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The Ultimate Java Web Frameworks Comparison: Spring MVC, Grails, Vaadin, GWT, Wicket, Play, Struts and JSF

Introduction: Let get curious…

Web Frameworks are all very different and have been typically created for different reasons and to achieve different goals. Which Java Web Framework will you use in your next project and why would you chose one over the other? There are many features which may sway your decision and of course it will depend on the type of app you’re building.

Why do we need Web Frameworks?

Well, coding good-looking web applications in Java isn’t super easy. In fact, let’s just say it sucks. It can be hard to do and mostly doesn’t give us the rich front-end we strive to deliver to happy users. This is really the catalyst which has caused Web Frameworks to be created. Both, functional and non-functional web app requirements have led to the need for various web frameworks to be created, but this brings us to the opposite problem…there are so many choices out there to use, which web framework should you pick for your next web app?

We thought it made sense to follow up on the Java Web Frameworks section of our popular Developer Productivity Report and see what we had in there back in 2012. According to over 1800 developer responses, here’s what we found:


More than just looking at market share and usage in place, we wanted to extend this report on Java Web Frameworks to look deeper at these eight libraries, and find out about what is really important to developers, in addition to looking into how different frameworks make sense for different use cases.

This report is the first of two and will focus on a feature comparison across the following categories:

  1. Rapid application prototyping
  2. Framework Complexity
  3. Ease of Use
  4. Documentation & Community
  5. Framework Ecosystem
  6. Throughput/Scalability
  7. Code Maintenance/Updates
  8. UX, Look and feel

We’re going to compare and contrast each Web Framework in this report against each category above scoring and placing each of them based on our findings. The Java Web Frameworks (and versions) we will be discussing in this report are:

  • Spring MVC 3.2.3
  • Grails 2.2.2
  • Vaadin v7.1.1
  • GWT 2.5.0
  • Wicket 6.8
  • Play 2.1.2
  • Struts
  • JSF 2.2

Wait–there is a Part II coming?

In order to avoid a 9000-page report, we wanted to separate it into two parts. In this part, we look at each framework objectively and compare them. In the second report we will take a look at different application types and styles (i.e. use cases), matching the most appropriate Java Web Frameworks to each, from the information and scores from this report. Each application type will care about the categories mentioned in this report to varying extents, which will aid us in weighting each of the categories for the application types. So save some popcorn, keep an eye out for the trailers and make sure you come back for the sequel to this blockbuster report.

What if you no longer had to redeploy your Java code to see changes? The choice is yours. In just a few clicks you can Say Goodbye to Java Redeploys forever.

Continue this on the couch and download the PDF version

  • AlfredoZuloaga

    Excellent article, But I´m not too convinced that Play was best on Throughput/Scalability because others frames can deploy on very strong Java EE Containers like GlassFish, JBoss,WebLogic, Wensphere,etc that are proven excellent on Throughput/Scalability.

  • Claudiu Ion

    don’ forget resin container

    the guys from here

  • Andrea Del Bene

    Don’t want to be self-referential, but the documentation for Wicket has been really improved and updated recently :) :)

  • Christian

    To master Play’s Scala based template engine is not a harder than learning every other template engine. Actually you don’t have to know Scala at all.

    You’ve counted Scala as a disadvantage several times in your comparison, but I think it is a really powerful and clean language, once you’ve mastered it. You can do so much more with so much less code compared to Java.

    Scala is not a disadvantage, Scala is a big win.

  • J.

    This is the most useless Java web framework comparison I have ever red. Too generic, too subjective and biased. Nothing was said, document is full of generic boilerplate parts crowned by dusty score valuation.

  • arhan

    IMO that’s a subjective assessment. Since we used Play2 for our own projects, the developers acknowledge that scala templates certainly helped in many cases, however with its own quirks.

  • Adam Koblentz

    I’d say that requiring Scala knowledge in a Java framework is a disadvantage. If we were discussing a PHP framework that required Ruby, I do not believe anyone would disagree.

  • Simon Maple

    Sorry to hear you disagree so strongly. As our Rebel Labs team is mostly comprised of humans, the text will always be subjective and opinionated and I believe it makes for the most interesting and valuable of articles and reading. If you would like more in-depth information, we have posted more in-depth blog posts on most of the frameworks we discussed in the report on the Rebel Labs blog. The report is already 50 pages, or so, in size which many think is already very long. I suspect we wont see eye to eye on this one, but it’s not always right trying to please everybody :)

  • Han Zhang

    But for building a large app, code maintainability outweighs many other factors, no? So even Struts sits at the bottom of your list by scores, in reality, when building an app with a large number of fine grained features, limited developer resources, large number of users, which one do I pick? Struts. :)

  • Simon Maple

    Hey Han, Very good points. These are actually all planned for our second part of the report. These are merely the category scores. The second report will examine real world app types and weight the categories based on their requirements. This will then allow us to provide recommendations on an app type basis.

  • UmeshAwasthi

    Though overall it is really a good article, but it lacks many aspects.For e.g at some point Author is talking Struts as legacy framework while there is already a new version of Struts derived from WW named as Struts2 while struts has already been declared close for development.

    For UI, i believe both STruts2 and Spring-MVC provides a lot of flexibility of use any view technology or use build in support .Struts2 already providing beautiful Jquery plugin which provides many Jquery powered widgets out of the box while author is talking about Ajax support which was based on deprecated DOJO plugin.

    I believe there are many real time factors which was not considered while doing this comparaion.

  • cblin

    This is no easy task to compare java web frameworks so this article deserves consideration as it does a good job to summarize some of them.

    But I clearly agree with the conclusion : you are comparing oranges with apples.

