Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Exclusive offer: get 50% off this eBook here
Tapestry 5: Building Web Applications

Tapestry 5: Building Web Applications — Save 50%

A step-by-step guide to Java Web development with the developer-friendly Apache Tapestry framework

$23.99    $12.00
by Alexander Kolesnikov | March 2008 | Content Management Java Open Source

There is a significant number of Tapestry components that we can use to build sophisticated and functionally rich interfaces. It so happens however, that many web applications have certain patterns repeating on their pages. For example, they have tables that display different data or they have forms that accept user input and then put the submitted details into some kind of JavaBean object.

Wouldn't it be convenient to have such repeating patterns already implemented as components, ready to be dropped onto a page? It certainly would, and the current version of Tapestry 5 already comes with a few components of this kind. They are great effort savers for us, and in this article by Alexander Kolesnikov we are going to introduce them and use them in our Celebrity Collector application.

Following are some of the components, we'll examine:

  • The Grid component allows us to display different data in a fairly sophisticated table. We are going to use it to display our collection of celebrities.
  • The BeanEditForm component greatly simplifies creating forms for accepting user input. We shall use it for adding a new celebrity to our collection.
  • The DateField component provides an easy and attractive way to enter or edit the date.
  • The FCKEditor component is a rich text editor, and it is as easy to incorporate into a Tapestry 5 web application, just as a basic TextField is. This is a third party component, and the main point here is to show that using a library of custom components in a Tapestry 5 application requires no extra effort. It is likely that a similar core component will appear in a future version of the framework.

Grid Component

It is possible to display our collection of celebrities with the help of the Loop component. It isn't difficult, and in many cases, that will be exactly the solution you need for the task at hand. But, as the number of displayed items grow (our collection grows) different problems may arise.

We might not want to display the whole collection on one page, so we'll need some kind of pagination mechanism and some controls to enable navigation from page to page. Also, it would be convenient to be able to sort celebrities by first name, last name, occupation, and so on. All this can be achieved by adding more controls and more code to finally achieve the result that we want, but a table with pagination and sorted columns is a very common part of a user interface, and recreating it each time wouldn't be efficient.

Thankfully, the Grid component brings with it plenty of ready to use functionality, and it is very easy to deal with. Open the ShowAll.tml template in an IDE of your choice and remove the Loop component and all its content, together with the surrounding table:

<table width="100%">
<tr t:type="loop" t:source="allCelebrities"
t:value="celebrity">
<td>
<a href="#" t:type="PageLink" t:page="Details"
t:context="celebrity.id">
${celebrity.lastName}
</a>
</td>
<td>${celebrity.firstName}</td>
<td>
<t:output t:format="dateFormat"
t:value="celebrity.dateOfBirth"/>
</td>
<td>${celebrity.occupation}</td>
</tr>
</table>

In place of this code, add the following line:

<t:grid t:source="allCelebrities"/>

Run the application, log in to be able to view the collection, and you should see the following result:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Quite an impressive result for a single short line of code, isn't it? Not only are our celebrities now displayed in a neatly formatted table, but also, we can sort the collection by clicking on the columns' headers. Also note that occupation now has only the first character capitalized—much better than the fully capitalized version we had before.

Here, we see the results of some clever guesses on Tapestry's side. The only required parameter of the Grid component is source, the same as the required parameter of the Loop component. Through this parameter, Grid receives a number of objects of the same class. It takes the first object of this collection and finds out its properties. It tries to create a column for each property, transforming the property's name for the column's header (for example, lastName property name gives Last Name column header) and makes some additional sensible adjustments like changing the case of the occupation property values in our example.

All this is quite impressive, but the table, as it is displayed now, has a number of deficiencies:

  • All celebrities are displayed on one page, while we wanted to see how pagination works. This is because the default number of records per page for  Grid component is 25—more than we have in our collection at the moment.
  • The last name of the celebrities does not provide a link to the Details page anymore.
  • It doesn't make sense to show the Id column.
  • The order of the columns is wrong. It would be more sensible to have the Last Name in the first column, then First Name, and finally the Date of Birth.

By default, to define the display of the order of columns in the table, Tapestry will use the order in which getter methods are defined in the displayed class. In the Celebrity class, the getFirstName method is the first of the getters and so the First Name column will go first, and so on.

There are also some other issues we might want to take care of, but let's first deal with these four.

