VisionX 2.4 is here

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VisionX 2.4 was released yesterday! It's the biggest update since 1.5. We've spent more time for developing and testing than ever before. The new version has power under the hood. It contains everything which is needed to customize VisionX for your needs. It's possible to create your own VisionX. We have a great set of AddOns which will improve the quality of your applications and some very useful new Features.

What's new?

  • HTML5 Live Reload

    It's now possible to update the application in the browser automatically after design changes. The live preview wizard got a new option for this feature:

    Live reload option

    Live reload option

  • One-click HTML5 live preview

    The application menu got a new icon. A single click is enough to show the application in the web browser.

    One-click live preview

    One-click live preview

  • VisionX Menu

    The VisionX menu in the application has two new items:

    VisionX application menu

    VisionX application menu

    The modules screen is a complete new feature and the Live preview is now available without leaving the application.

  • Module management

    It's now possible to manage application modules. Simply install a module from the solution store or create your own re-usable application modules. The installation is super easy with our new modules screen:

    Super easy module installation

    Super easy module installation

  • Data Links

    The Designer got a new group with the name Data Links:

    Data Links

    Data Links

    All elements in the Data Links group depend on data and will update the shown value automatically on data changes.

    • The Label Control will show the current value of a specific column, as Label instead of an Editor.
    • The Selection Button will show a popup with possible values for a specific column.
    • The Filter Control requires the Profiles AddOn and allows an application user to apply and save custom filter settings, e.g. filter custom columns
  • Application frame automatically saves the last position and your application will be shown at the same position after a restart.

    The Profiles AddOn makes it possible to save also the frames within the application. Your users will love it because they can save their own desktop and continue the work after an application start.

  • Remove HTML5

    It's possible to create smaller application bundles if you remove the HTML5 feature from the bundle, via Deployment Wizard:

    Remove HTML5

    Remove HTML5

  • Customize screen generators

    It's super easy to use your own screen generators:

    Custom screen generators

    Custom screen generators

  • Multiple storages with same database table

    It's now possible to add multiple storages for the same database table. This was a limitation in earlier versions of VisionX.

All customers will find the new version in their download area!

JVx Reference, of Technologies and Factories

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Let's talk about the UI layer, the implementations and the factory that powers it all.

The basics

For everyone who does not know, JVx allows you to write code once and run it on different GUI frameworks, without changing your code. This is achieved by hiding the concrete GUI implementations behind our own classes, the UI classes, and providing "bindings" for different GUI frameworks behind the scenes. Such a "Single Sourcing" approach has many advantages, and just one of them is that migrating to a new GUI framework requires only the change of a single line, the one which controls which factory is created.

The Factory Pattern

The Factory Pattern is an important pattern in Object-Oriented-Programming, it empowers us to delegate the creation of Objects to another Object which must not be known at design and/or compile time. That allows us to use Objects which have not been created by us but merely "provided" to us by an, for us unknown, implementation.

Like an onion

JVx is separated into different layers, with the UI layer being at the top and of the most concern to users.

JVx Layers

Technology

Obviously, the first one in the chain is the so called "technology" layer. It represents the UI technology, for example Swing, JavaFX or Vaadin, which is used to power the JVx application.

To put it into a more simple term:

public class JButton {}

Extension

Next comes the extension layer, components from the technology are extended to support needed features of JVx. This includes creating bindings for the databook, additional style options and changing of behavior if necessary. From time to time this also includes creating components from scratch if the provided ones do not meet the needs or there simply are none with the required functionality. For the most part, we do our best that these layers can be used without JVx, meaning that they represent a solitary extension to the technology. A very good example is our JavaFX implementation, which compiles into two separate jars, the first being the complete JVx/JavaFX stack, the second being stand-alone JavaFX extensions which can be used in any application and without JVx.

Theoretically one can skip this layer and directly jump to the Implementation layer, but so far it has proven necessary (for cleanliness of the code and object structure and sanity reasons) to create a separate extension layer.

public class JExtendedButton extends JButton {}

Implementation

After that comes the implementation layer. The extended components are extended to implement JVx interfaces. This is some sort of "glue" layer, it binds the technology or extended components against the interfaces which are provided by JVx.

public class SwingButton<JExtendedButton> implements IButton {}

UI

Last but for sure not least is the UI layer, which wraps the implementations. It is completely Implementation independent, that means that one can swap out the stack underneath:

JVx Layers

This is achieved because the UI layer is not extending the Implementation layer, but wrapping instances provided by the factory. It is oblivious to what Technology is actually underneath it.

public class UIButton<IButton> implements IButton {}

SwingButton resource = SwingFactory.createButton()

Why is the UI layer necessary?

