Getting started

If you are new to Swing, start with the general Swing tutorial. If you are new to look-and-feels, read the getting started first.

To use Substance in your applications, choose one of the following options:

In any case, add the latest substance.jar to your classpath.

If you wish to build Substance from the sources, you will need to take the laf-plugin and laf-widget (binaries or sources). The best way is to sync to CVS head and use the build.xml script. The main test application uses the FormLayout and components from SwingLabs.

Have a question? See the FAQ and the list of known issues, and if you don't see an answer there, head over to the project forums and mailing lists.

Configure and customize

You can use Substance-specific settings and APIs to add custom functionality to your components. See detailed examples of using API calls, client properties and VM flags for more information. To control the animations, consult the animation overview.

Substance can be customized to fit your visual needs. The overall visuals are controlled by skins, with each skin defined by color scheme bundles, painters and an optional watermark. The skinning primer has a few tips on how to use the different Substance painters in applications that wish to paint custom components in a way that is consistent with other Substance visuals. The Substance samples project provides a detailed walktrough that analyzes a complex UI mockup and uses different Substance APIs to implement it.


While the core Swing components cover the basic UI functionality found in most applications, modern UI need modern UI components. To address this need, Substance comes with a built-in support to allow defining and seamlessly loading plugins that provide consistent appearance and interaction for third-party components.

During the initialization, Substance looks in the classpath for the META-INF/substance-plugin.xml descriptor files. The <component-plugin-class> element should contain the fully qualified name of a class that implements the LafComponentPlugin interface. This interface defines the lifecycle of a Substance plugin, with the main extension point that allows setting custom entries in the UIManager tables.

The following three plugins provide customized UI delegates for the leading active open-source Swing component suites:

Substance Extras pack provides additional watermarks, color schemes and skins and is another example of a Substance plugin.

A little bit of history

Substance is a stable library that has seen multiple releases over the last few years. While it is highly recommended to use the latest stable release and its accompanying documentation, you can read the release notes of earlier releases to see how Substance has evolved.

Version 2.0    10.2005    release notes
Version 2.1 - Dakota    12.2005    release notes
Version 2.2 - El Paso    02.2006    release notes
Version 2.3 - Firenze    05.2006    release notes
Version 3.0 - Grenada    09.2006    release notes + migration guide
Version 3.1 - Honolulu    11.2006    release notes
Version 3.2 - Iowa    02.2007    release notes
Version 3.3 - Japan    04.2007    release notes
Version 4.0 - Key Largo    09.2007    release notes + migration guide
Version 4.1 - Lima    11.2007    release notes + migration guide
Version 4.2 - Memphis    02.2008    release notes
Version 4.3 - Nairobi    04.2008    release notes
Version 5.0    09.2008    release notes
Version 5.1 - Panama    02.2009    release notes + migration guide
Version 5.2 - Quebec    05.2009    release notes
Version 5.3 - Reykjavik    09.2009    release notes
Version 6.0 - Sonoma    04.2010    release notes
Version 6.1 - Trinidad    RC    release candidate available. Final release scheduled for August 09, 2010