There was an error in this gadget

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Better 2D Graphics: Java2D

In our last program we loaded and displayed an image using Java. Not only that, but we scaled it to be a specific size. We did this using the Image class from the java.awt package.

Unfortunately, this pretty well covers the abilities of the Image class. But there's so much more that we'd like to do with images in our programs, especially if we're writing games. Fortunately, there's more that Java can do with images thanks to Java2D.

If you go to the Java API you won't see a specific package called something like java.java2d or javax.swing.java2d. "Java2D" is a whole bunch of packages and classes spread through Java's libraries of stuff. The java.awt.image package is part of Java2D, as is the java.awt.Graphics2D class inside the java.awt package. For a list of all the scattered components of Java that are part of Java2D, have a look at the Java2D API Specification.

Like so much of Java, the presentation of Java2D is confusing. It's made to sound like a single thing when it's a bunch of interrelated things worked into Java. Fortunately, like many such problems in understanding Java, it's only a problem of how the language is presented, not a problem with the language itself. Once you get to working with the elements of Java2D, you find that they're fairly naturally positioned in the places you would expect them in Java by their function. Which is how they got spread out in the first place (that and some history--it would have been even more natural to have there be one Graphics class that does everything, rather than a Graphics and Graphics2D class.)

Also, it's very easy to take items that are non-Java2D classes and use them with Java2D. Usually it's nothing worse than "casting" them as Java2D objects. That means you basically tell Java "pretend this object is the right sort of thing" in a way that works.

So have a look at some info on Java2D, and if it looks confusing, remember it's not you that's the problem. Sun does an amazing job of presenting great things in awful ways by trying to say way too much to too many different audiences at once. And they like to start in the middle of the story.

The Java2D tutorials do a decent job of showing things off without a lot of mind-numbing prose (well, not too much, anyway.)

Next I'll post a short, simple program we can use that rotates our images.
StumbleUpon