JBoss Web Framework Kit 1.1

RichFaces Developer Guide

for use with JBoss Web Framework Kit

Edition 1

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Abstract

A guide to using RichFaces with the JBoss Enterprise Platforms for developers.

Chapter 1. Introduction

RichFaces is an open source framework that adds AJAX capability into existing JSF applications without resorting to JavaScript.
RichFaces leverages aspects of the JavaServer Faces (JSF) framework, including lifecycle, validation, conversion facilities, and management of static and dynamic resources. RichFaces components with built-in AJAX support and a highly customizable look-and-feel can be easily incorporated into JSF applications.
RichFaces allows you to:
  • Experience the benefits of JSF while working with AJAX. RichFaces is fully integrated into the JSF lifecycle. Where other frameworks only allow access to the managed bean facility, RichFaces lets you access the action and value change listeners, and invokes server-side validators and converters during the AJAX request-response cycle.
  • Add AJAX capabilities to existing JSF applications. The RichFaces framework provides two component libraries (Core AJAX and UI). The Core library adds AJAX functionality to existing pages, so you need not write any JavaScript or replace existing components with new AJAX components manually. RichFaces enables page-wide rather than component-wide AJAX support, giving you the opportunity to define events on the page.
  • Quickly and easily create different views with a variety of components, available out-of-the-box. The RichFaces UI library contains components for adding rich user interface (UI) features to JSF applications, providing you with a broad variety of AJAX-enabled components with extensive skins support. RichFaces components are designed to integrate seamlessly with other third-party component libraries, so you have more options when you develop applications.
  • Write your own rich components with built-in AJAX support. The Component Development Kit (CDK) is constantly being expanded. It includes both code generation and templating facilities and a simple JSP-like (JavaServer Pages) syntax, letting you create first-class rich components with built-in AJAX functionality.
  • Package resources with application Java classes. RichFaces provides advanced support for managing different resource types, including images, JavaScript code, and CSS stylesheets. The resource framework makes it easier to include these resources in JAR files with your custom component code.
  • Quickly and easily generate binary resources. The resource framework can generate images, sounds, Excel spreadsheets, etc. in real time, so you can, for example, create images with the Java Graphics 2D library and other similar resources.
  • Customize the look and feel of your user interface with skins-based technology. RichFaces lets you easily define and manage different color schemes and other user interface parameters by using named skin parameters. This means you can access UI parameters from JSP and Java code to adjust your UI in real time. RichFaces includes a number of predefined skins to kick-start your application's development, but it is easy to create your own custom skins.
  • Simultaneously create and test your components, actions, listeners, and pages. RichFaces will soon include an automated testing facility to generate test cases for your component as you develop it. The testing framework tests not only the components, but also any other server-side or client-side functionality, including JavaScript code — and it will do so without deploying the test application into the Servlet container.
RichFaces UI components can be implemented immediately, right out of the box. This saves development time and gives you immediate access to RichFaces web application development features, so experience with RichFaces is fast and easy to obtain.

Chapter 2. Getting Started with RichFaces

This chapter tells you how to plug RichFaces components into a JSF application. The instructions are based on a simple JSF with RichFaces creation process, from downloading the required libraries to running the application in a browser. These instructions do not depend on the integrated development environment that is in use.

2.1. Simple JSF application with RichFaces

RichFaces Greeter — the simple application — is similar to a typical hello world application, with one exception: the world of RichFaces will say "Hello!" to the user first.
Create a standard JSF 1.2 project named Greeter. Include all required libraries, and continue with the instructions that follow.

2.1.1. Adding RichFaces libraries into the project

From the RichFaces folder where you unzipped the RichFaces binary files, open the lib. This folder contains three *.jar files with API, UI, and implementation libraries. Copy these JARs from lib to the WEB-INF/lib directory of your Greeter JSF application.

Important

A JSF application with RichFaces assumes that the following JARs are available in the project:
  • commons-beanutils-1.7.0.jar
  • commons-collections-3.2.jar
  • commons-digester-1.8.jar
  • commons-logging-1.0.4.jar
  • jhighlight-1.0.jar

2.1.2. Registering RichFaces in web.xml

After you add the RichFaces libraries to the project, you must register them in the project web.xml file. Add the following to web.xml:
...
<!-- Plugging the "Blue Sky" skin into the project -->
<context-param>
   <param-name>org.richfaces.SKIN</param-name>
   <param-value>blueSky</param-value>
</context-param>

<!-- Making the RichFaces skin spread to standard HTML controls -->
<context-param>
      <param-name>org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING</param-name>
      <param-value>enable</param-value>
</context-param>
 
<!-- Defining and mapping the RichFaces filter -->
<filter> 
   <display-name>RichFaces Filter</display-name> 
   <filter-name>richfaces</filter-name> 
   <filter-class>org.ajax4jsf.Filter</filter-class> 
</filter> 
  
<filter-mapping> 
   <filter-name>richfaces</filter-name> 
   <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
   <dispatcher>REQUEST</dispatcher>
   <dispatcher>FORWARD</dispatcher>
   <dispatcher>INCLUDE</dispatcher>
</filter-mapping>
...
For more information about RichFaces skins, read Section 4.4, “Skinnability”.
Finally, your web.xml should look like this:
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<web-app version="2.5" 
                xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee"
                xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
                xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee/web-app_2_5.xsd">
<display-name>Greeter</display-name>
  
<context-param>
   <param-name>javax.faces.STATE_SAVING_METHOD</param-name>
   <param-value>server</param-value>
</context-param>
  
<context-param>
   <param-name>org.richfaces.SKIN</param-name>
   <param-value>blueSky</param-value>
</context-param>

<context-param>
      <param-name>org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING</param-name>
      <param-value>enable</param-value>
</context-param>
 
<filter> 
   <display-name>RichFaces Filter</display-name> 
   <filter-name>richfaces</filter-name> 
   <filter-class>org.ajax4jsf.Filter</filter-class> 
</filter> 

<filter-mapping> 
   <filter-name>richfaces</filter-name> 
   <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
   <dispatcher>REQUEST</dispatcher>
   <dispatcher>FORWARD</dispatcher>
   <dispatcher>INCLUDE</dispatcher>
</filter-mapping>
  
<listener>
   <listener-class>com.sun.faces.config.ConfigureListener</listener-class>
</listener>
  
<!-- Faces Servlet -->
<servlet>
   <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
   <servlet-class>javax.faces.webapp.FacesServlet</servlet-class>
   <load-on-startup>1</load-on-startup>
</servlet>
 
<!-- Faces Servlet Mapping -->
<servlet-mapping>
   <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
   <url-pattern>*.jsf</url-pattern>
</servlet-mapping>
  
<login-config>
   <auth-method>BASIC</auth-method>
   </login-config>
</web-app>

2.1.3. Managed bean

The RichFaces Greeter application needs a managed bean. In the project's JavaSource directory, create a new managed bean named user in the demo package. Place the following code in user:
package demo;

public class user {
   private String name="";
   public String getName() {
      return name;
   }
   public void setName(String name) {
      this.name = name;
   }
}

2.1.4. Registering the bean in faces-cofig.xml

To register the user bean, add the following to the faces-config.xml file:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<faces-config version="1.2" 
                    xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee"
                    xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude"
                    xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
                    xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee/web-facesconfig_1_2.xsd">
   <managed-bean>
      <description>UsernName Bean</description>
      <managed-bean-name>user</managed-bean-name>
      <managed-bean-class>demo.user</managed-bean-class>
      <managed-bean-scope>request</managed-bean-scope>
      <managed-property>
         <property-name>name</property-name>
         <property-class>java.lang.String</property-class>
         <value/>
      </managed-property>
   </managed-bean>
</faces-config>

