A complete web application requires a web framework to generate HTML pages,
receive user input, and manage the navigation flow. The consensus among most web
developers is that a Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture is the best for
web frameworks. In an MVC framework, the controller takes user input and decides
which view to show next; The view renders the HTML page for the browser; The
model encapsulates data captured from the web form and to be displayed on the
There are many web frameworks available. JavaServer Faces (JSF), is the
standard Java EE web framework . While JSF does have a leg up on the competition
by being a standards-based technology, the decision to embrace JSF over the
alternatives goes much deeper.
JSF is a well-designed and easy-to-use component-based web framework. This
component-based development model aligns perfectly with the lightweight POJO
approach we are promoting. The development model is clean and simple.
Enterprise Java developers have long embraced ORM solutions, which
automatically generate relational database access code from the data model
component in the application. JSF is the "ORM solution for the web
formed UI components.
A JSF application primarily contains two types of components -- both are easy
to use and conforming to the POJO philosophy.
A JSF page is composed of XML tags. Each tag element corresponds to a
UI component in JSF. As a web developer, you do not need to deal with the
component tags. Since each UI component is self-contained and has
well-defined behavior (i.e., it understand how to render itself and how to
handle its data), JSF provides a very POJO-like experience for developing
Dynamic data on JSF pages and forms are modeled in POJOs known as JSF
backing beans. The backing bean lifecycle is managed by the JSF server.
For instance, a backing bean can have a session scope to track a user
session. A backing bean can be dependency injected into another bean via
an XML configuration file, and it can be injected into a JSF UI component
via the JSF Expression Language (EL). The backing bean also provides the
integration points between the web UI and the EJB3 business components.
The componentized UI and POJO data model make it easy to support JSF in IDE
tools. In fact, many Java IDEs now support drag-and-drop UI designers for JSF.
The JSF component model also allows third party vendors to develop and sell
reusable UI component libraries. Those component libraries make it easy for
server-side developers to take advantage of the latest browser technology
The JSF request model is powerful and easy to extend. Technologies like
Facelets and Seam have been developed on top of JSF, providing even richer
development environments. While competing frameworks all have nice features, JSF
seems to be the easiest to extend. We expect even more innovative extensions in
the near future, clearly making JSF the framework of choice for most EE
Of course, JSF isn't without its drawbacks. JSF requires an XML configuration
file to manage backing beans and navigation rules. As we will also soon see, the
integration between JSF backing beans and EJB3 beans is not entirely smooth. In
addition, JSF usage from JSPs can get tricky at times. However, these problems
are not entirely unique to JSF. Other frameworks exhibit similar problems. The
good news is that the JSF model is advanced enough that solutions to all of the
issues have been developed.