Sunday, June 27, 2004

JSF Technology Class at JavaOne

Marty Hall's class is, so far, a great deep dive on JSF What's interesting is that in his opinion JSF competes directly with Struts. This is a shift of what I've heard early on from people like Craig McClanahan say when JSF was first released as a published spec from the JCP working group. (The new spec is in the works.) Hall's take is that compatibility with struts is kind of stretching it these are fundamentally two technologies that do the same thing and that integrating them is probably not worth the effort. Also, Hall's take is that the whole "JSF is really meant to be used by tool vendor's not coded by hand" approach is a "cop out". He went on to say, and I agree, that if a tool isn't usable by hand what much good is it integrated into an IDE. Tool vendors may likely support JSF but to say that this is the main way JSF will be utilized is disingenuous. Interestingly enough, the notion of integrating Tiles and JSF is, according to Hall, really useful notion. Overall I think JSF is a good thing. Here's why:
  • JSF configuration is simpler. It doesn't have the extra levels of indirection that are supported in Struts. This may seems like a hinderance but when your trying to debug your application and you've got to track down what is going wrong, having a simpler config helps.
  • JSF is less dependance on HTTP. It is possible to use JSF for other application paradigms such as Swing for instance. You can't abstract them away in Struts because they are baked into the primary interfaces. e.g. The execute() method in Action takes the HttpServletRequest and HttpServletResponse objects as argumenst.
  • Validation is much simpler. There are not as many predefined validators but there are enough to get started and you can always write your own.
No technology is without it's down side and I'm not sure if I'm going to convert completely to JSF but I am going to dabble and try out a small test project. My guess is that developers who've never seen Struts or JSF before will come up to speed quicker on JSF than Struts. The real issue for me is will JSF win wide adoption?


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