The interview highlights Woopra’s development by Elie with Java Swing, the widget toolkit for Java. Swing is an API framework to create a graphical user interface (GUI) for Java programs, the key to making Woopra the “eye candy web analytic program” so many exclaim.
Elie explains in the interview:
It’s true that the browsers today can handle very rich applications, but we cannot forget that the limitations are still endless and the browsers were never meant to handle heavy weight client applications like Woopra.
…I believe the browser is not yet ready to handle apps like Woopra. We all know how much time it takes to create an application that looks the same on IE6 and Firefox, is it worth it?
…Performance is no longer an issue with today’s hardware, but people want to see good-looking things. Adobe Air has done it correctly. You cannot make an ugly application with Adobe Air because they provide you with amazing UI Kits. With Java, it’s very easy to come up with a very ugly application, but what they don’t know is how much Swing is customizable.
After two years of hard work developing Woopra, Elie makes some very good points about the benefits and weakness of writing Java Swing based applications:
Swing’s weak points are not many. But I would say that AWT is better in terms of native dialogs. I prefer the FileChooser instead of the JFileChooser because AWT’s is native. Also, the Anti Aliasing is really weak in Java. It looks different from a platform to another. Adobe Air has done it better!
Not to forget the look and feel, that is the major weakness of Swing.
…The JWebPane of course as mentioned by Sam Berlin of LimeWire. I’m glad they are working on it and have chosen the WebKit renderer. But I don’t believe we will be able to use it before a year of its release unless they provide it as a standalone API. People using PowerPC cannot even run Java 1.6 applications yet, we had to downgrade the application to work with Java 1.5 which is missing a lot of new interesting features like SysTray and more desktop tools.
…One last missing feature in Swing and DesktopTools is the ability to change the screen insets. I would love to create an always on top floating window on the right just like Windows Vista’s Sidebar. I can imagine Woopra on the sidebar and always on top, showing live stats without intruding on other applications (This is doable at the moment but we cannot change the screen insets). That would be awesome.
When I look at Woopra, beyond the powerful analytic features, it’s beautiful. A work of art. Elie says that he spends a lot of his Woopra development time “painting components” and testing colors and gradients. The work that goes into making one of the most exciting live web analytic programs in the world is part skill and a lot of craft. In our hearts and minds, he’s the Claude Monet of Java Swing design.
The full interview by Kirill Grouchnikov of PushingPixels includes some other insights into the development of Woopra and peaks at what Woopra may offer in the future, as Java and Swing and other related applications improve.