Chapter 2. Getting started with Seam, using seam-gen

The Seam distribution includes a command line utility that makes it really easy to set up an Eclipse project, generate some simple Seam skeleton code, and reverse engineer an application from a preexisting database.

This is the easy way to get your feet wet with Seam, and gives you some ammunition for next time you find yourself trapped in an elevator with one of those tedious Ruby guys ranting about how great and wonderful his new toy is for building totally trivial applications that put things in databases.

In this release, seam-gen works best for people with JBoss AS. You can use the generated project with other J2EE or Java EE 5 application servers by making a few manual changes to the project configuration.

You can use seam-gen without Eclipse, but in this tutorial, we want to show you how to use it in conjunction with Eclipse for debugging and integration testing. If you don't want to install Eclipse, you can still follow along with this tutorial—all steps can be performed from the command line.

Seam-gen is basically just a big ugly Ant script wrapped around Hibernate Tools, together with some templates. That makes it easy to customize if you need to.

2.1. Before you start

Make sure you have JDK 5 or JDK 6, JBoss AS 4.2 and Ant 1.6, along with recent versions of Eclipse, the JBoss IDE plugin for Eclipse and the TestNG plugin for Eclipse correctly installed before starting. Add your JBoss installation to the JBoss Server View in Eclipse. Start JBoss in debug mode. Finally, start a command prompt in the directory where you unzipped the Seam distribution.

JBoss has sophisticated support for hot re-deployment of WARs and EARs. Unfortunately, due to bugs in the JVM, repeated redeployment of an EAR—which is common during development—eventually causes the JVM to run out of perm gen space. For this reason, we recommend running JBoss in a JVM with a large perm gen space at development time. If you're running JBoss from JBoss IDE, you can configure this in the server launch configuration, under "VM arguments". We suggest the following values:

-Xms512m -Xmx1024m -XX:PermSize=256m -XX:MaxPermSize=512

If you don't have so much memory available, the following is our minimum recommendation:

-Xms256m -Xmx512m -XX:PermSize=128m -XX:MaxPermSize=256

If you're running JBoss from the command line, you can configure the JVM options in bin/run.conf.

If you don't want to bother with this stuff now, you don't have to—come back to it later, when you get your first OutOfMemoryException.

2.2. Setting up a new Eclipse project

The first thing we need to do is configure seam-gen for your environment: JBoss AS installation directory, Eclipse workspace, and database connection. It's easy, just type:

cd jboss-seam-1.3.x
seam setup

And you will be prompted for the needed information:

C:\Projects\jboss-seam>seam setup
Buildfile: build.xml

    [echo] Welcome to seam-gen :-)
    [input] Enter your Java project workspace [C:/Projects]

    [input] Enter your JBoss home directory [C:/Program Files/jboss-4.2.0.GA]

    [input] Enter the project name [myproject]
    [input] Is this project deployed as an EAR (with EJB components) or a WAR (with no EJB support) [ear] (ear,war,)

    [input] Enter the Java package name for your session beans [com.mydomain.helloworld]
    [input] Enter the Java package name for your entity beans [org.jboss.helloworld]

    [input] Enter the Java package name for your test cases [org.jboss.helloworld.test]

    [input] What kind of database are you using? [hsql] (hsql,mysql,oracle,postgres,mssql,db2,sybase,)
    [input] Enter the Hibernate dialect for your database [org.hibernate.dialect.MySQLDialect]

    [input] Enter the filesystem path to the JDBC driver jar [lib/hsqldb.jar]
    [input] Enter JDBC driver class for your database [com.mysql.jdbc.Driver]

    [input] Enter the JDBC URL for your database [jdbc:mysql:///test]

    [input] Enter database username [sa]
    [input] Enter database password []

    [input] skipping input as property has already been set.
    [input] Enter the database catalog name (it is OK to leave this blank) []

    [input] Are you working with tables that already exist in the database? [n] (y,n,)
    [input] Do you want to drop and recreate the database tables and data in import.sql each time you deploy? [n] (y,n,)
[propertyfile] Creating new property file: C:\Projects\jboss-seam\seam-gen\
     [echo] Installing JDBC driver jar to JBoss server
     [echo] Type 'seam new-project' to create the new project

Total time: 1 minute 17 seconds

The tool provides sensible defaults, which you can accept by just pressing enter at the prompt.

The most important choice you need to make is between EAR deployment and WAR deployment of your project. EAR projects support EJB 3.0 and require Java EE 5. WAR projects do not support EJB 3.0, but may be deployed to a J2EE environment. The packaging of a WAR is also simpler to understand. If you installed an EJB3-ready application server like JBoss, choose ear. Otherwise, choose war. We'll assume that you've chosen an EAR deployment for the rest of the tutorial, but you can follow exactly the same steps for a WAR deployment.

