Configuring Managed Beans
Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 8
The Java EE Tutorial

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Configuring Managed Beans

When a page references a managed bean for the first time, the JavaServer Faces implementation initializes it either based on a @Named annotation and scope annotation in the bean class or according to its configuration in the application configuration resource file. For information on using annotations to initialize beans, see Using Annotations to Configure Managed Beans.

You can use either annotations or the application configuration resource file to instantiate managed beans that are used in a JavaServer Faces application and to store them in scope. The managed bean creation facility is configured in the application configuration resource file using managed-bean XML elements to define each bean. This file is processed at application startup time. For information on using this facility, see Using the managed-bean Element.

Managed beans created in the application configuration resource file are JavaServer Faces managed beans, not CDI managed beans.

With the managed bean creation facility, you can

  • Create beans in one centralized file that is available to the entire application, rather than conditionally instantiate beans throughout the application

  • Customize a bean’s properties without any additional code

  • Customize a bean’s property values directly from within the configuration file so that it is initialized with these values when it is created

  • Using value elements, set a property of one managed bean to be the result of evaluating another value expression

This section shows you how to initialize beans using the managed bean creation facility. See Writing Bean Properties and Writing Managed Bean Methods for information on programming managed beans.

Using the managed-bean Element

A managed bean is initiated in the application configuration resource file using a managed-bean element, which represents an instance of a bean class that must exist in the application. At runtime, the JavaServer Faces implementation processes the managed-bean element. If a page references the bean and no bean instance exists, the JavaServer Faces implementation instantiates the bean as specified by the element configuration.

Here is an example managed bean configuration from the Duke’s Bookstore case study:

<managed-bean eager="true">
    <managed-bean-name>Book201</managed-bean-name>
    <managed-bean-class>dukesbookstore.model.ImageArea</managed-bean-class>
    <managed-bean-scope>application</managed-bean-scope>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>shape</property-name>
        <value>rect</value>
    </managed-property>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>alt</property-name>
        <value>Duke</value>
    </managed-property>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>coords</property-name>
        <value>67,23,212,268</value>
    </managed-property>
</managed-bean>

The managed-bean-name element defines the key under which the bean will be stored in a scope. For a component’s value to map to this bean, the component tag’s value attribute must match the managed-bean-name up to the first period.

The managed-bean-class element defines the fully qualified name of the JavaBeans component class used to instantiate the bean.

The managed-bean element can contain zero or more managed-property elements, each corresponding to a property defined in the bean class. These elements are used to initialize the values of the bean properties. If you don’t want a particular property initialized with a value when the bean is instantiated, do not include a managed-property definition for it in your application configuration resource file.

If a managed-bean element does not contain other managed-bean elements, it can contain one map-entries element or list-entries element. The map-entries element configures a set of beans that are instances of Map. The list-entries element configures a set of beans that are instances of List.

In the following example, the newsletters managed bean, representing a UISelectItems component, is configured as an ArrayList that represents a set of SelectItem objects. Each SelectItem object is in turn configured as a managed bean with properties:

<managed-bean>
    <managed-bean-name>newsletters</managed-bean-name>
    <managed-bean-class>java.util.ArrayList</managed-bean-class>
    <managed-bean-scope>application</managed-bean-scope>
    <list-entries>
        <value-class>javax.faces.model.SelectItem</value-class>
        <value>#{newsletter0}</value>
        <value>#{newsletter1}</value>
        <value>#{newsletter2}</value>
        <value>#{newsletter3}</value>
    </list-entries>
</managed-bean>
<managed-bean>
    <managed-bean-name>newsletter0</managed-bean-name>
    <managed-bean-class>javax.faces.model.SelectItem</managed-bean-class>
    <managed-bean-scope>none</managed-bean-scope>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>label</property-name>
        <value>Duke's Quarterly</value>
    </managed-property>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>value</property-name>
        <value>200</value>
    </managed-property>
</managed-bean>
...

This approach may be useful for quick-and-dirty creation of selection item lists before a development team has had time to create such lists from the database. Note that each of the individual newsletter beans has a managed-bean-scope setting of none so that they will not themselves be placed into any scope.

See Initializing Array and List Properties for more information on configuring collections as beans.

