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Struts 2006
Added by Ted Husted, last edited by Ted Husted on Oct 22, 2005  (view change)

To be presented at ApacheCon US 2005 San Diego CA on Tuesday 13 December 2005 at 4:30p (TU20).

Struts 2006: An Embarrassment of Riches

Apache Struts is a hotbed of activity. Struts Classic 1.3, Struts Shale, Struts OverDrive, Struts Ti. Why so many frameworks? How are they different? Why are they all called Struts? Which is the best choice for my next project? In this session, we step back and look at Struts through a wide-angle lense.

Don Brown and Ted Husted

Members, Apache Struts PMC


  • The Tao of Struts
  • The Story so Far
  • The Upcoming 1.3 Release
  • Struts Core 1.3
  • Extends
  • Struts Classic 1.x Roadmap
  • New Project Organization
  • Struts Scripting
  • Struts Flow
  • Struts Shale
  • Shale Features
  • Struts OverDrive
  • OverDrive Features
  • Struts Ti
  • Struts Dos Equis (2.x)
  • Final Thoughts

The Tao of Struts

"A newborn is soft and tender,
    A crone, hard and stiff.
    Plants and animals, in life, are supple and succulent;
    In death, withered and dry.
    So softness and tenderness are attributes of life,
    And hardness and stiffness, attributes of death."
    - Tao Te Ching; 76 Flexibility
"The goal of the Apache Struts project
    is to encourage application architectures
    based on the "Model 2" approach,
    a variation of the classic
    Model-View-Controller (MVC) design paradigm.
    Under Model 2,
    a servlet (or equivalent) manages business logic execution,
    and presentation logic resides mainly in server pages."

The Story So Far

  • Struts 0.5 - May 2000 - Prototype release
  • Struts 1.0 - Jun 2001 - Initial release
  • Struts 1.1 - Jun 2003 - Commons release
  • Struts 1.2 - Dec 2004 - Wildcard release
  • Struts 1.3 - xxx 2006 - Subproject release

The Upcoming 1.3 Release

  • Divided project into subprojects
    • Apps, Core, EL, Extras, Site, Taglibs, Tiles
    • Faces
    • Scripting (new)
    • Flow (new)
    • Shale (new)
  • Subprojects are the "unit of release"
  • Seven subprojects from 1.2 are bundled as "Struts Classic"
  • Complete Maven build

Struts Core 1.3

  • Composable Request Processor (Commons Chain of Responsibility)
  • Arbitrary configuration properties
  • Command and Catalog elements.
  • "Extends" attribute
  • "isCommitted" Exception Handling
  • Postback Actions
  • Wildcard ActionConfig properties

Request Processor for 1.2

public void process(HttpServletRequest request,
    HttpServletResponse response)
    throws IOException, ServletException {
    processLocale(request, response);
    if (!processRoles(request, response, mapping)) {
    /// ...
    ActionForward forward =
    processActionPerform(request, response,
    action, form, mapping);
    processForwardConfig(request, response, forward);

Composable Request Processor for 1.3

<chain name="process-action">
    <!-- ... -->

Arbitrary Configuration Attributes

  • Set an arbitary key/value pair to retrieve at runtime.
<action  path="/EditSubscription"
    <set-property key="foo" value="bar" />
public ActionForward execute(
    ActionMapping mapping,
    ActionForm form,
    HttpServletRequest request,
    HttpServletResponse response)
    throws Exception {
    string foo = getProperty("foo");
    // ...

Catalog and Command elements

  • catalog - The name of a commons-chain catalog in which to look up a command to be executed as part of servicing this request. Only meaningful if "command" is also specified.
  • command - The name of a commons-chain command which should be looked up and executed as part of servicing this request.
  • Available for both the Controller and any Action Mapping

"extends" attribute

  • "extends" available for <form-bean>, <exception>, <forward>, and <action>
  • Commons Validator added the "extends" attribute for the <form> element in 1.2
    <form-bean name="registrationForm"
    <form-property name="firstName" type="java.lang.String" />
    <form-property name="lastName" type="java.lang.String" />
    <form-bean name="managerRegistrationForm"
    <form-property name="department" type="java.lang.String" />

"isCommitted" Exception Handling

  • ExceptionHandler tests response.isCommitted
  • If true, includes the configured view path, rather than forwarding to it.
  • Configurable property keys
    <set-property key="INCLUDE_PATH" value="/error.jsp" />
    <set-property key="SILENT_IF_COMMITTED" value="true" />

PostBack Actions

  • The action attribute of the Form taglib is now optional.
  • If omitted, the original URI of the original request is used.
<html:form onsubmit="return validateLogonForm(this);">

Wildcard ActionConfig properties

  • Wildcards can now be used in the properties of an ActionConfig.
  • This makes it easier to pass multiple request-time values to the Action without complicating the "parameter" attibute.
<action path="/Save*"
    <set-properties key="Save" value="{1}"/>

Struts Classic 1.x Roadmap

Struts Core 1.3 - Yet to come

  • ActionCommand
    • ((void Execute(ActionContext context)}
  • ActionContext
    • A Commons Chain Context that implements the Action class logical API (same signatures).
  • ViewContext
    • A Commons Chain Context that implements the combined VelocityStruts logical API (same signatures).

