is vaadin worth it?

when i first discovered vaadin i was really excited, it seemed like the perfect dev approach, especially for back office systems where load is not a concern and where fine grain control of html is less important. the vibe was/is perfect, quick delivery of fully featured responsive apps, useful tools, decent market place, etc, etc. plus on the forums i saw lots of like minded people, all excited about the system.

however, the more i dug around the more i realised that although there are plenty of people interested in it, and lots of people asking questions, there rarely seems to be anyone with the answers. scanning these forums reveals post after post with ‘waiting for an answer’. more often than not you end up on the same page of the book of vaadin - which although clear in it’s documentation has some very substantial holes missing. e.g. you can use X to implement Y, here is a nice example of X in action, oh by the way you could also do this with A… but we’re not going to tell you about that.

this combined with reports on the forum that vaadin does not work in certain browsers on occasion has made me seriously re-consider my choice to use the system… so is it worth it? am i going to end up using the same amount of time (or even longer!) using vaadin compared to normal dev simply because the information isn’t out there? or is it worth sticking it out for the benefits, because it rarely causes problems?

We have successfully used Vaadin in complex projects, and we have also decided not to use Vaadin in some cases. The decision not to use Vaadin is sometimes due to business constraints and sometimes due to technical needs it doesn’t meet. But it has never been due to documentation, support, or browser incompatibility issues that you are concerned about. In fact, with the background of using various UI toolkits and frameworks for years, we find Vaadin to be better in those areas than other browser-based GUI toolkit options.

It is not easy to list out the reasons for why we sometimes don’t pick Vaadin. For example, we had a project recently for which Vaadin was the perfect choice technically, except that we needed a really rich table control that Vaadin doesn’t yet offer. Our project deadlines couldn’t afford waiting until we / Vaadin could write a richer table control. So we went with a competing technology that provided the widget we needed right away, although we are not too fond of that competing technology’s programming model.

To cut to the chase, Vaadin may or may not be your choice due to other reasons, but based on our experience, we’d rate its documentation and support to be superior to all other browser based UI toolkits out there.

In terms of programmer productivity, assuming that you have a team with Java background, the Vaadin model (a consistent server side Java model with no ugly RPC handling by the programmer) is definitely an order of magnitude better than the HTML + Javascript + RPC glue + Java server logic.

Good luck. Perhaps a pilot project will help you understand the tradeoffs better.

Hi, my five cents on that - thanks for opening this thread :slight_smile:

  1. I love the Vaadin technology - RAD/prototyping/you-name-it is just a piece of cake using Vaadin. This is just an incredibly amazing concept!!!

  2. I personally think the prices are much to high according to developer/team licensing, but maybe I am wrong here. This makes it quit hard to convince (unconvinced) team-members/lead to just try it in a single (commercial) project.

  3. I really think if you pay that amount of money then, where are all the new components one could expect here? Where are all the new themes and looks? I am following Vaadin now the past 4 years, and I think in addition to reindeer/Runo there is just ONE addition (mod) theme, ReindeerMods. Is it that hard to make the process of creating personal feel of Vaadin apps that hard, or at least to provider a set of 20-50 different look-and-feel defaults?

  4. Vaadin members on the forum seem not to be that busy anymore, as for one year ago or so. I posted a several question in ongoing threads and never got any answer:
    https://vaadin.com/forum/-/message_boards/view_message/963494
    https://vaadin.com/forum/-/message_boards/view_message/810245

  5. I really would like to se performance comparisons - as there are many concerns out there! Vaadin should really open a contest, specify some functionality and provide the implementation - that other implementations (based on other frameworks) shall try to beat. Do not understand me wrong: I do not expect to compete Vaadin against other frameworks - this is just one important factor developing web-apps, and can be solved by more horse-power, which in my opinion would be worth it as Vaadin frameworks helps tom improve/speed-up development cycles and reduces error-rates in the code enormously.

HAND

Please, could you be more specific: which add-ons you are referring to and what the pricing should be? Or are you referring to Pro Account subscription? If so, what is the most important part of the offering and what the pricing should be?

