BeanEditForm Guide

Using the BeanEditForm Component

Tapestry includes a powerful component capable of generating a complete create/edit user interface for a typical JavaBean, BeanEditForm.

BeanEditForm analyzes the the properties of the bean, locating just those properties that are readable and writable. It filters down to properties whose type is mapped to a known editor (this is described in more detail below).

The default ordering for properties is in the order in which the getter methods for the properties are defined. When a super-class defines editable properties, those are ordered before sub-class properties.

Supported Types

The default set of property types supported by BeanEditForm:

  • String: as a text field
  • Number: as a text field
  • Enum: as a drop-down list
  • Boolean: as a checkbox
  • Date: as a JavaScript calendar
  • Calendar: as a JavaScript calendar

Resolving a property type to an editor type involves a search up the inheritance hierarchy: thus the super-type of Integer, Long, BigDecimal, etc. is Number, which uses a text field for data entry.

The list of supported property types is extensible (this is documented below).

Automatic Object Creation

When a page is rendered, the BeanEditForm component will read its object parameter as the JavaBean to edit (with the current properties of the JavaBean becoming the defaults for the various fields). Likewise, when the form is submitted by the user, the object parameter is read and its properties populated from the request.

If the object does not exist, it will be created as needed. The type is determined from the property type, which should be a specific type in order for automatic creation to operate properly.

The BeanEditForm component will attempt to instantiate a value for the property as necessary, when the form is submitted. This can be a problem when the property type is an interface, rather than an instantiable class.

One option is to provide an event handler for the "prepare" or "prepareForSubmit" events to instantiate an instance to receive the submitted information.

For a class, Tapestry will select the public constructor with the most parameters. If this is not desirable (for example, if you get an exception), then place the @Inject annotation on the constructor Tapestry should use.

Implicit Object Binding

If the object parameter is not bound, then an implicit binding to a property of the containing component is made. The bound property will be the BeanEditForm component's id, if such a property exists. Thus you may typically give the BeanEditForm component an id (that matches a property) and not have to bind the object parameter.

Non-Visual Properties

In some cases, a property may be updatable and of a supported type for editing, but should not be presented to the user for editing: for example, a property that holds the primary key of a database entity. In such a case, the @NonVisual annotation may be applied to the property (either the getter or the setter method).

Default Validation

Default validation for fields is primary determined by property type.

If desired, additional validation may be specified using the @Validate annotation. See Forms and Validation.

As of Tapestry 5.2, validation may also be specified via the containing component's property file, using a key in the form of propertyId-validate (eg: myfield-validate=required).

Property ordering

By default, the order in which properties are presented is as defined above (order of the getter method). This can be overridden using the ReorderProperties class annotation.

Default Label

Tapestry will attempt to provide a reasonable default label for each field, based on the property name being emitted. The property name is capitalized, and spaces are added before case changes, thus property "name" becomes label "Name" and property "streetAddress" becomes label "Street Address".

BeanEditForm also searches for a label for the field in the containing component's message catalog. The message key is the property name suffixed with "-label". If such a label is found, it takes precedence.

Property Editor Overrides

You may override the editor for any particular property, using the a block parameter to the BeanEditForm component.

An editor normally consists of a Label component and some form of field component (such as TextField or TextArea).

For example, you may want to selectively use a PasswordField component:

The other fields will render normally (using the built-in editors).

Customizing the BeanModel

You may want to customize the BeanModel further, to remove from the form properties that should not be editable by the user, and to change the order in which properties are presented within the form.

The BeanEditForm component has several parameters for this purpose:

  • add: A comma separated list of property names to add to the model.
  • include: A comma separated list of property names to keep with the model (others are excluded).
  • exclude: A comma separated list of property names to exclude from the model.
  • reorder: A comma separated list of property names indicating the desired order.
    If a model has more properties that are listed in the reorder parameter, then the additional properties will be ordered at the end of the form.

Note that these parameters modify the BeanModel. If you supply your own BeanModel (via the model parameter) you should not use the add, include, exclude or reorder parameters.

Added properties must not conflict with normal properties. Cells for added properties will render blank unless an override is provided.

Providing the BeanModel

The BeanEditForm component operates in terms of a BeanModel, which describes the properties, their presentation order, labels and so forth.

Normally, the BeanEditForm automatically creates the BeanModel as needed, based on the type of object bound to its object parameter.

Alternately, the BeanModel can be supplied as the model parameter. This can be useful in situations where the exclude and reorder parameters are insufficient. For example, if the the type of the property being edited is an interface type, it may be useful to provide an explicit BeanModel around an underlying implementation class.

The model can be created when the page is first instantiated:

And, in the component template, the built model can be passed to the BeanEditForm component explicitly:

Adding New Property Editors

Adding a new property editor is a three step process.

First, decide on a logical name for the data type. For example, you may decide that the BigDecimal type will represent currency in your application, so name the data type "currency".

Next, you must make contributions to the DataTypeAnalyzer or DefaultDataTypeAnalyzer services to match properties to your new name.

DataTypeAnalyzer is a chain of command that can match properties to data types based on property type or annotations on the property. In general, DefaultDataTypeAnalyzer is used, as that only needs to consider property type. DefaultDataTypeAnalyzer matches property types to data types, based on a search up the inheritance path.

You must provide an editor for the "currency" data type. An editor is a block of a page of the application; this page is not normally rendered itself, but acts as a container for one or more blocks.

The hard part is the translator; this is a piece of code that understands how to format and how to parse a currency value. It must be wrapped to create a FieldTranslator.

The editor is a block inside the component template:

Finally, we tell the BeanEditForm component about the editor via a contribution to the BeanBlockSource service:

Now, when the BeanEditForm sees a property of type BigDecimal, it will map that to datatype "currency" and from there to the currency block of the AppPropertyEditBlocks page of the application.