Dynamic pages using struts

Ted Husted

If you are talking about rendering a report, then sure. The Action iteracts with the business layer/data access objects to acquire the data, and then passes it to the presentation page bundled up as a JavaBean or a collection of JavaBeans. The JSP tags (and other systems) all use reflection, so you can use whatever JavaBean you like.

If you are talking about creating a dynamic data-entry form, then "not so much".

Struts 1.1 supports map-backed ActionForms, but the page still needs to know what input fields are going to be needed. For a truly dynamic input form, I guess the key would be some type of tag that took a map and then generated a column of input fields. (Wouldn't work for everyone, since a lot of forms must be designed just so.) For extra credit, the entry names could (optionally) be resource keys that were used to find the label text.

Text fields would be easy. Others would need some type of JavaBean with properties to tell the tag what to output. A bit of work, but obviously doable.

Of course, you'd probably want to validate the form before passing it back to the database. I imagine it's possible to use the validator in a non-declarative way, but I don't know anyone whose doing that. If you can do a db query to get the information about the form, I imagine you could also do a query to get the information about validations for the form. It would probably be easier to write your own engine than adopt the validator. (It's not really that complicated to do.)

People often ask about "dynamic input forms", but most of us just can't get our head around the use case. It's hard to understand what you do with the dynamic data when it comes back. Most application don't allow you to input or update an arbitrary (e.g. dynamic) set of fields.

HTH, Ted.
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Struts in Action

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