Building Collaborative CRUD Applications With ICEfaces and NetBeans

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CRUD-style applications remain the mainstay of enterprise application development, but more and more, application developers are looking to add Rich Internet Application (RIA) capabilities into their development process.  ICEfaces provides a comprehensive development framework for building RIAs using pure Java techniques based on JavaServer Faces (JSF), but beyond RIA features ICEfaces can truly revolutionize web applications by facilitating real time collaboration using Ajax Push.  The latest ICEfaces 1.7 release includes complete integration with NetBeans 6.0.1 making it easy to build collaborative RIA-style applications, and Glassfish combined with the Asynchronous Request Processing (ARP) features of Grizzly provides the scalable deployment infrastructure required for push-style web applications.  Note: NetBeans 6.1 integration is underway and will be availible soon.

Essentially, CRUD-style applications enable users to interact with enterprise data, including Creating, Reading, Updating and Deleting data, thus the CRUD acronym.  If we apply RIA techniques to a CRUD application, our primary motivation is to make interactions between user and data more effective.  This might mean providing sortable table headers, improving data navigation through hierarchical tree representations, and enriching master/detail views onto the data.  While making the user interaction with the application more effective is a worthwhile exercise onto itself, it does nothing to enhance the interactions between the users of that data.  This is where Ajax Push techniques come into play, as they enable asynchronous real time data push to the user when data changes. Now, when those changes occur as the result of one user manipulating the data, all users interested in that particular data can be instantaneously informed of the change.  Web-based collaboration is the essence of Web 2.0 and Ajax Push enables it,  fundamentally changing what is possible in web applications and turning dusty old CRUD applications into rich, interactive, collaboration platforms.

So what does it take to build collaborative CRUD applications?  In the remainder of this article we will work through a very basic example using ICEfaces and NetBeans to illustrate how easily attainable they are.  While the example is simplistic, it fully exposes all the technique you will require to leverage rich ICEfaces features and Ajax Push all through the NetBeans JSF Visual Design Editor.  The example uses the ICEfaces 1.7, and NetBeans 6.0.1 releases.  The completed NetBeans project can be download from the ICEfaces tutorial page under the IDE Tutorials tab.

Installing the ICEfaces Plugins in NetBeans

  1. Registered ICEfaces community members can download the ICEfaces/NetBeans integration bundle here.  The bundle is located under IDE Tool Integrations > NetBeans, and is called  Unpack the bundle somewhere that you can access it from NetBeans.
  2. Install the ICEfaces plugins into NetBeans from Tools > Plugins dialog, using the Downloaded tab.  The Add Plugins button is used to select the ICEfaces plugins which are called com-icesoft-faces-vwp-ide.nbm and com-icesoft-ide-netbeans-libs-module.nbm.  Once you have selected the plugins, you should see something like this, and just need to hit the Install button.
    ICEfaces Plugin Installation

Creating an ICEfaces Project

  1. Create a new project using File > New Project wizard, and select Web > Web Application for the project type and hit Next > button.
  2. Name the project CollaborativeCRUD and select GlassFish V2 server, and Java EE 5, then hit the Next > button.
  3. Select the Visual Web ICEfaces framework, as illustrated below, and hit Finished button.
    New Web Application

Connecting an ice:DataTable to a Database Table

  1. In the Visual Design Editor, you see the template for an ICEfaces page called Page1.  Delete the default InputTextarea, and from the ICEfaces Palette drag an ice:DataTable onto the page as illustrated below.
    Drag DataTable
  2. Next, drag a database table onto the ice:DataTable.  This can be done from the Services tab under Databases, as illustrated below.  For this example you will use the Person table, from the Travel database.  Make sure the drag target is the dataTable and not the htmlForm.  You will see that the column  data in the ice:DataTable now reflect the content of the Person database table.
    Drag Person DB
  3. Add a Sortable Header and a Row Selector using the context menu for the ice:DataTable as illustrated below.
    Add Sort Header
  4. When the row selector binding dialog appears, simply accept the defaults and close, as illustrated below.  Later you will use the rowSelectior1_processAction listener to implement the editing logic for selected rows.
    Row Select Binding
  5. You can now test that this all works by building the project and running it.  The result, illustrated below, is a sortable table of the Person database with row selection, which at this point does nothing.
    Run 1

