It is great that Maverick is 'done'. Of the model 2 frameworks, I still think it is the best, though WebWork and SpringMVC have some more features (which is not nescesarily a good thing).

I bumped into the same shortcommings and a ton more. I'd like to specifically add some problems I have with model 2 frameworks: - When pages get more complex, your code will be spaghetti. No matter how you fix it (chaining actions, having a massive base action class or using utility classes all over the place), it gets to be a mess. - The procedural nature of the servlet-front-controller pattern doesn't help you develop OO skills. - No reuse. Never thought that would be a real problem, but it is. We had the need to develop variants of applications, where we could have had a large advantage when page/ panel reuse would have been possible. As it is not with the model 2 frameworks, you end up with a lot of code (and configuration!) duplication. We also see a lot code duplication for things like pageable lists et. - No matter which templating technology you use, XML, JSP, or Velocity, webdesigners don't like it too much compared to 'just' HTML, with which they can use their editors of choice.


One area in which Maverick still shines, is for sites that have a XML backing. For that, the transformations system works great. For future sites with this characteristic, I'll check out Tagonist.

However, I 'moved on' too and I am currently active for component based framework Wicket (http://wicket.sourceforge.net). The project was started by Jonathan Locke, who worked on AWT and Swing for Sun and did a lot of good work for Java over at Microsoft. It is not as minimalistic as tagonist, but it's aims are to make developing web application easier, prettier and generally more fun without sacrificing enterprise needs, like scalibility etc. I just returned from JavaOne where we had a presentation and were part of a 'web framework smackdown' panel disussion. Pretty exciting for a framework that is this new (released 1.0 just last month).

Anyway, I'd like to stress that I'm not abbandoning Maverick either (it helps that there is just no work to be done ofcourse), and will still support its WebWork-ish extension Baritus.

Good luck with your project Jeff! Regards,

Eelco Hillenius


Jeff Schnitzer wrote:

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 touching maverick.xml.

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 internationalization.

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.

Thanks,
Jeff Schnitzer
Voodoodyne Inc.


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