An Analysis of Peter Thomas's JSF Critical Rant
There’s this guy, Peter Thomas
alt="Peter Thomas headshot" />, and he has this blog entry called
“jsf sucks”. I don’t want to increase his page rank
so I’m not linking to it here. However, it’s certainly a
popular page since it’s the top link for “jsf sucks”
I have read the entire blog entry, all of the entries linked from it,
most of the comments on those entries, and some of the entries linked
from those entries. It’s a testament to my faith in God that I
can emerge from such an exercise without feeling a level of guilt
tantamount to that felt (one hopes) by a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocidaires">genocidaire.
I started doing a quantitative analysis of the comments on each
entry, summing up pro- and anti-JSF comments. I only did a spot
sampling of four entries in this way and each of them came up with more
pro-JSF than anti-JSF comments. I believe that if someone proceeded
with such a rotten tomato style analysis, they’d find that most of the
entries had more pro-JSF than anti-JSF comments.
The best summary of Mr. Thomas’s vituperous screed coms from
Benny Bottema, in one of the href="http://blog.projectnibble.org/2009/05/24/jsf-is-a-diamond-in-the-rough-you-just-need-to-make-it-shine/comment-page-1/#comment-685">comments
on one of his posts, which I’ll quote here.
Concerning your point about a ‘comprehensive list of hyper-linked,
verifiable references to comments by real people’: I don’t dispute
that. I said it is an unbalanced pool of information, poisonous in
fact. With ‘nonobjective biased site of propaganda’ I referred to the
site owner who compiled the list. Anyone can put together a site, only
referring to articles that say something sucks. That’s just
immature. Also the names you refer to are irrelevant, old quotes in a
time where JSF couldn’t be corrected by supplemental frameworks. Take
Rod Johnson’s point for example, it’s a quote from 2004 about JSF. No
mention of its potential or combinatorial qualities... simply JSF
itself which I already admitted is flawed on its own. And this is used
as ‘proper’ argument? Useless propaganda I say.
One sensible response to such polemical fulmination is to tag the
articles as appropriate using del.icio.us tags. I have built a href="http://delicious.com/edburns/bundle:jsf-opinion-negative">tag
bundle for this purpose. It contains the following tags
|Tag name||Articles with this tag express a negative opinion of JSF...|
|jsf-opinion-negative||but the opinion may or may not be substantiated.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-complexity||due to its perceived complexity.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding|| but the opinion is based at least
in part on a misunderstanding of JSF.
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-components||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how components work JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-decoration||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how decoration and extensibility work JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-el||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how the EL works JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-events||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how events work JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-i18n||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how i18n works JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-lifecycle||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how the lifecycle works JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-markup|| but the opinion is based on a
misunderstanding of how templating and markup works JSF.
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-persistence||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how persistence works JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-renderkit||but the opinion is based on a misunderstanding of how renderkits JSF.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-misunderstanding-security|| but the opinion is based on a
misunderstanding of how security works in JSF.
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-outdated||but the opinion is based on outdated information.|
|jsf-opinion-negative-reason-polemical|| but the opinion is unsubstantiated
and stated in an unhelpful manner.
In addition to the tagging, which I hope others continue to do using
this vocabulary, I took notes on each one, which I now present here.
Many of the notes say, “fixed in JSF2: <code>” where
<code> is a key in the following table.
|viewParams||the View Parameters feature|
|ajax||JSF2 standard Ajax support|
|facelets||JSF2 standard Facelets|
|compcompat||JSF2 standard component compatibility measures|
|select*||Select* now take Collection of POJO.|
|exceptionHandling||JSF2 pluggable exception handler, better error messages, ProjectStage.|
|resourceLoading||JSF2 standard resource loader|
|bookmarkable||JSF2 standard bookmarkability|
|navigation||JSF2 standard implicit navigation|
|systemEvents||JSF2 standard System Events|
|annotations||JSF2 standard annotations for most stuff|
|prg||JSF2 standard support for POST REDIRECT GET|
|noWebXml||On EE6, you don't need a web.xml if you are ok with /facelets/* and
*.xhtml as your JSF servlet mapping.