    Also, I miss some “real world” metric : maintanability, going mobile, going services oriented (i.e lots of small apps working together), testability

    I’ll wait the second part to tell you my full opinion ;)

  • Marc Sch

    I agree, it’s way too generic. A more interesting comparison would involve building an advanced prototype and then looking at things such as performance, caching, lines of code etc.

  • Han Zhang

    Simon’s talking about Struts

  • Yannick Majoros

    Agreeing with some others here: I think there is too much bias in this article. Giving points is bound to be a problem.

    Something that isn’t addressed is the fact that most those frameworks are not part of any spec. I know it’s boring, but I’m convinced it *is* important for the long-term minded professional.

    Been using Struts and Vaadin in professional contexts. You always end up spending lot of time on implementation details, that are not part of any specification. Any problem with component X or feature Y? That’s how it’s implemented, you have to live with it. Maybe it will change in a new version (and break things).

    In contrast, JSF has multiple implementations and is well-specified. Any problem with component Z? Check the spec, you have some reference to have the bug corrected. Plus, nowadays, it’s equivalent in functionality. I don’t even get why I would think at using something else, that would roughly do the same, but without the standardization. That also makes big difference regarding documentation, e.g. the Book of Vaadin might look like a full documentation, but it just can’t compare to a full specification.

    Another thing that I always look at when using someone else code is typing. Vaadin, for example, is full of Object parameters, casting, string parameters, … Those things will break at runtime. JSF has still to evolve in this, but at least you can get your java code mostly type-safe.

    After years of having to deal with them, my general idea of those non java-ee frameworks is that they are the work of some uncontrolled volunteers, some of them creative but not led by engineers. The demo looks nice, but it requires a lot of knowledge of the framework only implementation.

    In contrast, I like the fact that Java EE (5, 6, 7…) is a powerful, well-engineered ecosystem that’s been maintained with a vision.

  • arhan

    Very good comment! But could you elaborate about bias? Bias towards what? Rebel Labs doesn’t relate to any of those frameworks business-wise, and the marks are given by individual devs – of course those marks are subjective. I would say that given the set of categories in which these frameworks are given the standings are pretty fair.

    Well, I wouldn’t give GWT that many points for UI, but yet again – that’s my subjective assessment.

  • henk53

    This is a nice review really, but difficult as well. You either have to be an absolute beginner in all frameworks and then test which one you get productive with first, or you have to be an expert in all of them.

    In the weeks before this report there were individual reviews of most web frameworks, but not for JSF. Did I miss something, or did you guys forgot to post it?

    Although I generally agree with the JSF scoring, I do have a few remarks about the text.

    >prototype applications require just as much configuration as a full application

    Simple prototype applications in JSF require no configuration at all. See for example this one:

    There is no required web.xml, no faces-config.xml or anything else. When deploying to a simple lightweight Web Profile server (e.g. TomEE) there’s not even any jar to download and put into web-inf/lib or any extra dependency to be put in a pom.xml. As the article shows, zip those files up in a war and copy it to an app dir of TomEE, GlassFish, etc.

    I’m not sure how much simpler things can become, especially for prototyping.

    >JSF are the wizards available in most IDEs that generate most of the boilerplate code and configuration for you.

    I’m really curious here; what boilerplate code and what configuration would that exactly be? (honest question) Is there any such configuration or boilerplate in the article I referenced that such wizard would generate?

    IDEs work great with JSF for auto-completion of tags, auto importing of namespaces, and to auto-complete and navigate into EL expressions, but I haven’t seen much JSF developers really using any wizards to generate configuration, since when beginning there’s simply isn’t any that’s needed.

    The complexity review is the only section in the report when I really disagree with the points raised. The text just doesn’t feel coherent.

    >JSF is incredibly complex, and that is the largest downfall of the framework. However, this is not JSF’s fault, this is due to the Java EE specification and the inflexibility of runtimes available.

    So JSF is complex because of the Java EE specification? What’s in Java EE that makes JSF complex to use then? Why are the runtimes inflexible? Inflexible with respect to what?

    >There are open source implementations of the JSF specification that do allow the use of non-Java EE containers like Tomcat

    This sounds a bit weird…

    There are ONLY open source implementations of the JSF specification, namely Mojarra and MyFaces. They both indeed run on Tomcat (and even on Jetty). The sentence seems to suggest that the “normal” JSF implementations are closed source, but if you look closely and know where to look, there really also are open source ones. This couldn’t be further from the truth really.

    >which cuts down tremendously on the complexity of having to run a full Java Enterprise application server

    I just don’t get this… I really don’t. What complexity of having to run a full Java EE application server? TomEE is a 25MB archive. You download it, unzip it, and start it. It’s exactly the same as you do with Tomcat! The same goes for JBoss, GlassFish, Resin… it’s every time just a download, unzip, run. Nothing more. Every modern container starts up in a few seconds (JBoss EAP 6.1 on my system is 1.5 seconds, TomEE is 2.something…).

    You guys at zeroturnaround did the application server report, so I guess you really should know this.

    In fact, as mentioned above, running the simple JSF app I referenced earlier is much less complex on any of the modern application servers than on Tomcat. With JBoss, GlassFish, Resin, Geronimo, Liberty, JOnAS, … it’s download, unzip, start, deploy those 3 source files. With Tomcat it’s download, unzip, start, look for JSF website, hunt jars, find right version, download, copy jar to web-inf/lib, deploy 4 (or 5) files. It’s not a super big deal of course, but it’s 2 extra steps compared to a Java EE server.

    > JSF is very easy to get up and running and often does not require extra downloads or configuration as the necessary code is bundled in any Java EE compliant application server.

    Is this a different person writing? It seems to contradict the earlier text. Though I naturally agree with this, it left me a bit confused here.

    >Assuming it’s not enabled already, getting JSF support in your application server can be as simple as enabling a checkbox.

