Building an App with the Framework, Part 1

Jul 9, 2014, 10:18 AM

Tags: xpages
  1. Building an App with the Framework, Part 1
  2. Building an App with the Framework, Part 2
  3. Building an App with the Framework, Part 3
  4. Building an App with the Framework, Part 4
  5. Building an App with the Framework, Part 5
  6. Building an App with the Framework, Part 6
  7. Building an App with the Framework, Part 7

Now that the framework I've been building is settling into a real project, I figured one of the best ways for me to explain how it works and to double-check my own assumptions is to make a tutorial on how to actually construct an app using it. This will be a very simple one to start with: a note-taking app with just a couple fields and only one business object to speak of.

The overall conceit of the framework is that it uses standard/ExtLib components and idioms where appropriate but declares its own new idioms when the standard ones are deficient. This is done in a way, though, that is opt-in at each step. Though this app is positively stewing in the "Jesse" way of doing things, each component - controllers, models, servlets, etc. - can operate independently and alongside other methods of XPage development.

Probably unsurprisingly, writing a fully framework-based app is heavy on Java and uses some aspects that may be strange at first (annotations, namely), but I hope that the tutorial will explain why I go this route, and that it will demonstrate how using Java in this way can save a tremendous amount of programming and eliminate swaths of potential bugs.

I have a tentative plan for the series, and I'll adjust this list and add links as appropriate:

  1. Define the data model
  2. Create the view and add it to an XPage
  3. Create the editing page
  4. Add validation and translation to the model
  5. Add notification to the model
  6. Add sorting to the view
  7. Basic servlet
  8. REST with Angular.js

Without further ado, on to part 1:

Define the Data Model

Technically, I should start with part 0: set up the framework. As of this writing, I haven't packaged it up on OpenNTF yet, but I've created a ZIP file containing a current build, the NTF I use to create these apps, as well as the OpenNTF API from my branch - the framework relies on some features not yet released in an API milestone release:

Requirements-wise, you'll probably need 9.0.1 (the ExtLib that ships with it should suffice) and I haven't tested it on a server without AllPermission granted to all Java.

Now that that's out of the way, on to the actual code. To start with, we'll create the class that represents our core data model - the Note (in the note-taking sense) - and its Manager class. Domino-based model classes in the framework extend the frostillicus.xsp.model.domino.AbstractDominoModel class, while the Managers extend frostillicus.xsp.model.domino.AbstractDominoManager and are kept in the model package:

package model;

import javax.persistence.Table;

import frostillicus.xsp.bean.ApplicationScoped;
import frostillicus.xsp.bean.ManagedBean;
import frostillicus.xsp.model.domino.AbstractDominoModel;
import frostillicus.xsp.model.domino.AbstractDominoManager;

public class Note extends AbstractDominoModel {

	public static class Manager extends AbstractDominoManager<Note> {

		protected String getViewPrefix() {
			return "Notes\\";

So! What's going on here? Quite a few things, and just as important are the things that are not going on, such as code to declare all of the fields and each pertinent view's capabilities. Nonetheless, it's still a whole pile of Java concepts - this is the part that's the most unusual from a standard-XPages-dev perspective.

  • Right at the start of the class, you see @Table(name="Note"). This is part of my overall attempt to borrow aspects of the Java Persistence API and Hibernate when appropriate. Normally, @Table refers to a SQL table, but I'm using it here to declare the form name to use when creating documents. This may change in future versions.
  • There are no getters/setters (or other methods) in the Note class! These objects implement DataObject and so the standard way of accessing data is via getValue(...) and setValue(...). There are ways to add special behavior - complex getters, validation, and types - but the default behavior is to mimic the Domino way of just storing anything with any name.
  • The Manager class is stored as what's called an "inner class" in Java. It's a way of storing multiple related classes inside a single .java file. The full name of the class is a combination of the two names - so if you import the Task class in another file, the manager is named Task.Manager.
  • I'm using @ManagedBean annotations. These are something I tossed together a while ago based on how managed beans can be done in newer versions of JSF. In essence, these annotations let you specify the name and scope of your beans in-line with the code, without adding them to faces-config.xml. The result acts just the same way.
  • The only method specified in the Manager class is to provide a standard prefix for accessing views. I'll demonstrate using that later, but this is specified here to encourage the idiom of naming views like "Notes\All" or "Notes\By Day". It's not required, but following it saves some code elsewhere.
  • The Manager is also the place where you can specify an external database to house the data, but I'm not doing that here.

It's a strange bit of code, but my hope is that each line is clear once you understand the concept. My aim is to, as much as possible with Java, make the code in the model classes focus on specifying what the object does and where it's found, not on the messy business of actually retrieving and storing it (while also avoiding the configuration headaches of full JPA/Hibernate).

In the next post in the series, I'll cover adding a view for these documents to the DB and to an XPage.

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Nick Wall - Jul 9, 2014, 1:09 PM

Good stuff, following with interest.

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Eric Tomenga - Jul 9, 2014, 2:08 PM

Good explanation.  I will be following your framework and explanations closely.  Thank you and keep the posts coming!

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Jim Witthoff - Jul 14, 2014, 1:16 PM

Looking forward to giving your framework a try.  However, when I unpack the zip file, I'm not seeing the usual site.xml file in the org.openntf.domino folder.  Wasn't sure if there was another way to install that other than using an update site? 


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Jesse Gallagher - Jul 14, 2014, 1:23 PM

Yes - my build setup is a bit messed up for the update site for whatever reason, so I exported just the feature+plugins. You can still use that, though, by using the "Import Features" button in an NSF Update Site database, which is what I generally do.

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