2.1.5. RichFaces Greeter index.jsp

RichFaces Greeter has only one JSP page. Create index.jsp in the root of WEB CONTENT folder and add the following to the JSP file:
<!doctype html public "-//w3c//dtd html 4.0 transitional//en">
<%@ taglib uri="http://java.sun.com/jsf/core" prefix="f" %>
<%@ taglib uri="http://java.sun.com/jsf/html" prefix="h" %>
<!-- RichFaces tag library declaration -->
<%@ taglib uri="http://richfaces.org/a4j" prefix="a4j"%>
<%@ taglib uri="http://richfaces.org/rich" prefix="rich"%>
 
<html>
      <head>
            <title>RichFaces Greeter</title>
      </head>
      <body>
            <f:view>
                  <a4j:form>
                        <rich:panel header="RichFaces Greeter" style="width: 315px">
                              <h:outputText value="Your name: " />
                              <h:inputText value="#{user.name}" >
                                    <f:validateLength minimum="1" maximum="30" />
                              </h:inputText>
                              
                              <a4j:commandButton value="Get greeting" reRender="greeting" />
                              
                              <h:panelGroup id="greeting" >
                                    <h:outputText value="Hello, " rendered="#{not empty user.name}" />
                                    <h:outputText value="#{user.name}" />
                                    <h:outputText value="!" rendered="#{not empty user.name}" />
                              </h:panelGroup>
                        </rich:panel>
                  </a4j:form>
            </f:view>
      </body>
</html>
The application uses three RichFaces components: <rich:panel> is used as visual container for information; <a4j:commandButton> with built-in AJAX support lets a greeting be rendered dynamically after a response returns; and <a4j:form> helps the button to perform the action.

Note

The RichFaces tag library should be declared on each JSP page. For XHTML pages, add the following lines to declare your tag libraries:
<xmlns:a4j="http://richfaces.org/a4j">
<xmlns:rich="http://richfaces.org/rich">
Now, run the application on the server by pointing your browser to the index.jsp page: http://localhost:8080/Greeter/index.jsf
"RichFaces Greeter" application

Figure 2.1. "RichFaces Greeter" application


2.2. Relevant Resources Links

JBoss Developer Studio includes tight integration with the RichFaces component framework.

Chapter 3. Settings for different environments

RichFaces includes support for all tags (components) included in the JavaServer Faces (JSF) specification. To add RichFaces capabilities to an existing JSF project, place the RichFaces libraries into the lib directory of the project, and add filter mapping. The behavior of the existing project does not change when you add RichFaces.

3.1. Web Application Descriptor Parameters

RichFaces does not require that any parameters be defined in your web.xml, but the RichFaces parameters listed below will help you during the development process and increase the flexibility of your RichFaces applications.

Table 3.1. Initialization Parameters

Name Default Description
org.richfaces.SKIN DEFAULT The name of a skin that is used in an application. Can be a literal string with a skin name or the EL expression (#{...}) associated with a String property (skin name) of a property of a org.richfaces.framework.skin type. In the latter case, that instance is used as the current skin.
org.richfaces.LoadScriptStrategy DEFAULT Defines how the RichFaces script files are loaded to the application. Possible values are ALL, DEFAULT and NONE.
org.richfaces.LoadStyleStrategy DEFAULT Defines how the RichFaces style files are loaded into the application. Possible values are: ALL, DEFAULT, or NONE.
org.ajax4jsf.LOGFILE none The URL of an application or a container log file (if applicable). If this parameter is set, content from the given URL is shown on a Debug page in the iframe window.
org.ajax4jsf.VIEW_HANDLERS none A comma-separated list of ViewHandler instances for inserting in a view handler chain. These handlers are inserted before the RichFaces viewhandlers, in the order they are listed. In a Facelets application, you would declare com.sun.facelets.FaceletViewHandler here instead of in the faces-config.xml file.
org.ajax4jsf.CONTROL_COMPONENTS none A comma-separated list of special control case components, such as the messages bundle loader or an alias bean component. These handlers are provided via a reflection from the static field COMPONENT_TYPE. Encoding methods for these components are always called while rendering AJAX responses, even if a component has not been updated.
org.ajax4jsf.ENCRYPT_RESOURCE_DATA false For generated resources (such as encrypt generation data), this is encoded in the resource URL. For example, the URL of an image generated by the mediaOutput component contains the name of a generation method. Since malicious code can exploit this to create a request for any JSF bean or attribute, this parameter should be set to true in critical applications. (This fix works with Java Runtime Environment 1.4.)
org.ajax4jsf.ENCRYPT_PASSWORD random A password used to encrypt resource data. If this is not set, a random password is used.
org.ajax4jsf.COMPRESS_SCRIPT true When defined, does not allow the frameword to reformat JavaScript files. This means that the debug feature cannot be used.
org.ajax4jsf.RESOURCE_URI_PREFIX a4j Defines the prefix to be added to the URLs of all generated resources. This is designed to handle RichFaces generated resource requests.
org.ajax4jsf.GLOBAL_RESOURCE_URI_PREFIX a4j/g Defines the prefix to be added to the URI of all global resources. This prefix is designed to handle RichFaces generated resource requests.
org.ajax4jsf.SESSION_RESOURCE_URI_PREFIX a4j/s Defines the prefix to be used to track the sessions of generated resources. This prefix is designed to handle RichFaces generated resource requests.
org.ajax4jsf.DEFAULT_EXPIRE 86400 Defines the period (in seconds) for which resources are cached when they are streamed back to the browser.
org.ajax4jsf.SERIALIZE_SERVER_STATE false If set to true, the component state (not the tree) will be serialized before it is stored in the session. This can be useful in applications with view state that is sensitive to model changes. Alternatively, use com.sun.faces.serializeServerState and org.apache.myfaces.SERIALIZE_STATE_IN_SESSION parameters in their respective environments.

Note

org.richfaces.SKIN is used in the same way as org.ajax4jsf.SKIN.

Table 3.2. org.ajax4jsf.Filter Initialization Parameters

Name Default Description
log4j-init-file - A path (relative to the web application's context) to the log4j.xml configuration file. This can be used to set up per-application custom logging.
enable-cache true Enables caching of framework-generated resources (JavaScript, CSS, images, etc.). However, your cached resources will not be used when attempting to debug custom JavaScript or Styles.
forcenotrf true Forces all JSF pages to be parsed by a HTML syntax check filter. If set to false, only AJAX responses will be parsed and converted to well-formed XML. Setting this to false can improve performance, but may also cause unexpected information to be rendered during AJAX updates.

3.2. Sun JSF RI

RichFaces works with JavaServer Faces 1.2_13 without needing to modify additional settings.

3.3. Facelets Support

RichFaces has high-level support for Facelets, regardless of the version used. However, some JSF frameworks (including Faces) require that their own ViewHandler be listed first in the ViewHandler chain. RichFaces also requires that its AjaxViewHandler be listed first, but because it is installed first, no settings will need to be altered. Where multiple frameworks are used without RichFaces, you can use the VIEW_HANDLERS parameter to define the order in which the ViewHandlers are used. For example:
...
<context-param>
     <param-name>org.ajax4jsf.VIEW_HANDLERS</param-name>
     <param-value>com.sun.facelets.FaceletViewHandler</param-value>
</context-param>
...
This declares that while Facelets will officially be first, AjaxViewHandler will briefly be ahead of it to perform some small, important task.

Note

In this case, you need not define FaceletViewHandler in WEB-INF/faces-config.xml.

