Several incompatible, unofficial, versions of SwingWorker were produced from 1998 to 2006, and care must be taken to avoid the abundant documentation on these versions predating Java 6.
Usage in Java 6.0
The event dispatching thread problem
SwingWorker is useful when a time-consuming task has to be performed following a user-interaction event (for example, parsing a huge XML File, on pressing a JButton). The most straightforward way to do it is :
This will work, but unfortunately, the loadXML() method will be called in the same thread as the main Swing thread (the Event dispatching thread), so if the method needs time to perform, the GUI will freeze during this time.
This problem is not specific to Java, but common to many GUI models. SwingWorker proposes a way to solve it by performing the time-consuming task on another background thread, keeping the GUI responsive during this time.
Creating the worker
The following code defines the SwingWorker, which encapsulate the loadXML() method call :
Execution is started by using the
Retrieving the result
The result can be retrieved by using the method.
As calling on the Event Dispatch Thread blocks all events, including repaints, from being processed until the task completes, one must avoid calling it before the lengthy operation has finished. There are two ways to retrieve the result after the task completion :
register a listener by using the worker method. The listener will be notified of changes in the worker state.
Complete Worker example
Usage before Java 6.0
SwingWorker has only been part of JSE since Java 6.0. Sun has released versions to be used with earlier JDKs however. The most recent of these versions dates from 2003 and is often referred to as SwingWorker version 3. You can download it here Unfortunately, the JDK 6.0 SwingWorker and the Version 3 SwingWorker use different method names and are not compatible. The backport version (see below) is now recommended for pre-Java 6 usage.
An example for instantiating SwingWorker 3 is shown below:
The start() method executes the code added in the construct() method in a separate thread.
To be alerted when the background thread finishes, one only needs to override the finished() method. The construct() method can return a result which can later be retrieved using SwingWorker's get() method.
Backport of the Java 6 SwingWorker
A backport of the Java 6 SwingWorker to Java 5 has been available at https://swingworker.dev.java.net/ since March 2007. Apart from the package name (org.jdesktop.swingworker ), it is compatible with the Java 6 SwingWorker.