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Using Spring Faces Module

The following section shows you how to use the Spring Faces module.

Overview of all tags of the Spring Faces tag library

The Spring Faces module comes with a set of components, which are provided through a tag library. If you want more detailed information about the tag library, look at the following files inside the Spring Faces source distribution:

  • spring-faces/src/main/resources/META-INF/spring-faces.tld
  • spring-faces/src/main/resources/META-INF/springfaces.taglib.xml
  • spring-faces/src/main/resources/META-INF/faces-config.xml

If you want to see the source code of a specific tag, refer to faces-config.xml and springfaces.taglib.xml to get the name of the class of the component. The spring-faces.tld file can be used for documentation issues.

The following table should give you a short description about the available tags from the Spring Faces component library:

Name of the tag Description
includeStyles The includeStyles tag renders the necessary CSS stylesheets which are essential for the components from Spring Faces. The usage of this tag in the head section is recommended for performance optimization. If the tag isn’t included, the necessary stylesheets are rendered on the first usage of the tag. If you are using a template for your pages, it’s a good pattern to include the tag in the header of that template.

For more information about performance optimization, refer to the Yahoo performance guidelines, which are available at the following URL: http://developer.yahoo.com/performance. Some tags (includeStyles, resource, and resourceGroup) of the Spring Faces tag library are implementing patterns to optimize the performance on client side.

resource The resource tag loads and renders a resource with ResourceServlet. You should prefer this tag instead of directly including a CSS stylesheet or a JavaScript file because ResourceServlet sets the proper response headers for caching the resource file.
resourceGroup With the resourceGroup tag, it is possible to combine all resources which are inside the tag. It is important that all resources are the same type. The tag uses ResourceServlet with the appended parameter to create one resource file which is sent to the client.
clientTextValidator With the clientTextValidator tag, you can validate a child inputText element. For the validation, you have an attribute called regExp where you can provide a regular expression. The validation is done on client side.
clientNumberValidator With the clientNumberValidator tag, you can validate a child inputText element. With the provided validation methods, you can check whether the text is a number and check some properties for the number, e.g. range. The validation is done on client side.
clientCurrencyValidator With the clientCurrencyValidator tag, you can validate a child inputText element. This tag should be used if you want to validate a currency. The validation is done on client side.
clientDateValidator With the clientDateValidator tag, you can validate a child inputText element. The tag should be used to validate a date. The field displays a pop-up calendar. The validation is done on client side.
validateAllOnClick With the validateAllOnClick tag, you can execute all client-side validation on the click of a specific element. That can be useful for a submit button.
commandButton With the commandButton tag, it is possible to execute an arbitrary method on an instance. The method itself has to be a public method with no parameters and a java.lang.Object instance as the return value.
commandLink The commandLink tag renders an AJAX link. With the processIds attribute, you can provide the ids of components which should be processed through the process.
ajaxEvent The ajaxEvent tag creates a JavaScript event listener. This tag should only be used if you can ensure that the client has JavaScript enabled.

A complete example

After we have shown the main configuration elements and described the Spring Faces components, the following section shows a complete example in order to get a good understanding about how to work with the Spring Faces module in your own web application.

The following diagram shows the screen of the sample application. With the shown screen, it is possible to create a new issue and save it to the bug database.

It is not part of this example to describe the bug database or to describe how to work with databases in general. The sample uses the model classes.

Using Spring Faces

The diagram has three required fields. These fields are:

  • Name: The name of the issue
  • Description: A short description for the issue
  • Fix until: The fixing date for the issue

Additionally, there are the following two buttons:

  • store: With a click on the store button, the system tries to create a new issue that includes the provided information
  • cancel: With a click on the cancel button, the system ignores the data which is entered and navigates to the overview page.

Now, the first step is to create the implementation of that input page. That implementation and its description are shown in the section below.

Creating the input page

As we described above, we use Facelets as a view handler technology. Therefore, the pages have to be defined with XHTML, with .xhtml as the file extension. The name for the input page will be add.xhtml.

For the description, we separate the page into the following five parts:

  • Header
  • Name
  • Description
  • Fix until
  • The Buttons

This separation is shown in the diagram below:

Using Spring Faces

The Header part

The first step in the header is to define that we have an XHTML page. This is done through the definition of the correct doctype.

