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From Craig McClanahan <>
Subject Re: Theoretical debate
Date Fri, 09 Jul 2004 06:24:54 GMT
Mike Duffy wrote:

>One aspect of JSF which I find troubling is, "With JSF, the component model takes care
of all the
>responsibilities that Struts uses an ActionForm form, so you don't need one any more."
>Most of the JSF examples I've studied use method (2) from Craig's list below: "You can
>component *values* directly to properties in your backing bean, and then provide the business
>logic as action methods in the same class."  As an example of this approach see, Developing
>Interfaces with JSF,
>IMHO, mixing business logic in the backing bean is not a great design. I like the clean
>provided by the Struts action class. 
>Method (3) from Craig's list below seems like a viable solution: "You can bind component
>directly to properties on a VO/DTO object, and bind action events to methods on a separate
>that will either perform the logic directly or delegate to a business logic class."
>I've read most of the major articles on JSF.  I have not seen method (3) implemented as
>example.  Does anyone have a link that they can send showing the implementation of method
>Does anyone know if there will be a reference implementation for JSF using method (3)?
 I think it
>would increase the acceptance of JSF in the Struts community if such a reference implementation
>was available.
I don't have any JSF-specific examples to point to (JSF is too new for 
that), but the basic principle is pretty obvious:  if you were going to 
create a type (2) application, simply create a type (3) application 
instead.  If you've "cheated" on the separation of concerns issues in 
your existing app, this is going to seem harder.  If you have existing 
VO/DTO objects, the path is relatively simple:  use a value binding 
expression on the "value" attribute of your input components to bind 
directly to the model property expressed by your VO/DTO object.  For 
example, assume that you have an integer property named "count" on your 
VO/DTO object.  In the past, Struts would encourage you to create a 
Strring property on your form bean, to deal with the fact that users 
might actually type "1a3" instead of "123" in this field.  JSF deals 
with that sort of issue for you, so that you can safely bind the "value" 
attribute" of your input component directly to an int property of your 
VO/DTO bean ... no muss, no fuss.  JSF takes care of conversion 
problems, and redisplay in case of conversion errors, for you.

As a trivial example, assume you have a bean "mybean" that has an 
input/output int property named "mycount" that you want to render in a 
JSF-based JSP page.  It is trivially simple:

  <h:inputText ... value="#{mybean.count}"/>

works fine.  The String->int and int->String conversions (including any 
errors that occur) are handled totally by JSF.  Your business logic can 
assume that, if was invoked, there were no conversion or validation errors.


>--- Craig McClanahan <> wrote:
>>Hookom, Jacob wrote:
>>>Look at JSF, do you have actions? No, JSF just updates your POJO beans and
>>>calls methods on them.  Why have an ActionForm or have to create all of
>>>these Actions that are simply getter/setter adapters?  Please don't be too
>>>quick to retort to my supposed anti-struts mindset, but there are other
>>>frameworks out there that allow direct interaction with my business objects
>>>and don't require a heck of a lot of framework specific coding.
>>(Coming into this discussion late, but figured that my experience on 
>>both the Struts and JSF side of things might provide some illuminating 
>>food for thought :-)
>>It's instructive, first, to go back to the beginning of Struts 
>>development (just over four years ago), and recall why an ActionForm 
>>exists in the first place.  The only reason we created that abstraction 
>>was to deal with some pesky real world problems in designing webapps ... 
>>primarily dealing with conversion (where we really punted ... see 
>>below), validation, and little things like maintaining the state of 
>>checkboxes.  Because Struts doesn't have any "user interface component" 
>>concept, dealing with those things had to go somewhere -- and a common 
>>abstraction at least made it easy to understand.
>>Therefore, the recommended design pattern for a Struts based app becomes:
>>- An ActionForm per input <form>, normally with
>>  String-based properties (so you can redisplay
>>  invalid input the way users expect you to).
>>- A set of validation rules that are applied for you
>>  on the server side, and optionally also on the
>>  client side.
>>- If a validation error occurs, Struts takes care
>>  of redisplaying the page (with error messages)
>>- If validation succeeds,  the application Action
>>  is responsibe for performing conversions of the
>>  String valued things in the ActionForm to match
>>  the underlying model data types, typically by
>>  copying them in to DTO/VO type objects and
>>  passing them to business logic (although, as others
>>  have pointed out, lots of Struts developers have
>>  skipped this extra layer).
>>With JSF, the component model takes care of all the responsibilities 
>>that Struts uses an ActionForm for, so you don't need one any more.  
>>Indeed, I anticipate people will choose one or more (they aren't 
>>mutually exclusive) of at least three different styles for building 
>>JSF-based webapps:
>>(1) You can bind individual *components* to backing bean properties,
>>     similar to how ASP.Net "code behind files" work.  This will
>>     be most comfortable to VB developers, and is useful when
>>     you need to programmatically modify component properties.
>>(2) You can bind component *values* directly to properties in your
>>     backing bean, and then provide the business logic as action methods
>>     in the same class.  Because the components take care of conversion,
>>     you're free to use model-oriented data types for such properties,
>>     so you don't need to worry about explicit conversion any more.
>>     This style will appear to Struts developers like a combination of an
>>     Action and an ActionForm in the same class, and will also appeal to
>>     the crowd that likes O-O encapsulation :-).
>>(3) You can bind component *values* directly to properties on a VO/DTO
>>     object, and bind action events to methods on a separate bean that will
>>     either perform the logic directly or delegate to a business logic 
>>     This style will feel more like traditional Struts separated 
>>ActionForm and
>>     Action classes, but the Action won't have as much to do.  It's also 
>>a great
>>     way to build a webapp on top of existing application infrastructure 
>>     provides resuabe VO/DTO and business logic classes already.
>>I believe that all three approaches are valid -- which one you take for 
>>a particular application function depends on your use case for that 
>>function.  You don't have to be exclusive, either.  Combine them where 
>>it makes sense.
>>Craig McClanahan
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