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Developing Web Applications With Vaadin

April 26th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

After Shreyas shared his experience with Vaadin in his comment on my previous post, I started to play with the web framework. As it advertises, it’s “a Java framework for building modern web applications that look great, perform well and make you and your users happy.”

Based on my experience, I think it’s a great framework that is very intuitive yet powerful. All you need to do is to write Java code in a similar way to using Java AWT and Swing for standalone applications. The minor different is that you can have CSS style control on the widgets.

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It’s quite a simplification over Google’s GWT. The GWT allows you to write JavaScript based applications with Java. When you are done, you will get the JavaScript code which will run in browsers. To get a reasonable project done, you mostly need Java Servlet separately. Although GWT offers RPC mechanism, you still have to define interface and sync up the client and server component, not to mention the confusing asynchronous call back method signature.

Vaadin’s programming model does not differentiate client and server piece. The code execution is actually on the server side. This is very similar to the ASP .Net model, and that explains why it’s simpler.

As with almost any engineering, you trade something for something else. Using Vaadin, you get simplification at cost of performance. For most web applications, performance may not be a big concern. Performance also depends on how you design applications. Because I haven’t run/test any Vaadin application with big scale, I don’t have much to say about it. One thing I know that ASP.Net which uses same server execution model works in large web sites, therefore the approach itself is fine.

To download and play with the Vaadin framework, you can check out its project home. The BSD license is a big plus.

If you use (I think you should these days) IDEs like Eclipse or NetBeans, you want to use its Eclipse plug-ins. The quick start tutorial is listed on the web site.

While I use the Eclipse plug-in, I got into several gotchas because I installed standard Eclipse for Java developer which cannot discover Tomcat server and launch it as needed. After searching around and installing extra plug-ins, I finally got it working. It’s not really worthwhile. You want to avoid these by starting with Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers.

Enjoy!

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