Posted by felipegaucho
on June 9, 2008 at 3:08 AM PDT
I want to expose my J2EE business services through a robust and elegant
GUI. After visiting the GUI shop, I get a bit lost with so many options.
Following my open questions series to Jazoon'08 , I will abandon
my server roots for a moment and I will visit the the GUI programming -
a joy I usually delegate to other people but I must confess that also
has it goodies. Preparing for the conference, I am applying an extra
effort on my open source Cejug-Classifieds , a J2EE application that uses
a JAXWS SOAP WebService as business facade. You can visit our home-page
to check the complete information Cejug-Classifieds, but its main
components can be illustrated in the collaboration diagram below. I have
a EJB J2EE component that encapsulates the business logic, and I have a
set of JAXWS web-services that expose the Session Facade methods of the
EJB module in format of SOAP messages. The first two components are
under development and some features can already be tested through the
available functional tests. The problem is we don't have anyone working
on the end user GUI - the web-services client - and that's why we
decided to visit a GUI Shop.
The GUI Shop
Asking through mailing lists and reading Internet blogs, you can
find an uncountable options to produce the front-end of J2EE
applications, including different platforms - J2ME, J2SE and J2EE - and
different technologies and frameworks on each of these platforms. It is
hard to say at first sight what is better, so let's start creating some
criteria to evaluate our options. First of all I will reduce the scope
of my search to web technologies (Desktop and Mobile technologies
deserve another blog entries).
- Price: I will only check the free stuff since
my project is open source.
- SOAP 1.2 ready: the framework will consume
SOAP web-services, so it is naturall to expect some built-in feature to
communicate with soap. The minimum version that should be supported is
1.2, but a 2.0 support is a plus.
- Tooling: the selected technology should allow
the automatic build of my web-application, specially using the tools I
have at home: scripts like Ant or Maven controlled by the common IDEs
like Eclipse and Netbeans.
- Server friendly: the web technology should be
easily deployed in the most common open source servers, like Tomcat,
Glassfish and JBoss. Despite the candies offered by the server vendors,
I don't want to be locked in a server because they convinced me about
their fast development methodologies and proprietary frameworks.
After reading a lot of propaganda about web application
development frameworks, I finished with the following candidates:
- Grails : a very popular
framework supported by an enthusiastic community. The programming
language is groovy and it gets powered with the usage of some of the
large amount of available plugins. It works on top of Hibernate and
Spring, so be prepared for a lot of dependencies. Best if consumed with
Maven (IMHO). My preliminary attempts to run the helloworld proved the
weak support of the groovy language both in Eclipse and Netbeans. I
know there are paid plugins that can help, but to pay is not an option
- groovy seems to follow that lemma: simple things to solve
- jMaki : Carol McDonald was also visiting the GUI Shop and brought me an impressive introduction to fast web 2.0 development based on jMaki. Good option.
- JRuby : after few years being
promoted as the prospective replacement of Java, Ruby language was ported to JVM and
for some strange reason it was not adopted as widely as we expected.
Nevertheless, the language is available in our virtual machine and
deserves a trial. The promise of very fast development of web
applications is very attractive, but I want to verify what it offers
beyond CRUD operations.
- JSF : polemic
technology since it pushes the rendering of the view layer to the
server side. At first sight I would say it should perform worse than
its ultra-light competitors, but due to the good examples (
and excellent documentation on the web, I should include JSF as one of
- JBoss Seam : I
included seam in my shop list because the impressive demos and natural
integration of the seam web-applications and j2ee applications. The
negative point seem to be a fear about the coupling between the
framework and the JBoss server, what matches my server friendly
constraint. I need to think better about that, because I found some
interesting articles on the Internet showing Boss Seam running on
So, if we can have the full power of Seam without locking the
application in the JBoss container, it is a first class option.
- JavaFX : the
rich-client sector of the GUI Shop is full of colors and music, there
is also a big animated banner at the corner that says Applets
are back. I should confess that the idea of resurrection of my
school-time Applets is a nice dream. So I will include JavaFX and all
its open possibilities in my check list. FLEX would be another good
option, if the FLEX development tools were not paid :(
Shopping Cart - Checkout
Time to pick up a product and go home to try the new gift. As you
can notice above, there is no golden hammer in the web applications
market, but as any other buying stuff, you must select one. For today, I
will just enumerate my preference and discuss with my Jazoon pals about
that :) After the conference I plan to write a new blog entry with my
conclusions. If you ask me today, I would bet on JRuby, even more
because it comes with a nice free gift:
href='http://www.javapassion.com/rubyonrails/'>a free online course
starting on July :)
Remember: it is an open
discussion and not a formal product evaluation, it is based only on my
opinion and also on the discussion I read in my mailing lists. If you
remember some missed web-framework, please send to me and I will include
in the selection list.