Java Swing - JList Highlighting Filtered Items with HTML Example

[Updated: May 11, 2018, Created: Nov 17, 2017]

In previous example, we saw how to highlight matched text in JList while filtering. There was a problem with that approach, that is since we provided our own JLabel implementation in the renderer, the selection and event listeners stopped working. That can be fixed by creating our own custom renderer rather than extending DefaultListCellRenderer but there will be bit more work to accomplish that. In the following example, we will use a simpler approach, that is to use HTML in the default renderer's label to highlight the matched content.

HTML Highlighting

package com.logicbig.example;

public class HtmlHighlighter {
  private static final String HighLightTemplate = "<span style='background:yellow;'>$1</span>";

  public static String highlightText(String text, String textToHighlight) {
          return text;
      text = text.replaceAll("(?i)(" + textToHighlight + ")", HighLightTemplate);
      return "<html>" + text + "</html>";

The main class

public class JListHighlightedFilterExample {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
      List<Employee> employees = EmployeeDataAccess.getEmployees();
      DefaultListModel<Employee> model = new DefaultListModel<>();
      JList<Employee> jList = new JList<>(model);
      JListFilterDecorator decorator = JListFilterDecorator
              .decorate(jList, JListHighlightedFilterExample::employeeFilter);

      JFrame frame = createFrame();

  private static boolean employeeFilter(Employee emp, String textToFilter) {
          return true;
      return getEmployeeDisplayText(emp).toLowerCase()
      /*try {//Use following instead of the above line to support regex filtering..
          return getEmployeeDisplayText(emp).matches(textToFilter);
      } catch (Exception e) {
          return false;

  private static String getEmployeeDisplayText(Employee emp) {
      return String.format("%s [%s]", emp.getName(), emp.getDept());

  private static ListCellRenderer<? super Employee> createListRenderer(JTextField filterField) {
      return new DefaultListCellRenderer() {
          private Color background = new Color(0, 100, 255, 15);
          private Color defaultBackground = (Color) UIManager.get("List.background");

          public Component getListCellRendererComponent(JList<?> list, Object value, int index,
                                                        boolean isSelected, boolean cellHasFocus) {
              super.getListCellRendererComponent(list, value, index, isSelected, cellHasFocus);
              Employee emp = (Employee) value;
              String displayText = getEmployeeDisplayText(emp);
              displayText = HtmlHighlighter.highlightText(displayText, filterField.getText());
              if (!isSelected) {
                  setBackground(index % 2 == 0 ? background : defaultBackground);
              return this;

  private static JFrame createFrame() {
      JFrame frame = new JFrame("JList Example");
      frame.setSize(new Dimension(600, 300));
      return frame;

The rest of the classes are same as our last example.


Example Project

Dependencies and Technologies Used:

  • datafactory 0.8: Library to generate data for testing.
  • JDK 1.8
  • Maven 3.3.9

JList Filter with HTML Highlighting Example Select All Download
  • list-filter-html-highlighting
    • src
      • main
        • java
          • com
            • logicbig
              • example

See Also