There is work going on to make building new themes much easier with Vaadin 7. I hope that this effort will lead to number of new themes.

In most frameworks “themes” just mean different colors. With
Chameleon theme
it is easy to generate the exact custom colors you need for your theme.

Sorry about that. While the team is growing, the number of projects we are involved in have been growing faster. As a result - everyone have been very busy. Unfortunately this have limited time we have been able to use on forums. I hope that this is temporary and we are able to find a balance. Maybe some of you would be interested in
joining the team
to help ;)

Building metrics is hard. Encouraging other to post “competing” results with the same metrics is harder.

That said
this scalability study
contains link to performance benchmark and instructions. Anyone willing to implement this application and testing it with some other technology?


Forum

I have to agree that the forum responses on questions are not what i hoped it would be.
Then I came to think what have I done to help others so far ?
I had to admit to myself that i didn’t contribute anything to that point and decided to try to answer questions i (think) i know an answer for.


compatibility

The browser compatibility of vaadin was for me main reason to start using it.
its probably thanks to Jouni Koivuviita the CSS guru (Vaadin crew correct me if i am wrong) that the css of vaadin works nicely across platforms (even Ie6 what was very important to us).
The thing to keep in mind is the add-ons. they not always work on the different platforms the way you would expect.
To make reasonably sure i myself test the add-ons I want to use on as many browsers as i can to make sure they work as expected.


Pricing

I would have loved to have a Pro account myself but my budget is not that I can effort it.
Al do i would have liked supporting Vaadin that way and have the benefits that the pro account has to offer.
As i am the only developer in the company i work for and Vaadin is just one of my many projects its not interesting for my boss to pay for the Pro account.
Al do we have bought the Touchkit when it was on offer for future use, so at least we contributed a bit in that way.


Documentation

The documentation is indeed missing examples and information at places. At times it is hard to find out how to get something done. On the add-on department there is even less information.
I am now studying other peoples add-ons to learn more about making an add-on as the documentation doesn’t tell the hole story. Then again I myself am lacking on documenting my projects at work as I have so much projects to do and so little time. So I understand the problems keeping documentation up to date and making them complete. BUT it is struggling at times to find out just how to get something done and not getting the answer without much suffering while the solution itself is many times just a simple action. Al do on other platforms this can also happen the community of Vaadin is (compared to Visual Studio etc) is much, much smaller and answers therefore are harder to find (documentation and forum)

Ben, I finish by saying I wish you well on what ever platform you choose but I hope you stick around -_-

thanks a lot for the detailed and friendly answers, it’s also great to see joonas get involved. i think this confirms my first impressions that they are some great like minded people around here.

my gut feeling is that vaadin has a huge amount to offer, but it is very difficult to justify the time required to hunt answers down to (perhaps simply solved) issues. my view is that if the book is lacking detail then more feedback is required in these forums from the creators, as otherwise noobs like myself will be quickly alienated. of course as the community grows there will be more expert users and the requirement for the creators to be involved will reduce. however, at the moment my only real option is to get stuck into the code of existing add-ons to try and find the elements i’m after and to see how they have been implemented. this is pretty daunting and there are no guarantees that i will find everything i need.

i agree with the comment that the pro account is too expensive, well too expensive for the knowledge base alone. having said that i would have no problem buying an ebook to contribute to the project, so long as the detailed information was available. the other items that are part of the pro account may well be worth it, but without knowing more about vaadin it is difficult for me to judge.

please know that i don’t want to de-value what you are doing here, because a lot about vaadin (from what i can tell so far!) is fantastic.

Thank you for voicing your concerns! This alone is enough kick-in-the-butt to make me spend more time on the forum again (the fact that I’m not working on customer projects any more also helps a lot).

Are there any particular topics in the documentation that weren’t enough detailed, or is just an overall feeling? I feel a bit guilty about not contributing anything into the official documentation about themes, since I probably have the most extensive knowledge about that topic. I hope to fix that at least for Vaadin 7, but Vaadin 6 could use that documentation even more, I think.