3.4. JBoss Seam Support

RichFaces is compatible with JBoss Seam and Facelets when run within JBoss Enterprise Application Server. No additional JARs are required. All you need to do is package the RichFaces library with your application.
For Seam 1.2, your web.xml must be as follows:
<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<web-app xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee"
                   xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
                   xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee/web-app_2_4.xsd"
                   version="2.4">

     <!-- richfaces -->

     <filter>
          <display-name>RichFaces Filter</display-name>
          <filter-name>richfaces</filter-name>
          <filter-class>org.ajax4jsf.Filter</filter-class>
     </filter>

     <filter-mapping>
          <filter-name>richfaces</filter-name>
          <url-pattern>*.seam</url-pattern>
     </filter-mapping>

     <!-- Seam -->

     <listener>
          <listener-class>org.jboss.seam.servlet.SeamListener</listener-class>
     </listener>

     <servlet>
          <servlet-name>Seam Resource Servlet</servlet-name>
          <servlet-class>org.jboss.seam.servlet.ResourceServlet</servlet-class>
     </servlet>

     <servlet-mapping>
          <servlet-name>Seam Resource Servlet</servlet-name>
          <url-pattern>/seam/resource/*</url-pattern>
     </servlet-mapping>

     <filter>
          <filter-name>Seam Filter</filter-name>
          <filter-class>org.jboss.seam.web.SeamFilter</filter-class>
     </filter>

     <filter-mapping>
          <filter-name>Seam Filter</filter-name>
          <url-pattern>/*</url-pattern>
     </filter-mapping>

     <!-- MyFaces -->

     <listener>
          <listener-class>org.apache.myfaces.webapp.StartupServletContextListener</listener-class>
     </listener>

     <!-- JSF -->

     <context-param>
          <param-name>javax.faces.STATE_SAVING_METHOD</param-name>
          <param-value>client</param-value>
     </context-param>

     <context-param>
          <param-name>javax.faces.DEFAULT_SUFFIX</param-name>
         <param-value>.xhtml</param-value>
     </context-param>

     <servlet>
          <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
          <servlet-class>javax.faces.webapp.FacesServlet</servlet-class>
          <load-on-startup>1</load-on-startup>
     </servlet>

     <servlet-mapping>
          <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
          <url-pattern>*.seam</url-pattern>
     </servlet-mapping>
</web-app>
Seam 2.x supports RichFaces Filter, so your web.xml must look like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<web-app version="2.5"
                   xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee"
                   xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
                   xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee/web-app_2_5.xsd">

     <context-param>
          <param-name>org.ajax4jsf.VIEW_HANDLERS</param-name>
          <param-value>com.sun.facelets.FaceletViewHandler</param-value>
     </context-param>

     <!-- Seam -->

     <listener>
          <listener-class>org.jboss.seam.servlet.SeamListener</listener-class>
     </listener>

     <servlet>
          <servlet-name>Seam Resource Servlet</servlet-name>
          <servlet-class>org.jboss.seam.servlet.SeamResourceServlet</servlet-class>
     </servlet>

     <servlet-mapping>
          <servlet-name>Seam Resource Servlet</servlet-name>
          <url-pattern>/seam/resource/*</url-pattern>
     </servlet-mapping>

     <filter>
          <filter-name>Seam Filter</filter-name>
          <filter-class>org.jboss.seam.servlet.SeamFilter</filter-class>
     </filter>

     <filter-mapping>
          <filter-name>Seam Filter</filter-name>
          <url-pattern>/*</url-pattern>
     </filter-mapping>

     <!-- JSF -->

     <context-param>
          <param-name>javax.faces.DEFAULT_SUFFIX</param-name>
          <param-value>.xhtml</param-value>
     </context-param>

     <context-param>
          <param-name>facelets.DEVELOPMENT</param-name>
          <param-value>true</param-value>
     </context-param>

     <servlet>
          <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
          <servlet-class>javax.faces.webapp.FacesServlet</servlet-class>
          <load-on-startup>1</load-on-startup>
     </servlet>

     <servlet-mapping>
          <servlet-name>Faces Servlet</servlet-name>
          <url-pattern>*.seam</url-pattern>
     </servlet-mapping>
</web-app>

Chapter 4. Basic concepts of the RichFaces Framework

4.1. Introduction

The RichFaces Framework is implemented as a component library that adds AJAX capabilities into existing pages. This means that you do not need to write any JavaScript code or replace existing components with new AJAX widgets. RichFaces enables page-wide AJAX support instead of the traditional component-wide support, so you can define areas of the page that will reflect changes made by AJAX events on the client.
The diagram following shows the process in full:
Request Processing Flow

Figure 4.1. Request Processing Flow


RichFaces lets you use JSF tags to define sections of a JSF page that you wish to update with the results of an AJAX request. It also provides you with several options for sending AJAX requests to the server. You do not need to write any JavaScript or XMLHTTPRequest objects by hand — everything is done automatically.

4.2. RichFaces Architecture Overview

The following figure lists several important elements of the RichFaces Framework.
Core AJAX component structure

Figure 4.2. Core AJAX component structure


AJAX Filter
To make the most of RichFaces, you should register a Filter in your application's web.xml. The Filter recognizes multiple request types. The sequence diagram in Figure 4.3, “Request processing sequence diagram” shows the differences in processing between a regular JSF request and an AJAX request.
Request processing sequence diagram

Figure 4.3. Request processing sequence diagram


In either case, the required static or dynamic resource information that your application requests is registered in the ResourceBuilder class.
When a resource request is issued, the RichFaces filter checks the Resource Cache for this resource. If it is present, the resource is returned to the client. Otherwise, the filter searches for the resource among those registered in the ResourceBuilder. If the resource is registered, the RichFaces filter requests that the ResourceBuilder creates (delivers) the resource.
The diagram that follows illustrates the process of requesting a resource.
Resource request sequence diagram

Figure 4.4. Resource request sequence diagram


AJAX Action Components
AJAX Action components are used to send AJAX requests from the client side. There are a number of AJAX Action components, including <a4j:commandButton>, <a4j:commandLink>, <a4j:poll>, and <a4j:support>.
AJAX Containers
An AjaxContainer is an interface that defines an area on your JSF page that should be decoded during an AJAX request. AjaxViewRoot and AjaxRegion are both implementations of this interface.
JavaScript Engine
The RichFaces JavaScript Engine runs on the client side, and updates different areas of your JSF page based on information from the AJAX response. This JavaScript code operates automatically, so there is no need to use it directly.

4.3. Request Errors and Session Expiration Handling

RichFaces lets you redefine the standard handlers responsible for processing exceptions. We recommend defining your own JavaScript, which will be executed when exceptional situations occur.
Add the following code to web.xml:
<context-param>
	<param-name>org.ajax4jsf.handleViewExpiredOnClient</param-name>
	<param-value>true</param-value>
</context-param>

4.3.1. Request Errors Handling

To execute your own code on the client in the event of an error during an AJAX request, you must redefine the standard A4J.AJAX.onError method like so:
A4J.AJAX.onError = function(req, status, message){
    window.alert("Custom onError handler "+message);
}
This function accepts the following as parameters:
req
A parameter string of a request that calls an error.
status
The error number returned by the server.
message
A default message for the given error.
This lets you create your own handler that is called when timeouts, internal server errors and similar occur.

4.3.2. Session Expired Handling

You can also redefine the onExpired framework method that is called on the SessionExpiration event.
A4J.AJAX.onExpired = function(loc, expiredMsg){
    if(window.confirm("Custom onExpired handler "+expiredMsg+" for a location: "+loc)){
      return loc;
    } else {
     return false;
    }
}
This function can take the following parameters:
loc
The URL of the current page (can be updated on demand)
expiredMsg
A default message for display in the event of SessionExpiration.

Note

Customized onExpire handlers do not work under MyFaces. MyFaces handles exceptions by internally generating a debug page. To prevent this behavior, use the following:
...
<context-param>
	<param-name>org.apache.myfaces.ERROR_HANDLING</param-name>
	<param-value>false</param-value>
</context-param> 
...

