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

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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.

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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.

A Positive Wicket Experience

Julian Sinai recently released the first version of his company's product based on Wicket. In A Year of Wicket, he describes the experience (emphasis mine).

I've been working with Wicket for almost a year. We've just released our first product that uses Wicket for the user interface, and so it seems like a good time to take stock. Unfortunately, it's not a public site, it's an installable enterprise product, so I can't show it to you. If you don't want to read further, here's the executive summary: Wicket rocks!

I was hired as the GUI Architect for this project. I came to it with many years of GUI experience, mostly using Swing, but without a lot of web development experience.

Because of my Java and Swing background, I was drawn to Wicket. It maps fairly closely to the Swing model of development. So does GWT, but when I evaluated it, it seemed so different from other J2EE frameworks that I felt it was a step too far. No HTML, and no WAR files, for example. This made my colleagues nervous, who were used to Struts and PHP. Me too, as a matter of fact.

I had done some pretty serious prototyping for another project with Tapestry, and there were certain things I liked, like runtime bytecode generation. But the learning curve was pretty steep. At one point I needed to create a custom component, and to do so I needed to learn about engine services and other arcane things that I felt made the process too hard. By contrast, custom components are Wicket's bread and butter, and they are very easy to build.

I also took a close look at JSF. It seemed overly complex to me, and not much of a departure from the Struts era. It came across as a technology designed by committee, with the combination of several complementary libraries required to get the job done, and there are still too many configuration files.

So we decided to use Wicket.

...

One of Wicket's advantages is the strict separation of design from behavior, that is, HTML from code. While we did not have a web designer on the team who built the HTML (the developers did this), and therefore didn't get any mileage from the separation in that sense, we definitely gained from having all the behavior in Java code, because it gave us all the power of refactoring, compile-time error checking, and maximum reusability. [Read More]

I really like how Julian talks about reasons they didn't choose other frameworks. Beyond that, I think it's important to note that Wicket was a perfect fit for someone with heavy Java and Swing experience. I still think Wicket is a little verbose for Web developers that program in Java (me), but it's unlikely there's very many of those. Building a form in Java seems so much more cumbersome than building it with HTML - but that's probably just me.

Posted in Java at Jan 18 2008, 12:37:18 PM MST 7 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 Light 1.8.1 Released: includes upgrades to Spring 2.5 and Wicket 1.3

AppFuse Light 1.8.1 is a bug fixes release that includes an upgrade to Spring 2.5 and Wicket 1.3 RC1. See the Release Notes for more information on what's changed since the last release.

What is AppFuse Light? Click here to find out.

AppFuse Light now offers 60 possible combinations for download:

  • Web Frameworks: JSF (MyFaces), Spring MVC (with Ajax, Acegi Security, JSP, FreeMarker or Velocity), Stripes, Struts 1.x, Struts 2.x, Tapestry, WebWork, Wicket
  • Persistence Frameworks: Hibernate, iBATIS, JDO (JPOX), OJB, Spring JDBC

AppFuse Light Screenshot - click on the box at the bottom right of AL to activate StyleSheet Switcher

If you have any questions about this release, please subscribe to the AppFuse user mailing list by sending a blank e-mail to users-subscribe@appfuse.dev.java.net. You can also post questions in a forum-like fashion using Nabble: http://appfuse.org/forum/user.

If you're a developer of one of the frameworks that AppFuse Light uses - I'd love a code review to make sure I'm "up to snuff" on how to use your framework. I'm also more than willing to give commit rights if you'd like to improve the implementation of your framework.

Live demos are available at:

What's on tap for AppFuse Light 2.0? Here's what I'm hoping to do:

  1. Drop the seldom-used persistence frameworks: JDBC, JDO and OJB.
  2. Drop Struts 1.x and WebWork as web frameworks (replaced by Struts 2).
  3. Support the same persistence frameworks as AppFuse: Hibernate, iBATIS and JPA.
  4. Re-use appfuse-service, appfuse-hibernate, appfuse-ibatis and appfuse-jpa in AppFuse Light. I'll likely include the core classes (User, Role) since AppFuse Light is more "raw" than AppFuse.
  5. Require Java 5.

