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Subject RE: Non Java Developers, programmers using JSTL and taglibs
Date Wed, 05 Feb 2003 10:16:04 GMT
Well, I can give you my 2ยข worth :-) (It might get long, though...)
Our environment is a self-written Content Management System called XOBIX
(you can see it in action at It used to be
Server-Side JavaScript (no MVC for miles ahead...), then we switched to
Java. While the original developer started creating his own templating
tools, I strongly voted for Custom Tags and when I found out about JSTL, I
thought: "Why re-invent the wheel? It does everything we need!". Frankly,
JSTL has more than enough functionality to create your standard dynamic web
page. Ok, forms are another matter (we're interested in Struts right now),
but then I don't think that web designers should mess around with forms a
I set out to convince my co-workers, and I think I succeeded :-)  The
beautiful thing about JSTL is that it provides you with all a normal web
designer needs, a lot of people (I hope!) are using it, you can read
articles and books and stuff - it's a community.
So how are things done here? Usually, the graphic artist creates a mockup of
a page. Then everybody hates him, because it's impossible to do ;-) No,
seriously, if everyone is ok with that, the web designers translate that
into HTML. This is validated with CSE HTML Validator. Afterwards, HTML parts
that can be isolated and included are identified (e.g. the navigation). The
same goes for blocks that are dynamic. Frankly, if a web designer doesn't
understand that, he won't understand Server-Side Includes, he won't
understand forms or JavaScript either, and developers will have a hard time
with him ;-)
With that done, styles are identified, and a corresponding (hopefully
well-documented) CSS is written by the web designers. It's our policy to use
MVC in HTML as well - instead of using <b> (which is a View), we use
<strong> (which is a "Model", or rather a content-specific tag), so the View
part is handled by the CSS. Then the web designers start creating a JSP for
every dynamic block, relying on the objects that the developers give them.
These objects (actually, they're wrappers) are documented with Javadoc - the
nice thing is that we rely a lot on objects containing other objects. Let's
take a story object... this contains image objects, which in turn contain
file objects, which in turn contain image objects that show the icon for
that file. But the interface to the image in the story and the image as file
icon is of course the same. So it's a case of "learn once, use everywhere".
Naturally, we developers must be very careful not to break the interface.
We're not yet in MVC heaven, because the web designers need our help from
time to time. But it's much, much better than having to mess around with
JSPs ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I design web sites myself and I use JSTL
as well, but as a developer, it's not my primary task. If the documentation
is good, the web designers can work for themselves, they don't have to rely
as much on developers (and I think that programmers can be a pain
sometimes...), and everybody's happy.
Also, sometimes two web designers create the same kind of JSP (e.g. an image
gallery). If I notice, I suggest (and mostly write) a common JSP file that
can be used with <c:import>, with parameters (e.g. <c:param var="imageStyle"
value="greenBorder"/>) to influence how it's shown. Thus, the web site gets
much more modular and manageable.

Anyway, I sent around your mail, and hopefully we'll get a couple of ideas
together for

Best regards,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Pierre Delisle []
> Sent: Dienstag, 4. Februar 2003 21:27
> To: Tag Libraries Users List
> Subject: Re: Non Java Developers, programmers using JSTL and taglibs
> This is an interesting discussion. As the spec lead for JSTL,
> I'm always interested in hearing about the practical experiences 
> people have with the technology.
> Lyndon mentioned the following:
> > Nonetheless I dont see the average "web designer" 
> > using jstl. Maybe jstl 2.0 will offer easier integration.
> Actually, much of what is discussed on this alias and developed
> on jakarta-taglibs influences the direction taken by JSTL.
> Never underestimate the power of your comments!
> will pretty much be the reflection of the needs expressed by 
> the community.
> The JSR-052 (JSTL) expert group will be wrapping a maintenance
> release shortly (JSTL 1.1 -- some fixes + synchonize with JSP 2.0).
> This will eventually be followed by the formation of a new
> JSR to tackle
> I was going to ask for community input in a month or so,
> but since we're already pretty much in the heart of it
> with this discussion, I'd encourage anyone to voice their 
> opinion on what the priorities should be for
> Also, I'd be very interested in hearing about the type of
> environment you work in for the development of dynamic
> web applications. That should help us understand as a community
> the usage profiles and their bias :-)
> Thanks,
>     -- Pierre
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