|el||JavaEE 6 standard EL method invocation|
|flash||The flash scope|
|viewScope||The view scope|
|stateSaving||JSF2 standard partial state saving|
- [2004-03-04] JCP Releases JavaServer Faces 1.0
- I read this entire thread and there are just as many pro JSF messages
as anti-JSF ones. Of course, you chose to extract only the negative
ones. Also, in the "Programmers So Far Underwhelmed by JSF" article, there
was also positive and negative and you only extracted the negative. You missed this, "If you would have talked 30 years ago to people
programming in assembler, not everyone was happy seeing C come up," he
told internetnews.com. "That's just evolution, putting layers on top
of other layers, but it's our belief that with JSF we get a very
powerful layer that makes things easier." "Krause expects JSF critics to quiet down in the next six to 12
months, when the first JSF-enabled Web applications start hitting the
Web portals and sites. His product, W4T, will include JSF in the
coming months, and expects other tool vendors to follow suit." This is exactly what has happened.
- [2004-03-05] JSF: The Ultimate in Flexibility? Or Complexity?
Entirely outdated and somewhat polemical.
- [2004-06-09] Improving JSF by Dumping JSP
We've done exactly that in JSF 2.0. JSP is a backwards compatibility
- [2004-08-06] My JSF Experience
The threaded discussion has about 40% pro JSF comments, but you
don't mention that.
- [2004-09-20] Boycott JSF
Citing the bile blog? Come now! I love Hani, he's a rockstar
programmer in my book, but the bile blog was always more about
polemecism than content.
- [2005-07-??] Gradebook Taming JSF 1.1
Mr Davis says, "For example, backing beans would do database queries
when a getter hits a null value. In practice, that meant we couldn't
really be sure when the queries were being done or to what
purpose. Some DB queries were issued in the Apply Request Values
phase, some in the Process Validations phase, and some in the Render
Response phase. We'd unexpectedly display old data instead of
freshening from the DB. Or we'd add a "rendered" check to a button and
find that submits had stopped working." This is a misunderstanding of the JSF lifecycle. Hitting the database
from a getter is never a good idea. In JSF1, you could use a
PhaseListener to do this, in 2 you'd use a SystemEvent
- [2006-01-20] JSF Burrito: More Complete List
"POST vs choosing proper HTTP verb (personal annoyance) Difficult to
link directly to a specific page with specific content [especially the
first page in an app]" Fixed in JSF2: viewParams Component writing is much more difficult than writing JSP tags (Rick
Hightower convinced me of this at NFJS) Fixed in JSF2 Small free component market (compared to Eclipse; probably side effect
of #3) [or even delphi components] Fixed by 2008 "What's the point of JAAS and all the other security advances made if
we're advised to "throw them out"?" Who gave you that advice? I show a nice integration of JAAS and JSF
in my JSF 1.2 book. Also, in JSF2, System Events work well for very
fine graned role based access control. "Unit testing our pages is too difficult." JSFUnit works well here. "AJAX components are coming, but it's much more difficult to integrate
it on your own." Fixed in JSF2: ajax "Templating seemed difficult to do with JSF" Fixed in JSF2 facelets. Also, Facelets has become the defacto standard for
templating in JSF 1.x.
- [2006-02-10] JavaServer Faces - why?
This is a largely fact-free polemical post. The comments have several
well-reasoned favorable responses to JSF.
- [2006-02-21] Usability problems in JSF
Thanks for including a post from our star expert group member Adam
Winer. Adam was instrumental in bringing JSF to the level of success
it currently has.
- [2006-05-03] Where JSF and Portlets went wrong...
"(try using ICEFaces components with ADFFaces)"
Fixed in JSF2: compcompat. This was a central focus of JSF2. We'll"While third-party options (like Facelets) do make programming with
know it's fixed when all of the parties have released JSF2 versions of
JSF easier" Fixed in JSF2: facelets
There were a number of positive aspects to this post but you chose to
only extract the negative ones.
- [2006-05-19] JavaOne: Google Web Toolkit vs. JSF
More than half of the comments on this blog entry are pro-JSF.
