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Vaadin: A Nice Replacement for NetBeans VWP?

· Java Zone

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Excuse me if I'm rediscovering the wheel here but in a mail thread about NetBeans Visual Web Pack (VWP) being available in NetBeans 7.0 M2, I saw for the first time the name Vaadin. Curious about it, I did a search and boy, I did fall in love.

Before I give more details on the love story, let's go back to VWP and why I liked it. For programmers like me, with limited exposure to HTML coding, doing professional web pages is a torture. First, all your knowledge of Java is useless, since you need a different mindset and approach to coding a web page. If you are like me. you are used to having tools like NetBeans Mattisse for creating the visual parts of a program, letting you focus on the real work, i.e., the code behind the GUI. In web pages, you need to work on the backend but the "GUI" needs a lot of work as well. Probably you start with static HTML pages, then a "Hello Word type" approach of printing out HTML code in a servlet, then you want to mix more complex stuff, like buttons and such in a Swing app. You pull it out but then get to a point where you need something that seems basic in Swing like a JTree... Good luck doing that in HTML, and worse with dynamic data like from a database. (I'm not saying that there are no ways of doing that, just that is too much work IMHO).

Then you see VWP, your prayers are answered. You see a Matisse-like way to design the GUI and an almost equivalent way of working backstage. So, you feel in heaven... But then the support gets dropped! The little progress done is wasted (I'm glad I didn't have much time to get deep into migrating my Xinco DMS application to it). Don't misunderstand me, I had the intention to go forward with the migration, just... life was against that plan.

So you get grounded again, stuck with static HTML, JSP (a lot of progress there, mix HTML and Java code in the same file, but too manual IMO), then JSF, ICEFaces, and lots of different other Faces. Each looking better than their previous counterparts but with the same-or-more complexity to perform from my point of view.

With Vaadin I feel at home. It is open source, has a good and free book available, no scripting, no extra configuration, deploys as a WAR, among other features. You say: "Then making it work with NetBeans IDE would be a mess...". If you think that, you are wrong. I was pleased to find that they have a NetBeans plugin! Add to that lots of add ons, Maven and Ant integration, lots of built-in UI objects including a Tree with Drag n Drop! If you are not amazed with the samples I don't know what can amaze you. Basically, everything you can do from Swing, and maybe more, can be done using Vaadin. And to do it you write Java code like you are used to but it turns into AJAX! Miracle? Magic? Some kind of vodoo? Don't know, but it sure looks great!

 

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