Let me know if you disagree with any of these items or would like to see other enhancements.

Posted in Java at Nov 29 2007, 09:28:06 AM MST 3 Comments

Comparing JVM Web Frameworks Presentation

Early this morning, I assembled a Comparing JVM Web Frameworks presentation in preparation for my talk tomorrow at ApacheCon. As mentioned on Monday, this presentation compares Flex, Grails, GWT, Seam, Struts 2 and Wicket. While I think this presentation would be fun to deliver, I don't believe it has as much meat as the original talk I was planning to give. My original talk compares JSF, Spring MVC, Stripes, Struts 2, Tapestry and Wicket. Since I've used all these frameworks, I'm able to compare them more on their technical features. Since I haven't used Flex, GWT or Seam, there was no way for me to 1) try them all before tomorrow and 2) do a thorough analysis of how well they each handle my desired features.

Since the abstract on ApacheCon's website mentions my original presentation, I don't want to yank out the carpet and present the second without asking. So my plan is to ask the audience which one they'd rather hear and continue from there. I've updated both presentations with the latest statistics and uploaded them for your review. For those of you who've used these frameworks, I'd be interested to hear how accurate you think my Pros and Cons section is. If you know of better pros or cons, please let me know and I'll adjust as needed.

While creating the 2nd presentation, I found a couple things that surprised me. The first is how popular Flex is - not only in job listings, but also in skilled developers and mailing list traffic. Below is a graph that shows how there aren't many jobs for most of the frameworks, but there's lots for Flex.

Dice.com Job Count - November 2007

The following graph illustrates while I chose to use Flex instead of OpenLaszlo as the Flash framework. OpenLaszlo has a much smaller community than Flex.

User Mailing List Traffic - November 2007

The second thing that was surprising is Seam doesn't have a logo! How does it ever expect to become a popular open source project without a logo?! It's amazing they've made it this far without having this essential feature. To motivate the creation of a Seam logo, I'm using the following butt-ugly logo in my presentation (found here). Hopefully something better comes along before I deliver my talk tomorrow. ;-)

Seam Logo

Update: Monday's post started an interesting thread on Stripes' mailing list. Also, I really like Spring MVC's new annotation support. It'd be nice to see it go a step further and use defaults (like ControllerClassNameHandlerMapping + subpackage support) and only require annotations to override the defaults. IMO, Stripes, Spring MVC and Struts 2 are all excellent choices if a request-based framework provides the best architecture for your application.

Update 2: Comparing Flex, Grails, GWT, Seam, Struts 2 and Wicket seems to gave gained a lot of interest (and support) in the blogosphere. Because of this, I'm considering submitting it as a JavaOne talk. If I were to do this, how would you like to see this presentation changed and improved?

Update 3: I received the following Seam logo via e-mail. Thanks Christian!

Seam Logo

Update 4: I've updated the Dice.com graph to include "Java" with every search term. To understand the comments on this entry, you might want to view the previous graph.

Update 5: This presentation was posted to the Wicket User mailing list. I followed up asking users to post the pros and cons of Wicket. Now there's a lengthy thread on Wicket's Pros and Cons. Good stuff.

Posted in Java at Nov 14 2007, 03:14:53 PM MST 39 Comments

Comparing Web Frameworks: Time for a Change?

I first came up with the idea to do a "Comparing Web Frameworks" talk in 2004. I submitted a talk to ApacheCon and it got accepted. From there, I outlined, created sample apps and practiced this talk before ApacheCon. Believe it or not, that was my first time speaking in front of a large audience.

Historical note: October 2004 was a pretty cool month - I discovered Rails and Roller had a 1.0 release candidate.