    Isn’t Liberty the only server that requires this “checkbox” (an entry in server.xml)? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other server requiring this, but I’m eager to learn what other one also wants this (if any).

    >Java EE can be overwhelming and incredibly useful features can seem obtuse or obfuscated by poor documentation or easy to miss in the corpus that is the body of Java EE features

    I agree with this point, Java EE needs to have more documentation that represents Java EE as the framework itself, not as a collection of the alphabet soup JSF, CDI, JPA, etc. For instance using CDI backing beans in JSF, with EL 3.0 expressions and Bean Validation constraints is really well integrated. You really wouldn’t tell most of the times you’re dealing with 4 separate specs. Yet indeed, core documentation often has to be looked up at 4 places.

    > Oracle has a large part in determining and supporting features present in the specification.

    This is technically true. Oracle is leading the JSF specification and has the ultimate say. Technically…

    In practice however the spec lead (Ed Burns) runs JSF in the most open source way possible. JSF was the first specification of Sun that had an open source implementation, the first one that had a fully public JIRA for community issues and where things were discussed openly on a public mailing list.

    If you follow the mailing list discussions a bit then it becomes clear how much the Mojarra developers ask for opinions and agreement of the non-Mojarra and non-Oracle people all the time. If you look at the features that made it into JSF 2.2 (see then you can see that many of them were community submitted ideas and many others were chosen based on community voting. At the start of JSF 2.2 I remember Ed Burns asking everyone to vote for their most wanted features in JSF 2.2.

    > There is still a community based on JSF and there are a few exciting alternative technologies built on JSF, namely the MyFaces, PrimeFaces, and IceFaces.

    This is perhaps not 100% correct. MyFaces is not an alternative technology build on JSF, MyFaces *IS* JSF. As mentioned above, it’s one of the implementations of the JSF spec (Mojarra being the other).

    PrimeFaces and IceFaces (please don’t forget RichFaces here ;)) are not really “alternative technologies”. They are component libraries. One of the major goals of JSF was to enable to existence of such collections of components (widgets, controls). They are not competitors to core JSF, nor do they specifically fix flaws in JSF that Sun or Oracle forgot about. The fact that they exist means that JSF succeeded with one of its goals; to enable a rich ecosystem of available third party components.

    >JSF’s ecosystem includes component libraries such as Richfaces, OmniFaces, Primefaces, IceFaces, ADF Faces as well as the extension points, including PrettyFaces, GMaps4JSF and Mashups4JSF.

    Nice enumeration here :) One tiny correction; though OmniFaces definitely has its share of components, it’s generally considered to be a utility library (like Guave for Java SE) and not in the same space as RichFaces, PrimeFaces and IceFaces. A bit of a larger correction is that ADF Faces is a bit of a different thing. There’s a regular component library called Trinidad that is derived from ADF Faces, but ADF itself is difficult to explain. It is a complete higher level framework where the UI part is kinda like a fork of JSF with many things added, but typically lagging behind the latest “normal” JSF. Better not touch this subject in a casual JSF review ;)

    > JSF can be easily added to your existing Java EE environments and immediately receives all of the benefits inherent in the Java EE ecosystem. JSF can be leveraged on non-EE containers as well, with open source support from the Apache Foundation with their MyFaces implementation of the JSF specification.

    This again sounds like “the other person” wrote it again. Good text and almost seems to contradict the earlier statements again. Just wanted to note here again that the Oracle implementation is also fully open source and also runs on non-EE containers.

    >JSF applications can be performant, but really the performance gains come from clustering Java EE application servers.

    It also performs quite well without any clustering involved, see this article:

    I like that you mention @Asynchronous can be a performance boost as well :) I don’t see this often being mentioned in (JSF) reviews!

    >One of the stated goals of JSF is to help developers produce better code, but we do not see how they facilitate that.

    I think the way Facelets templates works, with the template clients and such, and the way components are bound to backing beans via the concept of bi-directional EL expressions really helps to produce better code. It’s really an easy way to cleanly separate UI layout and backing data.

    Okay, the few remarks got a bit longer than originally anticipated, but I hope it’s useful ;)

  • UmeshAwasthi

    Than saying that Struts is legacy framework is totally wrong assumption

  • Santosh Maskar

    I think you forgot mention the stripes ( which has gained popularity in terms of use from last 5 years.

  • arhan

    Stripes is nice and we even support it in JRebel. But the report would not fit all the frameworks – there are 100500 of them in the wild :)

  • Yannick Majoros


  • Yannick Majoros

    Ok let’s not expand about bias (just my feeling) and say I just don’t think the review is objective. @henk53:disqus commented in details about jsf, exposing some random assertions which simply aren’t true. Same lack of objectivity for Vaadin, in my opinion: just asserting it’s quite easy to use with nice results out-of-the-box and giving it high scores without too much debate. Not my experience, I think this specific one is a real mess ;-)

  • arhan

    Fair enough. How about you take same categories and try rating ’em yourself, and then let’s compare, how will the results differ? That would be quite an interesting test.

  • Yannick Majoros

    Lacking time, but why not if it’s not urgent. I could do some of the frameworks, not all of them. Still wondering if grades are relevant, though.

  • arhan

    Just pick a few. I’m planning to do that myself also, just to see how my personal preferences match the results from the team.

  • Han Zhang

    Out of the ones in this comparison, I like Struts2 the most.

    It strikes a very fine balance between function granularity and abstraction. Most of the dish-washing type of work are packaged away into fine grained APIs, which live on its very flexible interceptor-based architecture. With OGNL and xwork’s validation, it takes away much of the tedious data conversion and validation type of work. The user data live in same object structure from JSP all the way to the database.

    It does have a learning curve looks like the shape of the square root. Once you reach the plateau part, you are extremely productive. The more I use Struts2, the more I appreciate what it offers. It’s the #1 MVC framework I will choose to use any day for non-trivial app with extremely limited developer resources and large user base requirements. I see its life in the next 10 years, definitely not a legacy framework at all.