- [2006-06-19] JSF Rough Spots
"selectItems tag is way too unflexible - it only takes a Map. You'd
think you should be able to show a simple String array or a List of
Strings, but no." Fixed in JSF2: select* "The EL should be able to, as in OGNL, create objects has it comes
across the need to." This one I don't understand. The JSF EL has always done this. "Every JSF page must define and load its resource bundle. I'm probably
getting this wrong, but AFAICT, this is required. If true, this seems
redundant and inefficient." Fixed in JSF 1.2 (2007) "JSF exception messages weren't very helpful." Fixed in JSF2: exceptionHandling
- [2006-09-08] JSF and RSFHistory
I note that RSF hasn't been updated since 13 September 2008 for
its 0.7.4 release. Does anyone know if this is still an active project?
- [2006-09-13] Geebis Blog: Wicket
"The biggest reason is that creating custom components in JSF can be
difficult, especially if you want your components to have lots of
composite components and resources is a very powerful answer to this
person's problem. Fixed in JSF2: resourceLoading Also, Ken Paulsen and Jason Lee wrote a nice article about how to do
this in JSF 1.x at
- [2006-09-16] Tinman and the Scarecrow
"In JSF, you cant copy-paste a url into a new browser and expect the
same page to show up." Fixed in JSF2: bookmarkable. Also, the PrettyFaces JSF add on does this even
better. "JSF has a rudimentary IoC container somewhat inspired by Spring;
though nowhere near as powerful" Many sites have been using JSF and Spring in production for at least
three years. Also, the IoC container in JSF was inspired by ATG
Dynamo and in fact pre-dated Spring by a month or two in concept. The rational for this rudimentary IoC container built into JSF is to
give a useful experience to JSF users that want to use straight
tomcat. JSF + Tomcat was the lightest weight full stack IoC container
when it came out in 2004. Much lighter weight than Spring at that
time. Nowadays, you have many options here: CDI, Guice and of course Spring. "JSF uses absolute, declarative navigation enforced by lengthy XML,
triggered by passing string-keys around--pretty piss poor design in
this day and age and quite clearly a legacy of Struts." Fixed twelve ways to Sunday in JSF2: navigation "For some bizarre reason, JSF does not play well with the JSP
errorPage directive." Fixed in JSF2: exceptionHandling. Not just that but there is a pluggable exception
- [2006-10-19] Faces: The emperor has no clothes
"Then the hell of linking pages together starts."
Fixed in JSF2: navigation
"Not trying to be sarcastic here, since Facelets is pretty good, but
this complicates the hiring and education of the team and in fact
invalidates the selling point of Faces 'being a standard'." Facelets is now the standard.Fixed in JSF2: facelets "The spec is heavily based on two things: POST params and (ugh)
forward navigation rules, that are default. In my previous life
forward was the exception, not the norm." POST is still the default, but it's much easier to do proper POST
REDIRECT GET, or GET REDIRECT GET in JSF2.
- [2006-12-15] Nightmares on JSF Street in Trinidad
This post has very little to do with core JSF and instead talks about
the Trinidad JSF component library.
- [2006-12-19] Reasons to choose Wicket over JSF and Spring MVC
"I liked its form handling and navigation support but I did not like
without me asking for it." As Jason Lee said in the comments, all you need to do to not have
additional step of not using Ajax, because it's really hard to do Ajax
- [2006-12-26] not enamored by JSF 1.1
I found this thread to be largely fact based. I think this is a great
way to discuss APIs. Unfortunately, this discussion pertains to a
version of the spec that is over five years old.
- [2007-01-01] JSF in 2007
Here we can see the influence of Seam on people's opinions. Note that
most of the good ideas in Seam went either into JSF2 or into CDI. In the TSS comments I see, "Above all I think the Java community need
to get away from premature standardisation of APIs, and let time and
experience decide." This has been my approach to developing JSF2 from the beginning, and
I'm happy to see all the different ideas from many different sources
- [2007-01-18] Tech Talk: Ed Burns on JSF 1.2
"Make it trivial to design custom components. I am not saying make it
easy. I am saying make it trivial." Composite components to the rescue. Fixed in JSF2: ezcomp "There is no "page load" event handler to do initialization." System events make this even more fine grained in JSF2. Fixed in JSF2: systemEvents
As the author of this talk, I don't see how it supports your argument
- [2007-02-19] JSF is cool but it is too young and it has too many bugs!