To map to a property defined by a managed-property element, you must ensure that the part of a component tag’s value expression after the period matches the managed-property element’s property-name element. The next section, Initializing Properties Using the managed-property Element, explains in more detail how to use the managed-property element. See Initializing Managed Bean Properties for an example of initializing a managed bean property.

Initializing Properties Using the managed-property Element

A managed-property element must contain a property-name element, which must match the name of the corresponding property in the bean. A managed-property element must also contain one of a set of elements that defines the value of the property. This value must be of the same type as that defined for the property in the corresponding bean. Which element you use to define the value depends on the type of the property defined in the bean. Table 16-1 lists all the elements that are used to initialize a value.

Table 16-1 Subelements of managed-property Elements That Define Property Values

Element

Value It Defines

list-entries

Defines the values in a list

map-entries

Defines the values of a map

null-value

Explicitly sets the property to null

value

Defines a single value, such as a String, int, or JavaServer Faces EL expression

Using the managed-bean Element includes an example of initializing an int property (a primitive type) using the value subelement. You also use the value subelement to initialize String and other reference types. The rest of this section describes how to use the value subelement and other subelements to initialize properties of Java Enum types, Map, array, and Collection, as well as initialization parameters.

Referencing a Java Enum Type

A managed bean property can also be a Java Enum type (see http://docs.oracle.com/javase/7/docs/api/java/lang/Enum.php). In this case, the value element of the managed-property element must be a String that matches one of the String constants of the Enum. In other words, the String must be one of the valid values that can be returned if you were to call valueOf(Class, String) on enum, where Class is the Enum class and String is the contents of the value subelement. For example, suppose the managed bean property is the following:

public enum Suit { Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, Clubs }
 ...
public Suit getSuit() { ... return Suit.Hearts; }

Assuming you want to configure this property in the application configuration resource file, the corresponding managed-property element looks like this:

<managed-property>
    <property-name>Suit</property-name>
    <value>Hearts</value>
</managed-property>

When the system encounters this property, it iterates over each of the members of the enum and calls toString() on each member until it finds one that is exactly equal to the value from the value element.

Referencing a Context Initialization Parameter

Another powerful feature of the managed bean creation facility is the ability to reference implicit objects from a managed bean property.

Suppose you have a page that accepts data from a customer, including the customer’s address. Suppose also that most of your customers live in a particular area code. You can make the area code component render this area code by saving it in an implicit object and referencing it when the page is rendered.

You can save the area code as an initial default value in the context initParam implicit object by adding a context parameter to your web application and setting its value in the deployment descriptor. For example, to set a context parameter called defaultAreaCode to 650, add a context-param element to the deployment descriptor and give the parameter the name defaultAreaCode and the value 650.

Next, write a managed-bean declaration that configures a property that references the parameter:

<managed-bean>
    <managed-bean-name>customer</managed-bean-name>
        <managed-bean-class>CustomerBean</managed-bean-class>
        <managed-bean-scope>request</managed-bean-scope>
        <managed-property>
            <property-name>areaCode</property-name>
                <value>#{initParam.defaultAreaCode}</value>
            </managed-property>
            ...
</managed-bean>

To access the area code at the time the page is rendered, refer to the property from the area component tag’s value attribute:

<h:inputText id=area value="#{customer.areaCode}"

Values are retrieved from other implicit objects in a similar way.

Initializing Map Properties

The map-entries element is used to initialize the values of a bean property with a type of Map if the map-entries element is used within a managed-property element. A map-entries element contains an optional key-class element, an optional value-class element, and zero or more map-entry elements.

Each of the map-entry elements must contain a key element and either a null-value or value element. Here is an example that uses the map-entries element:

<managed-bean>
    ...
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>prices</property-name>
        <map-entries>
            <map-entry>
                <key>My Early Years: Growing Up on *7</key>
                <value>30.75</value>
            </map-entry>
            <map-entry>
                <key>Web Servers for Fun and Profit</key>
                <value>40.75</value>
            </map-entry>
        </map-entries>
    </managed-property>
</managed-bean>

The map created from this map-entries tag contains two entries. By default, all the keys and values are converted to String. If you want to specify a different type for the keys in the map, embed the key-class element just inside the map-entries element:

<map-entries>
    <key-class>java.math.BigDecimal</key-class>
    ...
</map-entries>

This declaration will convert all the keys into java.math.BigDecimal. Of course, you must make sure that the keys can be converted to the type you specify. The key from the example in this section cannot be converted to a BigDecimal, because it is a String.