A huge thanks to all the non-Vaadin-team members of the community for providing valuable answers on the forum and other mediums! As the amount of questions keep rising on the forum, it’s really hard to keep up with them using only a handful of internal enthusiastic forum users (over a half of the staff here work on customer projects day-in-day-out, and have little-to-no time to spare for community stuff).

But excuses aside, I’m now off to answer at least five unanswered questions on the forum!

First: I am a conviced Vaadin follower, and try to contribute if possible :slight_smile:
The Vaadin team does a great job overall - resulting in a stunning framework.

Thinking off missing functionality I think at least of the following three things, that are required for a framework like this in addtion:

charting - include invient in the Vaadin framework (other frameworks have charting included too!)
export excel/pdf ?- proved this included in Vaadin, and add an article on that in the book
Review/republish Vaadin EJB walkthrough - here are lots of open questions (see the comments on the guide), and Vaadin team should investigate a bit more on the outdated details, I think

Yes, I was referring to the Pro Account. It would be a good idea to provide team license 500 $ / year, three developers / or providing a license by buying a (expensive) book :slight_smile: Point is that most developers do not work fulltime on Vaadin projects, and so spending huge amounts on licenses for (just) Vaadin are pretty hard to argue (especially when we have to argue to use Vaadin INSTEAD of some bunch of other FREE framworks).

As mentioned before: Even if you are working pretty hard on Vaadin 7, over the past years basically no new themes or components have been released from Vaadin (except Reindeer mods and TreeTable about two years ago, right!?). This should definitely be improved in my opinion. Make a uservoice voting, and release one new Vaadin theme/component per month (constantly!) included in the main Vaadin framework, that should not be so hard, and would pretty much increase ease of use and sexiness much more :slight_smile:

I know that metrics are not trivial. And I liked the benchmark posted. But it lacks the comparison with other frameworks! In my opinion using Vaadin improves project progress and quality extremly - which basically will be hard to beat as an argument, when taking performance in addition (EVEN if Vaadin performance should require more CPU/RAM as for implementations based on other framworks). I think Vaadin should provide such a comparison, and extend it ongoing.

Again: Thanks to Vaadin team - Vaadin is great!

HANW

I, in fact, created a
uservoice group
three years ago. I even had a presentation at a vaadin user meetup on just that to try to push it going, but it never got the wind under it as would have needed. It pretty much died out after the intial wave as there were not much action. Maybe it would require a notable tab on the pages, like the blue pro account button on the left, to get it going again.

About PDF generation, excel export and other features like those: In my perspective, the Vaadin mantra here has been “if it exists in stand alone frameworks, don’t add it to Vaadin.” This is mostly to keep Vaadin itself clean. It is quite easy to serve a PDF created in iText or write your own CSV file (did this earlier this week on a table) and just put Vaadin to serve them to the users. I can see why this might look lacking for someone evaluation Vaadin.

We have been on Vaadin 6 for quite a while now. Vaadin 7 will however arrive sooner or later as we have already the two alphas out. I use Vaadin 7 alpha 2 (and alpha 1 earlier) in all the projects where I get to make the choice. This is manly because of the better Application setup (Root), with better URI handling, better Forms and very much easier widget creation. Alpha 2 also brought some nice performance fixes but I expect a much bigger impact out of alpha 3 from what I’ve seen behind the scenes on the dev teams doings.

My personal hopes for the future would be that the day that Vaadin 7 is finally released, the planning of Vaadin 8 would be start. We’ve been quite a while on 6 now, and as you said not much new has been added. The downtime has been used efficiently into fixing all kind of issues, and adding some important API improvements (like the Filtering API on containers). Even if it is very important if we want to have a good framework, it is hardly as exiting as new fancy features. My hopes are however that the major version release cycle would at least be cut in half. V7 is just that great that I want more of it. :slight_smile:

