Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm Moving!

My blog is moving as of today! Intertech is moving all of its instructor blogs to an internally managed blog site. Therefore, to follow my blog, go to You'll find my blog along with blogs from my fellow Intertech instructors and consultants. Thanks for your continued support.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Intertech Trained? Get a $10 Starbucks Gift Card

Are you a former student of Intertech Training? If so, simply display the Intertech Trained logo on your blog, personal website, or other online forum to receive a $10 Starbucks gift card.

With over 10,000 developers trained since 1991, technology professionals recognize the value of Intertech training. The Intertech Trained logo provides the recognition you need to excel in your career and validates of your training and skills.

To get the Intertech Trained logo and information about how to display it on your pages, contact Tony Caswell at

Sunday, December 6, 2009

JSF Component Power Demonstrated through Data Table

When it comes to MVC Web frameworks in Java there are a lot of choices. The leading frameworks or "Big 3" as they are sometimes know are usually considered to be Struts, Spring MVC and JavaServer Faces (JSF). Each framework has its pros/cons, its supporters and detractors. For those looking to some for a good comprehensive comparison, you might want to check out Matt Raible's blog and presentation here.

JSF is an extremely powerful, component driven framework. In fact, its nickname is "Swing for the Web." The JSF data table serves as an excellent example of JSF's Swing-like capability. A JSF data table can display a collection of data objects while also offering features such as pagination, column header/footers, style sheet application (for header, even and odd rows, etc.).

Data Table Example

First, to familiarize you with the JSF data table, let's look at a small example. In a JSP, use the <h:dataTable…> JSF tag to define a table in your page. The <h:column …> tag helps to define the table columns while the <f:facet …> tag is used to define header and footer rows.


    <h:dataTable value="#{orderBean.orderModel}" var="order"

        binding="#{orderBean.orderTable}" headerClass="columnHeader"



            <f:facet name="header">

                <h:outputText value="Description" />


            <h:outputText value="#{order.description}" />



            <f:facet name="header">

                <h:outputText value="Customer" />


            <h:outputText value="#{order.customer}" />



            <f:facet name="header">

                <h:outputText value="Price" />


            <h:outputText value="#{order.price}">

                <f:convertNumber type="currency" />




            <f:facet name="header">

                <h:outputText value="Quantity" />


            <h:outputText value="#{order.quantity}" />



            <f:facet name="header">

                <h:outputText value="Cost" />


            <h:outputText value="#{order.cost}">

                <f:convertNumber type="currency" />





                <h:commandLink action="#{orderBean.editOrder}">Edit</h:commandLink>



                <h:commandLink action="#{orderBean.deleteOrder}">Delete</h:commandLink>



                <h:commandLink action="#{orderBean.displayOrder}">

                    <f:param name="id" value="#{}" />Display</h:commandLink>





In this example a collection of Order objects is obtained from a JSF managed bean (OrderManagedBean) to populate the data table. Note the value attribute to the <h:dataTable…> element above. Unified expression language is used to bind the orderModel property of an instance of a managed bean to the data table.

The var attribute on the data table establishes the name of the variable used to reference to each object in the nested elements of the data table. In this example, the name "order" is used to reference each of the Order objects in the collection provided to the data table.

Unified expression language in the <h:column …> element allows properties of the Order objects to be obtained and displayed.

Note how cascading styles can be used to differentiate odd and even rows. Other attributes like first, rows, cellspacing, cellpadding, etc. can add pagination and better layout to the table. See the JSF API documentation for a complete list of how to customize the data table.

For completeness of the example, here is the managed bean definition for this example in the JSF faces-config.xml.












Populating a Data Table

Flexibility epitomizes JSF components. Extreme flexibility can be demonstrated by data table population and row selection. With regard to the binding, the JSF data table can be populated with an array, a List, an SQL ResultSet, a JSTL SQL Result, or even a JSF table data model object as shown here.

public class OrderManageBean {

    private ListDataModel orderModel;

    private OrderDAO dao = new OrderDAO();

    public ListDataModel getOrderModel() {

        if (orderModel == null) {

            List<Order> list = dao.getOrders();

            orderModel = new ListDataModel(list);


        return orderModel;


    public void setOrderModel(ListDataModel orderModel) {

        this.orderModel = orderModel;



All that is required is that the getOrderModel( ) method must return one of these types of objects.