4.4. Skinnability

4.4.1. Why Skinnability

If you look at any CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) file in an enterprise application, you will notice how often the same color is noted. Standard CSS cannot define a particular colour abstractly as a panel header color, the background color of an active pop-up menu item, a separator color, etc. To define common interface styles, you must copy the same value multiple times, and the more interfaces you have, the more repetition is required.
Therefore, if you want to change the palette of an application, you must change all interrelating values, or your interface can appear clumsy. If a customer wants to be able to adjust their interface's look and feel in real time, you must be able to alter several CSS files, each of which will contain the same value multiple times.
You can solve these problems with the skins that are built into and fully implemented in RichFaces. Every named skin has skin parameters that define a palette and other attributes of the user interface. By changing a few skin parameters, you can alter the appearance of dozens of components simultaneously, without interfering with interface consistency.
The skinnability feature cannot completely replace standard CSS, and does not eliminate its usage. Instead, it is a high-level extension of standard CSS that can be used in combination with regular CSS declarations. You can also refer to skin parameters in CSS through the JSF Expression Language. This lets you completely synchronize the appearance of all elements in your pages.

4.4.2. Using Skinnability

RichFaces skinnability is designed for use alongside:
  • skin parameters defined in the RichFaces framework,
  • predefined CSS classes for components, and
  • user style classes.
A component's color scheme can be applied to its elements using any of three style classes:
A default style class inserted into the framework
This contains stle parameters that are linked to some constants from a skin. It is defined for every component and specifies a default level of representation. You can modify an application interface by changing the values of the skin parameters.
A style class of skin extension
This class name is defined for every component element, and inserted into the framework to let you define a class with the same name in your CSS files. This lets you easily extend the appearance of all components that use this class.
User style class
You can use one of the styleClass parameters to define your own class for component elements. As a result, the appearance of one particular component is changed according to a CSS style parameter specified in the class.

Example 4.1. Example: Simple Panel Component

<rich:panel> ... </rich:panel>
This code generates a panel component on a page, which consists of two elements: a wrapper <div> element and a <div> element for the panel body with the specified style properties. The wrapper <div> element will look like this:
<div class="dr-pnl rich-panel">
 ...
</div>

dr-pnl is a CSS class that is specified in the framework via skin parameters:
background-color
Defined with generalBackgroundColor.
border-color
Defined with panelBorderColor.
You can change all colors for all panels on all pages by changing these skin parameter values. However, if you specify a <rich:panel> class on the page, its parameters are also acquired by all panels on this page.
Developers can also change the style properties for a panel. For example:
<rich:panel styleClass="customClass" />
This definition could add some style properties from customClass to one particular panel. As a result, we will get three styles:
  <div class="dr_pnl rich-panel customClass"> 
	  ...
  </div>

4.4.3. Skin Parameters Tables in RichFaces

RichFaces provides eight predefined skin parameters (skins) at the simplest level of common customization:
  • DEFAULT
  • plain
  • emeraldTown
  • blueSky
  • wine
  • japanCherry
  • ruby
  • classic
  • deepMarine
To apply a skin, you must specify a skin name in the org.richfaces.SKIN context parameter.
The following table shows the values for each parameter in the blueSky skin:

Table 4.1. Colors

Parameter name Default value
headerBackgroundColor #BED6F8
headerGradientColor #F2F7FF
headTextColor #000000
headerWeightFont bold
generalBackgroundColor #FFFFFF
generalTextColor #000000
generalSizeFont 11px
generalFamilyFont Arial, Verdana, sans-serif
controlTextColor #000000
controlBackgroundColor #FFFFFF
additionalBackgroundColor #ECF4FE
shadowBackgroundColor #000000
shadowOpacity 1
panelBorderColor #BED6F8
subBorderColor #FFFFFF
tabBackgroundColor #C6DEFF
tabDisabledTextColor #8DB7F3
trimColor #D6E6FB
tipBackgroundColor #FAE6B0
tipBorderColor #E5973E
selectControlColor #E79A00
generalLinkColor #0078D0
hoverLinkColor #0090FF
visitedLinkColor #0090FF

Table 4.2. Fonts

Parameter name Default value
headerSizeFont 11px
headerFamilyFont Arial, Verdana, sans-serif
tabSizeFont 11px
tabFamilyFont Arial, Verdana, sans-serif
buttonSizeFont 11px
buttonFamilyFont Arial, Verdana, sans-serif
tableBackgroundColor #FFFFFF
tableFooterBackgroundColor #cccccc
tableSubfooterBackgroundColor #f1f1f1
tableBorderColor #C0C0C0

The plain skin was added in version 3.0.2. It has no parameters, and is important when embedding RichFaces components into existing projects with their own styles.

4.4.4. Creating and Using Your Own Skin File

To create your own skin file:
  1. Create a file. In it, define skin constants to be used by style classes (see Section 4.4.3, “Skin Parameters Tables in RichFaces”). The name of the skin file should follow this format: <name>.skin.properties. (For examples of this file, see the RichFaces predefined skin parameters: blueSky, classic, deepMarine, etc. These files are located in the richfaces-impl-xxxxx.jar archive in the /META-INF/skins folder.
  2. Add the skin definition <contex-param> to the web.xml of your application, like so:
    ...
    <context-param>
         <param-name>org.richfaces.SKIN</param-name>
         <param-value>name</param-value>
    </context-param>
    ...
  3. Place your <name>.skin.properties file in either your /META-INF/skins or /WEB-INF/classes directory.

4.4.5. Built-in Skinnability in RichFaces

RichFaces lets you incorporate skins into your user interface (UI) design. This framework lets you use named skin parameters in your properties files to control skin appearance consistently across a set of components. You can see examples of predefined skins at: http://livedemo.exadel.com/richfaces-demo/
Skins let you define a style in which to render standard JSF components and custom JSF components built with RichFaces. You can experiment with skins by following these steps:
  1. Create a custom render kit and register it in the faces-config.xml like so:
    <render-kit>
      <render-kit-id>
        NEW_SKIN
      </render-kit-id>
      <render-kit-class>
        org.ajax4jsf.framework.renderer.ChameleonRenderKitImpl
      </render-kit-class>
    </render-kit>
  2. Next, create and register custom renderers for the component based on the look-and-feel predefined variables:
    <renderer>
    	<component-family>javax.faces.Command</component-family>
        <renderer-type>javax.faces.Link</renderer-type>
        <renderer-class>newskin.HtmlCommandLinkRenderer</renderer-class>
    </renderer>
  3. Finally, place a properties file with skin parameters into the class path root. There are two requirements for the properties file:
    • The file must be named skinName.skin.properties. In this case, we would call it newskin.skin.properties.
    • The first line in this file should be render.kit=render-kit-id. In this case, we would use render.kit=NEW_SKIN.
More information about creating custom renderers can be found at: http://java.sun.com/javaee/javaserverfaces/reference/docs/index.html.

