Swing apps, even demos, should always look good
Sun showed a demo application to demostrate real time Java. There was a thick client application controlling a reverse pendulum (basically a machine that held a stick straight up, like when you balance a ruler on your hand). They had an application along with it to control the motors and display settings -- including failover.
The problem was that the application sucked. Layouts were terrible and unalligned, fonts were illegible over the projectors, text color choice was poor, and the list goes on. At one point in the demo, James Gosling said something like -- well you can't see this, but it just want from failover to active. I was 40 feet away from a 30 foot projector -- I should have been able to see anything! The problem is that the UI was poorly designed. In this case, small blue font on a gray background was hard to read. This is the kind of things that just can't be allowed to happen.
There is a perception that Java user interfaces don't look good. And there are perceptions that user interfaces from other platforms do look good. Now there are good looking Java apps and there are bad apps from these platforms -- so there is a perception issue at the core.
I think that some other platforms always present great user interfaces. Not to say that there aren't bad ones, but the appearance is that things are ok. Sun and Java developers continue to do the opposite with Java and this morning was no exception. Every Java user interface has to look impecable, especially from the source itself, Sun.
It just looks silly to do that in front of 15,000 people and a live webcast.