14.3 Using Beans: Basic Tasks

You use three main constructs to build and manipulate JavaBeans components in JSP pages:

  • jsp:useBean . In the simplest case, this element builds a new bean. It is normally used as follows :

     <jsp:useBean id="beanName"              class="package.Class" /> 

    If you supply a scope attribute (see Section 14.6, "Sharing Beans"), the jsp:useBean element can either build a new bean or access a preexisting one.

  • jsp:getProperty . This element reads and outputs the value of a bean property. Reading a property is a shorthand notation for calling a method of the form get Xxx . This element is used as follows:

     <jsp:getProperty name="beanName"                  property="propertyName" /> 
  • jsp:setProperty . This element modifies a bean property (i.e., calls a method of the form set Xxx ). It is normally used as follows:

     <jsp:setProperty name="beanName"                  property="propertyName"                  value="propertyValue" /> 

The following subsections give details on these elements.

Building Beans: jsp:useBean

The jsp:useBean action lets you load a bean to be used in the JSP page. Beans provide a very useful capability because they let you exploit the reusability of Java classes without sacrificing the convenience that JSP adds over servlets alone.

The simplest syntax for specifying that a bean should be used is the following.

 <jsp:useBean id="name" class="package.Class" /> 

This statement usually means "instantiate an object of the class specified by Class , and bind it to a variable in _jspService with the name specified by id ." Note, however, that you use the fully qualified class namethe class name with packages included. This requirement holds true regardless of whether you use <%@ page import... %> to import packages.

Core Warning


You must use the fully qualified class name for the class attribute of jsp:useBean .

So, for example, the JSP action

 <jsp:useBean id="book1" class="coreservlets.Book" /> 

can normally be thought of as equivalent to the scriptlet

 <% coreservlets.Book book1 = new coreservlets.Book(); %> 

Installing Bean Classes

The bean class definition should be placed in the same directories where servlets can be installed, not in the directory that contains the JSP file. Just remember to use packages (see Section 11.3 for details). Thus, the proper location for individual bean classes is WEB-INF/classes /subdirectoryMatchingPackageName , as discussed in Sections 2.10 (Deployment Directories for Default Web Application: Summary) and 2.11 (Web Applications: A Preview). JAR files containing bean classes should be placed in the WEB-INF/lib directory.

Core Approach


Place all your beans in packages. Install them in the normal Java code directories: WEB-INF/classes/subdirectoryMatchingPackageName for individual classes and WEB-INF/lib for JAR files.

Using jsp:useBean Options: scope, beanName, and type

Although it is convenient to think of jsp:useBean as being equivalent to building an object and binding it to a local variable, jsp:useBean has additional options that make it more powerful. As we'll see in Section 14.6, you can specify a scope attribute that associates the bean with more than just the current page. If beans can be shared, it is useful to obtain references to existing beans, rather than always building a new object. So, the jsp:useBean action specifies that a new object is instantiated only if there is no existing one with the same id and scope .

Rather than using the class attribute, you are permitted to use beanName instead. The difference is that beanName can refer either to a class or to a file containing a serialized bean object. The value of the beanName attribute is passed to the instantiate method of java.beans.Bean .

In most cases, you want the local variable to have the same type as the object being created. In a few cases, however, you might want the variable to be declared to have a type that is a superclass of the actual bean type or is an interface that the bean implements. Use the type attribute to control this declaration, as in the following example.

 <jsp:useBean id="thread1" class="  mypackage.MyClass  "                           type="  java.lang.Runnable  " /> 

This use results in code similar to the following being inserted into the _jspService method.

  java.lang.Runnable  thread1 = new  myPackage.MyClass  (); 

A ClassCastException results if the actual class is not compatible with type . Also, you can use type without class if the bean already exists and you merely want to access an existing object, not create a new object. This is useful when you share beans by using the scope attribute as discussed in Section 14.6.

Note that since jsp:useBean uses XML syntax, the format differs in three ways from HTML syntax: the attribute names are case sensitive, either single or double quotes can be used (but one or the other must be used), and the end of the tag is marked with /> , not just > . The first two syntactic differences apply to all JSP elements that look like jsp: xxx . The third difference applies unless the element is a container with a separate start and end tag.

A few character sequences also require special handling in order to appear inside attribute values. To get ' within an attribute value, use \' . Similarly, to get " , use \" ; to get \ , use \\ ; to get %> , use %\> ; and to get <% , use <\% .

Accessing Bean Properties: jsp:getProperty

Once you have a bean, you can output its properties with jsp:getProperty , which takes a name attribute that should match the id given in jsp:useBean and a property attribute that names the property of interest.

Core Note


With jsp:useBean , the bean name is given by the id attribute. With jsp:getProperty and jsp:setProperty , it is given by the name attribute.

Instead of using jsp:getProperty , you could use a JSP expression and explicitly call a method on the object with the variable name specified by the id attribute. For example, assuming that the Book class has a String property called title and that you've created an instance called book1 by using the jsp:useBean example given earlier in this section, you could insert the value of the title property into the JSP page in either of the following two ways.

 <jsp:getProperty name="book1" property="title" /> <%= book1.getTitle() %> 

The first approach is preferable in this case, since the syntax is more accessible to Web page designers who are not familiar with the Java programming language. If you create objects with jsp:useBean instead of an equivalent JSP scriptlet, be syntactically consistent and output bean properties with jsp:getProperty instead of the equivalent JSP expression. However, direct access to the variable is useful when you are using loops , conditional statements, and methods not represented as properties.

For you who are not familiar with the concept of bean properties, the standard interpretation of the statement "this bean has a property of type T called foo " is "this class has a method called getFoo that returns something of type T , and it has another method called setFoo that takes a T as an argument and stores it for later access by getFoo ."

Setting Simple Bean Properties: jsp:setProperty

To modify bean properties, you normally use jsp:setProperty . This action has several different forms, but with the simplest form you supply three attributes: name (which should match the id given by jsp:useBean ), property (the name of the property to change), and value (the new value). In Section 14.5 we present some alternative forms of jsp:setProperty that let you automatically associate a property with a request parameter. That section also explains how to supply values that are computed at request time (rather than fixed strings) and discusses the type conversion conventions that let you supply string values for parameters that expect numbers , characters , or boolean values.

An alternative to using the jsp:setProperty action is to use a scriptlet that explicitly calls methods on the bean object. For example, given the book1 object shown earlier in this section, you could use either of the following two forms to modify the title property.

 <jsp:setProperty name="book1"                  property="title"                  value="Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages" /> <% book1.setTitle("Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages"); %> 

Using jsp:setProperty has the advantage that it is more accessible to the nonprogrammer, but direct access to the object lets you perform more complex operations such as setting the value conditionally or calling methods other than get Xxx or set Xxx on the object.

Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages (Vol. 1.Core Technologies)
Core Servlets and Javaserver Pages: Core Technologies, Vol. 1 (2nd Edition)
ISBN: 0130092290
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 194

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