This book provides an overview of the Vaadin Framework and covers the most important topics that you might encounter while developing applications with it. A more detailed documentation of the individual classes, interfaces, and methods is given in the Vaadin API Reference.
The book has grown greatly after its first edition, until it became too thick to fit any standard pocket. To accommodate all the content also in the printed edition, it has now been split into two volumes, the first one including the topics that you need to get started with Vaadin.
This edition mostly covers Vaadin 7.3 released in 2014. The most notable feature in the release is the new and highly customizable Valo theme.
In addition to the changes in the core framework, this edition features documentation for the TestBench 4 and TouchKit 4 add-ons, which are not yet released at the time of writing. The updated chapters are based on prerelease versions of the add-ons, so the final releases may include some changes.
Writing this manual is an ongoing work and it is rarely completely up-to-date with the quick-evolving product. Some features may not be included in this book yet. For the most current version, please see the on-line edition available at
http://vaadin.com/book. You can also find PDF and EPUB versions of the book there. You may find the other versions more easily searchable than the printed book. The index in the book is incomplete and will be expanded later. The web edition also has some additional technical content, such as some example code and additional sections that you may need when actually doing development. The purpose of the slightly abridged print edition is more to be an introductionary textbook to Vaadin, and still fit in your pocket.
Also, many Vaadin 7 features are showcased as mini-tutorials, which are available in the Vaadin Wiki at https://vaadin.com/wiki/-/wiki/Main/Vaadin+7.
This book is intended for software developers who use, or are considering to use, Vaadin to develop web applications.
The book assumes that you have some experience with programming in Java, but if not, it is at least as easy to begin learning Java with Vaadin as with any other UI framework. No knowledge of AJAX is needed as it is well hidden from the developer.
You may have used some desktop-oriented user interface frameworks for Java, such as AWT, Swing, or SWT, or a library such as Qt for C++. Such knowledge is useful for understanding the scope of Vaadin, the event-driven programming model, and other common concepts of UI frameworks, but not necessary.
If you do not have a web graphics designer at hand, knowing the basics of HTML and CSS can help so that you can develop presentation themes for your application. A brief introduction to CSS is provided. Knowledge of Google Web Toolkit (GWT) may be useful if you develop or integrate new client-side components.
Organization of This Book
The Book of Vaadin gives an introduction to what Vaadin is and how you use it to develop web applications.
- Chapter 1, Introduction
The chapter gives an introduction to the application architecture supported by Vaadin, the core design ideas behind the framework, and some historical background.
- Chapter 2, Getting Started with Vaadin
This chapter gives practical instructions for installing Vaadin and the reference toolchain, including the Vaadin Plugin for Eclipse, how to run and debug the demos, and how to create your own application project in the Eclipse IDE.
- Chapter 3, Architecture
This chapter gives an introduction to the architecture of Vaadin and its major technologies, including AJAX, Google Web Toolkit, and event-driven programming.
- Chapter 4, Writing a Server-Side Web Application
This chapter gives all the practical knowledge required for creating applications with Vaadin, such as window management, application lifecycle, deployment in a servlet container, and handling events, errors, and resources.
- Chapter 5, User Interface Components
This chapter gives the basic usage documentation for all the (non-layout) user interface components in Vaadin and their most significant features. The component sections include examples for using each component, as well as for styling with CSS/Sass.
- Chapter 6, Managing Layout
This chapter describes the layout components, which are used for managing the layout of the user interface, just like in any desktop application frameworks.
- Chapter 7, Themes
This chapter gives an introduction to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Sass and explains how you can use them to build custom visual themes for your application.
- Chapter 8, Binding Components to Data
This chapter gives an overview of the built-in data model of Vaadin, consisting of properties, items, and containers.
- Chapter 9, Vaadin SQLContainer
This chapter gives documentation for the SQLContainer, which allows binding Vaadin components to SQL queries.
- Chapter 10, Visual User Interface Design with Eclipse
This chapter gives instructions for using the visual editor for Eclipse, which is included in the Vaadin Plugin for the Eclipse IDE.
- Chapter 11, Advanced Web Application Topics
This chapter provides many special topics that are commonly needed in applications, such as opening new browser windows, embedding applications in regular web pages, low-level management of resources, shortcut keys, debugging, etc.
- Chapter 12, Portal Integration
This chapter describes the development of Vaadin applications as portlets which you can deploy to any portal supporting Java Portlet API 2.0 (JSR-286). The chapter also describes the special support for Liferay and the Control Panel, IPC, and WSRP add-ons.
- Chapter 13, Client-Side Vaadin Development
This chapter gives an introduction to creating and developing client-side applications and widgets, including installation, compilation, and debugging.
- Chapter 14, Client-Side Applications
This chapter describes how to develop client-side applications and how to integrate them with a back-end service.