Selecting and Working With a Row in the Data Table

When displaying a list of objects, a common requirement is to provide a means to select an object, or more precisely an object's row, for the purpose of working with that object – for example to edit or delete the object. Again, JSF provides the flexibility to accomplish this task in many ways.

You can bind a property of the managed bean to the data table component itself. Then, call on the getRowData( ) method of the data table object to get the selected object. Below, the managed bean's edit action method uses the bound data table component to get the selected Order object.

    private UIData orderTable;

    public UIData getOrderTable() {

        return orderTable;


    public void setOrderTable(UIData orderTable) {

        this.orderTable = orderTable;


    public String editOrder() {

        Order o = (Order) orderTable.getRowData();

        //do work to get and edit an order


        return null;


You can bind a property of the managed bean to the data table model and call on the getRowData( ) method of the model object to get the selected object. This is the case in the delete method below, which uses the bound data table model to fetch the selected Order object.

    public String deleteOrder() {

        Order o = (Order) orderModel.getRowData();

        //do work to delete order


        return null;


Or, you can add the object's unique identifier as a parameter to the link or button in the data table (see the <h:commandLink ….> to Display above) so that when it is pushed, the object's identifier is passed to action method. The id can then be used to fetch the selected object. Here, the managed bean's details method uses the id passed via the command link in the page to fetch the selected Order to display.

    public String displayOrder() {

        Order o = (Order) orderModel.getRowData();

        //do work to get and display an order


        return null;


The code for this example is available here.

Powerful JSF

Again, JSF is a very powerful MVC framework in Java. Its component nature, as represented by the data table, allows it to be customized quickly/easily and allows for great integration into technologies like AJAX. To be fair, JSF has also suffered some performance criticism (see JavaOne presentation here). As JSF 2.0 is now out, more organizations are exploring (or possibly re-exploring) it for Web applications. JSF 2.0 will be part of Java EE 6 which is expected to be released at anytime.

Intrigued by the power and capability of JSF? Come attend Intertech's Complete JSF class.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Help!!! What training do you need?

My company, Intertech Inc., is conducting a survey on the training needs of the software development community. Whether you are a current customer or a potential future customer, your input is valuable! We want to understand what technology you and your organization are exploring and what training needs are at the top of your “want list.”

In addition to influencing our next course offerings, let me give you another reason to fill out the survey. If you complete the survey and provide Intertech with your email address at the end of the survey, Intertech will send you a coupon for $250 off your next Intertech class (valid for public classes held in 2010)! Its simple and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Just click on the survey link here - 2010 Intertech Course Planning Survey

Monday, October 19, 2009

Interest in Noop?

Have you heard of Noop yet? Noop (see project page here) is a new programming language developed by Google engineers (although not sponsored directly by Google) that is expected to run on the Java Virtual Machine. Why a new program language? According to the project Web site, the purpose of Noop is "encouraging what we believe to be good coding practices and discouraging the worst offenses."

Fans of Spring and the importance of testing (especially unit testing) will note the first two goals of the new language are to build dependency injection and testability right into the language versus having to use 3rd party libraries to bring DI and testing into application environments. Not included in the language (supposedly to make things clearer, simpler, and easier to maintain), among other things are statics, primitive types, and subclassing (implementation inheritance).

To find out more about Noop join their mailing list at Also, a short article on Noop can be found on Application Development Trends website here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hibernate’s Smart Automatic Dirty Check

I am one lucky guy. As an instructor, my job begins anew each week. Each week, I face a new group of people trying to learn a technology or skill. People have asked "don't you get bored teaching." How could I? Each week the topic changes and the needs of my students change. And when I am not teaching, I am working to understand new technologies and how/when to put it into courseware.

