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Why Go with RichFaces

It’s important to look beyond just components when comparing these component libraries

Lately I have seen a spike in questions such as which JSF 2.0 component library is better? Or RichFaces vs PrimeFaces and there is also performance comparison. It’s probably because JSF 2 is being used more and more and people want to know which library to use. I guess that’s fair. Here is my 2 cents.

It’s important to look beyond just components when comparing these component libraries. It’s safe to assume that most have very similar components at this point.

RichFaces 4 is more than just a component library, it’s a rich framework for JSF providing:

  • Over 100 rich and AJAX components
  • Skins
  • Client-side validation (extension to Bean Validation)
  • CDK (Component Development Kit)

RichFaces 4 is JSF 2 based with a CR (Candidate Release) version out very soon. From there, we are just a few weeks from the final version. I know version 4 took a little longer than everyone expected but this version is more than just a typical update. It’s a significant upgrade that includes the following:

  • All JavaScript is now based on jQuery
  • All component were reviewed for consistency, usability, and redesign following semantic HTML principles
  • Both server-side and client-side performance optimization
  • Strict code clean-up and review
  • New and easier to use CDK (Component Development Kit)

I think it’s well worth the extra wait.

Other component libraries usually just wrap existing JavaScript widgets from Yahoo UI (YUI) or similar as JSF components. RichFaces approach is different. RichFaces uses jQuery as the foundation but most component JavaScript functionality is being developed by RichFaces team. Yes, it’s takes longer but also gives more flexibility and customization options and doesn’t lock components into the underlying JavaScript library.

Installing RichFaces 4 has been simplified as well. Just drop the Jars into your project, nothing to register in web.xml file anymore.

If you look at AJAX features in JSF 2, then you can see it was greatly inspired by the RicihFaces a4j:support tag. Plus, many components have Ajax built in as well.

The RichFaces community is very active and always willing to help. And don’t forget that RichFaces is backed by JBoss and Exadel.

RichFaces might not have the shiniest components. It wasn’t the first with JSF 2 support. (This argument will be mute in about 1 months). But, keep in mind that RichFaces is used in thousands of projects and has been proven in small, large, and enterprise projects throughout the years. And that’s, probably one of the most important things to keep in mind.

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More Stories By Max Katz

Max Katz heads Developer Relations for Appery.io, a cloud-based mobile app platform. He loves trying out new and cool REST APIs in mobile apps. Max is the author of two books “Practical RichFaces” (Apress 2008, 2011), DZone MVB (Most Valuable Blogger), and is a frequent speaker at developer conferences. You can find out what Max is up to on his blog: http://maxkatz.org and Twitter: @maxkatz.