If you are working with an existing data model, make sure you tell seam-gen that the tables already exist in the database.

The settings are stored in seam-gen/, but you can also modify them simply by running seam setup a second time.

Now we can create a new project in our Eclipse workspace directory, by typing:

seam new-project
C:\Projects\jboss-seam>seam new-project
Buildfile: build.xml



     [echo] Copying project jars ...
     [copy] Copying 58 files to C:\Projects\helloworld\lib
     [copy] Copying 9 files to C:\Projects\helloworld\embedded-ejb


     [echo] Copying resources needed for EAR deployment to the C:\Projects\helloworld/resources directory...

     [echo] A new Seam project named 'helloworld' was created in the C:\Projects directory
     [echo] Type 'seam explode' and go to http://localhost:8080/helloworld
     [echo] Eclipse Users: Add the project into Eclipse using File > New > Project and select General > Project (not Java Project)
     [echo] NetBeans Users: Open the project in NetBeans

Total time: 7 seconds

This copies the Seam jars, dependent jars and the JDBC driver jar to a new Eclipse project, and generates all needed resources and configuration files, a facelets template file and stylesheet, along with Eclipse metadata and an Ant build script. The Eclipse project will be automatically deployed to an exploded directory structure in JBoss AS as soon as you add the project using New -> Project... -> General -> Project -> Next, typing the Project name (helloworld in this case), and then clicking Finish. Do not select Java Project from the New Project wizard.

If your default JDK in Eclipse is not a Java SE 5 or Java SE 6 JDK, you will need to select a Java SE 5 compliant JDK using Project -> Properties -> Java Compiler.

Alternatively, you can deploy the project from outside Eclipse by typing seam explode.

Go to http://localhost:8080/helloworld to see a welcome page. This is a facelets page, view/home.xhtml, using the template view/layout/template.xhtml. You can edit this page, or the template, in eclipse, and see the results immediately, by clicking refresh in your browser.

Don't get scared by the XML configuration documents that were generated into the project directory. They are mostly standard Java EE stuff, the stuff you need to create once and then never look at again, and they are 90% the same between all Seam projects. (They are so easy to write that even seam-gen can do it.)

The generated project includes three database and persistence configurations. The jboss-beans.xml, persistence-test.xml and import-test.sql files are used when running the TestNG unit tests against HSQLDB. The database schema and the test data in import-test.sql is always exported to the database before running tests. The myproject-dev-ds.xml, persistence-dev.xmland import-dev.sql files are for use when deploying the application to your development database. The schema might be exported automatically at deployment, depending upon whether you told seam-gen that you are working with an existing database. The myproject-prod-ds.xml, persistence-prod.xmland import-prod.sql files are for use when deploying the application to your production database. The schema is not exported automatically at deployment.

2.3. Creating a new action

If you're used to traditional action-style web frameworks, you're probably wondering how you can create a simple web page with a stateless action method in Java. If you type:

seam new-action

Seam will prompt for some information, and generate a new facelets page and Seam component for your project.

C:\Projects\jboss-seam>seam new-action
Buildfile: build.xml



    [input] Enter the Seam component name
    [input] Enter the local interface name [Ping]

    [input] Enter the bean class name [PingBean]

    [input] Enter the action method name [ping]

    [input] Enter the page name [ping]


     [echo] Creating a new stateless session bean component with an action method
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\helloworld\src\action\org\jboss\helloworld
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\helloworld\src\action\org\jboss\helloworld
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\helloworld\src\action\org\jboss\helloworld\test
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\helloworld\src\action\org\jboss\helloworld\test
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\helloworld\view
     [echo] Type 'seam restart' and go to http://localhost:8080/helloworld/ping.seam

Total time: 13 seconds

Because we've added a new Seam component, we need to restart the exploded directory deployment. You can do this by typing seam restart, or by running the restart target in the generated project build.xml file from inside Eclipse. Another way to force a restart is to edit the file resources/META-INF/application.xml in Eclipse. Note that you do not need to restart JBoss each time you change the application.

Now go to http://localhost:8080/helloworld/ping.seam and click the button. You can see the code behind this action by looking in the project src directory. Put a breakpoint in the ping() method, and click the button again.

Finally, locate the PingTest.xml file in the test package and run the integration tests using the TestNG plugin for Eclipse. Alternatively, run the tests using seam test or the test target of the generated build.