Implement Simple Data Model To Support Editing

  1. First you need to create a wrapper class for the person data.
    package CollaborativeCRUD;

    import java.sql.Timestamp;
    import java.util.TreeMap;

    public class Person {
        private Integer personId;
        private String name;
        private String jobTitle;
        private Integer frequentFlyer;
        private Timestamp lastDateUpdated;

        public Integer getFrequentFlyer() {
            return frequentFlyer;
        public void setFrequentFlyer(Integer frequentFlyer) {
            this.frequentFlyer = frequentFlyer;
        public String getJobTitle() {
            return jobTitle;
        public void setJobTitle(String jobTitle) {
            this.jobTitle = jobTitle;
        public Timestamp getLastDateUpdated() {
            return lastDateUpdated;
        public void setLastDateUpdated(Timestamp lastDateUpdated) {
            this.lastDateUpdated = lastDateUpdated;
        public String getName() {
            return name;
        public void setName(String name) {
   = name;
        public Integer getPersonId() {
            return personId;
        public void setPersonId(Integer personId) {
            this.personId = personId;
        public Person() {
        public Person(Integer personId, String name, String jobTitle, Integer frequentFlyer, Timestamp lastDateUpdated) {
            this.personId = personId;
   = name;
            this.jobTitle = jobTitle;
            this.frequentFlyer = frequentFlyer;
            this.lastDateUpdated = lastDateUpdated;
        public Person(TreeMap data) {
            this.personId = (Integer) data.get("PERSON.PERSONID");
   = (String) data.get("PERSON.NAME");
            this.jobTitle = (String) data.get("PERSON.JOBTITLE");
            this.frequentFlyer = (Integer) data.get("PERSON.FREQUENTFLYER");
            this.lastDateUpdated = (Timestamp) data.get("PERSON.LASTUPDATED");

  2. Next you will establish some state in your page bean to support editing of the selected row.  You need to capture the selected person, and maintain a boolean indicating whether editing is disabled.

    public class Page1 extends AbstractPageBean {
        // Managed Component Definitions
        private Person blankPerson = new Person(0, "", "", 0, null);
        private Person selectedPerson = blankPerson;
        private boolean editDisabled = true;

        public boolean isEditDisabled() {
            return editDisabled;
        public void setEditDisabled(boolean editDisabled) {
            this.editDisabled = editDisabled;
        public Person getSelectedPerson() {
            return selectedPerson;
        public void setSelectedPerson(Person selectedPerson) {
            this.selectedPerson = selectedPerson;

  3. Next you need to implement the row selection logic in the action listener previously defined for this.  You need to extract the row out of the data model associated with the ice:DataTable, in this case the dataTableSortableDataModel.  You also need to enable editing when the row is selected.

        public void rowSelector1_processAction(RowSelectorEvent rse) {
            int selectedRowIndex = rse.getRow();
            editDisabled = false;
            selectedPerson = new Person((TreeMap) dataTable1SortableDataModel.getRowData());

