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Project Woodstock: The Next Generation of Smarter User Interface Components

By: Admin, 27 Jun 2007

If you’ve used the NetBeans IDE Visual Web Pack, you’ve built web pages with the user interface components. Those components are actually called the Project Woodstock components and, as of February 2007, these components are open sourced, and you can find them at the Project Woodstock home page.

Have you ever wondered where these incredible components come from? The Sun team that developed them has lots of experience developing web components. The team’s history goes back to developing a set of components for the JATO framework, a very early Sun web application framework. From there, the team worked on a set of web components used by Sun's products for console web applications, like Sun Java System Application Server and Sun Directory Server. Next, they produced the JavaServer Faces-based component set used in the Java Studio Creator 2 IDE and various web consoles like Sun Portal Server.

The Project Woodstock components, the latest generation of web components, capitalize on those years of experience. Plus, the components are open sourced. The Project Woodstock components have many new features, and especially focus on client-side processing. Here's what this mean for developers:

  • A better user experience. The Project Woodstock components do as much processing as possible in the user’s browser. By doing so, they keep to a minimum requests sent across the wire to a web server. This makes the web page user experience much richer, as well as faster and more pleasant.
  • Easy access to client-side processing. The Project Woodstock components include an API that makes client-side processing available to other developers.
  • Dynamic AJAX behavior. One of the most exciting additions to the Project Woodstock components is AJAX dynamic behavior. Project Woodstock takes many of the Visual Web components, such as Textfield, and makes them AJAX enabled. It implements this AJAX behavior via JavaServer Faces Dynamic Faces, or Dyna-Faces.

The Project Woodstock components have added much to the Visual Web components, and they’re still growing and evolving. So where are the Project Woodstock components going in the foreseeable future? Much of that answer depends on the community’s willingness to be involved with this open source project. Take a look at the project road map, which shows you a quick mapping of what exists today and what is planned for NetBeans.

Please keep in mind that the Project Woodstock components offer developers a lot of flexibility: They can be used in a visual development environment like NetBeans and they can also be used stand alone by developers creating JavaServer Faces web applications from scratch.

Here’s the road map:

  • NetBeans 5.5 Visual Web Pack—Woodstock 4.0
  • NetBeans 5.5.1 Visual Web Pack—Woodstock 4.0.2
  • NetBeans 6.0—Woodstock 4.1 build 7

Creating components as rich as the Project Woodstock components is no small feat. If you're an expert at such web technologies as JavaScript, DHTML, HTML,and so forth, get involved with the Project Woodstock open source project and help make the web world a friendly place. If you use Project Woodstock components in your web applications, please be sure to provide feedback, both good and bad, to the project so the project members can correct course if needed.

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