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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.

Dojo/Comet support in Java Web Frameworks

Dojo Logo This week I'm doing a research project for a client. The main purpose of the project is to find out which Java-based web framework works best with Dojo and Comet. Here's the key requirement from the client:

It's all about Comet, we want Comet everywhere we can put it, but we want to isolate the icky bits of fiddling with pages with JavaScript. We're kind of wed to the Dojo implementation of the client-side bit, so we may as well use more of the Dojo widgets for a richer UI. For us, "works best with" needs to pay a certain amount of consideration to "fits naturally with", if you understand what I mean. I know that any framework that lets you spit out raw HTML will let you hand code in your Dojo / Comet, but that's certain to become very tiresome very quickly.

The candidate frameworks they asked me to look at are Wicket and Tapestry 5. They're willing to upgrade to Struts 2 since they're already using Struts 1. However, they don't feel that action-based frameworks naturally lead to rich UIs, so they'd prefer a component-based framework. They're currently using Seam for an administration-type application and feel it's too heavy for their customer-facing application.

Here's what I've found so far in my research. Please let me know if anything is incorrect.

  • Tapestry 5 doesn't have Dojo or Comet support (Prototype and Scriptaculous are the baked-in Ajax frameworks).
  • Struts 2 has old (version 0.4.3) and somewhat deprecated Dojo support. The developers seem to be in favor of removing it and promoting people hand-code Dojo instead. Struts 2 doesn't have support for Comet.
  • Wicket has support for Dojo 1.1 that includes Comet support. This was written by Stefan Fußenegger and posted to the mailing list last month. I e-mailed Stefan and asked him about documentation. His response: "I lost my ambition to document it properly since I didn't receive any feedback on the mailing list. :)"

At this point, it seems that if the client really wants to use Dojo, they should use Wicket, and possibly pay Stefan to document it properly. However, they're willing to consider other options, as long as they have Comet support.

One option I thought of is to use DWR and its Reverse Ajax/Comet support. Another option would be to add better Dojo support to Tapestry 5. However, I don't think this is possible since the Prototype/Scriptaculous code is generated by the framework and would likely require a changes to switch it to Dojo.

Are there any other Java-based web frameworks that support easily creating Dojo widgets and working with Comet? Keith Donald tweeted that Spring MVC has Dojo support. However, I believe it's only for widgets and it still requires you to write JavaScript. If your framework doesn't have Dojo/Comet support, how hard would it be to add it?

Update: I also posted this question on LinkedIn. Make sure and check my question for additional thoughts from folks.

Posted in Java at Dec 18 2008, 03:58:37 PM MST 19 Comments