  4. Build the project so that the new objects will be available for binding into the page.

Create Editing Form

  1. Add a second ice:Form by dragging one from the ICEfaces component palette onto the page.  Make sure the new form follows the existing one, and is not nested inside it. You will also have to resize the form to accept the editing controls that you will add next.
  2. To keep the example as simple as possible, the editing feature will display the selected name in an ice:OutputText, and allow editing of the job description in an ice:InputText.  Start by dragging an ice:OutputText onto the new form.  Right click the OutputText to display the context menu, and select Bind To Data.  You need to create the binding #{} as illustrated below.
    Output Text Binding
  3. Now drag an ice:InputText onto the form, and create the binding #{Page1.selectedPerson.jobTitle} in the same manner that you did for the OutputText.  Once you have done that you will add one additional binding to enable and disable the InputText.  Again, right click the InputText and from the context menu select Property Bindings. You need to bind the disabled property to your editDisabled boolean in the page bean, as illustrated below.
    Disabled Binding
  4. Finally, drag an ice:CommandButton onto the form.  When you are done, your page design should look something like illustrated below.  As with the InputText, you want to bind the CommandButton disabled property to the editDisabled boolean with a binding like disabled=#{Page1.editDisabled}.
    Form Design View

Add The Editing Logic

  1. Right click the submit button and from the context menu select Edit Event Handler > processAction, which will create the Java code for the button1_processAction() event listener in the page bean.  You need to add logic to this member function to persist the data, and disable editing until the next row selection occurs.  To do this you will use the NetBeans data provider that was established automatically when you associated the Person table with the ice:DataTable.  The code for achieving this is shown below.

        public void button1_processAction(ActionEvent ae) {
            personDataProvider.setCachedRowSet((javax.sql.rowset.CachedRowSet) getValue("#{SessionBean1.personRowSet}"));
            selectedPerson = blankPerson;
            editDisabled = true;

  2. The logic for persisting a person into the database is implemented as follows.

        private void persistPerson(Person person) {
            if (personDataProvider != null) {
                java.util.Date d = new java.util.Date();
                Timestamp ts = new Timestamp(d.getTime());
                boolean done = false;
                try {
                    if (personDataProvider.getRowCount() > 0) {
                        do {
                            if (personDataProvider.getValue("PERSON.PERSONID").equals(person.getPersonId())) {
                                personDataProvider.setValue("PERSON.NAME", person.getName());
                                personDataProvider.setValue("PERSON.JOBTITLE", person.getJobTitle());
                                personDataProvider.setValue("PERSON.FREQUENTFLYER", person.getFrequentFlyer());
                                personDataProvider.setValue("PERSON.LASTUPDATED", ts);
                                done = true;
                        } while (!done && personDataProvider.cursorNext());
                } catch (Exception ex) {
                    System.out.println("Exception occured: " + ex);

  3. One last thing you need to do is ensure that the table view on the data is refreshed before the render occurs to ensure it is up to date.  This is done in the prerender() member function as shown below.

        public void prerender() {
            try {
                CachedRowSet cachedRowSet = (CachedRowSet) getValue("#{SessionBean1.personRowSet}");
                dataTable1SortableDataModel.setWrappedData((javax.sql.rowset.CachedRowSet) getValue("#{SessionBean1.personRowSet}"));
            } catch (Exception ex) {
                    System.out.println("Exception occured: " + ex);

  4. You can now build and run the application.  When a row is selected it should look something like this.
    Run 2
  5. Now try interacting with the application from 2 different browser clients.  You will see that if changes are made in one client, they are not reflected in the other client until you interact with that client, at which time the data is updated to reflect the existing content in the database.  Without Ajax Push implemented in this applications, the client's view onto the data can be stale at any moment in time.

Add Ajax Push

  1. The Ajax Push infrastructure in ICEfaces is organized under an application scope bean called RenderManager.  To add this bean to your application open the faces-config.xml in XML view in the editor.  Right click an existing managed bean definition and from the context menu select JavaServer Faces > Add Managed Bean, as illustrated below.
    Add Managed Bean
  2. Define a managed bean called RenderManager with the class com.icesoft.faces.async.render.RenderManager in applications scope as illustrated below.
    RenderManager Bean
  3. This will result in the following code being added to your faces-config.xml.


  4. You will need access to the RenderManager from your page bean so add it as a managed property with the following code.


