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.

How popular is your web framework?

From the Struts user mailing list:

Since its release in June 2001, Apache Struts has become the most popular web framework for Java. Six years later, by any objective measure, Struts is still Java's most popular web framework.

In February and March 2007, the group released both Struts 1.3.8 and Struts 2.0.6 to the general public, and Struts downloads zoomed to over 340,000 a month from the Apache site alone. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Most copies of Struts are downloaded from an network of mirrors or obtained from Maven repositories.

So how popular is Struts compared to the other heavy hitters like Spring and Hibernate? Spring has about 1/2 as many (80K) downloads in the same period and so does Hibernate. How do MyFaces, Wicket and Tapestry stack up? Here's their best download numbers in the past few months:

Sorry JSF, you appear to be losing. Badly. This is an incorrect statement as pointed out by commentors. Thanks for keeping me honest guys.

Disclaimer: Yes, I realize that these statistics are not very accurate, especially considering Maven. Unfortunately, until Maven has repository download stats, this information is the best we've got.

Posted in Java at Jul 13 2007, 11:43:29 AM MDT 27 Comments

Wicket Graduates

From the Wicket user mailing list:

We have Graduation! Apache Wicket is established as a top level project within the Apache Software Foundation.

Congratulations to the most enthusiastic and passionate web framework development team in Javaland!

Posted in Java at Jun 20 2007, 04:10:45 PM MDT 13 Comments

Help me help you (market your web framework)

Rather than trolling through google searches, mailing list archives and Amazon book searches, I'd like to try something new. For those projects represented in my Comparing Java Web Frameworks talks (MyFaces, Spring MVC, Stripes, Struts 2, Tapestry and Wicket), would you be interested in helping me gather statistics? I think by allowing projects to gather their own statistics, we'll get a more accurate number of their statistics. Here's the questions I need you to answer:

  1. How many tools (i.e. IDE plugins) are available for your web framework?
  2. How many jobs are available for your framework on Dice.com? What about Indeed.com?
  3. How many messages where posted to your user mailing list (or forum) in March 2007?
  4. How many books are available for your framework?

Of course, if you don't have time, I'll be more than happy to gather these statistics myself. However, those that do answer might get some extra marketing love during my talk. Answering in a comment or sending me an e-mail are the best ways to provide your findings. Thanks!

Update: Alastair asks for further clarification. Here goes:

> If you have lots of IDE tooling available, it probably means the configuration for the framework is overly complex and unmanageable without tooling.

While this may be true, if your framework is hot or uber productive, people want tools. Especially new developers. Remember there's a plethora of new Java developers every year and a lot of them prefer tool-based solutions. Good or bad, IDEs are nice and people like to use them. I've had many clients dismiss frameworks simply because no tools were available.

> The framework with the largest number of jobs available is probably Struts 1. Enough said.

Yes, you're definitely right. However, Struts 1 is not in this comparison - I dropped it because I don't want to recommend it to anyone.

> People only post to user lists when they are stuck. If the framework is hard to use, there will be lots of e-mails. If it has a steep learning curve, and/or the documentation is poor, this will be particularly so. On the other hand, an active list might point to a large active user base. Who knows which is which from a raw figure?

What about community? Mailing lists and their activity is a sign of an active community. Even though SiteMesh is a mature and good solution, its community sucks. There's little support, no new features, no bug fixes. An open source project w/o a community is tough for a company to adopt. Also, the best communities do a lot more than answer questions on mailing lists. They develop their applications, get advice, offer advice and sometimes even hang out. The Struts list used to have threads 30-50 messages long about development philosophies. When you joined the mailing list, you felt like you were a part of something, not just a user of a product.

> If your framework is fairly stable, and someone has written a fabulous tome on it that is universally acknowledged as "the bible", few people would bother writing another book for it.

I don't agree - this just means there's no market for other books because not that many people are using it. Look at Grails, Groovy, GWT and Rails - there's been quite a few books on each and no slowdown in sight. Then again, there weren't many Ant books and that was/is hugely popular. I'm willing to change this question to "How many good does your framework have?", but that's up to everyone's own interpretation. Again, lots of books means there's an active community outside the immediate mailing list - it's a sign the general "market" is interested and the framework fills a need.

