowsBuilder has several example apps you can try. In 5 minutes of testing this builder I found it very user friendly. I liked the "quick view" feature where without even compiling you can get a feel for how your app will look during runtime. Now on to Jigloo.

After the few minutes I found it easy to create a basic app. Nothing difficult. I liked the two screen (code/app) view that shows the two-way changes so if you edit the GUI the code changes or you edit the code and the GUI changes.

So far they are both comparable products and I'll spend a bit more time using each on an actual application to see which is the better product. ...

After spending several hours using Jigloo and writing over 1,000 lines of Java using GUI parts from Jigloo I've come to the conclusion that the best use of a GUI builder is for the initial creation of your form and widgets. The size, arrangement of widgets and placement of your GUI can be very much sped up using Jigloo.

However, once you understand what a GUI builder is doing and have your basic form created, continued use of any GUI builder is more annoying than anything. I'd recommend using one to get started, get your basic form created and then drop kick it for any later modifications or additions.