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Comparative Display Technologies


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  • 1. Comparative Display Technologies in Sakai Aaron Zeckoski [email_address]
  • 2. What do we want out of a display technology?
    • Easy to use for the developer
    • Good separation of Code and UI
      • i.e. easy to use for the UI designer
    • Good integration with Sakai
      • Portal, widgets, tools, etc…
  • 3. What technologies work
    • Virtually any Java related display technology can work in Sakai
    • There are some caveats
      • Sakai uses a special Servlet to handle redirects and processing of HTTP request variables
      • Portal and widget interaction have to be developed for each technology
    • Bottom line : You are better off sticking with the ones that currently work
  • 4. What games are there in town? JSF But there are a few things to consider…
  • 5. Java Servlets Intro
    • modules of Java code that run in a server app to answer client requests
    • HTML is hardcoded in the Java class
      • It can be pulled from external files though
    • Most more advanced technologies are built on Servlets
    • Sakai uses Servlet API 2.4
    URL: http://
  • 6. Code Snippet
    • package;
    • import*;
    • import javax.servlet.*;
    • import javax.servlet.http.*;
    • public class HelloWorld extends HttpServlet {
    • public void doGet(HttpServletRequest request,
    • HttpServletResponse response)
    • throws ServletException, IOException {
    • PrintWriter out = response.getWriter();
    • out.println("Hello World");
    • }
    • }
  • 7. Java Servlets +
    • Tried and tested technology (1997)
    • Runs on the server instead of on the client like an applet
    • Pure Java code
    • Session tracking via HttpServlet
    • Works fine in Sakai
      • Café Servlet Hello World sample code
  • 8. Java Servlets -
    • Invented in 1997 for goodness sake!
    • HTML is placed in the Java class
    • Impossible for UI designers to work with
    • Poor separation of UI and Code
    • Development this way is painful and slow compared to more modern methods
  • 9. Java Servlets Final
    • Why would you want to write pure Servlets any more considering the many better options out there?
    • You are going to use Servlets anyway but at least use something along with it
    • Bottom line : Don’t use this unless you just want to put an existing Servlet app into Sakai
  • 10. Velocity Templates Intro
    • Java based template engine
    • Uses “references” to place dynamic content in html pages with # or $ vars
      • Somewhat similar to PHP or JSP
    • Meant to allow UI designers to work alongside programmers
    • Apache project
    URL: http:// /velocity/
  • 11. Code Snippet
    • <HTML>
    • <HEAD><title>Velocity Sample</title></HEAD>
    • <BODY>
    • <h1>Hello $</h1>
    • <table>
    • #foreach( $item in $items )
    • #if ( $itemCheck($item) )
    • <tr>
    • <td> $item.value </td>
    • </tr>
    • #end
    • #end
    • </table>
    • </BODY>
    • </HTML>
  • 12. Velocity Templates +
    • Uses “references” to place dynamic content in html template pages
      • Somewhat similar to PHP or JSP
    • Most used display technology in Sakai
      • Integration with Sakai is good
    • Ok separation of UI and Code
    • Decent docs and community
  • 13. Velocity Templates -
    • The current Velocity implementation in Sakai is a custom and out of date version
    • Integration with Sakai is OK but not really being worked on much anymore
    • New development in Velocity is discouraged by the community
    • Mostly carried over from CHEF
  • 14. Velocity Templates Final
    • Go for technologies that provide better separation between Code and UI
    • Bottom line : You are better off not using this, only use this if you have existing apps and cannot rewrite them
  • 15. Java Server Pages Intro
    • Dynamic Java web content scripting language
      • Very similar to PHP
    • JSP pages are compiled into Servlets when accessed
    • Pages are a mixture of HTML, taglib tags, and Code
    URL: http:// /
  • 16. Code Snippet
    • <HTML>
    • <HEAD><title>JSP Sample</title></HEAD>
    • <BODY>
    • <h1>Hello <%= user.getName() %></h1>
    • Today is <%= new Date() %><br/>
    • <ul>
    • <% for (int i=0; i<items.size(); i++) { %>
    • <li><%= ((Item)items.get(i)).getValue() %></li>
    • <% } %>
    • </ul>
    • </BODY>
    • </HTML>
