Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

The JHipster Mini-Book The JHipster Mini-Book is a guide to getting started with hip technologies today: AngularJS, Bootstrap, and Spring Boot. All of these frameworks are wrapped up in an easy-to-use project called JHipster.

This book shows you how to build an app with JHipster, and guides you through the plethora of tools, techniques and options you can use. Furthermore, it explains the UI and API building blocks so you understand the underpinnings of your great application.

For book updates, follow @jhipster-book on Twitter.


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.

AppFuse 2.1 Milestone 1 Released

The AppFuse Team is pleased to announce the first milestone release of AppFuse 2.1. This release includes upgrades to all dependencies to bring them up-to-date with their latest releases. Most notable are Hibernate, Spring and Tapestry 5.

What is AppFuse?
AppFuse is an open source project and application that uses open source tools built on the Java platform to help you develop Web applications quickly and efficiently. It was originally developed to eliminate the ramp-up time found when building new web applications for customers. At its core, AppFuse is a project skeleton, similar to the one that's created by your IDE when you click through a wizard to create a new web project.

Release Details
Archetypes now include all the source for the web modules so using jetty:run and your IDE will work much smoother now. The backend is still embedded in JARs, enabling you to choose which persistence framework (Hibernate, iBATIS or JPA) you'd like to use. If you want to modify the source for that, add the core classes to your project or run appfuse:full-source.

In addition, AppFuse Light has been converted to Maven and has archetypes available. AppFuse provides archetypes for JSF, Spring MVC, Struts 2 and Tapestry 5. The light archetypes are available for these frameworks, as well as for Spring MVC + FreeMarker, Stripes and Wicket.

Other notable improvements:

Please note that this release does not contain updates to the documentation. Code generation will work, but it's likely that some content in the tutorials won't match. For example, you can use annotations (vs. XML) for dependency injection and Tapestry is a whole new framework. I'll be working on documentation over the next several weeks in preparation for Milestone 2.

AppFuse is available as several Maven archetypes. For information on creating a new project, please see the QuickStart Guide.

To learn more about AppFuse, please read Ryan Withers' Igniting your applications with AppFuse.

The 2.x series of AppFuse has a minimum requirement of the following specification versions:

  • Java Servlet 2.4 and JSP 2.0 (2.1 for JSF)
  • Java 5+

If you have questions about AppFuse, please read the FAQ or join the user mailing list. If you find bugs, please create an issue in JIRA.

Thanks to everyone for their help contributing code, writing documentation, posting to the mailing lists, and logging issues.

Posted in Java at Nov 19 2009, 07:16:36 AM MST 8 Comments

AppFuse Light converted to Maven modules, upgraded to Tapestry 5 and Stripes 1.5

This past week, I stayed up a couple of late nights to do some of the AppFuse Light work I wrote about in October. I converted all web frameworks to Maven modules, as well as made them inherit from the appfuse-web project. Below is what the new module structure looks like:

New AppFuse Light Modules

At this point, the project is ready to import into AppFuse's SVN project. Here's a list of other changes I made:

  • Modules now depend on AppFuse's backend and allow you to use Hibernate, JPA or iBATIS as the persistence framework. Implementations for Spring JDBC, OJB and JDO have been removed.
  • Upgraded to JWebUnit 2.1, which now uses HtmlUnit under the hood and has much better JavaScript support. It also has Selenium support, but I've yet to try it.
  • Ajaxified Body integrated into all frameworks. You can easily turn it off by modifying the global.js file.
  • Prototype and Scriptaculous loaded from Google's Ajax Libraries CDN.
  • Upgraded to Tapestry 5. Mad props to Serge Eby and his tapestry5-appfuse project for showing me how to do this. Serge became a committer on AppFuse recently, so hopefully we'll continue to see great things from the Tapestry 5 support. I really like the clean URLs and minimum configuration required in Tapestry 5. It's testing framework is nice too, but I believe it could be improved.
  • Upgraded to Stripes 1.5. This was easy and painless. I'm definitely a fan of Stripes and look forward to reading the Stripes book on my bookshelf.
  • Dropped support for: Struts 1.x, WebWork, Spring MVC + Velocity.