It isn't, not at all. The Implementations could be used directly without any problems, but having yet another layer has two key benefits:

  1. It allows easier usage.
  2. It allows to add Technology independent features.

By wrapping it one more time we gain a lot of freedom which we would not have otherwise, when it comes to features as when it comes to coding. The user does not need to call the factory directly and instead just needs to create a new object:

IButton button = new UIButton();

Internally, of course, the Factory is called and an implementation instance is created, but that is an implementation detail. If we would use the implementation layer directly, our code would either need to know about the implementations, which doesn't follow the Single-Sourcing principle:

IButton button = new SwingButton();

It also would be possible to directly use the factory (but this isn't modern coding style):

IButton button = UIFactoryManager.getFactory().createButton();

Both can be avoided by using another layer which does the factory calls for us:

public class UIButton implements IButton
{
    private IButton resource;

    public UIButton()
    {
        resource = UIFactoryManager.getFactory().createButton();
    }

    public void someInterfaceMethod()
    {
        resource.someInterfaceMethod();
    }
}

Additionally this layer allows us to implement features which can be technology independent, our naming scheme, which we created during stress testing of an Vaadin application, is a very good example of that. The names of the components are derived in the UI layer without any knowledge of the underlying Technology or Implementation.

Also it does provide us (and everyone else of course) with a layer which allows to rapidly and easily build compound components out of already existing ones, like this:

public class LabeledButton extends UIPanel
{
    private IButton button = null;
    private ILabel label = null;
   
    public LabeledButton ()
    {
        super();

        initializeUI();
    }

    private void initializeUI()
    {
        button = new UIButton();
        label = new UILabel();
       
        setLayout(new UIBorderLayout());
        add(label, UIBorderLayout.LEFT);
        add(button, UIBorderLayout.CENTER);
    }
}

Of course that is not even close to sophisticated, or a good example for that matter. But it shows that one can build new components out of already existing ones without having to deal with the Technology or Implementation at all, creating truly cross-technology controls.

The Factory

The heart piece of the UI layer is the Factory, which is creating the Implemented classes. It's a rather simple system, a Singleton which is set at the beginning to the Technology specific factory which can be retrieved later:

// At the start of the application.
UIFactoryManager.setFactoryInstance(new SwingFactory());
// Or alternately:
UIFactory.getFactoryInstance(SwingFactory.class());

// Later inside the UI wrappers.
IButton button = UIFactory.getFactory().createButton();

The complexity of the implementation of the factory is technology dependent, but for the most part it is devoid of any logic:

public class SwingFactory implements IFactory
{
    @Override
    public IButton createButton()
    {
        SwingButton button = new SwingButton();
        button.setFactory(this);

        return button;
    }
}

It "just returns new objects" from the implementation layer. That's about it when it comes to the factory, it is as simple as that.

Piecing it together

With all this in mind, we know now that JVx has swappable implementations underneath its UI layer for each technology it utilizes:

JVx Layers

Changing between them can be as easy as setting a different factory. I say "can", because that is only true for Swing, JavaFX and similar technologies, Vaadin, obviously, requires some more setup work. I mean, theoretically one could embed a complete application server and launch it when the factory for Vaadin is created, allowing the application to be basically stand-alone and be started as easily as a Swing application. That is possible.

What else?

That is how JVx works in regards to the UI layer. It depends on "technology specific stacks" which can be swapped out and implemented for pretty much every GUI framework out there. We currently provide support for Swing, JavaFX and Vaadin, but we also had implementations for GWT and Qt. Additionally we do support a "headless" implementation which allows to use lightweight objects which might be serialized and send over the wire without much effort.

Adding a new Technology

Adding support for a new Technology is as straightforward as one can imagine, simply creating the Extensions/Implementations layers and implementing the factory for that Technology. Giving a complete manual would be out for scope for this post, but the most simple approach to adding a new stack to JVx is to start with stubbing out the IFactory and implementing IWindow. Once that one window shows up, it's just implementing one interface after another in a quite straightforward manner. And in the end, your application can switch to yet another GUI framework without the need to change your code.