An XHTML page is described as an XML page. If you want to use special tags inside the XML page, you have to define a namespace for that. For a page with Facelets and Spring Faces, we have to define more than one namespace. The following table describes those namespaces:

Namespace Description
http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml The namespace for XHTML itself.
http:// java.sun.com/jsf/facelets The Facelet defines some components (tags). These components are available under this namespace.
http://java.sun.com/jsf/html The user interface components of JSF are available under this namespace.
http://java.sun.com/jsf/core The core tags of JSF, for example converter, can be accessed under this namespace.
http://www.springframework.org/tags/faces The namespace for the Spring Faces

component library.

For the header definition, we use the composition component of the Facelets components. With that component, it is possible to define a template for the layout. This is very similar to the previously mentioned Tiles framework. The following code snippet shows you the second part (after the doctype) of the header definition:

A description and overview of the JSF tags is available at: http://developers.sun.com/jscreator/archive/learning/bookshelf/pearson/corejsf/standard_jsf_tags.pdf.


With the help of the template attribute, we refer to the used layout template. In our example, we refer to /WEB-INF/layouts/standard.xhtml.

The following code shows the complete layout file standard.xhtml. This layout file is also described with the Facelets technology. Therefore, it is possible to use Facelets components inside that page, too. Additionally, we use Spring Faces components inside that layout page.




The Name part

The first element in the input page is the section for the input of the name. For the description of that section, we use elements from the JSF component library. We access this library with h as the prefix, which we have defined in the header section. For the general layout, we use standard HTML elements, such as the div element. The definition is shown below.


The Description part

The next element in the page is the Description element. The definition is very similar to the Name part. Instead of the definition of the Name part, we use the element description inside the h:inputText element—the required attribute with true as its value. This attribute tells the JSF system that the issue.description value is mandatory. If the user does not enter a value, the validation fails.


The Fix until part

The last input section is the Fix until part. This field is a very common field in web applications, because there is often the need to input a date. Internally, a date is often represented through an instance of the java.util.Date class. The text which is entered by the user has to be validated and converted in order to get a valid instance. To help the user with the input, a calendar for the input is often used. The Spring Faces library offers a component which shows a calendar and adds client-side validation. The complete definition of the Fix until part is shown below. The name of the component is clientDateValidator. The clientDateValidator component is used with sf as the prefix. This prefix is defined in the namespace definition in the shown header of the add.xhtml page.

Fix until:
insert a correct fixing date. format: dd.MM.yyyy"
promptMessage="Format: dd.MM.yyyy, example: 01.01.2020">

In the example above, we use the promptMessage attribute to help the user with the format. The message is shown when the user sets the cursor on the input element.

Using Spring Faces

If the validation fails, the message of the invalidMessage attribute is used to show the user that a wrong formatted input has been entered.

The Buttons part

The last element in the page are the buttons. For these buttons, the commandButton component from Spring Faces is used. The definition is shown below:

It is worth mentioning that JavaServer Faces binds an action to the action method of a backing bean. Spring Web Flow binds the action to events.

Handling of errors

It’s possible to have validation on the client side or on the server side. For the Fix until element, we use the previously mentioned clientDateValidator component of the Spring Faces library. The following figure shows how this component shows the error message to the user:

Using Spring Faces

Reflecting the actions of the buttons into the flow definition file

Clicking the buttons executes an action that has a transition as the result. The name of the action is expressed in the action attribute of the button component which is implemented as commandButton from the Spring Faces component library. If you click on the store button, the validation is executed first. If you want to prevent that validation, you have to use the bind attribute and set it to false. This feature is used for the cancel button, because in this state it is necessary to ignore the inputs.

Showing the results

To test the implemented feature, we implement an overview page. We have the choice to implement the page as a flow with one view state or implement it as a simple JSF view. Independent from that choice, we will use Facelets to implement that overview page, because Facelets does not depend on the Spring Web Flow Framework as it is a feature of JSF.

The example uses a table to show the entered issues. If no issue is entered, a message is shown to the user. The figure below shows this table with one row of data. The Id is a URL. If you click on this link, the input page is shown with the data of that issue. With data, we execute an update. The indicator for that is the valid ID of the issue.

Using Spring Faces

If your data is available, the No issues in database message is shown to the user. This is done with a condition on the outputText component. See the code snippet below:

For the table, we use the dataTable component.

rendered="#{not empty issueList}" border="1"> Id#{issue.id} Name #{issue.name} fix until #{issue.fixingDate} creation date #{issue.creationDate} last modified #{issue.lastModified}

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