4.4.6. Changing skin in runtime

You can change skins during runtime by defining the following EL-expression in your web.xml.
<context-param>
	<param-name>org.richfaces.SKIN</param-name>
	<param-value>#{skinBean.skin}</param-value>
</context-param>
The skinBean code looks like this:
public class SkinBean {

	private String skin;

	public String getSkin() {
		return skin;
	}
	public void setSkin(String skin) {
		this.skin = skin;
	}
}
You must also set the skin property's initial value in the configuration file. To set classic:
<managed-bean>
	<managed-bean-name>skinBean</managed-bean-name>
	<managed-bean-class>SkinBean</managed-bean-class>
	<managed-bean-scope>session</managed-bean-scope>
	<managed-property>
		<property-name>skin</property-name>
		<value>classic</value>
  	</managed-property>
</managed-bean>
You can also change the properties of the default skin. To do so, edit the properties of the default skin. The following shows you example page code:
<h:form>
  <div style="display: block; float: left">
    <h:selectOneRadio value="#{skinBean.skin}" border="0" layout="pageDirection" 
      title="Changing skin" style="font-size: 8; font-family: comic" 
      onchange="submit()">
   	  <f:selectItem itemLabel="plain" itemValue="plain" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="emeraldTown" itemValue="emeraldTown" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="blueSky" itemValue="blueSky" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="wine" itemValue="wine" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="japanCherry" itemValue="japanCherry" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="ruby" itemValue="ruby" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="classic" itemValue="classic" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="laguna" itemValue="laguna" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="deepMarine" itemValue="deepMarine" />
      <f:selectItem itemLabel="blueSky Modified" itemValue="blueSkyModify" />
    </h:selectOneRadio>
  </div>
  <div style="display: block; float: left">
    <rich:panelBar height="100" width="200">
      <rich:panelBarItem label="Item 1" style="font-family: monospace; 
        font-size: 12;">
          Changing skin in runtime
      </rich:panelBarItem>

      <rich:panelBarItem label="Item 2" style="font-family: monospace; 
        font-size: 12;">
          This is a result of the modification "blueSky" skin
      </rich:panelBarItem>
    </rich:panelBar>
  </div>
</h:form>
The above code will generate the following list of options:
Changing skin in runtime

Figure 4.5. Changing skin in runtime


4.4.7. Standard Controls Skinning

This feature is designed to unify the look and feel of standard HTML elements and RichFaces components. Skinning can be applied to all controls on a page based on element names and attribute types (where applicable). This feature also provides a set of CSS styles that let skins be applied by assigning rich-* classes to particular elements, or to a container of elements that nests controls.
Standard Controls Skinning provides two levels of skinning: Basic and Extended. The level used depends on the browser type detected. If the browser type cannot be detected, Extended is used. However, if you want to explicitly specify the level to be applied, add a org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING_LEVEL context parameter to your web.xml and set the value to either basic or extended.
The Basic level provides customization for only basic style properties. Basic skinning is applied to the following browsers:
The Extended level introduces a broader number of style properties on top of basic skinning, and is applied to browsers with rich visual styling control capabilities. The following browsers support Extended skinning:
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Internet Explorer 7 in Standards-compliant mode (CSS1Compat mode)
The following elements can be modified with skins:
  • input
  • select
  • textarea
  • keygen
  • isindex
  • legend
  • fieldset
  • hr
  • a (together with the a:hover, a:visited pseudo-elements)
There are two ways to initialize skinning for standard HTML controls:
Add the org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING parameter to web.xml
org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING takes enable and disable as parameters. This method implies that skinning style properties are applied per-element and attribute type (where applicable). No additional steps are required. See the Section 4.4.7.1, “Standard Level” and Section 4.4.7.2, “Extended level” tables for elements to which skinning can be applied.
Add the org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING_CLASSES parameter to web.xml
org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING_CLASSES takes enable and disable as parameters. When enabled, you are provided with a set of predefined CSS classes to apply skins to your HTML components.
Enabling org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING_CLASSES provides you style classes that can be applied to:
  • basic elements nested within elements with a rich-container class. For example:
    ...
    .rich-container select {
       //class content
    }
    ...
  • Elements with a class name that corresponds to one of the basic element names or types are mapped with the rich-<elementName>[-<elementType>] scheme, as in the following example:
    ...
    .rich-select {
      //class content
    }
    
    .rich-input-text {
      //class content
    }
    
    ...

    Note

    Elements are given classes depending upon their link type and pseudo-class name, for example, rich-link, rich-link-hover, rich-link-visited.
The predefined rich CSS classes provided can be used as classes for both basic and complex HTML elements.
The following code snippet shows several elements as an example:
...
<u:selector name=".rich-box-bgcolor-header">
     <u:style name="background-color" skin="headerBackgroundColor" />
</u:selector>
<u:selector name=".rich-box-bgcolor-general">
     <u:style name="background-color" skin="generalBackgroundColor" />
</u:selector>
...
//gradient elements
...
<u:selector name=".rich-gradient-menu">
     <u:style name="background-image">
          <f:resource f:key="org.richfaces.renderkit.html.gradientimages.MenuGradientImage"/>
     </u:style>
     <u:style name="background-repeat" value="repeat-x" />
</u:selector>
<u:selector name=".rich-gradient-tab">
     <u:style name="background-image">
          <f:resource f:key="org.richfaces.renderkit.html.gradientimages.TabGradientImage"/>
     </u:style>
     <u:style name="background-repeat" value="repeat-x" />
</u:selector>
...

4.4.7.1. Standard Level

Table 4.3. HTML Element Skin Bindings for input, select, textarea, button, keygen, isindex and legend

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
font-size generalSizeFont
font-family generalFamilyFont
color controlTextColor

Table 4.4. HTML Element Skin Bindings for fieldset

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor

Table 4.5. HTML Element Skin Bindings for hr

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor

Table 4.6. HTML Element Skin Bindings for a

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color generalLinkColor

Table 4.7. HTML Element Skin Bindings for a:hover

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color hoverLinkColorgeneralLinkColor

Table 4.8. HTML Element Skin Bindings for a:visited

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color visitedLinkColor

Table 4.9.  Rich Elements Skin Bindings for .rich-input, .rich-select, .rich-textarea, .rich-keygen, .rich-isindex, .rich-link

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
font-size generalSizeFont
font-family generalFamilyFont
color controlTextColor

Table 4.10.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-fieldset

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor

Table 4.11.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-hr

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor
border-width 1px
border-style solid

Table 4.12.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-link

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color generalLinkColor

Table 4.13.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-link:hover

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color hoverLinkColor

Table 4.14.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-link:visited

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color visitedLinkColor

Table 4.15.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-field

CSS Properties Skin parameters/Value
border-width 1px
border-style inset
border-color panelBorderColor
background-color controlBackgroundColor
background-repeat no-repeat
background-position 1px 1px

Table 4.16.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-field-edit

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-width 1px
border-style inset
border-color panelBorderColor
background-color editBackgroundColor

Table 4.17.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-field-error

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-width 1px
border-style inset
border-color panelBorderColor
background-color warningBackgroundColor
background-repeat no-repeat
background-position center left
padding-left 7px

Table 4.18.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-button, .rich-button-disabled, .rich-button-over

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-width 1px
border-style solid
border-color panelBorderColor
background-color trimColor
padding 2px 10px 2px 10px
text-align center
cursor pointer
background-repeat repeat-x
background-position top left

Table 4.19.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-button-press

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
background-position bottom left

Table 4.20.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-container fieldset, .rich-fieldset

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor
border-width 1px
border-style solid
padding 10px
padding 10px

Table 4.21.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-legend

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
font-size generalSizeFont
font-family generalFamilyFont
color controlTextColor
font-weight bold

Table 4.22.  Rich Element Skin Bindings for .rich-form

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
padding 0px
margin 0px

4.4.7.2. Extended level

Table 4.23.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for input, select, textarea, button, keygen, isindex

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-width 1px
border-color panelBorderColor
color controlTextColor

Table 4.24.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for *|button

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor
font-size generalSizeFont
font-family generalFamilyFont
color headerTextColor
background-color headerBackgroundColor
background-image org.richfaces.renderkit.html.images.ButtonBackgroundImage

Table 4.25.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for button[type=button], button[type=reset], button[type=submit], input[type=reset], input[type=submit], input[type=button]

