Power of ExtJS

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Recently, I had a requirement wherein the client wanted to edit data from a table using a grid that would be editable, sortable, paginated, with column resizing and column locking. Anyone with a .NET background would say, quite easy. But, what if you had to implement all these features in Java? This was a real challenge, for I had never in my life came across such a thing in Java. I had heard of a few libraries out there in OS (Open-source) but nothing could come even close to it. So what was the solution?

Google - was the starting point. A quick search revealed DisplayTags. As it says, "Give it a list of objects and it will handle column display, sorting, paging, cropping, grouping, exporting, smart linking and decoration of a table in a customizable XHTML style". I digged deeper and found that it could not provide all the features, I was looking for. But, yes it had most of them. A quick download and a setup in Tomcat was all what I needed. The samples included made it quite easy to understand. I was on my way implementing it, when I banged across a rock. It could not be used with inline frames. Ahhh - what an architecture of the application!

Now what? Searched and searched and searched. Even coded a paginating grid for the purpose. Then went on to struggle with CSS and DIV to freeze a specified column. Lots of hit and trial combinations lead to partial success. Implemented server-side sorting, ok the application would be an internal intranet applcation - so I didn't much bother. But how about column resizing. Can that be achieved? I gave up - and even my client.

Somehow to my luck I came across the Yahoo User Interface library (YUI) and ExtJS, its extensions. The demo on the homepage were good enough to knock me out of my seat. The editable grid and paginating grid samples drew a conclusion - I had to use this. It was mesmerizing and simply wonderful! A few more samples unleash the power of ExtJS like the Desktop and the Feed Viewer

Coding the grid was a bit uneasy at first as not much documentation is available at the beginners level. Once you are done with the initial docs, it's a breeze. For reasons better understood, I cannot provide the code and explanatory notes here.

For those who would like to fiddle out with ExtJS right away, check these resources,
  • Official ExtJS website.
  • Ext GUI Builder that generates a JSON for the layout you design.
  • ExtJS Wordpress theme demo.
  • ExtJS Blogger theme demo.
  • ExtJS Desktop. Login using username as google and password as edesktop. The click on top left Login button, and sign-in with your google account.
  • .NET Wrappers for ExtJS with design-time support. Check this example using the extenders.
  • A demo on how to integrate ExtJS with Java/Spring/DWR (read here). Download the sample here.
  • Read on how to integrate ExtJS and Struts.

written by Sandeep Gupta

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 12:00 PM

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