Max Katz heads Developer Relations for, a cloud-based mobile app platform. He loves trying out new and cool REST APIs in mobile apps. Max is the author of two books “Practical RichFaces” (Apress 2008, 2011), and is a frequent speaker at developer conferences. You can find out what Max is up to on his blog: and Twitter: @maxkatz. Max is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 82 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

An Introduction To JBoss RichFaces

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Specific row update

Updating the whole table is rather simple. How do we update only the row that has been edited? All data components in RichFaces (including a4j:repeat) come with a feature that allows updating only a subset of rows. All such components expose an ajaxKeys attribute that points to the row or rows that need to be updated.

Let's first go over the changes we need to make on the page.
First, we need to set the ajaxKeys attribute on rich:dataTable (changes shown in bold):

<rich:dataTable value="#{userBean.users}" var="user" 

That's all we need to do with the table.

Next we need to call a save method from the modal panel when we make changes to the user information. The updated Save link will look like this:

<a4j:commandLink actionListener="#{}"
reRender="name, email">

The actionListener points to a listener inside the managed bean which we are going to create next. We also have the reRender attribute pointing to columns in the table. Basically, to achieve partial table update, we need to specify two things. First, which columns to update. In our case we are updating the name and email columns. Second, we need to specify which rows to update. This is done via the ajaxKeys attribute which is bound to a Set object that holds row numbers to update.

Let's see what changes are need in the managed bean.

First, we need to create the Set object to hold rows to update:

private Set <Integer>rowsToUpdate;
public Set <Integer>getRowsToUpdate() {
return rowsToUpdate;

Only a getter is needed for this property as this property will never be set from the page.

Next, we need the save() listener.

public void save (ActionEvent event) {


In the save listener, all we need is to save the row number of the user we are editing. 

Finally, we need to initialize rowsToUpdate property inside the init() method, right after we create the users:

rowsToUpdate =  new HashSet<Integer>(); 

The only other change we need is to add an a4j:keepAlive tag to the page. This is poor's man conversation scope (like in Seam). Basically, we need to keep the list of users alive for longer than a request and so a4j:keepAlive does just that. Right before the modal panel, add the following:

<a4j:keepAlive beanName="userBean"/>

Make sure everything is saved, redeploy, and run the application. You should now be able to open a modal panel, edit user information, and save the changes. When the changes are saved, only that particular row is updated.


I'm hoping this example showed you a little bit more than just Hello World. We have used a table component together with a modal panel. These are two components that very often used in real applications. I have also showed you how to edit a particular record inside a table via the modal panel and then only update that particular row. Of course, updating just a specific row is a feature of RichFaces data components.

To point out another thing, when we created an AJAX-based application here, we didn't have to deal with any JavaScript (well, besides the very simple client-side function available in RichFaces). RichFaces takes care of generating all the necessary (and usually quite complicated) JavaScript.

With RichFaces, you can continue using a JSF component-based approach, but with a large set of extra components to build applications with a rich user interface.


About the Author

Max Katz is a Senior Systems Engineer at Exadel. He has been helping customers jump-start their RIA development as well as providing mentoring, consulting, and training. Max is a recognized subject matter expert in the JSF developer community. He has provided JSF/RichFaces training for the past three years, presented at many conferences, and written several published articles on JSF-related topics. Max also leads Exadel's RIA strategy and writes about RIA technologies in his blog, He is an author of Practical RichFaces book (Apress). Max holds a BS in computer science from the University of California, Davis.




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(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Max Katz replied on Mon, 2008/10/27 - 12:35pm in response to: Christian Lehmann

Sorry, just one sortBy attribute. I tried it with RichFaces 3.2.2, it worked for me. What version are you running?

Greg Fasnacht replied on Mon, 2008/11/17 - 10:32am

I'm attempting to set up your project in Eclipse 3.4 (Ganymede). I installed the JBoss Tools plugin (Stable Release 2.1.2 GA) then tried to create a new project (JBoss Tools Web->JSF->JSF Project). I named the project and then chose the "JSF 2.0" JSF environment (other choices were" JSF Reference Implementation", "JSF 2.0 with Facelets" and "MyFaces 1.1.4"). I chose the template "JSFKickStartWithoutLibs" then clicked on "Next" which brought me to the runtime setup window. I chose servlet version 2.5, then tried to create a new Runtime (since the associated text box was empty). Clicking on the "New" button had no effect. Similarly, the Target Server choice list is empty, and the "New" button again has no effect.  Do you have any ideas as to what the problem might be?

