I used url=http://thinlet.sourceforge.net/Thinlet[/url] to build this sample, but I could have used SwiXML, Purnama, SwingML, there isn’'t a lack of projects
Have a look url=http://java-source.net/open-source/xml-user-interface-toolkitshere[/url].
No need to have an IDE, even if I used Eclipse to build the application “core”, the longest part to program. A visual editor exists for Thinlet, powered by Thinlet itself : url=http://thing.sourceforge.net/ThinG[/url]. You should try it. After few time of use, I managed to build a simple application. I didn’'t found another project with a “simple” editor like that.
The lack of Thinlet is that it’‘s build one a single “messy” class… As far as it must handle complex objects like panels or buttons, it represents a real nightmare. Thinlet has been thought for lightweight clients, so it doesn’'t support Swing.
To use Swing, you should have a look at SwiXML, which is a promising project, but there isn’'t any free editor…
The difference between SwiXML and Thinlet is the rich/lightweight opposition.
And finally, I used the default smack.jar/smackx.jar (v 1.5.0) with a little modification of the Thinlet class (lastest version).
I prefer XML instead of pure graphical classes. As XML could describe GUI everywhere, be a really interesting alternative to hardcoded GUI classes (skins, different layouts…), I think it could be a good way to do something fast and flexible.