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Vaadin framework releases first 7.0.0 beta

Java web frameworks may be a dime a dozen, but Vaadin has marked itself out as different with its placing of logic on the server side, and with version 7 the company hopes to improve the framework even further. Today saw the release of the first beta, which brings with it a host of dramatic changes.

In development since October 2011, Vaadin 7 is a major rewrite designed to “Give more power and freedom to developers”, “make extending and plugging Vaadin simpler” and “clean up where it smells”.

This first beta release includes a whole host of changes to the API, as well as support for trendy (and useful) CSS scripting language SASS and a new packaging system. It’s also been split into seven separate jar files, rather than the single, giant 50MB jar the alpha was delivered in.

“The new way of building with Vaadin is UI,” writes CEO Joonas Lehtinen in the announcement blog post, illustrating the dramatic changes with a radically different ‘hello world’.

public class MyVaadinUI extends UI {
  protected void init(final WrappedRequest request) { 
     addComponent(new Label("Hello world!"));
  }
}

New features already introduced in Vaadin 7 alphas include a new windowing API, a new communication layer, JavaScript extensions and the inclusion of Google Web Toolkit. The latter was originally announced at Google I/O, increasing Vaadin’s scope to include the client side. In addition, an agreement with Google means they are allowed to contribute to the GWT source.

Unfortunately, a few features failed to make the cut, including server-push, taglib, WAI-ARIA support, and support for on-the-fly translation, which will be included “in a future minor release”. In addition, while the team originally planned to have 7.0.0 ready for JavaOne next month, they’ve admitted that “we really do not know the exact release date” - and that they will “keep releasing weekly updates to beta” until it’s ready.

With over 80,000 users active on the portal alone (and likely more actually implementing the framework), Vaadin appears to be going from strength to strength. The 7.0.0 beta is available to test out now, despite a few “rough edges”, though you may want to check over the API changes documented in the Vaadin 7 Migration Guide.

Elliot Bentley

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