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Seam - Avoid XML Abuse

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by , 04-27-2012 at 06:39 PM (565 Views)
As you probably noticed, Java annotations play a crucial role in expressing and managing Seam configuration metadata. That is done by design to make the framework easier to work with.

In the early days of J2EE, XML was viewed as the "holy grail" for configuration management. Framework designers throw all kinds of configuration information, including Java class and method names, in XML files without much thought about the consequence to developers. In retrospect, that was a big mistake. XML configuration files are highly repetitive. They have to repeat information already in the code in order to connect the configuration to the code. Those repetitions make the application prone to minor errors (e.g., a mis-spelled class name would show up as an hard-to-debug error at runtime). The lack of reasonable default configuration settings further compounds this problem. In fact, in some frameworks, the amount of boilerplate code disguised as XML may rival or even exceed the amount of actual Java code in the application. For J2EE developers, this abuse of XML is commonly known as the "XML hell".

The enterprise Java community recognizes this problem with XML abuse and has very successful attempts to replace XML files with annotations in Java source code. EJB3 is the effort by the official Java standardization body to promote the use of annotations in enterprise Java components. EJB3 makes XML files completely optional, and it is definitely a step toward the right direction. Seam adds to EJB3 annotations and expands the annotation-based programming model to the entire web application.

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