Tweaking the Grid

First of all let's change the number of records per page. Just add the following parameter to the component's declaration:

<t:grid t:source="allCelebrities" rowsPerPage="5"/>

Run the application, and here is what you should see:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

You can now easily page through the records using the attractive pager control that appeared at the bottom of the table. If you would rather have the pager at the top, add another parameter to the Grid declaration:

<t:grid t:source="allCelebrities" rowsPerPage="5"
pagerPosition="top"/>

You can even have two pagers, at the top and at the bottom, by specifying pagerPosition="both", or no pagers at all (pagerPosition="none"). In the latter case however, you will have to provide some custom way of paging through records.

The next enhancement will be a link surrounding the celebrity's last name and linking to the Details page. We'll be adding an ActionLink and will need to know which Celebrity to link to, so we have the Grid store using the row parameter. This is how the Grid declaration will look:

<t:grid t:source="allCelebrities" rowsPerPage="5"
row="celebrity"/>

As for the page class, we already have the celebrity property in it. It should have been left from our experiments with the Loop component. It will also be used in exactly the same way as with Loop, while iterating through the objects provided by its source parameter, Grid will assign the object that is used to display the current row to the celebrity property.

The next thing to do is to tell Tapestry that when it comes to the contents of the Last Name column, we do not want Grid to display it in a default way. Instead, we shall provide our own way of displaying the cells of the table that contain the last name. Here is how we do this:

<t:grid t:source="allCelebrities" rowsPerPage="5"
row="celebrity">
<t:parameter name="lastNameCell">
<t:pagelink t:page="details" t:context="celebrity.id">
${celebrity.lastName}
</t:pagelink>
</t:parameter>
</t:grid>

Here, the Grid component contains a special Tapestry element , similar to the one that we used in the previous chapter, inside the If component. As before, it serves to provide an alternative content to display, in this case, the content which will fill in the cells of the Last Name column. How does Tapestry know this? By the name of the element, lastNameCell. The first part of this name, lastName, is the name of one of the properties of the displayed objects. The last part, Cell, tells Tapestry that it is about the content of the table cells displaying the specified property.

Finally, inside , you can see an expansion displaying the name of the current celebrity and surrounding it with the PageLink component that has for its context the ID of the current celebrity.

Run the application, and you should see that we have achieved what we wanted:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Click on the last name of a celebrity, and you should see the Details page with the appropriate details on it.

All that is left now is to remove the unwanted Id column and to change the order of the remaining columns. For this, we'll use two properties of the Grid—remove and reorder. Modify the component's definition in the page template to look like this:

<t:grid t:source="celebritySource" rowsPerPage="5"
row="celebrity"
remove="id"
reorder="lastName,firstName,occupation,dateOfBirth">
<t:parameter name="lastNameCell">
<t:pagelink t:page="details" t:context="celebrity.id">
${celebrity.lastName}
</t:pagelink>
</t:parameter>
</t:grid>

Please note that re-ordering doesn't delete columns. If you omit some columns while specifying their order, they will simply end up last in the table.

Now, if you run the application, you should see that the table with a collection of celebrities is displayed exactly as we wanted:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Changing the Column Titles

Column titles are currently generated by Tapestry automatically. What if we want to have different titles? Say we want to have the title, Birth Date, instead of Date Of Birth.

The easiest and the most efficient way to do this is to use the message catalog, the same one that we used while working with the Select component in the previous chapter. Add the following line to the app.properties file:

dateOfBirth-label=Birth Date

Run the application, and you will see that the column title has changed appropriately. This way, appending -label to the name of the property displayed by the column, you can create the key for a message catalog entry, and thus change the title of any column.

Now you should be able to adjust the Grid component to most of the possible requirements and to display with its help many different kinds of objects. However, one scenario can still raise a problem.

Add an output statement to the getAllCelebrities method in the ShowAll page class, like this:

public List<Celebrity> getAllCelebrities()
{
System.out.println("Getting all celebrities...");
return dataSource.getAllCelebrities();
}

The purpose of this is simply to be aware when the method is called. Run the application, log in, and as soon as the table with celebrities is shown, you will see the output, as follows:

Getting all celebrities...

The Grid component has the allCelebrities property defined as its source, so it invokes the getAllCelebrities method to obtain the content to display. Note however that Grid, after invoking this method, receives a list containing all 15 celebrities in collection, but displays only the first five.

Click on the pager to view the second page—the same output will appear again. Grid requested for the whole collection again, and this time displayed only the second portion of five celebrities from it. Whenever we view another page, the whole collection is requested from the data source, but only one page of data is displayed. This is not too efficient but works for our purpose.

Imagine, however, that our collection contains as many as 10,000 celebrities, and it's stored in a remote database. Requesting for the whole collection would put a lot of strain on our resources, especially if we are going to have 2,000 pages.

