Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Rene Buest, William Schmarzo, Stackify Blog

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Three RIA Tools Examined: JSF, Flex, and JavaFX

2008 is going to be an important year for Rich Internet Applications

It's essential for IT managers to consider and be aware that more than one delivery platform exists today for Rich Internet Applications. Table 1 covers three platforms and their associated technologies.

While the last two approaches still involve the browser as their foundation, each also taps into powerful virtual machines that are installed as plug-ins to deliver even richer applications.

Let's look at the choices.

JavaServer Faces
Let's start with JavaServer Faces. JSF is an open source, component-based user interface Java framework for building pure browser-based applications. JSF is also the standard technology for building Web user interfaces in the Java EE 5 stack. Pure browser-based applications mean that nothing beyond the standard browser is required to run the application. JSF components generate standard HTML markup. JSF provides a declarative approach to designing the UI. JSF components provide all the logic, as well as encapsulated HTML rendering, so the developer can concentrate on building the UI, instead of messing with low-level HTML. Out-of-the-box, JSF provides a basic set of components such as links, buttons, layout, and tables. What's more, the JSF component approach makes it the perfect technology to develop Rich Internet Applications. However, to efficiently deliver a Rich Internet Application, we have to take the component model a step further.

A popular technique for delivering RIA applications inside a Web browser is AJAX. AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It is basically a collection of existing technologies for radically changing user experience on the Web. However, manual AJAX development or the utilization of one of the JavaScript libraries is challenging and, ultimately, both are very poor options. With manual development, it's not uncommon to spend a significant amount of time battling JavaScript browser incompatibilities. Finally, and probably most importantly, manual AJAX coding doesn't fit the JSF component model.

Nevertheless, all is not hopeless. Due to JSF's extensibility and its component approach, combining JSF and AJAX can be done easily. That's where RichFaces comes in. RichFaces is a rich JSF component library that provides a large number of components with AJAX support. Rich components from RichFaces render all the necessary JavaScript to send an AJAX request and, at the same time, know how to partially update a part of a page when a response comes back. IT organizations can add rich functionality without writing any JavaScript code. Developers can again concentrate on UI development instead of low-level AJAX coding and JavaScript debugging (because the components' JavaScript code will have been tested in all the modern browsers).

While JSF and RichFaces are solid tools for building Rich Internet Applications, other alternatives do exist. Enterprise IT managers must understand and be aware that other delivery mediums exist for Rich Internet Applications. First, we have more than just the browser to deliver Rich Internet Applications. It's common today to look at the browser as the only vehicle for delivering Rich Internet Applications, but it isn't the only medium that should be considered.

Let's look at a quick example using JSF and RichFaces components. We are declaratively defining the UI using JSF tags. Declaratively defining the UI is easier and more natural. When this page is processed, UI components on the page will render the necessary HTML and JavaScript to be sent to the browser.


<f:facet name="header">RichFaces</f:facet>


    <a4j:commandButton value="Hit Me!"actionListener="#{clickBean.count}" reRender="c" />

    <h:outputText id="c" value="Number of hits: #{clickBean.numOfClicks}"/>


The model behind this page is a simple POJO:

public class ClickBean {

    private Integer numOfClicks = 0;

    public Integer getNumOfClicks() {

    return numOfClicks;
    public void setNumOfClicks(Integer numOfClicks) {

    this.numOfClicks = numOfClicks;
    public void count(ActionEvent event) {


And, finally, when the page is run in a Web browser, Figure 1 shows the result:

Note that when clicking the button, only the counter area is updated. We are not reloading the full page.

More Stories By Max Katz

Max Katz heads Developer Relations for Appery.io, a cloud-based mobile app platform. He loves trying out new and cool REST APIs in mobile apps. Max is the author of two books “Practical RichFaces” (Apress 2008, 2011), DZone MVB (Most Valuable Blogger), and is a frequent speaker at developer conferences. You can find out what Max is up to on his blog: http://maxkatz.org and Twitter: @maxkatz.

Comments (9) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Tom Van den Eynde 04/19/08 04:00:16 AM EDT

It's simple: go with Adobe Flex - it simply rocks.

DW 04/18/08 11:18:54 PM EDT

Hmmm, have you checked out the Orbeon Forms?(http://www.orbeon.com/)

Hmmm 04/02/08 01:38:47 PM EDT

Yes, XForms sounds good. PicoForms offers a solution that would work, and Yahoo has done their new mobile back end using server-side tech. An on-device XForms processor would help write portable mobile apps.

skalvi 03/25/08 07:43:14 PM EDT

If I want to write an enterprise application for my business and I want my PC user's to be able to use it as well as mobile user's, java will not work. Web start will work on the PC but not a PDA, since I would have to use a midilet. Same with flash. I would have to develop in flash lite for the PDA's. I would have to write different version of the same program for different devices. The same with GWT for the PC based version. I would have to write a seperate application for Android and the Davlik jvm. This is where JSF is most suitable, with the concept of plugable rendering kits. Why can't I just use GWT on the gphone? Maybe I can. Maybe we should hybridize JSF. So what is the best platform for write one run anywhere? anyone?

Confusion Solution 03/01/08 04:46:58 PM EST

> The number of different frameworks and libraries
> is too vast to even consider evaluating a fraction of
> them

So just use Flex instead, hehe!

Max 02/28/08 03:34:19 PM EST

@Michael: Nowhere am I comparing JSF and Flex, I'm merely discussing various technologies and delivery platforms for RIA applications. Nowhere am I saying that one is better than the other. I'm not sure why you would want to hand-code JavaScript, unless you are building a framework, doing a school project or some research. Do you consider GWT (Google Web
Toolkit) to be a good Ajax framework? They do exactly the same, they hide the JavaScript from you.

Michael 02/28/08 07:30:10 AM EST

sorry, but comparing JSF and Flex is ridiculous. JSF has nothing to do with RIA. You might say that JSF is a possibility to build Ajax apps, but then: why JSF? It is utterly unsuited for Ajax compared to other web frameworks BECAUSE it hides the JS from the dev.

Alex 02/20/08 12:59:53 PM EST

Good article. It misses one important comment though. Your JSF example has to make a server call to the pojo to increment the click counter, while both Flex and JavaFX example do not need to do this because of their stateful nature, which is very important.

Out of these three, Flash Player's UI looks better than others.

DW 02/20/08 10:07:40 AM EST

What about XHTML and XForms Offline?

@ThingsExpo Stories
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...