You may want to extend SWT by implementing your own custom widget. SWT itself provides a package,
which contains custom controls that are not in the core set of SWT controls but are
needed to implement the platform workbench.
||CBanner is used in the workbench to layout the toolbar area and
perspective switching toolbar.
||Similar to Combo, but is vertically resizable allowing it to fit inside table cells.
||Similar to Label, but supports shortening of text with an ellipsis. Also supports
a gradient effect for the background color as seen in the active workbench view.
Does not support wrapping.
||Similar to TabFolder, but supports additional configuration of the visual
appearance of tabs (top or bottom) and borders.
||Selectable user interface object corresponding to a tab for a page in a
||Composite control that lays out its children in a row or column arrangement
and uses a Sash to separate them so that the user can resize them.
||Composite control that scrolls its contents and optionally stretches its
contents to fill the available space.
||Editable control that allows the user to type text. Ranges of text inside
the control can have distinct colors and font styles.
||ViewForm is used in the workbench to position and size a view's label/toolbar/menu local bar.
Implementing a custom widget
Once you've determined that you need a custom widget and have decided which
platforms must be supported, you can consider several implementation techniques
for your widget. These techniques can be mixed and matched depending on what
is available in the underlying OS platform.
If your application requires a native widget that is not provided by SWT,
you will need to implement it natively. This may be a platform widget, a third
party widget, or any other widget in a platform shared library. A complete
example of a native custom widget implementation can be found in
Your Own Widgets using SWT.
Combining existing widgets
Widgets can be combined to form widgets that are more sophisticated. For
example, a Combo can be implemented using a text entry widget along with a
button and a drop-down list. To implement a combined widget, you create a
and manage the children internally.
A simple example can be found in
Custom drawn implementation
In some cases, you don't have any native code or existing widgets that help
you in the implementation of your new widget. This means you must draw the
widget yourself in the handler for the Paint event. Although this technique
can become quite complicated, it has the advantage of producing a completely
Custom drawn controls are implemented by subclassing the
if your widget will not contain any child controls.
The internal implementation of a custom drawn widget usually involves these
- Create any graphics objects needed in your constructor and store them in
an instance variable. Register a listener for the dispose
event on your canvas or composite so that you can free these objects
when the widget is destroyed.
- Add a paintListener to your canvas or composite and
paint the widget according to your design. For complex widgets, a lot
of work goes into optimizing this process by calculating and repainting
only what's absolutely necessary.
- Ensure that any API calls that affect the appearance of your widget
trigger a repaint of the widget. In general, you should use
redraw to damage your widget when you know you must
repaint, rather than call your internal painting code directly. This
gives the platform a chance to collapse the paint you want to generate
with any other pending paints and helps streamline your code by funneling
all painting through one place.
- If your widget defines events in its API, determine what low level
events will trigger your widget's events. For example, if you have a
clicked event, you will want to register a mouse event on your canvas and
perform calculations (such as hit testing) to determine whether the mouse
event in your canvas should trigger your widget event.
Many of the widgets implemented in the
use this approach. A simple example can be found in
Further information on custom widgets can be found in
your own widgets using SWT.