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Original author(s) ICEsoft Technologies Inc.
Stable release 1.8.2 / 2009-02-04
Type Ajax, Java, JSF, Framework
License Open Source MPL

ICEfaces is an open source Ajax framework that enables Java EE application developers to create and deploy server-based rich Internet application (RIA) using the Java language.

ICEfaces leverages the entire standards-based Java EE ecosystem of tools and execution environments. Rich enterprise application features are developed in pure Java, and in a pure thin-client model. There are no Applets or proprietary browser plug-ins required. ICEfaces applications are JavaServer Faces (JSF) applications, so Java EE application development skills apply directly and Java developers are isolated from doing any JavaScript related development.



The ICEfaces community counts over 85,000 developers worldwide as of April 2008. It uses the website for information and coordination, administered by ICEsoft Technologies Inc. The site provides a range of development and support resources available to all ICEfaces developers, among them source code and pre-bundled IDE tool integrations for download, as well as tutorials, on-line support and user forums.


Application Development Model

The primary goal behind the ICEfaces architecture is to provide the application developers with a familiar Java enterprise development model, and completely shelter them from the complexities of low-level Ajax development in JavaScript. The key to the ICEfaces architecture is a server-centric application model, where all application logic is developed in pure Java, and executes in a standard Java application server runtime environment. This means that existing Java EE infrastructure, development environments, and best practices remain relevant and useful. The way Java EE applications are developed today will not change in any significant way, and you will not need to completely rearchitect your existing applications to incorporate rich Ajax-based features.

The rich presentation features of ICEfaces are based on the JavaServer Faces standard. ICEfaces applications development is essentially JSF development, which promotes a component-based architecture using familiar tag-based declarative UI definition and dynamic data binding into the server-resident application data model. Utilizing the ICEfaces Ajax-enabled component suite, which provides all the standard JSF components as well as a complete set of extended components, developers can build a standard JSF application that adheres to the standard server-centric JSF application lifecycle, but benefits automatically from rich Ajax-based features of ICEfaces. Because ICEfaces supports Ajax Push style applications, it extends the JSF framework to provide a trigger-based, server-initiated rendering API that make it simple to enhance applications with instantaneous presentation updates based on server-resident application state changes. Using ICEfaces and pure Java/JSF programming techniques application developers will be able to develop next-generation rich web applications without ever having to write a single line of JavaScript.


While the underlying Ajax-based rich presentation mechanism in the ICEfaces implementation is completely transparent to the application developer, it is useful to understand what is happening behind the scenes in a ICEfaces applications. There are three core elements to the ICEfaces architecture:

  1. ICEfaces Framework
    The Framework is an extension to the standard JSF framework, with the key difference in ICEfaces relating to the rendering phase. In standard JSF, the render phase produces new markup for the current application state, and delivers that to the browser, where a full page refresh occurs. With the ICEfaces framework, rendering occurs into a server-side DOM and only incremental changes to the DOM are delivered to the browser and reassembled with a lightweight Ajax Bridge. This results in seamless, smooth update of the browser page with only the necessary presentation elements being rerendered. The ICEfaces Framework also provides complete run-time management of Ajax Push using the server-initiated rendering APIs, and integrates that mechanism seamlessly with the JSF lifecycle.
  2. Ajax Bridge
    The Ajax Bridge has server-resident and client-resident elements that coordinate Ajax- based communication between the client browser and the server-resident application. The Bridge is responsible for delivering incremental presentation changes from the render phase to the browser client, and reassembling those changes in the browser DOM to affect presentation changes. The Bridge is also responsible for detecting user interaction with the presentation, and delivering user events back to the application for processing through the standard JSF lifecycle. A mechanism call partial submit is built into the ICEfaces components and facilitates automatic event generation across the bridge, so the application developer is not exposed to the low-level event mechanism. The Ajax Bridge is established automatically on first page load of the application and coordinates presentation updates and user event transmission for the entire lifetime of the application.
  3. ICEfaces Component Suite
    The Component Suite provides all of the building blocks for the application UI. It includes both the standard JSF components, and a wide array of advanced components that enable the developer to assemble sophisticated application interfaces efficiently. All ICEfaces component renders leverage the server-based, direct-to-DOM rendering mechanism provided in the framework, and use their partial submit attribute to facilitate automated event generation over the Ajax Bridge based on user interaction with the component's presentation. Optionally, ICEfaces components can be enabled with a variety of effects such as drag and drop. Again, ICEfaces components carry attributes that enable various effects, so the developer is never exposed to low-level JavaScript programming to get dynamic features from a component.

Code Example

The following template:

<ice:inputText value="Hello World!" />

processed by ICEfaces will produce the following (invalid) XHTML:

<input type="text" value="Hello World!"/>

Release history

  • ICEfaces Technology Preview - June 2005
  • ICEfaces 0.1.0 Early Access Release - August 2005
  • ICEfaces 0.2.0 Alpha - October 2005
  • ICEfaces 0.3.0 Alpha - January 2006
  • ICEfaces 1.0 Beta - April 2006
  • ICEfaces 1.0 Community Edition - May 2006
  • ICEfaces 1.5 Open Source - November 2006
  • ICEfaces 1.6 July 2007
  • ICEfaces 1.7 April 2008
  • ICEfaces 1.8 February 2009
  • Latest Release:

Comparable frameworks



External links


it:Icefaces pt:Icefaces ro:ICEfaces

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