Home > Guides > Plugin Developers Guide > Portlet Plugin > Struts 2 Portlet Tutorial

Struts 2 Portlet Tutorial - Creating a simple Bookmark Portlet

Work in progress


Using version 2.1.1-SNAPSHOT of the portlet plugin

Note that this tutorial assumes that you're familiar with basic Struts 2 web application programming.


If you have not used Struts 2 before, please check out some of the other Struts 2 tutorials first.


In this tutorial we will use eclipse as our IDE. If you do not have Eclipse, you can download it from http://www.eclipse.org.

The project itself will be set up using Maven 2. Maven 2 is available from http://maven.apache.org.

If you have not used the maven-eclipse-plugin before, you need to set up the Eclipse workspace with a variable that points to the Maven 2 repository. To do this, type

Creating the project

We'll use Maven 2 with the Struts 2 Portlet Archetype to create a skeleton project for our portlet application. From the command line, issue the command:

This will set up the maven 2 structure for us and also set up the basic configuration needed to create a Struts 2 portlet. The archetype creates a sample HelloWorld portlet that shows off some of the basic principles of Struts 2 portlet programming. To test the set up, type

in a command prompt. Open a browser and point your browser to http://localhost:8080/bookmark-portlet/pluto/index.jsp and play around.

Looking at the basics

To see how the basic HelloWorld example works, let's look at some of the configuration files, starting with the JSR168 portlet descriptor


The important parts to notice are the portlet-class and init-param elements. The portlet-class element is always org.apache.struts2.portlet.dispatcher.Jsr168Dispatcher (or a subclass, if you have added some custom functionality). This is the portlet that acts as the dispatcher for the Struts 2 framework, and translates incoming user interaction to action requests that Struts 2 understands. The init-params viewNamespace, defaultViewAction, editNamespace and defaultEditAction set up some defaults for the dispatcher when the portlet encounters a portlet mode without a specific action. Here, we set up the view portlet mode to map to the /view action namespace, and the edit portlet mode to map to the /edit action namespace. We also specify that the default actions for the mentioned portlet modes are index and index!input respectively. We will recognize these namespaces in the next file:


As we can see, the actions for the view portlet mode is in the default package, with /view as namespace, and the actions for the edit portlet mode is in the edit package, with /edit as namespace.

Import the project into Eclipse

Now let's import the project into Eclipse. First, type

Then start Eclipse (if you have not already done so), and import the project using "File -> Import -> General -> Existing Projects into Workspace". Browse to the folder where you created the project and press finish. Your portlet project should now be setup up with all dependencies in place.

Creating the Bookmark domain object

To represent the bookmarks, we'll create a simple domain object. We'll keep it really simple, so the Bookmark object will only have a name and a url property:


Adding bookmarks

Adding bookmarks is an operation that logically belongs to the edit portlet mode. So we'll create a simple action for this purpose, and configure it in the edit configuration package. In normal Struts 2 fashion, we'll create an action object with the properties we need:


And in struts.xml, remove the existing configuration for the edit package and add an entry for the action:


Let's create the input form so we have something to display. The form is really simple, with a label and a text field for each of the properties in the Bookmark domain object:


The textfields maps to the property names we have defined in AddBookmarkAction. Before we continue, let's check that everything is configured correctly and check that our portlet can be run. In a command prompt, change into the directory where you have created the project and issue the command mvn jetty:run -P pluto-embedded. Then open http://localhost:8080/bookmark-portlet/pluto/index.jsp and click on the edit portlet window control. If everything is set up correctly, you should see a form like this:

If you try to submit data in the form, it will obviously not work since we have not implemented any logic to add bookmarks yet. That will be our next task. Since we'll need a PortletPreferences reference, we'll have the action implement the PortletPreferencesAware interface that will instruct Struts 2 to inject this into our action, without the need for us to look it up manually. When we have the reference to the PortletPreferences object, we'll implement logic to store the bookmark (or rather the bookmark's properties, since we can only store Strings in the preferences object):


After the bookmark has been stored, we'll just redirect back to the input form:


We use a redirectAction result type to redirect back to the input form in proper PRG (Post - Redirect - Get) manner.

Now we can add some bookmarks. We don't get much feedback though, so let's proceed...

Listing the bookmarks

The bookmarks will be listed in the view portlet mode, so we'll create a ListBookmarksAction and configure it in the default package:


Again we use the PortletPreferencesAware to get the PortletPreferences injected in our action. Then we just get all the values from the preferences and add them as a Bookmark instance in an ArrayList.

Obviously, we'll need a jsp to view the list of bookmarks:


In the JSP, we just iterate over the list of Bookmarks and print the properties in the iterator loop.

In struts.xml, remove the default package, and add this instead:


When you're ready, go back to a command prompt and start the server again (mvn jetty:run -P pluto-embedded), open a browser and start adding some bookmarks. When you go back to view mode after adding a few, you'll see the bookmarks listed:

Preparing for bookmark management

It would be nice to be able to manage the list of bookmarks, so we'll add delete and edit functionality. All modifications will happen in the edit portlet mode. We'll start by displaying the list of bookmarks in the edit mode as well. The plan is to extend this list to add a delete and an edit link to modify the bookmark entries. We'll do it really simple and just copy the code from the index.jsp for view into the index.jsp for edit and add the links in a new table column:


For the delete url we need to specify that it is a portlet action url since portlet preferences cannot be changed in the render phase. We also need to change our configuration a bit since we'll use this page as index page for edit mode, and not only as the input form for the AddBookmarkAction:


Here we have added the ListBookmarksAction as the index action, which will display the bookmark list with the input form. When the form is submitted, it will invoke the addBookmark action, and upon success, control is redirected back to the index action. With this new structure, we'll also need to updated the portlet descriptor to use index instead of index!input as the default action for edit mode:


Now you can (re)start the server and see how it works. This is how it looks in edit mode after adding a few entries:

Deleting bookmarks

Let's create the action that handles deletion of bookmarks. It's pretty simple. As with our other actions, we need to get a reference to the PortletPreferences and simply remove the bookmark values from it:


Pretty simple and straight forward. Next, add a configuration entry for the action in the edit package:


After a bookmark has been deleted, we redirect back to the index action. Now you should be able to click the Delete link to remove individual entries.

Editing bookmarks

The final step is to edit bookmark entries. When the user clicks the edit link, the portlet will display a new page with an input form and the bookmark values already filled in the text fields. We'll start by creating the jsp file:


The oldName hidden field keeps track of which bookmark is beeing edited, since the name is also our id to the entry beeing edited. The actual update of the bookmark will be a "delete and add a new entry":


There's a couple of new things here, but nothing unfamiliar if you have worked with Struts 2 before. We use the Preparable interface to pre-populate the vaules in the edit form, and we use the ParameterAware interface to get a reference to the request parameter map. Other than that, the execute method simply resets the old value for the bookmark and add it with the (possibly) new name.

The last thing we need to do is to add the configuration in the edit package for the new action:



Using Struts 2, we built a simple bookmark portlet utilizing the edit portlet mode for management operations. The tutorial should have given you a basic understanding of portlet development with Struts 2, and that it is not very different from using Struts 2 in a regular web application.


Instead of using the Maven 2 Jetty plugin to run the tutorial, you can check out the JettyPlutoLauncher which is included in the test sources. Just launch it as a regular Java class in your IDE. And to debug, just launch it in debug mode.

S2PLUGINS:Source code for the tutorial
JSR168 Specification
Struts 2 Portlet Configuration options
Author's blog about portlet related development
Old tutorial for WebWork 2