I've started working on maintaining and enhancing a web application based on JSF 2.1 and RichFaces 3. It's already straining at the seams. Special configuration had to be made to integrate JSF 2.1 with the old RichFaces, and even so, some of the JSF features, like f:ajax tags, are unusable. In addition IE browsers have to be forced into IE8 mode to work properly, and it's not clear to me how long it will be possible to do that. I've done some research, but I'm still not sure what to recommend as an upgrade path. I could really use some thought and opinions.
RichFaces 4 is a possibility, but isn't a straightforward upgrade, and it also seems to be a dead end now that RedHat has abandoned RichFaces 5. Primefaces may be an alternative. However, I'd guess it's even less of a straightforward upgrade. At least it seems to be a going concern, so may be more future-proof. There's also JQuery UI and various plugins which might be able to take the place of the rich controls they use now. Another more exotic option might be dropping JSF entirely and using something like AngularJS. I'd actually like to try that out, but I don't know if I can sell the idea. It seems like that would mean a complete rewrite of the GUI.
The last time I saw a compatibility issue comparable to the RF3-to-RF4 conversion is was when Microsoft swapped out Visual Basic for VB.Net. I am very displeased, since Java is known for providing backwards compatibility and migration paths and RichFaces 4 provides neither. Your news on RF 5 make it look even less attractive.
At a rough guess, expect IE8 compatibility to start evaporating in February 2016. That's about when Microsoft says that they're going to cut the cord. Anyone who's working for a company that's doing new development using RichFaces 3 that cannot migrate by then should be sending out their CVs now. I certainly am.
PrimeFaces or IceFaces are probably your best bets, although there's still stuff like the Apache MyFaces and Oracle JSF stuff whose name I forget, but whose functionality is supposedly replicated in MyFaces Trinidad(?)
I wouldn't seriously consider raw jQuery, since you'd have to move out of JSF and its benefits and besides many of the JSF extensions - including RichFaces - use jQuery under the hood anyway. Might as well get the jQuery with the automated MVC/validation/error reporting/navigation.
AngularJs and similar trendy things have their adherents, but Angular has now been around long enough for its warts to become apparent.
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Yeah, sigh. I tried to upgrade to RichFaces 4 when it first came out, but not only was it difficult because of changes to tag names and attributes, but some features really didn't have any analog. This was particularly true of extended data tables, which the app was (and is) using pretty extensively. I was off the project for a couple of years, and now I'm back part time, trying to help them find a path to the future. There have been some incremental improvements to RichFaces 4 in the interim, so I guess I'll give it another whack.
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