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Will you or will you not prefer to use a visual designer for JSF?

 
Jacky Luk
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I learn about a legacy visual designer package for netbeans called Visual Web Pack 5.5.
But it is not installable on latest versions of Netbeans anymore.
Despite the availability of such tools, will you or will you not consider making use of
such tools with your development workflow, or you would just code using a text editor directly.
Thanks
Jack
 
Tim Holloway
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What few "visual designers" for JSF that I've seen have been a big disappointment. There's one that comes with Eclipse J2EE. It's slow, the representation of elements is only approximately WYSIWYG and it has occasionally crashed outright on me. Some of that is its own fault, some, I think is because the XML editor for Eclipse has been pretty awful itself over much of its career.

We could do much better. JSF tags are descended from JavaBeans and the original bean specs were made with the idea that a gui bean designer would be part of the system. But Sun never really pushed that approach and neither did anyone else, hence the poverty of DDD (drag/drop/drool) designer tools.

 
Jack Booth
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Hi there Tim

Trying not to come off as a spammer (as this is my first post :)) , but my team is working on a Visual JSF designer.
It seems you are quite disappointed with what is currently to be found. Would you at all be interested in trying out a new product, like the one we're developing ?
If so, what OS do you use and what main JSF frameworks do you use ?
Again, apologies if I sound a bit spammy - just trying to make a better JSF visual experience :)


 
Tim Holloway
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Well, I am A) wierd and B) a Special Person (JSF forum moderator), so I'm not representative.

When I have a choice, I use Linux for my OS - it has been years since I've used Windows for anything but taxes and occasional external project support. And Eclipse for my IDE. though I've used most of the other big names plus Emacs.

At the moment I'm stuck on RichFaces 3, but that's because Red Hat/JBoss made it too expensive to upgrade to RichFaces 4. Because of that. I may end up shifting to a more modern competitor at some point. What's especially odious about RF3 aside from the fact that it's a major effort to upgrade is that it doesn't (and never will) support any version of Internet Explorer later than version 8. But that's just me venting (again!)

The original idea for JavaBeans was that they could support UI helper functions so that a GUI-based bean designer could render them more accurately. Nobody really used this, alas, but the feature is there and one of the biggest issues I've seen with JSF WSYIWYG dessigners has been that they weren't sufficiently aware of how they'd render. Complicated by the fact that now we also have CSS to contend with. Also, while the original JSP tags that started off JSF were JavaBeans, I'm not as certain about the JSF2 tags. But that's just me idly speculating.

We don't have a hard rule about commercial statements at the Ranch, other than if it's blatant advertising - well, we have a forum for that. Spamming is another matter, and that can get you shut down, but we don't have problems with people who want feedback about their products or product ideas, want to make an announcement or want to provide in-forum help for their product (as long as it's the appropriate forum!) All we ask is that you don't go overboard.
 
Jack Booth
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Well, I think that taking on a task such as implementing the JSF visual designer right - when all these major players kind of failed, makes me and my team look a bit weird too, right :) ?

I do nevertheless fully agree with your earlier comment that visual JSF can be implemented much better than what we currently have. Since you mentioned RichFaces - and just to be fair, I should mention that my team has zero experience with this specific framework, I was not aware that upgrading RichFaces framework version was such a major trouble? Is the framework somehow vertically integrated with JBoss which complicates version upgrades ? That does sound like a lot of trouble.

I kind of (on a very personal/emotional/irrational plane) disagree with your stance regarding the importance of supporting IE versions lower than IE 8, because I harbor a lot of negative feelings for IE family, especially the infamous version no. 6.
We (as in, "we the programmers" :) ) always had to come up with some work-arounds for IE 6, no matter what technology/language one used). So I in some way understand the framework designers in that regard and would from an emotional point of view like that all of those older non-compatible IEs just magically disappear.

But emotions have no place in the business world, so we did actually build in the requirement to support older (non-standard) versions of IE into our roadmap.
Otherwise, the product would be rendered unusable for a lot of the developers and this would practically defeat it's core purpose.

 
Tim Holloway
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When I say I'm wierd, I mean what I want very well may not be what the majority of customers want.

The issues with JBoss are that:

A) JBoss Richfaces 3 (according to explicit statement by JBoss Red Hat) is never going to be upgraded to work properly with Internet Explorer versions 9 and above. There are certain conflicts in how IE handles JavaScript that vary with the IE release, and they don't wish to accomodate. The best you can do is include an IE8 meta tag in your rendered output and thus force the browser back to IE8 mode.

B) JBoss, like its competitors, featured things like AJAX support that were not part of JSF version 1, but were added in JSF version 2. JBoss 4 was redesigned to work with those changes. Additionally, they cleaned up some of their own internal inconsistencies. So far, so good. However, they did not provide backwards compatibility to JBoss 3.

Backwards compatibility/deprecation is one of the things that distinguishes the Java world from the Microsoft world. I can tell you some real horror stories about what happens when you have an old Microsoft C app and and an emergency fix where a 1-line code change required hunting down and installing an obsolete development system and its patches.

Thus, you cannot do a gradual migration from RF3 to RF4. It's an all-or-nothing thing and the differences are about the same level of magnitude as the old VB6-to-VB.Net conversion debacle. Par for the course for the Windows world, but not what we've come to expect for Java.

Magnanimously, JBoss has offered their services - for a fee - to do the job for you, but if you don't have the budget and/or time, you're in trouble.
 
Jack Booth
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I see now what you mean.

I guess one very neglected area in frameworks' development in general - is the sometimes not well understood the users' need for backwards compatibility. This comes not only with frameworks, but also when it comes to operating systems, app servers as well.

After all, most of the customers don't want to keep upgrading their software or operating systems with every new release. I can fully relate to the Microsoft Windows C program example, as I too have developed Windows applications in C with Win32 API in the (far away) past. So I remember well all of the trouble that would occur. And the one thing that the customers really hate is if you lock them into a specific version of your OS/framework/AS and then practically extort money from them with the so-called "service offering".

It may work once, but it is such a bad long-term business practice, and will most certainly lead to deteriorating user base.
 
Tim Holloway
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Well, actually, that's one of the strengths of Java. Not so much on the "planned obsolescence" score, but in that you can take an old project that nobody's touched in years and do an emergency code fix using the current compilers and tools. Because Java comes with a deprecation mechanism allowing old software to degrade gracefully.

And that's why I'm so annoyed with JBoss. Because they didn't honor that paradigm.
 
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