We need to have the ability to request the celebrities, page-by-page—only the first five for the first page, only the second five for the second page and so on. This ability is supported by Tapestry. All we need to do is to provide an implementation of the GridDataSource interface.

Here is a somewhat simplified example of such an implementation.

Tapestry 5: Building Web Applications A step-by-step guide to Java Web development with the developer-friendly Apache Tapestry framework
Published: January 2008
eBook Price: $23.99
Book Price: $39.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

Using GridDataSource

First of all, let's modify the IDataSource interface, adding to it a method for returning a selected range of celebrities:

public interface IDataSource
{
List<Celebrity> getAllCelebrities();
Celebrity getCelebrityById(long id);
void addCelebrity(Celebrity c);
List<Celebrity> getRange(int indexFrom, int indexTo);
}

Next, we need to implement this method in the available implementation of this interface. Add the following method to the MockDataSource class:

public List<Celebrity> getRange(int indexFrom, int indexTo)
{
List<Celebrity> result = new ArrayList<Celebrity>();
for (int i = indexFrom; i <= indexTo; i++)
{
result.add(celebrities.get(i));
}
return result;
}

The code is quite simple, we are returning a subset of the existing collection starting from one index value and ending with the other. In a real-life implementation, we would probably check whether indexTo is bigger than indexFrom, but here, let's keep things simple.

Here is one possible implementation of GridDataSource. There are plenty of output statements in it that do not do anything very useful, but they will allow us to witness the inner life of Grid and GridDataSet in tandem. Have a look at the code, and then we'll walk through it step-by-step:

package com.packtpub.celebrities.util;
import com.packtpub.celebrities.data.IDataSource;
import com.packtpub.celebrities.model.Celebrity;
import java.util.List;
import org.apache.tapestry.beaneditor.PropertyModel;
import org.apache.tapestry.grid.GridDataSource;
public class CelebritySource implements GridDataSource
{
private IDataSource dataSource;
private List<Celebrity> selection;
private int indexFrom;
public CelebritySource(IDataSource ds)
{
this.dataSource = ds;
}
public int getAvailableRows()
{
return dataSource.getAllCelebrities().size();
}
public void prepare(int indexFrom, int indexTo,
PropertyModel propertyModel, boolean ascending)
{
System.out.println("Preparing selection.");
System.out.println("Index from " + indexFrom + " to " + indexTo);
String propertyName = propertyModel == null?
null : propertyModel.getPropertyName();
System.out.println("Property name is: " + propertyName);
System.out.println("Sorting order ascending: " + ascending);
selection = dataSource.getRange(indexFrom, indexTo);
this.indexFrom = indexFrom;
}
public Object getRowValue(int i)
{
System.out.println("Getting value for row " + i);
return selection.get(i - this.indexFrom);
}
public Class getRowType()
{
return Celebrity.class;
}
}

First of all, when creating an instance of CelebritySource, we are passing an implementation of IDataSource that will imitate an actual data source to its constructor. In real life this could be some Data Access Object.

The GridDataSource interface that we implemented contains four methods: getAvailableRows(), prepare(), getRowValue(), and getRowType(). The simplest of them is getRowType(). It simply reports which type of objects are served by this implementation of GridDataSource.

The getAvailableRows method returns the total number of entities available in the data source (this is needed to know the number of pages and to construct the pager properly). In our case, we are simply returning the size of a collection. In real life, this method could contain a request to the database that would return the total available number of records in a search result, without actually returning all those records.

If you insert an output statement into this method, you will notice that it is invoked by Grid several times, even while a single page of the table is displayed. You will not want to call the database that many times, so you will need to include some logic to cache the result returned by this method, and update it only when necessary. But, again, we are looking at the principles here, so let's keep everything simple.

The prepare method does the main job of requesting the database and obtaining a subset of entities from it to be displayed by the current page of the table. The subset is limited by the first two parameters—indexFrom and indexTo, which are the indexes of the first and the last entities to be returned. They might be used in a SELECT statement which would command the database to select all the entities and then limit the selection in one way or another, depending on the SQL dialect.

The third parameter of this method, propertyModel, is used to define the column by which the result should be sorted. Again, we could use this parameter in a SELECT statement, but here we are simply outputting the name of the property to see what the Grid has passed to the method.

Finally, the ascending parameter could be used to define the order in which the results should be sorted when speaking to the database, but we are just outputting its value.

The last of the four methods, getRowValue(), returns the entity requested by Grid using its index as a parameter. You will see how all this works soon.

