Difference Between AWT and Swing

Java is a popular and in-demand programming language. It has formed the basis of developing various applications. It is a versatile language and can be easily customized. The language is reliable and fast and caters to functions like web service, android applications, and others. The two common ways to develop GUI (Graphical User Interface) based applications are AWT and Swing.

AWT vs Swing

The main difference between AWT and Swing is that AWT of Java is original windowing and user interface widget toolkit which is platform-dependent while Swing is a special GUI widget toolkit in Java. Swing is an extension of AWT and is built on AWT.

AWT vs Swing

AWT stands for Abstract Window Toolkit. The API was devised by Sun Microsystems in the year 1995. It is generated by the operating system of the system’s host. The function of AWT is used to design and manage GUI. The major components of AWT are buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, choice buttons, labels, and text fields.

On the other hand, Swing has lightweight components, which have wider functionality and execute within a short period. Swing of Java actively supports MVC patterns. The major components of Swing are Imagelcon, JButton, JLabel, JTextfield, JRadiobutton, JCheckbox, JPasswordField, JList, JFileChooser, JComboBox, JTabbedPane, JSlider, and others.

Comparison Table Between AWT and Swing

Parameters of ComparisonAWTSwing
Definition It is an API that is used to develop applications in JavaIt is a part of JFC that is used to create numerous applications
Nature of components The components of AWT are platform-dependent The components of Swing are platform-independent
Type The components of AWT are heavily weighted The components of Swing are light weighted
Dependency on platform AWT components are platform-dependent Swing components are platform-independent
MVC pattern AWT does not supports MVC patternSwing supports MVC pattern

What is AWT?

AWT was launched and developed by Sun Microsystems in 1995. The full form of AWT is Abstract Window Toolkit. It is an API that is used to develop GUI and is platform-dependent. It is generated by the system host of the operating system. It is heavy and it contains a huge number of classes, functions, and methods that are efficient in the management and creation of GUI.

To develop an AWT-based GUI, the programmer has to import packages like java.awt . The components of AWT are heavy and require considerably large memory space. The execution time and speed of AWT are slow to medium-paced. AWT of Java has a moderate quality of components.

AWT requires a native operating system to implement all the functionalities. The components of AWT offer features like dialogs, buttons, lists, scroll bars, text fields, panels, and many other features. The required space during any component to load is also provided by AWT Java. It has the potential to look different in every other operating system.

AWT provides two levels of API – a general interface and a basic set of GUI widgets. AWT also offers some functionalities which can be considered high-level like access to the system tray, and the potential to launch applications of the desktop from Java applications.

What is Swing?

Swing is a GUI of Java that is used in the creation of other applications. Swing is written in Java language. It is platform-independent and allows the users to make scroll bars and buttons for the application. It also provides various packages that can help in the management and creation of desktop applications in Java. Swing is a part of JFC (Java Foundation Classes).

Swing is a widget toolkit and is built in as an extension of AWT. It was built on the top of the Java AWT. The components of Swing offer functions like buttons, labels, text boxes. It also provides various advanced-level components like tables, tabbed panes, trees, and others. The components of Swing are sophisticated than other toolkits of Java.

The Swing also has numerous classes like JTable, JTextArea, JButton, JList, JCheckBox, and others. The components are lightweight and do not require much memory space. This further makes the functions execute faster and efficiently within a short time. Swing has the inculcation of MVC pattern (Model View Controller) which helps to maintain the code easily.

To import Swing Java, the programmers use packages like javax. swing. This is the method to write a Swing application. The Swing toolkit of Java was launched in the market in the beta stage in 1997 and later in full form in March 1998.

Main Differences Between AWT and Swing

  1. The function of AWT is to develop GUI applications in Java while the function of Swing is to create numerous applications.
  2. AWT has heavy API components while Swing has lightweight API components.
  3. AWT has fewer functions and methods while Swing has more functions when compared to AWT.
  4. The time of execution in Java AWT is more while the time of execution in Java Swing is comparatively less.
  5. The components of AWT are less powerful and platform-dependent while the components of Swing are more powerful and platform-independent.
  6. The look and feel of AWT are not pluggable while the look and feel of Swing are pluggable.


Java is an object-oriented programming language that supports various functions. It is widely used in creating different kinds of applications for desktop, mobile, web, image processing, and other places. The important toolkits to build such GUI are AWT and Swing. The backend developers often have confusion between the toolkits.

Both the toolkit are parts of a group called JFC (Java Foundation Classes). The functionalities, components, and execution time is different for both toolkits. Swing is considered to be a zombie by many programmers as it does not contribute much to the contemporary development state.

Both the toolkits make the creation and management of applications easier with their components. They are versatile and flexible toolkits. It is essential to use the toolkits in the required place as they have distinct functions and components for specific applications.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=YPjZNlEgAMcC&oi=fnd&pg=PR19&dq=awt+and+swing&ots=GR6rh0dWf8&sig=1GDJeBLEi3NHQtFTWdNu41jl-hA
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/spe.920
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