Monday, July 1, 2013

Swing Docking Frameworks

I've been evaluating Swing docking frameworks in preparation for a major overhaul of Weapon M's UI. I wrote small demo programs using InfoNode Docking Windows, VLDocking, and Docking Frames to get a feel for their quality and the difficulties of working with them. All three exhibited problems managing keyboard focus on dockable components. InfoNode was a strong contender, and it's probably the quickest and simplest way to write a nice docking UI. But I'm declaring Docking Frames the winner on the basis of the project still being actively developed (or at least, as the developer prefers to say, actively maintained) and the fact that the Eclipse theme with the Glass Extension looks incredibly sleek and professional.

I'm actually thinking about a lot more than a UI overhaul. I've started planning a complete rewrite to incorporate lessons learned from 1.x. Version 2.0 will be a single, modular Maven project including the scripts and zip assembly. It will have a unified parser-to-UI event system, as suggested by a user. And it will address weaknesses like issue #22.

The biggest decision I have yet to make is whether I should replace the crude serialized object graph with a real embedded database. If I do, it'll be an OODBMS or a NOSQL graph database, but I've only barely started comparing the available options.

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