If you want to try any of these applications, you can create archetypes using the following commands:

svn co appfuse-light
cd appfuse-light/preferred-web-framework
mvn archetype:create-from-project
cd target/generated-sources/archetype
mvn install
cd ~/dev
mvn archetype:generate # The new archetype should show up as an option

Next steps include figuring out a way to flatten the inherited dependencies and plugins so archetype:create-from-project can create truly standalone projects. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Posted in Java at Dec 20 2008, 06:42:03 PM MST 9 Comments

RESTful Web Applications with Subbu Allamaraju

Subbu works at Yahoo! developing standards, patterns and practices for HTTP web languages. In the past, he was a web service and Java developer. He was also a standards contributor at BEA and an author of books on Java EE. His current passion is HTTP and REST. Subbu confesses that he's not a web developer, has no interest in the internals of programming models used for web frameworks and he's only interested in the visible aspects of the architecture.

"The Web is Mostly Restful"

Being RESTful in an abstract sense means:

  • Resources are named by URIs
  • Resources have representations (Atom, HTML, JSON, XML)
  • Resources contain contextual links to allow navigation of state
  • There's a Uniform Interface

In the web today, some resources and URIs are personalized, but most are not. Some depend on sessions, but most do not. The consequence of a personalized UI with a non-unique URI is you cannot rely on browser caching.

The web is full of different representations (HTML, XML, JS, PDF, CSS, Flash). The problem with HTML is you can't tell links that you want a particular representation based of a link. The links are hard-coded to be a particular content-type. However, some media types on responses are ignored. This is often a problem with browsers and whether the user has plugins installed.

The Uniform Interface for the web is HTML and primarily links and forms (GET and POST). There's still some misconceptions (e.g. POST is secure). However, it's not about security, it's about idempotency and safety. You need to make sure you only use POST when you're changing data. POSTs are not repeatable. GET URIs are not always refreshable, which is quite unfortunate. Users shouldn't have to fight the back button.

Caching is a fundamental aspect of the web. Even in a personalized site, most of the content can be cached. The web is read-only for the most part. However, many enterprise web applications don't take advantage of caching. This is fine when there's not that many users, but it's bad when you want to scale to thousands of users. There's several frameworks that use cache-busting and prefer backend caching over HTTP caching. These frameworks are not using the web like they should.

Backend caching (e.g. Memcached) uses a non-uniform interface and you need to explicitly program to it. Frontend/HTTP caching has a uniform interface that's pluggable. Backend caching is generally more expensive to develop and deploy. There are cases where data should be cached on the backend, but you shouldn't focus all on backend caching w/o doing some frontend caching.

With Ajax, you get more opportunities to be RESTful. XMLHttpRequest is another HTTP client that can be programmed to. It has full support for the uniform interface, which allows content negotiation, optimistic concurrency and caching. Cross-domain hacks can be done with <script> and <iframe> to tunnel requests over GET. The W3C has been working for the last two years on how to do cross-domain Ajax w/o using hacks. The problem with current cross-domain implementations is they often use GET for everything, which isn't very RESTful. Subbu recommends using a proxy on the same domain if you do need to talk to other domains. This will allow your Ajax code to remain RESTful.

Web Frameworks
Web development is hard because of all the moving pieces that exist. Because of this, many web frameworks have been created to solve the various problems. In 1997, there were servlets. They provided basic plumbing and closely reflected HTTP/1.1. Servlets provided a poor programming model, but it allowed a lot of frameworks to be built on top of it. We don't use servlets to write applications, only to write application frameworks. The second era came about in 2001 when Action-oriented frameworks became popular. In 2004, JSF and friends came to play. JSF is a component-based framework with known limitations (complex, slow, uses POST for almost everything, Ajax is difficult). These limitations have resulted in a number of third-party patches being developed to solve these issues.

