In this chapter, you will be introduced to the PrimeFaces JSF (short for JavaServer Faces) component library, and you will create a Maven-based JSF web application. This application will be used throughout the book to demonstrate and test the things that we will learn in each chapter and section.
In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:
Why we need to create an app
An introduction to the PrimeFaces library
Creating a Maven JSF project
Integrating the PrimeFaces library into a Maven JSF project
Adding the additional dependencies that GlassFish needs
Building the project
Running the project
Although this book is about developing PrimeFaces themes, we will need a web application to actually test our designs. Also, a web application will be used to show how to integrate PrimeFaces into a web application and how components such as ThemeSwitcher are used in practice to allow a user to select their themes. Because of this, we will spend some time at the beginning creating and adding a web application to a Maven-based NetBeans project. When we start creating and using our own themes, the work that we will have done here will make it far easier to appreciate our creative efforts there.
While looking for a suitable set of Open Source (OS) JSF components several years ago, I discovered PrimeFaces almost by accident. What I found was a link to the PrimeFaces showcase. I was immediately impressed by the number of components that it offered and the fact that skins or themes were supported out of the box. Also, PrimeFaces uses industry-standard libraries such as jQuery and jQuery UI to make things work well and look good too. Because PrimeFaces uses the JSF standard extension framework, there are no headaches involved in integrating it into new or existing projects. In addition to providing a set of JSF components, it also provides a complete set of data model classes to support the various data-oriented components and some very useful utility classes as well. Last, but not least, PrimeFaces offers WebSocket support by integrating the excellent Atmosphere WebSocket library.
PrimeFaces also has a very active forum community, where I am often found answering questions asked by users, and hopefully getting them right too.
The version of PrimeFaces that I first used was 2.2, and at the time of writing this book, PrimeFaces has reached release 5.2, with 5.3 in the pipeline. The team of developers has done a wonderful job providing us with, in my opinion, the best OS JSF component library out there. It is worth paying a visit to the showcase at http://www.primefaces.org/showcase/, especially now that it has had a face lift and the very capable components are shown off in all their glory.
After launching NetBeans, open the File menu and select New Project from the available project types. Locate and select Maven. A list of Maven archetypes (project templates) is available. Select Web Application, as shown in the following screenshot:
Project Name is set to
Project Location is generated automatically and it does not need to be changed.
Artifact Id: This cannot be changed. It is the name of your project.
Group Id: This can be edited as required. This sets the base package for the project.
Version: This does not need to be changed.
Project: This is the last property that we will use to set the root package for all the Java classes in the project.
Now that we have set the name and location of the project, click on Next. This leads us to the Settings dialog box. This is where we set the application server and Java Enterprise Edition (EE) version that we are going to use for the project, as shown in the following screenshot:
I chose GlassFish because it is the Java EE reference implementation. I selected GlassFish Server 4.0 because this is the current release version of GlassFish and the nightly builds are available to me.
You can use any Java EE 7 container that supports the Java EE 7 web profile that you like. The list of potential servers is long, but Tomcat (http://tomcat.apache.org/), TomEE (http://tomee.apache.org/), and WildFly (http://wildfly.org/) are suitable ones. Tomcat and TomEE are freely available from the Apache Software Foundation (http://apache.org/)and WildFly is available from RedHat.
Once we have set the project settings, we can finish creating it. NetBeans presents us with a Project view containing our newly created project. If it hasn't opened a Project view, open the Windows menu and select Projects. You can also open a Files and a Services view. This allows us to check the files as they are built into the project, and through the Services view we can control things such as the GlassFish server, as well as other services such as database connections.
The JSF framework is part of the Java EE 7 standard version. It allows developers to build views/pages that are separate from the business logic and data models that make up the middle tier of data-driven applications. Because PrimeFaces builds on the facilities provided by JSF, we need to add it to our project.
Select the project and right-click on it. This opens a context menu, which allows us to perform different tasks and control various aspects of the project itself. We are interested in the one at the bottom, Properties. We click on it to open the Project Properties dialog box and select the Frameworks option, as shown in the following screenshot:
The three tabs, Libraries, Configuration, and Components, are used to display and/or change the configuration of the JSF framework for our project. Libraries cannot be altered, but it shows that we are using Java EE 7 JSF version 2.2. I also changed the configuration as follows:
The JSF Servlet URL Pattern field has been changed to
*.xhtml from the default one because it makes the linking of JSF pages easier. However, this is a purely personal preference and it is not something that you need to do.
The Components tab does allow us to add the PrimeFaces library to our project. However, it adds the version bundled with NetBeans, and not the one that we will be using for our project, which is PrimeFaces 5.2 at the time of writing this book.
