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Web dev series part two: Sewing

Sewing: Simple Embedded-OSGi Web framework

Brian created Sewing library and named it out of his passion for craft involving fabric. Check out his introduction on Sewing if you haven't already.

Compared to the previous method, you can build fairly sophisticated web apps with this MVC-based framework with less time and effort. It's even part of BUG Linux 1.4.3; if you're using a previous version, you can install com.buglabs.osgi.sewing separately.

Sewing is especially great for:

  • creating complex web-front 
  • managing asset files such as images, JavaScript, and stylesheet.

I'll go through AccelerationGraph that we covered previously, but this time we use Sewing. Take a look at the source of AccelerationGraphWithSewing as you follow along.

created on: 11/10/09

  1. Using the New BUG Project wizard, create a BUG app and add "ISewingService" (com.buglabs.osgi.sewing.pub) as a required service. In your MANIFEST file, please make sure you import the following packages. Import-Package: com.buglabs.osgi.sewing.pub, org.osgi.framework, org.osgi.util.tracker, com.buglabs.application, com.buglabs.util, com.buglabs.osgi.sewing.pub.util, com.buglabs.util,freemarker.template
  2. Create the following asset folders in your project:
    • images
    • includes: this is where template includes go
    • javascripts
    • stylesheets
    • templates: FM-Classic templates go here
  3. Create a servlet class which inherits SewingHttpServlet.

    public class AcceleratorGraphServlet extends SewingHttpServlet { public ControllerMap getControllerMap() { return null; } }

    Note that a method getControllerMap is created. Here you define a map of your controllers. AccelerationGraph has two actions-- one for rendering HTML and JavaScript and the other for returning a g-force value.

    We can either:

    • create one controller and specify GET and POST actions.
    • create two controllers and specify GET action for each.

    To be consistent with the example of PublicWSProvider, I should go with the first-- one controller with two actions, but to show you how to create multiple controllers, I'll do two controllers, each using GET.

    public ControllerMap getControllerMap() { ControllerMap controllers = new ControllerMap(); controllers.put("index", new index()); controllers.put("gforce", new getGForce()); return controllers; }

    Here, I've created two resources, index and gforce.

  4. Now we need to implement these controllers. Create a controller class that extends SewingController. SewingController lets you specify template name, logics for GET and POST, and redirect info.

    In this case, I've implemented getTemplateName() and get().

    public class index extends SewingController { public String getTemplateName() { return "index.fml"; } public TemplateModelRoot get(RequestParameters params, HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp) { return null; } }

    This is telling the controller that when index is accessed, use index.fml template. Since there's no dynamic data to be passed onto the template, null is returned in the get() method.

  5. A definite advantage of sewing library over PublicWSProvider is to be able manage your asset files and have your content stored in templates. Sewing uses FreeMarker-based template engine, FM-Classic

    I've created a template called index.fml in templates directory. In the previous example, I had to concatenate strings of HTML and JavaScript for readability. In Sewing, all of your client-side content goes into templates. Much nicer. Also, make a note of the external JavaScript and CSS files and how they are included in the template.

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="${_stylesheetRoot}/style.css" type="text/css" /> <script type="text/javascript" src="${_javascriptRoot}/prototype.min.js"></script>

  6. Now, let's implement the second controller, getGForce. Because its content is much shorter, we don't really have to use template. However, in the interest of learning how to pass in dynamic content to a template, let's create a template named "gforce.fml." The index page has an AJAX operation that polls /gforce for the newest g-force reading in JSON format.

    FM-Classic's template syntax is relatively easy to pick up. See this page for expressions used in FM-Classic.

    In the template, we print the g-force value as below-- "value" being a variable name we pass in from the controller.

    {value: ${value}}
  7. In the controller, create an instance of TemplateModelRoot and pass in the latest reading named "value." public class getGForce extends SewingController { public String getTemplateName() { return "gforce.fml"; } public TemplateModelRoot get(RequestParameters params, HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp) { TemplateModelRoot root = new SimpleHash(); root.put("value", new SimpleScalar(getSample()+"")); return root; } }
  8. Now you have two controllers and templates. Let's register the servlet and resources so that you can access them from your browser.

    In your service tracker, register the servlet in doStart() and unregister it in doStop(). See below for the code snippet:

    public void doStart() { accel = (IAccelerometerSampleProvider)getService(IAccelerometerSampleProvider.class); service = (ISewingService) this.getService(ISewingService.class); servlet = new AcceleratorGraphServlet(accel); service.register(context, "/AccelerationGraphviaSewing", servlet); } public void doStop() { service.unregister(servlet); }
  9. This essentially sets up a URL for the servlet, http://your_bug_address/AccelerationGraphviaSewing, and your two controllers can be reached via /AccelerationGraphviaSewing/index (or without /index as it is a default document) and /AccelerationGraphviaSewing/gforce.
  10. Ta-da. You should be able to hit the URL above and see the chart changing based on the accelerometer reading.

For more examples, here's a list of apps made with Sewing in BUGnet. BUGdash app shows you how to include a template from another, pass in a list of data to a template, output command line results and so on. Be creative with it, and let us know how you use Sewing to create innovative web apps for BUG!

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