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Composite Components

JavaServer Faces technology offers the concept of composite components with Facelets. A composite component is a special type of template that acts as a component.

Any component is essentially a piece of reusable code that behaves in a particular way. For example, an inputText component accepts user input. A component can also have validators, converters, and listeners attached to it to perform certain defined actions.

A composite component consists of a collection of markup tags and other existing components. This reusable, user-created component has a customized, defined functionality and can have validators, converters, and listeners attached to it like any other component.

With Facelets, any XHTML page that contains markup tags and other components can be converted into a composite component. Using the resources facility, the composite component can be stored in a library that is available to the application from the defined resources location.

Table 5–3 lists the most commonly used composite tags and their functions.

Table 5.3. Composite Component Tags

Tag

Function

composite:interface

Declares the usage contract for a composite component. The composite component can be used as a single component whose feature set is the union of the features declared in the usage contract.

composite:implementation

Defines the implementation of the composite component. If a composite:interface element appears, there must be a corresponding composite:implementation.

composite:attribute

Declares an attribute that may be given to an instance of the composite component in which this tag is declared.

composite:insertChildren

Any child components or template text within the composite component tag in the using page will be reparented into the composite component at the point indicated by this tag's placement within the composite:implementation section.

composite:valueHolder

Declares that the composite component whose contract is declared by the composite:interface in which this element is nested exposes an implementation of ValueHolder suitable for use as the target of attached objects in the using page.

composite:editableValueHolder

Declares that the composite component whose contract is declared by the composite:interface in which this element is nested exposes an implementation of EditableValueHolder suitable for use as the target of attached objects in the using page.

composite:actionSource

Declares that the composite component whose contract is declared by the composite:interface in which this element is nested exposes an implementation of ActionSource2 suitable for use as the target of attached objects in the using page.

For more information and a complete list of Facelets composite tags, see the documentation at http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E17410_01/javaee/6/javaserverfaces/2.0/docs/pdldocs/facelets/.

The following example shows a composite component that accepts an email address as input:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
  "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"
  xmlns:composite="http://java.sun.com/jsf/composite"
  xmlns:h="http://java.sun.com/jsf/html">

    <h:head>
        <title>This content will not be displayed</title>
    </h:head>
    <h:body>
        <composite:interface>
            <composite:attribute name="value" required="false"/>
        </composite:interface>

        <composite:implementation>
            <h:outputLabel value="Email id: "></h:outputLabel>
            <h:inputText value="#{cc.attrs.value}"></h:inputText>
        </composite:implementation>
    </h:body>
</html>

Note the use of cc.attrs.value when defining the value of the inputText component. The word cc in JavaServer Faces is a reserved word for composite components. The #{cc.attrs.attribute-name} expression is used to access the attributes defined for the composite component's interface, which in this case happens to be value.

The preceding example content is stored as a file named email.xhtml in a folder named resources/emcomp, under the application web root directory. This directory is considered a library by JavaServer Faces, and a component can be accessed from such a library. For more information on resources, see "Resources" on page 96.

The web page that uses this composite component is generally called a using page. The using page includes a reference to the composite component, in the xml namespace declarations:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
  "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"
  xmlns:h="http://java.sun.com/jsf/html"
  xmlns:em="http://java.sun.com/jsf/composite/emcomp/">

    <h:head>
        <title>Using a sample composite component</title>
    </h:head>

    <body>
        <h:form>
            <em:email value="Enter your email id" />
        </h:form>
    </body>
</html>

The local composite component library is defined in the xml namespace with the declaration xmlns:em="http://java.sun.com/jsf/composite/emcomp/". The component itself is accessed through the use of em:email tag. The preceding example content can be stored as a web page named emuserpage.xhtml under the web root directory. When compiled and deployed on a server, it can be accessed with the following URL:

http://localhost:8080/application-name/faces/emuserpage.xhtml
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