RealTime IT News

JSF Called a Misunderstood Standard

The primary creator of Apache Jakarta Project's Struts and co-specification lead for Java Specification Request (JSR) 127 said confusion over the role of JavaServer Faces (JSF) is clouding its role for the Java development community.

A standard for Web application development with visual components such as buttons, frames and radio buttons, JSR-127 was never intended as an out-of-the-box development tool. But judging from the negative reaction of some programmers so far, that's what they were expecting.

Craig McClanahan told internetnews.com that many programmers were expecting a working implementation of a framework that lets coders create Web applications using visual components. Instead, they got a specification that runs underneath the framework to allow portability between different tools.

To date, programmers have grown used to using tools, or frameworks by third-party software vendors, with their projects.

The problem with these different frameworks, McClanahan said, is that each one uses its own application program interface (API) , creating a fragmented base for interoperability between the vendors.

"We were faced with having too many APIs for tools to give high-quality support in any of them," he said. "So even though one framework might have a really nice framework environment, it's unique to that tool and the knowledge that a user needs isn't portable when they cross to a different tool or environment."

Another misconception, McClanahan said, is that JSF is a little too cozy with JavaServer Pages (JSP), the Sun initiative to create dynamically-generated Web pages that compile programs on a server, called servlets . Servlets, however don't require JSP as a medium for presenting information on a Web page.

"When you run into people that don't like JSP, for whatever reason, is they may not look under the cover; JSF does not require JSP, the APIs are a standard JavaBean (set) of APIs that you can use with any user interface technology you want," he said. "(However), we recognize that JSP is obviously so popular that we had to support it out-of-the-box as a standard, but that's not the only way to go."

Dennis McNeil, JSF senior product manager at Sun Microsystems , said that while the new specification can be downloaded and used by individual programmers, it's really intended for tools vendors to incorporate in their existing products. That's where people will discover the benefits of the new JSR, he said, even though they won't see it because it's working behind the scenes.

"When the tool vendors adopt (JSR-127), I think they're in for a pleasant surprise," he told internetnews.com. "People are very used to the framework they are already using, the problem is they don't have the same standards to rely upon."

McNeil expects the first JSR-127 compliant frameworks to start showing up the end of June during the JavaOne Conference in San Francisco.