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Server side web application framework (suggestions needed)

 
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We need to choose a web application framework to build a potentially large web application from scratch. While evaluating some of them, I came across Vaadin framework and I proposed it to my co-workers. Vaadin is based upon GWT, looks great, and me and my colleagues are excited at the idea we can build a web application programming only the server side using Java, and let the framework do the rest of the client-side work for us. After initial enthusiasm, I started wondering - as usual - if the approach followed by frameworks like GWT - roughly speaking, taking a GUI written in Java and translating it in JavaScript + HTML - makes still sense nowadays, or if it's something which belongs to the past and you should avoid when dealing with new projects. Similarly, I had a look at Eclipse RAP framework, it seems really good but ... smells like old stuff forgotten in a cellar for a long time (really sorry to say that) expecially if I think of the trend in modern web application programming, which seemes to have abandoned Java or .NET in favour of javascript or other scripting languages frameworks.
Can anyone help me please, maybe sharing his or her own experiences ?



 
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Well, I haven't worked on Vaadin, but my experience with pure GWT was good, I have also worked for a while on GXT and it too is a good framework based on GWT.

While GWT needed you to understand what was happening in HTML and had you to get your hands on CSS and similar, GXT keeps you away from it.
 
Claude Moore
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Thanks for sharing your experience. And sorry for the delay on answering you.
 
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If you are looking for "modern", GWT/Vaadin or any of the server-side templating engines aren't it. "Modern" is a RESTful API fronted by a JavaScript SPA powered by something like AngularJS.

That's not to say "modern" is the only criteria. You need to judge things against your project requirements and the capabilities of the project team.
 
Claude Moore
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I understand your point of view, Bear, and I think that you're basically right. GWT - or other server-side web component frameworks, build on GWT or not - is an approach one should follow when has got really good reasons to do so: for example, if his or her team has not enough deep web programming skills to survive a big project, and there's no time (or money, as sometimes happens) to train people in technologies they don't know.

Anyway I think that GWT approach isn't bad by itself, as long as one views it as an efford to use a single language for both server and web client side, and use that language as a meta-language to generate web artifacts (html pages, scripts, css).
In order to do anything more complex than a simple web form, you need to know HTML, Javascript, CSS, at least JQuery and a framework like Angular. It's quite a large bag of skills, isn't it ? I don't blame GWT for trying to alleviate programmers' work relying only on a single language.
 
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