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Manning's Struts in Action 163

Posted by timothy
from the truss-and-beam dept.
cpfeifer writes "Building browser-based java applications has involved a mixed bag of server side technologies (servlets, JSPs), client side technologies (HTML, Javascript) and frameworks (webmacro, Struts, Taglibs, Velocity). As these technologies appeared and matured, "The Right Way" (tm) to build web applications evolved to be an application of the classic model-view-controller pattern." Below is Craig's review of Struts in Action, a book which attempts to illustrate a successful path to making sure that web applications are designed the right way.
Struts in Action
author Husted, Dumoulin, Franciscus, Winterfeldt
pages 630
publisher Manning
rating (11/10) it goes to 11
reviewer Craig Pfeifer
ISBN 1930110502
summary More than just a book about how to use the Struts framework, covers the best practices of web application design and development. If you are building a java web application of any appreciable size, YOU NEED THIS BOOK.

What's Needed

So it is generally acknowledged that using the MVC pattern is the proper way to build web applications, but with the large number of technologies and frameworks it can be a long road to figure what is the best solution for your application. What we need is a book that covers the best practices of web application design and development from both a technology/architecture perspective, and is written by a few folks who have deep understanding of the underlying problems of building robust web applications.

That's what I love the most about this book, it doesn't just talk about how to configure and develop with Struts. It's a web application manifesto. Anyone can write a book about how to use Struts to build a web application. That's not the point. This book is ~8 people-years worth of first-hend developer knowledge (4 authors x ~2 years of working on the Struts project) condensed down into 630 pages. It doesn't just teach you how to use Struts (and Velocity and Taglibs and Tiles), but why you should use them. That's the most important thing this book has to offer. If your project is looking at using Struts & other Jakarta technologies, you need this book. If your project is currently using Struts & other Jakarta technologies, you need this book.

What's Bad?

The Velocity coverage is pretty light. If you are more comfortable building logic with a quasi-shell script language instead of using markup tags, then you should look to the project's documentation for further reference before embarking on a prototype. The Jakarta Lucene project, is touched on in the sample application they build, but are left as an exercise for the reader to investigate. While it's good to bring in related technologies to flesh out your sample apps, you have to be careful not to get sidetracked from the primary topic. You could easily write several books about the other components developed by the Jakarta project.

What's Good?

The best part is that the 4 authors are all Struts authorities (one Jakarta project manager, 2 Struts committers, one principal consultant), so they know Struts and the other Jakarta web frameworks inside and out. More than that, these guys have been solving the problems involved with web applications for several years now. They have deep experience in the patterns and best practices of building robust and flexible web applications, and this book passes on their experiences to the reader.

So What's In It For Me?

With this book and a little bit of effort on your part, you will be a competent Java web application developer. With a little bit more effort, you will become a Java web application architect. It's worth the extra effort. This is a tremendous book that will set the standard for web application references and will continue to be useful for years to come. It reminds me of the first Manning book I read, Neward's Server-Based Java Programming in terms of it's scope. approach and usefulness.


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Manning's Struts in Action

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  • by cjustus (601772) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:51AM (#4801750) Homepage
    Am I one of the first to follow up? Sweet

    People considering using structs might want to take a look (as you always should) at alternate technologies... The one I might suggest would be Tapestry [sourceforge.net] with IDE integration with Eclipse through Spindle [sourceforge.net].

    • Are you serious? I found Tapestry to be the worst framework I've ever used. When developing with it, I constantly felt as if I had to fight the tool to get anything done. I don't see how Tapestry provides anything that Struts and custom tags do not.

      I realize that, coming from a MVC background (SmallTalk gui, Swing, and Struts), any component-based framework would require some mental adjustment, but I thought Tapestry was very counterintuitive. Perhaps the Eclipse plugin does all the plumbing for you, but if you need an IDE to make Tapestry usable, there is probably something wrong with the underlying model.

      OTOH, if you find Tapestry easy to understand, go for it. Your brain must work quite differently than mine. :-)
      • I have to disagree completely.

        If you come from a Swing background, Tapestry is way more intuitive than Struts. You have components in both, and building your gui involves putting components in components, and finally into a frame (Swing) or a page (Tapestry). You don't have to care about how the JTable (Swing) or Table (Tapestry) components are implemented, you just follow the API and use them. I really don't see the similarity between this and JSP or Struts.

        I think Tapestry is the only free Java framework out there that actually allows you to really build components rather than pages (as it is in most of the rest). You can build a component to edit the user preferences, for example, and it really does not matter which page or another component you put it in, how you put it in, and what the layout is. It IS Swing for the web.

        It also has a lot of other things that are worth using, but for those check the Tapestry home page [sf.net].

      • You obviously spent about 6 minutes looking at tapestry. Using struts and tapestry extensively, I would definitely say that tapestry is much more mature. The whole point of web MVC frameworks to separate business logic from html. Every complex struts application I've every worked required scriptlet turds everywhere to get around the bentness of struts.
        • It would be just as fair for me to say you've obviously spent about 6 minutes working with Struts. If there are a lot of scriptlets in the JSPs, something was designed poorly, and it isn't necessarily the framework. Any business logic should be in the action classes. Complex presentation logic should be in custom tags, which can accept parameters; they make very nice reusable components.

          FWIW, I spend several weeks using Tapestry. I will admit, the bulk of my MVC experience is with Struts and not so much Swing or SmallTalk. Tapestry was definitely not my bag.
      • That's strange, for me Tapestry is extremely natural, and you can accomplish a lot using very light touch.

        Despite authoring Tapestry, I get to work with Struts (on a truly massive project) every day, and really hate it with a passion.

        We are addressing some issues with adopting Tapestry ... these are being developed right now as "Tapestry Lite" and will appear in the 2.4 release. You'll be able to get simple applications up and running much easier (no app spec, no page spec, just the HTML page with funky attributes in some tags) and transition at your own pace to more traditional Tapestry or whatever mix is appropriate for your project. We're making the cost of entry to Tapestry low ... lower than JSPs, lower than Struts.

        What handicaps most developers from other systems is that they try to map page-and-action development (Struts, particularily, or any other servlets and JSP) to Tapestry, which doesn't work. Apples and oranges.

        Tapestry is about components, working together. The framework provides the basic services that allow you to build components of arbitrary complexity and hook them together easily while subtracting out loads of complexity.

