The Spring of Grid
The late winter and early spring has definitely been spiced by the Grid. It has been a huge project in Vaadin, multiple times larger than we initially expected years ago, when it was only a sketch on our chalk boards. In fact, you shouldn't think of the first release just as a component, but as a platform on which we'll build on in the future. There are also reusable parts that can be utilised when building other components. Although there is still lots of room for improvement, the reception has been really positive already for the first iteration. Nicolas Frankel (the author of popular Learning Vaadin book) has written a nice tutorial style article about basic Grid usage. Krishna Phani Kumar has been on the same agenda, with a two part article series to showcase the new Grid API.
The upcoming official Spring integrations have also woken up some technical writers. Ojitha Kumanayaka has written two different articles about the Vaadin Spring integration setup. Spring fanatics should also still keep watching the vaadin4spring project - the “mother project” from which the official support was split from. Things like Spring Security support and internalization support will still live there (but will be based on the official support) and the project also contains lots of examples. I also updated my Spring Data JPA CRUD example to use the official integration library and the latest Vaadin version.
New components in the Directory
Marten Prieß has made a strong entry as a new add-on author by publishing two cool add-ons. SliderPanel allows you to save some screen real estate by hiding less often used stuff to the edges of the screen, from where you can drag the panel visible. A bit like a split panel, but the revealed part is overlayed on the “main content”. I’ll definitely use this in my next project where I want to use as much space as possible for the terrain map that is in the main role of the UI.
Another new add-on from Marten is JCrop Wrapper, which helps you to implement image cropping functionality. Like with its Vaadin 6 era counterpart, you naturally don’t need to do image manipulation on the client side, but you just get the coordinates via listeners and then do the magic using the powerful Java APIs on your server.
Almost like as a planned complement to the recently released Swing migration guide, Mark Thomas published a library called Layouts Add-on. The initial release contains only CardLayout (known by AWT/Swing users), but the name gives some expectations or future updates as well.
Marcus Hellberg published a small extension to provide hover events as a first class server side API. GridFileDownloader by Anna Koskinen makes it easy to add a column to the new Grid to offer a file download function. Preloader by Mikael Grankvist caches your media files on the client side before actually starting the playback.
The easiest ways to contribute in OS: thanking and commenting
Those of you who don’t yet feel confident contributing your helper libraries back to the community or don’t have a permit or the time to do so, I still urge you to take part in the mission towards easier web development. If you find a helpful add-on that did its job or somebody fixed a nasty bug that caused you trouble, it would only take a minute to get back to the Directory and thank the author with a positive review or say thanks via a ticket at dev.vaadin.com. Alternatively you could star the project’s repository in github or thank the author via social media.
If you are having troubles with an add-on or the core, the best thing you can do is to report them to the author. Using our forum or stackoverflow to get help is often one of the best ways to contribute to the projects’ documentation. Well written questions and answers often help other users as well, and they point out places where the author could improve the actual documentation or the API.
I suggest to avoid one star ratings with no comments in the Directory. I actually think those should be forbidden completely. The author has no way of guessing what should be improved. But reporting your findings using a well written bug report or feature request should be taken as positive feedback by all add-on authors. It is a signal that you care about the project and it probably helps the maintainer to keep his/her interest for further development. Being polite and constructive in OS projects typically helps you to get the valuable service you are using, for free.