In the NetBeans IDE (Integrated Development Environment), you can create Java applications including Graphical User Interfaces. With NetBeans, rather than having to implement the details of a GUI manually in code, you can automate certain aspects of user interface construction. The NetBeans GUI includes many common user interface items for capturing data through forms, including combo-boxes. You can add a Java Swing combo-box to any NetBeans project you have a GUI such as a JFrame in, with options to edit the content, appearance and functionality of the combo-box when users interact with it.
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Create a new Project in NetBeans. Open NetBeans and create a new project by choosing "File," "New Project." In the "New Project" window, select "Java Application" and choose "Next." Enter a name for your project. Make sure the "Use Dedicated Folder for Storing Libraries" check-box is unchecked but the "Create Main Class" and "Set as Main Project" check-boxes are both checked. Click "Finish" and NetBeans will create your project.
Add a JFrame class to your project. In the "Projects" panel, right-click the package folder inside the "Source Packages" directory of your new project and choose "New," "JFrame Form." Enter a name for your JFrame class, which will be the main window for your GUI. Select your package from the drop-down list and click "Finish." NetBeans will open your GUI class in the Design view - you can switch between Design and Source to edit the source code directly if you wish.
Add a panel to your GUI. In the Design view for your JFrame class, select "Panel" from the "Swing Containers" section in the "Palette" view. Click inside the Design area for the JFrame form to enter your panel. You can click and drag to resize the panel or any other user interface item in the Design view at any time.
Add a combo-box to the panel. In the "Palette" area, click "Combo Box" in the "Swing Controls" list to select it. Move your cursor over the panel you added and click to add the combo-box, using the positioning guidelines that appear when you hover over the panel. You can alter the combo-box properties using the right-click menu.
Edit the combo-box. Edit the items in the combo-box by selecting it within the Design view and using the controls in the "Properties" view, or right-clicking it and choosing "Properties." You can edit the display properties, such as font and colour, as well as setting a minimum number of rows. Click the button next to the "model" property to edit the details of the items you want to display in the drop-down list, adding and removing items as necessary. You can use the other right-click options on the combo-box to control binding and event handling for it if necessary.
Tips and warnings
- You can implement code you want to execute when users select items in your combo-box by editing its "ActionPerformed" method, using the "getSelectedItem" method to determine which option the user selected.
- You may wish to add a label next to your combo-boxes to enhance usability with your forms.
- Although NetBeans automates certain aspects of creating a GUI, you will likely need to edit the Java code for your application in some ways.
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