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CHAPTER 12 Graphical User Interface
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No doubt you ve heard the term GUI used whenever anyone talks about a user interface for a program GUI is an acronym for graphical user interface Practically every program used today uses graphics as a way for a user to interact with the program because a GUI is an intuitive and efficient way to collect information from a user and to display information for a user to read Researchers at Xerox s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) are credited with developing the GUI, which was later enhanced by Apple Computer and then by Microsoft At the heart of a GUI are the standard graphical elements that collectively form the user interface These elements are commonly recognized as windows, menus, push buttons, labels, text boxes, radio buttons, and other similar GUI objects that you see used in nearly all commercial programs today Besides making a program look pretty, the standard GUI dramatically reduces the time necessary for someone to learn how to use a new program Arguably, 75 percent of every program is the same That is, it uses the same two-dozen or so graphical elements Each of those graphical elements operates identically across programs For example, nearly everyone who has used a computer program knows to select the down arrow to the right of a text box in order to see a list of values that can be entered into the text box The values are likely to change from program to program, but the process used to select those values is the same in all programs You have two ways in which you can create a GUI for your program First is the simple approach of using a message dialog box and an input dialog box A dialog box is a small window You ve seen a dialog box when you select File | Open from the menu bar the Open dialog box is displayed A message dialog box is a dialog box that displays a message and an OK push button, which is what you see whenever a warning message is displayed on the screen An input dialog box is similar to a message dialog box, except you can enter information into an input dialog box Both the message dialog box and the input dialog box are displayed by calling one method, which you ll learn how to do in the next section This is a quick-and-dirty way to create a GUI for your program However, these are very limiting because you won t be able to use all the GUI elements in these dialog boxes The second way to create a GUI for your program is to use radio buttons, push buttons, and other GUI objects that you see in most programs Most of this chapter shows you how to create a GUI object for your program
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The easiest way to create a GUI for your program is to use a message dialog box and an input dialog box A message dialog box is used to display a message on the screen, and an input dialog box prompts the user to enter information that is returned to your program for processing Let s take a look at how to create a message dialog box You create a message dialog box by calling the showMessageDialog() method, which is defined in the JOptionPane class contained in the javaxswing package This means you ll need to import the javaxswing package at the top of your program in order to call the showMessageDialog() method The showMessageDialog() method requires four arguments The first argument is a reference to the parent that calls the showMessageDialog() method Many programmers simply use null as the value for this argument because there isn t a parent for this dialog box The second argument is the message you want displayed on the screen The third argument is the caption that appears in the title bar of the dialog box, and the last argument is a constant that states the kind of message dialog box you want displayed Table 12-1 contains a list of the most commonly used message constants Each one displays an icon within the message dialog box that corresponds to the kind of message being displayed
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Constants JOptionPanePLAIN_MESSAGE JOptionPaneERROR_MESSAGE JOptionPaneINFORMATION_MESSAGE JOptionPaneWARNING_MESSAGE JOptionPaneQUESTION_MESSAGE Description Used to display a general-purpose message Used to display an error message Used to display a general-purpose message Used to display a warning message Used to question the user regarding a user response to your program
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Table 12-1
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