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JSF Ajax

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 15:08
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JSF and Ajax

JSF  Ajax support

Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a group of interrelated web development methods used on the client-side to create interactive web applications. With Ajax, web applications can send data to, and retrieve data from, a server asynchronously (in the background) without interfering with the display and behavior of the existing page. Data is usually retrieved using the XMLHttpRequest object. Despite the name, the use of XML is not needed (JSON is often used instead), and the requests need not be asynchronous.

JSF  2.0 has been released with is new Ajax functionnality.  

One of the major additions to this version of JSF  is standard Ajax support. This article covers Ajax features in JSF  2. If you are familiar with RichFaces and specifically the a4j:support tag or Primefaces then learning how to use Ajax features in JSF  2 is going to be very easy.

Many concepts and features are being carried over from RichFaces.

To illustrate Ajax in JSF  2 i will show you how to manage the tab and activate the correponding tab content in Ajax without reloading the page from the server.  


 JSF    version 2 or late
 Java   1.5 
Primefaces > 3.0

Tab manager using Ajax and JSF 

The following sketch illustrate the concept. We have three tabs in a form (formNav) and three tab content in another form (formContent). We want to make visible tab content according to the current tab index. To do so we have the following process :

  1. When the user clicks on tab an asynchronous call is made to the tab manager backing bean with the active tab index as a parameter
  2. The same button send an update request to the form (formContent)
  3. All three tab contents in the formContent will ask the tab backing bean if they are active and be visible or not according to it

JSF Ajax Tab example

JSF  navigation tabs

Find below three the tab. As you can see there is no action on the command link. On the other hand you have a f:ajax tag defined with a call to the tab manager backing bean named (tabBB). The method called is handleTabChange. The method is responsible to read the parameter provided using the f:param tag and update the current tab index managed by the tabBB backing bean.

The render property indicate that the element with the id contentForm should be updated when clicked. The colon (:) indicate that the contentForm element should be found starting on the root of the DOM.

JSF Navigation tab source

<h:form prependId="false" id="formNav">
   <h:commandLink  value="tab 1">
        <f:param name="tabIndex" value="1" />
       <f:ajax event="click" render=":contentForm" listener="#{tabBB.handleTabChange}"/>
   <h:commandLink  value="tab 2">
        <f:param name="tabIndex" value="2" />
       <f:ajax event="click" render=":contentForm" listener="#{tabBB.handleTabChange}"/>
   <h:commandLink  value="tab 3">
        <f:param name="tabIndex" value="3" />
       <f:ajax event="click" render=":contentForm" listener="#{tabBB.handleTabChange}"/>

Tab manager backing bean

Let's take a look at the tab manager backing bean called tabBB (default name if you don't provide a name for the managedBean annotation). The handleTabChange method as explained previously is reponsible to read the tabIndex parameter and set the backing bean property using this parameter.

We have now a session scope backing bean updated with the current tab index

JSF 2 ajax sample

import javax.faces.bean.ManagedBean;
import javax.faces.bean.SessionScoped;
import javax.faces.context.ExternalContext;
import javax.faces.context.FacesContext;
public class TabBB {
    private int tabIndex = 1;
    public boolean handleTabChange() {
        ExternalContext externalContext = FacesContext.getCurrentInstance().getExternalContext();
        String index = externalContext.getRequestParameterMap().get("tabIndex");
        return true;
    public int getTabIndex() {
        return tabIndex;
    public void setTabIndex(int tabIndex) {
        this.tabIndex = tabIndex;

Tab content

The content panels are defined in the contentForm. The form should be refreshed according to the render parameter defined in the ajax click event.Each output panel will then compare the current tab index in the tab manager backing bean and render they correpond to the active tab index

JSF tab content definition

<h:form prependId="false" id="contentForm">
        <div id="tabContent">
            <p:outputPanel id="tab1" rendered="#{tabBB.tabIndex == 1}">
                <h3>Tab 1 Content</h3>
            <p:outputPanel id="tab2" rendered="#{tabBB.tabIndex == 2}">
                <h3>Tab 2 Content</h3>
            <p:outputPanel id="tab3" rendered="#{tabBB.tabIndex == 3}">
                <h3>Tab 3 Content</h3>


Writing Ajax has never been so easy. Now you should have a good understanding of what JSF  and AJAX can do to help you to build a real-world Web application.

If you have any remark or questions feel free to put a comment.

If you enjoyed this tutorial and want to promote it don't hesitate to click on 

Tags: content, bean, manager, ajax, form, backing, outputpanel, contentform


0 #7 Harish 2013-06-05 13:30
How to get the "package;"
0 #6 ravi 2012-01-04 12:15
:-x U can use Icefaces just one tag. No need to code all these. :zzz
+1 #5 ravi 2012-01-04 12:13
:oops: I we need to handle two forms in a page carefully. It will give javascript error when u make ajax call in Internet Explorer browser.
+2 #4 Aaron 2011-11-25 12:47
Great example.
However I would have done this completely without primefaces. It just creates unnecessary confusion to a simple and functional example.
0 #3 Sebastien U 2011-10-22 17:02
Quoting Aaryn:
Where does "p:outputPanel" come from? A quick search pinpoints "PrimeFaces" -- is that a dependency for this example?

Yes, this example is using some Primefaces component but you can easily use native JSF component instead
0 #2 kumaravel A 2011-10-15 19:23

Thanks for the straight and crisp explanation of ajax with working examples.
0 #1 Aaryn 2011-07-16 22:04
Where does "p:outputPanel" come from? A quick search pinpoints "PrimeFaces" -- is that a dependency for this example?

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