        Tapestry is doing all the busy work ... moving properties around, providing names for forms and form fields, validating input, processing requests, building URLs ... what you end up providing is the raw HTML templates, specifications to configure components, and small classes with short listener methods to handle user actions.

        Meanwhile, the growing Tapestry team is giving us a real leg up ... I'm busy coding while Neil is working on a *much* improved tutorial and Mind Bridge and pals are coming up with big new components.

        -- Howard Lewis Ship
    • I've never used structs myself. What's it like?

      Struts, however, has eclipse plugins as well providing very nice integration with that IDE.

      Just in case you are interested in more than just fanboyisms.

      Proletariat of the world, unite to stop reinventing the wheel, use frameworks
    • I love tapestry.. I have tried struts and turbine and hated both.

      They both were too concerned about making it easy to port existing jsp/servlet code to them and as such bring along so much crap for compatibility.

      Also, the documentation for both struts and turbine are ridiculously bad compared to tapestry... and the turbine community is one of the least responsive I have ever had the displeasure of asking a question.

      Overall, the experience of developing using Tapestry is much much better than the competition.
    • I'm interested in Struts alternatives like Tapestry. Webwork [opensymphony.com] and Barracuda [enhydra.org] are two others that look very interesting. Does anyone know if there is still any momentum with the other Jakarta framework, Turbine?

      The main difference in these frameworks is how you handle the html. Struts is JSP focused, Barracuda uses XMLC and Tapestry uses HTML with extra tags, Webwork and Turbine use Velocity as a first choice and can use JSP.

      I use Struts a lot now. The community is very active and helpful. There is more documentation available and with a lot of the development is by Sun insiders so I expect it to be around for a while. Unlike some, I see the JSP focus as an advantage in that it can easily include other tag libraries.

      That said, I'd like to see people post advantages to other approaches. Not "Struts sucks, use XYZ!" but "XYZ is better when your site uses ABC and needs to DEF".


    • Who still uses structs?


      Yeah, I sure do. They bolted some syntactic sugar on top of good old structs and now they are called classes instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    www.cgisecurity.com/lib [cgisecurity.com]
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:59AM (#4801820) Homepage

    MVC is about design, its about knowing that your application will be maintained by other people. Its about seperating the various elements so multiple people can work on your project. Its about ensuring that elements are re-used effectively so testing effort is used more effectively.

    MVC is about projects that work well. So to all those people who just "hack it together on my own", please remember that there are some people out there who do this for a living on sites and system that will still be maintained in 5, 10, 15 years or even longer. That is why you choose MVC, because you realise that Go-Live is only a small part of TCO.

    MVC is great, and MDA is even better because it uses similar patterns at an even higher level.

    Design is good, design works, patterns work. Just because you can "write 1,000 lines in a day" doesn't mean that in 6 months time even YOU will be able to maintain it. Don't knock it until you've been on a project with 10 people where they all thought they could do it their own way.

    Be an engineer, not a script kiddie.
    • I completely and totally agree!

      I'm sick of children that say "Hell, I coulda done that in like a week, not 3 months!" This is the difference between coding all hours of the night and true professional development.

      This is, unfortunately, an issue with several open source projects. Someone just starts slapping code together, and more and more people jump in and have coding binges over the weekend. What do you end up with? A bowl of spaghetti code that only the original writers can understand.

      If major design was implemented from the start, a lot of open source projects would be easier to help out (I hate to say this, cause it will sound like a troll, but slashcode really needs rewritten from scratch with a better design than what it currently has. Honestly, if it was well written, I think a lot more people would be willing to pitch in and help out.)
      • by axxackall (579006) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:36AM (#4802140) Homepage Journal
        This is, unfortunately, an issue with several open source projects.

        You may mean PHP, I guess? I agrre, it's complete mess of spaghetti.

        But in a defence of open source project (especially based on something else than on proprietary java) I would address you to Zope [zope.org]. You'll find a very good technology design without all that EJBish overbloating.

        When you run Zope, please check you memory. Compare it to what you have with Struts/JBoss on an equal load and equal functions (and equal dev time). In my case the difference was 10 MB vs 100 MB for a mid size applications.

        After that compare you code just to enjoy that your application code in Zope is even more readable and better mainanable than in Struts.

        I began to hate EJB specifically and Java generally when I've been introduced to Zope and Python.


        • I have found that I have made the Python round-trip.

          I haven't used Zope, but for general programming..I have found my programs to build up quicker using python.. but , even when push comes to shove.. my java apps are more maintainable. Agreed that JAVA is a bit of a pig, but it's a VERY structured language. Having soft-types in Python seems to be what kills me in the long run, my programs tend to be more 'brittle'.

          Also, using tools like ANT and now my new golden-child of IDE's , Eclipse.. I find JAVA wasn't as bad as I thought..

          I can also use Jython anywher ein my java apps if desired.

    • The MVC approach to software design is highly encouraged in Mac OS X Cocoa development. It's used in the AppKit and Foundation frameworks and in many applications.

      I had never heard of it before learning Cocoa, but I was converted real quick. Using model-view-controller truly improves an application, even a small one.

      The true advantage of MVC, in my opinion, is that it makes the application logic clear and reusable, even in single-programmer situations. It isn't just for multiple-person projects as described by MosesJones above.
    • I was a jump-in-and-hack coder (self-taught, used to program as a hobby, etc.) and they finally convinced me that design works. The only problem with a lot of patterns is that they don't apply that well to a non-OO language. Hence, the rise of Java, which is designed, as a language, around patterns.

      I still call myself a programmer, though, not an "engineer". Engineers build bridges, I just write programs.
    • Patterns and UML are fine, and MVC has its place too, but currently it's overrated, suffering from the hammer/nail syndrome. Check out this article [javaworld.com] on why in many cases, real OO is better than MVC:
    • I agree strongly. I think that people fail to realize, from management on down to the trenches, that the real cost of software development is in maintenance. If you write a really nice subtle piece of code that saves processor cycles but is hard to understand, any performance gain (or points you give yourself for programming skill) will be completely offset by the time spent by other developers or you trying to figure out how it works a month or a year down the line. Very little code goes through its lifetime unaltered; things get added, removed, extended, etc., all the time because of business pressures. The harder this is to do, the higher the cost. A perfect example of this is in variable naming. So many people I've worked with continue to use cryptic variable names like "chks". Wake up people! We no longer need to deal with the limitations of computers from 10 years ago! We can actually use long variable names without a performace hit! Isn't it about time our programming style changed to reflect that? Wouldn't it be easier to have a variable named "checks" so that other people could understand what was going on in the code? Or so they wouldn't confuse it with another variable "checksum", for example? Of course, there's a fine line where too much design slows things down. You can't overengineer. I like a lot of what the XP people say about this, especially with the one-two punch of strict unit testing and refactoring.
    • > MVC is about projects that work well.

