Java Platform, Enterprise Edition: The Java EE Tutorial

12.1 Managed Beans in JavaServer Faces Technology

A typical JavaServer Faces application includes one or more managed beans, each of which can be associated with the components used in a particular page. This section introduces the basic concepts of creating, configuring, and using managed beans in an application.

12.1.1 Creating a Managed Bean

A managed bean is created with a constructor with no arguments, a set of properties, and a set of methods that perform functions for a component. Each of the managed bean properties can be bound to one of the following:

  • A component value

  • A component instance

  • A converter instance

  • A listener instance

  • A validator instance

The most common functions that managed bean methods perform include the following:

  • Validating a component's data

  • Handling an event fired by a component

  • Performing processing to determine the next page to which the application must navigate

As with all JavaBeans components, a property consists of a private data field and a set of accessor methods, as shown by this code:

private Integer userNumber = null;
public void setUserNumber(Integer user_number) {
    userNumber = user_number;
public Integer getUserNumber() {
    return userNumber;

When bound to a component's value, a bean property can be any of the basic primitive and numeric types or any Java object type for which the application has access to an appropriate converter. For example, a property can be of type java.util.Date if the application has access to a converter that can convert the Date type to a String and back again. See Writing Bean Properties for information on which types are accepted by which component tags.

When a bean property is bound to a component instance, the property's type must be the same as the component object. For example, if a javax.faces.component.UISelectBoolean component is bound to the property, the property must accept and return a UISelectBoolean object. Likewise, if the property is bound to a converter, validator, or listener instance, the property must be of the appropriate converter, validator, or listener type.

For more information on writing beans and their properties, see Writing Bean Properties.

12.1.2 Using the EL to Reference Managed Beans

To bind component values and objects to managed bean properties or to reference managed bean methods from component tags, page authors use the Expression Language syntax. As explained in Overview of the EL, the following are some of the features that the EL offers:

  • Deferred evaluation of expressions

  • The ability to use a value expression to both read and write data

  • Method expressions

Deferred evaluation of expressions is important because the JavaServer Faces lifecycle is split into several phases in which component event handling, data conversion and validation, and data propagation to external objects are all performed in an orderly fashion. The implementation must be able to delay the evaluation of expressions until the proper phase of the lifecycle has been reached. Therefore, the implementation's tag attributes always use deferred-evaluation syntax, which is distinguished by the #{} delimiter.

To store data in external objects, almost all JavaServer Faces tag attributes use lvalue expressions, which are expressions that allow both getting and setting data on external objects.

Finally, some component tag attributes accept method expressions that reference methods that handle component events or validate or convert component data.

To illustrate a JavaServer Faces tag using the EL, the following tag references a method that validates user input:

<h:inputText id="inputGuess" 
    required="true" size="3" 
    disabled="#{userNumberBean.number eq userNumberBean.userNumber ...}"

This tag binds the inputGuess component's value to the UserNumberBean.userNumber managed bean property by using an lvalue expression. The tag uses a method expression to refer to the UserNumberBean.validateNumberRange method, which performs validation of the component's local value. The local value is whatever the user types into the field corresponding to this tag. This method is invoked when the expression is evaluated.

Nearly all JavaServer Faces tag attributes accept value expressions. In addition to referencing bean properties, value expressions can reference lists, maps, arrays, implicit objects, and resource bundles.

Another use of value expressions is to bind a component instance to a managed bean property. A page author does this by referencing the property from the binding attribute:

<h:outputLabel for="fanClub"

In addition to using expressions with the standard component tags, you can configure your custom component properties to accept expressions by creating javax.el.ValueExpression or javax.el.MethodExpression instances for them.

For information on the EL, see Chapter 9, "Expression Language".

For information on referencing managed bean methods from component tags, see Referencing a Managed Bean Method.

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