Using IntelliJ UI Designer for creating Swing forms in the Ceylon (1.3.0) language
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I wanted to create a Swing app in the Ceylon language and figured I'd give using the IntelliJ UI designer a shot.

Compiling & running from the command line

$ ceylon compile test
$ ceylon run test

You can of course also run it directly from the IntelliJ IDEA.

Steps to do it yourself

Here are the necessary steps to get it to work:

Change IDEA settings

  • From the menu: File -> Settings
  • Navigate to Editor / GUI designer
  • Make sure "Generate GUI into:" has Java source code selected
  • Change "Default accessibility for UI-bound fields:" is something else than "private", for example package-private
  • Click OK to save

Create a new Ceylon project

  • From the menu: File -> New -> Project
  • Choose Ceylon from the left pane
  • Fast-forward the wizard to the last page and choose a project name
  • Click Finish

Create a new module "test"

  • Right-click the "source" folder -> New -> Ceylon module
  • Name it "test"

Configure the module dependencies

Create a new GUI form

  • Right-click the source/test folder -> New -> GUI form
  • Type a name for the form: "TestForm"
  • Let "Create a bound class" be selected
  • Click OK

Put some component(s) in the form

  • For example drag a JButton to the middle of the form area

Build the project (optional)

  • From the menu: Build -> Make Project
  • Project should have no errors

Create a ceylon source file

  • Right-click the source/test folder -> New -> Ceylon file/declaration
  • Name: "Test"

Write the form code for TestForm in Test.ceylon

  • See source/test/Test.ceylon for an example
  • Please note that the ceylon Test class extends the generated TestForm class

Write the main app code in main.ceylon

Run the app

  • Right-click the "run" of the run() method and choose "Run ''"

How does it work?

IntelliJ IDEA creates a TestForm.form file with the form specification. This is only used by IntelliJ. It also creates and updates which contains a TestForm class that sets up the whole form. Normally in a Java project one would write the form code directly into, but we want to do it in Ceylon.. So we create a Test.ceylon and there create a second class Test which extends the generated TestForm. Thanks to changing the accessibility setting to "package-private" our Test ceylon subclass can see the fields of the TestForm java class as normal. So then we can just use the Test ceylon class in place of TestForm.

The generated typically depends on some intellij classes, which normally get added to the classpath of the java project, but in ceylon we need to add a dependency to the forms_rt maven module. One line in module.ceylon does it.

Normally also the intellij compiler produces the gui-creating code directly into the bytecode of the TestForm class. Those class files do not get used by ceylon though, Ceylon compiles the class files independently I am told, so the bytecode gets lost. That's why we needed to configure the designer to output the code into the java code instead, so ceylon sees it.