2.4. Creating a form with an action

The next step is to create a form. Type:

seam new-form
C:\Projects\jboss-seam>seam new-form
Buildfile: C:\Projects\jboss-seam\seam-gen\build.xml



    [input] Enter the Seam component name
    [input] Enter the local interface name [Hello]

    [input] Enter the bean class name [HelloBean]

    [input] Enter the action method name [hello]

    [input] Enter the page name [hello]


     [echo] Creating a new stateful session bean component with an action method
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\hello\src\com\hello
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\hello\src\com\hello
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\hello\src\com\hello\test
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\hello\view
     [copy] Copying 1 file to C:\Projects\hello\src\com\hello\test
     [echo] Type 'seam restart' and go to http://localhost:8080/hello/hello.seam

Total time: 5 seconds

Restart the application again, and go to http://localhost:8080/helloworld/hello.seam. Then take a look at the generated code. Run the test. Try adding some new fields to the form and Seam component (remember to restart the deployment each time you change the Java code).

2.5. Generating an application from an existing database

Manually create some tables in your database. (If you need to switch to a different database, just run seam setup again.) Now type:

seam generate-entities

Restart the deployment, and go to http://localhost:8080/helloworld. You can browse the database, edit existing objects, and create new objects. If you look at the generated code, you'll probably be amazed how simple it is! Seam was designed so that data access code is easy to write by hand, even for people who don't want to cheat by using seam-gen.

2.6. Deploying the application as an EAR

Finally, we want to be able to deploy the application using standard Java EE 5 packaging. First, we need to remove the exploded directory by running seam unexplode. To deploy the EAR, we can type seam deploy at the command prompt, or run the deploy target of the generated project build script. You can undeploy using seam undeploy or the undeploy target.

By default, the application will be deployed with the dev profile. The EAR will include the persistence-dev.xml and import-dev.sql files, and the myproject-dev-ds.xml file will be deployed. You can change the profile, and use the prod profile, by typing

seam -Dprofile=prod deploy

You can even define new deployment profiles for your application. Just add appropriately named files to your project—for example, persistence-staging.xml, import-staging.sql and myproject-staging-ds.xml—and select the name of the profile using -Dprofile=staging.

2.7. Seam and incremental hot deployment

When you deploy your Seam application as an exploded directory, you'll get some support for incremental hot deployment at development time. You need to enable debug mode in both Seam and Facelets, by adding this line to components.xml:

<core:init debug="true"/>

Now, the following files may be redeployed without requiring a full restart of the web application:

  • any facelets page

  • any pages.xml file

But if we want to change any Java code, we still need to do a full restart of the application. (In JBoss this may be accomplished by touching the top level deployment descriptor: application.xml for an EAR deployment, or web.xml for a WAR deployment.)

But if you really want a fast edit/compile/test cycle, Seam supports incremental redeployment of JavaBean components. To make use of this functionality, you must deploy the JavaBean components into the WEB-INF/dev directory, so that they will be loaded by a special Seam classloader, instead of by the WAR or EAR classloader.

You need to be aware of the following limitations:

  • the components must be JavaBean components, they cannot be EJB3 beans (we are working on fixing this limitation)

  • entities can never be hot-deloyed

  • components deployed via components.xml may not be hot-deployed

  • the hot-deployable components will not be visible to any classes deployed outside of WEB-INF/dev

  • Seam debug mode must be enabled

If you create a WAR project using seam-gen, incremental hot deployment is available out of the box for classes in the src/action source directory. However, seam-gen does not support incremental hot deployment for EAR projects.

2.8. Using Seam with JBoss 4.0

Seam 1.3 was developed for JavaServer Faces 1.2. When using JBoss AS, we recommend using JBoss 4.2, which bundles the JSF 1.2 reference implementation. However, it is still possible to use Seam 1.3 on the JBoss 4.0 platform. There are two basic steps required to do this: install an EJB3-enabled version of JBoss 4.0 and replace MyFaces with the JSF 1.2 reference implementation. Once you complete these steps, Seam 1.3 applications can be deployed to JBoss 4.0.

2.8.1. Install JBoss 4.0

JBoss 4.0 does not ship a default configuration compatible with Seam. To run Seam, you must install JBoss 4.0.5 using the JEMS 1.2 installer with the ejb3 profile selected. Seam will not run with an installation that doesn't include EJB3 support. The JEMS installer can be downloaded from

2.8.2. Install the JSF 1.2 RI

The web configuration for JBoss 4.0 can be found in the server/default/deploy/jbossweb-tomcat55.sar. You'll need to delete myfaces-api.jar any myfaces-impl.jar from the jsf-libs directory. Then, you'll need to copy jsf-api.jar, jsf-impl.jar, el-api.jar, and el-impl.jar to that directory. The JSF JARs can be found in the Seam lib directory. The el JARs can be obtained from the Seam 1.2 release.

You'll also need to edit the conf/web.xml, replacing myfaces-impl.jar with jsf-impl.jar.