Max Katz replied on Mon, 2008/11/17 - 12:42pm in response to: Greg Fasnacht

If you look under Installation section, JBoss Tools 2.1.2 only works with Eclipse 3.3. You need to use JBoss Tools 3.0 with Eclipse 3.4 . You also need to install the custom template (link available in this tutorial) in order to get JSF 1.2, Facelets, RichFaces enviroment available for this tutorial. Let me know if you have other questions.

Greg Fasnacht replied on Mon, 2008/11/17 - 2:12pm in response to: Max Katz

So if I'm understanding you correctly, I can't use the Eclipse Plugin for JBoss Tools, since the plugin shows the latest stable release as being 2.1.2 GA. Am I correct? BTW, thank you for your quick response.

Max Katz replied on Mon, 2008/11/17 - 2:41pm in response to: Greg Fasnacht

It's not that you can't use, you can use the beta version. This is how the versioning works:

Eclipse 3.3 --> JBoss Tools 2.1.2
Eclipse 3.4 --> JBoss Tools 3.0.0 beta 1

Robert Wojcikiewicz replied on Wed, 2008/11/19 - 10:39am

Hi Max,

Firstly, your tutorial is realy useful - one of the best I found. Everything would be ok but I hava a small problem. When I click Edit and fill modal window's fields after clicking Save, the edited row table doesn't display my changes. Why? In faces-config.xml I change value of <managed-bean-scope> tag on: session. Before that I had an exception after clicking save button.

I hope you will help to solve my problem.

Best regards,



rui chagas replied on Wed, 2008/11/19 - 11:34am

I also have an exception when i click "save" button. The "save" method can't be found. can you help me?

Max Katz replied on Wed, 2008/11/19 - 11:37am

Do you have this tag on the page:

<a4j:keepAlive beanName="userBean"/>


rui chagas replied on Wed, 2008/11/19 - 12:09pm in response to: Max Katz

yes i do, right before  <rich:modalPanel id="anunedit"> .  When i click the "save" button the tomcat gets an exception that says "can't find "save" method..


Max Katz replied on Wed, 2008/11/19 - 12:34pm in response to: rui chagas

Please post the exception, JSF page and managed bean code.

Robert Wojcikiewicz replied on Thu, 2008/11/20 - 3:22am

Hi Max,

   I add tag <a4j:keepAlive beanName="userBean"/> after the line <a4j:commandButton value="Edit"...

Now when I click Save app doesn't throw an exception but new value form fields is not saved.

There is one thing. Whitout tag <a4j:keepAlive beanName="userBean"/> and  changing bean scope from request to session, changes were present but after when I refreshed web page.

Can you help or suggest some solution?



Max Katz replied on Thu, 2008/11/20 - 11:29am

Make sure you have set ajaxKeys attribute on rich:dataTable. ajaxKeys points to rows to be re rendered.

Brendan Farragher replied on Fri, 2008/12/05 - 11:41am

Hi. What version of JBoss AS are you using? I am using JBoss 4.2, and I cannot get the @PostConstruct method to fire on a simple managed bean. There are no EJBs involved. Just a simple pojo, configured as a managed bean, with one annotated method that has @PostConstruct. I have tried with both request and session scoped beans, but the message that I print to the log never shows up.

 Thanks so much.

Max Katz replied on Fri, 2008/12/05 - 12:06pm in response to: Brendan Farragher


Hi. What version of JBoss AS are you using? I am using JBoss 4.2, and I cannot get the @PostConstruct method to fire on a simple managed bean. There are no EJBs involved. Just a simple pojo, configured as a managed bean, with one annotated method that has @PostConstruct. I have tried with both request and session scoped beans, but the message that I print to the log never shows up.

 Thanks so much.


 I used Tomcat 6.

Juliane Gambke replied on Mon, 2008/12/08 - 12:08pm


 Thanks for the thorough introduction which gave me a good start. I'm expanding the modal panel functionality to behave like a wizard. That means when clicking on the edit button the first page of the modal panel opens, there I can either close the panel or proceed to the next page within the modal panel by clicking the respective button. Now when i close the panel and click another items edit button the panels last page gets displayed instead of the first page. Also the lasts pages values are not refreshed. I've been searching for a solution for several hours now. Do you have any hint for me?

 Thank your very much!

Max Katz replied on Mon, 2008/12/08 - 1:13pm

There is some info here on how to do that: . There is also an example in my book, Practical RichFaces. I have a few free PDF copies left, send me an email if you want one (reference this post).

Juliane Gambke replied on Tue, 2008/12/09 - 5:57am

Thanks for the quick reply!