  • UmeshAwasthi

    I was also wondering about author perspective. I am working with struts2 and Spring-MVC from quite a long time and i always prefer Struts2 due to flexibility and option to add my custom plugin as well interceptors stack

  • Han Zhang

    Yep, agree struts2’s open and flexible core architecture is its most liked feature. Value stack, OGNL, validation, and xwork (command pattern) are my favorite features, among others.

  • Jevgeni Martjushev

    We didn’t explicitly call Struts a legacy framework, but rather said that “Many devs see Struts as a legacy technology”.

  • Dani Pardo

    After reading the article I cannot but feel quite sad: It’s just the amount of bloat, and the obsession for reaching architectural perfection that has lead us to frameworks so complex. Maybe we should get back to the basics, using plain servlets and jsp :)

  • gregorsam

    Where is zk?

    I think for the ease of use it is the best. Practically no XML required if you want to code everything just in Java. Rich set of components.

    In my view that is a significant omission.

  • Luc Bourlier

    There an error in the result table on the last page. Play is the ‘winner’ in the Throughput/ Scalability category with a 5, but the scores of Vaadin and GWT with 4.5 are highlighted in blue.

  • arhan

    As you can see the report features only a few frameworks. It would have been an enormously log PDF if every framework was included.

  • arhan

    I advocate for NoFramework movement! Perhaps, one day, I will create a framework and call it “NoFramework” :)

  • Simon Maple

    Thanks for the feedback, we’ll update when we refresh

  • Simon Maple

    Is nobody going to comment about how cringe our trailer videos are? We’ll make them worse and worse if you don’t stand up and say something!

  • iNikem

    How it is possible to evaluate performance characteristics without real load testing and measuring? “Will my application perform will in production if it gets hit by Slashdot effect?” “You use Hibernate and Spring? Then surely it will! They are giants!”

  • omid pourhadi

    where is the Jboss Seam ?

  • M

    Thanks for your hard work of making such challenge report.

    I am in the process to evaluate and choose web framework for my next project. This is why I read this article from beginning to end. However, I found the info from this article is not useful as I expected.

    My question is – how come the most popular web framework just get the second to bottom score in your ranking system recommended?! Your ranking system is not totally-unreasonable, but I have to say it is not as useful as it should be, since it is not helpful to us to understanding the fact. Either some of ranking values used are not accurate, or some more important factors missing over there.

    Anyway I think your survey result is the most valuable point in this report, since it shows the kind of result comes from the group intelligence of the java community. Thanks again.


  • Sudheer Avula

    A very good write up on comparing web frameworks in different aspects….

    This is a very good source of information to conquer the maze of web frameworks. I could at least filter some of the frameworks based on the score.


  • Hisham ARagheb

    I guess component based frameworks were not meant to be used when you have designers at all. Designers can’t cope with all component based frameworks rubbish syntax, they barely know the syntax of JSP and i think that was enough for them. That was why i hated JSF from the first time i used it since we had terrible problems with be honest, i don’t blame them at all since we the developers did really suffer from that extra layer of complexity and squinted our eyes when looking at any page contents

    Let’s be fair, programmers can play with html, css and js, but the opposite side can’t.

    That’s why i consider request/response frameworks to last while we should wait the death of all component based frameworks and i’m pretty sure that oracle/sun will dismiss JSF sooner or later.

    Come on, HTML is improving very fast, web projects are taking a steep steps toward mobile apps and rich client interface apps which is very difficult to achieve with component based frameworks. Component based frameworks are meant to be for freelancers or those companies who don’t have designers. It’s the programmer role to do every thing with such frameworks.

    In my opinion, Spring MVC is the best framework by the means of abstraction from the view and it’s easy to learn curve. I have also used struts 2 which was excellent but unfortunately it’s not adopted enough and very few documentation.

    I would suggest that oracle/sun should adopt struts 2 as its standard framework for the view layer and to stop wasting time on JSF.

    That’s my opinion according to practical experience

  • Lluis

    So the only ones that I know (Struts and Spring) are the worst. Oh my!

  • arhan

    They aren’t the worst. Those just didn’t score high in this selection for these categories (which is also subjective).

  • grobmeier

    Come on, you don’t need to write form bean classes in Struts and you certainly don’t need to map that with xml.

  • Waqar

    Could anyone suggest me best share hosting provider for java? thanks

  • Marteijn Nouwens

    Nice review. Note that I found 1 thing missing. Code maintenance and such. For an example. JSF el expressions do not enforce compile time checks of existing properties/functions. Whereas gwt enables this is a really good way. The code has to compile in java. This is an aspect in front end frameworks that is mostly overlooked. There used to be an option to compile the packaged war to check faulty jsp pages/properties. Does anybody know if that is possible for JSF :-)

    I do develop Gwt and JSF. But given a choice would go for GWT any time. A lot more possible.

  • Marteijn Nouwens


  • Trut

    Nice write-up.

    One small nitpick; Vaadin does actually have a bit more overhead than GWT. In Vaadin all user interaction is sent to the server, as opposed to GWT where user interaction takes place client side.

  • Adil

    JBoss Seam development has been halted

  • Anıl Özselgin

    Some Java frameworks are for developing modern web sites using cutting edge CSS, Javascript coding. Other framework are for creating enterprise application with no html coding. So you can’t develop a social network with JSF. You can create a CRM application for a bank with JSF but nothing with frontend complexity.

    We have two buckets.
    Bucket for enterprise applications: JSF, GWT and Vaadin. These are for applications with simple frontend needs.
    Frameworks for web: Grails, Play, Spring MVC, Struts, Wicket.

    I think that frameworks had to be compared seperately keeping that in mind.

