Layout Managers should almost always be used. Hard coding positions and sizes is usually not appropriate.
Most common layouts:
- GridBagLayout - excellent when many components involved
- BoxLayout (and associated Box class) - "glue" and "struts" (defined in Box, not BoxLayout), combined with proper alignment and equalization of sizes, produce results pleasing to the eye
- BorderLayout - often suitable for a top level container
- FlowLayout - items can appear on different rows, according to size of container
- GridLayout - forces all components to be the same size
- SpringLayout - added in JDK 1.4
Please see the topic on JGoodies Forms for an interesting alternative to the standard JDK classes for layouts.
Here's an example of a dialog box which uses four nested BoxLayout objects to arrange its elements. The brightly colored areas group elements which share the same BoxLayout :
Red - (vertical layout) "struts" provide uniform spacing around each JButton, while "glue" takes up the remaining extra space below the Delete button
Blue - (horizontal layout) again, struts provide uniform spacing around each JButton, and glue takes up the remaining extra space to the left of the OK button.
Black - (horizontal layout) contains the JTable and the Add-Change-Delete buttons
Yellow - (vertical layout) the top level container for Black and Blue
Yellow and Blue form a standardized dialog, in which top level layout and the OK, Cancel buttons are defined by an abstract base class. Concrete subclasses define both the contents of Black and the action taken by the OK button.
The sizing and alignment of JButton objects in BoxLayout is not automatic, unfortunately. See Common utility tasks for these related utility methods :
- alignAllX, alignAllY
Here's a typical data entry dialog :
Blue - the standardized command row (same as Example 1)
Black - uses GridBagLayout. See Common utility tasks for these utility methods related to GridBagLayout and GridBagConstraints :
- addSimpleEntryField - add a related JLabel and JTextField to a GridBagLayout
- addSimpleDisplayField - add a pair of related JLabel objects to a GridBagLayout
- getConstraints - a default set of constraints, which can be modified as desired