Velocity Java engine picks up speed

Providing an alternative to JavaServer Pages (JSP) Web development and the PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) scripting language, Apache's Jakarta Velocity tools team is touting open source tools to function with the Velocity Java template engine.

Version 1.2 of VelocityTools, a sub-project of Velocity, is now available for download. Velocity enables use of a template language to reference objects defined in Java code and can be used in Web development or to generate SQL, PostScript, and XML from templates.

"VelocityTools 1.2 offers a variety of improvements over the 1.1 release," said Nathan Bubna, who serves as lead on the Velocity Tools project, in an email. "In terms of infrastructure, the most significant is the ability to configure tool parameters via the toolbox definition file. There are also many new tools available for simplifying template development, including tools for working with lists and arrays transparently, sorting lists, alternating over value sets, and more."

"VelocityTools 1.2 also offers compatibility with the latest Struts releases for those using our Struts integration tools," Bubna said.

When used for Web applications, Velocity separates Java code from Web pages, making the Web site more maintainable and offering an alternative to JSP or PHP, according to the Apache Jakarta Project.

Asked why developers may seek alternatives to PHP or JSP, Bubna said there are many reasons.

"Primarily, I would say that good MVC [Model View Controller] practices are easier with Velocity," he said. "Also, Velocity is very easy to learn, and once learned, it can be used in any context, not merely in Web development."

With Velocity, an MVC model is applied in Web page design, enabling designers to focus solely on creating a site that looks good, while programmers can focus on writing top-notch code, Apache Jakarta said.

The goal of Velocity is "to provide a simple, easy-to-use, cross-platform, Java-friendly template engine useful in many types of software applications [and] to not evolve into a full-fledged scripting language," Bubna said.

Velocity is five years old, Bubna said. There are 184 projects dependent on Velocity within Apache alone, based on statistics that Bubna gathered.

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