An audience with Optimus Prime
We talked to PrimeFaces’ chief about the recent development for the project, including PrimeFaces 3.4, Mobile 1.0 and more
JavaServer Faces has been around for as long as we can remember.
Over that time, we’ve seen numerous companies crop up, offering
their own spin on the tried and tested web-application formula, and
also several fall by the wayside after failing to drum up interest
with the JSF community at large. It’s still an innovative space,
with new components continuing to push things on.
One project that is going from strength to strength is
Primefaces, the Ajax framework stocked full of JSF components. Lead
by Optimus Prime – sorry, Çağatay Çivici – the community has
expanded exponentially over the past few years, deciding that they
see a lot from PrimeFaces when designing a rich application.
Consequently, Çivici is seeking to broaden PrimeFaces’s reach
into other mediums
The most recent PrimeFace news is the changing of its funding
model. While the company offers a paid ‘PrimeFaces PRO’ enterprise
support programme, they briefly experimented with a ‘community
funding’ programme in which new feature requests could be
prioritised through donations. (Though the page has since been
Google’s cache is still up as of time of writing.)
Çivici says the experiment was inspired by a funding model used by
some video games. “We had delivered a couple of funded projects,
funded issues,” he says, but it was disrupting the project’s
roadmap. “Later we realised that maybe there was a better way to
get more support from the community,” he says.
Instead, community members wishing to contribute financially can
purchase a User’s Guide PDF. “The minimum price is $1, and there’s
no maximum – so it’s more like a donation,” says Çivici. “For
people who just want to support the project, they can just donate
any amount they want.”
Çivici estimates there are “close to 20,000” active
PrimeFace users worldwide, but emphasises that it’s merely an
educated guess. “I wish there was a way of counting that, but this
is open source!”
Of more interest is last’s week release of PrimeFaces 3.4,
accompanied by what has become a tradition for PrimeFaces: an epic,
Hollywood-style trailer showing off its latest features (embedded
“We worked on it for almost two months, and added lots of new
features – almost 140 changes,” says Çivici. The highlight of the
release is PrimeFaces push, which is powered by the
Atmosphere framework and allows for building of asynchronous
web applications (there are demos
available showing the tech in action).
Atmosphere framework creator Jeanfrancois Arcand actually flew out
to Instanbul, where the team is based, to help work on Push. “We
worked with him for a week,” says Çivici, “and also had some great
fun as well!”
Meanwhile, PrimeFaces has been expanding onto further platforms.
First up is PrimeFaces Mobile, a UI for creating mobile-optimised
JSF applications based on jQuery mobile (a logical choice, since
PrimeFaces is built on top of jQuery).
“We will be working on PrimeFaces Mobile 1.0 all through
September,” says Çivici, who aims to the release of the first major
version to coincide with JavaOne in October.
features are primarily designed to increase site performance,
with on-demand ‘lazy loading’ of views and optimized resource
back-forward history navigation and new mobile renderers for a
range of elements.
More controversial is PrimeFaces’ expansion into proprietary
Microsoft territory, with an ASP.NET-compatible version called
Community reaction to the announcement in August was
mixed, with some fearing that PrimeFaces’ focus would be lost with
the addition of a third prong, while others questioning the choice
of platform. “It’s like working for a non-profit organization and
suddenly start working for the arms industry,” said one
“This is more like an experiment right now,” says Çivici. “We
realise we have a lot of custom JS and we are currently limited to
JSF and we would like to offer this solution to .NET [users].” It’s
the beginnings of a larger strategy to expand PrimeFaces’ reach to
further frameworks beyond JSF, with Çivici comparing it
to “a game coming out for Xbox, PS3 and Wii”.
“In the future [we’d like to support] maybe any other library, any
other framework, for people who like to do just plain jQuery and
like to bind to the server side, to the jersey web servers, with no
server-side framework at all,” says Çivici. “We would like to
offer a solution for them as well, but right now the next step for
PrimeFaces is .NET, and the main reason is because the architecture
PrimeFaces for JSF will continue to be the priority, he emphasises,
and a separate team will be working on PrimeFaces.NET. “We will
make sure that PrimeFaces for JSF development is not affected by
our new plans for .NET. We have the resources for [managing three
projects at once] and we have planned accordingly.”