  • Florin Marcus

    I am reading such comparison for years and as much as I love reading them, I understand that you need to take them for what they really are: one (or more) talented software engineering is taking a dive into various technologies with the purpose of producing an article. From a “tutorial level” perspective . In reality, is highly improbable to find a person having enough in-depth knowledge about several frameworks, years of production experience with each, in order to draw a conclusion.

  • Dmitry [d9k]

    I personally choosed Vaadin after reading, but it seems that catastrophic little amount of websites are using this framework.

    Only 3 sites out of top million!
    1 site out of 100’000!
    Zero sites out of 10’000…
    How would you comment it? Looks attractive, but why so unpopular?
    For example Play framework have 30/13/2 scores and GWT 207/34/14.

  • Dmitry [d9k]

    Thanks for comment! I’m choosing right framework for having a try.

  • arhan

    imo, Vaadin is best suited for enterprise apps, not the websites.

  • Dmitry [d9k]

    What is the good choise if I would like to develop sites on Java?

  • arhan

    As usual, the answer is – “it depends”. Spring and Struts2 are very good frameworks for building large websites. But this is my own subjective opinion – you should just try whatever you picked and learn from that. Maybe Vaadin is what you’re really looking for – just give it a try.

  • Dmitry [d9k]

    As far as I know Magnolia CMS is written on Vaadin.
    I think I’ll try it for websites development. )

  • enric jaen

    Thanks for this inspirational article.
    Another issue I think should be addressed is the deployment facility. At the end, the application must be deployed at some platform. Questions such as which providers does this framework support? How much money does it cost? Is this provider a PaaS? and maybe others questions..

  • enric jaen

    I just read about ZK and it’s impressive the amount of large companies using it

  • arhan

    This is about the same as for any other framework out there… It is very compelling to put as many frameworks into the comparison as possible, but you still have to cut at some point.. The report selected based on the productivity surveys that we have conducted in previous years.

  • Michael Mosmann

    I wrote a comment on this with the title: Choosing a web framework – that’s not easy.

  • henk53

    Your distinction makes no sense at all. Why exactly are JSF, GWT and Vaadin in one bucket and those others in another?

    This distinction becomes really weird when you realize that JSF and Wicket are rather similar in both paradigm and architecture.

    I somehow suspect your classification is based on which framework has a vocal and hyping community behind it, so it comes down to: hip & cool: web, boring and uncool: enterprise? But this doesn’t make sense either. Wicket and Struts don’t have a hippy community behind them at all.

  • henk53

    What of bunch of nonsense. Component frameworks are bad because designers can’t work with html, css and js?

    So how do you think the non-component based frameworks get their stuff on screen? By displaying designer created PDFs or Flash? Are you for real???

    Component based frameworks allow for either a very quick application of existing components (PrimeFaces in particular has an excellent collection, but there are others like RichFaces) that lets you do a lot of stuff in literally no time, OR they allow you to organize your own stuff.

    Creating a component in JSF is just putting some HTML + CSS + JS on a Facelet (.xhtml) and voila; you have a reusable component.

    Oracle should definitely not adopt Struts 2 as the standard framework. OMG! They should instead focus on making JSF even better than it already is. Did you take a look at JSF 2.2? It smokes the competition!

  • Anıl Özselgin

    Can you develop a html rich website like tumblr with JSF? That is overuse. Distinction is not based on architecture, it is based on usage of the frameworks.

  • henk53

    Well, does tumblr use Grails, Play, Spring MVC, Struts or Wicket then???

  • Anıl Özselgin

    Tumblr doesn’t use java for frontend needs. What is the point in your question?

  • henk53

    Indeed it doesn’t. But you used tumblr as prove that JSF can’t be used to develop an html rich website. Since tumbl doesn’t use Grails, Play, Spring MVC, Struts or Wicket, I guess those also aren’t suited for html rich websites then?

    Otherwise it’s just an “is-so/is-not” game. I can claim that Tumblr can be made with JSF, you claim that Tumblr can be made with Grails. But Tumblr isn’t build with either. What was the point of brining Tumblr into the discussion in the first place?

    I’m not sure if you have ever looked up some benchmarks, but Grails and Play don’t perform particularly well and are much slower than JSF. Wicket is faster, but still slower than JSF and uses more memory.

    Spring MVC can be faster when used with JSP, but modern Spring MVC uses Thymeleaf which is slower and uses more memory. Spring also puts more strain on the garbage collector since it creates so many small intermediate objects during request handling.

  • Anıl Özselgin

    Faster/Slower is not the point.
    Nobody uses JSF for HTML rich pages. If you claim it can be, show me the examples. I can show you Spring MVC powered HTML Rich websites. We are using it. JSF creates dirty javascripts. If you want to be competent in todays web, you have to write your own javascript, css, html. JSF/GWT creates dirty frontend codes -like frontpage/dreamweaver- with full of tables.

    Give me please frontend rich website names which are using JSF. That will end the debate :)

  • Mike

    I believe Wicket is a component framework that is ideal for web designers to work with. Designers for Wicket work with plain HTML + CSS. Apache Click is another good component-based framework that uses Velocity for HTML templates.

    It goes to show that a component-based framework need not necessarily be a problem for designers.

  • Mike

    You might take a look at Apache Click for a simple component-based framework. One of its principles is to stay simple. I have only played with it so far.

  • Hisham ARagheb

    You missed the context. I mean designers can’t cope with tons of components and tags with custom attributes, as they find it easier to create a page from scratch and copy/paste from previous work without any need to amend a component to suit their needs.

    Yes you can prototype a page very fast but definitely you will face hell when you have a huge application with rich interface where many parts of the page hide/show based on ajax request/response. This type of applications act as if many pages reside in one page and change based on user behavior.