To make use of the created CelebritySource, add the following method to the ShowAll page class:

public GridDataSource getCelebritySource()
{
return new CelebritySource(dataSource);
}

Then change the source parameter of the Grid component in ShowAll.tml template:

<t:grid t:source="celebritySource" rowsPerPage="5"
row="celebrity" t:model="model">

Run the application. Log in to view the ShowAll page, and as soon as the table with celebrities is displayed, you should see the following output:

Preparing selection.
Index from 0 to 4
Property name is: null
Sorting order ascending: true
Getting value for row 0
Getting value for row 1
Getting value for row 2
Getting value for row 3
Getting value for row 4

From this you can see that to display the first page of results, the Grid component invoked the methods of the GridDataSource implementation provided by its source parameter in a certain succession. The output shows that the prepare method was invoked with the indexFrom parameter set to 0, and the indexTo parameter set to 4. These are indexes of the first five celebrities in collection. The propertyModel parameter was null, so no specific sorting was requested. Finally, the getRowValue method was invoked five times to obtain an object to be displayed by each of the five rows in the table.

Click on the pager to view the second page of results and the result will be similar, only the indices will be different:

Preparing selection.
Index from 5 to 9
Property name is: null
Sorting order ascending: true
Getting value for row 5
Getting value for row 6
Getting value for row 7
Getting value for row 8
Getting value for row 9

Click on the header of one of the columns, and you will see the change in the property name passed to the prepare method:

Property name is: lastName
Sorting order ascending: true

Now the data source will be requested to sort the result by last name. Of course, no sorting will take place in our simplified example as we are simply outputting the name of the property and not using it in an actual request to a database.

Click on the same column once again, and this time you will see that the order of sorting is changed:

Property name is: lastName
Sorting order ascending: false

You can see from this example that Tapestry allows us to define precisely how a database (or other data source) should be called, and we can request data, page-by-page by creating an implementation of GridDataSource interface. The Grid component will then invoke the methods of this interface and display the information returned by them appropriately.

Next, we are going to see another advanced component, BeanEditForm. It is somewhat similar to Grid in that it also can make use of BeanModel, and its configuration is pretty similar too.

BeanEditForm Component

Our current collection of celebrities is tiny, and it would be a good idea to provide in the application functionality for adding new celebrities. Let's begin by adding a template and a page class for a new page named AddCelebrity. Add to the page class a single persistent property named celebrity, so that its code looks like this:

package com.packtpub.celebrities.pages;
import com.packtpub.celebrities.model.Celebrity;
import org.apache.tapestry.annotations.Persist;
public class AddCelebrity
{
@Persist
private Celebrity celebrity;
public Celebrity getCelebrity()
{
return celebrity;
}
public void setCelebrity(Celebrity celebrity)
{
this.celebrity = celebrity;
}
}

In the page template, declare one single component of type BeanEditForm and let its id be the same as the name of the property of the page class, in our case, celebrity:

<html xmlns:t="http://tapestry.apache.org/schema/tapestry_5_0_0.xsd">
<head>
<title>Celebrity Collector: Adding New
Celebrity</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Adding New Celebrity</h1>
<t:beaneditform t:id="celebrity"/>
</body>
</html>

We also need to somehow connect the new page to the rest of the application. For instance, we could add this new PageLink component somewhere at the bottom of the ShowAll page:

<a href="#" t:type="PageLink" t:page="AddCelebrity">Add new
Celebrity
</a><br/>
<a href="#" t:type="PageLink" t:page="Start">
Back to the Start Page
</a>

Finally, to make things more interesting, add another couple of properties to the Celebrity class (don't forget to generate getters and setters for them):

private String biography;
private boolean birthDateVerified;

Say we could store a brief biography in the first property, and the second could be set to true whenever we verify in some way that the birth date is correct.

Run the application, log in, and at the ShowAll page, click on the link leading to the new AddCelebrity page. You will see the BeanEditForm in all its glory:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Isn't it amazing how much can be done for us by Tapestry when we just drop one component onto the page, with virtually no configuration? Let's see how all this magic works:

  • Since we didn't specify any object parameter for BeanEditForm, Tapestry decided that the name of the property should be the same as the id of the BeanEditForm component.
  • We didn't initialize the celebrity property, so its value is null, and still everything works fine since BeanEditForm can create an instance of the edited property as required. One consequence of this is that the type of property should be a concrete class, not an interface.
  • BeanEditForm took all the properties of the edited class and created a field in the form for each of them.
  • For each property that it can edit, BeanEditForm automatically selects a certain control. For a string or a numeric property it displays a text box, for an enumeration—a drop-down list, for a boolean property—a checkbox, for a date—a DateField component (which will be described soon). However, we can easily override the default choice if needed.
  • BeanEditForm generates a label for each property based on the property name in the same way as the Grid component did. And in the same way we can override the default label by providing an alternative for it in the application's message catalog, with a key like the propertyName label.
  • If the object edited by BeanEditForm, as provided by the page class, contains some values in it, those values will be displayed in appropriate fields of the form. As soon as you click on the Create/Update button, the values in the form fields will be put into the appropriate properties of the edited object.