VisionX 2.4 News

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This is a short announcement of VisionX 2.4. We're near to the finishing line and will release VisionX 2.4 in December. It's an awesome release with a big number of changes and great new features.

VisionX 2.4 is not a real Feature Release but as always, we have great things on board. The focus was on "modularity". This has nothing to do with JDK 9 or Jigsaw! With VisionX 2.4 it'll be super easy to customize VisionX for your needs or to "create your own VisionX". We offer some great new Modules and AddOns.

Some impressions

HTML5 option

Create applications without HTML5

Super easy module installation

Super easy module installation

New components as Data Links

New components as Data Links

Module: User Filter

Module: User Filter

Standard Screen generator wizard

Standard Screen generator wizard

Customized screen generator wizard

Customized screen generator wizard

VisionX will be shipped with Vaadin 7.7 and latest versions of JVx and sub projects.
We offer some great Modules and AddOns like Maintenance management and User Profiles.

With User Profiles, it'll be possible to save the application state per User. This means that the position of screens can be saved as well as divider positions of split panels or it'll be possible to configure visible columns of grids.

This was a very short overview of VisionX 2.4, but I guess you'll like it!

JVx Reference, Events

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Let's talk about events and event handling in JVx.

What are events...

Events are an important mechanism no matter to what programming language or framework you turn to. It allows us to react on certain actions and "defer" actions until something triggered them. Such triggers can be anything, like a certain condition is hit in another thread, the user clicked a button or another action has finally finished. Long story short, you get notified that something happened, and that you can now do something.

...and why do I need to handle them?

Well, you can't skip events, they are a cornerstone of JVx. Theoretically, you could use JVx without using any of its events, but you would not only miss out on a lot of functionality but also be unable to do anything useful. But don't worry, understanding the event system is easy, using it even easier.

Terminology

For JVx the following terminology applies: An event is a property of an object, you can register listeners on that event which will get invoked if the event is dispatched (fired). Every event consists of the EventHandler class which allows to register, remove and manage the listeners and also dispatches the events, meaning invoking the listeners and notifying them that the event occurred. There is no single underlying listener interface.

Within the JVx framework, every event-property of an object does start with the prefix "event" to make it easily searchable and identifiable. But enough dry talk, let's get started.

Attaching listeners as class

The easiest way to get notified of events is to attach a class (which is implementing the listener interface) to an event as listener, like this:

public class MainFrame extends UIFrame
{
    public MainFrame()
    {
        super();
       
        UIButton button = new UIButton("Click me!");
        button.eventAction().addListener(new ActionListener());
       
        setLayout(new UIBorderLayout());
        add(button, UIBorderLayout.CENTER);
    }
}

private static final class ActionListener implements IActionListener
{
    public void action(UIActionEvent pActionEvent) throws Throwable
    {
        System.out.println("Button clicked!");
    }
}

Attaching listeners as inlined class

Of course we can inline this listener class:

public class MainFrame extends UIFrame
{
    public MainFrame()
    {
        super();
       
        UIButton button = new UIButton("Click me!");
        button.eventAction().addListener(new IActionListener()
        {
            public void action(UIActionEvent pActionEvent) throws Throwable
            {
                System.out.println("Button clicked!");
            }
        });
       
        setLayout(new UIBorderLayout());
        add(button, UIBorderLayout.CENTER);
    }
}

Attaching listeners JVx style

So far, so normal. But in JVx we have support to attach listeners based on reflection, like this:

public class MainFrame extends UIFrame
{
    public MainFrame()
    {
        super();
       
        UIButton button = new UIButton("Click me!");
        button.eventAction().addListener(this, "doButtonClick");
       
        setLayout(new UIBorderLayout());
        add(button, UIBorderLayout.CENTER);
    }
   
    public void doButtonClick(UIActionEvent pActionEvent) throws Throwable
    {
        System.out.println("Button clicked");
    }
}

What is happening here is that, internally, a listener is created which references the given object and the named method. This allows to easily add and remove listeners from events and keeping the classes clean by allowing to have all related event listeners in one place and without additional class definitions.

