Substance 2.3 Release Candidate

Substance

The Java Swing developer ecosystem continues to demonstrate its growing maturity, with the upcoming release 2.3 of the Substance Look & Feel.

The Release Candidate can be downloaded now. New features in 2.3 include: Full right-to-left (RTL) support; generic animation tracker for animating most of the state transitions of buttons, toggle buttons, check boxes and so forth; improved color theme support (handles dark/mixed/inverted themes better); and the ability to add watermarks to the backgrounds of your forms and certain container components.

If you want to use Substance in NetBeans (see the screenshot), check the new-ish plug-in (the plug-in is still based on 2.2 at the time of writing).

It’s when you look at the menu options that suddenly become available after installing this plug-in, that you suddenly realize just how slick Substance actually is.

NetBeans with Substance

You can choose from a range of watermarks including Binary (sort of a low-key Matrix look), Brushed Metal, Bubbles and Katakana; and various color Themes. The really cool thing is being able to mix all the different options to create all sorts of combinations. You’d think that this would mostly result in some garish monstrosities at times, but strangely the combinations all seem to work together nice and tastefully (except for Barbie Pink + anything else, of course).

Naturally, none of this makes you a better programmer, but it’s good fun nonetheless! And it’s a good indicator of just how far Swing has progressed lately.

Of course, Substance isn't the only quality Swing look and feel, by a long way. Javootoo provides a good resource of pretty much all (okay, absolutely all) the third-party Swing look & feels out there.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.

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