Hot stuff @OOW – Highlight summary for the techies
Skinning your ADF Applications – Relief at last.
Anyone who has ever had the ‘pleasure’ of creating skins for an Oracle ADF application soon learned that there is little to no tooling available to support you in your struggles. You usually end up with FireBug* and the CSS editor in JDeveloper which offers not much more than syntax highlighting and code completion.
This is obviously not a very efficient way of creating your skins, but so far there was little other choice. I was delighted (to put it mildly) to hear about an upcoming new feature in JDeveloper at Oracle Open World. Oracle is going to release a skin editor! Laura Akel, Product Manager at Oracle Corporation/ Oracle Development Tools, gave a premiere demo of the JDeveloper Skin Editor. There was even a separate hands on lab session where I was able to skin a ADF application on the fly.
About the Skin editor.
The editor is nicely integrated in JDeveloper (see figure 1 below). It allows you to scroll through the ADF components and set the desired skinning properties per component. So there is no more need to guess/search for the proper component definitions and type them in the CSS file, like “af|inputText::content {background-color:red}”. In the editor you just select the inputText component and set the background value in the property inspector. The skin editor generates the necessary tags and attributes in the CSS file. The preview window instantly shows the effect of your settings as you create you skin. Another nice feature is that the editor is fully aware of the Skin inheritance structure. It uses a special icon in the property inspector to indicate whether or not the property inherits its value from another skin. This is useful because you usually want to override those specific properties used by the default skin.
The big question of course is, when will it be available?
Unfortunately Oracle was not able (or willing) to give an official release date yet. Numerous people in the audience and participants of the hands on lab showed interest in the editor and Oracle hopes to put something on OTN by the end of this year, but made no promises. Until then, we will just have to continue the old fashioned way. The good news is that the editor can read existing skin files; it does not add any specific metadata to the file. This means you can start using the editor on existing projects as soon as it is available!
By the way I’m in close contact with Product development to get earlier access to the tool… Keep you posted!
*Firebug is a Firefox addon to edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page.
Marcel Oldenkamp, Oracle ADF / Webcenter / Java Developer.