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor
font-size generalSizeFont
font-family generalFamilyFont
color headerTextColor
background-color headerBackgroundColor
background-image org.richfaces.renderkit.html.images.ButtonBackgroundImage

Table 4.26.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for *|button[disabled], .rich-container *|button[disabled], .rich-button-disabled

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color tabDisabledTextColor
border-color tableFooterBackgroundColor
background-color tableFooterBackgroundColor
background-image org.richfaces.renderkit.html.images.ButtonDisabledBackgroundImage

Table 4.27.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for .rich-button-disabled, .rich-container button[type="button"][disabled], .rich-button-button-disabled, .rich-container button[type="reset"][disabled], .rich-button-reset-disabled, .rich-container button[type="submit"][disabled], .rich-button-submit-disabled, .rich-container input[type="reset"][disabled], .rich-input-reset-disabled, .rich-container input[type="submit"][disabled], .rich-input-submit-disabled, .rich-container input[type="button"][disabled], .rich-input-button-disabled

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color tabDisabledTextColor
background-color tableFooterBackgroundColor
border-color tableFooterBackgroundColor
background-image org.richfaces.renderkit.html.images.ButtonDisabledBackgroundImage

Table 4.28.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for *button[type="button"][disabled], button[type="reset"][disabled], button[type="submit"][disabled], input[type="reset"][disabled], input[type="submit"][disabled], input[type="button"][disabled]

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color tabDisabledTextColor
border-color tableFooterBackgroundColor
background-color tableFooterBackgroundColor

Table 4.29.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for *|textarea

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor
font-size generalSizeFont
font-family generalFamilyFont
color controlTextColor
background-color controlBackgroundColor
background-image org.richfaces.renderkit.html.images.InputBackgroundImage

Table 4.30.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for textarea[type=textarea], input[type=text], input[type=password], select

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
border-color panelBorderColor
font-size generalSizeFont
font-family generalFamilyFont
color controlTextColor
background-color controlBackgroundColor
background-image org.richfaces.renderkit.html.images.InputBackgroundImage

Table 4.31.  HTML Element Skin Bindings for *|textarea[disabled], .rich-container *|textarea[disabled]

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color tableBorderColor

Table 4.32.  textarea[type="textarea"][disabled], input[type="text"][disabled], input[type="password"][disabled]

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color tableBorderColor

Table 4.33.  textarea[type="textarea"][disabled], input[type="text"][disabled], input[type="password"][disabled]

CSS Properties Skin Parameters
color tableBorderColor

Note

The basic skinning level can fail if the ajaxPortlet is configured as follows:
...
<portlet>
   <portlet-name>ajaxPortlet</portlet-name>
   <header-content>
      <script src="/faces/rfRes/org/ajax4jsf/framework.pack.js" type="text/javascript" />
      <script src="/faces/rfRes/org/richfaces/ui.pack.js" type="text/javascript" />
      <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/faces/rfRes/org/richfaces/skin.xcss" />
   </header-content>
</portlet>
...

4.4.8. Client-side Script for Extended Skinning Support

Extended skinning of standard HTML controls is applied automatically: the browser type is detected, and if a browser does not fully support extended skinning, only basic skinning is applied.
There are some problems with standard HTML controls in certain browsers (Opera and Safari) that may cause problems if you wish to skin your RichFaces components and standard HTML controls manually.
To disable skinnability, set the org.richfaces.LoadStyleStrategy parameter to NONE in your web.xml file, like so:
...
<context-param>
	<param-name>org.richfaces.LoadStyleStrategy</param-name>
	<param-value>NONE</param-value>
</context-param>
...
You should also include the style sheets that apply skins to RichFaces components and standard HTML controls.
To work around the problem of extended skinning in Opera and Safari, the skinning.js client script is added to the RichFaces library. This detects the browser type and enables extended skinning only for browsers that fully support it.
Activate the script by inserting the following JavaScript into your page:
<script type="text/javascript">
	window.RICH_FACES_EXTENDED_SKINNING_ON = true;
</script>
When no script-loading strategy is used and extended skinning is enabled, a warning message appears in the console.
You must also specify the media attribute in the link tag. This adds the extended_both.xcss style sheet to rich-extended-skinning.
To include your style sheets to the page when automatic skinnability is disabled, add the following:
<link href='/YOUR_PROJECT_NAME/a4j_3_2_2-SNAPSHOTorg/richfaces/renderkit/html/css/basic_both.xcss/DATB/eAF7sqpgb-jyGdIAFrMEaw__.jsf' type='text/css' rel='stylesheet' class='component' />
<link media='rich-extended-skinning' href='/ YOUR_PROJECT_NAME /a4j_3_2_2-SNAPSHOTorg/richfaces/renderkit/html/css/extended_both.xcss/DATB/eAF7sqpgb-jyGdIAFrMEaw__.jsf' type='text/css' rel='stylesheet' class='component' />
<link href='/ YOUR_PROJECT_NAME /a4j_3_2_2-SNAPSHOT/org/richfaces/skin.xcss/DATB/eAF7sqpgb-jyGdIAFrMEaw__.jsf' type='text/css' rel='stylesheet' class='component' />

Note

The Base64 encoder now uses ! instead of ., so remember to use the a4j/versionXXX resources prefix instead of a4j_versionXXX.

4.4.9. XCSS File Format

Cross-site Cascading Style Sheet (XCSS) files are the core of RichFaces component skinnability. XCSS is XML-formatted CSS that extends the skinning process. RichFaces parses the XCSS file containing all look and feel parameters of a particular component and compiles the information into a standard CSS file that can be recognized by a web browser.
The XCSS file contains CSS properties and skin parameter mappings. Mapping a CSS selector to a skin parameter can be done with < u:selector > and < u:style> XML tags, which define the mapping structure, as in the following example:
...
<u:selector name=".rich-component-name">
	<u:style name="background-color" skin="additionalBackgroundColor" />
	<u:style name="border-color" skin="tableBorderColor" />
	<u:style name="border-width" skin="tableBorderWidth" />
	<u:style name="border-style" value="solid" />
</u:selector>
...
During processing, this code will be parsed and assembled into a standard CSS format, like so:
...
.rich-component-name {
     background-color: additionalBackgroundColor; /*the value of the constant defined by your skin*/
     border-color: tableBorderColor; /*the value of the constant defined by your skin*/
     border-width: tableBorderWidth; /*the value of the constant defined by your skin*/
     border-style: solid;
}
...
The name attribute of <u:selector> defines the CSS selector, while the name attribute of the <u:style> tag defines the skin constant that is mapped to a CSS property. You can also use the value attribute of the <u:style> tag to assign a value to a CSS property.
CSS selectors with identical skin properties can be included in a comma-separated list:
...
<u:selector name=".rich-ordering-control-disabled, .rich-ordering-control-top, .rich-ordering-control-bottom, .rich-ordering-control-up, .rich-ordering-control-down">
	<u:style name="border-color" skin="tableBorderColor" />
</u:selector>
...

