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.

Equinox (a.k.a. AppFuse Light) 1.7.1 Released!

Equinox 1.7.1 contains a number of dependency updates, and not much else. This will be the last release with the Equinox name. This project is changing its name to AppFuse Light and will be referred to by that name going forward. The project will be moving its source code to http://appfuse-light.dev.java.net. The equinox.dev.java.net project will remain because Cool URIs don't change. In addition to the name change, I'd like to try to merge the AppFuse and Equinox user communities. Since the technologies are so similar, and AppFuse 2.x will use some of Equinox's Ant scripts, it makes sense to bring these projects closer together.

In AppFuse Light 1.8, I plan on adding support for Stripes and Wicket as well as integrating the CSS Framework (like AppFuse uses).

50 possible combinations are available for download:

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

All of the frameworks used in Equinox, as well as most of its build/test system is explained in Spring Live. Going forward, documentation will be put on the AppFuse site.

A summary of the changes in this release are below:

  • Removed custom JavaScript and CSS for MyFaces Tomahawk's
  • Dependent packages upgraded:
    • Ajax4JSF 1.0.6
    • Cargo 0.9
    • Commons Collections 3.2
    • Commons DBCP 1.2.2
    • Commons Lang 2.3
    • Commons Validator 1.3.1
    • DWR 2.0 RC2
    • FreeMarker 2.3.9
    • JPOX 1.1.7
    • JUnit 3.8.2
    • Hibernate 3.2.1
    • iBATIS 2.3.0
    • MyFaces and Tomahawk 1.1.5
    • Spring 2.0.4
    • Spring Modules Validation 0.8
    • Struts 2.0.6
    • Tapestry 4.1.1
    • Velocity 1.5
    • Velocity Tools 1.3
    • WebWork 2.2.5

For more information about installing the various options, see the README.txt file. Live demos (thanks to Contegix!) are available at:

If you have any questions, please read the comments from the 1.7 release or ask them on the AppFuse mailing list.

Posted in Java at Apr 21 2007, 05:27:33 PM MDT 2 Comments

Spring Web Flow and JSF

Keith Donald has a nice and long writeup on Spring Web Flow 1.0.3's stellar support for JSF:

One important area where our integration is growing is with the Java Server Faces (JSF) community. Beginning with Spring Web Flow 1.0.3, our JSF integration is on-par with what the Spring community expects, and delivers what JSF developers in the trenches need most. This blog will illustrate the integration enhancements to show you the difference Spring Web Flow is making for JSF developers.

One of the most interesting parts of the post is a few paragraphs down:

Basically, Web Flow solves every problem this pour soul experienced with JSF's basic navigation capabilities. As one of our leading users noted, Web Flow can be used as a complete replacement for JSF's default "forward-centric" navigation model.

It's also interesting to note that ideas from SWF could be incorporated into JSF 2.0:

I'd also like to take this opportunity to encourage those already using Spring Web Flow in a JSF environment to speak out about your experience?send me an email, leave a comment here, write an article on JSF central, tell leaders in the JSF community about your experience. Your real world experience can help influence the direction of the JSF 2.0 specification in a time where the specification lead has asked for community feedback. Interface21 has been extended an invitation from Ed Burns, the JSF specification lead, to be a part of the JSF 2.0 expert group, which is a recognition of Web Flow's contribution as an innovative JSF extension. We have accepted that invitation and are excited about helping channel whats proven to work in the area of navigation and state management on a general basis back into JSF 2.0, while continuing to chart new territory and remaining usable in any environment.

Are you using SWF with JSF? If so, have your experiences been good or bad? I'm sure Keith would love to hear about them either way.

I think it's interesting to note that both Interface21 and JBoss are doing a lot to build solutions to JSF's problems. Is there money to be made from supporting JSF? In reality, you have to like what both companies are doing: they're building solutions to overcome the shortcomings of JSF and they're contributing those solutions back to the community for free. Even cooler is the fact that both companies are trying to get their solutions into the next version of JSF. This benefits everyone as far as I'm concerned.

What about those of you using Spring Web Flow with Spring MVC or Struts? How is it working for you?