      The M is fine, the V I have no problem with. It's the "C". Frankly I haven't seen a decent tutorial treatment of the awful mess that is the "controller". Is it business rules? Is it input events? Is it update events? Is it a mediator? Is it just everything that doesn't seem to fit in the other two categories? Everywhere I look to read up on MVC, I see a lot of handwaving about how it's God's Own Architecture, but aside from basic "duh factor" things like "decouple the view of the data from its underlying representation", I really have yet to see anything that gives a clean design for this mysterious "controller".

      Doesn't help that MVC for widget sets has been abandoned for Morphic in Smalltalk, at least the research variant of it that Smalltalk's founders still follow.
    • ... to speak for myself, I tend to work in environments where TTM (Time To Market) is crucial, the "team" tends to be me and maybe another engineer, completing the required feature set in the alotted (and fairly short) time span is mandatory, and maintability is placed on the sacrificial altar of needing everything and needing it yesterday.

      Elegant design is a wonderful thing and, personally, I prefer to take my time, weigh my options, come up with a design, and attack. However, typically, most of that time I would like to be spending on design is usually better spent building the product and fufilling that feature set.

      I can't say that I've spent a lot of time on Struts. I had a go at it on my last job for about six months. Ultimately, given the above constraints, I developed the perspective that for a product that will move through multiple maintainers hands, that will be around for a while, and will have to mature over time, it's wonderful. However, when you need your product written yesterday, Struts will just slow you down with all of the added abstractions that the architecture enforces.
    • MVC aka three-tier server aka thin-client aka dumb terminal - mainframeprogram - mainframedatabase When will people stop reinventing everything with a goddamn new-fangled term? Patterns are a nice abstraction, but the level to which people apply them is out of control. Once you've designed something, you can simplify the communication of the design by explaining its structure in patterns, but thumbing through a pattern book to find a design is just not the right way to approach things.
  • by dmorin (25609) <dmorin@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:00AM (#4801831) Homepage Journal
    This is probably off topic, but I just got off the phone with somebody talking about MVC. In my experience thus far, MVC often falls victim to "Yeah, it's a good pattern in theory, but in implementation it's going to make my life harder by forcing me to separate things that I don't technically have to separate." When people create their own stuff from scratch I think that they often get close to MVC but don't fully realize it. We had this problem with Struts in our platform. We have a homegrown forms library on top of a proprietary app server. When the time came to rewrite it in open source we started by looking at Struts and decided that Struts added too much complexity, that we could port what we had more directly and get running faster. Of course, after doing that, we all knew that Struts was where we wanted to be long term so we started designing a plan for getting it in there.

    Random MVC joke. Saw a cartoon in a Java mag once where a project manager is saying to his engineers, "For this part of the user interface we can either go with a Swing applet, or ActiveX control." Engineers all chant "Swing!Swing!Swing!" Project manager says, "If we go with Swing, it will require substantial work with JTree." Engineers all chant "ActiveX! ActiveX! ActiveX!"

    :) Duane

    • This really depends on some factors. First, for small projects, MVC architecture can be quite a bit of overkill.

      However, for large projects that require extensibility, performance and tier separation, it can't be beat. I just finished a massive project for the US government using Struts, and if we hadn't used it changes, new features, and maintenance would be much more difficult. Struts and MVC was a good choice for this project

      On top of that, with zero Java scripting code in the front end, it's much easier for people to make changes to the look and feel. On top of that that, I can rewrite the entire logical tier without having to rewrite the front end since we used the typical Value Object pattern that you see so often in MVC's.

      The only downside to struts for me is that it relies on URL Mapping too much, and that can be a little cumbersome. I do like Tapestry's object model, but it's not as robust, I think, as Struts. Tapestry is a great project though.

      On the other hand, the good thing about URL mapping is that it allows you to move your JSP's out of the regular directories above WEB-INF to secured directories below WEB-INF. For workflow and secure environments, this can be a really great plus. It ensures that people can only reach workflow and resources through the proper means.

      -Wickedhobo
  • by zaqattack911 (532040) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:00AM (#4801833) Journal
    Everytime I go back and consider using struts.. I keep realizing I already use the MVC. Struts too me seems like extra bloat.

    Basically I have a master url such as: http://mywebsite/servlet/IndexServlet (lets just say).

    The master servlet always takes in an "f" parameter to determine state. f=login , f=mainmenu, f=saveform, etc...

    It uses that f parameter to pull out the proper "Action Object" (or control) from a stored hashtable that is initialized once. Then it executes that ActionObject (or whatever you choose to call it) which handles the other parameters (other than f), does what it needs to, and pushes out the proper JSP "view" of your choosing.

    This could be simply displaying a form, saving a form to database and displaying a success page, yadda yadda yadda. Of course some actions can be used for more than one thing if you code smartly.
    I have saved eons of time doing this this way, making my "ActionObjects" as reusable as possible.

    All along security is maintained via sessions.

    It's easy, and you don't need third party libs to do it.

    Commentary and questions are welcome of course. I expect half of you have come up with some flaws :)

    --Zuchini
    • by jaaron (551839) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:26AM (#4802067) Homepage
      I don't think anyone will claim you have to use third party applications to create an MVC-based web app. In fact, if you look at the core of Struts, it's rather simple (which IMHO is what makes it so nice). Any decent java developer could write something similiar and many have.

      I think the point is, why go it alone? When you can have hundreds of developers all working on and testing the same framework you end up with a lot more features and much more stable code. Sure I could write my own controler servlet (which is what Struts mostly is), but personally, I don't really want to have to write up the validation scheme, the internationalization features, the tag libs that make it easier to work with, and so on. With Struts, it's all there to begin with and it works. Additionally, when I hand over a Struts project to another developer or team, I can just say, "Oh, it's Struts based" and immediately they have access to host of documentation and an entire user community for support. I don't have to sit down and teach them how my special MVC magic works.