JSF was designed to use the request to create a component tree that maintains state. Unfortunately, the state is not something the developer has control over. It's not the state of the application, it's the state of the components. The client's knowledge of the state is mentioned with a cookie and the server keeps the state in the session. The problem with JSF is you don't have a choice of state in your application - you can't write stateless applications like you can with servlets.

JSF uses overloaded URIs for its resources. When you have one URI with multiple representations, there's no way to tell how a representation was chosen. JSF's compromise is to allow client-side state saving. However, they do this by putting hidden field in the form and requiring POST for navigation.

Basically, these two are at opposite extremes. JSF is focused heavily on a UI component model. The people that developed it misinterpreted how the web works and made some fundamental questionable choices. You can patch it, but you can not fix it.

Web 2.0 Frameworks
GWT is a cross-compilation based framework. You write Java to generate JavaScript (b/c everyone hates writing JavaScript). It mashes client and server code into a single source. These layers communicate using GWT-RPC. Typical RPC concerns do not apply since code generation handles coupling and the client is downloaded from the same application. GWT-PRC does POSTs to the server and uses HTTP like a transport layer. To be fair, GWT does allow you to use a RequestBuilder to use the web like it should be used. This class allows more control over HTTP requests, it supports GET and POST and it allows so-called RESTful layers (GWT-REST and GET-Restlet). GWT is focused heavily on ease-of-use, which is good. It's modeled after RPC and breaks the uniform interface and focuses on backend caching. Unlike JSF, GWT is fixable, but the community tends to use RPC instead of RequestBuilder.

SOFEA has a central promise of SOA. Business logic is a reusable service that changes less often. The presentation application calls those services and changes more often. The nice thing about this type of architecture is it allows a separation of concerns and loose coupling. However, it doesn't embrace REST like it should. Appcelerator is an implementation of SOFEA that has a Ruby on Rails-like usability. However, it uses a SOAP/HTTP style with messaging and POSTs to a single URI. Appcelerator is interesting, but it introduces a different style of coupling. It breaks URI opacity and client deals with POX instead of links.

Don't fight the architecture of the web. Innovate and enhance instead of breaking. If nothing else, break judiciously. As developers, we should demand more from our frameworks and make sure they use the web and HTTP like it should be used.

Posted in Java at Oct 24 2008, 09:52:02 AM MDT 16 Comments

What's wrong with JSF

The developers of Seam have come up with a list of major issues with JSF. I'm assuming many of these issues are fixed by Seam, but it's interesting to note how they've somewhat admitted that JSF has many flaws. Note that there's a lot of references to Struts and WebWork.

Hopefully many of these will be fixed in JSF 2. If REST support is an important feature for web frameworks, it'll be be interesting to see how the component frameworks handle it. It'd be great if they provided native support. Oh wait, then they'd be action-based frameworks. ;-)

Posted in Java at Aug 25 2008, 06:53:31 PM MDT 5 Comments

RE: Which is the Hottest Java Web Framework?

The "Break it Down" Blog has a lengthy post on Which is the Hottest Java Web Framework? Or Maybe Not Java? Comparing Java Web Frameworks is hard because so many people are passionate about the framework they know best. Add a couple more like Flex and Ruby on Rails and its downright difficult. Nevertheless, this post is good in that it contains a lot of pretty trend graphs and it looks like the author has done some good research. It's likely the folks that will scream foul are the ones that did poor in the comparison (Tapestry and Stripes, I'm talking about you).

Surprising among the top Java Web Frameworks is the rise of Struts 2:

Google Trends Graph

To quote:

Which is much more interesting I think is how Wicket adoption has stayed almost flat while Struts 2 adoption has spiked. Spring MVC/WebFlow seems to be going no where fast and racing JBoss Seam there.

