The year 2014 ended with a remarkable milestone for Vaadin: There are now 500 publicly available extensions and helpers available for Vaadin users via Vaadin Directory. Although there are some “official” Vaadin Ltd backed artifacts available as well, this is mostly a community effort. Thank You!
Although 500 might feel small if you compare it to the number of WordPress plugins, but it is a really huge number of extensions for a UI component library. And the quality of the add-ons in Directory is mostly really high. 500 Vaadin add-ons is both a great resource for Vaadin developers, but also a nice sign of our active community.
Open source modularity
Stability and backwards compatibility are major values for Vaadin. Keeping up with the fast moving industry, a large and stable library, like Vaadin, needs a well working modularity. Vaadin is basically a Java library so all basic Java libraries can be used in Vaadin projects, but packaging UI extensions as easily redistributable libraries was originally a bit tricky. In version 6, year 2009, we made some improvements to the brand new GWT based client side engine. Compiling custom versions of it became trivial enough for basic Vaadin apps and client side extensions have since been distributed in plain old JAR files, with a couple of custom manifest headers.
We realized there would be a huge amount of various component extensions which community members would like to share with each other. The idea of the Directory service was born and it was publicly released in March, 2010. We didn't limit the extensions to UI components, but Directory has from its early days supported all kinds of related helper libraries. There are some Vaadin libraries (even open source) that are not in the Directory, but generally Vaadin community has really taken Directory as its own. I'd estimate over 80% of the open source Vaadin libraries can be found via the Directory.
If you have some internal Vaadin extensions in your projects that might be useful for the Vaadin community, I urge you to package them as Directory compatible JAR files and share them with the community. Another way to give something back for the community is to share its sources in e.g. Github. It is a great way to get feedback and contributions and it might make your own apps better than ever.
People make technology happen
In the early days of the Directory service, most add-ons were UI components that weren’t available in the core framework. Lots of new UI components are still published, but now that the service and Vaadin community has matured, there are more and more helper libraries that solve non visual problems. Last month, Tommi Laukkanen published Ilves, which is kind of a RAD app stubb for Vaadin apps and FieldBinder Addon from Tyl Consulting makes it much easier to autogenerate master detail views for your domain objects than with plain Vaadin.
Although the thanks for this big milestone belong to all contributors, here is a list of new Add-ons added since the last Community Spotlight.
- CustomTextField - Abhiram Giri
- NumberField (Vaadin 7) - Anna Koskinen
- Ilves - Tommi Laukkanen
- FieldBinder Addon - Tyl Consulting
- FormCheckBox - Eijsink Afrekensystemen BV
- EUpload - Abhiram Giri
- HighCharts for Vaadin 7 - Stefan Endrullis
- extfilteringtable - Abhiram Giri
- KeyActions - Artur Signell
- RowLayout Addon - Rob Orlowski
- g-leaflet-heat - Matti Tahvonen
- v-leaflet-heat - Matti Tahvonen
BTW. We have mostly featured just completely new Directory stuff in this article series. Following the development of all 500 add-ons actively would take all my time :-) If you want to get your cool new features in an existing add-on featured, just ping me with Twitter or Email.
We are currently working on a renewed version of the Directory. There is a first version of the public site available. Try it out and tell as what you think!