Hi everyone. All has been pretty quiet on the Maverick front for quite
a while, but that's not surprising - Maverick is pretty much "done".
However, over the last couple years I kept bumping into shortcomings of
the servlet-front-controller approach taken by Maverick, Struts,
WebWork, and friends. Specifically:
* It's hard to build portals or otherwise compose pages from smaller
bits of component functionality.
* You tend to evolve towards one Controller/Action class per screen.
Controllers rarely get reused.
* If you have more than a couple web developers, they bump into each
other when editing the xml sitemap config file.
* Explaining the xml sitemap config file to nonprogrammers is unpleasant.
So I started tinkering.
I started out trying to turn Maverick inside-out by creating a custom
JSP tag that would instantiate Maverick controllers ad-hoc from within
JSP files. It worked reasonably well and allowed you to instantiate
multiple controllers on a page, thus allowing each individual controller
to have finer functional granularity. Pages which required form
processing went through the standard MVC pattern, but pages which just
render data (ie most pages in most webapps) merely require a standard
JSP with a few invocations of a custom tag - you could add pages without
Still, the model wasn't a perfect fit - abusing the Maverick APIs like
this felt clunky. So I tinkered some more.
I ultimated ended up starting from scratch, creating Tagonist. Tagonist
is a *lot* simpler than Maverick. It's necessarily JSP-only, so you
can't use Velocity or XSLT. It doesn't (by itself) handle document
transformations. It doesn't have any special switching logic for
What Tagonist provides is the basic MVC glue in a very compact package:
* No servlets required. All your URLs point to plain old JSPs.
* No sitemap configuration, XML or otherwise. In fact, there are no
config files whatsoever.
* You can build fine-grained Action classes and compose them arbitrarily
on a page.
* You can use Tagonist on any JSP page, even if the page is already part
of some other framework, be it Maverick, Struts or some fancy portal
application. There are no integration issues.
* Tagonist is, I kid you not, less than 500 lines of code (including
whitespace!). The tagonist jar is 8k.
If this sparks your curiosity, look at http://tagonist.tigris.org/
I've been using Tagonist in production for about four months and I'm
happy enough with the results that I've released the 1.0 version. The
tagonist distribution includes a port of the same Friendbook application
that Maverick comes with, but if you'd like to see a live tagonist app,
check out http://www.similarity.net.
To anticipate some questions...
Does this mean I am abandoning support for Maverick? No. But Maverick
hasn't needed any updates in quite some time, and I do all my web
development with Tagonist these days.
What about Velocity? I love Velocity and I still use it for templating
everything except web pages. However, JSP has advanced considerably in
the last few years. The JSP2.0 expression language and JSTL incorporate
most of what made Velocity special, and new features like .tag files are
superior in most respects to Velocity macros.
What about transforms? If you need the fancier transformations like
XSLT, FOP, or the like, Maverick is great. However, if all you need are
Document transforms, JSP2.0 custom tags (ie .tag files) are better both
from an ease-of-use and performance perspective. Compare the Tagonist
Friendbook with the Maverick Friendbook to see what I mean.
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