Category Archives: Spring

UI Survey 2017: Java vs. JavaScript

Recently, I’ve seen a number of surveys covering the popularity of Java and Java UI frameworks. Most surveys show that either Spring or Java EE is more popular. However, they don’t answer two important questions: is Java becoming more or less important? Currently, I’m mostly interested in UI frameworks, so the next logical question is: what is the market share of Java UI frameworks compared to JavaScript UI frameworks?

To my disappointment, I didn’t find a clear answer, neither by researching the internet nor by asking the question on Twitter. So I’ve started to gather information myself. That wasn’t easy, so most of the article is based on indirect hints and educated guesses.


My first surprise was when I learned about ng2-bootstrap in December 2016. At the time, Angular2 itself was still brand-new. So it won’t surprise anyone that the third-party libraries had a hard time catching up. In other words: At the time, ng2-bootstrap was a promising library, but it still had a long way to go. Compared to BootsFaces, it’s still a tiny library. In early April 2017, it consists of merely 17 components, as opposed to the 74 components of BootsFaces.

Nonetheless, ng2-bootstrap had been downloaded 70.000 times in December, give or take a few. In early April 2017, the download counter even shows 204.000 downloads per month. Compare this to 2.000+ downloads of BootsFaces per month. Oops! Such an unfinished library is 100 times more popular than the fire-proven BootsFaces?

Of course, BootsFaces is one of the smaller JSF frameworks, but even the so, ng2-bootstrap seems to be more popular than all JSF component libraries together. My curiosity was piqued.


Another indicator of the popularity of a framework is Google Trends. I’ve compared the number of search requests of JSF and Spring MVC:

Comparing the Google Trends of JSF and Spring MVC
Datasource: Google Trends (

Both frameworks seem to be roughly equally popular. JSF used to be much more popular in the past, but it has lost a lot of popularity in recent years.

Actually, the dwindling number of search requests may have a different reason. In 2004, there were three times as many search requests to JavaScript than today. But it’s unlikely JavaScript is used less today. It’s much more likely that developers ask other questions today. Or maybe they simply ask less question because they’ve learned how to work with JavaScript. The same may hold true for JSF. I’m even told JSF is gaining traction again.

Adding Angular and React to the equation

However, adding AngularJS and React.js to the trends analysis changes the image radically. There are 10 times as many search requests for React.js and 20 times as many search requests for AngularJS:

Comparing the Google Trends of Angular, React.js, JSF, and Spring MVC
Datasource: Google Trends (

Again, that might simply mean that there are twenty times as many problems with Angular than with JSF. Plus, the search may be biased by my selection of search keywords. For instance, both Angular and JSF are “topics” of Google Trends, while React.js is categorized as a “JavaScript library”. Spring MVC is merely a search term. So it’s hard to say whether “Spring” or “Spring MVC” is the better keyword to find out about the UI framework of Spring.

Be that as it may, the trends are impressive. Plus, I’m working with Angular2+ on a daily basis. It’s a good framework, not a source of problems. Still, the huge quantity of Google searches may simply mean the developers are still learning how to use Angular. But I believe the trend also indicates that Angular and React.js are more popular than Spring MVC and JSF.

What about other frameworks?

I know that there are countless other UI frameworks, both in the Java realm and the JavaScript universe. I’ve limited my research to these four frameworks because they seem to be the most popular ones. I’ve entered quite a few other frameworks in the search bar. That didn’t change the results significantly, so I didn’t include them in the charts.

Trends of programming languages

Another indicator is the popularity of JavaScript and TypeScript. In many rankings, JavaScript, Java, and C are the most popular languages. Even if the Tiobe index indicates that JavaScript and TypeScript are much less popular than Java: Java is a general purpose language, while JavaScript and TypeScript are still being used almost exclusively in the browser. It’s possible to write server or desktop applications using JavaScript, but if I’m not mistaken, that’s still a small niche.

The last indicator is the strategy of PrimeFaces. Recently, they spend a lot of time developing the JavaScript offsprings of their JSF framework. I gather that has something to do with market shares.

Wrapping it up

For some reason, it’s hard to find information about the market share of Java and JavaScript UI libraries. Such surveys are sparse, and most of them concentrate either on Java or JavaScript. So much of this article is speculation. Nonetheless, I’m under the impression that the JavaScript UI market is five to ten times larger than the Java UI market.

Come to think of it, that’s not surprising. Java UIs are almost always used with Java back-ends. Client-side web application can be used with any back-end. That includes .NET, SAP, databases with REST APIs and even PHP. Plus, JavaScript is the language of choice for web designers.

However, I’m surprised that Angular seems to be so popular in the JavaScript world. Angular specifically targets enterprise applications, and that’s only a small fraction of the JavaScript applications. I reckon much of the rise of Angular and – to a lesser extent – React.js is at the expense of traditional server-side web frameworks.

By the way, that doesn’t affect my commitment for BootsFaces. Even if the estimated community of roughly 10.000 developers is small in comparison, that’s still the population of the village I’m living in. And it’s a lot of fun to help so many developers!

