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What is AppFuse

After spending some time on the AppFuse IRC, it is apparent there is some confusion about what exactly AppFuse is. This page is an attempt to better explain that question.

Short Version

AppFuse is a Framework
This is sort of the 10,000 foot view of what AppFuse is. It is a structure in which web applications of a variety of types and sizes are created.

AppFuse is a Directory Structure
One of many features of AppFuse is the way it logically separates code into its appropriate locations based on function. Persistence code belongs in src/dao/, manager code in src/service/, controller code in src/web/ and of cource testing code in test/**/.

AppFuse is a Build File
The build.xml file makes for a nice way to create, build, test, package, deploy webapps. It also nicely handles changing dependancies and maintaining properties that may be different in development than in production.

AppFuse is a Sample Application
AppFuse is an example of how to use and integrate many Java technologies while following best practices. There are examples of how to do everything from performing CRUD opperations from your view all the way to the persistence layer to adding a filter to your webapp. Because the common things that are needed in basically all web applications are already in AppFuse, you will only need to figure out how to do the parts that make your webapp unique.

Long Version

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. I originally developed it to eliminate the ramp-up time I often 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. When you create a project with AppFuse, it prompts you for the open source frameworks you'd like to use and then creates your project. It uses Ant to drive testing, code generation, compilation, and deployment. It provides your directory and package structure, as well as the libraries you'll need to develop a Java language-based Web application.

Unlike the products of most "new project" wizards, AppFuse-created projects contain a number of classes and files from the very beginning. These files are used to implement features, but they also serve as examples for you when you're developing your application. By using AppFuse to start new projects, it's possible to eliminate the usual first week or two of development time. You don't have to worry about configuring open source frameworks together because that's already done for you. Your project is preconfigured to talk to a database, deploy in an application server, and authenticate users. There's no need for you to implement security features because they're already integrated.

When I first developed AppFuse, it only supported Struts and Hibernate. Over the years, I've found better Web frameworks than Struts, so I added options for them as well. Today, AppFuse supports Hibernate or iBATIS as persistence frameworks. For the Web framework, you can use JavaServer Faces (JSF), Spring MVC, Struts, Tapestry, or WebWork.

AppFuse comes out of the box with features that many applications need, including:

  • Authentication and authorization
  • User management
  • Remember Me (which saves your login information so you don't have to log in every time)
  • Password reminder
  • Signup and registration
  • SSL switching
  • E-mail
  • URL rewriting
  • Skinability
  • Page decoration
  • Templated layout
  • File upload

This out-of-the-box functionality is one of the main things that separate AppFuse from the other CRUD generation frameworks (from create, retrieve, update and delete), including Ruby on Rails, Trails, and Grails. The aforementioned frameworks, as well as AppFuse, allow you to generate master/detail pages from database tables or existing model objects.

Figure 1 illustrates the conceptual design of a typical AppFuse application. Read more in Seven simple reasons to use AppFuse.

Figure 1. Typical AppFuse application
Typical AppFuse application

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This page last changed on 06-Nov-2006 13:52:59 MST by MattRaible.