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Vaadin web UI framework

Now that web applications require increasingly sophisticated user interfaces, nearly all web app developers have some experience of a user interface framework. Dynamic pages such as JSPs in Java EE and ASPs in .NET don’t allow for these richer user experiences. Delivering a range of features from simple text fields to full blown desktop – style applications is now possible through these ‘AJAX’ web technologies. There are many different approaches taken by these frameworks and platforms and I have blogged previously about some of the open source offerings such as OpenLaszlo, ThinWire and GWT.

Lately I have been using Vaadin which provides an excellent environment for rapid web UI development for Java developers. Vaadin is actually built on top of GWT, the principle advantage of which was that it required no hand-coding of javascript which is notoriously fiddly. GWT works by compiling Java code into javascript. Vaadin takes this concept a step further and renders javascript on the fly, essentially pushing everything the developer writes server side. This eliminates the need for RPC calls to deal with more complex features (not appropriate to be running on the client’s browser) such as object relational mapping with EJBs.

Essentially Vaadin allows Java developers to work solely in Java with whichever APIs and libraries they wish without thinking about what’s happening in the client and what’s happening on the server. In addition Vaadin provides some very slick, open source visual components to use in one’s application which certainly speeds up development time.

This approach is very similar to that taken in the ThinWire AJAX platform, however ThinWire unfortunately hit a lack of community support and current development has slowed right down. In contrast Vaadin, created by a Finnish company (previously called The IT Mill, now simply Vaadin Ltd), has a commercial backing from consultancy and support as well as a vibrant open source community.

For now, I think that suffices as a good introduction to the framework. Now I’ve worked with such visually and programmatically appealing platforms as this, I find it quite surprising there are not more development companies using these kinds of technology particularly if they are develping web apps and hand coding large amounts of javascript. A good starting point is the Vaadin component sampler which can be found here.

One Comment

  1. Vaadin is getting to be very popular:

    We are an I.T. services company based in India with Vaadin as the primary choice for developing rich internet applications, and we encourage our clients to consider investing in Vaadin-related solutions.

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