The Java EE 5 Tutorial

UI Component Tag Attributes

In general, most of the component tags support these attributes:

All of the UI component tag attributes (except id) can accept expressions, as defined by the unified EL described in Unified Expression Language.

The id Attribute

The id attribute is not required for a component tag except in the case when another component or a server-side class must refer to the component. If you don’t include an id attribute, the JavaServer Faces implementation automatically generates a component ID. Unlike most other JavaServer Faces tag attributes, the id attribute only takes expressions using the immediate evaluation syntax, which uses the ${} delimiters.

The immediate Attribute

UIInput components and command components (those that implement ActionSource, such as buttons and hyperlinks) can set the immediate attribute to true to force events, validations, and conversions to be processed during the apply request values phase of the life cycle. Page authors need to carefully consider how the combination of an input component’s immediate value and a command component’s immediate value determines what happens when the command component is activated.

Assume that you have a page with a button and a field for entering the quantity of a book in a shopping cart. If both the button’s and the field’s immediate attributes are set to true, the new value of the field will be available for any processing associated with the event that is generated when the button is clicked. The event associated with the button and the event, validation, and conversion associated with the field are all handled during the apply request values phase.

If the button’s immediate attribute is set to true but the field’s immediate attribute is set to false, the event associated with the button is processed without updating the field’s local value to the model layer. This is because any events, conversion, or validation associated with the field occurs during its usual phases of the life cycle, which come after the apply request values phase.

The bookshowcart.jsp page of the Duke’s Bookstore application has examples of components using the immediate attribute to control which component’s data is updated when certain buttons are clicked. The quantity field for each book has its immediate attribute set to false. (The quantity fields are generated by the UIData component. See Using Data-Bound Table Components, for more information.) The immediate attribute of the Continue Shopping hyperlink is set to true. The immediate attribute of the Update Quantities hyperlink is set to false.

If you click the Continue Shopping hyperlink, none of the changes entered into the quantity input fields will be processed. If you click the Update Quantities hyperlink, the values in the quantity fields will be updated in the shopping cart.

The rendered Attribute

A component tag uses a Boolean JavaServer Faces expression language (EL) expression, along with the rendered attribute, to determine whether or not the component will be rendered. For example, the check commandLink component on the bookcatalog.jsp page is not rendered if the cart contains no items:

<h:commandLink id="check"
    rendered="#{cart.numberOfItems > 0}">

Unlike nearly every other JavaServer Faces tag attribute, the rendered attribute is restricted to using rvalue expressions. As explained in Unified Expression Language, rvalue expressions can only read data; they cannot write the data back to the data source. Therefore, expressions used with rendered attributes can use the arithmetic operators and literals that rvalue expressions can use but lvalue expressions cannot use. For example, the expression in the preceding example uses the > operator.

The style and styleClass Attributes

The style and styleClass attributes allow you to specify Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) styles for the rendered output of your component tags. Displaying Error Messages with the message and messages Tags describes an example of using the style attribute to specify styles directly in the attribute. A component tag can instead refer to a CSS stylesheet class. The dataTable tag on the bookcatalog.jsp page of the Duke’s Bookstore application references the style class list-background:

<h:dataTable id="books"

The stylesheet that defines this class is stylesheet.css, which is included in the application. For more information on defining styles, please the see Cascading Style Sheets Specification at

The value and binding Attributes

A tag representing a component defined by UIOutput or a subclass of UIOutput uses value and binding attributes to bind its component’s value or instance respectively to an external data source. Binding Component Values and Instances to External Data Sources explains how to use these attributes.