Struts Classic 1.x Roadmap

Struts Core 1.4 thru 1.5


  • Direct support for Portlets via an alternate catalog.
  • A consolidated DTD for Config, Tiles, Validator.
  • Refactoring with Spring.


  • A "smart" action type: executes Action class or ActionCommand interface, as given.
  • A "populate" method on ActionForm.
  • A "FormContext" mechanism.

New Project Organization

"Struts Classic"

  • Apps - Example applications
  • Core - Controller and Validator
  • EL - The JSTL EL extended JSP taglibs
  • Extras - Optional Actions and Plugins
  • Site - The top-level Struts website
  • Taglibs - The original Struts JSP taglibs
  • Tiles - The Tiles templating framework

Building on Struts Classic

  • Scripting - Scripted Actions using BSF
  • Flow - Continuation-based process flow
  • Faces - Utilize Struts Actions via JSF components

New Project Organization (2)

New Directions, New Subprojects

  • Shale - New framework built on JSF.
  • Tiles - A standalone Tiles release with no Struts dependencies

New Directions, New Whiteboards

  • Overdrive - Commons Chain-based business framework (C#, for now)
  • Ti - Action-based MVC2 framework focusing on simplicity and development speed

Struts Shale

  • Web application framework based on Java Server Faces (JSF)
  • Created by Craig McClanahan, creator of Struts Core and Struts Taglibs, co-lead of the JSF spec
  • Like Struts Core, provides a "Front Controller" layer
  • Shares zero code with Struts Classic
  • Shale is a first-class citzen of Apache Struts, like Struts Core
  • Not Struts 2.0

Shale Features

  • View Controller - Convenient mechanism to associate a "backing" Java class with each JavaServer Faces view in an application, with predefined event handers for events significant to an application developer.
  • Dialog Manager - Mechanism to define a "conversation" with a user that requires multiple HTTP requests to implement, modeled as a state diagram.
  • Application Manager - Traditional application wide front controller features that should be applied to every request.
  • Reusable Views - An innovative sub-framework for supporting the configuration of reusable subtrees of JavaServer Faces components for customizable reuse.

Struts Scripting

Implement Actions with JavaScript, BeanShell, Groovy, Jython, etc.

<action    path="/logoff"
    <forward name="success"              path="/index.jsp"/>

Struts Flow

  • Enables easy development of multi-page, server-side processes using Continuations-based JavaScript flows
  • Supports rapid development, and simplifies JavaScript-heavy projects by unifying client and server development models
function login() {
    while (struts.sessionScope["curUser"] == null) {
    forwardAndWait("loginForm", {"error" : error});
    user = struts.param["user"];
    passwd = struts.param["passwd"];
    if (userManager.login(user, passwd)) {
    struts.sessionScope["curUser"] = user;
    } else {
    error = "Invalid login, please try again";

Struts OverDrive

  • Business logic framework based on Commons Chain of Responsibility
  • Reduces complex business logic processing to a single command
  • Handles data conversion, formatting, validation, localization
  • Exposed to the presentation layer through a Helper object
  • Being developed with C# now, Java implementation expected to follow

OverDrive features

  • Catalog - Convenient mechanism to retrieve a Context and Command in one call
  • Processors - Convert, format, and validate input and output
  • Manifest - Configures the processors and messages for fields
  • Chains - Extensible pre-opt and post-opt chains wrap each request
  • Helpers- Handle commands and data transfer

Struts Ti

  • Exploring how to simplify development of MVC web applications
  • Prefers convention over configuration to minimize maintainence
  • Including features like annotations, automatic compiliation, and build-in Spring support
  • Stands on the shoulders of WebWork, Beehive, and Spring
  • Still in the design phase although working code is available

Struts Dos Equis (2.x)

  • Apache Struts is a set of products, each with it's own label and lifecycle
  • Struts Classic line is evolutionary not revolutionary
    • Deprecate, Release, Remove
  • Will stay 1.x so long as backward compatiblity is maintained between releases

Final Thoughts

  • Apache Struts is both evolving and plunging ahead
  • Struts Classic will being actively developed and supported for a long time
  • Emerging frameworks, like Shale, OverDrive, and Ti, extend Apache Struts
  • Bottom line: use what works for you.


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