4.4.10. Plug-n-Skin

Plug-n-Skin lets you easily create, customize, and plug in a custom skin to your project. You can create skins based on the parameters of predefined RichFaces skins. Plug-n-Skin also lets you unify the appearance of rich controls with standard HTML elements. This section contains step-by-step instructions for creating your own skin with Plug-n-Skin.
First, use Maven to create a template for your new skin. (You can find more information about configuring Maven for RichFaces in the JBoss wiki article. These Maven instructions can be copied and pasted into the command line interface to execute them.
...
mvn archetype:create
-DarchetypeGroupId=org.richfaces.cdk
-DarchetypeArtifactId=maven-archetype-plug-n-skin
-DarchetypeVersion=RF-VERSION
-DartifactId=ARTIFACT-ID
-DgroupId=GROUP-ID
-Dversion=VERSION
...
Primary keys for the command:
  • archetypeVersion — indicates the RichFaces version; for example, 3.3.1.GA
  • artifactId — the artifact ID of the project
  • groupId — the group ID of the project
  • version — the version of the project you create. By default, this is set to 1.0.-SNAPSHOT
This operation creates a directory named after your ARTIFACT-ID. The directory contains a template of the Maven project.
The following steps will guide you though creating of the skin itself.
Run the following command from the root directory of the Maven project. (This directory will contain your pom.xml file.)
...
mvn cdk:add-skin -Dname=SKIN-NAME -Dpackage=SKIN-PACKAGE
...
Primary keys for the command:
  • name — defines the name of the new skin
  • package — the base package of the skin. By default, the project's groupId is used.
Additional optional keys for the command:
Once these operations are complete, the following files and folders should have been created:
  • BaseImage.java — the base class used to store images. Location: \src\main\java\SKIN-PACKAGE\SKIN-NAME\images\
  • BaseImageTest.java — a test version of a class that stores images. Location: \src\test\java\SKIN-PACKAGE\SKIN-NAME\images\
  • XCSS files — XCSS files define the new look of RichFaces components affected by the new skin. Location: "\src\main\resources\SKIN-PACKAGE\SKIN-NAME\css\"
  • SKIN-NAME.properties — a file that contains the new skin's properties. Location: \src\main\resources\SKIN-PACKAGE\SKIN-NAME\css\
    The following properties are used to configure the SKIN-NAME.properties file:
    • baseSkin — the name of the skin to be used as a basis for your own skin. The look of the skin you define will be affected by the new style properties.
    • generalStyleSheet — a path to the style sheet (SKIN-NAME.xcss) that imports your component's style sheets to be modified by the new skin.
    • extendedStyleSheet — the path to a style sheet that is used to unify the appearance of RichFaces components and standard HTML controls. For additional information, read Section 4.4.7, “Standard Controls Skinning”.
    • gradientType — a predefined property to set the type of gradient applied to the new skin. Possible values are glass, plastic, plain. More information on gradient implementation you can find further in this chapter.
  • SKIN-NAME.xcss — an XCSS file that imports the component's XCSS files to be modified by the new skin. Location: src\main\resources\META-INF\skins
  • XCSS files — creates the XCSS files that determine styles for standard controls (extended_classes.xcss and extended.xcss), if the createExt key is set to true. Location: \src\main\resources\SKIN-PACKAGE\SKIN-NAME\css\
  • SKIN-NAME-ext.xcss — creates the SKIN-NAME-ext.xcss file that imports defining styles for standard controls if createExt is set to true. Location: src\main\resources\META-INF\skins.
  • SKIN-NAME-resources.xml — contains descriptions of all files listed previously. Location: src\main\config\resources.
You can now start editing the XCSS files located in \src\main\resources\SKIN-PACKAGE\SKIN-NAME\css\. Assign new style properties to your selectors (listed in the XCSS files) in either of the following ways:
  • Standard CSS coding approach (that is, add CSS properties to the selectors). Remember that the selectors must be within <f:verbatim> </f:verbatim> tags. For example:
    ...
    .rich-calendar-cell {
         background: #537df8;
    }
    ...
  • XCSS coding approach (the usual method of creating XCSS files in RichFaces). XCSS tags must be placed outside <f:verbatim> </f:verbatim> tags.
    ...
    <u:selector name=".rich-calendar-cell">
         <u:style name="border-bottom-color" skin="panelBorderColor"/>
         <u:style name="border-right-color" skin="panelBorderColor"/>
         <u:style name="background-color" skin="tableBackgroundColor"/>
         <u:style name="font-size" skin="generalSizeFont"/>
         <u:style name="font-family" skin="generalFamilyFont"/>
    </u:selector>
    ...
Once you have performed these steps and edited the XCSS files, build the new skin and plug it into the project. To build the skin, execute the following command from the root directory of your skin project (the directory that contains your pom.xml file):
...
mvn clean install
...
The Plug-n-skin feature also has a number of predefined gradients. The following code can be used to apply a gradient:
...
<u:selector name=".rich-combobox-item-selected">
	<u:style name="border-width" value="1px" />
	<u:style name="border-style" value="solid" />
	<u:style name="border-color" skin="newBorder" />
	<u:style name="background-position" value="0% 50%" />
	<u:style name="background-image">
		<f:resource f:key="org.richfaces.renderkit.html.CustomizeableGradient">
			<f:attribute name="valign" value="middle" />
			<f:attribute name="gradientHeight" value="17px" />
			<f:attribute name="baseColor" skin="headerBackgroundColor" />
		 </f:resource>
	</u:style>
</u:selector>
...
The background-image CSS property is defined with <f:resource f:key="org.richfaces.renderkit.html.CustomizeableGradient">, which sets the gradient. The gradient type can be specified in the SKIN-NAME.properties with the gradientType property, which can be set to glass, plastic, or plain. The gradient can then be adjusted with the baseColor, gradientColor, gradientHeight, valign attributes, as seen in the previous code snippet.
You can now use your newly-created skin in your project by adding your new skin parameters to the web.xml file, and placing the JAR file containing your skin (located in the target directory of your skin project) in the \WebContent\WEB-INF\lib\.
...
<context-param>
    <param-name>org.ajax4jsf.SKIN</param-name>
    <param-value>SKIN-NAME</param-value>
</context-param>
...

4.4.10.1. Details of Usage

This section covers some practical aspects of Plug-n-Skin implementation. We assume that you have read the section of the guide describing the Plug-n-Skin prototype creation process.
First, we must create a new skin (as described in the previous section). The following creates a template of the new skin project:
mvn archetype:create
-DarchetypeGroupId=org.richfaces.cdk
-DarchetypeArtifactId=maven-archetype-plug-n-skin
-DarchetypeVersion=3.3.1.GA
-DartifactId=P-n-S
-DgroupId=GROUPID
-Dversion=1.0.-SNAPSHOT
You can now browse the P-n-S directory to view the files and folders created.
Next, use Maven to add all required files to the skin project, like so:
mvn cdk:add-skin -DbaseSkin=blueSky  -DcreateExt=true -Dname=PlugnSkinDemo -Dpackage=SKINPACKAGE
As mentioned in the previous section, -DbaseSkin defines the RichFaces built-in skin to use as a base, and -DcreateExt=true, which determines that the new skin will include XCSS files that unify the appearance of the rich components and the standard HTML controls.
Once your resources have been created, you can begin refining the newly-created skin. Begin by editing the rich components' XCSS files.
As an example of the Plug-n-Skin feature, we will edit some <rich:calendar> style attributes and some basic HTML controls. We will show you how to:
  • Recolor the background of the current day in the <rich:calendar>;
  • Recolor a standard HTML submit button;
To edit <rich:properties>'s style properties, you must open the calendar.xcss file, located in P-n-S\src\main\resources\skinpackage\plugnskindemo\css\.
In the calendar.xcss file, find the .rich-calendar-today selector and amend it as follows:background-color: #075ad1;. This will change the background color of the current day.
Next we will change the font style of a standard HTML submit button. Open the extended.xcss file from the P-n-S\src\main\resources\skinpackage\plugnskindemo\css\ directory and insert font-weight: bold; between the curly braces of these selectors, like so:
button[type="button"], button[type="reset"], button[type="submit"], input[type="reset"], input[type="submit"], input[type="button"] {
	font-weight: bold;
}
The desired changes have now been made, and you can proceed to building the new PlugnSkinDemo skin and importing it into the project.
Build the skin by executing mvn clean install from the P-n-S directory. This creates a target directory containing a JAR file with a newly-compiled skin. In our case, the file is named P-n-S-1.0.-SNAPSHOT.jar.
Next, import the new PlugnSkinDemo skin into your project:
  • Copy the P-n-S-1.0.-SNAPSHOT.jar file to the \WebContent\WEB-INF\lib\ directory.
  • Add the name of the new skin to the web.xml file, like so:
     <context-param>
    	<param-name>org.ajax4jsf.SKIN</param-name>
    	<param-value>PlugnSkinDemo</param-value>
    </context-param>
Remember, standard controls skinning must be enabled in web.xml. Add the following to enable standard controls skinning:
<context-param>
	<param-name>org.richfaces.CONTROL_SKINNING</param-name>
	<param-value>enable</param-value>
</context-param>
The results of each alteration to the skin are shown in the figures that follow:
Plug-n-Skin feature in action.

