Better late than never

Vaadin 7 finally arrives (with GWT in tow)

Chris Mayer
Vaadin11

After an extended 16 months of development, the seventh version of Java web framework Vaadin has been released.

After 16 months of development, the team behind Java web
framework
Vaadin have
unveiled the seventh version of their rich web application platform
at the Jfokus
conference.

The library allows Java developers to write web applications
purely by writing Java (or any JVM language) on the server side,
with the framework automatically creating UIs on the browser
side.

Originally planned for release at JavaOne and Devoxx, the
first major Vaadin release since 2009 has been dogged by
delays.

Amongst 65 new features, the biggest fundamental change comes
with the integration of Google Web Toolkit into Vaadin, thanks
to

the company’s prominent role within the GWT Steering
group
. CEO and creator of Vaadin, Joonas Lehtinen
says the inclusion of GWT has two implications for the framework,
ridding it of any “extra dependencies” and adding a “really
powerful client-side” model.

“We’ve actually been using GWT for 5 years now in really
crucial parts of Vaadin”, Lehtinen
told
JAXenter
. With GWT included, developers
now have three options: continue with the
tradition Vaadin approach, build client side widgets in Java then
compile into JavaScript, or work entirely in GWT by writing
JavaScript for the HTML5 layer.

“Where the power lies is that you don’t have to go through
these layers if you don’t really want to,” adds Lehtinen. “Most of
the time you can keep on the highest abstraction level, you don’t
have to touch these underlying layers if you don’t want or need
to.”

Rather than downplay their involvement in GWT since Google
opened up
the technology, Vaadin have
chosen to embrace
the platform despite
the two being in competition previously. In December, the Steering
Committee published
The Future of GWT
Report
, finding that there was still a strong
internal enterprise use for GWT.

“It’s used by huge projects with huge budgets,” says
Lehtinen. “These projects aren’t going away, [the report] cemented
our view that we should be investing in GWT and building our
business more and more on top of GWT.”

With so much riding on GWT, it would be easy to overlook
Vaadin 7’s other features. Vaadin’s community will be pleased to
see several new extensions and components in the
Add-on
Directory
, as well as a “renewed communication
layer” forging stronger links between the client and server side.
With eight Vaadin 6 minor updates, the team also thought it was the
perfect time to provide “a spring clean-up”.

Lehtinen was open when questioned about Vaadin 7’s delays,
explaining that the core development team had bitten off more than
they could chew.

“We ended up kind of building too long a list for ourselves.
We projected that it would a take year’s development to implement
those features, and we really failed in that,” the CEO admitted,
adding that many features had been pushed to 7.1.

Despite the setbacks, Vaadin 7 on the face of it appears to
be a fresh start for the Java web framework, realising the need to
regenerate their stack to embrace the changing enterprise
world.

Further details on the landmark Vaadin release can be found
in

Lehtinen’s blogpost
. A full list of features
can be found
here.

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