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What Is Struts
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Along Comes Jakarta Struts

Three things started to happen around 2000 that helped catapult Struts into the forefront of web development frameworks. First, the open source community was starting to gain momentum and popularity. Open source projects like Tomcat, Ant, and Log4J were gaining mindshare with the development community, and managers were just starting accept that free software had a place in the business world.

The second thing that was happening around the same time was a huge number of new startup companies (affectionately called dot coms) were trying out their various business models on the populace. Most of these business models involved some form of web presence and therefore required a web framework. (In retrospect, for those of us who lived through it, these times were very stressful and exciting at the same time.)

It was also during this time that Craig McClanahan created the open source web development framework called Struts, which was based on the Model 2 architecture and which was added to the list of Jakarta projects. Little did he probably know that the planets were lining up behind his newly created web framework.

Benefits of the Struts Framework

There are literally hundreds of web development frameworks available, each sharing some similarities while providing their own twist on what a web framework should be. Many of these frameworks have been around several years and have positives and negatives associated with them. While the Struts framework is not completely unique, it provides some key benefits:

  • Based on a Model 2 MVC implementation.

  • Supports Java's "Write Once, Run Anywhere" philosophy.

  • Supports different model implementations (JavaBeans, EJB, etc.).

  • Support for internationalization (I18N).

  • Includes a rich set of JSP tag libraries.

  • Contains many extension points for customization.

  • Supports different presentation implementations (JSP, XML/XSLT, JavaServer Faces).

When Struts first arrived on scene, I put together a list of reasons that would help developers and their managers decide if Struts was right for their team. I created a separate list for developers and one list for their managers, because often that the two are focused on different issues. Those lists are still relevant today.

Is Struts right for your project? (Manager version)

  • Developed by industry experts

  • Stable and mature

  • Manageable learning curve

  • Open source (No cost)

  • Large user community (several thousand)

  • 30,000 downloads per month

  • It's probably similar to what you would build if not using Struts

  • Good documentation; many books, articles, and resources available

Is Struts right for your team? (Developer version)

  • Feature-rich

  • Free to develop and deploy

  • Many supported third-party tools

  • Flexible and extendable

  • J2EE technologies

  • Expert developers and committers

  • Large user community

  • Performant

Whether you're a manager being pushed by your development team to allow Struts into your organization or a developer wondering if all of the hype is true, these two lists should tell you that Struts is a serious framework. After all, do you think a company the size of BEA would choose Struts for their commercially released administrative console if they didn't have confidence in the open source framework?

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