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Upgrade your Java desktop app to the web with Vaadin Modernization Toolkit

Ben Wilson
Ben Wilson
On Feb 2, 2024 5:57:35 PM
In Product

Vaadin uses Java, and for that reason, it has been a popular choice for migrating Java desktop applications like Swing to the Web. Inspired by the experience of many organizations making the journey to Vaadin, we are pleased to introduce the latest innovation in our offering - the Modernization Toolkit.

Vaadin Modernization Toolkit takes the concept of Vaadin 8 upgrades and adds two new ideas. Firstly, it offers fixed-price solutions to improve automation coverage for individual applications. Secondly, the Toolkit introduces feature packs. These packs bundle features developers frequently use as an extension of the mobile-first development practices enabled by Flow.

Desktop UI vs. Web UI built with Vaadin

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Why migrate from Java desktop to web?

The need to move away from desktop frameworks, like Swing, is made more urgent by the changing tech landscape and its associated challenges. For example, maintaining local installations of Swing applications on PCs is increasingly burdensome, leading to extra work.

Moreover, a significant portion of today’s devices, including all mobile phones, most tablets, and ChromeOS systems, do not support Swing, severely limiting the usability and reach of applications. Additionally, ensuring Java desktop applications are accessible can be a daunting task – just take a look at the complexity of Oracle’s accessibility guidelines. This often leaves developers uncertain about their application's compatibility with customers’ screen readers, among other concerns.

These issues, combined with the rising costs and complexities of migration and the scarcity of new talent familiar with Swing—since it's no longer taught in universities—underscore the critical need for organizations to update their Swing-based applications.

What is the Modernization Toolkit?

Vaadin Modernization Toolkit consists of a source code refactoring tool, feature packs, and an optional mechanism for taking a phased migration approach. The refactoring tool can be run one or multiple times, depending on how many times the rules that the tool executes are improved during the course of the project. 

Fine-tuning fixed price

Application modernization projects usually come with significant risks, mainly because teams are often doing this for the first time and lack the experience and guidance needed to plan effectively. With Fine-tuning, teams can leverage the expertise of Vaadin experts who bring practical experience and share the burden of risk.

The Fine-tuning solution transforms your application to a predefined level of automation, ensuring each line of code is accurate and reliable, all at a fixed cost. All applications are unique, and any two applications can rely on the same framework but different versions or different APIs, so it’s to be expected that Fine-tuning would be useful with any application.

Feature pack

As a platform for building modern web applications, Vaadin aligns with the evolving best practices around “mobile-first” and “mobile-also” development. However, many older applications were optimized for “desktop-only” use, mainly serving knowledge workers. The developers of these applications have used a number of features of their frameworks to efficiently deliver value to users.

The Feature packs of the Vaadin Modernization Toolkit bring these features back. In practice, these features are related to desktop environments, but in principle, they could apply to any component of an older framework. For example, consider how Swing divides the responsibilities for containing and arranging child components between Panels and LayoutManagers. The Feature packs support these in addition to the arrangement strategy of GridLayout, BorderLayout, FlowLayout, and others.

What is the difference between the Modernization Toolkit and Swing Kit?

Swing Kit is included in the Modernization Toolkit license but is only useful if you are migrating a Swing application. Most organizations tentatively use Swing Kit to introduce web features to existing Swing applications. Once you’re settled with a strategy to complete a migration from Swing, you will probably take the step to abandon desktop Java and won’t have a need for Swing Kit.

Modernization Toolkit vs. V8 Upgrade Automation

The Fine-tuning service improves upon the V8 Upgrade Automation service and will replace it. This means V8 users looking to upgrade from using non-supported APIs can receive a fixed-price offer from Vaadin. This offer is backed by a money-back guarantee to support improved coverage for their specific application.

Modernization Toolkit vs. Classic Components

Classic Components are included in the Modernization Toolkit license but are mostly used by companies upgrading from Vaadin 7 or 8. 

Wrapping up

Modernization Toolkit provides a straightforward path from desktop to web applications, boosting both user experience and developer efficiency. Our approach allows for substantial code reuse and easy refactoring, minimizing the need for testing and troubleshooting. In addition, Vaadin’s modern, accessible web components ensure a consistent and excellent user experience across all devices.

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Ready to bring your application to the future?

Explore the Vaadin Modernization Toolkit and discover how we can streamline your migration process. Visit our product page to learn more and get started today!

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Ben Wilson
Ben Wilson
Ben joined Vaadin in 2016 after specializing many years in the automated modernization of large enterprise applications. Ben works in the Berlin office and is always looking for ways to salvage parts of old software to construct new, cutting-edge applications.
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