- Chapter 15, Client-Side Widgets
This chapter describes the built-in widgets (client-side components) available for client-side development. The built-in widgets include Google Web Toolkit widgets as well as Vaadin widgets.
- Chapter 16, Integrating with the Server-Side
- Chapter 17, Using Vaadin Add-ons
This chapter gives instructions for downloading and installing add-on components from the Vaadin Directory.
- Chapter 18, Vaadin Charts
This chapter documents the use of the Vaadin Charts add-on component for interactive charting with many diagram types. The add-on includes the Chart and Timeline components.
- Chapter 19, Vaadin JPAContainer
This chapter gives documentation of the JPAContainer add-on, which allows binding Vaadin components directly to relational and other databases using Java Persistence API (JPA).
- Chapter 20, Mobile Applications with TouchKit
This chapter gives examples and reference documentation for using the Vaadin TouchKit add-on for developing mobile applications.
- Chapter 22, Vaadin TestBench
This chapter gives the complete documentation of using the Vaadin TestBench tool for recording and executing user interface regression tests of Vaadin applications.
The Vaadin websites offer plenty of material that can help you understand what Vaadin is, what you can do with it, and how you can do it.
- Demo Applications
The most important demo application for Vaadin is the Sampler, which demonstrates the use of all basic components and features. You can run it on-line at http://demo.vaadin.com/ or download it as a WAR from the Vaadin download page.
Most of the code examples in this book and many others can be found online at http://demo.vaadin.com/book-examples-vaadin7/book/.
- Cheat Sheet
The two-page cheat sheet illustrates the basic relationship hierarchy of the user interface and data binding classes and interfaces. You can download it at http://vaadin.com/book.
The six-page DZone Refcard gives an overview to application development with Vaadin. It includes a diagram of the user interface and data binding classes and interfaces. You can find more information about it at https://vaadin.com/refcard.
- Address Book Tutorial
The Address Book is a sample application accompanied with a tutorial that gives detailed step-by-step instructions for creating a real-life web application with Vaadin. You can find the tutorial from the product website.
- Developer's Website
Vaadin Developer's Site at http://dev.vaadin.com/ provides various online resources, such as the ticket system, a development wiki, source repositories, activity timeline, development milestones, and so on.
The wiki provides instructions for developers, especially for those who wish to check-out and compile Vaadin itself from the source repository. The technical articles deal with integration of Vaadin applications with various systems, such as JSP, Maven, Spring, Hibernate, and portals. The wiki also provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
- Online Documentation
You can read this book online at http://vaadin.com/book. Lots of additional material, including technical HOWTOs, answers to Frequently Asked Questions and other documentation is also available on Vaadin web-site.
Stuck with a problem? No need to lose your hair over it, the Vaadin Framework developer community and the Vaadin company offer support to all of your needs.
- Community Support Forum
You can find the user and developer community forum at http://vaadin.com/forum. Please use the forum to discuss any problems you might encounter, wishes for features, and so on. The answer to your problems may already lie in the forum archives, so searching the discussions is always the best way to begin.
- Report Bugs
If you have found a possible bug in Vaadin, the demo applications, or the documentation, please report it by filing a ticket at the Vaadin developer's site at http://dev.vaadin.com/. You may want to check the existing tickets before filing a new one. You can make a ticket to make a request for a new feature as well, or to suggest modifications to an existing feature.
- Commercial Support
Vaadin offers full commercial support and training services for the Vaadin Framework and related products. Read more about the commercial products at http://vaadin.com/pro for details.
Marko Grönroos is a professional writer and software developer working at Vaadin Ltd in Turku, Finland. He has been involved in web application development since 1994 and has worked on several application development frameworks in C, C++, and Java. He has been active in many open source software projects and holds an M.Sc. degree in Computer Science from the University of Turku.
Much of the book is the result of close work within the development team at Vaadin Ltd. Joonas Lehtinen, CEO of Vaadin Ltd, wrote the first outline of the book, which became the basis for the first two chapters. Since then, Marko Grönroos has become the primary author and editor. The development team has contributed several passages, answered numerous technical questions, reviewed the manual, and made many corrections.
The contributors are (in rough chronological order):
- Joonas Lehtinen
- Jani Laakso
- Marko Grönroos
- Jouni Koivuviita
- Matti Tahvonen
- Artur Signell
- Marc Englund
- Henri Sara
- Jonatan Kronqvist
- Mikael Grankvist (TestBench)
- Teppo Kurki (SQLContainer)
- Tomi Virtanen (Calendar)
- Risto Yrjänä (Calendar)
- John Ahlroos (Timeline)
- Petter Holmström (JPAContainer)
- Leif Åstrand
Vaadin Ltd is a Finnish software company specializing in the design and development of Rich Internet Applications. The company offers planning, implementation, and support services for the software projects of its customers, as well as sub-contract software development. Vaadin Framework, previously known as IT Mill Toolkit, is the flagship open source product of the company, for which it provides commercial development and support services.