We live in an age of super-heterogeneous development stacks. In this
world it's very easy to run into situations where the various layers
of the stack interact poorly. The author would have been well advised
to check into one of the forums of the component libraries in the
- [2007-02-28] JSF Anti-Patterns and Pitfalls
Nice that you quoted Dennis Byrne's article. He was a leading light
in the MyFaces development for JSF 1.2. Also, any technology has its collection of best practices and gotchas.
The fact that those for JSF are so well documented shows its vitality.
Let's take a look at Dennis's subsections. The Deja vu PhaseListener Fixed in JSF2: systemEvents XML Fetishism Fixed in JSF2: annotations. No XML is required. Not even web.xml. Annotations
are available for everything according to the 80/20 rule. Thread safety
These issues are inherent in distributed multi-user systems design.Facelets Migration Challenge: Tags with Behavior Putting behavior in your tags has always been discouraged. Dennis
The same issues will arise for shared objects in any web framework
that uses the Servlet infrastructure.
is simply adding to that chorus. Law of Demeter This one has nothing to do with JSF specifically and is simply a
best practice about EL. Code to Interface This one has even less to do with JSF or EL or web frameworks. It's
simply an axiomatic truth: make as few assumptions as possible by
depending as little as possible on specific contracts. In Java,
that means using interfaces correctly. View state encryption
Note that turning on view state encryption in JSF is as simple as
setting a content-param. How do you do that in Wicket?
- [2007-03-17] JSF - Still pretty much a steaming pile of donkey turd
The author clearly does not like frameworks where the UI is builtComments have: "I would have thought minimum requirements for a web layer toolkit would include: - *not* being forward based, e.g. should support Post-Redirect-Get out of the box - *not* baking in view artifacts, like referencing JSP pages. Use logical view names and allow a view resolver to work out what view technology is being used. - Having a halfway decent notion of a conversation as well as rich *navigation*.
declaritively with markup that stands in for anything. He prefers
plain HTML. For him, Wicket may be better. Also, he mentions the
error messages problem, which has been solved for years with facelets
and now solved in the JSF2 standard.
" All of these are fixed in JSF2: prg, navigation.
- [2007-04-16] JSF still sucks?
I wonder why you didn't extract this quote from Matt Raible, "IMO,
Facelets is very easy to learn. " He also talks about "developer abandonment". Well, here we are now
nearly three years later and there's more interest and development in
JSF than ever. That's not very abandoned.
- [2007-04-26] Creating a jsf div component
The article point out the steps that used to be required for building
a custom UIComponent in JSF 1.2. None of these are required any more.
A custom component can be just a single Facelet page.
- [2007-05-14] A Wicket user tries JSF
"Wicket does not require any extra XML config like you have
faces-config.xml for JSF" In JSF2, you don't need faces-config.xml. IF you're on EE6, you don't
need web.xml either. Fixed in JSF2: noWebXml "Wicket does not require JSPs" JSF2 doesn't require JSPs either. Also, the .xhtml extension is
automatically mapped to JSF. Fixed in JSF2: noWebXml "Navigation logic is performed in pure Java code which is much
more..." JSF2 navigation can be done centrally or per-page but it's always
declarative. JSF2: navigation
- [2007-05-22] Rethinking JSF - The Real Problem
The discussion on this thread was too mammoth to review in my limited
time. However, scanning through it, I see an even balance of pro-JSF
and anti-JSF positions.
- [2007-05-23] Six Things JSF Breaks (and How To Fix Them)
I like this post. It is exactly correct and none of the
recommendtions he makes are onerous, except for the desire for
completely standards compliant XHTML. For simple pages this is
possible, but when you use advanced components it is hard to
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