      I could go on, but I really find using a popular stable project like Struts has a lot of advantages. And yes, Struts is not perfect. There are lot of other good frameworks out there. It just so happens that Struts is very close to how I and my coworkers developed web apps to begin with, so the convertion factor was minimal and the gain was incredible.
    • There isn't any particular flaw, but there are two other points to consider.

      First, what you've described is only about one quarter of what struts does. A very important quarter, of course; the core of a common web application pattern. As to all the other stuff that struts does, there doesn't seem much point in listing it here. Check the site.

      Second, look at what you're saying. You're saying, "I can write code that does what struts does". Sure, by why write code when a good third party library is already there. I could summarize the code required for a simple web server in a few paragraphs, but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea to write one for every new project.

      • I could summarize the code required for a simple web server in a few paragraphs, but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea to write one for every new project.

        Shit I wrote my own webserver too :) (only for highperformance specific uses of course).

        It's not like I have to re-write my Webapp "Controller" every time.. I did it once.
    • Providing direct access to a servlet is considered a security breakdown.

      BC
    • You are absolutely right, you don't need struts for that. I did something similar (along with 8 zillion other people). Our 'ActionObjects' could also specify a view object. We had views for JSP, XML, portal pages, etc. Very lightweight and easy to understand. (Struts is not easy to understand for beginners.)

      You also don't need libraries like log4j for logging. Logging is easy, right? (That's what I thought until I started using log4j. Holy cow, the things my logging can do now...)

      But struts has many add ons for form processing, db connection handling, controller options, dynamic form object creation, dynamic validation, error handling, internationalization, page layout, etc. And it makes it easy to make your own add-ons.

      So now I can work 1 or 2 days a week, and get everything done that I used to do during the whole week. The rest of the time I can spend playing around with other stuff.

      Right now I'm trying to figure out if Java Data Objects are worth while. Right now it makes my code slightly smaller, but adds lots of xml. And I'm suspicious it is slow. But these were some of my same unfounded complaints against struts when I started.
    • by Bazzargh (39195) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:48AM (#4802246)
      You're right that simple MVC webapps are easy, but the easiest approach is actually the one described in this article by Govind Seshadri [javaworld.com].

      What your approach misses that you get from Struts:
      - validation of form submissions (to java types, regexps, whatever)
      - automatic population of form beans, which leads to...
      - automagic prepopulation of forms from beans used earlier in the session (with struts custom tags)
      - tool support for designing complex sites (there are lots of GUIs for struts these days)
      - you don't need to write or maintain any of the framework :)

      Every framework brings with it some constraints in how you work, but pays off in spades if you use all the features. Struts is no exception. If all you're doing is the stuff you describe, Govind's article might improve your life a little. If you build complex sites, Struts will simplify your life a lot.

      Just a quick concrete example: in struts, the equivalent of the IndexServlet you describe is the DispatchAction. You'd configure like so:

      Then you can write:
      package funky;
      class IndexAction extends org.apache.struts.actions.DispatchAction {
      public ActionForward login(...);
      public ActionForward mainmenu(...);
      public ActionForward saveform(...);
      public ActionForward etc(...);
      } ...and the methods are automatically called depending on the value of 'f'. Like you said, "Of course some actions can be used for more than one thing if you code smartly.", and in this case the smartly was done for you ;)

      -Baz
  • What is Struts? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by SnapShot (171582)
    Could someone give a quick overview of what Struts is/are? Is it a technology, a language, or just a term given to a way of doing things?
    • Re:What is Struts? (Score:2, Informative)

      by FortKnox (169099)
      Struts [apache.org] is an online J2EE framework that utilizes the Model View Controller pattern. Look on the website for a good overview.
    • Struts is a "framework" that you use to build J2EE applications. It dictates a lot of how you build your applications inorder to make them more likely to conform to MVC (although if you want to you can break the MVC model quite esily). It's really a lot of things put together, there is a dispatchng mechanism dirven by an XML file, there's input resolution by matching parameters to bean attributes. There are tag libraries that make developing JSPs a bit easier (like the tags that autorefill the input fields. Nothing too staggering though).

      Nothing the stuff in struts is revolutionary, and there really isn't anything there that we have done before Struts came along. However, a good thing abotu Struts is that it is both open and becoming an industry standard. That way, if you come into a new development shop and have Struts experience and they use Struts, you have less to learn about how their application is modelled. If you don't know Struts, then you learn it knowing that the knowledge is applicable at other jobs. I'd say that is it's only, but a very strong, advantange.
    • Struts is... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 6Yankee (597075)

      ...the soiled nappy of the bastard spawn of Satan.

      Sure, the custom tags make your JSPs look sweet. But what a mess underneath. I think it was something like five or six hops from one file to the next for every request, coming back to the main struts-config.xml file at least twice. That file quickly becomes unmanageable in anything other than the Greatest XML Editor Ever (i.e., not JBuilder!), and I spent around half of my time scrolling through thousands of lines of near-identical XML looking for the bit I had to change.

      There might come a point at which all this unnecessary complexity actually starts to make life easier - but it'd have to be one huge project.

      Saw it, tried it, hated it, ran away.

  • There's a site called JavaRanch [javaranch.com], which has some useful forums for the serious Java developer. If you participate in their "Open Source Projects" forum, you'll be entered into a draw to win a copy of the book.

    Also, one of the authours (Ted Husted) will be on-line to answer questions. Note that you need to register - No Anonymous Cowards!
  • Struts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:03AM (#4801864) Homepage Journal
    FYI - Struts is quickly becoming the framework of choice for all J2EE coding houses. Having struts experience is a huge plus on your resume. The other Java tech to watch out for is portals (ie - jakarta's portal engine, or WebSphere's portal engine).
    I digress, but I've used struts and the MVC pattern plenty at my job, and it just makes life so easy when adding in new functionality, fixing bugs quickly, and overall maintainability.

    Those that say "its good in theory, not in practice" haven't used it correctly in practice.
  • by Twister002 (537605) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:04AM (#4801872) Homepage
    IS MVC really the best way to build web applications? It seems to me that for 95% of the web sites in operation, by the time you finish building the MVC app in Java using Struts you could have coded it 3 times in PHP or Perl?

    Does Slashdot use an MVC pattern? MSN? Yahoo?

    • The first step in answering you question is to define your requirements. One the the [non]requirements you need is maintainability. That should play a big part in your implementation. If the app needs to be robust, maintainable, extensible, etc, you should approach it completely differently than you would if those weren't concerns.