This list of features already looks quite impressive for a default configuration, but there are more miracles to see. Purely for the purpose of demonstration, enter some non-numeric value, like abc, into the Id field and click on the Create/Update button. You will see something similar to this:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Which means that in addition to everything else, BeanEditForm comes with a pre-configured system of user input validation, and applies reasonable restrictions to its fields, like it prevents entering a non-integer value for an integer property.

User input validation is the topic for the next chapter, but you can already see that without any efforts from our side, the validation system of Tapestry 5 does quite a lot—it changes the style of the field in error, its label and adds an error marker, and also displays an appropriate error message at the top of the form. Well, the error message is somewhat misplaced at the moment, but we'll deal with this problem later.

Do you still remember that to obtain all this wealth of functionality, all we had to do is to insert a short line of markup into the page template? Here it is again:

<t:beaneditform t:id="celebrity"/>

Tweaking BeanEditForm

There are a few parameters that we could use to tweak the component. First of all, you will probably want the submit button to display a different label, not the default Create/Update. Nothing could be easier:

<t:beaneditform t:id="celebrity" t:submitLabel="Save"/>

You can also explicitly specify the object that BeanEditForm should work with, and use an arbitrary id:

<t:beaneditform t:id="celebrityEditor" t:object="celebrity"
t:submitLabel="Save"/>

Although BeanEditForm made a lot of clever guesses, in many cases we shall want to somehow influence the way it works. As with the Grid component in the previous section, we'll want to remove the Id field and change the order of fields in the form, so that the Birth Date Verified check box is underneath the Birth Date control.

By the way, did you notice that the label for this control is Birth Date, not Date Of Birth, as would be automatically generated by Tapestry? This is because of the entry that we've added to the app.properties file. That file is used by the whole application, and every label associated with the dateOfBirth ID will automatically receive the value from the message catalog.

The way we tidy up the BeanEditForm is very similar to what we did with the Grid component:

<t:beaneditform t:id="celebrity" t:submitLabel="Save"
remove="id"
reorder="firstName,lastName,dateOfBirth,birthDateVerified,
occupation,biography"/>

The other change we might want to make is to change the control that is used for Biography. Even though the biography will be brief, a text box is not convenient for entering a long string. There is a much more convenient control for this purpose in HTML, <textarea>. In Tapestry, such control can be displayed by the TextArea component. Here is what we should do to override the default choice for editing the biography property of the displayed object:

<t:beaneditform t:id="celebrity" t:submitLabel="Save"
remove="id"
reorder="firstName,lastName,dateOfBirth,birthDateVerified,
occupation,biography">
<t:parameter name="biography">
<t:label for="biography"/>
<t:textarea t:id="biography"
t:value="celebrity.biography"/>
</t:parameter>
</t:beaneditform>

In a way similar to what we did with the Grid component to override the default rendering of a certain column, we are using a element. Here it repeats the name of the property for which we want to provide an alternative editor. Inside this element we are using a TextArea component.

If you run the application now, the form should look like this:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

This is already better. If you think that you'd prefer to have more space for a biography, try this:

<t:textarea t:id="biography" t:value="celebrity.biography"
cols="30" rows="5"/>

As cols and rows attributes do not belong to parameters of Tapestry's TextArea component, they will be simply passed to the resulting <textarea> HTML control. Run the application and see how the form looks now.

At this point, let's distract ourselves to explore the new component that magically appeared in BeanEditForm, it deserves it.

DateField Component

This is a new addition that appeared only in the latest 5.0.6 version of Tapestry. Now we can use this beautiful, JavaScript-powered control without seeing even a single line of JavaScript.

DateField is based on an open source DHTML/JavaScript calendar that can be found at http://www.dynarch.com/projects/calendar/.

