Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Spread Sheet/Grid Functionality in J2EE Web Site

Currently we have a VB6 application that uses the FarPoint spread control heavily. The company has decided to go in the J2EE intra-net direction. We're evaluating the best way to get grid functionality on a web page.

HTML tables with JavaScript are not acceptable to our business team. They want a rich UI similar to VB.
Farpoint has an ASP.net version coming out which won't help us - cause our Enterprise Architect group is going pure J2EE.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to get rich Spread Sheet/Grid functionality on an Intra-net?

Thanks in advance...

KenB
Monday, March 17, 2003

You don't. Not within a browser, at least.

If you guys are going with web-based apps, then do it; don't try and hang on to outmoded development models that don't fit the loosely-coupled nature of the web browser UI.

Your other options are:

1) Java applet. Write the whole application as an applet. You have the advantage of the entire Java language at your disposal. You'll have the disadvantage of the fact it's Java in a browser - slow load times, pokey odd-looking UI, etc. See the thread below for more complaints.

2) A .NET Winforms "HREF exe" - a downloadable app that runs when clicked on in the browser. That of course requires the .NET framework on the client. You don't need .NET on the server. However you WILL need a way to communicate back to the server - web services are the accepted way to do this right now.

I'm sure there are other options, but that's what I come up with off the top of my head.

If you're going to go the web-app route, go the web app route. Don't try to cling to the old ways. And yes, the old rich-client apps generally did have better UI's.

Chris Tavares
Monday, March 17, 2003

The downloadable application method is available in the Java world too - it is called Java Web Start.

Rhys Keepence
Monday, March 17, 2003

A JTable implemented as either an applet or as a Java Webstart Application sounds ideal here.  Speed shouldn't be an issue since it's over the intra-net.

Crimson
Monday, March 17, 2003

Looking at the Windows version of their control (as opposed to the web version), I'm not sure you will find any java bean/applet with this much functionality - printing,  presentation features, etc.

I'd be impressed if anyone could find a comparable java product. And I wouldn't want to guess what the performance will be like. 

If there is anything comparable, it should be sold as an excel competitor.

AEB
Monday, March 17, 2003

During the boom years there was a company called halfbrain.com that made a web-based spreadsheet that worked well and was implemented in DHTML. The interface was nearly identical to working in an Excel spreadsheet and it had several features that Excel didn't have.

Halfbrain was bought a couple years ago by Blox. I believe that Blox (or AlphaBlox) still sells a tool for developers. For background on this product see:

http://www.alphablox.com/news/IWO_files/IWO_article.htm
and
http://www.hpcwire.com/dsstar/00/1031/102349.html

Finally, alphablox is at: http://www.alphablox.com

Good luck.

Michael Bean
Monday, March 17, 2003

My previous employer had to do something similar, take ~400m row CSV files and load them into SybaseIQ.  With IQ if a single error is encountered at all, it aborts the entire workload and reports a useless error message.

We would filter the input data through a perl script (you could use anything else here) that checked each column of each row against the database definition.  If the current row would break IQ, the row got written to an input.bad file otherwise the data got inserted.  After the 'good' data had been inserted we'd step through the bad stuff trying to repair it, asking the user etc.

It's not exactly elegant, but the two pass solution is infinitely simpler than trying something clever, plus you can process all the 'good' data in one pass, saving the overhead of creating transactions etc.

Michael Koziarski
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

If it's for an intranet how about just embedding an Excel sheet into the page. You could generate the Excel sheet on the server, probably in Java.

It may only work on certain browsers, but it may be appropriate for an intranet where everyone has Excel installed.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

can we assume the user has excel installed on their machine or not?

Daniel Shchyokin
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Yes it's fair to assume eveyone has excel....

KenB
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

KenB,

It is entirely possible to create rich table UI using only HTML, CSS, JavaScript  and of course some server-side logic. It does not make a whole lot of difference whether you will use ASP.NET or J2EE. It does make a difference whether you put presentation attributes in CSS or hardcode them into C#/Java.

Have you ever tried to explain to your business team that ASP.NET controls consist of HTML and JavaScript in the browser?

Also, if you decide to use Java applets, a nice Grid/Table control can be found here:

http://infragistics.com/products/jsuite_portal.asp

IntelliJ IDEA man
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I'm not a Java expert, but (if everyone has excel) a solution could be to integrate an Excel object in the page (via VBScript) and then make the component talking with a server-side app.

Otherwise, if you go the applet way, maybe the Thinlet GUI could be helpful, I think it has some sort of grid.

Jack
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Thank You for all of your input. Personally I like the Java Web Start approach!!!

I'll keep you updated in the company's decision in case you're interested...

KenB
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Enterprise Architect Group Has Made a Decsision:

"Thou Shall Not Use Applets, Active X or Java Web Start. Thou Shall Only Use Pure HTML & JavaScript."


Anyone have any good resources on creating spread-like tables that look & behave fairly nice for a JSP solution?

Thanks....

KenB
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Thou shall have a look at CodeCharge studio...

Me
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

try this.... maybe?????:

http://www.drdev.com/products/index.asp

http://developer.ebusiness-apps.com/technologies/webdevelopment/codeandcomponents/ebagrid/

http://www.ycode.com/SpreadSheet/Latest/yCode_spreadSheet_simple.htm

http://www.massless.org/_tests/Grid1/

juan carlos rodriguez
Monday, April 07, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home