Attaching listeners as lambdas

Yet there is more, we can of course attach lambdas to the events as listeners, too:

public class MainFrame extends UIFrame
{
    public MainFrame()
    {
        super();
       
        UIButton button = new UIButton("Click me!");
        button.eventAction().addListener((pActionEvent) -> System.out.println("Button clicked"));
       
        setLayout(new UIBorderLayout());
        add(button, UIBorderLayout.CENTER);
    }
}

Attaching listeners as method references

And last but not least, thanks to the new capabilities of Java 1.8, we can also use method references:

public class MainFrame extends UIFrame
{
    public MainFrame()
    {
        super();
       
        UIButton button = new UIButton("Click me!");
        button.eventAction().addListener(this::doButtonClick);
       
        setLayout(new UIBorderLayout());
        add(button, UIBorderLayout.CENTER);
    }
   
    private void doButtonClick(UIActionEvent pActionEvent) throws Throwable
    {
        System.out.println("Button clicked");
    }
}

Parameters or no parameters? To throw or not to throw?

By default we actually support two different classes of listeners, the specified event/listener interface itself, and (javax.rad.util.)IRunnable. Which means that you can also attach methods which do not have any parameters, like this:

public class MainFrame extends UIFrame
{
    public MainFrame()
    {
        super();
       
        UIButton button = new UIButton("Click me!");
        button.eventAction().addListener(this::doButtonClickNoParameters);
        button.eventAction().addListener(this::doButtonClickWithParameters);
       
        setLayout(new UIBorderLayout());
        add(button, UIBorderLayout.CENTER);
    }
   
    private void doButtonClickNoParameters() throws Throwable
    {
        System.out.println("Button clicked");
    }

    private void doButtonClickWithParameters(UIActionEvent pActionEvent) throws Throwable
    {
        System.out.println("Button clicked");
    }
}

Additionally, all listeners and IRunnable itself do support to throw Throwable, which is then handled inside the EventHandler. So you are very flexible when it comes to what methods you can attach and use as listeners.

Creating your own events

You can, of course, create your own EventHandlers and listeners to create your own events. All you need are two classes, an extension of EventHandler and a listener interface.

public class CustomEvent extends EventHandler
{
    public CustomEvent()
    {
        super(ICustomListener.class);
    }
}

public interface ICustomListener
{
    public void somethingHappened(String pName);
}

And that's it, from here on you can use it:

CustomEvent event = new CustomEvent();
event.addListener((pName) -> System.out.println(pName + " 1"));
event.addListener((pName) -> System.out.println(pName + " 2"));
event.addListener((pName) -> System.out.println(pName + " 3"));

event.dispatchEvent("Adam");

More methods!

You can also use an interface for listeners which has multiple methods, specifying in the constructor which method to invoke:

public class CustomEvent extends EventHandler
{
    public CustomEvent()
    {
        super(ICustomListener.class, "somethingOtherHappened");
    }
}

public interface ICustomListener
{
    public void somethingHappened(String pName);
    public void somethingOtherHappened(String pName, BigDecimal pValue);
    public void nothingHappened();
}

Now every time the event is dispatched, the somethingOtherHappened method will be invoked. Anyway, don't use this. The upside of having a "simple" listener interface with just one method (SAM-type) is that it allows to use lambdas with it. A listener interface with multiple methods won't allow this.

In JVx we reduced our listener interfaces to just one method (in a backward compatible way) to make sure all events can be used with lambdas.

Fire away!

That's it for this short reference sheet, that is how our event system can and should be used. Of course, there is much more to it under the hood, for example listeners being wrapped in proxy classes, reflection used for invoking methods and some more stuff. If you feel adventurous, be my guest and have a good look at the internals of EventHandler, it is quite an interesting read.

pfSense 2.3 + APU2C4 + Temperature

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With current pfSense 2.3.2 and APU2C4 it's not possible to read the CPU temperature of. The problem isn't new but it's not solved in official images.

I found a solution for the problem in this forum (Thanks to Stephan).

It wasn't tricky, but if you want the short story:

  1. Download the changed kernel module
  2. Extract the archive and copy the amdtemp.ko file to your box, to /root
  3. Execute following commands:
    kldunload amdtemp
    cp /root/amdtemp.ko /boot/kernel/
    kldload /boot/kernel/amdtemp.ko

After this steps, you'll see the current temperature in the Dashboard view.

