How to Close an Application Properly

In order to close Java program we need to consider which kind of Java application is it?, because termination of Java application varies between normal core java program to swing GUI application. In general all Java programs terminate automatically once all user threads created by program finishes its execution, including main thread.

1. Introduction

JVM doesn’t wait for daemon thread so as soon as last user thread finished, Java program will terminate. If you want to close or terminate your java application before this, your only option is to use System.exit(int status) or Runtime.getRuntime().exit().

This cause JVM to abandon all threads and exit immediately. Shutdown hooks are get called to allow some last minute clearing before JVM actually terminates. System.exit() also accept an int status parameter where a non zero value denote abnormal execute and the result returned by java command to caller. In this java tutorial we will see example of closing both Java program and Java Swing application.
Swing is a GUI widget toolkit for Java. It is part of Oracle’s Java Foundation Classes (JFC) – an API for providing a graphical user interface (GUI) for Java programs. Swing was developed to provide a more sophisticated set of GUI components than the earlier Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT). JAVA provides a rich set of libraries to create Graphical User Interface in platform independent way.

2. Java Swing

Unlike AWT, Java Swing provides platform-independent and lightweight components. The javax.swing package provides classes for java swing API

2.1 MVC Architecture

Swing API architecture follows loosely based MVC architecture in the following manner.

  • A Model represents component’s data.
  • View represents visual representation of the component’s data.
  • Controller takes the input from the user on the view and reflects the changes in Component’s data.
  • Swing component have Model as a seperate element and View and Controller part are clubbed in User Interface elements. Using this way, Swing has pluggable look-and-feel architecture.

Every user interface considers the following three main aspects:

  • UI elements : These are the core visual elements the user eventually sees and interacts with. GWT provides a huge list of widely used and common elements varying from basic to complex.
  • Layouts: They define how UI elements should be organized on the screen and provide a final look and feel to the GUI (Graphical User Interface).
  • Behavior: These are events which occur when the user interacts with UI elements.

2.2 Swing Features

Light Weight – Swing component are independent of native Operating System’s API as Swing API controls are rendered mostly using pure JAVA code instead of underlying operating system calls.

  • Rich controls – Swing provides a rich set of advanced controls like Tree, TabbedPane, slider, colorpicker, table controls.
  • Highly Customizable – Swing controls can be customized in very easy way as visual apperance is independent of internal representation.
  • Pluggable look-and-feel– SWING based GUI Application look and feel can be changed at run time based on available values.

2.3 Setup

Popular Java Editors:
To write your java programs you will need a text editor. There are even more sophisticated IDE available in the market. But for now, you can consider one of the following:

  • Notepad: On Windows machine you can use any simple text editor like Notepad TextPad.
  • NetBeans: is a Java IDE that is open source and free which can be downloaded from http://www.netbeans.org/index.html.
  • Eclipse: is also a java IDE developed by the eclipse open source community and can be downloaded from http://www.eclipse.org

This example is developed on Eclipse therefore a compatible Eclipse IDE is required to be installed on the system.
We also need WindowBuilder tool to be installed on Eclipse IDE for the easiness of the work.

3. Example of Closing Java program using System.exit()

Here is a code example of closing Java program by calling System.exit() method. Remember non zero argument to exit() method like exit(1) denotes abnormal termination of Java application.


import java.util.logging.Level;
import java.util.logging.Logger;

 *Java program which terminates itself by using System.exit() method , non zero call to exit() method denotes abnormal termination.
public class JavaCloseExample {
    public static void main(String args[]) throws InterruptedException {
       Thread t = new Thread(){
           public void run(){
                   System.out.println("User thread is running");
                    try {
                    } catch (InterruptedException ex) {
                        Logger.getLogger(JavaCloseExample.class.getName()).log(Level.SEVERE, null, ex);
       System.out.println("terminating or closing java program");
       System.exit(1); //non zero value to exit says abnormal termination of JVM

User thread is running
User thread is running
terminating or closing java program
Java Result: 1  //1 is what we passed to exit() method

This Java program first creates a Thread  in main method and start it,  which prints “User thread is running” and then main thread sleeps for 200 Milli second. Till then, the other user thread is running and printing but once the main thread wakes up, it terminates the program by calling exit() method of java.lang.System class.

3.2 How to close Java swing application from program

Swing application mostly uses JFrame as top level container which provides two option to close swing GUI application from code. First option which is default is EXIT_ON_CLOSE which terminates Java swing GUI program when you click close button on JFrame window. Another option is DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE which terminates JVM if last displayable window is disposed off.

Difference between EXIT_ON_CLOSE and DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE is that if you have a non daemon thread running it will not be closed in case of DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE, while EXIT_ON_CLOSE terminate JVM even if user thread is running. Run the below example by un comment DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE in your IDE and you can see user thread running even after clicking on close button. Here is a complete code example of closing Swing application in Java.


import java.util.logging.Level;
import java.util.logging.Logger;
import javax.swing.JFrame;

 * Java swing program which terminates itself by calling  EXIT_ON_CLOSE and DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE
public class CloseSwingExample {

    public static void main(String args[]) throws InterruptedException {

        JFrame frame = new JFrame("Sample");
        //frame.setDefaultCloseOperation(JFrame.DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE); won't terminate JVM if user thread running
        frame.setSize(200, 200);

        Thread t = new Thread() {

            public void run() {
                while (true) {
                    System.out.println("User thread is running");
                    try {
                    } catch (InterruptedException ex) {
                        Logger.getLogger(CloseSwingExample.class.getName()).log(Level.SEVERE, null, ex);



3.3 Important Points for closing or terminating a Java application

  • System.exit() actually calls Runtime.getRuntime().exit() method.
  • Non zero argument to exit() denotes abnormal termination of Java program.
  • Shutdown hooks are executed before Java program actually terminates.
  • There are two options to close Java Swing application one is EXIT_ON_CLOSE and other is DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE.
  • DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE doesn’t terminate JVM if any user thread is running.
  • You can also implement window listener to implement your closing mechanism by using System.exit() in Swing application.

That’s all on how to close or terminate Java program. We have also seen example of closing Swing application in Java and difference between EXIT_ON_CLOSE and DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE.

4. Download The Source Code

This was an example of closing a Java application properly.

You can download the full source code of this example here: ApplicationExit

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Jyoti Jha

Jyoti is a tech enthusiast and is an avid programmer. She holds a post graduation degree in (M.Tech) Computer Science Engineering from Thapar Univeristy, Patiala, India. Post her graduate studies, she has worked in Software companies such as SLK Software and Aricent, India as Software Engineer in various projects primarily in the field of Requirement analysis and design, implementing new algorithms in C++ and JAVA used in ISDN network and designing databases and. She is inquisitive about socio economic reforms as well as advancement in technical fronts and keep herself informed with TED talks and various blogs.
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4 years ago

Why can you provide the java code, i cannot use the class

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