But perhaps what makes my job the most enjoyable is when I have a group of students that are really engaging and come up with questions that make me stop and think. In other words, they challenge me to improve my own skills/knowledge on a topic that I think I already know pretty well. This week, I was teaching Hibernate and had just one of those questions from one of my students, Josephine.

We were exploring Hibernate's automatic dirty checking. As those familiar with Hibernate have learned, Hibernate knows persistent objects and tracks state change to those objects. No explicit call to save (or update) a persistent object is necessary. Just committing the transaction causes the new state of a persistent object to be synchronized to the database. However, Josephine asked what would happen if the state of an object was changed and then changed back again to the original state in the same transaction? Would Hibernate know that no real change occurred and therefore avoid an SQL call to the database? What's your guess? In fact, the answer surprised me when I tested it out.

To describe the situation with a little more detail, explore the following persistent class and Hibernate mapping file. Nothing real complex about the Contact class or its mapping to a Contact table.

public class Contact {
private Long id = 0L;
private String firstName;
private String lastName;
private Date dateOfBirth;
private boolean married = false;
private int children;
private int age;
//getters and setters and constructors

<hibernate-mapping package="com.intertech.domain">
<class name="Contact">
<id name="id">
<generator class="increment" />
<property name="firstName" column="first_name" not-null="true" />
<property name="lastName" column="last_name" not-null="true" />
<property name="dateOfBirth" column="date_of_birth" type="date" not-null="true" />
<property name="married" />
<property name="children" />
<property name="age" formula="datediff('yy', date_of_birth, curdate())" access="field"/>

Now check out this little bit of test code. In this example, the Contact with an ID of 2 (2 long) has 4 children.

SessionFactory sf = new Configuration().configure().buildSessionFactory();
Session s = sf.openSession();
Transaction t = s.beginTransaction();
Contact c = (Contact) s.load(com.intertech.domain.Contact.class, 2L);

So, what happens if code updates the number of children to another number (in this case 32) and then returning it to 4? Take a look at the log output (with hibernate.show_sql=true). The answer surprised me!

select as id0_0_,
contact0_.first_name as first2_0_0_,
contact0_.last_name as last3_0_0_,
contact0_.date_of_birth as date4_0_0_,
contact0_.married as married0_0_,
contact0_.children as children0_0_,
datediff('yy',contact0_.date_of_birth,curdate()) as formula0_0_ from
Contact contact0_

The SQL select is made to load to the Contact, but no update SQL is issued. Hibernate actually checks to see if the state has undergone real modification before issuing an SQL to synchronize the state with the database. Another case of the students teaching the instructor.

Come join me in learning Hibernate in Intertech's Complete Hibernate class. We offer both live and virtual training, and while I may not have all the answers, I'll work hard to find them for you! That's one of the best parts of my job!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

HandlerInterceptors in Spring Web MVC Framework

Last week, I had a wonderful group of people in my class to learn the Spring Framework. In this group, one of my students – Eric - asked me about Spring Web MVC Interceptors. In particular, Eric had a great question about interceptors versus aspect-oriented programming (AOP) provided in Spring. Were they different? Could "normal" Spring AOP be used in place of interceptors and vice versa?

In general, Interceptors, or more precisely HandlerInterceptors, are used to provide cross cutting concerns to a Spring MVC Web application. Here is a quote from Rod Johnson et al's book Java Development with the Spring Framework: "HandlerInterceptors provide the capability to intercept incoming HTTP requests. Interceptors are useful to add additional crosscutting behavior to your web infrastructure, such as security, logging, auditing." Of course, you'll find "crosscutting behavior" the purpose of AOP as well. So indeed, HandlerInterceptors and AOP serve a similar purpose; that is they serve to collect cross cutting concern code usually sprinkled throughout the core concerns of an application. AOP provides a framework for providing cross-cutting concerns throughout all types of applications and application components. HandlerInterceptors are an extension point to a Spring MVC framework, and as such, are a means to provide cross-cutting concerns specific to Web applications. These special cross-cutting concern components also have access to the Web request, response and ModelAndView objects; something normal AOP aspects are not provided directly without some work. If you are unfamiliar with AOP, the Spring API documentation also indicates that HandlerInterceptors work like Servlet Filters.