HANA Express and VisionX

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HANA Express is available for some days. HANA is the In-Memory Database solution of SAP.

What is HANA Express?

SAP HANA, express edition is a streamlined version of SAP HANA that can run on laptops and other resource-constrained hosts, such as a cloud-hosted virtual machine, for free up to 32G of memory use.

reference: https://go.sap.com/developer/topics/sap-hana-express.html

We wrote an article about our HANA experiments in December 2014. We had a test account for the online HANA. Our tests were successful but we weren't convinced from the system because it was slow and had many JDBC driver problems. Our bug reports were never answered.

But we never give up and the Express edition was interesting for us. We thought it might be worth some hours for our R&D team. The result is awesome!

We think that VisionX is the best tool for application development with HANA databases. Your web application is ready in 1 minute without coding!

Some details?

The installation of the Express edition wasn't tricky. The documentation is straight forward. The database is up and running in some minutes.

We had some problems with JDBC driver because it wasn't available as separate download and we didn't find any documentation. But it was part of the HANA plugin for Eclipse. Not that easy, but it was part of a jar file: com.sap.ndb.studio.jdbc_2.3.8.jar.

The next tricky thing was the JDBC connect string: jdbc:sap://hxehost:30013/?currentschema=System. The username was SYSTEM.

With all this information, it was super easy to create an application with VisionX for HANA express. We guess it makes no difference if you use HANA or HANA express.

How it works? Check the video. It's from 2014 but still impressive.

The current JDBC driver works much better than in 2014 and the performance of the database is great - compared to 2014.

If you're interested in more details, write a comment ;-)

EPlug 1.2.5

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We're happy to announce the release of EPlug 1.2.5. Even though the change in the version number is quite small, the changes which have gone into this version are very interesting.

Better hover information and improved DataBookView

The biggest visual change in this new version is the new hover information for columns:

New hover information

New hover information

As you can see it has been vastly extended, with nearly all information about the column which you might want to know about, including its type, the label and all other properties.

Also the image preview is now more useful and is displaying the complete image but scaled to fit the hover:

New hover information

Additionally the DataBookView has been restructured to display the information in a more easily digestible way, structured by variable name and source of the columns:

Improved DataBookView

Improved DataBook support

The support for DataBooks/DataRows has been greatly improved and the plugin does now support a lot more variations on how to achieve the metadata. For example cloning of ColumnDefinitions, assigning of RowDefinitions and even getDataRow(...) and similar methods are now processed to acquire the metadata and column information.

Objects in server calls

One of the build-time checks is the type-check of parameters in server calls. Let's look at a simple example:

// Server side
public void serverSideAction(ActionType pActionType, String pLogMessage, BigDecimal pId);

// Client side
getConnection().callAction(
    "serverSideAction",
    ActionType.DO_IT_LATER,
    "Some message which will be logged",
    dataBook.getValue("ID"));

While this compiles completely fine in pure Java (because callAction(...) does accept an Object vararg), EPlug would flag it with an error because getValue(...) returns an Object but the server-side expects a BigDecimal. With this update there is now a build option available in the Project/EPlug settings to ignore such errors, allowing to pass Objects to the server side without checks.

Misspelled a column name? No problem!

We do now offer QuickFixes for column names with typos:

Column name QuickFixes

Automatic check of complement files

There is now a new build option in the Project/EPlug settings which allows to enable the automatic check of complement files. A "complement" file is simply the "other side", for example for the lifecycle-object the complement file is the workscreen, and vice versa. That means that now workscreens are automatically checked if the lifecycle object changes.

Preliminary String array support

There are various functions which do accept a String array of column names, for example getValues(...). Because of limitations coming up from the JDT infrastructure which we are using, we've been unable to provide autocompletion for column names in such circumstances:

dataBook.getValues(new String[] { "|

We are still unable to determine the exact databook in such circumstances, but we do now simply provide all columns as completion suggestions. What we can do is provide full hover and build support for these functions.

Improved VisionX/EPlug communication

VisionX is now a lot more talkative, it informs EPlug about file changes. If "Auto Reload" is enabled in EPlug, all files that have been changed by VisionX will now be reloaded and checked automatically. The same accounts for changed metadata.

