Tuesday, December 13, 2011

RichFaces 4.1.0.Final Release Announcement

I’m thrilled to announce the release of RichFaces 4.1.0.Final. It’s been a long road from 4.0 to 4.1, with a significant train of milestone releases along the way. The journey was worth it though, with a significant 4.1 release building on top of the successful 4.0.0.Final release, providing: additional components migrated from the RichFaces 3 component set, altogether new components, and significant enhancements to the framework feature set.

To try out this release you can download the distribution directly, or for maven users increment the RichFaces version in your pom.xml to 4.1.0.Final. For more information on setting up a RichFaces 4 application, refer to our getting started guide.

Let’s dive in, and look at some of the details of what’s new in RichFaces 4.1!

h2.New Components

We’ve delivered a number of new components in this release:

Not only have we migrated forward more RichFaces 3.x components, but we’re also providing an altogether new component – the notify component – put together by Bernard Labno, a RichFaces community member.

Mobile Compatible Components

We’ve leveraged HTML 5 and CSS 3 to create a set of resources that make the existing RichFaces components mobile compatible. Check out the results yourself in our mobile showcase with your webkit-based mobile phone, (or checkout the mobile showcase directly with your desktop browser).

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide detailing how you can take advantage of this approach with your own applications, and deliver a modern mobile application today – leveraging your existing skillset and investments in both JSF and Richfaces.

Not all the components make sense in a mobile environment, and not all mobile browsers are equally capable. Be sure to also take a look at our mobile design document, outlining the choices and compromises we had to make.


Along with this new mobile face, the Richfaces showcase has undergone a number of additional significant changes.

We’ve deployed the showcase to OpenShift, Red Hat’s PasS offering. The OpenShift Java EE 6 support provides a great platform to take your application all the way from development with Express (free!) to production with Flex (highly scalable!). For the RichFaces project, this gives us the chance to showcase our components in a Java EE environment, where our framework really shines!

We’ve also included samples for the new components listed above, as well as a rich:push component sample, keeping it straightforward to incorporate advanced RichFaces components in your application. Lastly, a number of bug fixes and simple improvements throughout the showcase have overall improved the user experience of the showcase itself.

Individual component improvements

I’d like to single out a few component enhancements from this release:

Push has been de-coupled from JMS, allowing RichFaces users to take advantage of push technology in non-JMS (ie. servlet) environments
A CDI API has been provided for firing push events – aligning the push component with the standardized Java EE programming model
Some events that were missing from the 4.0 release have been added, including the onclear event
drag and drop
A bug with dynamically rendering of drag sources and drop targets has been resolved, improving drag/drop functionality in components like the rich:tree
For those creating RichFaces skins, you’ll be happy to hear we replaced the cellpadding and cellspacing attributes of the extended datatable with CSS equivalents, allowing skins to override the values

For a complete listing of issues resolved, refer to the release notes of each of the milestone releases: 4.1.0.M1, 4.1.0.M2, 4.1.0.M3, 4.1.0.M4, 4.1.0.CR1, 4.1.0.CR2, 4.1.0.Final

Resource packaging

Another great feature with this release is the Resource packaging and minification. An absolute necessity when developing for mobile applications, this feature can provide performance improvements to your desktop applications as well by dramatically reducing the number of javascript and CSS files the browser client has to download. Read the docs to see how you can activate this for your applications.

For those looking for the RichFaces 3 LOAD_NONE capability, you can use this resource minification configuration to achieve the same results.

Source hosted on github

A significant achievement early in the 4.1 development process was the migration of our source code version control system from svn to git, specifically hosted on github.com. We noticed significant advantages to using git, both within our team, and in our collaboration with community members. Git’s ability to enable a sophisticated workflow, and encourage community contribution in the form of pull requests has made “bit management” a pleasurable task.

Other noteworthy items

It’s worth pointing out that RichFaces 4.1 ships with an updated jQuery release (v. 1.6.4). Keeping the jQuery release version up-to-date facilitates RichFaces inter-operability with other jQuery plugins.

RichFaces 4.1 works with a number of modern browsers, however it currently requires Internet explorer 9 to be run in compatibility mode, due to an upstream mojarra issue.


Lastly, I’d like to remind everyone of the availability of the RichFaces documentation:

These docs are a great resource detailing how to make use of the RichFaces framework in your application. They are however an ongoing effort, with some specific areas that need improvement. Specifically we need to flesh out the descriptions of the VDL tag library doc (note: the attribute listing is complete), and we need to vet the migration guide. This is a great way to get involved, should you want to contribute to the project!

Looking Forward

In a recent blog post, I laid out a strategy for the future of the RichFaces project, and extended an invitation to all who would like to have a say in future directions in our development forum. While RichFaces 4.1 undoubtedly provides some great fixes and features, we are excited about the future direction of the project, and what we can offer moving forward!

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