Why use the AWT?

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One of the problems with the “old” AWT that you’ll learn about in this chapter is that it is a poor example of both object-oriented design and GUI development kit design. It throws us back into the dark ages of programming (some suggest that the ‘A’ in AWT stands for “awkward,” “awful,” “abominable,” etc.). You must write lines of code to do everything, including tasks that are accomplished much more easily using resources in other environments.

  1. The new AWT in Java 1.1 is a much better programming model and a significant step towards a better library. Java Beans is the framework for that library.
  2. GUI builders” (visual programming environments) will become de rigeur for all development systems. Java Beans and the new AWT allow the GUI builder to write code for you as you place components onto forms using graphical tools. Other component technologies such as ActiveX will be supported in the same fashion.
But what if you want to extend the system by adding a new component that accesses functionality in the OS? Waiting for Sun to decide that your extension should be incorporated into the standard Java library isn’t going to solve your problem. The new model in Java 1.1 is “trusted code” or “signed code” whereby a special server verifies that a piece of code that you download is in fact “signed” by the stated author using a public-key encryption system. This way, you’ll know for sure where the code comes from, that it’s Bob’s code and not just someone pretending to be Bob. This doesn’t prevent Bob from making mistakes or doing something malicious, but it does prevent Bob from shirking responsibility – anonymity is what makes computer viruses possible. A digitally signed applet – a “trusted applet” – in Java 1.1 can reach into your machine and manipulate it directly, just like any other application you get from a “trusted” vendor and install onto your computer.


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