Of course, I am interested in asking the questions that developers want to see answered. Do you have suggestions for replacement (or new) questions? Remember, people like hard facts, not wishy washy statements about how productive and OO your framework is. Every framework can be uber productive if you have the right developer(s) and they're genuinely interested in getting stuff done.

Posted in Java at Apr 26 2007, 01:58:30 PM MDT 15 Comments

AppFuse Light 1.8 Beta Released

AppFuse Light 1.8 Beta adds CSS Framework integration, as well as support for Stripes (1.4.2) and Wicket (1.2.6). This is a beta release so we can work out some kinks before the final release.

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/forums.

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:

Update: Based on Martin's blog post, I've added the version numbers for Stripes and Wicket (1.4.2 and 1.2.6, respectively). While the Wicket guys recommended I use Wicket 1.3.0, I was already knee deep in 1.2.6 when I read their recommendation. If 1.3.0 really is that much better than 1.2.6, it should be a pleasure to upgrade (and a good learning experience too boot!).

Posted in Java at Apr 26 2007, 02:23:22 AM MDT 10 Comments

Comparing Java Web Frameworks: Proposed Outline

I'm just now starting to create my Comparing Java Web Frameworks presentation for ApacheCon Europe. According to Dave, I'm way late on submitting my presentation. However, I haven't received any late notifications from ApacheCon's organizing committee, so I don't feel too bad.

I think it's interesting how most conferences don't spend much time organizing from a speaker's perspective. The Colorado Software Summit and NFJS are two exceptions. As a speaker, you always know exactly what's going on, what the deadlines are and where you're supposed to be when. With ApacheCon, I feel like I'm in the dark on almost everything - including if I have a hotel room or not. I guess that's the difference between a volunteer organization and conferences where the organizers make money.

Luckily, I've done this presentation quite a few times in the past, so it's mostly an update rather than a rewrite. The biggest changes: dropping Struts 1 and adding Stripes and Wicket. Of course, I could keep Struts 1 since it's not much additional work, but since I only have 50 minutes for the talk (10 minutes for QA), it makes sense to drop it. And yes, I know many of you'd like to see Grails, Seam, GWT, RIFE and Click added to this presentation - but no one wants to sit through a presentation on 11 web frameworks in 45 minutes.

Here's the abstract for the session:

One of the most difficult things to do (in Java web development) today is pick which web framework to use when development an application. The Apache Software foundation hosts most of the popular Java web frameworks: Struts, MyFaces, Tapestry and Wicket. This session will compare these different web frameworks, as well as Spring MVC and Stripes. It will briefly explain how each works and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Tips, tricks and gotcha's will be plentiful. Lastly, it will provide attendees with a sample application that utilizes all 6 frameworks, so they can compare line-by-line how the frameworks are different. This sample application will include the following features: sortable/pageable list, client and server-side validation, success and error messages as well as some Ajax functionality. The frameworks will be rated on how easy they make it to implement these features.

Without further ado, here's my proposed outline:

  • Introductions (5 minutes)
  • Pros and Cons (15 minutes, ~2 minutes for each)
  • Sweetspots (10 minutes)
  • Smackdown - evaluation criteria includes (15 minutes)
    • Ajax support
    • Bookmark-ability
    • Validation (including client-side)
    • Testability (esp. out-of-container)
    • Post and redirect
    • Internationalization
    • Page decoration
    • Community and Support
    • Tools
    • Marketability of skills (can it help you get a job)
    • Job count (is there a demand for skills on Dice)
  • Conclusion (5 minutes)
  • Q and A (10 minutes)

During the Pros and Cons, I won't be showing any code like I usually do - there's just not enough time. I'm also adding in a discussion on these frameworks' sweetspots. The Pros and Cons section is largely my opinion, and I think it's important to hear the framework authors' opinions as well.

In evaluation criteria, I'm dropping List screens and Spring Integration. All these frameworks have good Spring support and most support some sort of page-able/sortable list. I can add either of those back in based on your suggestions.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Posted in Java at Apr 17 2007, 09:13:22 AM MDT 8 Comments