While there is a rather large amount of documentation and tutorials on intertwining AOP into a Spring application, there is not as much on HandlerInterceptors. So let me use this blog entry to show you how HandlerInterceptors work both in Spring 2 and in Spring 2.5 where annotations (rather than XML) are used to specify the controller and request mapping.

HandlerInterceptors must implement the org.springframework.web.servlet.HandlerInterceptor interface. This interface defines three methods (preHandle, postHandle, and afterCompletion) that get called before a handler is executed (#1 in the diagram below), after a handler is executed but before the view is rendered (#2 below), and after completely handling a Web request and rendering the view(#3 below). These methods allow for all sorts of pre and post processing in the chain of execution associated to each and every Web request.

Here is a simple implementation of the HandlerInterceptor.

package com.intertech.controllers;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;
import org.springframework.web.servlet.ModelAndView;
import org.springframework.web.servlet.HandlerInterceptor;
public class
TestInterceptor implements HandlerInterceptor {
public boolean preHandle(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response, Object handler) throws Exception {
System.out.println("In pre-processing/n");
return true;
public void afterCompletion(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response, Object handler, Exception ex) throws Exception {
System.out.println("done with request/n");
public void postHandle(HttpServletRequest request, HtpServletResponse response, Object handler, ModelAndView modelAndView) throws Exception {
System.out.println("In post-processing/n");

Note that the preHandle method returns a boolean. If false is returned, the interceptor indicates the normal execution chain should be aborted. The result is to send an HTTP error or other custom response to the user. The postHandle method is provided a copy of the ModelAndView object. This allows the interceptor to modify the model information or view displayed as normally determined by the Spring MVC controller. Finally, the afterCompletion method serves as a kind of callback after processing the request and rendering the view. This method can and should clean up any resources used by the interceptor.

In Spring 2, interceptors are woven into the Web request execution chain through XML configuration of the handler mapping (note the interceptors property for the SimpleUrlHandlerMapping example below).
<bean id="testInterceptor" class="com.intertech.controllers.TestInterceptor" />
<bean class="org.springframework.web.servlet.handler.SimpleUrlHandlerMapping">
<property name="interceptors">
<ref bean="testInterceptor"/>
<property name="mappings">
<prop key="/addcontact.request">addContactController
<prop key="/displayContacts.request">manageContactsController
<prop key="/deleteContact.request">manageContactsController
In Spring 2.5 and better, since handler mapping is handled via @RequestMapping annotations, the interceptor must be added to the DefaultAnnotationHandlerMapping. In Spring 2.5 and beyond, the DispatcherServlet enables the DefaultAnnotationHandlerMapping by default, which looks for @RequestMapping annotations on @Controllers. However, the DefaultAnnotationHandlerMapping can still be added to the Spring configuration file and the interceptors added to this handler mapping as shown below.

<bean id="testInterceptor" class="com.intertech.controllers.TestInterceptor" />
<bean id="handlerMapping" class="org.springframework.web.servlet.mvc.annotation.DefaultAnnotationHandlerMapping">
<property name="interceptors">
<list><ref bean="testInterceptor"/></list>
Spring already comes with several interceptor adapters (HandlerInterceptorAdapter, LocaleChangeInterceptor, ThemeChangeInterceptor, UserRoleAuthorizationInterceptor, WebContentInterceptor, WebRequestHandlerInterceptorAdapter) so that developers don't have to implement common Web application cross cutting concerns. For example, the UserRoleAuthorizationInterceptor checks the authorization of the current user against the Java EE security roles, as evaluated by HttpServletRequest's isUserInRole method.

To learn more about the Spring Framework or Spring Web MVC, please consider joining me for Intertech's Complete Spring Core or Complete Spring Web class. We offer training at our facility as well as virtually right to your desktop wherever you are.