      That's where MVC comes in. It forces to you think about your implementation instead of blindly charging forward. That's overkill for some projects, but IMHO it's absolutely necessary for others (i.e. any project where more than about 2 people need to touch the code). Otherwise you wind up spending more and more time on maintenance/adding features.

      FWIW, Slashdot uses more of the spaghetti pattern than anything else...

    • by jaaron (551839) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:00PM (#4802396) Homepage
      It seems to me that for 95% of the web sites in operation, by the time you finish building the MVC app in Java using Struts you could have coded it 3 times in PHP or Perl?

      This comes up from time to time and I think it's a good question. There was an good discussion about this on the jakarta-general mailing list. It's a long thread, but if you'd like you can start reading at this [mail-archive.com] point. The best part of it I think is this response by Jon Scott Stevens:

      Java is not the fastest technology to develop in, however, it produces the best code for the long term.

      PHP is the fastest technology to develop in, however, it produces the crappiest code for the long term.

      I develop Scarab in Java because it is going to live far longer than I do and needs a solid base to work from.

      I develop my bar's website in PHP because I just needed to get the job done quickly and was not concerned with code quality.



      Remember, PHP originally stood for Personal Homepage Parser. Java's web application technology was designed from the start to be a solution for a large "enterprise" class web site. You can do more with Java but you definitely take a hit in initial development time. Personally I feel that in the end, Java is easier to maintain and extend (but you may disagree).

      By the way, Yahoo! didn't go with Java because of the Java threads implementation on FreeBSD. It didn't have anything to do with the merits of the java language. (See Why not JSP, Servlets, or J2EE? [yahoo.com])
    • MVC is NOT right for every project, and it is not the best way to build all applications. Neither is PHP, Perl, C, C++, FORTRAN, ASP, etc. You pick the tool you need for the job, the one that is right for the company you are with, the one that is right for that project, etc.

      People such as myself who are pro-MVC are not saying "MVC is right for every need". MVC is one of the many tools you need to have in your bag if you're calling yourself a Web developer or say you know "Web services".

      As several of the other comments have said, speed of development is only one factor in the cost of a project.

      Other costs are: can I change it easily as the business needs change, or as back end systems change? Can I easily add modules? Can I easily go back and optimize a piece of code that 3 months of use has revealed wasn't written correctly and easily switch that code in and out without impacting other modules? Can I keep the people doing the view (typically graphics artists and Web editors) and people doing the actual logic of talking to the back ends (geeks, in other words) concentrated on their area of expertise? Do I need to hire generalists (people who can do view and model/control, and there aren't many of them. That's why a lot of interfaces look like crap, or a lot of great looking interfaces run crappy)? Does a change in look and feel cause a major headache for all?

    • You can implement MVC in any language. I've built one using PHP that has made development of complex web apps many times faster and easier to maintain than some random collection of pages with SQL embedded all throughout them. One page takes the request, makes the appropriate calls for whatever action is being taken (just a collection of included files, really), and they rely on a series of objects to do the actual heavy lifting - manipulate data, interact with the database, etc. Designers can change the look of the site without ever touching a line of PHP, coders can change the way the backend works without ever seeing any HTML. And once the framework is in place, you never need to worry about it again.

      For a simple one-off mailing form or some such, there's no point in the more complex architecture. But if you need to perform many different operations, aren't sure what the client's going to ask for next, and want to be able to change how things look or work without poring through miles of unrelated cruft, it's a godsend.

      To a large extent MVC is about injecting a big load of discipline into your work so you only need to worry about the relevant portion of your app instead of the whole spaghetti mess of it. In the short term, you can probably pull something together "that works" faster just by sitting down and coding, but the long term benefits more than make up for it.

    • I think the Struts framework fits the web app model quite nicely. Decoupling the components of your application correctly encourages better design decisions and results in more reusable components.

      For example, a problem that comes up in just about any web app I've ever seen is that the user must be able to:
      1. create some kind of record (data object) by completing a form
      2. see this information later in a read-only mode
      3. modify it in an editable mode

      To digress briefly, in Struts, the developer defines "actions", which basically comprise a FormBean, Action class, and a JSP (the JSP can be selected from a predefined list at runtime based on a return value from the Action class). The FormBean holds any data needed for the view, which will typically include attributes for any form elements as well as any necessary metadata. When a user requests a view (aka "action"), the Struts engine reads the XML config file (which holds the action definitions) and passes the request along to the appropriate Action class. The Action class can analyze the request, as well as the FormBean, to determine what needs to be done, calls business methods as required, and returns a value to the Struts engine. This value maps to a "forward" entry in the config file, which simply directs the request to a given JSP. (see http://rollerjm.free.fr/pro/Struts.html [rollerjm.free.fr] for more info)

      Getting back to our example, the 3 cases mentioned above can be accomodated by 1 action entry in the config file. It would be something like:
      <action path="/userInfo" type="com.acme.proj.struts.action.UserAction" name="userForm" scope="request">
      <forward name="create" path="/editUser.jsp">
      <forward name="view" path="/viewUser.jsp">
      <forward name="modify" path="/editUser.jsp">
      </action>
      (the name, "userForm", is a logical name for the FormBean; it is mapped to the actual Java class elsewhere in the config)

      Anyway, the Action class and FormBean together know everything about what represents a User and what can be done with one through this app. The JSPs are responsible for presenting the User information and any options for performing actions on a User (delete, update, etc.). In fact, the "create" and "modify" forwards even map to the same JSP. Presumably, the Action class would set some kind of flag in the FormBean to indicate whether this is a new user or not.

      This is the beauty of Struts. Once comfortable with the framework, one can knock out well-designed web apps very quickly...especially if a good set of custom tags have been developed.

    • It seems to me that for 95% of the web sites in operation, by the time you finish building the MVC app in Java using Struts you could have coded it 3 times in PHP or Perl?

      Yes. When not using MVC, you might well have to recode it 3 times. :)

      Besides, you can do MVC in PHP / Perl, and you can code quick and dirty in Java.
    • Yes, MVC is the best way to build a web app.

      You've got it backwards -- initial build times are going to be faster using Struts with JSP (say) than they will be using PHP or Perl. If you were talking about coding servlets directly in java you might have a point, but that isn't how Struts works.

