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David Chandler's Journal of Java Web and Mobile Development

  • David M. Chandler


    Web app developer since 1994 and former Developer Advocate with Google now residing in Colorado. Besides tech, I enjoy landscape photography and share my work at ColoradoPhoto.gallery.

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A visual designer for GWT

Posted by David Chandler on November 17, 2009

Perhaps GWT’s greatest weakness is the difficulty of creating beautiful page layouts in code. Graphic designers simply don’t think in Java, and very few people who think in Java also have a penchant for design. GWT’s support for CSS is somewhat of a middle ground, but it’s still nothing like designing a JSP page in, say, Dreamweaver.

Unless, of course, you design a JSP page in Dreamweaver! Jerald Sebastian suggests that you can simply ID all your HTML tags, then attach to them in GWT using RootPanel.get(id). This seems very promising, but I have to work out yet how to make it work with gwt-presenter as far as navigation is concerned.

Alternatively, I’ve seen quite a few Google ads for GWT Designer, but haven’t yet taken the plunge.

3 Responses to “A visual designer for GWT”

  1. Per Wiklander said

    Warning: long post. A message to the blog author at the end.

    I’ve used the SWT Designer (Window Builder) from the same company a lot before. If this product is as good at widget layout I’d be more than happy to shell out the $79 they want for a one year subscription. That amounts to about 1 hour of my time so the math is rather easy.

    The thing I’m unsure of though is, as you say, how well it works with MVP and all. Hopefully it is not so intrusive and helps out with the stuff you need without imposing any special project rules of any sort. What it should be great at is widget design (that would be placing widgets on a composite and setting various style properties on those widgets).

    I’m not so sure about what it can do with the presenters. During my time as an Eclipse RCP (SWT) developer I could usually design the basic UI stuff with the help from SWT Designer, but when it came to my custom classes that extended composite it just shoved an empty rectangle in the designer.

    It seems good at helping you with the messages (resources) as well.

    Hmm, maybe I’ll just try it out now that I’ve talked so much about it. I guess I can come back with a review in a few days.

    On an other note I would like to take the opportunity to thank you as much as I possibly can! I started clawing my way through the GWT documentation about two weeks ago and without this blog I would have been so stuck.
    I had seen the Google IO presentation before and I had looked at the MVP example app (the greeting thingy) but I have not found any good examples of anyone actually using this stuff except here.

    I don’t know what sort of progress you are doing on your current project (the list thingy) but you can at least be sure of the fact that your struggles in GWT land have been a great help for me.

  2. Jerald said

    In my recent projects, used Struts for navigation. JQuery UI for CSS theming and GWT for generating javascripts. Integration went well. I really enjoyed the luxary of CSS and theming. But still, had a feeling of using too many things in a single project. GWT Designer and Smart GWT seem to be interesting. Need to try my hands on.

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