JAX London 2014: A retrospective
UI Framework

Why you’ll want to check out Vaadin 7.3’s new Valo Theme Engine

JAX Editorial Team
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The latest release of the UI framework Vaadin has added a brand new theme engine designed to increase your productivity and make your life easier.

Anyone who has tested out Vaadin will agree that the different browsers are no longer the main issue for developers. The next big frontier is screen size. And that’s exactly where Vaadin 7.3 is getting interesting.

Valo

The essence of the UI framework’s latest version is a built-in theme engine called Valom. This device is said to make it far simpler for developers to build responsive applications. Valo is based on the the Sass CCS3 extension and brings with it responsive layouts, vector icons and a parameter-driven look and feel. It’s main goal: to raise programming productivity.

Sass

In case you didn’t already know, Sass stands for “syntactically awesome stylesheets”. What we’re talking about is a precompiler for CSS3 that is natively supported in browsers. We refer to Sass as a CSS3 extension because it provides extras like mix-ins, variables and functions. And for Java developers it has the advantage of transferring visual aspects into SCSS files and making it possible to concentrate on the application’s logic.

Examples of the Valo Vaadin Theme (Source: Vaadin)

Hardcore fans of Vaadin won’t be at all surprised about the focus of this release with the new Valo feature. The Finnish company has kept true to the roadmap is set out at the start of this year. In April Vaadin CEO Joonas Lehtinen shed some light on Valo (which also happens to be Finnish for ‘light’):

“All the theming have been kind of a hassle in the past. So we thought about ways for the theming of a component framework like Vaadin. Instead of theming on the lowest possible level, we could actually find a set of high level parameters that can define the characteristics of the theme. Flatness, gradients, roundness, primary colors etc. [...] It’s working pretty well now.”

The Reindeer theme is still set to default in Vaadin. But the look of the UI framework can easily be modified. Vaadin 7.3 now also allows users to change themes without a page reload, which is why they’ve also updated their Eclipse plugin.

Aiming high for Vaadin 8

Even bigger changes are said to be coming in the next major release of the web framework. Vaadin 8 will be taking the future of the web into consideration and ignoring older browsers. At the same time Joonas explains that Vaadin want to stay in line with Google Web Toolkit 3. Vaadin 7 still support Internet Explorer 8, the current release does not fit with the new guiding features of the GWT 3. Joonas sees this as a chance. While Vaadin 7 serves the needs of the present, his team can already get to work on the possibilities of the future.

At the JAX 2014 in Mainz, Germany, Ville Ingman talked to us about the new release and the challenge to choose the right web framework for each use case.

House construction image via Shutterstock

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JAX Editorial Team

JAX Editorial Team

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