Java Technology Home Page
A-Z Index

Java Developer Connection(SM)
Technical Tips

Tech Tips archive

Tech Tips

November 24, 1999

This issue presents tips, techniques, and sample code for the following topics:

This issue of the JDC Tech Tips is written by Glen McCluskey.


JColorChooser is a Swing class that you use to select a color. It typically pops up a window with a color chooser dialog in it. You choose a color (like blue or red), and the window goes away. The result of this process is an instance of the java.awt.Color class. A good context for JColorChooser is a word processor, where you're specifying the color to use for highlighted text.

You have three ways of selecting or entering a color with JColorChooser. You can choose a color swatch, a small square of a particular color. There's also RGB (red/green/blue) and HSB (hue/saturation/brightness) available; these represent a color using numerical values. For example, if you enter the values (255, 0, 255), you get the color magenta. You can also specify an initial color to a JColorChooser object.

JColorChooser is typically used as a pop-up modal dialog. However you can also use it as an always visible component; in this case, you are notified of color changes via event listeners. Here's an example of using JColorChooser in this latter way:

 import java.awt.*;
 import java.awt.event.*;
 import javax.swing.*;
 import javax.swing.colorchooser.*;
 import javax.swing.event.*;

 public class ColorChoose {
     public static void main(String args[]) {
         final JFrame frame = new JFrame(
                       "Color Chooser Demo");
                        new WindowAdapter() {
             public void windowClosing(
                             WindowEvent e) {

         // set up the canvas to draw on

         final Canvas canv = new Canvas();
         canv.setSize(new Dimension(
                                 300, 300));

         // set up the color chooser 
         //and its listener

         final JColorChooser jcc = 
              new JColorChooser(;
         final ColorSelectionModel csm = 
             new ChangeListener() {
                 public void stateChanged(
                           ChangeEvent e) {

                     // retrieve the current 
                     //color and draw

                     Color c = 
                     Graphics g = 
                          150, 150, 100, 100);

         JPanel panel = 
                  new JPanel();
           new BorderLayout());
         panel.add("North", jcc);
         panel.add("South", canv);

The program sets up two regions. The upper region contains a color chooser that is set to an initial color of blue. In the lower region, a Canvas object is used to draw graphical objects. Choose a color in the upper area, and the program displays a filled oval of that color in the lower area.

Actual color changes in the JColorChooser are abstracted through a ColorSelectionModel. This is an interface that supports methods for getting and setting colors, and tracking color change. Notice that the program adds a change listener to the model. The change listener tracks changes to the current color. When a color changes, the change listener calls stateChanged to retrieve the color and draw a graphical object in the new color.


Suppose that you'd like to read a large text file into a Swing text area, using either a JTextArea or a JTextPane object. Are there any efficiency issues to consider in this operation?

To find out, you can set up a test program that uses to read in a text file into a text area. Then experiment. Run the program specifying first a JTextArea and then a JTextPane as the target for the text, and compare the program running times. Here's a program you can use to run the test:

 import java.awt.*;
 import java.awt.event.*;
 import javax.swing.*;
 import javax.swing.text.*;

 public class ReadDemo {

     // read the file into the pane

     static void readin(
         String fn, JTextComponent pane) {
         try {
             FileReader fr = 
                       new FileReader(fn);
   , null);
         catch (IOException e) {

     public static void main(
                          String args[]) {
         final JFrame frame = 
                  new JFrame("Read Demo");
                     new WindowAdapter() {
             public void windowClosing(
                          WindowEvent e) {

         // set up the text pane, either a 
         //JTextArea or JTextPane

         final JTextComponent textpane = 
                          new JTextArea();
         //final JTextComponent textpane = 
         //               new JTextPane();

         // set up a scroll pane 
         //for the text pane

         final JScrollPane pane = 
                new JScrollPane(textpane);
                 new Dimension(600, 600));