Changes

  • Updated JVx version
  • Cached MetaData is now correctly invalidated and refreshed
  • DataBookView is now not constantly refreshed
  • Markers (Errors, Warnings) are now only placed on the names of the columns, instead of the whole statement
  • Inserted methods (from quick fixes) should now always be correctly formed
  • Fixed "phantom" markers which could pop up during build
  • Fixed that the DataBookView might not display all metadata
  • Fixed that folding nodes in the DataBookView made the child-nodes vanish
  • Various bug fixes

Simply update EPlug via Eclipse!

Vaadin 7.7

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Vaadin 7.7.0 is out since 2016-08-24 and 7.7.1 since 2016-09-14.

We're happy to announce that our vaadin UI is based on vaadin 7.7.1 since 2016-09-16. Use our nightly builds or checkout the repository.

And the maven snapshots:

<dependency>
    <groupId>com.sibvisions.vaadin</groupId>
    <artifactId>jvxvaadin-client</artifactId>
    <version>1.5-SNAPSHOT</version>
</dependency>

<dependency>
    <groupId>com.sibvisions.vaadin</groupId>
    <artifactId>jvxvaadin-server</artifactId>
    <version>1.5-SNAPSHOT</version>
</dependency>

<dependency>
    <groupId>com.sibvisions.vaadin</groupId>
    <artifactId>jvxvaadin-themes</artifactId>
    <version>1.5-SNAPSHOT</version>
</dependency>

Your feedback is appreciated :)

Quality check AddOn for VisionX

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We have a brand new AddOn for you! It's simply awesome.

Imagine you have a large application with many screens and life-cycle objects. The deployent date is tomorrow. All manual tests today were successful. You leave the office and your colleague updates the database and doesn't tell you something about the changes. The deployment could be a destroyment :) without retesting!

Sure, a manual test of application functionality is great and also automatic UI tests are helpful. But both tests need some time and a test tool for automatic UI tests. We had the simple idea that a great improvement would be an automatic screen and life-cycle object test by an ANT task.

You could reduce error sources if it's guaranteed that a screen can be opened at runtime! This means that the object in the life-cycle object will work as well. But it's also possible that you have some database access objects in the life-cycle object, without GUI references, e.g. for Reporting purposes. Such objects can't be found with simple screen open tests.

Our idea was that we could check all database objects from your life-cycle objects automatically and we could start the application in a headless mode to open/close your screens. Both checks could be executed as ANT task before war file creation. Sounds interesting?

We have an AddOn with above features for VisionX.

Here are some screenshots of the build results:

Project view with ANT results

Project view with ANT results

The life-cycle object MasterData contains the DBStorage errorData. The storage uses the write-back table ERRORDATA wich isn't available in the database. The quality check shows:

Found LCO: com.sibvisions.apps.example1.screens.MasterData
        -> masterdata [OK] => [ID, FIRSTNAME, LASTNAME, DOB]
        -> errorData [ERROR: Meta data couldn't load from database! - SELECT * FROM ERRORDATA
           WHERE 1=2]

Only the ANT output:

Quality checks ANT results

Quality checks ANT results

The life-cycle object had an error, but the MasterDataWorkScreen works because errorData wasn't used while opening the screen.

The screens SimpleErrorWorkScreen and ShowErrorWorkScreen can't be opened because initialization failed. The life-cycle objects work without problems!

The checks are fast and can be executed without GUI. The application will be started with headless UI and it acts like any other JVx application with all supported features.

The AddOn is a massive improvement for your quality requirements.

Mavenized everything

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We're happy to announce that all our projects are available as Maven artifacts.
Not all of our projects are public and aren't available in public Maven repositories, but we offer our own nexus for all this projects.

Which projects aren't public?

  • Vaadin Charts UI
  • Vaadin responsive application frame
  • Application client
  • Application server
  • Application Services
  • JavaFX mobile UI
  • Oracle Forms extension

We provide snapshot and release artifacts. All other - public - projects are available via maven central as release or snapshot artifacts.

  • JVx
  • JVx EE
  • Vaadin UI
  • JavaFX UI
  • Headless UI
  • Online help
  • JVx mobile

Our private Maven repository is available on a subscription basis. This doesn't mean that our private projects aren't open source projects, but we don't offer snapshot or release artifacts for them!