      Struts is written in java, but writing a web app with it will find you producing a lot of XML action bindings and JSP (most commonly) for the view layer. JSP is used in the view layer and JSP is easier to write web pages in than either PHP or Perl, no contest. The navigation actions are coded up in XML, which struts taking care of for you.

      The action implementation classes that affect state in the model have to be written up in Java, but they'd have to be written up in something no matter what you use, and you don't have to code up the glue code that figures out what triggers what. Java is faster than both PHP and Perl, but the real advantage is in maintainability -- I pity the sorry sap that has to refactor somebody else's Perl or PHP. Most of an app's total lifecycle cost is in exactly this kind of expense as requirements change and integration happens with other systems.

  • Manning Press (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frums (112820) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:06AM (#4801891) Homepage Journal

    I have this book, and JSTL In Action and both of them are truly excellent books. The 11/10 rating is quite appropriate. I have been attempting to convince myself to buy the Manning Ant book as well - just for the documentation on all of the Ant extensions that it includes.

    Additinally, Manning Press has experimented with releasing PDF versions of books (in read only if you use acroread or windows, but not otherwise) and this was how I first met their books. (The books were hosted over at The Server Side [theserverside.com]). Anyway, this was my first intro to Manning Press. I now look over their books before any other.

    The think I like most about Manning books is that they are written for smart people who have clues. Many tech books feel the need to explain basic concepts of programming in every single one, Manning doesn't bother - they stick to the topic on hand, they write as if the audience has a clue, is intelligent, and has real work to get done.

    • I bought one of the early Manning PDFs that was reviewed here on /. a couple of years back, good writing and convenient to be able to purchase an inexpensive yet quality piece of writing. Dead tree format is nicer but sometimes you gotta stay under budget while expanding that (virtual) bookshelf.
  • Struts and MVC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giel (554962) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:07AM (#4801898) Journal

    IMHO using Struts (and web applications in general) you cannot build true MVC based applications.

    The MVC model defines more communication options and knowledge between objects that Struts is able to provide. MVC is event driven, a Struts application is driven by actions (post or get).
    The Structs framework, as I understand it, in general works like this:
    - A http request is sent to some dispatch. This dispatch converts the request into an 'action'.
    - The action is executed and returns a new request, either for a JSP or some other Template to be rendered or a new action.

    Using MVC a view contains components that have corresponding controllers. The view is usually a predefined API to a collection of widgets (like AWT, Swing, etc.). The controller is built of events bound to the widgets.
    Struts calls the jsp's the view, the actions the controller and the back-end or business logic you define the model.

    However MVC allows the model to interact with the view, and there is no way you can be sure you will be able to do so with a web page, because HTTP only supports polling and not pushing if you want to keep things browser independant.
    Well that's why I would not dare to say Struts implements MVC for web applications, but I must admit it provides a very nice framework.

    • re: MVC is event driven

      I would argue that what you have there is one IMPLEMENTATION of the MVC design pattern.

      MVC can be a lot of things. In its core it's just a collection of abstract software design ideals. However you implement it is up to you.

      Or at least that's the way I think about it. YMMV.

      Proletariat of the world, unite to kill reinventing the wheel, use frameworks
    • However MVC allows the model to interact with the view

      By allowing the model and view to interact you've broken the whole reason for using MVC in the first place. You don't want coupling between the model and the view and that coupling is the point for using MVC.

    • Re:Struts and MVC (Score:3, Interesting)

      by revscat (35618)

      The MVC model defines more communication options and knowledge between objects that Struts is able to provide. MVC is event driven, a Struts application is driven by actions (post or get).

      By your definition, then, MVC is impossible to achieve over HTTP. You go on to say:

      However MVC allows the model to interact with the view, and there is no way you can be sure you will be able to do so with a web page, because HTTP only supports polling and not pushing if you want to keep things browser independant.

      First off I'm not sure you're comparing apples to apples here. MVC in the desktop sense has both different connotations and expectations than MVC in the web sense. Using simple session management (either through cookies or URL rewriting) you can have a de facto state-ful application over HTTP wherein the view is affected by the model.

      You seem to be maintaining a rather purist definition of "MVC."

  • Struts and O'Reilly (Score:4, Informative)

    by pcraven (191172) <paul@cravenf[ ]ly.com ['ami' in gap]> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:16AM (#4801969) Homepage
    I really like the O'Reilly book that just came out. Most of the chapters of this book went through public review, if I remember correctly. The book is very solid.

    The real advantage of struts for me comes from its ability to handle forms. Regular expression checking of input is a great way to make sure you don't take in bad data. Not having to write this code, and code to handle and repost the page when errors occur, takes away a lot of the tedium of development.

    What I don't like about struts is all the abstractions. New developers should start with the basics and work up. But no one has the time for that. So figuring out what is going on under the covers is hard to do. The O'Reilly book is pretty good at trying to explain some of this stuff. But there's no substitute for actually doing it.

    And is it just me, or has 'real' coding started to go away? I spend half my time messing with xml config files anymore. I get more done, but it isn't as much fun.
    • here here! I feel guilty anymore for wanting to write code myself. There are some truly useful and important tools and libraries out there, and Struts may be one of them, but shouldn't we be allowed to 'reinvent the wheel' a little bit without feeling like some sort of revolutionary? How else are developers to understand software design in an intuitive sense without some trial and error? I know we went through all of the trial and error in college, but colleges are way behind on web technologies (at least mine was two years ago).

      There's nothing that can really be done about it, obviously. It is part of the necessary evolution of the system, but still, I feel the need to rant about it.

      Where's the fine line between saving time & money (having good stewardship) by using a framework like Struts and exploring a technology like J2EE for better understanding, by trying things yourself? Is this to be done on your own time only?

  • In the eighties? Xerox PARC published a series of books edited/written by Adele Goldberg and others that were supposed to be the definitive description of Smalltalk. IIRC three volumes were published. Checking Amazon, I see "Smalltalk 80: The Interactive Programming Environment," "Smalltalk 80: The Language and its Implementation," not sure about the third.

    Well, the fourth was supposed to describe the Model-View-Controller paradigm. IIRC the covers of the earlier volumes listed it as being fourth in the series, but it mysteriously just never appeared.

    I heard that it had actually been suppressed by Xerox, which felt it was too proprietary to disclose, or something.

    It's a pity, because all the descriptions of MVC I've seen have been sorta loosey-goosey and I've never seen a real technical description of MVC as the Xerox PARC envisioned and implemented it.