The popularity of Struts 2 really caught me off guard with it being quite a bit different from Struts 1, I figured it got thrown into the "just another web framework" category, but I guess there is something in a name and it's doing quite well.

Regardless of what you think of the post and trends, you have to appreciate the amount of time the author put into it.

Posted in Java at Jun 10 2008, 10:39:08 PM MDT 14 Comments

AppFuse 2.0.2 Released

The AppFuse Team is pleased to announce the release of AppFuse 2.0.2. This release includes upgrades to Spring Security 2.0, jMock 2.4, the ability to customize code generation templates and many bug fixes.

For information on upgrading from 2.0.1, see the Release Notes or changelog. AppFuse 2.0.2 is available as a Maven archetype. For information on creating a new project using AppFuse, please see the QuickStart Guide or the demos and videos.

To learn more about AppFuse, please read Ryan Withers' Igniting your applications with AppFuse.

The 2.0 series of AppFuse has a minimum requirement of the following specification versions:

  • Java Servlet 2.4 and JSP 2.0 (2.1 for JSF)
  • Java 5+

If you've used AppFuse 1.x, but not 2.x, you'll want to read the FAQ. Join the user mailing list if you have any questions.

Thanks to everyone for their help contributing code, writing documentation, posting to the mailing lists, and logging issues.

Please post any issues you have with this release to the mailing list.

Posted in Java at May 11 2008, 11:25:40 PM MDT 4 Comments

David Sachdev on Web Framework Proliferation

David Sachdev left the following comment in my post about the Java Web Framework Smackdown at TSSJS in Vegas:

The number of web frameworks out there is just astonishing, and in alot of ways I think that there is need for some consolidation in some way, shape or form. If you work in the Java world there is a sense of consolidation in the ORM space these days with JPA (the Java Persistence API). Sure if you are working strictly with JPA it is a bit more limiting then working directly with Hibernate, iBatis, or TopLink - but you no longer worry that you have made a critical misstep in your architecture by tying yourself do a particular ORM implementation. Similarly Spring gives you that similar "loosely coupled" feel that if Google's Guice because appealing to you, you don't feel like you've wasted all your framework foo on Spring. But web frameworks....that's another story.

I think if you had asked me a few months ago, I would have told you that the industry is promoting JSF (Java Server Faces). Everything from support in the IDEs to the availability of AJAX frameworks...and of course a flexible life cycle that allows for alternate implementations and various code to plug or be weaved in to the life cycle. And that while JSF on its own left quite a bit to be desired, the JBoss Seam project really has filled in the gaps in JSF, and in fact brought Java web development closer in agility to the Rails and Grails of the world that tout quickly built and deployed web applications.

But the thing that you continue to hear is that programming in JSF is painful. And you hear that EVERYONE used to use Struts. And that it is time to move past Struts. And given that, you have to consider Webwork and the merger of Struts2 into that framework - and their claims of rapid development. But you also have to consider Spring WebFlow and how that may help solve your JSF ills given that everyone is building off of the Spring Framework and they have been so good about keeping the framework updated and integrating the best of what is out there while innovating themselves. And then if you are looking at Spring WebFlow, you kinda have to go "Wait, but what about Spring MVC?"

Given its age, you might quickly dismiss Spring MVC until you realize that Grails is build upon it. Grails, that web platform that every java developer is either working with, or intends to work with soon. (Come on, you all have made the Ruby/Rails, Groovy/Grails, JRuby decision in favor of G2, right? I mean all the flexibility of what is out there in the Java world on top of the JVM, with a language that doesn't suck the life outta you....) And then you have to wonder that if you build upon Spring MVC as well as using Groovy and Grails where appropriate, might you be able to make that killer app in half the time.