Let's add one more piece of information to those that we already collect from the users at the Registration page—Date Of Birth. Add this table row to the template, perhaps straight under the controls used for gender selection:

<tr>
<td>Gender:</td>
<td>
<t:radiogroup t:value="gender">
<input type="radio" t:type="radio" t:value="male"/>
Male
<input type="radio" t:type="radio" t:value="female"/>
Female
</t:radiogroup>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Birth Date:</td>
<td>
<input type="text" t:type="datefield"
t:value="dateOfBirth"/>
</td>
</tr>

We'll also need a property to store the selected date in the Registration page class:

@Persist
private Date dateOfBirth;
public Date getDateOfBirth()
{
return dateOfBirth;
}
public void setDateOfBirth(Date dateOfBirth)
{
this.dateOfBirth = dateOfBirth;
}

Run the application, go to the Registration page, and you will see the new control on it:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Click on the small icon to the right, and in the beautiful calendar that opens you will be able to choose a date:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

However, by default the selected date will be displayed in the American format, like 10/31/07 for the 31st of October. What if you would rather prefer to see it in the European format, 31/10/07? We can use the format property of the DateField component to display the date how we like:

<input type="text" t:type="datefield" t:value="dateOfBirth"
t:format="%d/%m/%y"/>

You can also construct a completely different date format. For example, %b %e, %Y will produce the result Oct 31, 2007. For the complete list of formatting characters check http://www.dynarch.com/demos/jscalendar/doc/html/reference.html#node_sec..., but the following are a few that might be most useful:

Formatting character

Its meaning

%a

Abbreviated weekday name

%A

Full weekday name

%b

Abbreviated month name

%B

Full month name

%d

The day of the month (00...31)

%e

The day of the month (0...31)

%m

Month (01...12)

%y

Year without the century (07)

%Y

Year including the century (2007)

We can use the DateField component everywhere we need to edit a property of the java.util.Date type. Whenever the BeanEditForm components finds a property of this type in the edited JavaBean, it selects DateField to edit that property automatically.

Changing the Styles of Grid and BeanEditForm

Everything works fine but looks less than perfect. For example, the labels of BeanEditForm are cramped on the left side of the form so that lines like Birth Date Verified have to split into two lines, and it misplaces the other labels as a result. Also, the background color and the font used by default for Grid and BeanEditForm might not fit the design of your application. Fortunately, the appearance of these components is defined by CSS styles, and so we can easily influence how they look by changing the styles.

Tapestry provides a default stylesheet, named appropriately default.css, and this is exactly where the styling of its components is defined. Tapestry adds the default stylesheet in such a way that it will always be the first for every page, and so any stylesheet that we provide can override whatever is defined in default.css. To make the desired changes, we need to provide a stylesheet of our own and in it declare the same styles as in default.css—with the same names, but with different content.

As the first step, we might want to look into the default.css file. It can be found in the Tapestry source code package that can be downloaded from http://tapestry.apache.org/download.html. The name of the package will be similar to tapestry-src 5.0.6 binary (zip). The default.css file can be found inside the package, in the tapestry-coresrcmainresourcesorgapachetapestry subdirectory.

This file contains a significant number of styles, but those related to BeanEditForm have t-beaneditor in their name, and those related to Grid contain t-data-grid. Let's say we want to change the background of BeanEditForm to white, the surrounding border to green and give more space to the labels. Admittedly, I am not an expert in CSS, but it is not actually difficult to figure out what exactly should be changed. These are the two style definitions we shall want to tweak:

DIV.t-beaneditor
{
display: block;
background: #ffc;
border: 2px solid silver;
padding: 2px;
font-family: "Trebuchet MS", Arial, sans-serif;
}
DIV.t-beaneditor LABEL
{
width: 10%;
display: block;
float: left;
text-align: right;
clear: left;
padding-right: 3px;
}

The first of them defines the appearance of the form in general, the second—the appearance of the labels used for the fields in the form. It is easy to guess that the first definition will allow us to change, most significantly, the background, the border and the font of the form, while the second allows us to change the space given to the labels (currently only 10% of the width of the page).

But where do we put our own style definitions? It will be convenient to have a directory for all the assets of our web application, let's name it appropriately, styles. It should be created at the root of the web application, on the same level where page templates are placed.

To create it in NetBeans, right click on the Web Pages folder inside the project structure. Select New|File/Folder…, then Other in Categories and Folder in File Types. Click on Next, give the new folder a name, and then click on Finish. Now right click on the new styles folder and again select New|File Folder…. Choose Other for Categories, Empty File for File Types, click on Next and name the new file something like styles.css.

In Eclipse, the sequence of actions will be similar, but the new styles folder should be added to the WebContent folder in the project structure.

