Friday, June 22, 2007

What's (on) your menu ?

Imagine a restaurant which serves great food, preferably your own favorite restaurant. Now imagine that this same restaurant, has your own personalized menu. Wouldn't that be great. You could just go there and eat whatever you feel like at that moment.

The same goes for the application you build. If you use ADF-Faces and a panelpage with menu facets to show the menu in your application, the framework tells you how your menu works, and almost what it looks like.

So this is what my menu looked like.

The ADF-faces menu has a couple of annoying features. First of all the size of the Menubar. If you have about 10 menu items (or less but with very long labels) the end users have to scroll to the right to see all items. You would easily miss the menu items on the far right. End users just love the pulldown menu's that they are used to. They use it in OracleForms, they use it in TwoLetterWord Office, and so on.

Secondly, the faces-config, in which the menu is configured will load only once.
Immagine what could happen if your menu is being constructed from a database table with roles and permissions per user: "An admistator revokes permission from a given users, and tells him to log off the system to activate this new privilige". Say what ?!. I'll explain this in a later post, and I will describe how to implement database driven menu security.

Here is how the pulldown menu can be implemented.

Copy lib's to be able to use myfaces menu.

Create the namespace, xmlns:t=""
Create an extension filter in the web.xml

And this is my new menu.

So what about the "own personalized menu" that I mentioned in the beginning of this post ? I even found a way to fix that. Not rocketscience though; just use a switcher in the menu facets and add a "Customizer" to your application. Your menu and your look and feel wil change "on the fly". The customizer contains SelectOneChoice listboxes to set the values of skin and menutype:

<af:selectOneChoice label="Select Menu type"

And in the page you use the switcher to display either of the menutypes.

<f:facet name="menu2">
<af:switcher facetName="#{sessionScope.menuType}"
<f:facet name="ADF-Faces">
<af:region id="menu2"
<f:facet name="My-Faces">
<af:region id="menu7"

After that it works just great. Below you see the 'deault' ADF look and feel.

And when you set your "own" customizations, here's what you get:

I really had fun creating this, and after showing this to some of my coworkers, even they liked it ;-)


Seb said...


Interesting post... Would you mond sharing the sample application ?


luc bors said...

Hi Seb,

I'll be in London for the next couple of days (Oracle Develop; see
Let me know what you are interested in. If it's the menu, or the switching,or both. I have to strip some (confidential) code from te sample application, but after that,I'll be glad to share it !
Give me some time to fix this.

Lucas said...

Hi Luc,

That is great article! Thanks for sharing this. I like your style of writing - building the story in a very comprehensive way.



luc bors said...

Thanks for your kind words Lucas !

Wilson said...

Hi Luc,

Thanks for sharing this.

Could you share a sample application ?

Thanks again,


luc bors said...

Sorry guys,

The silence has a reason.
I'll be back in about one week !
I'm enjoying some private time with my family.

B Vimalan said...


Please send step by step to create pull down menus. Share the doc as well as code.

Thanks & Regards
Vimalan Balan

Anonymous said...

Hi Luc
Can we set menu1 facet in panelpage left justified instead of right justified.

Will said...

Hi Luc,

Very interesting - Could you please share a sample application? I am interested in both the menu and switcher.

Thanks a lot!

luc bors said...

Hi you all. I've just started a new job so I was very busy. You can download a sample here. Navigation isn't working the way it should, but you'll get the idea. Maybe I'll be able to fix it.