Last final note about the forum activity. The questions on the forum was super actively answered a few years back. The answers were mostly provided by Vaadin employees. Then a massive growth of the community happen when Vaadin reached a new publicity level. Questions in the forums skyrocketed while the group of people answering the questions stayed pretty much the same. That turned into a lot of questions being unanswered. We should get the community activated in some way so that not only the amount of questions rise, but also the answers. My best guess on why this is how it is, is because Vaadin is mostly used by the professionals in the business world. Most of the business professionals are mostly interested in getting their tasks done in with the least amount of effort and moving on to the next one. It is great to hear that Vaadin is the “just do it” -framework, but this group is not the kind that want to contribute in large back to the community. If you have any suggestions on how the lessen this gap, I’d think that there are plenty of people that would be more than happy to hear it.

Thanks for the info - I agree generally. Let me pick three points anyway:

  1. I actually have the same experience as you with UserVoice. I cant understand that because I really like how UserVoice works. It is simple, straight forward and is focused to the point on what the majority really would like to see implemented. Maybe you should give it second try - and yes, put it directly on the Vaadin homepage :slight_smile:

  2. I think it is fair enough to get answers from the community. Because this is cheap for you and fast for us. Anyways, as you have the book (which really starts looking crappy and needs a review/rewrite at least on some pages!), I really would like to see you summarizing the answers on the forum. See the EJB integration: You write a tutorial which gets lots of comments and questions, and there are a few threads on the forum in addition where people provide differing implementations/guides, so starting from scratch is pretty hard then with all the differing opinions and alternatives - and just the Vaadin team is able to recommend the way to go, right!?

  3. What you say on professionals, I mean, this really depends on what you think people are :slight_smile: Are you a professional? Am I? Maybe, maybe not. But I am convinced that people in general like to contribute, like to say thanks, and so give some feedback back to the crowd. I mean this fun, Vaadin is fun, sharing knowledge is fun - isn’t it?

Of course you could put some afford into that, f.i. by offering three free Pro Accounts per month or so… I think this would really pull some strings :slight_smile:

And no, unfortunately I cant move to Finnland right now :slight_smile:

Vaadin is totally worth it. In public forums I expect the public to help contribute. Vaadin is an open source project and they have a lot of work to do and honestly can’t be expected to answer every single question. Sometimes some of these questions are dupes of whats already on the forums. Open source projects to a degree are community efforts. Vaadin documentation actually shines, their transparency/roadmap shines, the quality of the feature set shines, they are constantly updating and fixing bugs. Vaadin’s cross browser support is actually very good. Infact they are still maintaining ie 6+, FFox, opera, mobile browsers, opera, safari, etc. Take a look at the addons section. Vaadin does many things right compared to other open source projects. Most open source projects are blackholes for consumers who have no wish to contribute codewise but just want to use the project to get work done. Vaadin not so.

As Joonas points out do try vaadin for your specific use case and it may help with your decision.

First of I want to point out that I’m just one of the employees. Maybe an active one in the community because of my strong interest in Vaadin, but still, all my thoughts are my own and I don’t make the calls on what will be done and what not. :slight_smile:

Sounds like a nice idea. The biggest hurdle is maybe to find the right topics as every problem is unique and often doesn’t affect so many users. I think that the
newsletter
might be a nice place to bring up a topic once a month, and the blog for those more frequents lifts. I know the guy responsible for both so maybe I can pitch the idea. :wink:

I was maybe overgeneralizing a bit with my comment. I think of a professional as one who does something for a living, ie. gets paid for it. There are all the deadlines and workloads and what you can do on your work time and so on, which might make contributing harder or less interesting. Also Vaadin might be just one of tools for the means. Of course we have many great Vaadin evangelists who work with Vaadin and contributes a huge amount back to the community. For example everybody stating their opinion in this thread.

Hobbyist, who work with Vaadin on their spare time, usually have a bigger passion for the frameworks. They’ve personally chosen the tool and want to be a part of it. These are, again usually, those who contribute a little more.

I think that is an excellent idea, to grow the community, get the existing users more active and promote the pro account. I will definitely suggest this idea forward.

Tell me when you are ready. :slight_smile: