This chapter provides an overview of Java Beans. Beans are important because they allow you to build complex systems from software components. These components may be provided by you or supplied by one or more different vendors. Java Beans defines an architecture that specifies how these building blocks can operate together.
To better understand the value of Beans, consider the following. Hardware designers have a wide variety of components that can be integrated together to construct a system. Resistors, capacitors, and inductors are examples of simple building blocks. Integrated circuits provide more advanced functionality. All of these different parts can be reused. It is not necessary or possible to rebuild these capabilities each time a new system is needed. Also, the same pieces can be used in different types of circuits. This is possible because the behavior of these components is understood and documented.
The software industry has also been seeking the benefits of reusability and interoperability of a component-based approach. To realize these benefits, a component architecture is needed that allows programs to be assembled from software building blocks, perhaps provided by different vendors. It must also be possible for a designer to select a component, understand its capabilities, and incorporate it into an application. When a new version of a component becomes available, it should be easy to incorporate this functionality into existing code. Fortunately, Java Beans provides just such an architecture.
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