Drag’n’drop in SWT components

Those who went to my Lotusphere session already know this but doing drag’n’drop in SWT is actually quite easy. All you need to do is define a drag source and/or a drop target. The former is only required if a control in users should be able to drag data from a control in your code. The latter is required if you would like users to be able to drop stuff onto your component.

When setting up a drag source or a drop target you specify the control the source/target controls and the types of data you can provide/accept. These types are called Transfer types and are subclasses of the org.eclipse.ui.dnd.Transfer class.

Transfer types that might come handy – the class names should be pretty self-explanatory:

  • org.eclipse.swt.dnd.URLTransfer.getInstance()
  • org.eclipse.swt.dnd.FileTransfer.getInstance()
  • org.eclipse.swt.dnd.TextTransfer.getInstance()

Making a JFace viewer a drop target is simple passing in the underlying control:

DropTarget dropTarget = new DropTarget(viewer.getControl(),

Once the drop target has been created you set the transfer types:

final Transfer[] dropTransferTypes = new Transfer[] {

The last thing you need is to add an instance of DropTargetListener or use a subclass of DropTargetAdapter as I do here:

dropTarget.addDropListener(new DropTargetAdapter() {

Creating a drag source is analogous.

One thought on “Drag’n’drop in SWT components”

  1. Hi,

    This is helpful, thank you!
    Just a question, why did they change in Exp 6.2.1(?) that a
    dropped notes document is recognized as a FileTransfer instead of an URLTransfer?

    Is it suppose to be like this?

    It feels kind strange that you need to read a file just to get hold of the notes url to the document.

    Thanks for awesome blog!

    //Erik of Sweden


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