But wait, you didn't think your choices were nearly that simple did you? There is this wonderful software company out in Mountain View that we need to pay attention too. In Google We Trust, right? And even if you don't worship at the Temple of the G (TOTG) like Sprout, you don't want to ignore them. And, if you've looked at the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and weren't at least slightly impressed, I would be surprised. And if you are looking at the GWT, you can't totally ignore Yahoo's YUI - maybe with some of the what Prototype, Scriptaculous, or DoJo offer you. And then someone will come over and point out Echo2 to you, and well you have to admit, their demo looks nice. And well, there is Adobe Flex, and OpenLaszlo - I mean after all isn't Web 2.0 all about Rich Internet Applications. And surely you've heard that the performance of Swing is so much better these days and the "power of the modern Java applet"

So at the end of it all, you've got yourself alot of R&D to do, and just as you thing you've got a good grasp for the offerings out there, new and improved versions are out. And don't worry, someone else is also busy working on a new and greater web framework that you have to consider.

Wow - that's quite a mouthful David. Well written!

P.S. The Early Bird Deadline for TSSJS is today.

Posted in Java at Feb 22 2008, 02:47:44 PM MST 6 Comments

Java Web Framework Smackdown at TSSJS in Vegas

This year's TSSJS is starting to look like an excellent conference. I'm particularly excited to be moderating the following Expert Panel.

Java Web Framework Smackdown: Struts 2, Spring MVC, Grails, Seam/JSF and Wicket
The leading advocates of today's popular Web frameworks will duel under the Vegas Lights. Come and learn when to use your favorite framework and to see if it can live up to its hype.

We're talking about productivity, scalability and maintainability of Java-based Web applications. The emerging trend is that simplicity is better and productivity matters. Furthermore, if maintainability is the most costly part of any application -- how do these frameworks perform?

Attend if you're a Java Web developer, or if you simply like good entertainment. A working knowledge of the popular Java Web framework options will make this session more fun. If you haven't worked with any framework, come and learn who has the best spokesman.

The Venetian I plan on bringing the boxing bell from OSCON 2005 to make this session one of the best in the show. I'll be coming up with a list of questions for these experts in the next couple of months. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

With a venue like The Venetian, why wouldn't you go? ;-)

Posted in Java at Jan 11 2008, 12:06:24 PM MST 19 Comments

AppFuse 2.0.1 Released

The AppFuse Team is pleased to announce the release of AppFuse 2.0.1. This release squashes a number of bugs and includes an upgrade to Spring 2.5. To learn more about Spring 2.5's features, see InfoQ's What's New in Spring 2.5: Part 1 article.

For information on upgrading from 2.0, see the 2.0.1 Release Notes or changelog. AppFuse 2.0.1 is available as a Maven archetype. For information on creating a new project using AppFuse, please see the QuickStart Guide or the demos and videos.

What is AppFuse? Click here to find out.

The 2.0 series of AppFuse has a minimum requirement of the following specification versions:

  • Java Servlet 2.4 and JSP 2.0 (2.1 for JSF)
  • Java 5+

If you've used AppFuse 1.x, but not 2.x, you'll want to read the FAQ. Join the user mailing list if you have any questions.

Thanks to everyone for their help contributing code, writing documentation, posting to the mailing lists, and logging issues.

We greatly appreciate the help from our sponsors, particularly Atlassian, Contegix, JetBrains, and Atlassian and Contegix are especially awesome: Atlassian has donated licenses to all its products and Contegix has donated an entire server to the AppFuse project. Thanks guys - you rock!

Please post any issues you have with this release to the mailing list.

Posted in Java at Nov 26 2007, 09:29:43 AM MST 4 Comments

Xebia Web Framework Contest

I found an interesting blog post today about a contest (English translation) a French company (Xebia) had with some Java web frameworks.

4 teams have developed the same web application, each with a framework (very) different. The frameworks used were:

  • Struts 2
  • Google Web ToolKit
  • Wicket
  • My Faces (JSF)

Overall, I think it's a good summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the various frameworks.

Posted in Java at Oct 30 2007, 09:32:34 AM MDT 8 Comments