  • 17. Java Server Pages +
    • Easy to develop in and work with
    • Can be changed without restarting
    • Works fairly well in Sakai
      • JSP support is available via a cool Servlet by Andrew Thornton (Cambridge)
      • Used in Rwiki (sorta), XML version
    • Well tested technology with large community
    • Excellent docs and many books
  • 18. Java Server Pages -
    • Mixes code and HTML together
      • Poor separation of code and UI design
    • Compiled when accessed
      • This can cause a noticeable delay when accessing a page for the first time
    • Integration with Sakai is poor
    • Has many of the same weaknesses that other scripting languages have
  • 19. Java Server Pages Final
    • JSP support in Sakai is not great yet
    • It is difficult for UI designers
    • Bottom line : Use this if you have existing JSP code, but go for options that provider better separation between UI and Code for new projects
  • 20. Java Server Faces Intro
    • A Java based set of APIs for managing state, handling events, and defining navigation
    • Mostly builds on JSP
      • Though it can be used without JSPs
    • Includes a custom set of tag libraries
    • Includes error handling, input validation, and internationalization support
    JSF URL: http:// /
  • 21. Code Snippet
    • <%@ taglib uri=&quot;; prefix=&quot;h&quot; %>
    • <%@ taglib uri=&quot;; prefix=&quot;f&quot; %>
    • <html>
    • <head><title>JSF sample</title></head>
    • <body>
    • <f:view>
    • <h1><h:outputText value=“Hello #{}&quot;/></h1>
    • <h:dataTable id=“items&quot;
    • value=&quot;#{itemsBean.items}&quot; var=“item&quot;>
    • <h:column>
    • <h:outputText value=&quot;#{item.value}&quot; />
    • </h:column>
    • </h:dataTable>
    • </f:view>
    • </body>
    • </html>
  • 22. Java Server Faces +
    • The second most used display technology in Sakai (after Velocity)
      • Used for the portal and a small number of apps (Gradebook, Assignments, etc…)
    • Integrates well with Sakai
      • better than any of the other current solutions (for now)
    • MyFaces and Oracle ADF Faces
    • Pretty good docs and books
  • 23. Java Server Faces -
    • Pretty heavyweight and has problems in the current version
      • These might be fixed in the upcoming version
    • Poor separation of UI design and code
    • High learning curve
    • Difficult to use and not very flexible
    • Poor AJAX/Javascript integration
    • Does not work with browser navigation
  • 24. Java Server Faces Final
    • Most new apps in Sakai are written in this but it is recognized as having many weaknesses
    • High learning curve and difficulty of use means slow development
    • Bottom line : Don’t use this unless you really have to, even if you have existing code
  • 25. Reasonable Server Faces
    • Spring based web programming framework
    • Uses pure XHTML templates, clean separation of UI and Code
    • Lightweight and pure bean programming
    • Works well with AJAX and Javascript
    URL: http:// /velocity/
  • 26. Code Snippet
    • <html>
    • <head><title>RSF sample</title></head>
    • <body>
    • <h1>Hello <span rsf:id=“user-name”>User Name</span></h1>
    • Today is <span rsf:id=“current-date”>1/1/2006</span><br/>
    • <table>
    • <tr rsf:id=“items:”>
    • <td rsf:id=“item-value”>item value here</td>
    • </tr>
    • </table>
    • </body>
    • </html>
  • 27. Reasonable Server Faces +
    • Uses pure XHTML templates
      • Provides clean separation of UI and Code
    • Respects the HTTP request cycle
      • Back button works!
    • Works well with AJAX and Javascript
    • Sakai integration and features are improving rapidly
    • Good docs and code samples available on the RSF Wiki
  • 28. Reasonable Server Faces -
    • Greater separation of UI and code can require more files and lines of code
      • This is true of other solutions as well
    • Not used in Sakai core yet but is fully functional in it and integrates somewhat
      • Some code in Sakai Contrib (rsf gallery)
    • Small user community
    • Still in development (also a positive)
  • 29. Reasonable Server Faces Final
    • The only really good separation of UI design and Code available
    • Community support is growing and Sakai integration improving
    • Bottom line : Use of this is recommended for new Sakai apps
  • 30. Summary
    • No plain Servlets
    • Velocity discouraged
    • JSP ok for small stuff
    • JSF is just bad
    • RSF recommended