Figure 4.6. Plug-n-Skin feature in action.


4.5. State Manager API

JSF has an advanced navigation mechanism that lets you define navigation from view to view. In a web application, navigation occurs when a user changes from one page to another by clicking on a button, a hyperlink, or another command component. There is no switch mechanism between some logical states of the same view. For example, in Login/Register dialog, an existing user signs in with his user name and password, but if a new user attempts to register, an additional field (Confirm) is displayed, and button labels and methods are changed when the user clicks the To register link:
Login Dialog

Figure 4.7.  Login Dialog


Register Dialog

Figure 4.8.  Register Dialog


RichFaces State API lets you easily define a set of states for pages, and properties for these states.
The States class interfaces with a map, where the keySet defines the State name and the entrySet is a State map. The State map defines the properties, method bindings, or constant state variables of a key or object, where these values may change depending on the active State.
RichFaces State API

Figure 4.9.  RichFaces State API


One of the most convenient features of the RichFaces State API is the ability to navigate between States. The API implements changes in State through standard JSF navigation. When the action component returns an outcome, the JSF navigation handler (extended through the RichFaces State API) checks whether the outcome is registered as a State change outcome. If true, the corresponding State is activated. If false, standard navigation handling is called.
Implement the RichFaces State API like so:
  • Register the State Navigation Handler and the EL Resolver in your faces-config.xml file:
    ...
    <application>
    	<navigation-handler>org.richfaces.ui.application.StateNavigationHandler</navigation-handler>
    	<el-resolver>org.richfaces.el.StateELResolver</el-resolver>
    </application>
    ...
  • Register an additional application factory in the faces-config.xml:
    ...
    <factory>
    	<application-factory>org.richfaces.ui.application.StateApplicationFactory</application-factory>
    </factory>
    ...
  • Register two managed beans in the faces-config.xml:
    ...
    <managed-bean>
    	<managed-bean-name>state</managed-bean-name>
    	<managed-bean-class>org.richfaces.ui.model.States</managed-bean-class>
    	<managed-bean-scope>request</managed-bean-scope>
    	<managed-property>
    		<property-name>states</property-name>
    		<property-class>org.richfaces.ui.model.States</property-class>
    		<value>#{config.states}</value>
    	</managed-property>
    </managed-bean>
    <managed-bean>
    	<managed-bean-name>config</managed-bean-name>
    	<managed-bean-class>org.richfaces.demo.stateApi.Config</managed-bean-class>
    	<managed-bean-scope>none</managed-bean-scope>
    </managed-bean>
    ...
    One bean (config) defines and stores State as seen in the following example:
    ...
    public class Config {
    
    	/**
    	 * @return States
    	 */
    	public States getStates() {
    		FacesContext facesContext = FacesContext.getCurrentInstance();
    		States states = new States();
    
    		// Registering new User State definition
    		states.setCurrentState("register"); // Name of the new state
    
    		// Text labels, properties and Labels for controls in "register" state
    		states.put("showConfirm", Boolean.TRUE); // confirm field rendering
    		states.put("link", "(To login)"); // Switch State link label
    		states.put("okBtn", "Register"); // Login/Register button label
    		states.put("stateTitle", "Register New User"); // Panel title
    
    		ExpressionFactory expressionFactory = facesContext.getApplication()
    				.getExpressionFactory();
    
    		// Define "registerbean" available under "bean" EL binding on the page
    		ValueExpression beanExpression = expressionFactory
    				.createValueExpression(facesContext.getELContext(),
    						"#{registerbean}", Bean.class);
    		states.put("bean", beanExpression);
    
    		// Define "registeraction" available under "action" EL binding on the
    		// page
    		beanExpression = expressionFactory.createValueExpression(facesContext
    				.getELContext(), "#{registeraction}", RegisterAction.class);
    		states.put("action", beanExpression);
    
    		// Define method expression inside registeraction binding for this state
    		MethodExpression methodExpression = expressionFactory.createMethodExpression(
    				facesContext.getELContext(), "#{registeraction.ok}",
    				String.class, new Class[] {});
    		states.put("ok", methodExpression);
    
    		// Outcome for switching to login state definition
    		states.setNavigation("switch", "login");
    
    		// Login Existent User State analogous definition
    		states.setCurrentState("login");
    		states.put("showConfirm", Boolean.FALSE);
    		states.put("link", "(To register)");
    		states.put("okBtn", "Login");
    		states.put("stateTitle", "Login Existing User");
    
    		beanExpression = expressionFactory.createValueExpression(facesContext
    				.getELContext(), "#{loginbean}", Bean.class);
    		states.put("bean", beanExpression);
    
    		beanExpression = expressionFactory.createValueExpression(facesContext
    				.getELContext(), "#{loginaction}", LoginAction.class);
    		states.put("action", beanExpression);
    
    		methodExpression = expressionFactory.createMethodExpression(
    				facesContext.getELContext(), "#{loginaction.ok}",
    				String.class, new Class[] {});
    		states.put("ok", methodExpression);
    
    		states.setNavigation("switch", "register");
    
    		return states;
    	}
    }
    ...
    The second bean, with the org.richfaces.ui.model.States type (state), contains the managed property states, which is bound to the first config bean.
  • Next, use state bindings on the page, as in the following example:
    ...
    <h:panelGrid columns="3">
    	<h:outputText value="username" />
    	<h:inputText value="#{state.bean.name}" id="name" required="true" />
    	<h:outputText value="password" />
    	<h:inputSecret value="#{state.bean.password}" id="password" required="true" />
    	<h:outputText value="confirm" rendered="#{state.showConfirm}" />
    	<h:inputSecret value="#{state.bean.confirmPassword}" rendered="#{state.showConfirm}" id="confirm" required="true" />
    </h:panelGrid>
    <a4j:commandButton actionListener="#{state.action.listener}" action="#{state.ok}" value="#{state.okBtn}" id="action"/>
    ...
To see complete example of the Login/Register dialog, see the RichFaces Live Demo.

4.6. Identifying User Roles

RichFaces also lets you check whether the logged-in user belongs to a certain user role with the rich:isUserInRole(Object) function. This function takes a String or a comma-delineated list of Strings, a Collection, etc. as arguments and returns a Boolean value.
As an example, imagine that you need to render some controls only for administrators. To do so, create an administrator role (admin) in your web.xml file. Then implement authorization that assigns the admin role to the user that has logged in as an administrator. Once this has been done, you can use the rich:isUserInRole(Object) function with the rendered attribute of any component. For example:
...
<rich:editor value="#{bean.text}"  rendered="#{rich:isUserInRole('admin')}" />
...
Here, only a logged-in user with an admin role can see the text editor, which will not be rendered for users with other roles.

Revision History

Revision History
Revision 1-18.4002013-10-31Rüdiger Landmann
Rebuild with publican 4.0.0
Revision 1-182012-07-18Anthony Towns
Rebuild for Publican 3.0
Revision 1.3-0Thu Oct 29 2009Laura Bailey
JIRA corrections.