         // set up the file chooser

         String cwd = System.getProperty(
         final JFileChooser jfc = 
                    new JFileChooser(cwd);
         final JLabel elapsed = new JLabel(
                         "Elapsed time: ");

         JButton filebutton = new JButton(
                            "Choose File");
                    new ActionListener() {
             public void actionPerformed(
                          ActionEvent e) {
                 if (jfc.showOpenDialog(
                                 frame) !=
                 File f = jfc.getSelectedFile();

                  // record the current time and 
                  //read the file

                 final long s_time = 
                       f.toString(), textpane);

                 // wait for read to complete 
                 //and update time

                            new Runnable() {
                     public void run() {
                         long t = 
                                              ) -
                           "Elapsed time: " + t);

         JPanel buttonpanel = new JPanel();

         JPanel panel = new JPanel();
         panel.setLayout(new BorderLayout());
         panel.add("North", buttonpanel);
         panel.add("Center", pane);

The program displays a Choose File button. Click on the button, and a file chooser dialog appears. You can then select a text file to read into the text area. Depending on which of these two lines is uncommented:
    final JTextComponent textpane = new JTextArea();
    //final JTextComponent textpane = new JTextPane();
the text will be read into a JTextArea or into a JTextPane. JTextArea supports plain text (similar to the old AWT TextArea class), while JTextPane handles text with attributes (such as underlining or italics).

The program records the time just before reading the file. Then it records the time after the file is read. The elapsed time is the difference between the two times. Notice how SwingUtilities.invokeLater is used to display the elapsed time. It is necessary because the read method is asynchronous, that is, the read operation is not complete when the method returns. Display updating may noticeably lag behind, because updating is done via events placed on the event queue, and the program calls read from the event dispatch thread.

You can demonstrate the display lag by compiling and running the program after commenting out a number of lines:

  //SwingUtilities.invokeLater(new Runnable() {
  //    public void run() {
           long t = System.currentTimeMillis() -
          elapsed.setText("Elapsed time: " + t);
  //     }
You will see that the wrong elapsed time is posted when you make this change. The time is calculated after read returns. Unfortunately, this calculation fails to account for the fact that the file is still being processed for display purposes. The larger the file, the more inaccurate the elapsed time calculation. This problem is most pronounced when you read into a JTextPane.

Getting back to the example program... so, there will be update events to process after actionPerformed returns. To deal with this issue, for timing purposes, SwingUtilities.invokeLater is called to queue a runnable task. The runnable task displays the elapsed time once the read/display operation is complete. The task runs after all the events ahead of it in the queue have been processed.

When you run the test you will see that text can be read into a JTextArea 3-4 times faster than into a JTextPane. To make sure that the comparison is fair, you need to ensure that the file you are reading is either cached or uncached in both cases, that is, that both file reads are directly from disk, or else directly from the operating system cache.

The "bottom line" is that JTextPane does more for you than JTextArea, but at higher cost. If you're simply interested in reading plain text, there may be no point in paying that cost.

— Note —

The names on the JDCSM mailing list are used for internal Sun MicrosystemsTM purposes only. To remove your name from the list, see Subscribe/Unsubscribe below.

— Feedback —

Comments? Send your feedback on the JDC Tech Tips to: jdc-webmaster

— Subscribe/Unsubscribe —

The JDC Tech Tips are sent to you because you elected to subscribe when you registered as a JDC member. To unsubscribe from JDC email, go to the following address and enter the email address you wish to remove from the mailing list:

To become a JDC member and subscribe to this newsletter go to:

[ This page was updated: 29-Jan-2001 ]
Products & APIs | Developer Connection | Docs & Training | Online Support
Community Discussion | Industry News | Solutions Marketplace | Case Studies
Glossary | Feedback | A-Z Index
For more information on Java technology
and other software from Sun Microsystems, call:
(800) 786-7638
Outside the U.S. and Canada, dial your country's AT&T Direct Access Number first.
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Copyright © 1995-2001 Sun Microsystems, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use. Privacy Policy.