    I tried jsf 2.1 and i hated it. I am not biased against it without a reason.

    I have developed internet banking products and i know that from experience.

    As long as you’re tied with JSF it’s ok. This is a discussion session not a fight pal.

  • Ari Lendakari

    Well, I was just hanging around when I saw what Anil is saying. Ok, I’ve been working with JSF 1.x and 2.x for two years. I’m going to take his sentences one by one:

    “Faster/Slower is not the point”. I would consider it to be actually one of the points shouldn’t it? Isn’t it relevant for a framework to be faster or slower?

    “Nobody uses JSF for HTML rich pages”. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with JSF, but probably you would know there are some third party component libraries like Primefaces or Icefaces. Here you have a couple of links that show some of the companies that are using them:

    They are actually many, aren’t they? Ok, that’s just a list of companies that use such third party libraries. JSF can also be used without them in order to design the components yourself and provide your own JS code for them.

    “JSF creates dirty javascripts”. JSF doesn’t create javascript code by its own. Third party component libraries DO it and you can choice between them (Primefaces, Icefaces, Richfaces, Apache Tomahawk). If ALL of them are creating ugly JS code for you, then just don’t use them and create your own JS code, as you could do to “be competent” nowadays. Personally I prefer avoiding having to write JS-CSS if the provided components suite my requirements.

    “JSF/GWT creates dirty frontend codes -like frontpage/dreamweaver- with full of tables”. Well, I don’t know about GWT, but give me ONE example where JSF creates dirty frontend code by its own.

    Having said that, I think I can go bed ;-)

  • Alvaro

    Hi, I am working almost 10 years with Java web frameworks like JSP, Struts, JSF+Richfaces, JSF+Primefaces, and I am happy because technology is finally getting away from JSF. I agree with Anil in some points, but mainly I want to say, I have workerd in big Java projects like a CRM and ERP, and JSF was always a bad election. The last sample, was an ERP developed using JavaEE + Primefaces, the most delays was because its very hard to customize JSF/Primefaces components, it are very error prone, hard complex, etc. Obviously you can say ‘why to modify components?’, but client’s don’t think like developers and want its requirements implemented, and UI components customizations are the most complex to manage at JSF/Primefaces. Be a JavaEE addict is not a good thing, we want to be free and see what is good and what not.

  • Ari Lendakari

    Alvaro, probably Primefaces components have their main issue in styling, that’s true. Most of the components are based in background images, which are so difficult to customize. However you’re yourself saying your problem was Primefaces, not JSF. Remember JSF creates pure HTML markup (with some embedded jquery), which you can customize on the way you want. You still have the choice of using components or not (or using another more customizable library like Richfaces), anyway having the possibility to choice is great, isn’t it?. Remember that all a JSF servlet does is to translate a facelet view into raw HTML! However deciding what you want to put there (or using components or not) is your own choice.

  • bhantol

    Say goodbye to “web frameworks”. Bring on the REST frameworks. Create a Javascript, HTML5, CSS rich UI App and call it a “Web App”. I might suggest AngularJS/Knockout/BackboneJS as frameworks on this side of the equation.

    Let the server be simple REST server.

  • Fran Serrano

    Sure, they are really cool ;O)

  • Fran Serrano

    In my opinion there are two assumptions here with which I have some doubts:
    1.- Assuming that no Spring knowledge is available would mean that this is not an option at all “scaring newbies away”.
    2.- Assuming that Spring MVC is used without any set of UI widgets (JQuery UI for instance) could be wrong in most of the cases.
    Spring MVC is in general wrongly underestimated in the report as it provides the flexibility to use whatever javascript widget set or javascript MVC library is currently available with still providing the possibility of a good path to going mobile, service oriented and so.
    I still agree that is not fast enough for building prototypes. For this I would use JSF + Primefaces (or Vaadin, with which I have not worked yet enough)

  • Fran Serrano

    I’m not saying it’s the best, but it’s really easy to setup and deploy: Give Jelastic a try.
    You can also use Heroku with which I have less experience

  • golfman

    I’ve tried most frameworks. Been through the history as well: Servlets, JSP, Struts etc., Everything I used made me feel like there was a much better, productive and most of all Object Oriented way to do UIs in Java.
    My search came to a glorious end when I found Wicket. I found Wicket, it didn’t find me. I found it because I was looking for something just like it. It’s the product that you dream up in your mind and then start to think “I should make this” and then you realize someone else already has – bliss!
    I didn’t choose Wicket because of some flash marketing campaign or some high paying consultancy said I should get it on my resume. Wicket is not promoted by a bunch of sheeplike, droid army which I’m reminded of every time I talk to someone trying to tell me how Spring MVC, based on the ancient “action oriented” Web UI development paradigm is somehow superior or more productive than a “component oriented” framework like Wicket.
    Yeah, so in summary if you like OO and really “get” OO, you’ll love Wicket. If you don’t get OO it’s features and benefits will be completely lost on you.

  • vinodpandey

    Hi Simon,

    This article is pretty good to understand the Java web frameworks. However I am not clear that, if Grails is overall winner wrt most of factors, why Spring MVC is popular than Grail.


  • Vish pepala

    I used Spring and Struts frameworks for my projects. Spring is extremely good. Struts (go to hell).

  • Eric

    I switched to grails, and after the initial (medium) learning curve its been great!
    I still get occasional hibernate issues, but I have gotten good at solving them.

    The automagic GORM is amazing. Book.findByTitle(‘Othello’). FTW. Switched to another j2ee project where there are xml mapping files, ugh, looks like a step back in technology.

    The HTML/CSS is best done using a CSS library like T-Bootstrap. The linkage between javascript MVW like Angular is still left on the table, which, I guess is good.

    Performance is something that must be fine tuned when dealing with larger a website datastore.

    I never heard of Vaadin, I might look in to it.