Now we can put the aforementioned style definitions into styles.css, and change them as required. Let's try something like this:

DIV.t-beaneditor
{
display: block;
background: white;
border: 2px solid green;
padding: 2px;
font-family: "Trebuchet MS", Arial, sans-serif;
}
DIV.t-beaneditor LABEL
{
width: 150px;
display: block;
float: left;
text-align: right;
clear: left;
padding-right: 3px;
}

In fact, it should be enough to leave only the highlighted lines here as the other details were already specified in the default style sheet.

We can also influence the positioning of the Save button:

input.t-beaneditor-submit
{
position: relative;
left: 150px;
}

However, to see the changes, we need to make the new stylesheet available to the web page. Tapestry can inject an asset, be it a stylesheet or an image, into the page class when we ask it to do that, so let's add to the AddCelebrity page class to the following lines of code:

@Inject
@Path("context:styles/styles.css")
private Asset styles;
public Asset getStyles()
{
return styles;
}

Finally, provide in the page template a link to the stylesheet:

<head>
<title>Celebrity Collector: Adding New Celebrity</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="${styles}" type="text/css"/>
</head>

If you run the application now, you will notice a significant difference in the form's appearance:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

You can continue experimenting from here with styles on your own, using the default.css file and the source code of the rendered page (where you can see which styles are used for what) as your starting point.

But let me show you one more very useful component.

FCKEditor Component

Quite often, we might want to give the users of our application an opportunity not only to enter a message, but also to format it similarly to how they would do this in a familiar word processor. There are JavaScript-enabled rich text editors available for this purpose, the most famous of them is perhaps FCKEditor (http://www.fckeditor.net/), but integrating such an editor into a web application might require additional knowledge and effort.

Thankfully, there is a custom Tapestry 5 component developed by Ted Steen and Olof Naessen that wraps FCKEditor. As a result, we can use this excellent rich text editor in the same way like any other Tapestry component. The component can be downloaded from http://code.google.com/p/tapestry5-fckeditor/ as a JAR file (make sure you pick the version, 1.0.2 or later). The name of the file will be similar to tapestry5-fckeditor-1.0.2.jar. Please put it into the WEB-INF/lib subfolder of our web application. In Eclipse, you might want to press F5 to make sure that the IDE has noticed the addition.

Let's use the FCKEditor component to enter a celebrity's biography at the AddCelebrity page. All we need to do is to change the type of component used to edit the biography property in the page template:

<t:parameter name="biography">
<t:label for="biography"/>
<t:fckeditor.editor t:id="biography"
t:value="celebrity.biography"/>
</t:parameter>

The result of this change might look a bit overwhelming:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

By default, the component is huge as it displays all the goodies made available by the original FCKEditor. In many cases you will not need all that, and there is an easy way to both change the number of displayed toolbars and change the size of the component.

There are three toolbar sets available—Default, Simple and Medium, and we can choose using the toolbarSet parameter. There are also width and height parameters that allow us to specify the size of the component. Here is one possible combination of settings:

<t:fckeditor.editor t:id="biography"
t:value="celebrity.biography"
t:toolbarSet="Simple" t:width="300" t:height="150"/>

And here is how the resulting component looks:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

Well, I have to admit that to get the component properly positioned in Internet Explorer 7, I had to use some additional markup, to place the FCKEditor component and its label inside a simple table, like this:

<t:parameter name="biography">
<table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
<tr>
<td valign="top">
<t:label for="biography"/>
</td>
<td>
<t:fckeditor.editor t:id="biography"
t:value="celebrity.biography"
t:toolbarSet="Medium" t:width="350"
t:height="200"/>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
</t:parameter>

My favorite toolbar set is the medium one. This is how it looks:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

After the text of the biography is entered, formatted and submitted, what gets sent to the server (and is stored in a property of the page class) is a piece of HTML with all the markup that is needed to reproduce the formatting. We can later display the biography on the details page, but right now we need to make sure that the new information (and a new Celebrity object containing it) is stored properly in the data source.

All we need to do for this is to add the following fragment of code to the AddCelebrity page:

@ApplicationState
private IDataSource dataSource;
Object onSubmitFromCelebrity()
{
dataSource.addCelebrity(celebrity);
return ShowAll.class;
}

We have added an event handler and a reference to the data source ASO. When the form with the new celebrity is submitted, we store the resulting Celebrity object using the data source existing for this purpose and display the ShowAll page.