If you want to specify a different type for all the values in the map, include the value-class element after the key-class element:

<map-entries>
    <key-class>int</key-class>
    <value-class>java.math.BigDecimal</value-class>
    ...
</map-entries>

Note that this tag sets only the type of all the value subelements.

Each map-entry in the preceding example includes a value subelement. The value subelement defines a single value, which will be converted to the type specified in the bean.

Instead of using a map-entries element, it is also possible to assign the entire map using a value element that specifies a map-typed expression.

Initializing Array and List Properties

The list-entries element is used to initialize the values of an array or List property. Each individual value of the array or List is initialized using a value or null-value element. Here is an example:

<managed-bean>
    ...
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>books</property-name>
        <list-entries>
            <value-class>java.lang.String</value-class>
            <value>Web Servers for Fun and Profit</value>
            <value>#{myBooks.bookId[3]}</value>
            <null-value/>
        </list-entries>
    </managed-property>
</managed-bean>

This example initializes an array or a List. The type of the corresponding property in the bean determines which data structure is created. The list-entries element defines the list of values in the array or List. The value element specifies a single value in the array or List and can reference a property in another bean. The null-value element will cause the setBooks method to be called with an argument of null. A null property cannot be specified for a property whose data type is a Java primitive, such as int or boolean.

Initializing Managed Bean Properties

Sometimes you might want to create a bean that also references other managed beans so that you can construct a graph or a tree of beans. For example, suppose you want to create a bean representing a customer’s information, including the mailing address and street address, each of which is also a bean. The following managed-bean declarations create a CustomerBean instance that has two AddressBean properties: one representing the mailing address and the other representing the street address. This declaration results in a tree of beans with CustomerBean as its root and the two AddressBean objects as children.

<managed-bean>
    <managed-bean-name>customer</managed-bean-name>
    <managed-bean-class>
        com.example.mybeans.CustomerBean
    </managed-bean-class>
    <managed-bean-scope> request </managed-bean-scope>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>mailingAddress</property-name>
        <value>#{addressBean}</value>
    </managed-property>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>streetAddress</property-name>
        <value>#{addressBean}</value>
    </managed-property>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>customerType</property-name>
        <value>New</value>
    </managed-property>
</managed-bean>
<managed-bean>
    <managed-bean-name>addressBean</managed-bean-name>
    <managed-bean-class>
        com.example.mybeans.AddressBean
    </managed-bean-class>
    <managed-bean-scope> none </managed-bean-scope>
    <managed-property>
        <property-name>street</property-name>
        <null-value/>
    <managed-property>
    ...
</managed-bean>

The first CustomerBean declaration (with the managed-bean-name of customer) creates a CustomerBean in request scope. This bean has two properties, mailingAddress and streetAddress. These properties use the value element to reference a bean named addressBean.

The second managed bean declaration defines an AddressBean but does not create it, because its managed-bean-scope element defines a scope of none. Recall that a scope of none means that the bean is created only when something else references it. Because both the mailingAddress and the streetAddress properties reference addressBean using the value element, two instances of AddressBean are created when CustomerBean is created.

When you create an object that points to other objects, do not try to point to an object with a shorter life span, because it might be impossible to recover that scope’s resources when it goes away. A session-scoped object, for example, cannot point to a request-scoped object. And objects with none scope have no effective life span managed by the framework, so they can point only to other none-scoped objects. Table 16-2 outlines all of the allowed connections.

Table 16-2 Allowable Connections between Scoped Objects

An Object of This Scope

May Point to an Object of This Scope

none

none

application

none, application

session

none, application, session

request

none, application, session, request, view

view

none, application, session, view

Be sure not to allow cyclical references between objects. For example, neither of the AddressBean objects in the preceding example should point back to the CustomerBean object, because CustomerBean already points to the AddressBean objects.

Initializing Maps and Lists

In addition to configuring Map and List properties, you can also configure a Map and a List directly so that you can reference them from a tag rather than referencing a property that wraps a Map or a List.


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