Once you have set up the JSF framework to your satisfaction, click on OK, and the changes will be applied to our project.
While we have been doing this, NetBeans should have been building the project in the background, including the creation of the project from its Maven archetype. Maven downloads quite a large number of files when a project is created. Luckily for us, it only does this once. Maven also maintains a local repository of resources on our workstation for us so that once a file is downloaded from the Maven Central Repository it doesn't need to be download from there again.
We will use Maven to add all the required resources that we don't create ourselves, and this section will help us to understand how we add libraries to our project. PrimeFaces only requires that the PrimeFaces JAR file be added to our project. So, this is what we do:
By clicking on the
+symbol to the left of the project in the Project view, we open the project tree, as follows:
The following is a brief explanation of the folders, as listed in the previous screenshot:
Web Pages: This is where we will add views or pages to our application.
Source Packages: Here, Java source code is managed.
Other Sources: This allows us to add other types of files which may be needed for the project. We will use this facility. So, its purpose should become clear, eventually.
Dependencies: Here we tell Maven the JAR files that we want to add to our project.
Runtime Dependencies and Java Dependencies: These are not important for this project. Feel free to browse them at your leisure.
Project Files: This is where NetBeans manages both the Maven project's
pom.xmlfile and the NetBeans project configuration file. While we don't need to look at these now, we will visit the
pom.xmlfile in the later chapters. So, if you want to preview these files, please feel free to do so.
Meanwhile, we are going to add PrimeFaces 5.2 to our project. Right-click on the Dependencies folder and select Add Dependency... from the context menu. This opens the Add Dependency dialog box, as shown in the following screenshot:
Usually, you only have the Search tab available in a newly created project.
Not only have we earned a break, but we also need time to allow Maven to download and install the Maven Central Repository index in our local Maven repository. This takes time because there are a very large number of resources available there. If you already use Maven for your projects, you obviously won't need a lot of time. The break might be welcome, though.
Once the Maven Central Repository index is available, you will see something like this:
If we right-click on the project and select Build, Maven will do its magic. When it is finished, we can use the Files view to see the result. Click on the Files tab. Then open the project tree view. You will see an
src and a
target folder, as well as the project's
pom.xml file and the NetBeans project configuration files.
The Java EE 7 standard mandates a formal folder structure for web applications. The
WEB-INF folders are where application-specific resources are stored. Under
WEB-INF, you will see a
classes folder, a
lib folder, and several configuration files. Don't worry if you don't see any or all of the configuration files. Only
web.xml is generated by default; the others will be created later in this chapter. The
classes folder is to where Java classes are compiled. The
lib folder is where JAR files, such as the PrimeFaces JAR file, are added.
Although PrimeFaces does not require any additional dependencies, GlassFish does check each JAR file for optional dependencies and treats them as mandatory ones. Because of this rather petty strictness, we also need to add the
commons-io dependencies. These are only required for the PrimeFaces
fileupload component, which won't be used here. At the time of writing this book, GlassFish does not allow applications to be run with unsatisfied dependencies. So, we need to add the missing dependencies.
Add a dependency as you did before, but this time type in
commons-fileupload in the query field and select version 1.3.1. Don't forget to click on Add before adding the
commons-io dependency. For this, you select the 2.1 version.
This causes the GlassFish server to run and our application to be deployed. Once the project is deployed, NetBeans then opens its default browser and points it to the application's start page.
I use Google Chrome as my NetBeans default browser because NetBeans provides a Chrome plugin that allows us to debug scripts in our pages as well as other useful services. I am not going to force you to use a particular browser, but I do recommend that you use Google Chrome for the aforementioned reasons. The only browser-related thing that you should avoid is using Internet Explorer below version 8. The latest JSF technologies are not guaranteed to work with the older Internet Explorer versions, and the visual experience, even with Internet Explorer 8, is underwhelming compared to modern browsers.
We should see something like this in Chrome:
Well done. You made it to the end of the first chapter with a working project and learned the repeatable steps that are required to create any PrimeFaces JSF web project using Maven.
In this chapter, we have successfully created a NetBeans Maven web project using the new project wizard, added the JSF framework to the project by adjusting the Project Properties, added the PrimeFaces component library as a dependency using Maven, added additional libraries as dependencies using Maven, and finally ran the project in GlassFish and viewed the start page of the application in a browser.
These steps are always the first steps that we need to take when creating a new PrimeFaces and JSF-based web application. Because of this, I felt that it's important that the first chapter of this book is devoted to this rather than the more fun things that we will be getting into later in the book.