When I created the presentation, it was in large part due to all the WebWork and Tapestry folks harassing me on this very blog. I started using Struts in June 2001 (the same month 1.0 was released) and had used it successfully on many projects. Part of the reason this blog became so popular was I posted lots of tips and tricks that I learned about Struts (and its related project) while using it. After a while, the noise became too heavy to ignore it - especially after I'd tried Spring MVC. So in an effort to learn more about the the other frameworks, I submitted a talk and forced myself to learn them. It seems to have worked out pretty well.

With that being said, I think it's time for a change. The reason I originally wrote this was to educate developers on how the top Java web frameworks differed and encourage developers to try more than one. A while later, I realized there's different tools for different jobs and it's not a one-size-fits-all web framework world. It's not a component vs. request-based framework world either. There's lots of options now. When I've delivered this talk earlier this year, I've always felt like I've left quite a few frameworks out. The solution could be to add more and more frameworks. However, I don't think that's a good idea. The talk is already difficult to squeeze into 90 minutes and it's unlikely that adding more frameworks is going to help.

The change I'd like to do is to reduce the number of frameworks down to (what I consider) the top web frameworks for deploying to the JVM. What are those frameworks? IMHO, they are as follows, in no particular order:

  • GWT-Ext
  • Wicket
  • Grails
  • Flex/OpenLaszlo
  • Seam
  • Struts 2

The RIFE, Tapestry and ZK folks can start bitching now. Sorry - less frameworks make for a more interesting talk. Maybe I'll add you in the future and I can ask the audience which ones they want compared then we can choose four and go from there. Why don't I mention Spring MVC? Because I think Struts 2 is easier to learn and be productive with and I also like it's more open and active community. I've written applications with both and I like Struts 2 better. As for Flex vs. OpenLaszlo, I'm somewhat torn. It seems like learning Flex is going to be better for your career, but it's likely useless without the Flex Builder - which is not open source. However, at $250, it's likely worth its price. I know the Picnik folks used Flex for their UI - I wonder how much they used Flex Builder in the process?

What do you think? Are these the top web frameworks for JVM deployment today? The next time I give this talk is this Thursday at ApacheCon. I may try to re-write my talk and then give the audience a choice of old vs. new. The downside of doing the new talk is I won't have time to write apps with GWT, Flex or Seam. Anyone care to post their top three pros and cons for any of these frameworks?

Posted in Java at Nov 12 2007, 04:46:56 PM MST 50 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

AppFuse Light 1.8 Released

AppFuse Light 1.8 adds CSS Framework integration, as well as support for Stripes (1.4.2) and Wicket (1.2.6). It also has significant upgrades for JSF and Tapestry; to versions 1.2 and 4.1.3 respectively. See the Release Notes for more information on what's changed since the the beta release of 1.8.

What is AppFuse Light? Click here to find out.

AppFuse Light now offers 60 possible combinations for download:

  • Web Frameworks: JSF (MyFaces), Spring MVC (with Ajax, Acegi Security, JSP, FreeMarker or Velocity), Stripes, Struts 1.x, Struts 2.x, Tapestry, WebWork, Wicket
  • Persistence Frameworks: Hibernate, iBATIS, JDO (JPOX), OJB, Spring JDBC

AppFuse Light Screenshot - click on the box at the bottom right of AL to activate StyleSheet Switcher

If you have any questions about this release, please subscribe to the AppFuse user mailing list by sending a blank e-mail to users-subscribe@appfuse.dev.java.net. You can also post questions in a forum-like fashion using Nabble: http://appfuse.org/forum/user.

If you're a developer of one of the frameworks that AppFuse Light uses - I'd love a code review to make sure I'm "up to snuff" on how to use your framework. I'm also more than willing to give commit rights if you'd like to improve the implementation of your framework.

Live demos are available at:

Yes, I realize that 60 combinations is ridiculous. I didn't create the frameworks, I'm just integrating them so you don't have to. ;-)

Unfortunately, it's a real pain to create Maven archetypes or they'd all be as easy as mvn archetype:create. Rumor is that the archetype plugin will allow you to create-from-project in the future. When that happens, I'll make sure all the combinations are available as archetypes.

