Introducing Sprout - Pure annotation goodness

Summary: Sprout. Check it out.

I have a Struts application that I work on every day. It has been a Struts application for about 3 years. It will likely continue to be a Struts application for the foreseeable future (it's now 2009 and it's a Rails app). I imagine some of you may be in the same position.

Ever since I started working on web applications in Java, I've been poking around the other web frameworks that are out there. WebWork is interesting (especially now that it's to merge with Struts). Spring MVC is promising, if only because I like having my services wired together and to my actions. Tapestry seemed too complex, and SiteMesh, while not a framework, gave me everything that Tapestry was promising (granted, I haven't looked at Tapestry a whole lot and should probably have another look). Wicket and especially JSF, ick. The web is not a client application and does not lend itself well to the Swing approach to components and widgets (yet). JSF, in particular, strikes me as great for both sides of the Toolbuilder / Application developer divide, but the overhead involved in creating custom components (a requirement for me, as I still like reinventing my HTML constructs) is simply too great. JSF in its optimal form also takes an event-based view of the web, which just doesn't work so well yet (POSTs everywhere!). This isn't about Java frameworks; this is about Struts.

Enter Ruby on Rails. Nifty. It fits the small development team model much better (I am a development team of 1; Struts and its ilk assume and thrive in an environment where tasks can and are divided up, such as the one my app was originally written in). It was not created as a framework, but more extracted from an application because it worked and made its creator's life simpler. Convention over configuration (rather than conventions AND configuration). Embedded opinions that just happen to jive with my own view of the world. Looking at Rails and gaining an understanding of how it fits together changed the way I think about web application development. But this isn't about Rails.

I have a Struts application that I work on every day. I have a minor Rails application that I rarely work on. I like Ruby. But I also use Java.

I recently spent some time focused on making Struts work for me rather than accepting the tedium of its status quo. Out grew a Sprout. The extract of something that makes my life easier. It might do the same for yours. Let me know.

Update: Richard Harms took this work a couple years after I abandoned it and maintained it for a year or so as a Google Code project. It lives on GitHub for posterity (and portfolio) and includes the work that Richard contributed.