    Anyone know anything more about this? Was the book ever published?

    (Has anything about MVC been patented? THAT could get interesting... It's certainly a lot more worthy of patent protection than a lot of software patents...)
    • The book never got written because Adele just didn't get around to it; at least that's what she told me.

      MVC has been in use in Smalltalk systems for over 25 years. There are papers about using it, about the benefits and problems and alternatives; try looking up OOPSLA papers. If you don't know what OOPSLA is then wtf are you doing claiming to be involved in OOP? The code has been freely readable in the Smalltalk systems (just like all of it) ever since the very first implementations were created.

    • The best explanation of MVC from a "systems" perspective is in Buschmann et al's Pattern Oriented Software Architecture Vol 1: A System of Patterns, which explains "Presentation-Abstraction-Control (PAC)".

      The real reason MVC never has been explained the way PARC envisioned it is that no other Smalltalk implementation actually USED pure MVC. Original MVC used to imply that the controller was the code that handled the user input. Eventually this just got embedded into the widgets themselved -- most commercial Smalltalk implementations combined the View and the Controller together.

      Now on a larger framework level, the spirit of MVC prevailed but evolved the controller into either a layer of event handlers (the Mediator approach) or a rich declarative binding model (the AspectAdaptor/ApplicationModel approach taken by VisualWorks).

      From my perspective, Struts tends to embody the VisualWorks approach pretty well for web applications, with some minor thorny problems intrinsic to web development that haven't really been solved effectively yet: validation, distinction between "client model" and "business object model", and dependencies on the web request-response lifecycle (i.e. scopes of variables are tied to requests or sessions).
  • by thelexx (237096) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:35AM (#4802132)
    WTFever people. From the Velocity (which I prefer to Struts) site:

    Velocity is a Java-based template engine. It permits anyone to use the simple yet powerful template language to reference objects defined in Java code.

    When Velocity is used for web development, Web designers can work in parallel with Java programmers to develop web sites according to the Model-View-Controller (MVC) model, meaning that web page designers can focus solely on creating a site that looks good, and programmers can focus solely on writing top-notch code. Velocity separates Java code from the web pages, making the web site more maintainable over the long run and providing a viable alternative to Java Server Pages (JSPs) or PHP.

    Velocity's capabilities reach well beyond the realm of web sites; for example, it can generate SQL and PostScript and XML (see Anakia for more information on XML transformations) from templates. It can be used either as a standalone utility for generating source code and reports, or as an integrated component of other systems. Velocity also provides template services for the Turbine web application framework. Velocity+Turbine provides a template service that allows web applications to be developed according to a true MVC model.

    ---------------------

    Velocity is dead simple to use, as it is not some kind of entire 'framework' that wants to manage your DB connections, life, etc. It makes using JSP look like masochism. If you really feel like recreating the wheel though, and are convinced that you know better, etc. then feel free to waste your time. I pity the fool who has to maintain your cruft though.

    (Would like to be posting more thoroughly on this, but it ain't happening this morning...)

    • You obviously don't know what struts is.

      Struts is a set of server side components for implementing the MVC pattern, that come with some JSP tag libs as a convenience.

      Struts can be used with Velocity. Velocity can only replace JSP, not struts.

      FWIW, I love velocity as well. I use it in stand alone applications as well as web applications.

  • so where's the review?

    What is struts? Why it is better/different than JSP? How is better/different from XML/XSLT transformations? What's the point in publishing a review that sounds like sales pitch?

    I have not used Struts but from what I have seen these high-level solutions are a dime a dozen. In most cases the examples in the "Getting started" chapter are really simple but it only takes a moderatley complicated site to really see the the weaknesses and warts.

  • For an example of Tapestry in action, look at

    www.pixory.org

    UI/Control was very easy to implement and contains very little custom logic.

    Look at Tapestry on sourceforge
  • by smagoun (546733) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:45AM (#4802222) Homepage
    Structs is cool, but it's just a small piece of a much bigger picture. There are many cases where a simple 1- or 2-tier app is perfectly adequate, and basing your app on Struts is appropriate for that. Those are rightly called "web applications."

    If you're building an enterprise app, however, basing your app on Struts (or any other "web application" technology) isn't a good idea. Why? You wind up mixing your app's functionality with its implementation. Using an MVC framework like Struts alleviates this problem to a great deal, but when it comes down to it you still have a big pile of servlets that does everything from database access to presentation.

    That approach isn't scalable, it's not adaptable to different technologies (there's a new webapp framework every week, it seems), it's not easy to integrate with other applications, and so on.

    What's really needed is a way to define an application independently of the implementation details. Once you've defined the application, you can generate whatever interfaces it needs - like a Struts UI, an EJB persistence engine, etc. This is where my shameless plug begins: check out the Sandboss [sandboss.org] project for a way to define your enterprise app without being chained to a particular implementation detail like Struts or EJB.

    While the techniques used in Sandboss are designed for the enterprise world, they're useful for web apps, too. I think it makes much more sense to over-engineer an application than it does to under-engineer it; overengineering takes more time up front but saves you 10x as much or more once development starts, since the well-don overengineered solution is more flexible and capable of responding to marketing's feature of the week. By picking Sandboss you get the best of both worlds - a robust framework where someone else has already done the engineering. You just define your app, and bam! Persistence, communication, control, the UI are all done for you.</shameless plug>

    • by jaaron (551839) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:12PM (#4802499) Homepage
      you still have a big pile of servlets that does everything from database access to presentation.

      If you end up with a big pile of servlets like this then you aren't using the framework properly. No framework is going to save stupid developers with a bad design. It can try to save them from themselves, but ultimately, the developers have to have a clue about how to code and how to properly design an application.
      • If you end up with a big pile of servlets like this then you aren't using the framework properly

        ...which is why we need to keep building better frameworks. Struts attempts to point you in the right direction, but it's still fairly easy to abuse. Unfortunately, only a handful of the developers I've seen/heard/worked with actually have a clue on these things; most of them just want to get something built. Design is never a question in their mind - the only important thing is "what's easiest/what's fastest."

        By choosing a more powerful framework, the consequences of such an approach can be mitigated. The key piece of a good framework IMHO is that the best way of doing things is also the easiest way of doing things. That way people looking to take the easy way out will wind up producing a better module than they would otherwise. Struts solves many of these problems, but it's still too easy to mush your application's functionality together with its implementation. The Struts doc even says something to the effect of "the obvious way is the easy way, but we don't recommend it." To me, that means the framework needs some help.