Dig deeper

Java Web Frameworks Index February 2017 by RebelLabs
Spring MVC vs. JSF
Spring MVC vs. JSF vs. Angular vs. React
License of the Google Trends screenshots

Newsflash: Running Example of Spring Boot + JSF

Some time ago, I wrote about the challenges of getting JSF in a Spring Boot container up and running. The problem is that Spring Boot is officially not supported by the Mojarra team, which means it’s up to the Spring Boot team to ensure compatibility.

The Spring Boot ticket Phil Webb opened in response to my article is still open, but he pointed me to an interesting article. Alex Bath of Oakdale Software managed to run a JSF application on Apache MyFaces 2.2.6.

However, I suspect that compatibility between JSF and Spring will deteriorate more and more in the (possibly near) future. If I’m not mistaken, JSF is going to be tightly integrated with CDI, so many interesting features simply won’t work without CDI. On the long run, this may render JSF useless without CDI.

That said, I’d like you to point to the GitHub repository of the project of Alex and invite you to read the full story.

Updating To Mojarra 2.2.11+ May Break Your Spring Boot Application

One of our BootsFaces users surprised me by reporting that his application ceased to work after updating to Mojarra 2.2.11. After some investigation, I found out that the Mojarra team had implemented something that looked like an optimization. It works fine on a traditional Tomcat, but it doesn’t on Spring Boot.

What happened?

After reporting the bug to the Mozilla team, I learned two things:

  • Spring Boot is not officially supported by the Mojarra team. They’ll accept your bug fixes happily, but they’re reluctant to fix bugs related to Spring Boot themselves. Now, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Spring considers itself as a competitor to JavaEE, so it’s just a happy coincidence that it’s possible to combine Spring Boots and JSF.
  • There was a good reason to implement the breaking change, and it wasn’t performance.

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Build Your Own Dependency Injection Framework!

Let’s bust a myth. There are very good reasons to use CDI or Spring, but dependency injection isn’t one of them. There are a lot of alternatives. And I’m not talking about Google Guice, although that’s a very fine DI framework indeed. Why don’t we write our own DI framework? Can’t be difficult, can it?

It’s true: today’s open source libraries make writing your own DI framework incredibly simple. But even without such a library writing a DI framework isn’t difficult (at least if you’re ready to learn something about class loaders). I’ll develop a sketchy DI framework in this article. In theory, you could finish my work to implement a full-blown DI container and put it into production. Even if you don’t, you’ll understand how CDI and Spring work after reading this article.

But first I’d like to present you an alternative you’re probably not aware of.
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JSF 2.2 and PrimeFaces 5 on Spring Boot

Fork me on GitHubRecently I reported about Spring Boot (see Application Servers are dead! (Sort of)), an interesting approach to embed your application server into your application instead doing it the other way round.

However, Spring Boot is a fairly new technology, so the documentation is still work in progress. Most of the documentation is great, but there are still sentences like

Applications that are not already Spring applications might be convertible to a Spring Boot application, and the guidance above might help, but your mileage may vary.

Most JSF applications clearly fall into this category. So I’ve prepared a JSF template project to spare you some of the mileage. Currently there’s a simple simple PrimeFaces project and a more advanced project demonstrating Spring and JSF scopes.

To make things more interesting, I added Gradle and JSF custom scopes to the equation.
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How to Integrate JSF 2 and Spring 3 (or Spring 4) Nicely

Oops. We did it again. We heeded the consultants advice once again.

You shouldn’t do that, you know. Not thoughtlessly, that is. It’s all right to call a consultant and listen to his advice. But don’t you follow his advice blindly. If he’s a good consultant, most of his advice is good. But every once in a while it’s just poisoned. A consultant’s job is to spread idea’s he’s already seen in other companies. In other words: he’s spreading something just above mediocrity. Respectable consultants don’t give really bad advices, but sometimes they kill good ideas they haven’t seen before – often without actually intending to do so.

An advice you definitely should not heed is to combine Spring and JSF. They simply aren’t made for each other. They aren’t exactly incompatible, but you have to split your application in two parts: JSF-land and Spring Country. Between those two countries there is a clearly defined border. Complete with fences, customs checks and everything else a frontier needs.

You’d rather use CDI with JSF. That’s a marriage made in heaven.

Unfortunately we did heed the consultants advice and abandoned CDI. Now it’s my team’s job to make the best of it.

Update (August 9, 2013)
Neill Griffin seems to have found a nice solution to the problem. Have a look at his announcement and his demo at GitHub. The solution even runs as a Liferay portlet.
Update (May 10, 2014)
Rafael Ponte reports in his comments (at the end of this article) the problem has been solved recently (Spring 3.2). He also reports it possible to avoid the serialization exception by adding the annotation @Scope(proxyMode=ScopedProxyMode.TARGET_CLASS, value="session") to the bean. The bean has to be injected as a manged property (@ManageProperty instead of @Autowired).
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