However, at the moment the table that displays our collection has two extra columns, for biography, and birthDateVerified properties. We do not want to see them, so let's modify the ShowAll page template:

<t:grid t:source="celebritySource" rowsPerPage="5"
row="celebrity"
remove="id, biography, birthDateVerified"
reorder="lastName,firstName,occupation,dateOfBirth">

Finally, to get the biography displayed at the Details page, let's make the necessary preparations. All we need to do is to add the following piece of markup to the page template:

<tr>
<td>Occupation:</td>
<td>${celebrity.occupation}</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign="top">Biography:</td>
<td>
<t:outputraw t:value="celebrity.biography"/>
</td>
</tr>

Now add a new celebrity and a brief biography for him or her as I did above for John Lennon. Format the biography using different styles and colors to your heart's content and then click on the Save button. You will see the ShowAll page and the newly added celebrity will be somewhere at the end of collection, perhaps on page four.

Find the new celebrity and click on the last name to see the details. Depending on how you formatted the biography, you should see something similar to this:

Tapestry 5 Advanced Components

As you can see, all the formatting is displayed properly, and this is the reason why we used a new component, OutputRaw in the last example. In fact, this component is quite similar to an ordinary Output component, or even to a basic extension—it simply outputs whatever is given to it as a value. The difference is that both regular output and extension encode the content that they insert into the page while OutputRaw just inserts into the resulting HTML its value, no matter what it contains.

For instance, if the value provided by the component's binding is <b>bold text</b> then regular output will encode angle brackets and produce the following result: &lt;b%gt;bold text&lt;/b&gt;. As a result, instead of formatted text, the page will display the tags verbatim: <b>bold text</b>. The OutputRaw however will insert into the page what was given to it, and as a result, we'll see bold text.

Security Note: Please use the OutputRaw component with caution. If you will use it to freely display any content entered by a random user, someone might enter a hostile script and achieve sinister results that you cannot even imagine.

All right, we had enough of work and study in this article. Now we can relax and review what was done.

Summary

We have learned to use four powerful and useful components—Grid, BeanEditForm, DateField and FCKEditor. They can save us a lot of work since with minimal configuration, they produce a rather sophisticated, functionally rich piece of interface. We have also found out that:

  • We can change the way an object is displayed by Grid and BeanEditForm components, in terms of which properties are displayed and how they are ordered.
  • We can override the default rendering of a property by Grid or the default editor selected for it by BeanEditForm,  using the <t:parameter>element.
  • We can modify the titles of the columns in the Grid or the labels of the fields in the BeanEditForm by providing appropriate messages in the application's message catalog.

We can change the appearance of the components by overriding the default CSS styles in the stylesheet that we provide ourselves.

Tapestry 5: Building Web Applications A step-by-step guide to Java Web development with the developer-friendly Apache Tapestry framework
Published: January 2008
eBook Price: $23.99
Book Price: $39.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Alexander Kolesnikov

Alexander Kolesnikov is an author and software developer from Greenock, Scotland. He wrote his first program in FORTRAN back in 1979 for a computer that occupied several rooms. He currently works as a Java Web Developer for CIGNA International. A Soviet military researcher in the past, he recently graduated as a Master of Science with Distinction in Enterprise Systems Development from Glasgow Caledonian University and has also gained a number of professional certifications from Sun Microsystems (SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD). His first book on software development was "Java Drawing With Apache Batik" (BrainySoftware, 2007).

He is interested in many things, ranging from the most recent web technologies to alternative medicine and wishes wholeheartedly that a day was at least three times longer than it is.

Books From Packt


Alfresco Enterprise Content Management Implementation


>Google Web Toolkit GWT Java AJAX Programming


Java EE 5 Development using GlassFish Application Server


Building Websites with Joomla! 1.5 Beta 1


Learning jQuery : Better Interaction Design and Web Development with Simple JavaScript Techniques


PHP Web 2.0 Mashup Projects: Practical PHP Mashups with Google Maps, Flickr, Amazon, YouTube, MSN Search, Yahoo!


Building powerful and robust websites with Drupal 6


Professional Plone Development

 

 

 

 

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Post new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Q
M
G
h
2
T
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.
Code Download and Errata
Packt Anytime, Anywhere
Register Books
Print Upgrades
eBook Downloads
Video Support
Contact Us
Awards Voting Nominations Previous Winners
Judges Open Source CMS Hall Of Fame CMS Most Promising Open Source Project Open Source E-Commerce Applications Open Source JavaScript Library Open Source Graphics Software
Resources
Open Source CMS Hall Of Fame CMS Most Promising Open Source Project Open Source E-Commerce Applications Open Source JavaScript Library Open Source Graphics Software