RichFaces “columns” tag doesn’t display columns

The RichFaces manual show this example on using the “columns” tag:

<rich:dataTable value="#{capitalsBean.capitals}" var="cap">
<rich:columns value="#{capitalsBean.labels}" var="col" index="index">

<h:outputText value="#{cap[index]}" />



There is no corresponding sample Java code.

That’s very unfortunate, since in the absence of any better documentation, the natural thing to expect is that “capitalBeans.labels” would be a DataModel object, just as it is for the table itself. And it isn’t.

The model for columns is a simple ordered collection, such as a List.

JSF Submit-on-Enter forms

It’s not (so far as I know) officially required anywhere, but it’s a generally accepted principle that a form on a web page containing one text field and one submit button should submit itself when you type in text and press the ENTER key. A classic example of this is Google .

In actuality, it isn’t quite that simple. For totally unknown reasons, Microsoft Internet Explorer requires at least two text fields and this apparently goes all the way up to and including IE8 (at least when you upgrade from IE6). Fortunately, the “spare” text field can be invisible and ignored by the application.

JSF is more complicated, and AJAX-aware JSF such as RichFaces compounds the issue even more. Here’s a solution that seems to work for me:

     <h:inputText style="visibility:hidden;display:none;"
        disabled="disabled" required="false" />
     <a4j:commandButton id="ask"
        type="submit" styleClass="button1"
        reRender="pnl1,fpMsg" value="Submit" />

I am indebted to Lincoln Baxter for this particular hidden field definition (it’s quite touchy). He’s the person behind the JSF PrettyFaces product (

Note that this is only a kludge, and may not always work. Additionally, it causes the RichFaces a4j:commandButton oncomplete action to misbehave under both IE and Firefox (though in different ways), as of RichFaces 3.4.

JSF/Facelets/RichFaces – and Maven

SF itself is fairly straightforward. Getting it functional in an appserver is another matter. Originally, I used MyFaces and Tomahawk. More recently, I’ve replaced MyFaces with the Sun JSF Reference Implementation (RI). Tomahawk, although a MyFaces library works just fine with the RI.

The JSF-impl jar is part of the server for JEE-compliant servers, such as recent versions of JBoss. For Tomcat, it has to be explicitly linked into the WAR (?). At any rate, it has to be put into the application’s classpath, and everyone seems to be putting it into the WAR and not the server lib directory. Since there are possible threading implications, I’m doing likewise.

Tomcat5 also needs the EL-ri JAR placed in its classpath. Tomcat6 includes the required classes as part of the base distribution.

For the whole set of dependencies, see the Maven POM for my sandbox project: here