  5. Next you need your page bean to implement the Renderable interface as shown below.

    public class Page1 extends AbstractPageBean implements Renderable {

    Now if you right click the page, and select Insert Code from the context menu, you will see a dialog from which you can select Implement Method. You can now select the Renderable interface and generated the members as shown below.
    Renderable Methods

  6. Before you complete the implementation, you need to add some state to your page bean as shown below.  You will need access to the PersistentFacesState, RenderManager, and an OnDemandRenderer to hold the list of Renderables (1 per client session).  The OnDemandRenderer is a named singleton that will be created by the RenderManager.

        private PersistentFacesState state = null;
        private RenderManager renderManager;
        private OnDemandRenderer personGroup = null;

        public void setRenderManager(RenderManager renderManager){
            if(renderManager != null){
                this.renderManager = renderManager;
                personGroup = renderManager.getOnDemandRenderer("personGroup");
        public RenderManager getRenderManager(){
            return renderManager;

  7. Make sure the persistentFacesState is initialized in the page bean init() member.

        public void init() {
            // Perform application initialization that must complete
            // *after* managed components are initialized
            // TODO - add your own initialization code here
            state = PersistentFacesState.getInstance();

  8. Now you can complete the implementation of the Renderable interface with the following code.

        public PersistentFacesState getState() {
           return state;

        public void renderingException(RenderingException re) {

  9. Finally, you need to request a render whenever changes are committed to the database.  This is done in the action listener for the submit button as shown below.

        public void button1_processAction(ActionEvent ae) {
            personDataProvider.setCachedRowSet((javax.sql.rowset.CachedRowSet) getValue("#{SessionBean1.personRowSet}"));
            selectedPerson = blankPerson;
            editDisabled = true;

  10. You can now build and run the application.  If you view it in two different browsers you should see changes pushed to both when changes are made to the data.  You now have a fully functional collaborative CRUD application.  The application will also work from multiple windows in the same browser instance, but first you will need to turn on concurrentDOMViews in the web.xml as shown below.


Configure The Grizzly ARP Engine

  1. The current deployment of the application relies on a standard Servlet to handle the Ajax Push connection, which is not a scalable solution.  By configuring Grizzly into the deployment you can make the application scale well for large numbers of concurrent users.  In future releases of ICEfaces, Grizzly configuration will be automated, but for now there is a bit of manual configuration that you must do.  First you must add the Grizzly Servlet as the first Servlet in your web.xml, as shown below.

            <servlet-name>Grizzly Push Servlet</servlet-name>
            <load-on-startup> 1 </load-on-startup>
            <servlet-name>Grizzly Push Servlet</servlet-name>
            <servlet-name>Persistent Faces Servlet</servlet-name>

  2. Next you have to add the cometSupport property to the http-listener in your Glassfish domain.xml file.  NetBeans can tell you the location of this file for your installation from the Services tab under Servers.  Right click the Glassfish server and select properties from the context menu, and you will see the directory path to your domain.xml file as illustrated below.  Also, you will need to turn off Enable HTTP Monitor to see the true performance of the application.
    Glassfish Properties

    Once you have located the domain.xml file, you need to add the cometSupport property as shown below.

    <http-listener acceptor-threads="1" address="" blocking-enabled="false" default-virtual-server="server" enabled="true" family="inet"              
              id="http-listener-1" port="17154" security-enabled="false" server-name="" xpowered-by="true">
              <property name="proxiedProtocols" value="ws/tcp"/>
              <property name="cometSupport" value="true"/>

  3. Now rebuild the application, and restart the server.  The application is now running with Grizzly configured to handle all the Ajax Push connections.

Inspiration Time

You have now completed your first collaborative CRUD application.  While simplistic, the example illustrates all the key concepts required to build sophisticated collaborative applications with ICEfaces and NetBeans.  Take what you have learned here, and apply your own inspiration to future application development.  You can change the way your enterprise collaborates, and usher your colleagues and customers into the Web 2.0 era.