  • Enough of that silly Java stuff.
    Get Twisted. [twistedmatrix.com]
  • Some relevant links (Score:3, Informative)

    by Paul Bain (9907) <paulbain AT pobox DOT com> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:54AM (#4802313)
    Struts is but one presentation framework. A discussion comparing Struts and other frameworks [enhydra.org] is informative, and, indeed, there is an entire website [waferproject.org] devoted to such a comparison. For Struts links, try the home page of Ted Husted [husted.com], the lead Struts developer.
  • How does Struts compare to Apple's WebObjects?
  • MVC is great if you really have an application that needs to separate Model from the display windows (View) and mouse/keyboard (Controller). It ain't so great if any of the following are a concern:
    1. Complexity of implementation
    2. Modularity and decoupling
    3. A distinction between domain model (the system of concern) and applications model (what people want to see).
    4. Coupling between View and Controller.

    Most programmers at least combine the View and Controller--Java supports this rather effectively--and some distinguish between domain and applications models (Visual Proxy pattern).
  • CGI::Application (Score:2, Informative)

    by chad_r (79875)
    Perl coders may also be interested in CGI::Application [cpan.org], for a similar MVC approach. I've done a few JSP apps which had a framework similar to Struts (too bad I didn't know about it beforehand), and now I hate to write perl CGI's in the unplanned, ad hoc way I used to do.
  • Emacs is my controller.
  • I have yet to get involved with any of these projects. I hear a ton of press about how great JBoss is. Does using struts mean I don't need to wory about using something like JBoss?
    • JBoss is an Enterprise JavaBeans container to be used for large to very-large applications and is purely in the 'controller' (or was it model? I forget :) segment of the MVC. Struts is great for implementing a simple run-of-the-mill to moderately complex web application and its purpose is to structure the application. JBoss provides no structure to the application as a whole, but acts as another layer in the structure. Struts and JBoss can work together without any problems whatsoever.
  • I have concluded that a typical GUI biz-form-and-grid application does NOT need large app-specific programming code (bytecodes nor EXE's) at the *client* end.

    It is even possible to have zero Turing-complete application-specific code at the client side if security is key. However, even if client-side code helps the responsiveness, it should be *optional* in the protocol design.

    I think something like SCGUI (my own pet) and XWT are the way to go. I hear Mozilla's XUL (sp?) is getting closer to these. JavaScript+DOM is a buggy hack, better suited for e-brochures rather than e-forms.

    Java has proven too bloated for HTTP-friendly biz apps. If they kept the protocol lighter, then Sun and MS would not be sueing each other over this thing that has grown into the Java OS.

    Most business logic should be on the *server*, not the client. Why does everybody keep gravitating toward fat clients when the web was supposed to reduce it?
  • I find it rather ironic when folks tout this as some sort of advancement in Appserver development since NeXT did it first and has it from the ground up in WOF and all their framework philosophy.
  • These folks seem to take eBook publishing seriously.

    Dead tree ver. from publisher: $44.95 +s/h
    eBook version from publisher: $22.47
    Dead tree ver. from B.A.M. $33.49

    Publisher site is here [manning.com].

  • OK, I'm NOT a software engineer. That said...

    How the heck can you keep up with all this dang Java stuff? "You can use Bluelegs to support CowBerries for n-tiered enterprise apps under COW2BITEME from a UML converter."

    In the time it has taken me to read up on Application Servers, JSP, J2EE, beans, UML, struts, etc., I could have written about 20 PHP applications...or 20 .NET ones!

    If Java is so cool, why is Yahoo moving to PHP?

    All this structure to build what? Web apps move content from user to DB and back to user, occasionally doing some math in-between.

    Then there is stability. 200 blades and a layer 4 switch, I say! Call me when more than 50 blow up.

    I know this sounds like a troll, but what is the deal? Haven't there been enough books written?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yahoo is moving to PHP solely because they depend on FreeBSD servers, and Thread/Java support on FreeBSD is week at best. (Trust me, I'm at a job where i'm forced to deploy Java on FreeBSD).

      If you've ever worked on an app for an IT Department that is rather large, you'll understand quickly why companies use a programming language instead of a scripting language. There are programming methodologies, frameworks, toolsets, and other advantages that make enterprise level application development in Java worthwhile.

      PHP is great for small standalone apps when the problem domain is finite, and no legacy systems are involved.

      When you need to integrate AS/400 systems, FileMaker databases and connect to credit card billing systems, you'll see that you'll go places that PHP can't take you.

      I don't want to sound lame and say trust me, when you've done large-scale application development for an IT department of a good size company, you'll figure it out.... but that's really the case.

      I use PHP apps like phpMyAdmin as a regular part of my development, but Java provides the discipline and legacy integration that scripting language can't provide.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't now if they mention this topic or not in this book -
    If you are currently using Struts 1.1, you should consider the upcoming changes to it vis-a-vis Sun's JavaServer Faces specification [sun.com].

    A recent and good introductory article about JSF is A First Look at JavaServer Faces [javaworld.com]

    Craig McClanahan mentioned the transition to using JSP Faces in one of his Struts presentations [apache.org] at the recent ApacheCon and it has been discussed on the Struts mailing lists (e.g. http://www.mail-archive.com/struts-dev@jakarta.apa che.org/msg08457.html [mail-archive.com]

  • Struts turns web screen flow & actions into potentially reusable state machines. It enables quick validation of forms, tremendous flexbility in how you wish to actually code your application's logic -- in stored procedures, in basic Java procedures, or a fully blown object model.

    The popularity of Struts can be attributed to many things

    - It's what most projects would write themselves anyway
    - The source code is extremely clean.
    - It is very simple
    - It really helps speed maintenance

    For me, Struts is the first embodiment of the potential exhibited by Apple's WebObjects Framework. Struts still has a ways to go to get there, but it's getting there fast. Combined with an object/relational framework, we may finally have in 2003 what WebObjects offered in 1996 :D

    ASP.NET also exhibits a lot of this potential, and IMHO you can't hope for J2EE to compete with the productivity of ASP.NET without an MVC framework like Struts. I really hope Sun realizes this, fast. JavaServer Faces is long, long over due. And if ADO.NET ObjectSpaces gets released, the Sun may have to stop treating JDO as a second class citzen, fast.

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