Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta. developer.okta.com

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10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

FreeMarker vs. JSP 2

I've been doing quite a bit of prototyping with Spring MVC and Struts 2 with both JSP and FreeMarker in the last few months. I'm trying to migrate a proprietary servlet-based framework with a proprietary JSP compiler to something that's open source. There's a couple of important features that the proprietary view framework has:

  1. It's expression language allows methods to be called with arguments.
  2. Templates can be loaded from a JAR on a remote server.
  3. XML in variables is escaped by default.

For #1, I've found this to be impossible with JSP EL or JSTL. I've created JSP functions that allow argument passing, but they don't allow overloading of functions. FreeMarker solves #1.

For #2, JSPs again fail because the templates have to be on the file system or in a WAR. FreeMarker solves this problem as well.

For #3, neither JSP or FreeMarker solve this problem. I realize it can be fixed in FreeMarker by hacking the code - I've done the same with Tomcat and solved it for JSP as well.

So based on the requirements in this project, FreeMarker is the clear winner. Here's some problems that I see with using it:

  • No XML escaping of expressions by default
  • No compile-time checking of expressions
  • IDE support is limited to Eclipse (meaning very little in the way of code-completion)

FreeMarker users - are there other problems you've experienced when using FreeMarker in your applications?

Posted in Java at Jan 17 2008, 12:37:12 PM MST 12 Comments