I recently integrated Spring Web Flow into my current project using the Spring Webflow Plugin. In the past, I've used SWF with Spring MVC and JSF, so the Struts 2 Plugin seemed a bit odd. I guess I'll know more once I start using it more.

This brings up a good question - do you think it's better to create a page flow (i.e. a shopping cart) without Spring Web Flow first, and then refactor? Or do you think it's easier to use SWF from the beginning? My gut feeling is to start w/o it because you may not need it. Then if you do need it, you'll understand the problems it solves. What are your thoughts?

Posted in Java at Apr 21 2007, 10:22:32 AM MDT 8 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

JSF still sucks?

Granted, this post about how painful JSF is is almost 6 months old, but I think it's still mostly true.

Want to compare times? More than three man-weeks have been spent fixing silly JSF navigation problems. A full CRUD AJAX interface with Spring MVC and prototype in the same project took four days, and there was no previous experience with Spring MVC.

If you're going to use JSF, I highly recommend Facelets or Shale/Seam. However, those are mentioned as well:

The default view technology is JSP, even when no one in the real world would recommend it; instead, use Facelets, or Clay, or some other non-standard framework. Not trying to be sarcastic here, since Facelets is pretty good, but this complicates the hiring and education of the team and in fact invalidates the selling point of Faces 'being a standard'.

IMO, Facelets is very easy to learn. If you know how to program JSPs with JSF, you should be able to use Facelets in under an hour. When we converted AppFuse's JSF flavor from JSP to Facelets, rarely did the body have to change - we just had to change from taglibs to XML namespaces.

When you are not working with persistent data (if you are living in a cave or developing wizard interfaces) there are two scopes to store model state: the session context, which raises concurrency issues and is not recommended by the Faces community, and the conversation/process/whatever context, which is not standard and imply installing shale or seam to put even more lipstick on the pig.

There's two problems with Shale and Facelets - the activity on these projects is very low. Shale still has its creators around, so even while its seldom used, you can probably still get your questions answered. However, Facelets seems to be suffering from "developer abandonment".

Conclusion: don't use JSF simply because it's a "standard". Use other frameworks that are more actively developed and designed for the web. For component-based frameworks, the most popular are Tapestry and Wicket. Less popular ones are RIFE and Click.

If you still want to use JSF, you should probably use Seam, but don't simply use JSF because it's a standard. If it was a de-facto standard, that'd be another story.

Of course, you could also help improve JSF 2.0. But that's not scheduled for release until late 2008. I'm sure 2 or 3 commentors will claim we'll all be using Rails or Grails by then. ;-)

Posted in Java at Apr 16 2007, 12:40:45 PM MDT 14 Comments

AppFuse 2.0 M4 Released

The AppFuse Team is pleased to announce the release of AppFuse 2.0 M4! This release marks a milestone in the usability of AppFuse 2.x. A lot of folks (including myself) have been using AppFuse 2.0 on projects and have fixed quite a few issues. In addition to polishing the tutorials, we've fixed a fair amount of i18n bugs and packaging issues with modular archetypes.

We were hoping to get AMP's code generation and XFire integrated in M4, but were it's going to have to wait until M5.

AppFuse 2.0 is available as a Maven archetype. For information on creating a new project using this release, please see the QuickStart Guide.

If you've used AppFuse 1.x, but not 2.x, you'll want to read the FAQ and join the user mailing list if you have any questions. The Maven Reference Guide has a map of Ant » Maven commands.

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

  • Java Servlet 2.4 and JavaServer Pages (JSP) 2.0
  • Java 5 for Development (Java 1.4 for deployment using the Retrotranslator Plugin)

For more information, please see the 2.0 M4 Release Notes. To see how AppFuse 2.x works, please see the video demos.

Comments and issues should be sent to the mailing list.

We appreciate the time and effort everyone has put toward contributing code and documentation, posting to the mailing lists, and logging issues. We also greatly appreciate the help from our sponsors, particularly Atlassian, Cenqua, Contegix, JetBrains, Java.net and KGBInternet. Without them, working on this project wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

Posted in Java at Mar 24 2007, 04:33:21 PM MDT 5 Comments