 I found another interesting post solving the modal panel navigation/ refresh problem described in my first post. In case anyone is interested:


Augusto Sellhorn replied on Tue, 2008/12/16 - 11:34am

I think I followed all the steps correctly, and I downloaded the latest of everything but I'm getting;

 "Core library location for version JSF 1.2, Facelets, RichFaces is not correct."

On the "create JSF project" dialog. Don't know how to get more information on this, anybody have any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

 I got the JBoss tools v 3.0.0Beta1 with Eclipse 3.4.1

Augusto Sellhorn replied on Tue, 2008/12/16 - 3:12pm

Whoops, never mind.

 I have one of these unzipping programs that won't zip all things out by default if you have an item highlighted, so it seems I missed the lib/ folder!

Max Katz replied on Tue, 2008/12/16 - 6:11pm in response to: Augusto Sellhorn


Whoops, never mind.

 I have one of these unzipping programs that won't zip all things out by default if you have an item highlighted, so it seems I missed the lib/ folder!


Glad it's working. 

Dragan Mijailovic replied on Thu, 2009/01/22 - 8:11am

In my Intranet application I use RichFaces with RestFaces and I use keepAlive tag for my backing beans. All it is ok, but I am afraid of memory overflow because of:

KeepAlive - serializes and stores request beans IN SESSION and restores it after request. ( )

I saw that You used keepAlive tag in Your example. What do You think?

Best regards


Max Katz replied on Thu, 2009/01/22 - 11:31am

That's the intended behavior. a4j:keepAlive tag is used to keep objects alive for longer than request but less than session (basically a very simple idea of a conversation, like in Seam). The bean pointed to by a4j:keepAlive tag is added to the UI component tree and is saved with the tree (either in session or client, depending on javax.faces.STATE_SAVING_METHOD param). When the UI tree is restored, the bean placed back in request scope with all its values. Hope this helps.

Now, I'm not sure about memory overflow - are you talking about a memory leak?

Dragan Mijailovic replied on Fri, 2009/01/23 - 2:31am

Thanks a lot. Yes, I am talking about a memory leak.

But,  there is timeout for a conversation in Seam. Is there timeout for "keepAlive objects"? When does JSF(RichFaces) remove old "keepAlive objects"? If it is the answer: when session timeout happens, I think that is not good for memory resources. It is very important.



Max Katz replied on Fri, 2009/01/23 - 11:32am

There is currently no option to time out keepAlive objects. You can try do to it programmatically, it's an attribute of UIViewRoot. Seam converstations would be a better solution.

marius batrinu replied on Thu, 2009/01/29 - 7:31am

hi Max,

 What about the delete part of your tutorial? Using this example:

it seems that in order to delete a row we need to add rowKeyVar="row"to the databatable and on the delete button

<f:setPropertyActionListener value="#{row}" target="#{dataTableScrollerBean.currentRow}" />

 My question is what type should currentRow be in the backing bean? Can you give us a quick example on how to delete a row.


Max Katz replied on Thu, 2009/01/29 - 11:27am

currentRow can be an Integer (or small int). It is the row number in the model you want to delete. I'll post something on my blog on how to delete from a table (

marius batrinu replied on Fri, 2009/01/30 - 11:02am in response to: Max Katz

Thanks Max,

 I managed to fid the solution myself. Changes:

 on delete button/link:

<a4j:commandLink ajaxSingle="true" id="deletelink" oncomplete="#{rich:component('deletePanel')}.show()">
<f:setPropertyActionListener value="#{obj}" target="#{tableDataSource.selectedRow}"/>
  on 'Yes' button on confirmation modalPanel:

and finally backingBean.delete:


 works like a charm :-)

Any downsides to my solution?

Thanks :-)

Max Katz replied on Fri, 2009/01/30 - 12:21pm

Looks good!

Harshad Khasnis replied on Fri, 2009/02/06 - 7:57am

Hi Max,

I am using rich:modalPanel

I dont want that modal to be able to resized by user so I have used resizeble="false" attribute.

But it seems there is some bug and it still allows user to resize the modal panel.Can you please help?

here is my code

My development enviorment is 

JSF-RI 1.2, Facelets 1.1.15

Richfaces 3.3.0


<rich:modalPanel id="mp" resizeable="false" moveable="false" >
<f:facet name="header">
<h:outputLabel value="Move this" />
<h:outputText value="Try to resize" />



Asma Shah replied on Mon, 2009/02/16 - 8:48pm



I've followed the tutorial and on running the http://localhost:8080/richfaces-start/user.jsf page i only get a header saying Just Some Users. It does not load the users as it should be.

 I've tried few things we not success. Any leads you can provide?


Thanks a lot in advance

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