Free Java Web App Framework OpenXava Updated

The open source OpenXava project, which recently announced its 4.8 release, is filling a niche among enterprise developers charged with building Web apps fast.

Built in Java, the OpenXava framework is a cross-platform enterprise Web application framework available at no cost under a GNU Lesser General Public License. It's essentially a business component framework designed to allow developers to define all information about a business concept in a single place. Business components comprise all software artifacts necessary to define a business concept. The developer makes the definition, and the framework supplies the UI, the data access, and the default behavior. This happens automatically, but the framework allows for programming changes and fine tuning. 

Javier Paniza, the project lead for the OpenXava project, works as software developer at GestiĆ³n 400, a software company for public administration in Spain. He's a longtime enterprise Java developer who also mentors J2EE dev teams in banking projects. Paniza has written a book about the OpenXava framework, which is available in digital form online here.

OpenXava supports the rapid and easy development of CRUD (create, read, update and delete) modules for persistent storage, and report generation," Paniza explained, but it's also being used to produce "complex real life business applications," including accounting packages, customer relationship software, invoicing programs, and warehouse management systems. Devs can define applications with POJOs, JPA and Java 5 annotations. The framework generates Java EE web apps that can be deployed in any Java Portal Server as portlet applications.

The 4.8 release adds a number of new features and enhancements, including the ability to group several actions (nested actions) and show them in a drop-down menu activated in the button bar. The "My Reports" feature has been enhanced so that users can modify the column labels: the columns shown use the labels instead of the property names, and hidden columns can be used for filtering and ordering but are not shown in the report. The "list mode" has also been enhanced: Booleans in a list and in collections are rendered with a green check sign. List combo filtering is executed automatically; users can employ calendars to filter by dates in a list and in collections. And a new setLabel() method in the Tab changes the column labels programmatically.

OpenXava 4.8 is free and can be downloaded here. More OpenXava downloads are available on SourceForge here.