Posted in Java at Sep 14 2007, 11:01:46 AM MDT 2 Comments

Does Struts 2 suck?

As far as I can tell, Struts 2 sucks. To be fair, so does Stripes. Why? Because there's no developer feedback for invalid properties or OGNL Expressions. What does this mean? It means if you fat-finger a property name, nothing happens. The OGNL exception is swallowed and you never know you did anything wrong. Furthermore, no one seems to care. The XWork folks will help you build, but not solve the problem. This seems like a major deal-breaker to me, However, I also believe it can be fixed - so maybe there's hope.

To demonstrate the problem, I did an experiment. I used the "user details" page in AppFuse Light to fat-finger a property name for the following frameworks: Struts 1, WebWork, Struts 2, JSF, Spring MVC, Stripes, Tapestry and Wicket. First, I tried changing the "lastName" property to "LastName" to see if the framework's property evaluation was case-sensitive. I found that with WebWork/Struts 2, Stripes and Tapestry, the property is not case-sensitive. I prefer case-sensitivity, but maybe that's because I prefer Unix over Windows.

The 2nd thing I tried was changing "lastName" to "pastName" to see if I'd get an error. An error occurred for all the frameworks mentioned, except for WebWork/Struts 2 and Stripes. This makes me believe these frameworks suck. The both use OGNL, so they could blame it on that, but Tapestry uses OGNL and it presents an error message. After this small experiment, my conclusion is the following frameworks have the best developer feedback:

  • Struts 1
  • JSF
  • Spring MVC
  • Tapestry
  • Wicket*

* Wicket seems like it needs some work as all it presents is "Internal Error" and makes you dig through your log files to find the problem.

Without good developer feedback, how can you have good productivity?

Dear Struts 2 and Stripes Developers,

What do you think about improving your error messages for invalid properties and expressions? Is this a feature you think you could add? We'd love it if you did.

Sincerely,

Your Users

Click here for some screenshots of how a fat-fingered property looks in various frameworks:

Update: Stripes doesn't suck and Wicket has excellent error reporting. See my comment below for more details.

Update 2: I've created a patch to (hopefully) solve this issue in XWork. If you have any feedback on ways to improve this patch, I'd love to hear about it.

Posted in Java at Sep 05 2007, 11:21:57 AM MDT 39 Comments

Open Source Web Frameworks' Mailing List Traffic - June 2007

Who knows if these stats mean anything, but it does make a pretty graph. Current mailing list traffic leaders in the web framework space: Rails, Flex and GWT. For those frameworks with dev and users lists, these stats are from the users lists. If you find these numbers to be inaccurate, please let me know.

Open Source Web Frameworks Communities

Here's the numbers in case you want to create your own graphs:

  • Rails: 4056
  • Flex: 3558
  • GWT: 2305
  • Django: 1951
  • Wicket: 1718
  • Struts: 1689
  • Grails: 1307
  • MyFaces: 1283
  • Tapestry: 1268
  • TurbyGears: 797
  • Stripes: 206
  • OpenLaszlo: 189

Posted in Open Source at Jul 26 2007, 02:12:29 PM MDT 10 Comments

OSCON 2007: Comparing Java Web Frameworks

This afternoon I delivered my Comparing Java Web Frameworks talk at OSCON in Portland. I told attendees I'd post it here afterwards, so here it is:Download Comparing Java Web Frameworks Presentation (5.1 MB)

For comments on this presentation from earlier this year, see related postings from ApacheCon EU and JA-SIG. This presentation is pretty much the same as the one from ApacheCon and JA-SIG, except it has a different theme and I chopped out the Sweetspots section (due to time constraints).

Portland is great this time of year, but unfortunately I won't be sticking around. I'm heading down to Salem to work remotely for a couple of days, returning for the Oregon Brewers Festival on Friday and heading back to Denver on Saturday. I'll be glad when July is over - I've traveled to a new state every week.

Posted in Java at Jul 25 2007, 04:50:55 PM MDT 9 Comments