The Java EE 5 Tutorial

Laying Out Components with the UIPanel Component

In a JavaServer Faces application, you use the UIPanel component as a layout container for a set of component components. When you use the renderers from the HTML render kit, UIPanel is rendered as an HTML table. This component differs from UIData in that UIData can dynamically add or delete rows to accommodate the underlying data source, whereas UIPanel must have the number of rows predetermined. Table 11–4 lists all the renderers and tags corresponding to the UIPanel component.

Table 11–4 UIPanel Renderers and Tags



Renderer Attributes 




columnClasses, columns, footerClass, headerClass, panelClass, rowClasses

Displays a table 




Groups a set of components under one parent 

The panelGrid tag is used to represent an entire table. The panelGroup tag is used to represent rows in a table. Other UI component tags are used to represent individual cells in the rows.

The panelGrid tag has a set of attributes that specify CSS stylesheet classes: columnClasses, footerClass, headerClass, panelClass, and rowClasses. These stylesheet attributes are optional. The panelGrid tag also has a columns attribute. The columns attribute is required if you want your table to have more than one column because the columns attribute tells the renderer how to group the data in the table.

If the headerClass attribute value is specified, the panelGrid must have a header as its first child. Similarly, if a footerClass attribute value is specified, the panelGrid must have a footer as its last child.

The Duke’s Bookstore application includes three panelGrid tags on the bookcashier.jsp page. Here is a portion of one of them:

<h:panelGrid columns="3" headerClass="list-header"
    rowClasses="list-row-even, list-row-odd"
    <f:facet name="header">
        <h:outputText value="#{bundle.Checkout}"/>
    <h:outputText value="#{bundle.Name}" />
    <h:inputText id="name" size="50"
             type="listeners.NameChanged" />
    <h:message styleClass="validationMessage" for="name"/>
    <h:outputText value="#{bundle.CCNumber}"/>
    <h:inputText id="ccno" size="19"
        converter="CreditCardConverter" required="true">
                9999 9999 9999 9999|9999-9999-9999-9999"/>
    <h:message styleClass="validationMessage"  for="ccno"/>

This panelGrid tag is rendered to a table that contains components for the customer of the bookstore to input personal information. This panelGrid tag uses stylesheet classes to format the table. The CSS classes are defined in the stylesheet.css file in the tut-install/javaeetutorial5/examples/web/bookstore6/web/ directory. The list-header definition is

.list-header {
     background-color: #ffffff;
    color: #000000;
    text-align: center;

Because the panelGrid tag specifies a headerClass, the panelGrid must contain a header. The example panelGrid tag uses a facet tag for the header. Facets can have only one child, and so a panelGroup tag is needed if you want to group more than one component within a facet. Because the example panelGrid tag has only one cell of data, a panelGroup tag is not needed.

The panelGroup tag has one attribute, called layout, in addition to those listed in UI Component Tag Attributes. If the layout attribute has the value block then an HTML div element is rendered to enclose the row; otherwise, an HTML span element is rendered to enclose the row. If you are specifying styles for the panelGroup tag, you should set the layout attribute to block in order for the styles to be applied to the components within the panelGroup tag. This is because styles such as those that set width and height are not applied to inline elements, which is how content enclosed by the span element is defined.

A panelGroup tag can also be used to encapsulate a nested tree of components so that the tree of components appears as a single component to the parent component.

The data represented by the nested component tags is grouped into rows according to the value of the columns attribute of the panelGrid tag. The columns attribute in the example is set to 3, and therefore the table will have three columns. In which column each component is displayed is determined by the order that the component is listed on the page modulo 3. So if a component is the fifth one in the list of components, that component will be in the 5 modulo 3 column, or column 2.