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Why is AWT called "Abstract"?

Thomas Auinger

The Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) is a set of classes, which itself is not abstract by declaration (an AWT class is not declared abstract), but which is abstract from a platform-independent view.

Most AWT components, such as a simple Button, wrap an underlying windowing component native to the operating system, on which the virtual machine is running. For example, a VM running on Solaris uses the Motif Toolkit.

Therefore the AWT classes provide an abstract and platform-independent view on a platform-specific implementation.

[FAQ Manager Note]This allows your code to use "abstract" windowing concepts (like working with Windows and Buttons) and have it actually use the appropriate native components on whatever platform you're running.