Introduction to JSF Portlets with Liferay Faces

Do you want to develop MVC-based portlets using the Java EE standard? Do you want to use a portlet development framework with a UI component model that makes it easy to develop sophisticated, rich UIs? Or have you been writing web apps using JSF that you’d like to use in Liferay Portal? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in luck! Liferay Faces provides all of these capabilities and more.

Liferay Faces is an umbrella project that provides support for the JavaServer™ Faces (JSF) standard within Liferay Portal. It encompasses the following projects:

  • Liferay Faces Bridge enables you to deploy JSF web apps as portlets without writing portlet-specific Java code. It also contains innovative features that make it possible to leverage the power of JSF 2.x inside a portlet application. Liferay Faces Bridge implements the JSR 329 Portlet Bridge Standard.
  • Liferay Faces Alloy enables you to use AlloyUI components in a way that is consistent with JSF development.
  • Liferay Faces Portal enables you to leverage Liferay-specific utilities and UI components in JSF portlets.

If you’re new to JSF, you probably want to know its strengths, its weaknesses, and how it stacks up to developing portlets with CSS/JavaScript. We’ll give you information on JSF and Liferay Faces to help you decide what framework is best for your needs.

Here are some good reasons to use JSF and Liferay Faces:

  • JSF is the Java EE standard for developing web applications that utilize the Model/View/Controller (MVC) design pattern. As a standard, the specification is actively maintained by the Java Community Process (JCP), and the Oracle reference implementation (Mojarra) has frequent releases. Software Architects often choose standards like JSF because they are supported by Java EE application server vendors and have a guaranteed service-life according to Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • JSF was first introduced in 2003 and is therefore a mature technology for developing web applications that are (arguably) simpler and easier to maintain.
  • JSF Portlet Bridges (like Liferay Faces Bridge) are also standardized by the JCP and make it possible to deploy JSF web applications as portlets without writing portlet-specific Java code.
  • Support for JSF (via Liferay Faces) is included with Liferay EE support.
  • JSF is a unique framework in that it provides a UI component model that makes it easy to develop sophisticated, rich user interfaces.
  • JSF has built-in Ajax functionality that provides automatic updates to the browser by replacing elements in the DOM.
  • JSF is designed with many extension points that make a variety of integrations possible.
  • There are several JSF component suites available including Liferay Faces Alloy, ICEfaces, Primefaces, and RichFaces. Each of these component suites fortify JSF with a variety of UI components and complimentary technologies such as Ajax Push.
  • JSF is a good choice for server-side developers that need to build web user interfaces. This enables server-side developers to focus on their core competencies rather than being experts in HTML/CSS/JavaScript.
  • JSF provides the Facelets templating engine which makes it possible to create reusable UI components that are encapsulated as markup.
  • JSF provides good integration with HTML5 markup
  • JSF provides the Faces Flows feature which makes it easy for developers to create wizard-like applications that flow from view-to-view.
  • JSF has good integration with dependency injection frameworks such as CDI and Spring that make it easy for developers to create beans that are placed within a scope managed by a container: @RequestScoped, @ViewScoped, @SessionScoped, @FlowScoped
  • Since JSF is a stateful technology, the framework encapsulates the complexities of managing application state so that the developer doesn’t have to write state management code. It is also possible to use JSF in a stateless manner, but some of the features of application state management become effectively disabled.

There are some reasons not to use JSF. For example, if you are a front-end developer who makes heavy use of HTML/CSS/JavaScript, you might find that JSF UI components render HTML in a manner that gives you less control over the overall HTML document. So, sticking with JavaScript and leveraging AlloyUI may be better for you. Or, perhaps standards aren’t a major consideration for you or you may simply prefer developing portlets using your current framework.

Whether you develop your next portlet application with JSF and Liferay Faces or with HTML/CSS/JavaScript is entirely up to you. But you probably want to learn more about Liferay Faces and try it out for yourself. In the Liferay Faces tutorials, you’ll learn how the Liferay Faces Bridge works, examine using Liferay UI Components and Utilities in JSF applications, leverage AlloyUI components using Liferay Faces Alloy, migrate an existing project to Liferay Faces, and build Liferay Faces from source.

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