  • Steve Cook

    GWT and Vaadin are easier to interface things like CRM. I am not 100% sure of Vaadin, but GWT is fully structured around CSS. It is also designed with Ajax integrated as part of it instead of separate which can lend strength to some of the older frameworks that had to work it in later.
    I agree that frameworks have different strengths and weaknesses, but Web vs. Enterprise is not a category to look at. Architecture has little to do with the space it resides, instead it has to do with data loads, scaling, and complexity of the page. GWT and Vaadin excel at complex UI because their focus is there, dynamic front ends, complex and data intensive search, etc. Sites like E-Bay would find great benefit from GWT, especially since the back end of the site could get very complex and hard to maintain in a MVC restricted architecture.

    GWT can manage the model, security and validation on the server, offload the controller and view to the client. Add in HTML 5 and you have a recipe for next gen online games.

    One problem I see in people I have worked with is that programmers are getting lazier or less educated (not sure which). They think MVC is the only way to go, and agile is the only means to get there. Each application needs to be designed for its specific needs, each framework evaluated for what it can do for the project. In this way GWT and Vaadin have an advantage, as they allow you to decide the backend seperately.

    A point on contention, GWT has a standard backend, google-apps. While it is intended for use with publishing to Google’s applications, it can be deployed on any standard web service. So I totally disagree with it not having an eco system, just a lot of people don’t choose to use the one it defaults to.

  • Joaquin Ponte

    +10! same :)

  • Mohit


  • robertcooke

    We are also trying to do a java framework too. Some of the constrains we hold our self to are zero conf (continuous delivery), no application container and strong typed templating. Our project is called Core9 a nice thing is that it uses the new JDK8 nashorn engine to use javascript as an embedded scripting language.

    Another thing we try to do is to keep the concepts used in the framework very low to reduce the learning curve and to reduce complexity the mother of all evil :-).

  • arhan

    Nice! is it possible to take a look the framework somewhere in GitHub?

    Zero conf, meaning that the application depends on the environment where it runs? I.e. environment variables, etc?

  • robertcooke

    Yes we now use 1 env var -DDEBUG=true :-) we introduce configuration by what we call features and those are pulled from git repositories.

    Using git internally to the framework was a real eye opener we still have to discover all the benefits!

    To load modules we scan the classpath for module annotations and cache them.

    We basically created the project based off a big list of annoyances we had working with different platforms varying from magnolia-cms, spring to wordpress, drupal and magento.

    The things we liked from those projects we used to inspire us and for the things that annoyed us we looked for solutions.

    The software had to work well with DTAP environments that was a big issue. Also we set our self the goal of continues delivery hence the zero config setup. Also the extreme modular approach we took helps with that. We try to be very strict with implementing only api’s. is the github repo.

    Always looking forward to some feedback or pull requests!

  • arhan

    Nice. Making use of git internally might be a nice feature indeed. LiveRebel uses git internally too.

  • Armen Arzumanyan

    JSF2.2 is the best, with primefaces, with facelets with his validators/converters, with integration with HTML5 it have not any alternatives, with JSF you can have rapid development, JSF faster than others, you can have client side or server side development, you can use JSF and connect your web with java classes even not using any JSF components. Grails GWT or Struts, Play framework is not for business application, you will just waste time.JSF is the java web standard.Spring MVC is good, but much more usefull use Spring just as a backend or use Spring services.JSF itself can be as frontend and as backend, DI in JSF from the start and better than in Spring. If you know JSF and develop project with JSF you will success. Better to use pure JSP/Servlets or even PHP than GWT, GRAILS, or Struts, wicket. JSF also modern web framework than others.

  • Armen Arzumanyan

    with JSF you can develop any type of web application, but for example with grails or gwt you will every day solve problems which is already solved 5 years ago. Instead of your business logic you will focuce to solve GWT problems or grails problems.

  • Anıl Özselgin

    Can you develop with JSF. No. There are limitations. Nobody makes a HTML5 site with JSF. Nobody creates a website with billions of page view with JSF. Because it is only for creating panels with built in components.

    Or OK, show me your most decent web project developed with JSF.

  • Armen Arzumanyan

    Sorry but you do not read JSF tutorials carefully, panels and components needed for every projects, but if you not use JSF, you just use javascript or jquery components, JSF have not any limitations, problem is what people do not understand JSF, components is just only face part of JSF. And high performance site is not depend any frameworks.Here is short list of JSF projects , I developed the biggest web applications for 2 departments, clients from USA/Canada/India/Russia , job search portals, matching services, social networ and much more. :) good luck

  • fsilber

    I think there is a bias in favor of web frameworks which are similar to that which the reviewer already heavily uses.

    Consider the evaluation of a framework’s “learning curve.” For Wicket you don’t need to learn XML, Javascript, Servlets, JSPs, or JSTL. You do need to know these for many other frameworks — but because the reviewer is already familiar with those tools he doesn’t count the effort of picking up those technologies as being part of a framework’s learning curve.

    In most frameworks the creation of reusable custom components is much more difficult than when using a fat client Java GUI library, so most web developers acquire a style of work which minimizes reliance on customized presentation components. A person who does not habitually rely on creation of custom components will therefore tend to undervalue Wicket’s ease of reusable custom component creation.

  • Jasmin

    Can any one tell about ZKOSS framework..???? Should we use it..????

  • Marco Di Carlo

    Very nice review. So far in my work experience I used struts1, struts2 and spring MVC in differents projects, I always tried to get the best from the web frameworks for finding good fast working code solutions when I had a position and the power to choice.
    Perhaps this is not the common way others developer use a web framework, but on Client I prefer to use web technologies as html, css, javascript (jquery)
    on Server I rely on the chosen framework, communicating from/to client using ajax with xml or json, this allowed me to develop, deploy and maintain complex web apps very fast being in charge of every part of the code. My curiosity brought me to test JSF and I was very disappointed maybe because I am used to develop a web app in a very flexible way, creating, changing, deleting, hiding, elements on the screen, that JSF not allow to do but needed in modern web.
    At the moment I am trying to learn and test GWT and thanks to this review I will have a look to all the others frameworks as well.

