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Action Listener Review

  • Many components call an action listener in response to a user action (JButton, JMenuItem, JTextField, etc). An action listener is any object that implements the ActionListener interface.
  • The ActionListener interface requires that the class define an actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) method.
  • Call the component's addActionListener(...) method, passing a parameter which is an object implementing ActionListener.
  • Common ways to implement action listeners follow.

1. One shared action listener (this) - Not great.

The class which defines the graphical user interface implements ActionListener. The component uses this for the action listener.


Example p 234.

This doesn't scale -- what if there is more than one component that needs an action listener?

2. Anonymous inner class listener (so-so)

JButton b1 = new JButton("Hello");
    new ActionListener() {
        public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
            // do something for button b1
  • Convenient.
  • Often mixes listeners into other code. (bad)
  • Can't share listeners.

3. Named inner class listener (better)

ActionListener myHelloListener = new HelloListener():

JButton b1 = new JButton("Hello");
. . .
class HelloListener implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent e) {
        // do something for button b1
  • Relatively convenient.
  • Separates listeners from other code. (good)
  • Can easily share listeners.

4. Subclassing AbstractActionListener (very good)

AbstractAction exitAction = new AbstractAction() {
    public void actionPerformed( ActionEvent e ) {
        if (gCurrentSkeema.isDirty()) {
            int response = JOptionPane.showConfirmDialog(xc_window, 
                                       "Exit without saving changes?");
            if (response == JOptionPane.YES_OPTION) {
        } else {
            System.exit(0);  // Not dirty, can quit.

More on this later.


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Current Comments

1 comments so far (post your own) View All Comments Latest 10 Comments:

thanks for the help. I am a new java student and have found the example helpful.

how do I make a text area respond to the button's event this is what i have

import java.applet.Applet;
import java.awt.*;
import java.awt.event.*;

public class appTrial extends Applet{
public void init(){
TextField text1=new TextField(30);
Label l1=new Label("Enter Age >");
Panel p1=new Panel();p1.setLayout(new FlowLayout(FlowLayout.LEFT));

TextField text2=new TextField(30);
Label l2=new Label("Total Price >");
Panel p2=new Panel();
p1.setLayout(new FlowLayout(FlowLayout.LEFT));

Button b1=new Button("Done");
b1.addActionListener(new ButtonHanler);
Button b2=new Button("Clear");
b2.addActionListener(new ButtonHndler);
Panel p3=new Panel();

Panel p4=new Panel();
p4.setLayout(new FlowLayout(FlowLayout.LEFT));

Panel main=new Panel();
main.setLayout(new GridLayout(4,2));
public class MyActionListener implements ActionListener {
public String b1= "OK";
public String b2= "CANCEL";

public void actionPerformed (ActionEvent ae) {
Object source = ae.getSource();

/* Is it a JButton??? */
if (source instanceof JButton) {
JButton bu = (JButton)source;

/* Which JButton is it? */
String cmd = bu.getActionCommand();
if (cmd==b1){

} else
if (cmd==b2) {



Posted by ligami on Thursday, 09.13.07 @ 13:14pm | #26898

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