The Java AWT (Abstract Window Toolkit) provides an extensive set of GUI tools which enable the development of system independent software. The AWT, however, uses native GUI components of the host operating system and hence one has a platform dependent look-and-feel. This is fine when working with one host system, all the programs have the same interface. It is a problem when using the same program on several platforms - how one uses buttons, pull down menus, etc. depends on the host system. The IFC (Internet Foundation Classes) from Netscape (freely available from the web site) are a set of Java classes for building GUIs with a platform independent look-and-feel, i.e. the program looks and acts the same when running on a PC, Sun, Mac, etc. The IFC implements its own GUI components using only basic graphics and windowing facilities of the AWT.
This text is a tutorial and desktop reference on the IFC. It is in four parts, an introduction, the View class (the base for all IFC GUI components), the GUI components (windows, buttons, dialogue boxes, etc.) and advanced topics (e.g. TextView which enables display and editing of multi-font text). There are plenty of sample programs, which can be downloaded from an ftp site.
Worth looking at as an alternative to the AWT. For example, a developer wishing to give programs a customised platform independent GUI. Also useful as a student text in an HCI module.
In the future look out for the JFC (Java Foundation Classes) from Sun and Netscape which aim to integrate ideas from both the AWT and the IFC.