  • Really nice overview and analysis of JSF. Thanks!

  • Matej Kvaššay

    Thx for article, it was really helpful starting point for me as a beginner.

  • curiousMike

    Well, Spring MVC is just a small part of Spring Framework. Spring provides good suport for databases, hadoop etc. None of the others can do that. Spring can work with hibernate and without it. I do not agree with the comparison. Besides latest version of Spring require very little application set-up. Just use annotations.

  • rhwalt

    I found this article interesting, as a developer transitioning to Java. This article works well in that respect.
    For the people wishing it was more exhaustive in nature, go write your own comparison and post a link in the comments here?

  • $247183

    I agree with @anlzselgin:disqus , the proof is in the pudding. Show examples of what has and can be done with the framework without considerable custom modifications on it. That’s the best way to evaluate a framework.

  • caldron68

    Grails does not have good documentation. How you can say that it does is beyond me. If you like one line descriptions of functions, then Grails is definitely for you. But, if you need a little more information on how things actually work, avoid Grails.

  • Lawrence

    JSF on second place. OMG! Seriously??

  • Lawrence

    The BIG issue with JSF is that simple things sometimes take hours compared to minutes in other frameworks. Also, JSF combines content with presentation. That alone is reason enough to shoot it for me. I mean, we’ve had it, that it runs fine except on browser x and then you can start fixing… java code! In the 20 years I have been a web developer, JSF is my last choise. With all due respect.

  • Sean

    Wish the maintenance category included the ease of updating the framework dependencies for the application, not just the ease of updating and maintaining the application itself.

    Also, a security category would be nice and maybe look at how vulnerabilities are found, disclosed, if there are bug bounties, the ease in updating in lieu of a security issue, etc..

  • Adam Koblentz

    Sean, that’s great feedback. I’ll make sure we keep that in mind for the update or next report like this. Thanks!

  • its pure bullshit, spring mvc is full of xml configurations for flows and it stucks everywhere for any reason. full of lies here.

  • hyozbahce

    No matter what anyone says, it is so obvious that; server-generated-html based component frameworks are coming to an end. front-end development is becoming one of the mostly-payed jobs, and service oriented architectures are more popular.

    As a developer, I’ve experience in lots of different frameworks. And I hate the days, that I had to use ASP.NET WebForms and JSF. If I could, I would definitely replace those days with pure, no-component php code :)

    It is a simple equation. People want more dynamic and better looking web applications. It was hard to do that before; but with tools like bootstrap and angular.js it has become so much simpler than before. And every experienced web developer, who had the urge and time to try another framework do know that, a close framework is much more harder to work when everything has to be so much open.

    I don’t need a prebuilt menu element in the framework. I don’t need a prebuilt grid when it is so easy to implement a responsive and good-looking html table with pure html and css. People think it is much harder to implement certain layouts with html and css and it is much easier to implement with component libraries. :) Those were the days of past. The opposite is true now.

    Do know that, if you are developer whose mind is close to new development styles, you are going to be replaced by a developer whose mind is open to those thinks :)

  • johnmiroki

    Just check on you to see if you’re still happy with Wicket. i’m a wicket beginner and before I joined my current company I had never heard of it. Is it worth the time learning it? I’d appreciate any input

  • blinddev

    Wicket is underrated. If it was the one framework supported by sun or oracle instead of jsf, things would be much easier these days. Learning wicket is very easy and uncomplicated. However I disagree with the author and wicket lacks many custom components that are supported with primefaces/jsf duo. And you will find yourself spending lots of time writing your own custom ones. And another downside is memory footprint is too high. Other than these two wicket is a beast and fun for a pure java developer. If you are a web developer by origin(html,css,js) you may not like it. If your company uses it learning it won’t hurt. It’s my first choice for my personal projects.

  • Fam

    why are you comparing front-end presentation frameworks with back-end oriented ones??

  • David

    JSF does not combine content with presentation. If you used JSF that way, then please do not do that. Also, simple things take minutes or seconds to do in JSF. When was the last time you used JSF or Java EE? If it was pre-Java EE 5 or pre-JSF 2.0, then you’re not even talking about the same framework as the article.

  • Lawrence

    How about html in renderers? I’ve seen it. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be that way, I sure hope so but still, if I compare how terribly slow JSF dev goes as compared to e.g. ExtJS we currently use, then I must say, JSF is lagging lightyears behind.

  • Jeff

    Have a look on It’s a framework of frameworks, so you can escape choosing low level ones.

  • RoshanKumar Mutha

    Guys i have used struts, jsf and Spring. If you do not need integration of many component then JSF is too good as it provide lots of built in components and strong ajax support(JSF2.0 with java annnotation). you can use some popular libraries along such as primefaces and richfaces which has almost all web controll with complete functionality.

    Spring can be used where you integrated with other components and use differnent modules of spring.

    Baseline both jsf and Spring mvc provides Dependency injection. Fast CRUD Application with good Ui can be build fast using JSF.

  • RoshanKumar Mutha

    If you client want very much customised UI then yes JSF can be chosen.

  • vladimir valev

    Very well done! Anyway what about Servlets3.x + Freemarker? If you like to be in 100% control and to use fairly simple Controller for all? Vladimir Valev

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  • Though overall it is really a good article, but it lacks many
    aspects.For e.g at some point Author is talking Struts as legacy
    framework while there is already a new version of Struts derived from WW
    named as Struts2 while struts has already been declared close for