Synth Look and Feel

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synth is a skinnable Java look and feel, which is configured with an XML property file.[1]

According to Sun, goals for synth were:

  • Enable to create custom look without writing any code.
  • Allow appearance to be configured from images.
  • Provide the ability to customize the look of a component based on its named properties.
  • Provide a centralized point for overriding the look of all components.
  • Enable custom rendering based on images, or user-defined SynthPainters.


synth is available beginning with version J2SE 5.0 of Java (see Java version history).[2]

Java SE 6 Update 10 release and newer contain Nimbus, a cross-platform Look and Feel implemented with Synth. However, for backwards compatibility, Metal is still the default Swing look and feel.[3]


Synth is a skinnable look and feel in which all painting is delegated to the components, without having to write any code (see Synth Look and Feel).[4]

However synth does not provide a default look, and components that are not defined in the synth XML file will not be painted. It is however possible to assign a default style to all other widgets, and customize styles for some specific widgets only.


The following XML declaration defines a style named textfield and binds it to all text fields. The defaultStyle allows to set a default font, foreground and background colors to all other widgets.

  <style id="defaultStyle">
    <font name="Verdana" size="16"/>
      <color value="WHITE" type="BACKGROUND"/>
      <color value="BLACK" type="FOREGROUND"/>
  <bind style="defaultStyle" type="region" key=".*"/>
  <style id="textfield">
      <color value="yellow" type="BACKGROUND"/>
    <imagePainter method="textFieldBorder" path="textfieldborder.png"
                  sourceInsets="5 6 6 7" paintCenter="false"/>
    <insets top="5" left="6" bottom="6" right="7"/>
  <bind style="textfield" type="region" key="TextField"/>

Supposing that the XML declaration is defined in a file named synthExample.xml, the following code loads the XML definition file and sets the current look and feel to synth (loading a synth Look and Feel is done using the load method of the SynthLookAndFeel class):

SynthLookAndFeel laf = new SynthLookAndFeel();
 laf.load(new File("synthExample.xml").toURI().toURL());

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott Violet (2004-03-26). "The Synth Look and Feel". Retrieved 2013-03-09. Synth is new and provides for the description of the look and feel through an external XML file.
  2. ^ "Taming Tiger: Ocean and Synth meet Metal". IBM. 2004-10-19. Retrieved 2012-11-13. Synth is new and provides for the description of the look and feel through an external XML file.
  3. ^ "Nimbus Look and Feel (The Java Tutorials > Creating a GUI With JFC/Swing > Modifying the Look and Feel)". Sun Microsystems. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
  4. ^ "Advanced Synth". IBM. 2005-02-01. Retrieved 2012-11-13. Synth lets developers rapidly create and deploy custom looks for an application by introducing the concept of a "skin" to Java UI programming

External links[edit]